Oklahoma Sooners: Kansas State Wildcats

Our series of preseason picks for every single Big 12 game of 2014 concludes today with Week 15. The past two Big 12 champions face off, and Bedlam is always fun.

More Big 12 predictions for 2014.

at Baylor 41, Kansas State 24: With the final weekend mirroring 2013, the Bears know this game could gain added importance if the Sooners slip up in Bedlam. Taking the field with that mindset, Baylor takes a two-touchdown lead in the first quarter and never really looks back. Bryce Petty is efficient and effective, and Baylor's defense uses the experience gained in the first 11 games to help slow Bill Snyder’s Wildcats in a comfortable win to end Year 1 at McLane Stadium.

at Oklahoma 38, Oklahoma State 35: Another Bedlam, another close game, another late-game win for the Sooners. This time it’s true freshman running back Joe Mixon who turns a swing pass into a late fourth-quarter touchdown, giving the Sooners a late lead and, for the second straight Bedlam game, Oklahoma linebacker Eric Striker seals the win with a big play on the Cowboys’ final drive. The Sooners win the Big 12, and their campaign to be included in the College Football Playoff begins immediately with Bob Stoops saying the Sooners “absolutely” deserve to be one of the four teams included during his postgame comments.

at TCU 42, Iowa State 20: The Horned Frogs end a solid eight-win season in style with a blowout win against the Cyclones. TCU’s offense gives Horned Frogs fans plenty of hope with a six-touchdown performance to end the season, including a touchdown pass and touchdown reception from “Mr. Versatility” Trevone Boykin.

Final Big 12 standings

1. Oklahoma -- 11-1, 8-1
2. Baylor -- 10-2, 7-2
3. Kansas State -- 9-3, 7-2
4. Texas -- 8-4, 6-3
5. TCU -- 8-4, 5-4
6. Texas Tech -- 7-5, 4-5
7. West Virginia -- 5-7, 4-5
8. Oklahoma State -- 5-7, 3-6
9. Kansas -- 3-9, 1-8
10. Iowa State -- 2-10, 0-9

Big 12 media days takeaways

July, 23, 2014
Jul 23
5:00
PM ET
DALLAS -- Big 12 media days have come and gone. Some of the storylines (Dairy Queen, fake watches) were silly. Others were far more serious. Here are some of the takeaways from this year’s edition of media days:

Baylor has a chip on its shoulder: Despite winning the Big 12 last season and returning the Big 12 offensive player of the year in quarterback Bryce Petty, Baylor was voted second in the conference’s preseason poll behind Oklahoma. The Bears clearly felt a bit disrespected while in Dallas this week. "That comes with being Baylor," defensive end Shawn Oakman said. "We're gonna be great one day and y'all are gonna notice." The Bears were pretty great last season, stomping the Sooners 41-12 on the way to their first Big 12 title. "That game from OU last year, that should have showed you that that product was nowhere near as good as the product that Baylor was putting on the field," Oakman said. "The execution, the players from each and every position ... You could tell we were on a different level from OU." Still getting picked to finish behind Oklahoma has given the Bears extra fuel for this season. "In our minds, we’re still underdogs," Oakman said. "We play with a chip on our shoulder. You only get the respect if you earn it."

Stoops is loose as a goose: The loosest coach at Big 12 media days might have been Oklahoma’s Bob Stoops. He was cracking jokes, photo-bombing his wife’s TV interview (she was there for a Mary Kay convention) and taking a break between interview sessions to grab a strawberry smoothie. He even chided Alabama coach Nick Saban for suggesting the Crimson Tide didn’t care about being in the Sugar Bowl. "So if I’m not in a national championship game, that means I’ve got a built-in excuse?" Stoops said. Such bravado could be a sign that Stoops thinks he has a pretty good team. With Trevor Knight at quarterback and nine starters back defensively, it’s not hard to see why.

TCU has a big problem: Though they had already left, the Horned Frogs were the story the second day of Big 12 media days. Defensive end Devonte Fields, who last week was voted the league's preseason defensive player of the year, was accused of pulling a gun on his ex-girlfriend. TCU acted quickly after the news surfaced, claiming it had "separated" from Fields. If any part of the allegations levied against Fields are true, it’s difficult to see him ever playing another game in the Big 12. That is a big loss for the league. And an even bigger one for TCU, which is attempting to bounce back from one of its worst seasons in the Gary Patterson era.

Strong believes in Ash: The biggest question mark in Charlie Strong’s first season as coach at Texas is quarterback. More specifically, quarterback David Ash. But even though Ash missed virtually all of last season with concussion issues, then the spring with a fractured foot, Strong said he was impressed with Ash when watching old game film. "When Ash is healthy, he played very well," Strong said. All signs point to Ash being the starter when the Longhorns open the season. Whether he can be consistent and be healthy could go a long way in dictating how Strong’s first season goes, too.

Bowlsby does not believe in the NCAA: According to Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby, cheating pays. And the enforcement wing of the NCAA is broken. Bowlsby painted a bleak future for the NCAA, also predicting that Olympic sports could be in trouble down the line. "If you like intercollegiate athletics the way it is, you're going to hate it going forward," he said. "There's a lot of change coming." Because of its popularity, football will always be fine. But with lawsuits and athletic department expenses about to rise dramatically, Bowlsby thinks something will have to give.

Everyone’s mind is on the playoff, even if all minds don’t quite get it: The inaugural College Football Playoff was one of the big topics of conversation this week. The Big 12 coaches all believe the league is positioned strongly for inclusion, thanks to a robust nonconference slate of games and a nine-game conference schedule. Many players, however, weren’t well-informed about how the playoff will work. One didn’t know how many teams would be in it. Another thought every conference champ automatically advanced to it. And still another had no idea just how the playoff would be picked. The playoff is going to be an adjustment for college football fans. There is going to be an adjustment for the players, too.

Trickett was always the guy: According to West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen, Clint Trickett was always going to be this season’s starting quarterback. It was just a matter of him getting cleared medically. "We wanted him to be the guy," Holgorsen said. "We had to wait and see how he did coming off the shoulder surgery." Holgorsen said there was little the other West Virginia quarterbacks could have done this spring to unseat Trickett, who sat out while recovering from the shoulder injury. "He was the best option we had this year, he was the best option we had last year," Holgorsen said. "Once I was pleased with what I saw, it was a no-brainer to me."

