Oklahoma Sooners: Terrance Ganaway

We're continuing our look at the postseason rankings for each position in the Big 12. Here's a look back at where the running backs ranked in the preseason.

In this position, unlike quarterback, depth is a major, major factor in these rankings.

1. Texas A&M

The Aggies had the two most talented backs, and despite injuries to both, proved it through an otherwise frustrating 2011. Christine Michael suffered a torn ACL, but still managed 899 yards on just 149 carries. Cyrus Gray injured his shoulder late in the season, but secured his second consecutive 1,000-yard season and ranked third in the Big 12, despite carrying the ball just 198 times. This duo should have easily surpassed 1,000 yards, but even when they were injured, Ben Malena played well in the final two games.

[+] EnlargeChristine Michael
AP Photo/Brandon WadeChristine Michael averaged 6 yards per carry before a torn ACL ended his season.
2. Missouri

Mizzou dealt with injuries, too, first to Kendial Lawrence and De'Vion Moore. Cue Henry Josey. Josey became the best back in the Big 12 this year before suffering a major knee injury that included torn ligaments. He may not be back in 2012. His 1,168 yards were third most in the Big 12, despite carrying the ball just 145 times. Lawrence finished 12th with 566 yards.

3. Oklahoma State

Joseph Randle stole the show this year, rushing for 24 scores and ranking second in the Big 12 with 1,216 yards. Only Collin Klein ran for more touchdowns and Terrance Ganaway was the only player with more yardage. Still, Jeremy Smith had averaged more than 7 yards a carry, and he'd be able to start for anyone else in the league. Herschel Sims showed promise, too, with 242 yards on 31 carries.

4. Baylor

Ganaway led the Big 12 in rushing with huge performances late in the season, including a 200-yard, five-touchdown game in his final outing as a college athlete in the Alamo Bowl. He averaged more than 6 yards on his 250 carries and had 330 more yards than any other back in the league. Jarred Salubi added 331 yards, too.

5. Texas

Texas' Malcolm Brown and Joe Bergeron were banged-up late in the season, but Fozzy Whittaker played well until suffering a torn ACL against Missouri, too. Scatback D.J. Monroe was effective in the passing game as well. Four running backs topped 300 yards and Brown led the team with 742 yards, despite missing three games and having his carries limited early in the season.

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The 2011 Big 12 All-Bowl team

January, 13, 2012
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Here's the All-Bowl team from the Big 12, recognizing the best single-game performances from this year's bowls.

QB: Brandon Weeden, Oklahoma State: Weeden threw for 399 yards and three touchdowns (it could have been four if a game-winning TD pass to Colton Chelf hadn't been overturned) on 29-of-42 passing. His first pass was intercepted, but he had an otherwise solid night and ran for his first career touchdown in the 41-38 win against Stanford.

[+] EnlargeTerrance Ganaway
AP Photo/Darren AbateBaylor's Terrance Ganaway rushed for five TDs in the Alamo Bowl.
RB: Terrance Ganaway, Baylor: The Big 12 rushing champion ran for 200 yards and five touchdowns in the Bears' 67-56 win against Washington in the Alamo Bowl.

RB: Ben Malena, Texas A&M: Malena stepped in for the injured Cyrus Gray and Christine Michael and had a solid game in the Aggies' 33-22 win against Northwestern in the Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas. He finished with 77 yards and two touchdowns on 23 carries, showcasing his physical running style. He also caught six passes for 36 yards.

FB: Trey Millard, Oklahoma: Millard carried the ball four times for 21 yards but also helped pave the way for three Blake Bell touchdowns from the Belldozer formation.

WR: Ryan Swope, Texas A&M: Jeff Fuller had better numbers in the bowl, but it was aided by big catches late. Swope kept the Aggies offense humming for most of the game, with eight catches for 105 yards in the win against Northwestern.

WR: Justin Blackmon, Oklahoma State: Blackmon was the best offensive player in the Big 12 bowls, spearheading Oklahoma State's offense in the Fiesta Bowl win with eight catches for 186 yards and three touchdowns.

WR: Colton Chelf, Oklahoma State: Chelf made two huge catches over the middle early and a third nearly won the game, but his touchdown was overturned. Still, OSU doesn't win its first BCS bowl without Chelf's 97 yards on five catches.

