Big 12 stat check: Week 13

November, 19, 2014
Nov 19
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A closer look at one statistic worth keeping an eye on for each Big 12 team entering Week 12:


Baylor: The Bears' defense was supposed to take a step backward after losing several starters from its 2013 unit. Instead BU ranks among the conference leaders in several categories and leads the Big 12 by forcing a punt on 50.8 percent of opponents possessions and could see that number increase this weekend with a hapless Oklahoma State offense visiting McLane Stadium on Saturday.


Iowa State: The Cyclones will need to improve their sack percentage if they hope to slow down Texas Tech’s passing attack. ISU’s 3.5 sack percentage ranks last in the Big 12 as the Cyclones have struggled to get pressure on opposing quarterbacks outside of defensive end Cory Morrissey’s five sacks.


Kansas: Beware of the Jayhawks coming out of the halftime locker room. KU has a plus-8 turnover margin in the third quarter, which leads the Big 12. Clint Bowen’s squad could need some turnovers to upset Oklahoma in Norman, so an opportunistic defense could be the Jayhawks' key against OU.


Kansas State: The Wildcats are tough to stop once they get rolling. K-State scores on 66.2 percent of its drives that begin with an initial first down. In other words, a three-and-out is the best bet to slow the Wildcats’ offense, so West Virginia should take heed.


Oklahoma: The Sooners' running game has been impressive but their ball protection has been even more impressive. OU is averaging 240.9 rushing yards per game yet has lost a fumble once in 408 rushes. That’s a 0.7 fumble percentage, best in the Big 12.


Oklahoma State: The Cowboys' offense is trending downward and the offensive line is a big reason why. Negative plays have become the norm for Mike Gundy’s team with 36.2 percent of their plays resulting in negative yardage. Only Iowa State (37.9) has a worse percentage in the Big 12.


Texas: With a date with TCU quarterback Trevone Boykin on the horizon, the Longhorns might be the best equipped to handle the conference’s top dual-threat signal-caller. UT’s 9.3 sack percentage is the best in the Big 12 with Baylor (8.4) as the only other Big 12 team with a sack percentage higher than 8 percent.


TCU: The Horned Frogs do a good job of adjusting their approach at halftime. Their average of 8.39 yards per play in the third quarter is first in the Big 12 and nearly two yards better than second-ranked K-State (6.68 ypp).


Texas Tech: Even with Tech’s uncertainty at the quarterback position, the Red Raiders' defense is at the heart of the struggles for Kliff Kingsbury’s team. Tech is allowing 3.04 points per drive, last in the Big 12 and No. 123 among FBS teams. The Red Raiders' offense hasn’t helped the cause with 22 turnovers but the defense has been unable to overcome those mistakes.


WVU: The Mountaineers' defense has played a huge role in the improvement of Dana Holgorsen’s team. WVU’s pass defense has been much improved with the Mountaineers allowing 6.06 yards per pass attempt, ranking second in the Big 12. Last season, WVU ranked last in the conference at 7.88 yards allowed per pass attempt.

Big 12 releases 2015 schedule

November, 19, 2014
Nov 19
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The Big 12 released its conference schedule Wednesday for the 2015 season. Here's the schedule, along with a few of my thoughts below:

Sept. 26
Oklahoma State at Texas
TCU at Texas Tech
Oct. 3
Texas Tech vs. Baylor (Arlington)
Kansas at Iowa State
Kansas State at Oklahoma State
West Virginia at Oklahoma
Texas at TCU
Oct. 10
Baylor at Kansas
Iowa State at Texas Tech
Oklahoma vs. Texas (Dallas)
Oklahoma State at West Virginia
TCU at Kansas State
Oct. 17
West Virginia at Baylor
Oklahoma at Kansas State
Texas Tech at Kansas
TCU at Iowa State
Oct. 24
Iowa State at Baylor
Kansas at Oklahoma State
Kansas State at Texas
Texas Tech at Oklahoma
Oct. 29 (Thursday)
West Virginia at TCU
Oct. 31
Oklahoma at Kansas
Oklahoma State at Texas Tech
Texas at Iowa State
Nov. 5 (Thursday)
Baylor at Kansas State
Nov. 7
Iowa State at Oklahoma
Kansas at Texas
Texas Tech at West Virginia
TCU at Oklahoma State
Nov. 14
Kansas at TCU
Kansas State at Texas Tech
Oklahoma at Baylor
Oklahoma State at Iowa State
Texas at West Virginia
Nov. 21
Baylor at Oklahoma State
Iowa State at Kansas State
West Virginia at Kansas
TCU at Oklahoma
Nov. 26 (Thursday)
Texas Tech at Texas
Nov. 27 (Friday)
Baylor at TCU
Nov. 28
Iowa State at West Virginia
Kansas State at Kansas
Oklahoma at Oklahoma State
Dec. 5
West Virginia at Kansas State
Texas at Baylor