Hill will get the ball a lot: Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy has had some talented offensive players over the years. But Gundy said it has been a long time since the Cowboys had a playmaker like juco running back Tyreek Hill. "He's very fast," said Gundy, comparing him to former West Virginia standout Tavon Austin. "He gets [past] that first level [of the defense] and no one is caching him." Gundy wants Hill to touch the ball at least 20 times a game. Whether he’s at running back or lined up in the slot, Hill is going to be the focal point of the Oklahoma State attack.

Snyder is still the man: Kansas State coach Bill Snyder is 74 years old, just two years younger than former Oklahoma coach Barry Switzer, who popped by media days Monday night. But Snyder is still coaching strong, with a team that was voted third in the preseason poll behind co-favorites Oklahoma and Baylor. Apparently everyone should eat only one meal a day.
DALLAS -- Winning football games holds top billing in most cases, but when discussing the most important objective to college football coaches, a great recruiting class is always high on the totem pole.

The Big 12 media days on Monday and Tuesday gave coaches a chance to share their opinions on their teams, their competitors and the future of college football. It also allowed each coach to talk about the positives and negatives of recruiting.

video
Big 12 media days came to a close Tuesday in Dallas, yet the biggest news of the day came from nearby Fort Worth, where the future of TCU defensive end Devonte Fields, the preseason Big 12 defensive player of the year, is in doubt after he has "separated" from the Horned Frogs program. Meanwhile, on site, Texas coach Charlie Strong made his debut and Oklahoma arrived with plenty of confidence.

ESPN.com's Big 12 reporters Jake Trotter, Max Olson and Brandon Chatmon answered four questions in our roundtable to wrap up the final session, which included Iowa State, Kansas State, Oklahoma, Texas and West Virginia.

What stuck out to you most?

Trotter: The biggest Big 12 story of the day actually didn't come from one of the five teams at media days Tuesday. Quickly, the buzz about the serious allegations levied against TCU defense end Devonte Fields made its way around the hotel with reporters and coaches alike. Later in the day, the Horned Frogs "separated" with the Big 12 preseason Defensive Player of the Year, placing Fields' collegiate-football future gravely in doubt. That could have a major impact on the Big 12 landscape.

Chatmon: The way Kansas State players seemingly take on the personality of Wildcats coach Bill Snyder is a sight to see. Quarterback Jake Waters, receiver Tyler Lockett, center B.J. Finney, linebacker Jonathan Truman and defensive end Ryan Mueller were personable, thoughtful and engaged during their answers yet still navigated their way through the landmines some college football players seem to step on during similar settings. The overriding message: K-State is confident yet hungry heading into 2014.

[+] EnlargeCharlie Strong
AP ImagesNew Texas coach Charlie Strong said all the right things at his Big 12 media days debut.
Olson: Everyone came hoping for Charlie Strong to do or say something memorable at his Big 12 media days debut. Easily a dozen TV cameras surrounded his table Tuesday afternoon before he even showed up. Strong carried himself well and said all the right things, and the talking points -- such as "putting the 'T' back in Texas" -- he's been repeating since the spring went over well. He also threw Texas fans a bone by confirming David Ash is his starting QB. All in all, a pretty solid day for the first-year coach.

What's something new you learned?

Trotter: Even though Charlie Strong arrived at Texas via Louisville, he and Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops know each other well due to their connection as former Florida defensive coordinators. "I think Charlie's a great coach," Stoops said. "He's an excellent person. We've really enjoyed the times I have been around him. So I gotta be careful. I can't wish him too much luck, but I know he'll do a great job."

Chatmon: Short conversations with Texas defensive end Cedric Reed and center Dominic Espinosa left me with the impression that Charlie Strong's vision for the Longhorn program is starting to take hold. Reed said he could see signs the Longhorns could be tougher mentally this fall with guys showing up to meetings on time (or even early), and Espinosa said the mental focus of the squad has been upgraded with players willing to do the extra things to get to the another level. UT might not have a 100 percent buy-in to Strong's ways, but it sounds like things are heading in the right direction.

Olson: I'm sorry, I just have to address one of my favorite quotes of the day here. When Bill Snyder was asked to assess how optimistic he is about his team in 2014, he paused and said warmly, "My degree of optimism is negotiated daily." Then he continued a winding answer about one-day-at-a-time expectation that concluded with a laugh and Snyder proudly saying, "Didn't tell you anything, did I?" He later acknowledged he is "as old as time and that's not going to change." Basically, Bill Snyder is the best.

Your favorite exchange of the day?

Trotter: I don't know if counts as an "exchange," but Stoops purposefully photobombed his wife's TV interview. He actually did it twice. Carol Stoops, a national director with Mary Kay, was at the same hotel for a Mary Kay convention. Stoops was laid-back all day, which is usually a sign he thinks he has a good team.

Chatmon: I walked up on Tyler Lockett doing a Q&A with another reporter who asked which three people he would like to have dinner with if he could choose anyone in the world. Lockett looked at me with a sideways glance and responded: "This guy." Once our laughter subsided, Lockett answered the question. I now have a new favorite player.

Olson: I pressed Quandre Diggs on the state of his relationship with Kevin Durant. This is a sore subject for the Texas cornerback, who's a vocal member of Team LeBron. He said Durant unfollowed him on Twitter due to Diggs' preference for LeBron. Diggs is hoping to repair that relationship with his fellow Longhorn soon, and he has plenty of respect for the MVP. But Diggs was adamant he will not be able to bury the hatchet until Durant gives him a follow again.

The most impressive person?

Trotter: Texas cornerback Quandre Diggs, Iowa State center Tom Farniok, West Virginia cornerback Daryl Worley and Kansas State quarterback Jake Waters were all very impressive. Diggs would make a great sports columnist someday. He has an opinion on everything. Worley, just a true sophomore, comes off like he's 10 years older than he actually is. Waters pulled off donning a bow tie, and he and Farniok were plenty sharp to extemporize on any player or team in the conference -- something many players in the conference struggle with.

