Oklahoma Sooners: Texas A&M Aggies

Earlier today, I released my Big 12 all-BCS era team. Here were the toughest players leaving off the team:

[+] EnlargeWes Welker
Ronald Martinez/Getty ImagesWes Welker returned eight punts for touchdowns and made 259 receptions in four seasons at Texas Tech.
1. PR: Wes Welker, Texas Tech (2000-03) – I originally had Welker on my team as the punt returner. But then I had nowhere to put Oklahoma receiver Ryan Broyles, who only set an FBS record with 349 receptions and probably would have won the Biletnikoff Award in 2011 had he not been injured. While not at Welker’s level as a returner, Broyles was still prolific returning punts, so I wound up sticking him there to get him on the team. In hindsight, I should have just cheated and created three WR slots, as there was a decent drop-off after Justin Blackmon, Michael Crabtree and Broyles. That would’ve cleared space to keep Welker on the team.

2. LB: Dat Nguyen, Texas A&M (1998) – Nguyen was a tremendous player, but he was hurt by the fact he only played one year in the BCS era. Still, Nguyen was very deserving based on that one season. He was a unanimous All-American, and won the Bednarik (defensive player of the year) and Lombardi (best lineman or linebacker) awards.

3. PR: Antonio Perkins, Oklahoma (2001-04) – I had actually had Welker ranked slightly ahead of Perkins as a returner, so it wouldn’t have mattered if I had created three WR spots. Still, Perkins was a consensus All-American returner and set a record for punt return touchdowns in a game with three, and for that, he was in the conversation.

4. OG: Davin Joseph, Oklahoma (2002-05) – One area in which the Big 12 lacked quality options was at offensive guard. Texas’ Justin Blalock made the team as a guard, even though he was largely a tackle in college. Joseph, however, was a quality player for the Sooners, making 40 career starts while blocking for Adrian Peterson.

5. S: Earl Thomas, Texas (2008-09) – Thomas was the top safety left off the team. He was only at Texas for two seasons, but was a consensus All-American while leading Texas’ defense when it made the national championship game after the 2009 season. He was second in college football in 2009 with eight interceptions before leaving early for the NFL Draft.

Big 12 all-BCS-era team

January, 13, 2014
Jan 13
10:00
AM ET
After 16 years, the BCS era is finally over. Next season, college football will have a playoff instead.

With the BCS done, we've come up with our Big 12 all-BCS era team (1998-2013) below:

Offense

[+] EnlargeVince Young
Scott Clarke/Getty ImagesWith Vince Young at the helm, Texas won a national title and Rose Bowl.
QB: Vince Young, Texas (2003-05) -- Young led Texas to its first national title in 35 years with an unforgettable performance in the Rose Bowl against USC. The Heisman runner-up also became the first QB in college football history to throw for 3,000 yards and run for 1,000 in the same season.

RB: Ricky Williams, Texas (1998) -- Williams was part of the BCS era for only one season, but what a season it was. He rushed for 2,327 yards and won the Heisman Trophy going away. Only Wisconsin’s Ron Dayne has more career rushing yards than Williams (6,279).

RB: Adrian Peterson, Oklahoma (2004-06) -- Despite battling injuries throughout his career, Peterson still was a beast in college. After rushing for 1,925 yards while leading the Sooners to the national title game, he finished second in the ’04 Heisman voting, even though there was still a stigma then in voting for a freshman.

WR: Michael Crabtree, Texas Tech (2007-08) -- Crabtree became the first two-time winner of the Biletnikoff Award, given to the nation’s top receiver. In '08, he and QB Graham Harrell led the Red Raiders to an upset of Texas and a No. 2 ranking in the polls.

WR: Justin Blackmon, Oklahoma State (2009-11) -- Blackmon became the second and only other two-time winner of the Biletnikoff. In his final two seasons, he finished with 233 receptions, 3,304 receiving yards and 38 touchdowns, and he helped propel the Cowboys to their first Big 12 title in '11.

TE: Chase Coffman, Missouri (2005-08) -- Coffman had a monster statistical college career for a tight end with 247 catches for 2,659 receiving yards and 30 touchdowns. He won the ’08 Mackey Award, given to the nation’s top tight end. Missouri won 37 games during the four years Coffman was in the lineup.

OT: Jammal Brown, Oklahoma (2001-04) -- Brown was a unanimous All-American and a three-time All-Big 12 selection. He became the fifth Sooner to win the Outland Trophy, awarded to the nation’s top interior lineman.

