Oklahoma Sooners: Michael Brewer

Big 12 bowl players to watch

December, 19, 2013
12/19/13
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Here are five key players to watch from the Big 12 this bowl season:

Oklahoma State cornerback Justin Gilbert

AT&T Cotton Bowl vs. Missouri

[+] EnlargeSaunders
Richard Rowe/USA TODAY SportsJalen Saunders' big-play ability will be much needed against Alabama.
The Jim Thorpe Award finalist and consensus All-American will be matched up against one of the rising pass-catching stars in college football in Dorial Green-Beckham. "DGB" finished just ninth in the SEC in receiving but exploded in the SEC championship game with 144 receiving yards and two touchdowns. He also had four touchdown catches in one game earlier in the season. If Gilbert can take away Missouri’s top downfield threat, the rest of the Oklahoma State defense can zero in on stopping running back Henry Josey and pressuring quarterback James Franklin.

Gilbert has made himself quite a bit of future money by coming back to school for what has been a banner senior season. He could make even more blanketing the physical, 6-foot-6 Green-Beckham.

Oklahoma receiver/returner Jalen Saunders

Allstate Sugar Bowl vs. Alabama

In many ways, the Sooners don’t match up well with Alabama, which was on track to advance to a fourth national championship game in five seasons before a dramatic loss to Auburn in the Iron Bowl.

But Oklahoma does have an X factor in Saunders, whose versatile playmaking could keep the two-touchdown underdog Sooners in the game.

In the upset victory over Oklahoma State that pushed Oklahoma into the Sugar, Saunders had a 61-yard punt return touchdown, a 37-yard reverse rush that set up another score and a game-winning, 7-yard touchdown grab in the corner of the end zone with 19 seconds remaining.

If Saunders can also pull off big plays on special teams and reel in clutch receptions, Oklahoma just might be able to hang around with the Crimson Tide.

Baylor running back Lache Seastrunk

Tostitos Fiesta Bowl vs. Central Florida

In the summer, Seastrunk declared he was "going to win the Heisman" this season. While Seastrunk rushed for more than 1,000 yards and Baylor led the nation in offense, Seastrunk didn’t have the kind of individual season he had gunned for, due in part to a midseason groin strain.

Will that prompt Seastrunk to come back for his senior season, or will the Fiesta be his final college game? According to ESPN draft guru Mel Kiper, Seastrunk grades out somewhere around a third-round pick. The Fiesta could be a chance for Seastrunk to improve his stock.

Or it could be a chance for him to build toward a more serious Heisman campaign in 2014.

Texas Tech quarterback Michael Brewer

National University Holiday Bowl vs. Arizona State

The ongoing Texas Tech quarterback competition was reduced by one last week, when freshman Baker Mayfield elected to transfer. That could open the door for Brewer to finally regain a stranglehold on the position.

Brewer was the offseason favorite to win the job. Then, he suffered a summer back injury and, after returning to practice in October, was never able to shake off enough rust to catch up with Mayfield and Davis Webb.

These bowl practices, however, should give Brewer plenty of snaps to return to form, and if he gets the starting nod over Webb, he could take the job for good with a solid showing against Arizona State.

Kansas State quarterback Jake Waters

Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl vs. Michigan

The junior college transfer was one of the most improved players in the Big 12 from beginning to end. After struggling during the nonconference and early portion of the league schedule, Waters helped fuel K-State’s surge the second half of the season. In fact, in the Wildcats’ only loss (Oklahoma) after Oct. 12, Waters still passed for 348 yards and three touchdowns.

The Wildcats will need another big game out of Waters against Michigan. They’ll also need him to take care of the ball, too. The Wolverines have been up and down defensively, but with 17 interceptions, they feature one of the better ball-hawking defensive backfields in the country.

Ranking the Big 12's top 25 quarterbacks

October, 29, 2013
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Naming the best quarterback in the Big 12 is easy. Deciding who's second-best right now is near-impossible. So we went a step further: Why not rank them all?

This continues to be been a strange, unpredictable year for Big 12 quarterbacks. We’ve already seen 18 start at least two games. Only three schools -- Baylor, Kansas and Iowa State -- have started the same guy for every game, and even they've used multiple quarterbacks.

The following rankings judged how these QBs are playing right now as well as their full 2013 resumes. Deciding where to slot injured passers was tricky. You might not agree with all or any of these rankings, but this is how we'd size up the competition after nine weeks:

[+] EnlargeBryce Petty
Peter G. Aiken/Getty ImagesConsidering how well he's run Baylor's high-scoring offense and the fact he leads the Big 12 in nearly every passing statistic, there is no debate that Bryce Petty is the Big 12's top QB.
1. Bryce Petty, Baylor: Best passer in the Big 12 by nearly every statistical measure, first in FBS in yards per attempt, TD-INT ratio of 18-1 and it's only his first season of starting. The gap between No. 1 and everyone else on this list right now is tremendous. -- Max Olson

2. Case McCoy, Texas: The career backup has been a huge part of Texas' resurgence. In wins over Oklahoma and TCU, McCoy has Adjusted QBRs of 83.9 and 95.4. -- Jake Trotter

3. Davis Webb, Texas Tech: Webb hasn’t been perfect but he’s averaging 420.67 passing yards and 5.67 completions of 20 yards or more in TTU’s past three games. He’s been very solid for a true freshman. -- Brandon Chatmon

4. Daniel Sams, Kansas State: He might be too high at No. 4, but Sams is the best athlete of the bunch and already has 538 rushing yards on just 100 carries. Still has plenty to prove as a passer. -- MO

5. Blake Bell, Oklahoma: Great against Texas Tech and Notre Dame, bad against Texas. Has promising moments as a passer, firm grasp on the job and a chance to prove he's league's second-best QB. -- MO

6. Baker Mayfield, Texas Tech: The walk-on made waves while leading the Red Raiders to a 5-0 start before a knee injury sidelined him, but he threw more interceptions than touchdowns in his final three starts before the injury. -- BC

7. Clint Chelf, Oklahoma State: Chelf finally has the job again, but he'll have to complete more passes to keep it. His completion percentage this year is less than 50 percent. -- JT

8. David Ash, Texas: Ash is throwing again, and could be cleared to return soon. But will he resume his starting role? The way McCoy is performing, probably not. -- JT

9. J.W. Walsh, Oklahoma State: His combination of moxie and leadership is hard to deny but his struggles connecting on deep passes led to Chelf replacing him in the starting lineup. He remains a valuable piece as the disposal of Mike Gundy’s squad, however. -- BC

10. Jake Waters, Kansas State: Juco transfer is starting to get the hang of Big 12 ball and his own offense, and coming off an impressive showing against West Virginia. -- MO

11. Casey Pachall, TCU: Pachall has only played in seven games over the last two seasons. It would be difficult for anyone to overcome that level of rust. -- JT

12. Clint Trickett, West Virginia: Trickett’s season has mimicked the roller coaster nature of WVU’s offense, but he did lead the Mountaineers to a win over Oklahoma State, the highlight of their season. -- BC

13. Seth Russell, Baylor: Getting mop-up time and experience in every game this season and has 427 yards on 60 percent passing. Would he start for a couple Big 12 teams? -- MO

14. Sam B. Richardson, Iowa State: Richardson has been banged up all year, and it's shown. At some point, the Cyclones may be forced to go with the healthier option in Grant Rohach. -- JT

15. Jake Heaps, Kansas: The BYU transfer just can’t seem to find any confidence or rhythm for the Jayhawks passing attack, forcing Charlie Weis to start drastically experimenting with KU’s offense. -- BC