Chatmon: West Virginia cornerback Daryl Worley may be more impressive off the field than he was on it in 2013. The sophomore appears to be on the road to becoming one of the Big 12's best cornerbacks, but the way he handled our one-on-one session left me holding him in a high regard. He's just a sophomore, but he handled himself like a fifth-year senior. It's easy to see why Dana Holgorsen had the trust to bring a true sophomore into this setting. "Last season enhanced my work ethic, just knowing I didn't reach my goals. I told myself I wouldn't let that happen again," he said. This from a guy who started five games at cornerback as a true freshman in the Big 12.

Olson: Besides Diggs, who is absolutely money when it comes to spitting the truth in interviews, I had to say I enjoyed chatting with famed West Virginia punter Nick O'Toole -- better known as Boomstache by the Mountaineer faithful -- about his dedication to mustache maintenance. He went for the Rollie Fingers curled look Tuesday, with the help of a little wax, and was also sporting red USA socks. He is indeed a great American.
In 2008, the Big 12’s strongest position was quarterback with a deep roster that featured Heisman winner Sam Bradford, Heisman finalist Colt McCoy and national passing champ Graham Harrell, among several other noteworthy QBs.

Five years later, the league’s top position turned out to be cornerback, headlined by eventual first-round picks Justin Gilbert and Jason Verrett.

SportsNation

Which Big 12 defensive end will have the best 2014 season?

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    22%
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    24%
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    34%
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    11%
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    9%

Discuss (Total votes: 4,812)

This season, the Big 12’s best position is looking more and more like it will be defensive end, notably thanks to Kansas State’s Ryan Mueller, Texas’ Cedric Reed, Oklahoma’s Charles Tapper, Baylor’s Shawn Oakman and TCU’s Devonte Fields -- all of whom have All-American potential.

Mueller was a first-team All-Big 12 selection last year after finishing second in the league with 11.5 sacks and 18.5 tackles for loss. Only Jackson Jeffcoat, the departed Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year, topped Mueller in either category.

Just one spot behind Mueller, Reed finished third in the league with 10 sacks, and was a second-team All-Big 12 pick. Even though his teammate Jeffcoat racked up all the accolades, many coaches around the league felt Reed was the tougher assignment.

Tapper was another tough assignment, and the only underclassman defender to earn first-team All-Big 12 honors last season. Tapper was timed running the 40-yard dash in 4.55 seconds during the spring, underscoring why he’s such a nightmare matchup for opposing offensive linemen.

Speaking of nightmare matchups, Oakman presents just that with his 6-foot-9, 275-pound frame. Despite being a part-time player last year, Oakman still finished sixth in the conference with 12.5 tackles for loss. According to coach Art Briles, Oakman was unblockable during spring ball and could be in for a monster breakout season.

Fields already broke out two years ago, when he was the AP’s Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year as a true freshman. A suspension followed by season ending foot surgery turned Fields’ sophomore campaign into a disaster. But by all accounts, Fields was his old self again this spring, and seems primed to have a dominating season.

But which of these defensive ends will have the most dominating 2014 season?

We put the question to you via our weekly Big 12 poll.

Big 12 lunchtime links

July, 2, 2014
Jul 2
12:00
PM ET
Some old school "SportsCenter" bloopers is a good way to kick start your afternoon.
Friday, the Big 12 released a list of players scheduled to be coming to media days July 21-22 in Dallas -- a list that includes only three quarterbacks, but one punter:

Monday

Baylor: Quarterback Bryce Petty, wide receiver Antwan Goodley, linebacker Bryce Hager, defensive end Shawn Oakman.

Kansas: Wide receiver Nick Harwell, linebacker Ben Heeney, tight end Jimmay Mundine, safety Cassius Sendish.

Oklahoma State: Wide receiver Jhajuan Seales, corner back Kevin Peterson, linebacker Ryan Simmons.

TCU: Safety Sam Carter, defensive tackle Chucky Hunter, center Joe Hunt, wide receiver David Porter.

Texas Tech: Wide receiver Bradley Marquez, linebacker Sam Eguavoen, running back Kenny Williams.

Tuesday

Iowa State: Offensive lineman Tom Farniok, defensive end Cory Morrissey, tight end E.J. Bibbs, linebacker Jevohn Miller.

Kansas State: Wide receiver Tyler Lockett, quarterback Jake Waters, defensive end Ryan Mueller, linebacker Jonathan Truman, offensive lineman BJ Finney.

Oklahoma: Quarterback Trevor Knight, linebacker Geneo Grissom, defensive tackle Chuka Ndulue, offensive tackle Daryl Williams, safety Julian Wilson.

Texas: Center Dominic Espinosa, running back Malcolm Brown, cornerback Quandre Diggs.

West Virginia: Wide receiver Kevin White, corner back Daryl Worley, punter Nick O'Toole.
Oklahoma isn't the only Big 12 program digging deeper into its deep pockets for dramatic and impressive facility upgrades.

The Sooners' stadium innovation plans are now full steam ahead after receiving regent approval on Tuesday, but nearly every other program in the conference is busy raising money and working up blueprints for facility changes, big or small, this offseason. A rundown of every upgrade currently in the works, starting with the league's newest palace:

[+] EnlargeMcLane Stadium
Jerome Miron/USA TODAY SportsMcLane Stadium, the future home of the Bears, opens this fall.
Baylor: McLane Stadium
Constructed:
2014 Recent renovation: N/A
Capacity: 45,000
Coming soon: The $250 million stadium on the Brazos opens in 64 days. The seats are all sold out and the place should be plenty tricked out. McLane Stadium is capable of eventually being expanded to a capacity of 55,000 in the future. There's a construction cam if you're interested in checking in on the progress.

Iowa State: Jack Trice Stadium
Constructed:
1975 Recent renovation: 2007
Capacity: 56,800
Coming soon: Iowa State will have the Big 12's third-largest stadium in August 2015 when a recently announced $60 million expansion project is completed. Jack Trice Stadium is getting a new south end zone side, with upper and lower bowls, premium club seating and a new HD video board. The project will boost capacity to 61,000.