OT: Russell Okung, Oklahoma State (2007-09) -- In Okung’s final two seasons, Oklahoma State led the Big 12 in rushing yards. The Cowboys were also third in the country in ’07 in fewest sacks allowed with Okung at left tackle. He was a unanimous All-American and Outland finalist in ’09 and became the sixth overall pick in the ’10 NFL draft.

OG: Cyril Richardson, Baylor (2010-13) -- Richardson became Baylor’s seventh all-time unanimous All-American. The Outland finalist was also a key piece on the nation’s highest-scoring offense this season.

OG: Justin Blalock, Texas (2003-06) -- Though a guard in the NFL, Blalock actually started 50 games for Texas, most coming at right tackle. He was a three-time, first-team All-Big 12 selection and a consensus All-American in 2006.

C: Dominic Raiola, Nebraska (1998-2000) -- Raiola was the inaugural winner of the Rimington Award, named after former Nebraska center Dave Rimington, which recognizes the best center in college football. He was an Outland finalist and a consensus All-American.

APB: Darren Sproles, Kansas State (2001-04) -- One of the most prolific all-purpose performers in college football history, Sproles finished his career with 6,812 all-purpose yards. Among his 39 consecutive starts, his most memorable performance came in the ’03 Big 12 championship, when he had 235 yards rushing and 88 receiving, as K-State upset top-ranked Oklahoma 35-7.

Defense

DE: Brian Orakpo, Texas (2005-08) -- Orakpo captured the ’08 Nagurski Award as the most outstanding defensive player in the country, and the Lombardi Award, given to the best college lineman or linebacker. He also was the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year and a consensus All-American while piling up 11 sacks his senior year.

DE: Von Miller, Texas A&M (2007-10) -- Out of a hybrid defensive end/linebacker role, Miller led the nation with 17 sacks in ’09. He was a two-time All-American and won the Butkus Award in ’10 as the nation’s top linebacker.

DT: Ndamukong Suh, Nebraska (2005-09) -- There was no more dominant defensive player in college football during the BCS era. Suh finished fourth in the Heisman voting in ’09 and won several national awards, including the Outland, Lombardi, Nagurski (most outstanding defensive player)and Bednarik (defensive player of the year). He was also a unanimous All-American and the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year.

DT: Tommie Harris, Oklahoma (2001-03) -- Harris was a force from the beginning as a freshman on the OU defensive line. He won the Lombardi his junior year, and he was a two-time consensus All-American, garnering unanimous honors in ’03.

LB: Derrick Johnson, Texas (2001-04) -- Johnson was a menacing linebacker for the Longhorns, earning consensus All-American honors in ’03 and unanimous honors in ’04. He was also a three-time, first-team All-Big 12 selection, and won the Butkus (best linebacker) and Nagurski awards as a senior. Johnson finished his career with 458 tackles.

LB: Rocky Calmus, Oklahoma (1998-2001) -- Calmus played a major role in OU’s resurgence under Bob Stoops. He won the Butkus in ’01 and was a finalist for the Nagurski and Bednarik. A three-time All-Big 12 pick, Calmus led the Sooners in tackles in all three of those seasons.

LB: Teddy Lehman, Oklahoma (2000-03) -- Lehman too won the Butkus, beating out Johnson for the award in ’03. He also was Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year, captured the Bednarik, was a unanimous All-American and played in two national championship games.

[+] EnlargeTavon Austin
Justin K. Aller/Getty ImagesWest Virginia receiver and returner Tavon Austin had a huge 2012 season.
CB: Terence Newman, Kansas State (1999-2002) -- Newman was a solid player for Bill Snyder his first three seasons, then broke out as a senior. Newman was the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year, a unanimous All-American and the Thorpe winner, given to college football’s top defensive back.

CB: Derrick Strait, Oklahoma (2000-03) -- A four-year starter, Strait finished with a school-record 52 career pass breakups. He also won the Thorpe, and was a unanimous All-American.

S: Roy Williams, Oklahoma (1999-2001) -- Nicknamed “Superman,” Williams was the Big 12’s most dominating defensive player until Suh came along. He won the Thorpe and Nagurski in ’01, and was the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year and a unanimous All-American the same season. He also famously skied over the Texas offensive line to force the game-clinching interception to earn his moniker.

S: Michael Huff, Texas (2002-05) -- Huff became the first Longhorn to win the Thorpe, and was the leader of the ’05 national championship defense. He was also a unanimous All-American that season.

Special teams

K: Mason Crosby, Colorado (2003-06) -- Crosby was three-time, first-team All-Big 12 selection, and twice was a consensus All-American even though he never won the Lou Groza Award, given to the nation's top kicker. He was also the Big 12 Special Teams Player of the Year as a junior, and converted 66 field goals in his career.