Thoughts:
  • The biggest thing that jumps out is the Baylor-TCU game on Black Friday. I saw some dissension about this on Twitter, but I actually kind of like it. The Big 12 needs rivalries after the Red River Showdown and Bedlam, and TCU-Baylor seems to be the league's best chance at developing a third major rivalry. Putting the game on a special day like Black Friday places an added emphasis on the game. Especially if it again holds Big 12 title and playoff implications.
  • Baylor has a killer November slate, with road trips to K-State, Oklahoma State and TCU, and a home bout with Oklahoma. The Bears will also play their first two conference games away from home. I doubt Art Briles will be fired up about this schedule.
  • TCU has a brutal stretch late in November, playing Oklahoma and Baylor in a six-day span. That two-game swing could define the Horned Frogs' season.
  • Dec. 5 potentially could be a big weekend for the league. West Virginia, K-State, Texas and Baylor could all be in the Big 12 title mix. The league should have a national presence while other conferences are playing their championship games.
  • The Big 12 has three Thursday night conference games, and all three have a chance to be good ones.

ESPN Jr. 300: What to know in the Big 12 

November, 19, 2014
Nov 19
10:39
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video
With the latest ESPN Junior 300 rankings now live, one thing is for sure: The state of Texas has its share of players in the 2016 class.

Of the top 300 players, 39 are from Texas. Seven players in the top 30 are from the Lone Star State, including the nation’s top-ranked player, Texas A&M OT recruit Greg Little.

From a Big 12 perspective, OT Patrick Hudson is the highest ranked recruit. The 6-foot-5, 330-pound lineman, a Baylor pledge, jumped from No. 20 to No. 11, and he’s the nation’s second ranked offensive tackle.

Here are five things to watch involving players in the revised rankings:

Big 12 bowl projections: Week 12

November, 18, 2014
Nov 18
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The fourth College Football Playoff rankings were revealed Tuesday night, and the Big 12 was left on the outside of the top four.

TCU dropped one spot to No. 5 after struggling to a 34-30 win at Kansas. Baylor remained at No. 7 after having the week off. Both teams remain very alive in the playoff hunt. But for now, we project them to miss the cut.

The outcome of Thursday night's game between Kansas State and West Virginia, meanwhile, could a long way in determining their bowl destination fates.

And with its 28-7 win at Oklahoma State, Texas produced its sixth win to lock up a bowl spot somewhere.

Oklahoma State is the only other team not bowl eligible at the moment that could still get there. But the Cowboys will be major underdogs at Baylor and Oklahoma. So we're still projecting the Cowboys to miss out on a bowl.

Goodyear Cotton Bowl: TCU
VIZIO Fiesta Bowl: Baylor
Valero Alamo Bowl: Kansas State
Russell Athletic Bowl: Oklahoma
AdvoCare V100 Texas Bowl: Texas
AutoZone Liberty Bowl: West Virginia
Cactus Bowl: None eligible
In Tuesday's mailbag, we discuss Ohio State's argument to jump Baylor or TCU and potential upset alerts for TCU and Kansas State. As always, thanks for your questions. To submit questions for next Tuesday's mailbag, click here.

Dylan in Clendenin, West Virginia, writes: Could the West Virginia Mountaineers pull off an upset this Thursday night after a disappointing loss to Texas?