16. Trevone Boykin, TCU: Dual-threat sophomore has his moments, but five touchdowns and nine turnovers in 2013. Back to backing up Pachall and could play some receiver. -- MO

17. Trevor Knight, Oklahoma: Knight won the job out of camp, but lost it to Bell two games in after moving the chains ineffectively. Bell's performance against Texas Tech means Knight will remain on the sidelines. -- JT

18. Michael Brewer, Texas Tech: Generally expected to be the Red Raiders starter heading into fall camp, Brewer has been surpassed by the true freshman quarterbacks. -- BC

19. Paul Millard, West Virginia: Started first two games for the Mountaineers before losing his job, got another chance late against K-State. -- MO

20. Ford Childress, West Virginia: The freshman quarterbacked West Virginia's worst performance of the year, a 37-0 loss to Maryland, before suffering a pectoral injury that could keep him out the rest of the year. -- JT

21. Grant Rohach, Iowa State: He’s come off the bench to replace Sam Richardson in ISU’s last two games but has yet to surpass 100 passing yards in the game. -- BC

22. Montell Cozart, Kansas: True freshman is now splitting snaps with Heaps and got half the reps against Baylor. Can make plays in the run game and be a spark. -- MO

23. Michael Cummings, Kansas: Cummings started five games in 2012 but has lost the No. 2 spot to Cozart, and is unlikely to play much going forward with Heaps also part of the offense. -- JT

24. Tyrone Swoopes, Texas: The 6-foot-4, 245-pound true freshman made his debut on Saturday and is a talented rusher, but he didn't attempt a pass. If McCoy goes down, he'll have to take over. -- MO

25. Tyler Matthews, TCU: The Horned Frogs got so desperate for production they turned to the redshirt freshman on multiple occasions, yet he’s seen very limited game reps and hasn't completed a pass this season. -- BC

Big 12 mailbag

October, 25, 2013
10/25/13
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In today’s mailbag, Texas Tech fans attempt a detente with Baylor Nation, Iowa State faithful look to me for answers and we determine whether K-State is the best 2-4 team in college football.

To the ‘bag:

Matt in Dallas writes: Jake, as a K-State fan disappointed with this season's results thus far, I feel I must resort to "moral victories." How encouraged should my fellow Wildcats be that Baylor has destroyed every team BUT K-State? Are we truly the best 2-4 team in the nation?

Jake Trotter: Hmm, let’s find out. Here are the AQ schools with similar winning percentages: Virginia (2-5), Syracuse (3-4), Kansas (2-4), Indiana (3-4), Arkansas (3-5). I think I’d pick K-State against all four. So there you go: K-State is the best team in college football with a sub-.400 winning percentage.


John in Cornelius, N.C., writes: Jake, I'm a 1976 ISU grad. Do you know whether or not the conference sees it as a priority to expand to at least 12 schools? If so, which schools do you think could be good fits? Would BYU be a possibility? UConn?

Jake Trotter: At the moment, conference expansion is not a priority for the leadership of the league. If the Big 12 wanted BYU, the Cougars would already be in the conference. UConn is way too far away. Honestly, who out there is worth adding? The Big 12 missed a chance to get back to 12 by adding Louisville. That was, by far, the best available option.


Squirt in Texarkana, Texas, writes: Why is everyone buying the Baylor hype? Do they not realize all the teams they have played are pretty bad and the only decent competition they had (K-State) barely lost?

Jake Trotter: Don’t look at who they’ve played. Look at what they’ve done to who they’ve played. It’s been incredibly impressive. Baylor’s mettle will be put to the test soon enough. But the Bears are worthy of their ranking just based on their handing out head-kickings like Halloween candy.


Andrew in Phoenix writes: When does Iowa State take the next step? Or are we as fans doomed to be brothers with KU?

Jake Trotter: The thing that has killed your Cyclones has been quarterback instability. Who has been Iowa State’s best QB since Seneca Wallace? Austen Arnaud maybe? In the last three years, the Cyclones have frantically been rotating through QBs trying to find the long-term answer. Until they accomplish that, Iowa State won’t be anything more than a .500 team.


Hunter in Lubbock, Texas, writes: What do Jace Amaro and company have to do to get past Oklahoma’s solid secondary?

Jake Trotter: It’s not just about getting past the OU secondary. It’s about catching balls in front of the OU defensive backs, then making them miss. According to ESPN Stats & Info, Tech is averaging 221 yards after catch per game, second-most among AQ teams. The Red Raiders had 266 yards after the catch last week in the win at West Virginia. If Amaro and company pile up yardage after the catch, the Red Raiders will stand a good chance of piling up some points, too.


David in Virginia writes: If Maryland and WVU played again, do you think WVU has improved enough since to win? That loss has just been bothering me all season.

Jake Trotter: I do, but that has as much to do with Maryland’s decline. The Terrapins have looked awful since beating the Mountaineers in Baltimore. But on top of that, QB Clint Trickett has given West Virginia a spark since taking over the week after the Maryland game.


John in Charleston, W.Va., writes: Is Ollie Luck the next AD at Texas?

Jake Trotter: It appears he’ll be taking a very hard look at accepting if offered. I think there’s a good chance he’s offered, too.


Warren in Austin, Texas, writes: Like most Red Raiders fans, I'm probably getting a little ahead of myself here. But say Tech and UT win all of their games from now until Thanksgiving, and UT beats Tech in Austin, only to lose to Baylor the following week. With all three at 8-1, who gets the BCS bid?

Jake Trotter: Probably Baylor.


Red Raider in Phoenix writes: I am loving the depth we have at QB this year. But will all three be on the roster next year?

Jake Trotter: It’s very difficult keeping three QBs of similar age on campus. Just ask Oklahoma State. If Michael Brewer ended up being the No. 3 guy again next year, too, what would the incentive be in him staying?


Kurt in Lubbock, Texas, writes: Hey guys, love the blog, I look at it almost every day! Just wondering if you think Tech's Big 12 title hopes are on the line in Norman. If we lose, do we still have a chance?

Jake Trotter: It’s possible, but I don’t see Tech winning the conference without a win in Norman, too.


Colby in San Angelo, Texas, writes: Hey Jake, love the blog! I'm a huge Tech fan/alum and I don't doubt Baylor as the top dog of the conference. But why is everyone discrediting Tech for an easy schedule when Baylor's isn't any different?

Jake Trotter: Probably because Baylor has been pummeling its opponents, while Tech has not.


Thomas in Coppell, Texas, writes: I'm a die-hard Tech fan and have had enough of the Baylor-Tech chatter. It sounds like a couple of second-graders arguing about whose dad is tougher. Wreck 'em, Tech!

Caleb the Great in Lubbock, writes: As a lifelong Red Raider fan and current Tech student, Baylor looks legit. All I see on here are Tech fans hating on Baylor, or the other way around. Both teams look great. But Baylor looks better so far. Until the two teams play or one loses, quit hating.

Jake Trotter: An olive branch? Baylor fans, what say you?


Will in Dallas writes: Baylor beat Iowa State by 64, Tech won by 7. Baylor beat WVU by 31, Tech won by 10. Why do all these Tech trolls still think they can beat Baylor?

Jake Trotter: Oh man, we were so close to an accord.


Charlie Bear in Panama City, Fla., writes: Thanks again for doing what you do. I don't know how you keep writing, even in the face of such criticism and ungratefulness from Big 12 fans. What is your take on the first week of BCS rankings?