P: Quinn Sharp, Oklahoma State (2009-12) -- Sharp became the first three-time All-American in Oklahoma State history, and he earned All-American honors both as a punter and a kicker. He was twice named the Big 12 Special Teams Player of the Year. In his career, he made 50 of 59 field goals, averaged 45.9 yards per punt and missed only one extra point.

KR: Tavon Austin, West Virginia (2012) -- Austin was in the Big 12 only one season, but he was unstoppable that one season. On top of being one of the most dangerous kick returners in the country, Austin had 1,289 yards receiving and 643 rushing, and finished second in the country in all-purpose yards.

PR: Ryan Broyles Oklahoma (2008-11) -- On top of being a prolific punt returner, Broyles was one of the most efficient receivers in college football history. He finished his career with an FBS-record 349 receptions, and was a two-time consensus All-American before a knee injury cut his senior season short.
Get ESPN 150 safety Jamal Adams (Lewisville, Texas/Hebron) in any competitive environment and you’ll begin to understand very quickly why he’s so coveted.

Take for example the Dallas Nike Football Training Camp in Allen, Texas, on April 7 when he set the tone in 1-on-1 drills by shoving a wide receiver three yards behind the line of scrimmage at the snap of the ball.

Adams, the No. 23 player overall and No. 3 safety, isn’t naming any favorites. But we caught up with him to get a sense for where he stands with a few of the programs generally thought to be in the mix.

2014 S Bonney talks offers, junior days 

January, 14, 2013
1/14/13
3:15
PM ET
The fall was quite busy for 2014 safety John Bonney (Houston/Lamar), who was part of a long, prosperous playoff run with his Redskins teammates all the way to the Texas Class 5A Division I state championship game.


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

Mastrogiovanni flips from OU to A&M 

January, 6, 2013
1/06/13
7:06
PM ET
The wave of momentum Texas A&M has in recruiting right now has seemingly become a tsunami, especially considering the Aggies' latest pull.

Jordan Mastrogiovanni
Bob Przybylo/ESPN.comESPN 300 linebacker Jordan Mastrogiovanni will join his teammate J.J. Gustafson in College Station.
ESPN 300 linebacker Jordan Mastrogiovanni, who has been committed to Oklahoma since June 14, has flipped his commitment to Texas A&M. The four-star inside linebacker confirmed the news to GigEmNation via text message on Sunday.

The 6-foot-2, 225-pound prospect from Dallas Jesuit is the No. 7 inside linebacker in the nation. He will join his high school teammate, J.J. Gustafson, a four-star offensive tackle at Dallas Jesuit who is also committed to Texas A&M.

To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

Film review: Texas A&M 41, OU 13 

January, 6, 2013
1/06/13
1:54
PM ET
Johnny ManzielMatthew Emmons/USA TODAY SportsOklahoma had no answer for Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel.

It's hard to imagine a more disappointing end to Oklahoma's season. The Sooners got hammered by Texas A&M, 41-13, in the Cotton Bowl on Friday as Aggie quarterback Johnny Manziel showed the world why he was the first freshman to win the Heisman, accounting for 516 yards and four touchdowns. Here's a look at some of the key moments that resulted in OU's third loss of the season.

Manziel’s first third-down conversion

To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

10 Cotton Bowl stats you need to know

January, 3, 2013
1/03/13
1:25
PM ET

AP PhotoLandry Jones and Johnny Manziel have their teams poised for a Cotton Bowl win.
The Cotton Bowl kicks off at 8 ET on Friday night as the No. 9 Texas A&M Aggies face the No. 11 Oklahoma Sooners. These former Big 12 rivals are meeting for the 17th straight season. Oklahoma has owned the series of late, winning 11 of the last 13 matchups since 1999.

Here are nine more stats you need to know to get ready for this game:

Going Streaking
The Sooners are looking for their first four-game bowl win streak since 1978-81, which would tie the school record for consecutive bowl wins. The Aggies are looking to win consecutive bowl games for the first time since a three-game streak spanning 1978-85.

Been Here, Done That
Texas A&M is no stranger to the Cotton Bowl. The Aggies are making their 13th appearance in this bowl, posting a 4-8 record in the previous 12. A&M has lost its last six trips to the Cotton Bowl. Its last win came in the 1987 season over Notre Dame.