Kansas: Memorial Stadium
Constructed: 1921 Recent renovation: 2006
Capacity: 56,800
Coming soon: Thanks to an anonymous donor, a minor six-week renovation project is underway this summer to remove the track from inside Memorial Stadium. Not only was it a bit of a eyesore, but the track's elimination means more practice space and full-turf sidelines. It's a small fix, but an important one.

Kansas State: Bill Snyder Family Football Stadium
Constructed:
1968 Recent renovation: 2013
Capacity: 50,000
Coming soon: In April, K-State unveiled plans for Phase 3 of its stadium improvement project: A $65 million renovation to the stadium's north end. The construction will double the size of its football complex, add 1,000 seats and new video boards. More than 70 percent of the funding had already been raised at the time of the announcement. Construction begins at the end of this season, and most should be wrapped up for the 2015 opener.

Oklahoma: Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium
Constructed:
1923 Recent renovation: 2003
Capacity: 82,112
Coming soon: Regents approved a $370 million project that will bring comprehensive renovations and modernize the Sooners' home, but the intent is not to increase capacity. The south end zone will be enclosed to create a continuous bowl, the west side will be remodeled with a new press box and suites and there will be a new south video board. But just as important, much of OU's plans are dedicated to improving student-athlete facilities and fan amenities. Most of the work should be done for the start of the 2016 season.

Oklahoma State: Boone Pickens Stadium
Constructed: 1920 Recent renovation: 2009
Capacity: 60,218
Coming soon: After all the money T. Boone has poured into renovating the place in the past decade, this offseason wasn't too expensive: Oklahoma State is installing 76,000 square feet of new AstroTurf inside Boone Pickens Stadium and should be done by mid-July. The new turf design is pretty slick, if you haven't seen it.

TCU: Amon G. Carter Stadium
Constructed: 1930 Recent renovation: 2012
Capacity: 45,000
Coming soon: Nada. What more could Gary Patterson and the Frogs ask for? The $164 million reconstruction of their stadium was completed in 2012 and, from a facilities standpoint, TCU now has everything it ever wanted. There is potential for Amon G. Carter to expand to 50,000 seats in the future, but nothing is imminent.

Texas: Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium
Constructed:
1924 Recent renovation: 2013
Capacity:
100,119 Coming soon: Texas had only minor cosmetic fixes last offseason, including new FieldTurf, but big changes are on the horizon. This spring, new AD Steve Patterson began exploring the feasibility of expansion to complete the south end zone of DKR. Currently, that end zone houses simple bleachers and the "Godzillatron" video board. Such an expansion would target adding more premium seating and suites, not general seats, and (no surprise here) would likely aim to surpass Texas A&M's new Kyle Field capacity of 102,500.

Texas Tech: Jones AT&T Stadium
Constructed: 1947 Recent renovation: 2013
Capacity: 60,862
Coming soon: Texas Tech kicked off a new campaign in February to raise more than $100 million for more than two dozen athletic facility projects. "The Campaign For Fearless Champions" will involve all 17 Red Raider athletic teams and facilities all over campus. Development of Jones AT&T Stadium's south end zone is said to be one of the cornerstones of the funding venture, as well as an indoor football practice facility.

West Virginia: Milan Puskar Stadium
Constructed:
1980 Recent renovation: 2007 Capacity: 60,000
Coming soon: West Virginia unveiled plans for $106 million in facility upgrades in April. Milan Puskar Stadium will receive concourse renovations, a new scoreboard, upgraded box seats and plenty more. One of Dana Holgorsen's top priorities will also be addressed: $5 million is going toward building a new team meeting room. No timetable on when all that gets done, but construction should begin after the 2014 season.
There can be various signs of success in the Big 12.

Last week we took a look at potential stats from various offensive players in the conference that could be a sign of success for their respective teams. This week, we look at a stat from one defensive player per school that could be a sign of success this fall.

Here's a look at one stat from a defensive player on each Big 12 team that could be a sign of success for their teams.

Baylor defensive end Shawn Oakman's total sacks: The Penn State transfer has freakish ability. At 6-foot-9, 275 pounds, Oakman moves like someone half his size and was ultra-productive as a sophomore, compiling 12.5 tackles for loss in 13 games. But he only managed two sacks as a sophomore, although he was deployed in a backup role for most of the season. If Oakman can approach double-digit sacks with increased playing time as a junior, he could help Baylor’s young secondary overcome the mistakes they are certain to make as they gain experience.

Tackles recorded by Iowa State defensive tackle Brandon Jensen: The Cyclones have a potential hole in the middle of their defense with attrition since the end of the season destroying ISU’s depth. Jensen, who quit football after the 2013 season, returned to the team shortly after spring football. His return was much needed and if he’s able to match his production while starting all 12 games a year ago, it will give Paul Rhoads a foundation for his defense that he didn’t have during spring football. If he can raise his tackle total from 18 in 2013 to around 30 in 2014, it could be a sign he’s become a disruptive force in the middle of ISU’s defense.

Kansas linebacker/defensive end Ben Goodman's tackles for loss: The junior is a versatile talent who has moved closer to the line of scrimmage to make more of an impact with his ability to be disruptive and get into the backfield. He finished with 7.5 tackles for loss and three sacks in 2013. If he can at least double those numbers, his disruptive nature could combine with a talented secondary to make the Jayhawks defense better than expected this fall.

Kansas State linebacker Mike Moore's total tackles: The junior looks like he could be poised for a breakthrough season with the Wildcats. He’s an active and energetic linebacker who could pair with Jonathan Truman to give KSU one of the conference’s most productive linebacking duos. Moore only had seven tackles in 2013 but finished strong with two tackles, a sack and a forced fumble against Michigan in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl. If he can match or exceed Blake Slaughter's 110 tackles in 2013 it will be a good sign that the Wildcats’ defense won’t have a major drop off in 2014.

Oklahoma defensive tackle Jordan Phillips total tackles: If the junior exceeds his tackle total from 2013, that’s a great sign for OU’s defense. Phillips played in just four games as a sophomore, recording seven tackles before a back injury forced him to miss the rest of the season. Anything higher than seven tackles likely means Phillips has returned to the lineup and is healthy and productive. If he does return, he has the potential to take OU’s defense to another level.