Jake Trotter: Wait, people are criticizing me? When did this starting happening? The BCS looked about right to me. Baylor and Tech will only rise when they start beating ranked teams.


Kristin in Dallas writes: Out of the four conference games Texas Tech has played, your guest picker has picked them to lose three times. Just like Kingsbury likes it when the "GameDay" crew picks us to lose, clearly we play better than your guest pickers don't have faith in us.

Jake Trotter: That might be a bad sign for you, Kristin. This week’s guest picker picked Tech to win.


AG in Ames, Iowa, writes: You mentioned that Baylor and Texas Tech have "uphill climbs" to have any hopes of reaching the title game. While I understand they are both at a disadvantage, doesn't the rest of the season set them up well to move up?

Jake Trotter: They might be able to pass Ohio State. But neither has any shot of passing Florida State, Oregon or Alabama. Neither Baylor nor Tech played challenging nonconference schedules and the Big 12 is weak with the computers because of how the league fared during the nonconference season (no wins over a team currently ranked in the Top 25).


Caleb in Waco, Texas, writes: How come Stanford (6-1) is ranked above Baylor (6-0) in the BCS? What's with the computers ranking Baylor 12th?

Jake Trotter: That’s what happens when the only teams you’ve played with a winning record are Wofford and Buffalo.


Beau in Denver writes: I'm glad Baylor is finally getting some love in the polls, but how is Bryce Petty not higher in the Heisman discussions yet?

Jake Trotter: Baylor has yet to play in a national spotlight game, and Lache Seastrunk is splitting the Baylor vote to some degree at the moment.


Gary Patterson in Fort Worth, Texas, writes: When am I firing my offensive coordinators and finding someone to help this team score some points?

Jake Trotter: Probably after the season. Can’t get anyone in the middle of the year.


Colt in Reality Land, Texas, writes: Jake, can you try to shrink some of those giant heads in Red Raider Land by reminding them they have only played one team that is better than .500 this season?

Jake Trotter: I believe you just did.


Baylor Bear in Waco, Texas, writes: Jake, I just wanted to apologize on behalf of Baylor Nation for that one fan who called you an idiot. That's not what our school is all about. We have tough academic standards, but somehow that jackass got in.

Jake Trotter: Apology accepted. Now, don’t let it happen again.


Mike Leach in Dallas writes: Do you think the big reason the Big 12 is down this year is because there is so much overall poor QB play?

Jake Trotter: No doubt. Where would TCU and its defense be with stellar QB play? What about the Bedlam schools? They would surely both be in the top 10. QB play has been the Big 12’s calling card. But it has really hampered teams in the league this year.


Dave in Lagos, Nigeria, writes: Jake, I saw where a Texas high school coach got called in for questioning by school officials on a bullying charge. The coach's team beat another team like 91-0. If these charges stick, is Art Briles next?

Jake Trotter: Baylor does not fall under UIL jurisdiction. Otherwise, Charlie Weis might have to put Texas’ high school governing body on speed dial.

Big 12 Week 8 primer

October, 19, 2013
10/19/13
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Texas Tech will attempt to avoid the same fate it handed West Virginia last season, TCU and Oklahoma State will look to jump back into the Big 12 race, Oklahoma will try to bounce back from last week’s disaster and Iowa State will hope to somehow slow Baylor:

Those, among others, will be the storylines to watch in Week 8 of the Big 12:

[+] EnlargeEric Ward
John Rieger/USA TODAY SportsEric Ward is one of several Texas Tech wide receivers that are dangerous after the catch.
Texas Tech at West Virginia, 11 a.m. CT (FS1): Despite the juggling at quarterback, Texas Tech is the second-highest scoring offense in the Big 12. One major reason why is that the Tech pass catchers are averaging 214 yards after the reception per game. According to ESPN Stats & Info, that’s second-best among teams from BCS conferences. As long as Davis Webb (or Baker Mayfield or Michael Brewer) continue spreading the ball around and avoid the big turnover, the Red Raiders stand a good chance of improving to 7-0.

TCU at Oklahoma State, 11 a.m. CT (FOX): Two struggling offenses face off against one another in what essentially is a de facto Big 12 title elimination game. The Cowboys are coming off an open week in which they emphasized getting back on track offensively, but TCU features the best defense in the Big 12 led by the league’s best defensive player, cornerback Jason Verrett. The Horned Frogs will likely bring the heat on Oklahoma State QB J.W. Walsh, who is completing just 36 percent of his passes against the blitz. That’s 18 percentage points below the FBS average, according to ESPN Stats & Info. If the Frogs can get to Walsh, they’ll figure to have a shot in the fourth quarter.

Oklahoma at Kansas, 2:30 p.m. CT (ESPN): This week, Charlie Weis relinquished some of his power in the offensive game-planning to his assistants. The Jayhawks are last in the league in scoring but have talent in QB Jake Heaps and running back James Sims. If Kansas can jump to the kind of first-quarter lead it held against Texas Tech two weeks ago, then it has a chance to make this a 60-minute game. The Oklahoma defense is adjusting to life without two of its best three players, linebacker Corey Nelson and defensive tackle Jordan Phillips, who are both out for the season. The Oklahoma offense, meanwhile, has yet to score more than 20 points in a Big 12 game this season.

Iowa State at Baylor, 7 p.m. CT (ESPNU): The Cyclones have made opposing offenses earn their touchdowns this season. Iowa State is one of only 11 FBS teams that have not allowed a touchdown in three plays or less. That figures to change against Baylor, though. The Bears have already scored 12 touchdowns in three plays or less this season, which, according to ESPN Stats & Info, leads the nation. Even though Kansas State limited Baylor to half its scoring average last week, the Bears still scored a pair of touchdowns on two-play drives.

What to watch in the Big 12: Week 8

October, 17, 2013
10/17/13
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Baylor seeks to reach 6-0 while Oklahoma looks to bounce back big; TCU and Oklahoma State fight for their Big 12 title hopes, and we’ve got a battle of mentor versus apprentice in Morgantown. Add all that up and it could be a sneaky fun weekend in Big 12 country.

[+] EnlargeKliff Kingsbury
AP Photo/LM OteroKliff Kingsbury will bring his undefeated Texas Tech team against West Virginia and his mentor Dana Holgorsen.
Here’s what to watch in the Big 12 for Week 8:

1. Can TCU turn its season around this weekend? With games at No. 21 Oklahoma State and against Texas up next, the Horned Frogs are in serious danger of starting this season 3-5. Who would’ve expected that from the preseason No. 3 team in the Big 12? TCU has yet to win consecutive games in 2013 and is coming off a five-turnover performance in a close victory over Kansas. Play that sloppily in the next two weeks and a turnaround will definitely be hard to come by.

2. Oklahoma’s offensive plan following the Texas loss. Co-offensive coordinator Josh Heupel has admitted he would’ve tweaked a few things about how the Sooners offense approached Texas last week, including in the quarterback run game. What changes does he have planned this week, and what will OU do to get Blake Bell back on track? Its talented receivers had a hard time making an impact against Texas, and none of the running backs was able to take over. Let’s see who emerges as a go-to guy against Kansas.

3. Will J.W. Walsh get the critics off his back? Oklahoma State fans, dissatisfied by some recent struggles by the Cowboys offense, are starting to turn on Walsh. Backup Clint Chelf essentially lost the starting job just six pass attempts into the season, and if the Pokes stumble again, a faction of their fan base will demand he get another chance. It’s time for Walsh to step up and prove he’s the right passer to lead OSU back into the Big 12 title discussion.