Brandon Chatmon: Definitely. Thursday night at Milan Puskar Stadium? That isn’t easy for anyone and Kansas State is no different. The key for WVU will be taking better care of the football after seven turnovers in the past two games, both losses. If WVU protects the ball, it has a chance against anyone.

rtXC in Denison, Texas, writes: Texas Tech has had 6 Defensive Coordinators and 4 changes of defensive schemes in the past 6 years. Any chance Kliff Kingsbury goes after Will Muschamp this offseason? He would bring a bit more age and experience to that young staff, excellent schemes and coaching, and would surely help Tech in recruiting. How much money would it take to land him? Any chance this becomes a Tech vs A&M battle?

BC: It’s an interesting thought and one Kingsbury should probably look into but I’d imagine Muschamp will be highly sought after. It would be more like a Tech vs. everybody battle than a Tech/A&M battle.

David in Austin, Texas, writes: If Baylor wins out will TCU have any argument to get in over Baylor? (Assuming Minnesota doesn't beat Wisconsin or Nebraska)

BC: Oh, TCU definitely has an argument, David. The Horned Frogs have the Big 12’s best offensive player in Trevone Boykin and a stout defense. There’s a reason they sit at No. 4 nationally heading into tonight’s release of the new College Football Playoff rankings. So, TCU has an argument. It’s just not a winning argument in my eyes.

Bryan Middleton in Waco writes: Why is Ohio State getting all sorts of credit for being 8-1 in the Big Ten? Even with the Michigan State win, I'm just not seeing them as a playoff team over Baylor (or TCU but don't tell them I said that). Do I got my homer glasses on or am I missing something?

BC: It’s a solid point, Bryan. I don’t know that Ohio State deserves to go over either Big 12 school. The Buckeyes seem like the “hot” team right now but a closer look at their resume doesn’t do much to convince me they should be jumping anyone anytime soon. If it happens, and they are granted a berth over a 11-1 TCU or Baylor, either Big 12 school would have a legitimate beef with that decision.

Josh in Owasso, Oklahoma, writes: Why would Coach Bob Stoops even think of leaving Oklahoma after all this talk about new coaching positions at Michigan and Florida? And if so which school would he choose?

BC: He would think about it because some people keep taking him for granted at Oklahoma. That said, I believe him when he says he’s a candidate at Oklahoma and not interested in leaving. I can’t think of a lot of compelling reasons for him to leave, it just simply doesn’t make a lot of sense. But, to answer your question, Michigan over Florida, he's not heading to the SEC to face his brother in head-to-head matchups.

Alec Bartoszek in Cedar Falls writes: I am a huge Texas fan all the way up here in Iowa! Do you think with all the confidence Texas has that they can pull off the upset on Thanksgiving Night vs. TCU?

BC: Actually, it’s quite possible I may pick the Longhorns. I haven’t made a final decision but that Thanksgiving matchup won’t be a walk in the park for TCU. UT’s defensive line is playing better and better and it’s offense is doing a better job establishing the running game. Both things are keys to knocking off TCU. That game is a toss-up in my mind right now so there’s no doubt the Longhorns have a chance to pull the upset.

Big 12 Observer in Frisco, Texas, writes: Can someone please tell me why Mississippi State's out of conference schedule isn't mentioned in all of this playoff discussion? Is that supposed to be offset by their amazing wins that don't seem so amazing anymore? Or Ohio State's complete SOS at this point? After the first few games, everyone mentioned how bad the Big 10 is this year but now everyone gives them credit for beating each other. I don't see any logical reason the Big 12 should miss out of the playoff for either of these teams. Please tell me what I'm missing here.

BC: Maybe we’re both missing something, because I agree. I think MSU should drop significantly in tonight’s rankings. It's riding the momentum of beating a bunch of teams that people thought were good. And as I said before, Ohio State hasn’t done much to make me think it's more deserving than Baylor or TCU. But, therein lies the problem, right? It’s all based off what people think about these teams. That’s why I’m so hard headed about head-to-head being the most important factor to me in any resume discussion.