Oklahoma State cornerback Ashton Lampkin's pass breakups: The likely replacement for Justin Gilbert will be tested early and often in 2014. If Lampkin responds to the challenge and ends up with double-digit pass breakups, it means he has made a seamless move into the starting lineup. That would be terrific news for the Cowboys because if he can join Kevin Peterson to help lock down the perimeter, OSU won’t have to count on its young and inexperienced safeties to make as many plays in the passing game.

Sack total from TCU defensive end Devonte Fields: If Fields returns to his 2012 form, he’s a game-changing talent. He managed three tackles, including two tackles for loss, before a foot injury ended his 2013 season. In 2012, Fields had 10 sacks and 18.5 tackles for loss. If he’s healthy and focused, Fields has the ability to put up career-high numbers in sacks and tackles for loss in 2014. If he does, he can transform TCU’s defense and take the unit to another level.

Texas linebacker Jordan Hicks' total tackles: The senior had 40 tackles in four games last season, so the Longhorns would love to see a full, healthy season from Hicks. If he surpasses 40 tackles in 2014, it’s a great sign for Charlie Strong’s defense. The 2011 season was the last time Hicks played in double-digit games, but he's in impact player when healthy. But he’s spent as much time on the sidelines as he has making plays during the past two seasons.

Texas Tech defensive end Branden Jackson's sack total: The Red Raiders will really need to lean on Jackson, who finished the 2013 season with 44 tackles, including nine tackles for loss, and four sacks. He’s a proven commodity along Tech’s defensive front so it will be critical for him to, at the very least, match those numbers this fall. If he struggles to be productive, the Red Raiders defensive line could be the weak link of the defense and hamper the team as a whole.

Tackles for loss by West Virginia defensive end Shaquille Riddick: The Gardner-Webb transfer has the talent to make a major impact. While it would be great for the Mountaineers if Riddick can register between 5-10 sacks, he could be a difference maker if he can record 15-20 tackles for loss. If he is consistently disruptive and getting into opponents' backfields, the Mountaineers’ talented secondary could take advantage of any mistakes by the quarterback with key turnovers. If Riddick is a matchup nightmare, he will change the future of WVU’s defense.
A wonderful summer tradition is upon us: The college football preseason magazines have hit the newsstands. As usual, they're chocked full of info, predictions and glossy photos. As expected, no matter which one you pick up, it'll be full of love for Florida State and Alabama.

How did the Big 12 fare in this year's preseason publications? Oklahoma and Baylor have the unanimous respect of the pundits -- no surprise there -- but everyone has a different take on how the rest of the league standings will shake out. A rundown of the key predictions you'll find in each magazine:

PHIL STEELE

[+] EnlargeBob Stoops
Jackson Laizure/Getty ImagesBob Stoops' Sooners are a popular pick to make college football's initial playoff.
Ranking the Big 12:
1. Oklahoma (4th nationally)
"This year's Sooner squad is stronger on both sides of the ball with nine returning starters back on D and more stability at QB. … The Sooners are a legit national title contender."
2. Baylor (8th)
"QB (Bryce) Petty will likely lead the NCAA in passing, throwing to my No. 1 set of receivers with my No. 2 O-line and No. 2 RBs in the Big 12."
3. TCU (14th)
"If you are looking for this year's Auburn, which is a team that had just 3 or 4 wins the previous year and ends up playing for the national title, you may just have found them."
4. Texas (25th)
5. Kansas State (42nd)
6. Oklahoma State
7. Texas Tech
8. West Virginia
9. Iowa State
10. Kansas
All-Americans: WR Antwan Goodley, BAY (1st team); WR Tyler Lockett, KSU (2nd); DE Ryan Mueller, KSU (2nd); LB Eric Striker, OU (2nd); C BJ Finney, KSU (3rd); T Le'Raven Clark, TTU (3rd); T Spencer Drango, BAY (3rd); DE Devonte Fields, TCU (3rd); DE Cedric Reed, TEX (3rd)
Surprise team: Steele has TCU as his No. 4 team most likely to surprise behind Georgia, USC and Wisconsin. Texas came in at No. 10 on his list. Steele also claims the Horned Frogs will be the nation's most improved team in 2014.
Preseason No. 1: Florida State.
Playoff prediction: Florida State, Alabama, Ohio State, Oklahoma.
Heisman: Petty is ranked No. 4 and OU's Trevor Knight is No. 9 among Steele's 2014 Heisman favorites. Lockett also listed as a "contender."

ATHLON

Ranking the Big 12:
1. Oklahoma (4th nationally)
"These Sooners can win. And win big."
2. Baylor (10th)
"The Bears probably have too many questions marks to give Oklahoma a serious fight for the top spot."
3. Texas (17th)
"Any improvement from last year's 8-5 record would probably be seen as a good first year for [Charlie] Strong."
4. Kansas State (20th)
5. Oklahoma State (37th)
6. TCU (39th)
7. Texas Tech (41st)
8. Iowa State (66th)
9. West Virginia (67th)
10. Kansas (78th)
All-Americans: Lockett (1st team); Goodley (2nd); Striker (2nd); CB Quandre Diggs, TEX (2nd); Finney (3rd); OG Quinton Spain, WVU (3rd); Mueller (3rd); DT Malcom Brown, TEX (3rd).
Hot seat: Charlie Weis is ranked No. 4 among coaches in the most trouble entering 2014, a list that has Florida's Will Muschamp in the top spot. West Virginia's Dana Holgorsen is sixth on the hot-seat list.
Playoff prediction: Florida State, Alabama, Ohio State, Oklahoma.
Heisman: Petty is ranked fifth and Knight is 18th among Athlon's top 20 contenders.