4. Can Iowa State slow down the Baylor tempo? One of the more impressive stats from last weekend was Kansas State holding Baylor’s offense to 58 plays, almost 23 fewer than the Bears’ season average and one week after BU ran 94 against West Virginia. Good luck scoring 70 points on 58 plays. Texas Tech kept the Cyclones defense on the field for 101 plays last Saturday. That’s a tough spot no matter who you play.

5. How good can Oklahoma State’s defense be? Coach Mike Gundy made a bold claim this week: This Cowboys defense is the best Oklahoma State has had during his nine-year tenure. Let’s see if this unit can back that up against TCU in what could end up being a low-scoring affair. OSU has a Big 12-best plus-7 turnover margin this season and should be able to contain Trevone Boykin.

[+] EnlargeJ.W. Walsh
AP Photo/Eric GayOklahoma State needs J.W. Walsh to step up this weekend to keep its Big 12 title hopes alive.
6. West Virginia’s defense tries to clean up the Baylor mess. Nearly two weeks have passed since West Virginia gave up 73 points and 872 total yards in getting utterly destroyed by the prolific Baylor attack. Will a bye week and extra prep time mean the Mountaineers stand a chance against another pass-happy offense in Texas Tech?

7. Does Michael Brewer make an impact this week? Brewer, the presumed starter for Texas Tech before getting injured this summer, is back and got his first game action late in Tech’s blowout win over Kansas. But he has yet to attempt a pass this season while backing up Davis Webb. Maybe he’ll finally get his chance in Morgantown.

8. Will Charlie Weis’ new coaching plan pay dividends? This week, Charlie Weis gave up some of his duties as offensive coordinator by putting Ron Powlus in charge of the passing game and Jeff Blasko in charge of the run game. It’s possible the results won’t emerge for another few weeks -- especially with OU on the schedule this weekend -- but Weis is hoping he can help KU’s skill players more now. We’ll see if that change makes an immediate difference.

9. Kingsbury versus Holgorsen: Who ya got? Dana Holgorsen was responsible for getting Kliff Kingsbury his first job at Houston in 2008. They even used to live together. Now they’re facing off for their first time in their careers. You can bet both are looking forward to finding out just what kind of tricks each coach will have up his sleeve on offense this week.

10. Seastrunk starts a new Sea-Streak. Baylor running back Lache Seastrunk’s streak of eight straight games with 100-plus rushing yards came to an end against Kansas State. So did his run of six straight games with rushing scores. He had his quietest day since going for 30 yards on seven totes in Baylor’s last game against Iowa State. Might he be in for his first career 20-carry day this time around?

What we learned in the Big 12: Week 7

October, 13, 2013
10/13/13
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What we learned about the Big 12 from Week 7:

1. Texas is alive: The Longhorns were dead on arrival at the Cotton Bowl. Well, that’s what the Sooners thought. Instead, Texas outplayed, outmaneuvered and, that’s right, outcoached Oklahoma to pull off the biggest Red River upset in 17 years.
[+] EnlargeCase McCoy
Tom Pennington/Getty ImagesCase McCoy and Texas moved to 3-0 in the Big 12 after a surprising win over Oklahoma on Saturday.
Case McCoy threw a pair of touchdowns that his brother Colt couldn’t have placed any better. The offensive line kicked OU’s tail in the trenches. And the defense forced Blake Bell to deliver one of the worst QB performances in Red River history. After his biggest win in at least four seasons, Mack Brown said the Horns were out of the grave. Texas is more than just out of the grave. The Longhorns are suddenly 3-0 in the Big 12 standings, and right in the thick of the conference race.

2. OU has problems: The blueprint on how to shut down the Sooners is on tape. Load the box. Dare Bell to beat you deep in man coverage. If only that was OU’s lone issue. Mike Stoops’ 3-3-5 scheme predicated on speed worked wonders through September. But Saturday in Dallas, it was exposed in the trenches. The Longhorns got 5 yards between the tackles any time they wanted, as Johnathan Gray and Malcolm Brown became the first Texas duo ever to rush for 100 yards apiece in the same Red River game. Not having linebacker and senior captain Corey Nelson (torn pectoral) was a killer. But he’s not coming back, either. The defense, however, is the least of OU’s worries. After playing well against Tulsa and Notre Dame, Bell has looked completely discombobulated the past two weeks. He’s been unable to consistently locate receivers down the field, which has emboldened defenses to crowd the line of scrimmage and cover up OU’s running game. After the game, coordinator Josh Heupel said he never considered making a QB switch. But if Bell keeps playing like he did in Dallas, the Sooners will be forced to.

3. Baylor can in fact be slowed: After Baylor became the first team in 83 years to score 70 points in three straight games, the question began to be asked: Can these Bears be slowed down? Kansas State showed in Manhattan the answer is yes. In its first road test of the season, Baylor did not display the same crispness offensively it had at home. The Bears were still impressive, as QB Bryce Petty connected on touchdown passes of 93, 72 and 54 yards. But outside those three quick-strike scores, Baylor was largely handcuffed. After punting seven times through their first four games, the Bears had to punt six times at K-State. The running game, too, was held in check as Lache Seastrunk and Glasco Martin were limited to less than 100 yards rushing combined until Baylor’s final game-clinching touchdown drive. The fact the Bears still scored 35 points on a day in which they struggled offensively says all you need to know about how prolific this offense is. But K-State proved, with the right game plan, it’s an offense that can be slowed, too.

4. Daniel Sams has star potential: This season, the Big 12 is loaded with QBs who can cause damage with their wheels -- notably Bell, Oklahoma State’s J.W. Walsh and TCU’s Trevone Boykin. But nobody in the league comes close to what Sams is able to do on the ground. The K-State QB shredded Baylor’s defense for 199 rushing yards and three touchdowns, nearly leading the Wildcats to the upset as 17-point underdogs. When Sams was in the game, the Bears knew what was coming. And they still couldn’t stop it. Sams’ big limitation right now is with his decision-making in the passing game. For the second straight week, he was picked off on a potential game-winning drive in the fourth quarter. But Sams quietly has the second-best adjusted QBR (86.5) in the Big 12, behind only Petty (95.1). With an 0-3 start in the league, this has clearly become a rebuilding season for the Wildcats. But they have something to rebuild around in their sophomore quarterback.

5. Tech can win with at least two QBs: Texas Tech became bowl eligible for the 20th time in the past 21 seasons with a 42-35 win over Iowa State. And the Red Raiders did it using their second true freshman starting quarterback of the season. With Baker Mayfield out with an injured knee, Davis Webb got the nod and was solid. Webb completed almost 63 percent of his passes for 415 yards and three touchdowns with only one interception. Webb’s adjusted QBR was only 53.5 (scale of 0-100) in the game. And as coach Kliff Kingsbury pointed out afterward, there were some throws Webb would like to do over again. But his performance was more than good enough for Tech to move to 6-0. "We've got three guys [who] can win ball games," Kingsbury said. Mayfield and Webb have proved that the Red Raiders have at least two. And in preseason projected starter Michael Brewer, who has returned from a disc injury, Kingsbury believes they have a third. In 2012, Oklahoma State’s offense kept humming despite rotating quarterbacks in and out due to injuries. Thanks to comparable skill talent surrounding its quarterbacks, Tech is having success doing the same thus far.
Thanks for all your questions in today's chat. Here's where you can find the full transcript. If you didn't get your question posted, send it to the mailbag, and you could see it on the Big 12 blog on Friday afternoon:

Jake Lightning (Temple, TX): Who do you think will win between Baylor and OU? And what are the chances that that team will end up the season ranked in the top 5?