Cyclones in Des Moines writes: How do I stop the bleeding?

BC: Bandage? Or if you want to be holistic, raw honey? … In all seriousness, the Cyclones have been ravaged by injury and, quite frankly, ISU just doesn’t have the depth to withstand this type of injury barrage. Thus, the real answer is evaluation and development, then recruiting but nobody really wants to hear that answer because it’s a long-term solution in a “fix-it-now” world.

Billy McElroy in Brooklyn, New York, writes: The BIG XII. 10 teams. ONE TRUE CHAMPION! That is the marketing and advertising we see during every BIG XII game anyway. ONE BIG QUESTION: How can you have co-champions when the product you're selling says otherwise?

BC: I wish I knew. It’s enough to make a person root for co-champions every single year.

Big 12 morning links

November, 18, 2014
Nov 18
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What a ridiculous Monday in the Big 12. Good luck topping that, Tuesday.
  • Not going to give it a "-Gate" suffix, but the drama out of Lubbock on Monday was impossible to ignore. Here's our news story if you missed it, as well as the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal's. Brian Davis of the Austin American-Statesman says Texas first tipped off TTU about its stolen signals issues. Whether that's true, I have a hard time believing Texas made use of that information or even needed it in order to beat the Red Raiders, 34-13. I'd be curious to hear more from Mike Smith about when the leaked signals specifically affected Tech games and why the staff didn't change up its signals the minute ex-DC Matt Wallerstedt left.
  • What's going on with Boone Pickens and Mike Gundy? Pickens' comments last week raised the question of whether the Pokes' biggest benefactor and its head coach are at odds. Kyle Fredrickson of The Oklahoman does a good job here of explaining their relationship. Easy to see why Gundy is treading lightly this week and trying not to offer a public overreaction, though surely he's doesn't think we're all dumb enough to believe he was unaware of Pickens' comments until Monday.
  • Continuing with today's coach-heavy theme: Iowa State's Paul Rhoads confesses he's "frustrated as hell" about the state of the Cyclones' season. He can understand why, in the midst of a 2-7 season with no opportunity for postseason play, the fan base is upset and why the stands emptied out midway through ISU's last home loss to Oklahoma. With Sam B. Richardson set to return from injury and an equally frustrated Texas Tech team coming to Ames this week, now is as good a time as Rhoads will get this season to start getting back on the right track.
  • Ah, heck, let's just keep going with Coaches Day. John E. Hoover of the Tulsa World is going after Bob Stoops this week for his "lame excuses" about the Sooners' offensive play calling in the first half against Texas Tech. OU fell behind thanks in part to a pass-heavy approach in the first half that didn't work out well for first-time starter Cody Thomas. Going run-heavy in the second half was an obvious correction. I'm guessing the coaching staff will see some of this criticism as overly sanctimonious since OU won 42-30, but there's no good excuse for that unnecessarily risky first-half plan that led to a 21-7 deficit.
  • Baylor players are convinced their offense hasn't come close to peaking yet, writes Chuck Carlton of the Dallas Morning News. I agree with that, and with Carlton's contention that the Bears seem poised to find an extra gear over their final three Big 12 games. Art Briles say he's oblivious to the national debate about his team (uh-huh...), but he's right to say the best way his team can politic is on the field. This now-healthy unit could look pretty filthy against the, um, permissive defenses of OSU and TTU.
Cody Thomas' time in the spotlight has been extended.

The Oklahoma quarterback will earn his second start against Kansas on Saturday after Sooners head coach Bob Stoops ruled out the return of starting quarterback Trevor Knight to the lineup on Monday. Knight missed Oklahoma's 42-30 win against Texas Tech on Saturday with a neck injury.

Thomas struggled during the first half of his first start, but rebounded with a stellar second half, leading the Sooners to five touchdowns on five possessions in Oklahoma's comeback victory.

Thomas was 7 of 17 for 120 yards and three interceptions with one carry for 13 yards in the first half -- a 37.4 raw QBR. The redshirt freshman quarterback completely turned things around in the final 30 minutes, going 3-of-3 for 13 yards and one touchdown, along with seven carries for 90 yards (12.86 yards per carry) to finish with a 99.5 adjusted QBR -- the best second-half QBR in the nation last weekend.