LINDY'S

Ranking in the Big 12:
1. Oklahoma (3rd nationally)
"The Sooners have the look and feel of Big 12 bullies again."
2. Baylor (10th)
"The Bears' roster is dynamite, and [Art] Briles is a magician. A repeat Big 12 title would launch this program into the stratosphere."
3. Kansas State (16th)
"Kansas State has enough pieces to challenge for the Big 12 title and to make a name for itself with an early home game against Auburn."
4. Texas (22nd)
5. Texas Tech (33rd)
6. Oklahoma State (37th)
7. TCU (45th)
8. West Virginia (46th)
9. Iowa State (53rd)
10. Kansas (85th)
All-Americans: Goodley (1st team); Lockett (2nd); Drango (2nd); Reed (2nd); Striker (2nd).
Top newcomers: Lindy's predicts that Iowa State WR Allen Lazard will be the league's best instant-impact freshman. Oklahoma RB Joe Mixon is named the newcomer most likely to thrive in the NFL, and Oklahoma State LB Josh Mabin is the "top sleeper" among incoming freshmen.
Playoff prediction: Florida State, Alabama, Oklahoma, Oregon.
Heisman: Petty is ranked fourth and Knight is No. 9 among Lindy's top 10 candidates.

SPORTING NEWS

Ranking the Big 12:
1. Oklahoma (1st nationally)
"Enough pieces are in place for Oklahoma to be among the four teams in the inaugural College Football Playoff bracket."
2. Baylor (7th)
"Baylor is capable of hanging a banner after the first year in its new home."
3. Texas (23rd)
"The defense will be improved, but the Longhorns continue to be in game-management mode at quarterback."
4. Oklahoma State
5. Kansas State
6. TCU
7. West Virginia
8. Texas Tech
9. Iowa State
10. Kansas
All-Americans: Lockett (1st team); Goodley (2nd); Clark (2nd); LB Bryce Hager, BAY (2nd); Striker (2nd); Diggs (2nd); Petty (3rd); Drango (3rd); DE Charles Tapper, OU (3rd); Reed (3rd); LB Ben Heeney, KU (3rd); Carter (3rd), P Spencer Roth, BAY (3rd).
POTY: Sporting News names Petty its preseason offensive player in the Big 12 and Fields as the league's top defender, even though he didn't earn a spot on their three All-America squads.
Playoff prediction: Oklahoma, Oregon, Florida State, Alabama.
Heisman: Petty is No. 6 among Sporting News' preseason top 10 candidates.

USA TODAY

Ranking the Big 12:
1. Oklahoma (7th nationally)
"It's hard to find many faults with this team, outside of the potential for a decline in pass defense without (Aaron) Colvin on the outside."
2. Baylor (12th)
"While there's still experience aplenty, Baylor's overall youth could prevent another run to the Big 12 title."
3. Kansas State (13th)
"The pieces are there for the Wildcats to contend for the Big 12 title if they can avoid the sort of sloppy, sluggish start that cut last season down in its tracks."
4. Texas (24th)
5. Oklahoma State (35th)
6. Texas Tech (41st)
7. TCU (57th)
8. West Virginia (74th)
9. Kansas (96th)
10. Iowa State (98th)
All-Americans: Lockett (1st team); Striker (1st); T Daryl Williams, OU (1st); S Sam Carter, TCU (1st).
Big games: USA Today's top three Big 12 games for 2014 are Texas vs. Oklahoma on Oct. 11, Baylor at Oklahoma on Nov. 8 and Kansas State at Baylor on Dec. 6.
Playoff prediction: Florida State, Ohio State, Alabama, Oregon.
Heisman: Petty listed as one of eight candidates capable of dethroning Jameis Winston.

Big 12 recruiting scorecard

June, 23, 2014
Jun 23
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Here's the latest in recruiting around the Big 12 as summer camp season winds down and new commitments keep rolling in:

BAYLOR
Total commits: 11
ESPN 300 commits: 4
The latest: Believe it or not, Baylor is already running out of room in a 2015 class that should be smaller than usual. The Bears picked up pledge No. 11 from a sleeper defensive back, Montrel Wilson of Keller (Texas) Fossil Ridge, last week. Depending on which position its "athlete" commits play, BU already has five or six defenders on board. They'll keep pursing ESPN 300 prospects such as OLB Malik Jefferson and CB Holton Hill, but the numbers game is going to get tricky for Art Briles' staff in the coming months.

IOWA STATE
Total commits: 5
ESPN 300 commits: 0
The latest: Iowa State landed its quarterback for the 2015 class on Friday in Austin (Texas) Lake Travis dual-threat Dominic DeLira. He comes from the same prestigious program that produced Garrett Gilbert, Baker Mayfield, Michael Brewer and Todd Reesing, who had an awful lot of success at Kansas playing under new ISU OC Mark Mangino. The Cyclones also locked up a pledge from in-state DE Seth Nerness this weekend and has now picked up four pledges in June.

KANSAS
Total commits: 7
ESPN 300 commits: 0
The latest: Kansas followed up an impressive five-pledge haul from juco prospects last week with one more from Los Angeles Harbor College WR Cory Butler, who flipped his commitment from Utah to KU. But the Jayhawks should be far more excited about a (very) late add to their 2014 class: OT Larry Mazyck. The 6-foot-7, 340-pound lineman signed with Maryland out of Iowa Western C.C. but did not qualify, clearing the way for him to end up at KU. He'll join the program this summer and could be a starter-quality contributor immediately if he's in shape and a quick learner.

KANSAS STATE
Total commits: 4
ESPN 300 commits: 0
The latest: Soon after locking up Nebraska offensive lineman Adam Holtorf, Kansas State picked up a second line pledge from three-star tackle Scott Frantz out of KU's backyard. The Lawrence (Kan.) Free State prospect is now the Wildcats' highest-rated pledge, a 6-foot-5, 285-pound lineman who picked KSU over Missouri and KU.

OKLAHOMA
Total commits: 7
ESPN 300 commits: 5
The latest: Oklahoma has no pledges but a lot of exciting possibilities at receiver. OU did make the top five that ESPN 300 WR Ryan Newsome released on Saturday, along with Texas, Oregon, UCLA and Notre Dame. Texas has been considered the favorite for Newsome for a while, but it might be wide open now following Newsome's unofficial visit to Oregon. The Sooners will continue to make a hard run at flipping the top-rated recruit in Baylor's class, ESPN 300 WR John Humphrey Jr.