Jake Trotter: If I had to pick the game today, I'd pick Baylor. The Corey Nelson injury really hurts the OU D, and I just don't see OU outscoring Baylor given how the offense is currently constructed. The winner of that game will have a good chance to be top 5. Top 2? Probably not, but a lot can happen.

Howard (Houston): What chance do you give Bryce Petty and Lache Seastrunk making it to the Heisman stage only playing one half each game? Does Art [Briles] really have to put up 100 on people?

Jake Trotter: The dilemma Baylor has is which guy to push for the Heisman. The two are kinda splitting the vote, which is why you don't see a Baylor player anywhere on these straw polls. But if Baylor were to go 12-0, it would definitely have a guy in NYC. Not sure who that will be yet.

Bill Snyder (Manhattan, KS): What the heck do I do now? Both of my QBs are turnover machines...

Jake Trotter: I stick with Daniel Sams. Offense has more pop with him in the lineup. You have to remember, he didn't have Tyler Lockett or Tramaine Thompson for much of the OSU game. If he can limit turnovers, K-State has a chance to be better offensively than they've been with Sams in there.

Josh (Dallas): I hope OU looks over its game against TTU as much as you do. Wouldn't you think that game should get a little more hype than the game after it considering how even that series has been in the recent past? Also, Baylor and Tech play every year in Dallas, which is as neutral as it comes in college football. Just thought you might like to know.

Jake Trotter: Baylor and OU are the hot teams, but neither should be overlooking Tech. As I wrote yesterday, if Tech can figure out the QB situation, the pieces are in place for the Raiders to make a run. They haven't looked as impressive as Baylor or to a lesser extent, OU. But the bottom line is, they are 5-0. And they'll have their say when they go to Norman later this month.

Matt (Des Moines): How does Mike Davis get away with that hit on Deon Broomfield and making comments that he would do it again with no consequence from Texas or the conference?

Jake Trotter: Great question. It was so bad, Texas had to send out an email to a few reporters attempting to clarify what was being reported. Problem is, Davis was saying similar things on Twitter.

Danny (Austin): How does Texas NOT offer the job to Art Briles? He has done more with less. Mack [Brown] has done less with more.

Jake Trotter: Baylor fans will not like me saying this, but Briles, in my opinion, would be an excellent hire for Texas.

Ben (Chicago): What are your odds of WVU making a bowl game?

Jake Trotter: Mountaineers have three wins now. If they can beat Iowa State at home, KU and win one more game, they're in. So I think there's a pretty good chance for it.

Jay (Oklahoma): How do you feel about Condi Rice being on the selection committee? For me personally, I’d have no problem with it if she were an AD somewhere. It’s about her profession, not gender, IMO.

Jake Trotter: I respect smart people. Rice is a very smart person. So I'm all for it.

Danny (Austin): If Mack loses by 25 or more this weekend, could you see a circumstance where he'd just leave? What about 35?

Jake Trotter: In that scenario, I think Mack would just announce in November he would be resigning after the season.

Howard (Houston): What needs to happen for the Big 12 to get back in the top 2 or 3 in conference rank?

Jake Trotter: Texas needs to start carrying its weight.

Wes (Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina): Is this year’s Baylor team the best Big 12 team in history?

Jake Trotter: Slow down.

Jwild (Dallas): Who would you take -- Blake Bell or J.W. Walsh?

Jake Trotter: Bell

Mack Brown (Austin): With OU's starting LB out, I am going to shock the world and start Tyrone Swoopes. OU can't stop a running QB. Just wait.

Jake Trotter: The way Mack has gushed about Case McCoy, I don't see it.

Ryan (Dallas): Any trade secrets on navigating the Fair and the RRR?

Jake Trotter: Get to the corn dog booth early.

Big 12 Power Rankings: Week 6

October, 7, 2013
10/07/13
9:00
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This week's Power Rankings after a weekend in which there were no upsets:

1. Oklahoma (5-0, 2-0 Big 12, last week 1): The Sooners currently have the top-ranked defense in the Big 12. However, on Sunday they learned they’d likely be without linebacker Corey Nelson for the rest of the season. Nelson, who suffered a partially torn pectoral muscle, had been one of the defense’s three most valuable players. Can the Sooners overcome his loss? The answer to that question will go a long way in determining whether OU emerges with the Big 12 title.

2. Baylor (4-0, 1-0, LW 2): West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen said he’d never seen an offensive line establish the line of scrimmage the way Baylor did Saturday night. Quarterback Bryce Petty and Lache Seastrunk are getting the headlines, and for good reason, but Baylor's offensive line is another reason it has been putting up points in record fashion. Led by All-American guard Cyril Richardson, Baylor’s line is one of the best units in the country. Just ask Holgorsen.

3. Texas Tech (5-0, 2-0, LW 3): Texas Tech is beginning to look like last season's Oklahoma State, which had to shuffle through three different quarterbacks because of injuries. Michael Brewer finally returned to the field from a back injury, but not before starter Baker Mayfield left with an undisclosed knee injury. The Oklahoma State offense survived its QB injury shuffle. Can the Red Raiders follow suit?

4. Oklahoma State (4-1, 1-1, LW 7): The Cowboys won, but it has been four seasons since an Oklahoma State offense has looked anywhere near this discombobulated. J.W. Walsh engineered the game-winning touchdown drive, but the offense was largely ineffective otherwise, as the Cowboys went the entire second half without a first down until that drive. Oklahoma State’s intermediate and downfield passing game has fallen off a cliff, as Walsh had only two completions go for more than 15 yards (though he should have had a third that Josh Stewart dropped). This has allowed opponents to zero in on Oklahoma State’s rushing game, which has been poor since the opener against Mississippi State. If the Cowboys don’t make a QB change and give Clint Chelf a chance, or find some way for Walsh to be more effective through the air, they stand little chance of contending in the Big 12.

5. Texas (3-2, 2-0, LW 5): The Longhorns' season and Mack Brown’s tenure at Texas comes down to one game. If the Longhorns somehow knock off Oklahoma, the conversation in Austin changes. If the Longhorns get blasted like they have the past two seasons, the conversation is effectively done. And, for all intents and purposes, the season is, too.

6. TCU (2-3, 0-2, LW 6): It’s a shame this TCU defense can’t be paired with a more effective offense. Even though the Horned Frogs opened at Oklahoma with seven straight three-and-outs, the defense somehow kept the Frogs in the game. I was told over the weekend that QB Casey Pachall is ahead of schedule on his recovery from a broken forearm -- but he is still weeks away from actually returning. Until then, TCU will have to find a way to generate a little offense. And with the way its defense is playing, that would still be enough to win most games.

7. West Virginia (3-3, 1-2, LW 4): It’s about time to end the honeymoon with the West Virginia defense. The Mountaineers were completely and utterly torched in Waco, 73-42. The last time West Virginia gave up that many points was in 1904, when Michigan beat the Mountaineers 130-0. This Baylor game was almost as bad. West Virginia is definitely improved defensively, but good defenses don’t give up 73 points, regardless of who they are facing.

8. Kansas State (2-3, 0-2, LW 8): KSU coach Bill Snyder finally gave QB Daniel Sams a chance Saturday in Stillwater to run the offense. You have to wonder when he might give Sams a chance again. Sams moved the chains but turned the ball over four times, which ultimately proved to be K-State’s downfall. Sams showed he’s capable of being an effective Big 12 quarterback, but Snyder is not a coach who will tolerate turnovers from his quarterback.