"Cody Thomas, in his first start, really performed well," Stoops said. "He made a couple poor decisions throwing the ball, [but] he made some good throws, he made some great decisions running the ball. He handled the line of scrimmage (well)."

Thomas, who also plays baseball at OU, has come a long way for the Sooners during his redshirt freshman season. He was an uncertainty as the backup quarterback behind Knight for much of the season until Knight was knocked out of the Sooners' 31-30 loss to Kansas State on Oct. 18. Thomas entered the first-quarter drive and continued the drive with ease. He led the Sooners to a touchdown while going 2-of-2 for 17 yards and adding a five-yard carry before Knight returned to the game.

The win against the Red Raiders added to Thomas’ game experience and the Sooners' confidence in him, allowing the Sooners to rule out Knight early in the week and just move forward with Thomas at the helm.

"I feel confident he’ll make an even bigger jump this week having been out there that whole game with the experience of it," Stoops said.

Thomas finished 10 of 20 for 133 yards with one touchdown and three interceptions, calling his ability to operate the Sooners passing game into question. But Stoops is confident Thomas can operate the passing game with precision against the Jayhawks and was "pleasantly surprised" by the inexperienced quarterback’s running ability in his first start.

"I knew he could run," Stoops said. "But until you’re in that live situation, when everything is happening faster, can you make a guy miss and find your way around, and he really did [run well]. I thought he made great decisions. He did a lot of really natural things."

Big 12 recruiting scorecard

November, 17, 2014
Nov 17
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Here is what's happening on the recruiting trail around the Big 12 this week:

BAYLOR
Total commits: 12
ESPN 300 commits: 3
The latest: As if Wide Receiver U needed any more help, the Bears appear to have found a stud for their 2016 class. Navasota (Texas) junior receiver Tren'Davian Dickson, who committed to Baylor in July, recorded 230 receiving yards and four touchdown receptions this weekend, extending his season TD total to 28.

IOWA STATE
Total commits: 11
ESPN 300 commits: 0
The latest: It's been a tough month so far for the Cyclones' recruiting class after junior college recruits Xavier Pegues, Tristan Nickelson and Larry Jefferson each backed out of their pledges. Those departures don't mean this class is falling apart, but it's a reminder that Iowa State might have to fight to keep some of its recruits who could be hearing from other schools.

KANSAS
Total commits: 14
ESPN 300 commits: 0
The latest: Junior college athlete Cory Butler flipped from Utah to Kansas this summer. He went back to Utah last week, committing to the Utes after taking an official visit. Butler could've been a receiver or defensive back for Kansas out of Los Angeles Harbor College, but he says he'll play cornerback at Utah.

KANSAS STATE
Total commits: 13
ESPN 300 commits: 0
The latest: Kansas State is one of the many programs lining up to get an official visit from big-time junior college receiver Dede Westbrook. He visited Oklahoma State on Saturday, says he'll be at Oklahoma this upcoming weekend and is scheduled to visit Manhattan on Nov. 28.

OKLAHOMA
Total commits: 14
ESPN 300 commits: 6
The latest: Oklahoma is one of the many schools pushing to land ESPN 300 linebacker Darrin Kirkland Jr. after he decommitted from Michigan this month. After taking his official visit to Norman last week, his next trip is expected to be to Tennessee. Getting the linebacker from Indianapolis on campus was huge, but Oklahoma is in for a fight to land him.

OKLAHOMA STATE
Total commits: 15
ESPN 300 commits: 4
The latest: Oklahoma State's brutal offensive line play has a lot to do with its current four-game losing streak, but the good news is help is on the way. The Pokes still have five offensive linemen committed for 2015, including juco tackles Brandon Pertile and Deya Mhiesen, who could help immediately. And despite their slide on the field this season, Oklahoma State has yet to take any hits to its recruiting class.