TE: Michael Egnew, Missouri: By Egnew's standards, it was a quiet game, but he played well with a 25-yard grab and three catches for 39 yards in Mizzou's win.

OL: Grant Garner, Oklahoma State: Oklahoma State's offensive line is keyed by Garner, who helped the Cowboys handle Stanford's blitzes well and give Weeden plenty of time in the Fiesta Bowl win.

OL: Philip Blake, Baylor: Baylor ran for 482 yards and scored 67 points in its win against Washington in the Alamo Bowl. Blake's the man who keyed it all.

OL: Levy Adcock, Oklahoma State: Adcock's the best overall talent on OSU's line, and he showed it in the win against Stanford.

OL: Dan Hoch, Missouri: Missouri rolled over one of the nation's best rush defenses, North Carolina, for 337 yards on the ground.

OL: Luke Joeckel, Texas A&M: The Aggies' offense was potent for most of its win against Northwestern, and Joeckel was solid in run and pass blocking for the balanced attack.

DEFENSE

DL: Jackson Jeffcoat, Texas: Jeffcoat made five tackles, two sacks and 2.5 tackles for loss in the Longhorns' 21-10 win against Cal. The Texas defense dominated, and the defensive line's play was the catalyst. He did it all with a torn pectoral muscle, too. He'll miss the spring after having it surgically repaired this week.

[+] EnlargeAdam Davis
AP Photo/Matt StrasenKansas State defensive end Adam Davis, 97, had two sacks and forced this first-half fumble by Arkansas QB Tyler Wilson in the Cotton Bowl.
DL: Adam Davis, Kansas State: Davis sacked Arkansas' Tyler Wilson twice and had three tackles for loss with a forced fumble in the loss to the Razorbacks.

DL: R.J. Washington, Oklahoma: With Ronnell Lewis ineligible, Washington showed up big in the win against Iowa. He had two sacks and made three tackles.

DL: Tony Jerod-Eddie, Texas A&M: Jerod-Eddie made eight tackles and had a sack in the win against Northwestern.

LB: Damontre Moore, Texas A&M: Moore was a monster in the season finale for the Aggies, making nine tackles and forcing a fumble on his lone sack.

LB: A.J. Klein, Iowa State: Klein flew around for the Cyclones, making 15 tackles in a physical game against Rutgers, though the Cyclones lost.

LB: Jordan Hicks, Texas: Could this be a big piece of momentum heading into 2012? Hicks starred with seven tackles, 1.5 sacks, 2.5 tackles for loss and a pass breakup in the win against Cal.

CB: Jamell Fleming, Oklahoma: Fleming was the Big 12's best defensive player of the bowls and the best player on the field in the Insight Bowl, making seven tackles, intercepting a pass and returning it 21 yards. He also broke up three passes.

CB: David Garrett, Kansas State: Garrett made 10 tackles and had two tackles for loss in the loss to Arkansas.

S: Kenny Vaccaro, Texas: He hates the nickname Machete, but Vaccaro was hacking away at Cal. He made three tackles, including two for loss and a sack.

S: Markelle Martin, Oklahoma State: Even if it was illegal (it was), Martin had the hit of the bowl season with a huge blast on Stanford's Ty Montgomery that took Montgomery's helmet off on the opening drive. He finished with nine tackles and a tackle for loss, with a fumble recovery.

SPECIALISTS

P: Tress Way, Oklahoma: Way averaged 50 yards on his six punts, including a 67-yarder.

PK: Randy Bullock, Texas A&M: Bullock made all four of his field goal attempts, including two from beyond 40 yards.

PR: Dustin Harris, Texas A&M: Harris looked the part of the Big 12's best, returning a punt 35 yards and finishing with 54 yards on his four returns.

KR: Justin Gilbert, Oklahoma State: Gilbert had a 50-yard return and returned his four kicks for a total of 136 yards.

Early 2012 Big 12 power rankings

January, 10, 2012
1/10/12
1:45
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With the season over, it's time to take a look at the Big 12 in 2012. For now, that means assuming a few things. And we all know what assuming does.

It makes us all look like geniuses.