9. Iowa State (1-3, 0-1, LW 9): What a bummer it’s been to be an Iowa State fan this year. I don’t know which was worse, losing twice in overtime in hoops to Kansas, getting bounced from the NCAA tournament by Aaron Craft’s leaning jumper or falling to Texas the way the Cyclones did Thursday. Iowa State has shown rapid improvement offensively the past two games, but it’s a challenge finding five more wins on the schedule that will get the Cyclones to a bowl game.

10. Kansas (2-2, 0-1, LW 10): Even if Charlie Weis didn’t call for the fake punt, it’s on him for even giving punter Trevor Pardula an option to take off that deep in his own territory. The Jayhawks probably wouldn’t have beaten Tech anyway, but the botched fake punt ensured that they wouldn’t. With running back Tony Pierson now out indefinitely, the Jayhawks will be without their best offensive weapon now, too.

What we learned in the Big 12: Week 6

October, 6, 2013
10/06/13
10:00
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What we learned about the Big 12 from Week 6:

[+] EnlargeBryce Petty
Jerome Miron/USA TODAY SportsBryce Petty and Baylor's offense have been unstoppable so far.
1. The Baylor offense is amazing: I don’t care whom Baylor has played. What the Bears have accomplished so far offensively is nothing short of amazing. They became the first team since 1930 to drop 70 points in three straight games. They have scored at least four touchdowns in every first quarter. They have annihilated everyone they’ve faced with an offense that doesn't have any apparent weakness. Bryce Petty has delivered a Total QBR of at least 93 (scale of 0 to 100) and thrown for more than 300 yards and two touchdowns in every game so far despite also having taken a seat early in the second half of every game. Lache Seastrunk has eight consecutive 100-yard rushing games, the longest active streak in the FBS. Antwan Goodley and Tevin Reese are the first- and third-leading receivers in the Big 12. The superlatives are unending. The Bears will face tougher tests down the line. But this offense has a chance to go down as the best in Big 12 history, and that includes the ’08 Sooners, ’11 Cowboys and ’05 Longhorns.

2. The other Big 12 offenses are not so amazing: The Big 12 used to have the best offensive conference in college football. Take away Baylor, and it might be the worst. TCU failed to generate a first down during the first half against Oklahoma, and the Sooners couldn’t get one against TCU the third quarter, either. Oklahoma State didn’t generate a first down in the second half against Kansas State until its winning touchdown drive in the fourth quarter. The list goes on. The defenses in the league are better. But outside Baylor, the offenses are collectively the worst they’ve been in a long time.

3. West Virginia’s defense is improved, but nothing more: The Mountaineers' defense got off to a strong start in Big 12 play, holding Oklahoma to 16 points in Norman and Oklahoma State to 21 in a win last week in Morgantown. But they were utterly exposed in Waco. Sure, Baylor’s offense might be the best in college football. But good defenses don’t surrender 73 points to anyone. Florida State also showed Saturday in a 63-0 rout of Maryland -- which scored 37 against West Virginia -- that the Terrapins' offense is not exactly a juggernaut. The Mountaineers are definitely better defensively than they were last season, but nothing more.

4. Oklahoma State, K-State and Texas Tech have major QB questions: Week 6 only brought more questions to the QB situations in Stillwater, Manhattan and Lubbock. Texas Tech’s Baker Mayfield played his best game since the opener in a 54-16 rout of Kansas, but in the third quarter he had to be helped off the field after twisting his knee. Michael Brewer made his debut in garbage time, and Davis Webb played again, too. The Red Raiders have three weeks to figure out their QB situation before they go to Oklahoma on Oct. 26 in what could be a huge game. Meanwhile, K-State, for the first time, went mostly with Daniel Sams over Jake Waters in Stillwater to mixed results. Sams energized the K-State offense with his wheels but also cost the Wildcats with three ugly interceptions, including two to end the game. The Cowboys have QB questions, too. Oklahoma State stuck with J.W. Walsh again but continued to be very average offensively. Coach Mike Gundy gave backup Clint Chelf only two plays against K-State, then went back to Walsh the rest of the game. Is it time for the Cowboys to try something different? Either way, something has to change for the Cowboys offensively if they want to jump back into the Big 12 race.

5. Texas has one week left to find itself: The Longhorns are 2-0 in Big 12 play but have been one of the shakiest teams in the conference. Texas escaped Ames with a 31-30 win over Iowa State. But the Horns did not impress and needed help from the Big 12 officials, who negated what appeared to be a late fumble that could have won the game for the Cyclones. After losing two games in September, the only way Texas can salvage its season -- and Mack Brown’s job -- is to beat Oklahoma this weekend. The Longhorns have completely rolled over against OU the past two seasons in Dallas, and this time, they will be without several key players, including quarterback David Ash. Despite that adversity, Texas has one week to become the team Brown said it would be this season. Because if it can't beat the Sooners, the season will effectively be a failure, regardless of what the Horns do afterward.

Big 12 Power Rankings: Week 5

September, 30, 2013
9/30/13
9:00
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This week's Power Rankings feature a new No. 1, as last week's No. 1 takes a tumble:

1. Oklahoma (4-0, 1-0 Big 12, last week 3): The Sooners take over the top spot after delivering the most impressive Big 12 win of the season. Notre Dame is not the same team as last season, but the Irish hadn't lost in South Bend since October of 2011. OU has been a different team since Blake Bell took over at quarterback, and Bell was fabulous Saturday, throwing for two touchdowns without a turnover while churning out first downs with his arm and his legs. The OU defense is clearly better, too, picking off QB Tommy Rees on Notre Dame's first two possessions, with linebacker Corey Nelson returning one for a touchdown. The Sooners were clearly a team overlooked in the preseason, and, after five weeks, are looking like a clear Big 12 favorite along with Baylor.

2. Baylor (3-0, 0-0 Big 12, last week 2): After the off week, the Bears' offense will get its first real challenge this weekend from West Virginia's defense that appears to be the most improved unit in the league. Baylor has been unstoppable so far, but the level of competition is about to undergo an uptick. Can the Bears keep it up? They've shown no signs they can't.

3. Texas Tech (4-0, 1-0 Big 12, last week 4): Despite having the week off, the Red Raiders move up a spot with Oklahoma State's loss. The big question in Lubbock is who will be starting at quarterback for Tech come Saturday against Kansas. Baker Mayfield? Davis Webb? Michael Brewer, who has been progressing well from the back injury? The Red Raiders have been solid defensively, and the skill talent is legit. If Tech can get better play from its quarterback, this team could be a handful -- even for OU and Baylor.

4. West Virginia (3-2, 1-1 Big 12, last week 8): What a difference a week makes. The Mountaineers produced the most impressive in-conference win of the season with a 30-21 victory over preseason favorite Oklahoma State. West Virginia's defense continues to play at a high level (Maryland's 37 points were somewhat of an anomaly because of West Virginia turnovers) and Clint Trickett sparked the offense with his energy and leadership. West Virginia's offense is still pretty limited, but at least it no longer looks completely inept with Trickett at quarterback. The Mountaineers can't score with Baylor this weekend, but maybe they can slow the Bears down? Nobody thought West Virginia could slow Oklahoma or Oklahoma State, either, though Baylor's offense is at another level. We'll see.