TCU
Total commits: 17
ESPN 300 commits: 0
The latest: The Horned Frogs are making an effort to get back in the mix with ESPN 300 receiver Ryan Newsome. The 5-foot-8 speedster and elite returner has taken visits to Ole Miss, Tennessee, Oklahoma and UCLA recently, but is still considering Texas and the possibility to staying close to home.

TEXAS
Total commits: 18
ESPN 300 commits: 9
The latest: Three big-time commits -- Toby Weathersby, DeShon Elliott and Du'Vonta Lampkin -- took a visit to Texas A&M this weekend, but they remain committed to Texas. The Longhorns' top recruiting target, Malik Jefferson, was also on an official visit to watch A&M's rain-drenched 34-27 loss to Missouri.

TEXAS TECH
Total commits: 14
ESPN 300 commits: 5
The latest: Despite the loss to Oklahoma, Texas Tech had a big-time recruiting weekend for its home finale. Early signee Breiden Fehoko made the trip from Hawaii along with ESPN 300 guard Fred Ulu-Perry Jr., a UCLA commit. The Red Raiders also got the final official visit of four-star safety Kahlil Haughton.

WEST VIRGINIA
Total commits: 22
ESPN 300 commits: 3
The latest: The Mountaineers get a great opportunity to win over some recruits with their home game Thursday night against Kansas State. Two ESPN Junior 300 recruits, defensive end Rahshaun Smith receiver Steven Smothers, are expected to be in attendance. Considering how critical the state of Maryland is to West Virginia's recruiting efforts, getting two of that state's best for 2016 in town would be huge.

Big 12 FPI rankings: Week 12

November, 17, 2014
Nov 17
12:30
PM ET
ESPN's Football Power Index is a measure of team strength that is meant to be the best predictor of performance going forward for the rest of the season. Every week, ESPN will be updating its FPI to compile a ranking based on 10,000 simulations of the rest of the season using results to date and the remaining schedule.

Baylor continued its rise up the FPI, moving into the top four, but it is TCU’s drop behind Oklahoma that headlines this week’s update of the FPI.

After a 42-30 win against Texas Tech, the Sooners jumped TCU, moving from No. 10 to No. 9. TCU’s lackluster showing in a 34-30 win against Kansas drops the Horned Frogs two spots to No. 11.

Baylor remains the clear favorite to win the Big 12, with its odds increasing from 71.7 percent to 74.3 during the off week.

TCU saw its odds drop from 24.2 percent to 21.7 percent, yet continues to have hope for a Big 12 title. But, after losing head-to-head to the Bears, TCU will need a Baylor loss to become the conference’s designated champion.

KSU is the only other team with Big 12 title odds, at four percent, with the Wildcats hoping to win out and see TCU suffer a loss to Texas or Iowa State in its final two games.

Three-loss Oklahoma is projected to win out with home games against Kansas and Oklahoma State remaining on the schedule.

Interim coach Clint Bowen’s Jayhawks continue to rise. After sitting at No. 103 two weeks ago, Kansas has risen to No. 89 on the heels of a win against Iowa State on Nov. 8 and the close loss to TCU on Saturday.

Oklahoma State is the biggest mover in the conference, dropping seven spots to No. 62 after Texas manhandled the Cowboys in its 28-7 win at Boone Pickens Stadium over the weekend.

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Trevor Knight out again for OU

November, 17, 2014
Nov 17
11:48
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Bob Stoops
Chuck Cook/USA TODAY SportsOklahoma coach Bob Stoops says Trevor Knight will not play Saturday against Kansas.

Oklahoma quarterback Trevor Knight will miss a second consecutive game with a neck injury, coach Bob Stoops said Monday morning.

According to a source close to Knight, the player has been diagnosed with transient quadriplegia, which can cause pain, numbness, tingling and/or a loss of sensation on both sides of the body.

Knight suffered the injury late in Oklahoma's 48-14 loss at Baylor on Nov. 8. He sat out Saturday's game at Texas Tech, which the Sooners won 42-30. His replacement, Cody Thomas, threw three first-half interceptions but rushed for 103 yards and a touchdown.

The Sooners face Kansas at home this weekend.