So, for the purpose of this, I'll assume a few predictions. First, I'll assume Robert Griffin III is heading for the NFL. I'll also assume Mike Stoops lands back at Oklahoma.

That said, it's time to project what this league looks like in 2012.

And, before we start, let me make this clear: The Big 12 from 1-6 is absolutely wide open. Last year, the league only had three legitimate title contenders: Oklahoma, Texas A&M and Oklahoma State. This year, every one of the top six teams (and maybe seven, if RG3 returns) can win the Big 12 in a realistic scenario. The difference between Nos. 2 and 6 is minuscule and could change a ton by the end of spring practice.

And for the curious: I would have Missouri behind Kansas State on this list, and I'd have Texas A&M right behind Texas.

1. Oklahoma: The Sooners moved into the familiar role of favorite after Landry Jones announced he'd return in 2012, but not nearly as heavy a favorite as they were in 2011. Injuries hurt Oklahoma late this season, and replacing Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year Frank Alexander, along with linebacker Travis Lewis and corner Jamell Fleming won't be easy. Receivers Kenny Stills and Jaz Reynolds have to play big for the Sooners to get the win.

2. Kansas State: The big question mark for this team is can it take care of business and not get stuck in close games in 2012? The Wildcats were 8-1 in games decided by a touchdown or less this season. They can't count on duplicating that in 2012. They should be better, and return most of the big pieces from this season's 10-win team, most importantly quarterback Collin Klein and linebacker Arthur Brown. Next season is the time to prove it.

3. West Virginia: Who else is excited to see Geno Smith, Dana Holgorsen and the Mountaineer Express show up in Big 12 country next season? Like I wrote last week, giving up 33 points and still winning by five touchdowns is the Big 12 way of life. The Mountaineers broke Baylor's week-old bowl scoring record with 70 points, and bring back most of a good Big East champion team in 2012. The transition won't be easy, but they've got a chance to make a big splash in their inaugural year. The Big 12 and West Virginia are both convinced that the Mountaineers will join the Big 12 in 2012 and are planning as if it will happen, though pending lawsuits with the Big East mean it's still unofficial.

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RG3's Bears shock Oklahoma, make history

November, 20, 2011
11/20/11
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WACO, Texas -- Robert Griffin III made his way into Baylor's locker room, but paused when he opened the door.

Nobody was there.

"I was like, where'd everybody go?"

They were still on the field celebrating. There was a postgame party at Floyd Casey Stadium, and everybody wearing green and gold was invited. The Bears had swiped the Sooners' picnic basket.

Before tonight, Baylor had never had a chance to celebrate a win over Oklahoma.

With a 34-yard toss from Griffin to Terrance Williams in the back corner of the end zone, that all changed.

"There at the end, God works in mysterious ways," Griffin said with a wide smile. "When I looked down the field, I saw him one-on-one. All this is happening in milliseconds, so I saw him one-on-one and I was like, 'Well, I’ll give him a shot.' I threw it up, and he made a great catch."

[+] EnlargeBaylor's Robert Griffin III
Sarah Glenn/Getty ImagesBaylor's Robert Griffin III passed for 479 yards and four touchdowns in the upset over Oklahoma.
Baylor 45, Oklahoma 38.

That play, coach Art Briles admitted, was "not the way we drew it up."

"The dude has had the ability to take over a game by himself," said Baylor linebacker Elliot Coffey, "and you saw it."

We all saw it. We saw Griffin prove once again he's the best deep-ball passer in college football, throwing four touchdown passes, even if one of them unbelievably deflected off Tevin Reese's hands and helmet before floating into Kendall Wright's hands for a game-changing 87-yard score.

Griffin could only shake his head at that one, but he finished with a school-record 476 yards on 21-of-34 passing, breaking his own single-season school record for passing yards. He was also the Bears' leading rusher with 72 yards.

"Another day at the office for Robert," Briles said. "He’s been doing that for three or four years. When the ball’s in his hand, he’s going to make good things happen, because he’s very intelligent, very passionate and very gifted."

Said Baylor safety Ahmad Dixon: "You can't really defend him. You have to just take what he gives you."

No run was bigger than a 22-yard scramble on second down on the game's final drive, when Baylor had just 51 seconds left and no timeouts. Oklahoma had three, and when the Bears looked content to try to run it and settle for overtime, the Sooners used one. Baylor knew it needed a first down. The man they call RG3 provided those precious 22 yards.