5. Texas (2-2, 1-0 Big 12, last week 5): The Longhorns have a couple of interesting games looming. Thursday, Texas travels to Iowa State, which looked much better offensively in a 38-21 win at Tulsa this past Thursday. Then, Texas gets surging Oklahoma in Dallas. This figures to be the defining two-game stretch of the season for the Longhorns. Win the next two, and the season -- as well as Mack Brown's status in Austin -- looks totally different than it did two weeks ago. The off week could not have come at a better time for the Longhorns, giving acting defensive coordinator Greg Robinson another week to acclimate to his defense and quarterback David Ash another week to recover from the head injury that knocked him out of the Ole Miss and Kansas State games.

6. TCU (2-2, 0-1 Big 12, last week 6): Did TCU's offense finally uncover an identity during a rainy fourth quarter against SMU? The Horned Frogs poured on 31 points in the final quarter and did it with some new faces, as Ty Slanina, Ja'Juan Story and Cameron Echols-Luper all factored into the scoring onslaught in the first real action of their TCU careers. The Horned Frogs can really turn their season around with a win in Norman this weekend. That won't be easy, though, if All-American cornerback Jason Verrett (shoulder) and defensive end Devonte Fields (foot) can't play.

7. Oklahoma State (3-1, 0-1 Big 12, last week 1): The Cowboys plummet six spots after an uninspiring performance in Morgantown. It was just one loss, but it was a loss that exposed weaknesses across the board. For the first time in seemingly forever, Oklahoma State's kicking game is awful. The Cowboys' secondary gave up 320 yards to a West Virginia passing attack that previously had been completely futile. And on the other side of the ball, when the Mountaineers dared QB J.W. Walsh to beat them deep, he couldn't do it. That allowed West Virginia to stuff the Cowboys' running game, which also doesn't appear to have that bell-cow running back Oklahoma State has been accustomed to featuring. The Cowboys are better than they looked at West Virginia -- but how much better?

8. Kansas State (2-2, 0-1 Big 12, last week 7): Bill Snyder maintains the Wildcats will stick with the two-quarterback system, which has yielded mixed results. K-State has moved the ball better when Daniel Sams has been in at quarterback. But when he's in, the Wildcats are virtually no threat to pass. Sams has 29 rushes and only four passing attempts. Is Sams really that poor of a passer? Maybe it's time for K-State to find out.

9. Iowa State (1-2, 0-0 Big 12, last week 10): It's hard to believe a center could make that much of a difference. But the return of Tom Farniok sure seemed to do wonders for Iowa State's offense, which finally got going in a 38-21 win at Tulsa. The Cyclones also finally involved running back Aaron Wimberly, who ignited the running game with Iowa State's first 100-yard performance in more than a year. With former blue-chip junior-college transfer E.J. Bibbs emerging now at tight end, QB Sam Richardson no longer appears to be on his own. Jack Trice will be rocking Thursday night for the Longhorns, as Iowa State has a chance to land a signature win to build off of for the rest of the season.

10. Kansas (2-1, 0-0 Big 12, last week 9): The Jayhawks have a winning record but have been mostly unimpressive. Can they turn around the offense against Texas Tech? That will hinge almost entirely on quarterback Jake Heaps, who has talent but has been unable to find any rhythm so far with a collection of unproven wideouts. If the Jayhawks can be competitive this weekend, it will be a good sign they are moving in the right direction. If they get blasted, it could be a long season, especially with Iowa State and West Virginia seemingly having found their stride.

Freshmen impact in the Big 12

September, 25, 2013
9/25/13
10:30
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Having a highly ranked recruiting class and a bunch of four-star signees sounds good in the spring and summer, but it's a different story when the season begins. The freshmen who are game-ready are the ones who get the playing time, no matter their star rating. Here's a look at the five Big 12 schools getting the most from their true freshmen:

[+] EnlargeBaker Mayfield
Cal Sport Media/AP ImagesFreshman Texas Tech signal-caller Baker Mayfield, a walk-on, has been the surprise of the Big 12 thus far.
1. Texas Tech: The Red Raiders practically earn this top spot by default by relying on two true freshmen at quarterback. Baker Mayfield made a big first impression, but it seems the battle is opening back up after two solid games from freshman Davis Webb, and the imminent return of Michael Brewer. Still, going 4-0 with two rookies behind center makes coach Kliff Kingsbury’s bunch a worthy No. 1 on this list.

Tech has played eight other true freshmen in 2013, and a few are making solid contributions. Receiver Dylan Cantrell has six catches for 56 yards, linebacker Malik Jenkins has recorded five tackles and a pass breakup and receiver Carlos Thompson already has a 73-yard kick return and 35-yard punt return.

2. Oklahoma: Is it possible Oklahoma’s best running back is its fourth-string freshman? Keith Ford, the gem of the Sooners’ class, has rushed for 66 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries and wowed in OU’s last game against Tulsa.

Fellow freshman Stanvon Taylor earned his first career start against Tulsa, and he’s one of several newcomers contributing in the secondary along with Hatari Byrd, Ahmad Thomas, L.J. Moore and Dakota Austin. Linebacker Dominique Alexander has also chipped in six tackles through three games.

3. West Virginia: Of all the new skill players who joined West Virginia’s offense this year, who would’ve expected Daikiel Shorts would be the Mountaineers’ leading receiver and Wendell Smallwood would be their No. 2 back? Shorts has 12 catches for 151 yards and two touchdowns, and Smallwood has 139 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries thus far.

A total of seven true freshmen have played for WVU this season, and four of them are defensive backs. Corner Daryl Worley is off to a nice start with six tackles, a tackle for loss and a pass breakup.

4. Oklahoma State: Many expected Ra’Shaad Samples to be OSU’s breakout true freshman receiver, but so far that distinction belongs to Marcell Ateman. He has hauled in eight passes for 92 yards, good for fourth-best on the team.

Freshman kicker Ben Grogan has hit all 19 of his extra-point attempts and is 1-for-2 on field goals, and defensive backs Jordan Sterns and Deric Robertson have combined for eight tackles this season.

5. Baylor: Baylor might have two of the conference’s most talented true freshmen in receiver Robbie Rhodes and defensive tackle Andrew Billings, but they haven’t had to do much so far. Rhodes has 65 receiving yards and Billings has recorded three tackles, including one tackle for loss. Kiante’ Griffin is also contributing at linebacker with three tackles and 1.5 tackles for loss.

TCU can also make a case for the No. 5 spot. The Frogs don’t have a Devonte Fields-caliber breakout star yet, but receiver Ty Slanina has two reception and is currently listed as a starter, and former ESPN 300 prospect Tevin Lawson is breaking into the rotation at defensive tackle with two stops already.

Big 12 lunchtime links

September, 24, 2013
9/24/13
12:00
PM ET
You guys like this new helmet or not?

Who has the best chance to be 7-0?

September, 23, 2013
9/23/13
3:15
PM ET
Four weeks into the season, only Baylor, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Texas Tech remain undefeated from the Big 12. Looking at their schedules, however, all four teams have a reasonable chance to remain unbeaten before they begin to play one another.

Who has the best chance to reach 7-0? I've tried to answer that question using conjecture and a little bit of math.

First, I assigned a chance of victory for the next four games for each of the remaining undefeated teams. This was pure conjecture. After that, I inputted the mathematical formula for multiplying percentages (convert to decimals, multiply and then multiply the total by 100) to arrive at the overall chance of each team getting to 7-0. Here are the results:

Baylor

Oct. 5, West Virginia: West Virginia won last year 70-63. Only Baylor looks capable of scoring that much again this year. Chance of victory: 95 percent

Oct. 12, at Kansas State: K-State looks to be limited offensively, and it’s looking like the only way to beat the Bears will be to outscore them. Chance of victory: 65 percent

Oct. 19, Iowa State: Iowa State can’t move the ball, either. At least not well enough to give Baylor much problem in Waco. Chance of victory: 97 percent

Oct. 26, at Kansas: The Jayhawks haven’t won a conference game in three years. Chance of victory: 92 percent

Overall chance of getting to 7-0: 55 percent. Of the four unbeatens, Baylor has the easiest path to 7-0, with its most challenging game being a road trip to Kansas State.