OKLAHOMA STATE
Total commits: 8
ESPN 300 commits: 3
The latest: The Cowboys' class grew to eight with the addition of Za'Carrius Green, a safety/linebacker from Duncanville, Texas, who turned down offers from Texas Tech, Kansas State, Kansas and Iowa State. Oklahoma State had yet to extend an offer, but one recent commit worth keeping an eye on is WR Dahu Green. The three-star in-state recruit is a big 6-foot-4 target and committed to Louisville last week. He'd likely have some thinking to do if either in-state Big 12 school made an offer in the near future.

TCU
Total commits: 16
ESPN 300 commits: 0
The latest: TCU is one of only 10 programs in FBS with 16 or more pledges, a list that includes Alabama, Clemson, Texas A&M, Penn State and other heavy hitters. Its most recent commitments came from Arlington (Texas) Bowie CB Niko Small and Fort Worth (Texas) All Saints kicker Jonathan Song. Small ran a 4.44 40 time at camp and hails from the program previously coached by TCU corners coach Kenny Perry. Song's offer from TCU is to grayshirt, so he'll continue to seek full scholarship offers and recently camped at UCLA.

TEXAS
Total commits: 10
ESPN 300 commits: 5
The latest: New offensive coordinator/offensive line coach Joe Wickline has three four-star linemen on board so far and is looking for the final pieces to his 2015 puzzle. The Longhorns extended new offers last week to Houston North Shore center Tyler Moore and Coppell (Texas) three-star tackle Connor Williams. ESPN 300 tackles Madison Akamnonu and Jerry Tillery (a Notre Dame commit) and four-star Garrett Thomas have also been offered and are still on the radar.

TEXAS TECH
Total commits: 7
ESPN 300 commits: 2
The latest: RB Corey Dauphine was not a coveted big-time recruit when he committed to Texas Tech in February, but interest in the three-star back from Port Arthur (Texas) Memorial has picked up significantly ever since. He's expected to make a "final" decision in the next few weeks and is considered a soft commit at this point. If he doesn't stick with Tech, Dauphine is going with Texas A&M or Baylor.

WEST VIRGINIA
Total commits: 13
ESPN 300 commits: 2
The latest: The Mountaineers recently added two linemen to the fold in Oviedo, Fla., nose tackle Alec Shriner and Belmont (Ohio) Union Local tackle Colton McKivitz, who'd been previously committed to Miami (Ohio). Shriner is also capable of playing center or guard on offense if necessary.

Big 12 lunchtime links

June, 20, 2014
Jun 20
12:00
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The Socceroos' Tim Cahill has the goal of the World Cup so far.

Playoff: Second round glimpse

June, 20, 2014
Jun 20
9:00
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The first round of our Big 12 BCS-era 16-team playoff is done. The opening round featured several surprising -- as well as ridiculous, thanks to you voters -- results. You can click here to see all the results so far, and here to see the original bracket.

We’ll pick back up with the second round on Monday with the 16 seed, ‘07 Missouri, taking on ’03 Oklahoma, the 9 seed.

Here are the rest of next week’s matchups:

Tuesday: ’08 Oklahoma (No. 4 seed) vs. ’10 TCU (No. 12 seed)

Wednesday: ’04 Oklahoma (No. 6 seed) vs. ’01 Nebraska (No. 14 seed)

Thursday: ’99 Nebraska (No. 7 seed) vs. ’00 Oklahoma (No. 2 seed)
There can be various signs of success in the Big 12.

This fall there will be Big 12 players whose individual success could be a sign of greater things for their teams. Baylor needs someone to fill the void left by Tevin Reese, a healthy David Ash could transform Texas' season and consistent production from several players would boost their teams' chances to excel.

With the help of ESPN Stats & Information, here's a look at one stat from a player on each Big 12 team that could be a sign of success for their teams.

[+] EnlargeCorey Coleman
Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY SportsCan Baylor wideout Corey Coleman breakout in 2014?
Baylor receiver Corey Coleman's reception per game average: The Bears’ fourth leading receiver averaged 2.7 receptions and 40.5 yards per game as a redshirt freshman. With Reese moving on to the NFL, Coleman has the chance to drastically increase his per-game averages. The Bears hope his Fiesta Bowl performance -- seven receptions for 88 yards -- are a sign of things to come. If Coleman can double his average to 5 or 6 receptions and 80-plus yards per game, it could mean the Bears offense is humming yet again.

Iowa State receiver Quenton Bundrage's reception percentage: The Cyclones’ top target caught 52.7 percent of the passes thrown his way. For comparison’s sake, Kansas State receiver Tyler Lockett caught 71 percent of his passes. Iowa State has been preaching consistency since the end of the season and Bundrage has said catching more consistently and limiting his drops is his primary goal. If Bundrage can up that percentage to 70 or better, it would open up the offense and open up space for the Cyclones' other receivers and running backs.

Kansas quarterback Montell Cozart's completion percentage: Jayhawks coach Charlie Weis wouldn’t have named Cozart his starter if he wasn’t confident the sophomore could be much improved as a passer. Cozart completed just 36.5 percent of his passes during his seven games played as a freshman. If KU’s offense is going to improve under new coordinator John Reagan, Cozart needs to aim to get his completion percentage to at least 58 percent.

Kansas State quarterback Jake Waters' sack percentage: Waters was sacked 23 times in 13 games a season ago and was sacked on 8.1 percent of his pass attempts. Only Iowa State's Sam B. Richardson had a higher sack percentage in the conference. Waters needs to do a better job of getting rid of the football and limiting negative plays this fall, particularly with the Wildcats searching for a consistent running threat early in the season with John Hubert no longer in the backfield. The senior signal-caller should be aiming to cut his sack percentage to five percent or less. While that number doesn't fall solely on his shoulders, Waters can play a key role in lowering the overall number of sacks and sack percentage.

Oklahoma quarterback Trevor Knight's yards per attempt: Knight struggled to be a consistent passing threat as a redshirt freshman, averaging 6.1 yards per attempt. Only Texas’ Case McCoy and KU’s Jake Heaps and Cozart finished with lower yards per attempt averages among Big 12 quarterbacks who started a game last fall. The league average was 7.2. Opposing defenses will likely try to force Knight to beat them with his arm this fall, so his accuracy and decision-making will rise to the forefront as he tries to lead OU to a College Football Playoff berth. If Knight’s 2014 season average is closer to the 7.9 yards per attempt he recorded in the Sugar Bowl, it will be a great sign for the Sooners.