"Then the whole thing flips," Briles said.

The aggressive move backfired, and the Sooners' fate was in the hands of the most dangerous player in the Big 12. Baylor should have known.

"Robert Griffin’s the best in the game," running back Terrance Ganaway said. "When the ball’s in his hands, expect big things."

The late toss to Williams was the biggest, and Griffin barely saw it. He took a big hit, but saw Williams haul it in. He wasn't sure, but the offensive linemen that mobbed him confirmed it.

"Robert, you just won us the game," they told him.

He got up, took a moment to kneel near midfield, then pointed to the sky and jogged to the sideline. He just wrote maybe the most memorable chapter in Baylor history. They'll never forget this night in Waco.

"When you work for something extremely hard for a lot of years, and you finally get it, it’s a great feeling," Griffin said. "We worked for this. We haven’t been waiting for it. We’ve been preparing for it. And it finally came to pass."

Baylor's already been through the whole bowl eligibility brouhaha. That's so 2010. Saturday was the third time Floyd Casey Stadium's field has been stormed in the past two seasons. Baylor's already equaled its win total from 2010 with two games remaining, and the Bears might be favored in both. Then there's a bowl game.

That's not lost on Griffin.

"It's great, but you've still got to show up every day and go to work. Go to practice. Watch film. That's something I've learned to appreciate, because the year I was hurt, I couldn't practice," said Griffin, who missed the final nine games of the 2009 season with a torn ACL. "I couldn't walk. I couldn't go to the bathroom by myself. My mom had to help me. My fiancee had to help me. So, when things like that happen to you, it makes you appreciate everything."

America learned to appreciate Griffin once again, too. He captured the nation's attention with a game-winning drive on the first weekend of the season against TCU, but the Bears suffered a pair of losses and dropped out of the Top 25. A slew of losses from top-ranked teams, though, combined with RG3's heroics?

The Heisman race has gotten a sudden face-lift.

"They say we needed a signature win," Griffin said with a laugh. "And we got it."
WACO, Texas -- I'll go ahead and do it.

No. 5 Oklahoma's officially on upset alert.

Baylor's gone step-for-step with the Sooners on both sides of the ball, and the scoreboard shows it. The Bears lead 17-10.

Both teams have caught a few breaks and bad calls, but this one looks like it's going down to the wire.

Time for a bit of halftime analysis after the Bears jogged into the tunnel to raucous cheers and a "B-U! B-U!" chant.

Turning point: Kendall Wright took a short pass and weaved his way for a 55-yard gain, outrunning Oklahoma's defense. On the play, OU defensive end Ronnell Lewis went down, too. The Bears scored two plays later on a 15-yard run by Terrance Ganaway, and you got the sense that Baylor and its fans started to believe they could win.

Stat of the half: It's been an ugly half. We've already seen 12 penalties for 114 yards.

Best player in the half: Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor. Griffin connected on a 69-yard touchdown pass to Tevin Reese that counted and was thrown perfectly. Another 80-yard bomb on the opening drive was thrown perfectly and didn't count because of a hold. Still, he's 8-of-13 for 197 yards and a touchdown and has played mistake-free football. He has to stay that way. He's got OU safety Javon Harris on his heels.

What Baylor needs to do: Keep poking at the Sooners and keep testing them deep. Baylor did a better job of handling the Sooners' blitzes in the second quarter and giving Griffin III some time to make plays. The Bears kept working the screen game to receivers on the outside, and the Sooners backed off a bit. The running game's only worked when Baylor's offensive tempo has been at its highest, so the solution there seems pretty obvious, too. Counter-intuitive to moving the clock, yes, but it's much too early to think about anything like that just yet. The Bears need to keep moving the ball.

What Oklahoma needs to do: A big win seems like it's almost out of the question now. Baylor's not a team that's going to be pushed around tonight on either side of the ball. This game may stay low scoring, and as the road team, when the Sooners get opportunities to score, they have to take advantage. They've done that so far, outside of a Trey Franks fumble on a long run and a third-down sack to take them out of field goal range. It's telling that they've taken advantage of opportunities and still only have 10 points.

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