Oklahoma State

Sept. 28, at West Virginia: The Cowboys are a three-touchdown favorite in Morgantown for a reason. Chance of victory: 85 percent

Oct. 5, Kansas State: This year, OSU regains the advantage at QB with J.W. Walsh. Chance of victory: 80 percent

Oct. 19, TCU: The Cowboys get TCU in Stillwater for the second year in a row. OSU coasted past the Frogs last season. Chance of victory: 75 percent

Oct. 26, at Iowa State: Could the 2011 upset be in OSU’s head at all? Chance of victory: 80 percent

Overall chance of getting to 7-0: 41 percent. The Cowboys will be decent-to-heavy favorites in all four games, but they have to avoid the kind of slip-up they suffered in Ames two years ago.

Texas Tech

Oct. 5, at Kansas: The Red Raiders have been a little unsteady at quarterback the last two weeks. Could Michael Brewer return from his back injury in time for this game? Chance of victory: 75 percent

Oct. 12, Iowa State: The Cyclones could still be winless by the time they visit Lubbock. Chance of victory: 85 percent

Oct. 19, at West Virginia: Texas Tech crushed the Mountaineers in Lubbock last year. Chance of victory: 60 percent

Overall chance of getting to 7-0: 38 percent. The Red Raiders haven’t been quite as impressive as the top three teams, but they already own four wins and have three winnable games coming.

Oklahoma

Sept. 28, at Notre Dame: The Sooners are slight favorites according to Vegas, but this is basically a coin-flip matchup. Chance of victory: 50 percent

Oct. 5, TCU: The three-game gauntlet of Notre Dame-TCU-Texas doesn’t look nearly as daunting as it did a month ago. Chance of victory: 75 percent

Oct. 12, Texas: You can throw out the records in the Red River Rivalry. Chance of victory: 65 percent

Oct. 19, at Kansas: The Sooners have won eight games in a row by double digits over Kansas. Chance of victory: 92 percent

Overall chance of getting to 7-0: 22 percent. The Sooners have the toughest road to 7-0, due to the road tilt at Notre Dame and the neutral-site rivalry game with Texas.

Final thought
Baylor, OSU, Oklahoma and Tech all have better than a 20 percent chance of getting to 7-0. But the chances all four teams get there are not good. Using the percentages above, there is only a 1.9 percent chance that all four reach 7-0.

Big 12 lunchtime links

September, 10, 2013
9/10/13
12:00
PM ET
Look at the bright side, Pokes fans: At least this afternoon's headlines will be dominated by new iPhones.

Big 12 preseason power rankings

August, 26, 2013
8/26/13
9:03
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Preseason camps have wrapped up around the Big 12, and it’s time teams focused on their openers this weekend.

It’s also time for the first Big 12 power rankings, which will appear on the blog at the beginning of each week throughout the season.

This list will change, obviously, but here is the starting point for how the Big 12 teams stack up going into Week 1:

1. Oklahoma State: The Cowboys were competitive last season, despite shuffling through three inexperienced quarterbacks. Even if Mike Gundy makes good on his promise to play both Clint Chelf and J.W. Walsh, quarterback figures to be a strength this time. Weapons abound offensively, and seven starters return on defense. The schedule also favors the Pokes, with TCU, Oklahoma, Baylor and Kansas State all slated to visit Stillwater.

2. TCU: The Horned Frogs have the best defense in the league, maybe by far. Among the contenders, they also have -- by far -- the most difficult schedule, which begins this weekend with a neutral-site showdown with LSU. Can TCU survive the gauntlet? That hinges heavily on Casey Pachall, who has the talent to quarterback the Frogs to the Big 12 title -- even against a brutal schedule.

3. Oklahoma: Bob Stoops stunned the college football world last week by announcing Trevor Knight as his starter. There could be bumps in the road early for the redshirt freshman quarterback. But Knight’s potential appears to be vast, and he could become a lethal weapon out of the Sooners’ new read-option offense. If that happens, and Mike Stoops can get something out of an unproven defense, there’s no reason OU can’t win a ninth Big 12 championship.

4. Texas: On paper, the Longhorns would deserve to be at the top of this list. Unfortunately, for them, football is not played on paper. Texas returns 19 starters and appears formidable at every position on either side of the ball. Something, however, has been missing intangibly from this program the past three years, underscored by two consecutive no-shows in the Red River Rivalry. Can the Horns rediscover their mojo? If so, the rest of the league could be in trouble -- because the talent and experience is there in Austin.

5. Baylor: The Bears deserve to be in the same tier with Oklahoma State, TCU, OU and Texas. In other words, they are a viable Big 12 title contender. Seven starters return on a defense that uncovered an opportunistic identity last November, and the offense is, well, loaded. Then again, there’s something to be said for having done it before, which Baylor has not. The schedule is favorable early, but the Bears’ mettle will be put to the test in November-December when they face all four teams ahead of them in the power ranks.

6. Kansas State: Bill Snyder’s bunch has surprised the past two years with heady quarterback play and stingy defense. With a QB battle ongoing and only two defensive starters returning, it’s difficult to envision K-State winning double-digit games again with the same formula. That said, the Wildcats might have the best blocking line in the league, and three of the better playmakers in Tyler Lockett, Tramaine Thompson and John Hubert. You know Snyder will have his team well coached, too. In other words, the Wildcats should not be discounted.

7. West Virginia: West Virginia lost three of the best offensive players in the history of its program, and yet there’s still a lot to like about this offense. The Mountaineers added some talented junior-college transfers, and Houston transfer Charles Sims could be a star in the Big 12. Even though the defense will be improved, it probably won’t be good enough for West Virginia to contend; but it might be enough for the Mountaineers to top last year’s win total.

8. Texas Tech: The Red Raiders are in a state of flux at the moment with their quarterback situation. Projected starter Michael Brewer continues to battle a bad back, which means first-year coach Kliff Kingsbury could wind up starting a true freshman Friday night at SMU. With running back Kenny Williams, wideout Eric Ward and tight end Jace Amaro, there’s more than enough around the quarterback for Tech to be prolific offensively. But unless Brewer gets healthy, it’s hard to see Tech maximizing its offensive potential.

9. Iowa State: Consistent quarterback play has been the one thing that’s kept Iowa State from becoming anything more than a .500 team in the Paul Rhoads era. Can sophomore Sam Richardson finally be the guy who turns that around? The Cyclones are banking he is. Richardson has some tools, and he played well in limited action last year with eight touchdowns compared to just one pick. He’ll need to stay efficient to offset a defense in rebuilding mode.

10. Kansas: Coach Charlie Weis said last month Kansas doesn’t deserve to be put anywhere but in last place. The Jayhawks should be better than last season, especially with former blue-chip prospect Jake Heaps now quarterbacking them. Running backs James Sims and Tony Pierson are dynamic, too. But will that be enough to pull Kansas out of the basement?

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Big 12 Playoff Hopes Rest On One Game
With Big 12 favorites Oklahoma and Baylor coming off possibly insurmountable losses, ESPN college football insider Brad Edwards says the best chance for conference representation in the College Football Playoff will be the Kansas State-TCU winner.
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