Oklahoma State receiver Jhajuan Seales' touchdowns: The Cowboys need a breakout season from Seales, who could be the Pokes’ next star at the position. He had just three touchdown receptions as a redshirt freshman, but if he can triple that output in 2014 that would mean the Cowboys' quarterback questions have likely been answered and Seales has taken the next step toward stardom.

[+] EnlargeDavid Ash
AP Photo/Tim SharpCan Texas signal-caller David Ash remain healthy in 2014?
Texas quarterback David Ash's pass attempts: Considering the state of the quarterback position in Austin, Texas, it would be great for Charlie Strong if Ash’s pass attempts surpass 200 for the second time in his career. It would mean Ash remained healthy and would give Strong an experienced signal-caller who has won 15 games as a starter. Injuries resulted in Ash attempting just 87 passes in 2013 so surpassing 200 pass attempts could help Strong have a successful first season.

TCU quarterback/receiver Trevone Boykin's total receptions: Boykin finished the 2013 season with 26 receptions for 204 yards despite starting six games at quarterback. He has been running the Horned Frogs' offense from behind center during the offseason, but if he finishes with more than 26 receptions in 2014, that’s a terrific sign for TCU. First, it means a solid option has emerged at quarterback allowing Boykin to slide to receiver. Second, it shows Boykin’s late season excellence as a pass catcher in 2013 was not a fluke, potentially making the Horned Frogs’ attack more explosive than it has been during the past two seasons.

Texas Tech receiver Jakeem Grant's yards per play: The junior wideout averaged 11.3 yards per play from scrimmage in 2013. The Red Raiders scored at least 30 points in every game in which Grant averaged at least 11 yards per play. Grant is a dynamic playmaker whom coach Kliff Kingsbury will try to get the ball as much as possible to help lessen the impact of losing Jace Amaro and Eric Ward. If Texas Tech increases Grant's touches and he rewards the coaching staff by averaging 12 yards per play in 2014, he has the potential to change games and help the offense continue to rank among the Big 12's best.

West Virginia running back Wendell Smallwood's percentage of the Mountaineer’s total yardage: Smallwood accounted for 7.2 percent of WVU’s total yards from scrimmage as a freshman. Look for him to increase that percentage as a sophomore after a stellar spring. He could slide right into the versatile role manned by third-round pick Charles Sims. If the sophomore can match Sims’ 30.3 percent of WVU’s total yardage in 2013, it could be a great sign for the Mountaineers.
The ’99 Nebraska team coasted past ’98 Wildcats on Wednesday in a showdown of former Big 12 North rivals with 67 percent of the vote in our Big 12 BCS-era 16-team playoff (you can see all the results so far here).

SportsNation

Who should advance to the second round?

  •  
    68%
  •  
    32%

Discuss (Total votes: 2,196)

In the final matchup of the first round, Kansas State will attempt to pull off a massive upset and send its first team to the second round as the ’12 Wildcats meet ’00 Oklahoma. Again, polls will be open until 10 p.m. CT Thursday.

No. 2 Seed: ’00 OKLAHOMA SOONERS

Record: 13-0

Final ranking: No. 1

Top player: QB Josh Heupel

Consensus All-America: Heupel, LB Rocky Calmus

First-Team All-Big 12: Heupel, Calmus, DT Ryan Fisher, S Roy Williams, S J.T. Thatcher

Second-Team All-Big 12: QB Quentin Griffin, WR Antwone Savage, OT Frank Romero, LB Torrance Marshall, P Jeff Ferguson

Best wins: No. 11 Texas (63-14); at No. 2 Kansas State (41-31); No. 1 Nebraska (31-14); at No. 23 Texas A&M (35-31); No. 8 Kansas State (27-24, Big 12 Championship); No. 3 Florida State (13-2, national championship)

Losses: None

Why they should advance: The ’00 Sooners might not have been Bob Stoops’ most talented Oklahoma team. But they were certainly his most clutch.

During “Red October,” in one of the most impressive three-game runs of the BCS era, Oklahoma took down No. 11, No. 2 and No. 1, sending a message that the Sooners were finally back after a decade of dormancy.

They capped their magical run with one of the all-time great defensive performances in college football history, shutting out Florida State’s high-powered offense in the Orange Bowl to pull off the national championship upset.

No. 15 Seed: ’12 KANSAS STATE WILDCATS

Record: 11-2

Final ranking: No. 12

Top player: QB Collin Klein

Consensus All-America: None

First-Team All-Big 12: Klein, TE Travis Tannahill, OT Cornelius Lucas, DE Meshak Williams, LB Arthur Brown, S Ty Zimmerman

Second-Team All-Big 12: WR Chris Harper, DE Adam Davis, DT Vai Lutui, K Anthony Cantele

Best wins: at No. 6 Oklahoma (24-19); at No. 17 West Virginia (55-14); No. 15 Texas Tech (55-24); No. 23 Texas (42-24)

Losses: at Baylor (52-24); No. 5 Oregon (35-17, Fiesta Bowl)

Why they should advance: Like with Oklahoma, this wasn’t Bill Snyder’s most talented team either. But it was a team that maximized its talent with smart play and sure tackling.

The ’12 Wildcats finished second in the country in turnover margin and fifth in fewest penalty yardage. Klein and Brown were anchors, sweeping Big 12 player of the year honors.

This team was tough to beat because it pretty much never beat itself.

***

Who I would vote for: '12 Kansas State actually resembled the ’00 Sooners. That Oklahoma team wasn’t overflowing with talent, but won games with hungry, hardnosed players who were clutch when the game was on the line. Like Oklahoma in 2000, K-State came out of nowhere to win the 2012 Big 12 title with a team full of grinders. But those Wildcats eventually ran out of gas in November, while the Oklahoma train kept rolling all the way through Florida State for the school’s seventh national championship. The ’12 Wildcats had heart. But the ’00 Sooners should move on.

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