(Read full post)


Big 12 weekend rewind: Week 12

November, 17, 2014
Nov 17
9:00
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Taking stock of Week 12 in the Big 12:

Team of the week: The Texas Longhorns are bowl-eligible after hammering Oklahoma State in Stillwater, 28-7. Three weeks ago, it didn’t look like Texas would get there. But the pass rush has become dominant, the offensive line has gradually improved and quarterback Tyrone Swoopes has settled in. Getting to a bowl game might not seem like a big deal for a program the stature of Texas. But the way this season began, it gives Charlie Strong plenty to build on going forward.

Disappointment of the week: Even with all their offensive struggles, the Oklahoma State Cowboys had a prime opportunity to get that coveted sixth win at home coming off an open week. Yet once again, the offense no-showed, and Oklahoma State was blown out of its own stadium. The Cowboys had just 51 yards of offense in the first half, which was the lowest total of the Mike Gundy era. With road trips to Baylor and Oklahoma left, the Cowboys will likely miss out on a bowl for the first time since Gundy’s first season in 2005. With one of the youngest teams in college football, this was always going to be a rebuilding season for the Cowboys. Even so, it’s been a disappointing one.

Big (offensive) man on campus: In the spring, Kansas coach Charlie Weis announced a three-way quarterback competition that included Montell Cozart, Jake Heaps and T.J. Millweard, and not Michael Cummings. But since taking over at quarterback, Cummings has been a revelation, and he delivered his best performance yet in the Jayhawks’ narrow 34-30 loss to TCU. Cummings threw for 332 yards and two touchdowns, and ran for another score. The Horned Frogs were so nervous about Cummings beating them at the end of the game they went for a fourth-and-one instead of kicking a field goal and giving him the ball with a chance to score a touchdown and win the game on a potential two-point conversion. Honorable-mention honors here go to Oklahoma freshman Samaje Perine, who rumbled for 213 yards and three touchdowns to key the Sooners' 42-30 comeback win at Texas Tech. Perine could become Oklahoma's first freshman running back to earn All-Big 12 honors since Adrian Peterson in 2004.

Big (defensive) man on campus: Texas defensive tackle Malcom Brown obliterated yet another offensive line. This time it was Oklahoma State’s. Brown finished with three tackles, two sacks and a forced fumble as the Longhorns put the clamps on Oklahoma State’s anemic offense that had only two first downs until late in the second half. After another strong performance, Brown is making a strong push for Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year honors.

Special-teams player of the week: With TCU trailing 27-24 late in the third quarter, Cameron Echols-Luper hauled in a punt, then weaved through the Jayhawks for a 69-yard touchdown to give the Horned Frogs the lead. The Echols-Luper return wound up being the difference in the four-point game.

Play of the week: Midway through the third quarter, Kansas wideout Nigel King hauled in an acrobatic one-handed grab off a tip, then raced 78 yards down the sideline to give the Jayhawks a 27-17 lead. When the Jayhawks recovered the ensuing kickoff, it looked like it was actually going to be their day. But Kansas couldn’t capitalize off the turnover, and TCU scored 17 straight points to regain control of the game.

Stat of the week: Via pistolsfiringblog.com, Oklahoma State has either punted or turned the ball over on 50 of its past 59 offensive possessions dating to halftime against Kansas on Oct. 11. The Cowboys now rank last in the Big 12 in total offense in conference games.

Quote of the week: "They thought it was cold. I told them it wasn't cold." -- Texas coach Charlie Strong, who had his players remove their cold-weather gear before the game in Stillwater.

National links: What next for Florida? 

November, 17, 2014
Nov 17
8:30
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When an elite football program like Florida -- certainly one of the top destinations in the sport -- has a coaching vacancy, it’s always interesting to see which names surface as possible candidates.

The writing was on the wall that Will Muschamp was on his way out in Gainesvile, and the school made it official on Sunday, the day after the Gators’ late implosion in an overtime loss to South Carolina.

Immediately the rumor mill began to churn out names, like in an Associated Press story that mentioned Arizona’s Rich Rodriguez, Mississippi State’s Dan Mullen, Oklahoma’s Bob Stoops, Oklahoma State’s Mike Gundy and Ole Miss’ Hugh Freeze as possibilities. Insider’s Travis Haney weighed in on why it’s a top-tier job and some candidates that Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley might contact.

Will Foley look for an offensive-minded coach after defensive specialist Muschamp fell flat? Will he be willing to hire a coveted coordinator, as Muschamp was, with no head coaching experience? Might he look to the NFL ranks, or to someone like Mike Shanahan, who once served as an assistant at Florida?

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Big 12 morning links

November, 17, 2014
Nov 17
8:00
AM ET
It's always hard to keep your bluff when this happens.
  • Will Muschamp was fired Sunday, and seemingly every coach in the Big 12 has been mentioned as a possible replacement at Florida, including Bob Stoops, Charlie Strong, Mike Gundy, Art Briles and Gary Patterson. If I were a betting man, I would place a wager that the next coach at Florida will not come via the Big 12. But, this will be worth monitoring the next couple months.
  • Of those five names, Stoops would probably be Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley's No. 1 choice. Foley has made overtures toward Stoops before, and the two have a history dating to when Stoops was the Gators' defensive coordinator in the 1990s. The Oklahoman's Jason Kersey, however, raised an astute point that could turn this into a non-starter for Stoops. His brother, Mark, is the head coach at Kentucky. Would Stoops really sign off on playing his brother every year?
  • Speaking of coaching vacancies, the Lawrence Journal-World's Tom Keegan believes Clint Bowen deserves to have the interim tag stripped at Kansas. Following a valiant performance in a narrow 34-30 loss to fourth-ranked TCU, Keegan wrote that Bowen has transformed a depleted roster into a high-flying, hard-hitting ball of focused fire." I was in Lawrence on Saturday, and it's hard to disagree. Kansas looks like a completely different team right now. And Bowen is making it very hard for Kansas athletic director Sheahon Zenger not to hand him the keys to the program full time.
  • The one silver lining in Texas Tech's 42-30 defeat against Oklahoma over the weekend was the performance of true freshman quarterback Patrick Mahomes, who tossed four touchdown passes and no interceptions. In the opinion of the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal's Nick Talbot, the Red Raiders should turn the offense over to Mahomes for good. I'm not ready to write off Davis Webb just yet. But Mahomes' ability to make plays outside of the pocket definitely sparked the Red Raiders, and opened up big plays. He also avoided turnovers, which has been Webb's downfall this season. Whether it's Mahomes, Webb or high school senior Jarrett Stidham, it's going to be interesting to see who eventually emerges as Tech's quarterback of the future.
  • Back to the coaching theme, the Des Moines Register's Randy Peterson weighed in on whether Iowa State should fire coach Paul Rhoads after a second straight disappointing season. Personally, I think it's way too soon for the Cyclones to be seriously considering this. Sure, this season has been a disaster in every way. But Rhoads took Iowa State to three bowl games in his four years. Under Rhoads, Ames had been a difficult place to play. And the fans have been coming to the games, propelling plans to renovate Jack Trice Stadium. Iowa State bailed on former coach Dan McCarney too early. The Cyclones would be making the same mistake in bailing on Rhoads at this point, too.

Florida State No. 1 in AP poll

November, 16, 2014
Nov 16
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Florida State is No. 1 again in The Associated Press college football poll in another comeback of sorts for a team with a season full of remarkable rallies.

The Seminoles (10-0) were preseason No. 1 before being replaced by Mississippi State in October. The Bulldogs (9-1) had a run of six weeks at No. 1 stopped by a 25-20 loss at Alabama on Saturday.

The Crimson Tide moved up four spots to No. 2. The Bulldogs dropped to fourth.

The Seminoles received 43 first-place votes from the media panel. Alabama got 16 and No. 3 Oregon got one.

Florida State is the only unbeaten team remaining from the Big Five conferences after Jameis Winston and the 'Noles erased a halftime deficit for the fifth time this season in a 30-24 victory at Miami.

TCU remained fifth after a close call against KansasBaylor is sixth, just five points behind its Big 12 rival.


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Big 12 Power Rankings: Week 12

November, 16, 2014
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