What Heisman Curse?
Johnny Manziel plays his first game since winning the Heisman Trophy. The last three Heisman winners to play in a bowl game each won the game (Mark Ingram in 2009, Cam Newton in 2010 and Robert Griffin III in 2011).

Scrambling Man
Manziel has gained 784 of his 1,181 rush yards on scrambles. That's 18 more yards scrambling than Braxton Miller, Marcus Mariota and Collin Klein have combined this season.

Big-Play Johnny Football
Manziel has 70 plays that gained at least 20 yards this season, 10 more than any other FBS player. He was tied for the eighth-most passes (52) and the third-most rushes (18) of 20-plus yards.

Manziel Record Watch
Manziel is one rushing touchdown away from becoming only the fourth player with 20 passing and 20 rushing touchdowns in a season in FBS history. Tim Tebow, Cam Newton, and Colin Kaepernick are the others.

Jones Record Watch
Landry Jones can become the second player in college football history to start and win four bowl games as a quarterback. He would join West Virginia’s Pat White, who accomplished the feat from 2005-08.

Jones Cool Under Pressure
Jones has excelled when facing the blitz this season, throwing eight touchdowns and only one interception when facing five or more pass rushers. Jones has been at his best in the last three games, completing 77.1 percent against the blitz with four touchdowns and no picks.

Sooner History
Oklahoma has 27 major bowl wins, tied with Georgia and Texas for the third-most all-time behind USC (31) and Alabama (33). However, just one of those wins has come in the Cotton Bowl – a 10-3 victory over Arkansas in the 2001 season.

Opponent film review: Texas A&M 

January, 2, 2013
1/02/13
4:30
PM ET
Oklahoma will face one of its biggest tests of the season when the Sooners battle Texas A&M in the AT&T Cotton Bowl at Cowboys Stadium in Dallas on Friday night. The Aggies feature Johnny Manziel, the Heisman Trophy winner, along with Damontre Moore, one of the top prospects for the 2013 NFL draft, and one of the nation's top offensive lines. Beating the Aggies won't be easy but it's not impossible, particularly with Sooners quarterback Landry Jones and their explosive passing offense. SoonerNation reviewed Texas A&M's biggest win of the year, a 29-24 win over BCS title contender Alabama. Here are three things to keep an eye on during the Cotton Bowl.
Slowing down Johnny Football

[+] EnlargeJohnny Manziel
Thomas Campbell/US PresswireCan the Sooners contain Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel?
Manziel presents all kinds of different problems for a defense. As a terrific runner and passer, he’s a “pick your poison”-type of threat. The Aggies don’t hesitate to spread the defense with four receivers then run the Heisman Trophy winner right up the middle. He’s a slashing, quick runner with good vision. It will be difficult to spy him and expect one defender to corral him every time.

When he drops back to pass presents even more problems. While he can keep you honest with his arm, OU coach Bob Stoops was on the money when he said “Sometimes the worst thing you can do is cover everybody,” when talking of Manziel. The Aggie quarterback is, by far, the most dangerous when a play breaks down or all his receivers are covered. Yet, a spy system would be tough to expect a defender to win consistently. Hence, the dilemma.

OU’s best bet could be trying to force Manziel to beat them with the pass. Put Demontre Hurst and Aaron Colvin on islands in man coverage then design a defense with the remaining defenders. Don’t be surprised if the Sooners lean toward coverage, reading their keys and don’t blitz a lot.

Dealing with Damontre

The Sooners offensive line against Moore and the Aggie front four could be the key to the game. Texas A&M tends to count on its front four to create havoc. That's good news for the Sooners who should like their matchups with Jones and the Sooners four receiver package against the Aggies secondary.


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

Here are five storylines to keep an eye on when Oklahoma faces Texas A&M in the Cotton Bowl at Cowboys Stadium on Friday.

1. Heisman jinx?

Will Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel suffer from any sort of Heisman jinx? While the redshirt freshman was on his cross country media tour after winning the award, the Sooners were preparing to stop him on Jan. 4. OU’s defense has a lot of pride and has taken a lot of heat in the home stretch of the season. They can quiet critics by shutting down Manziel.

To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

Watch List TE Koda Martin talks top two 

December, 16, 2012
12/16/12
8:00
AM ET
HOUSTON -- ESPN Watch List tight end Koda Martin won't be attending the AT&T Cotton Bowl, but he'll be watching it closely. So closely that the Manvel (Texas) High School tight end joked with coaches from the Oklahoma and Texas A&M's staffs that the winner of the game would also be the winner of his services.

"It'll be a great game," Martin said. "I told both sets of recruiting coaches that whoever won, I'd commit to, just as a joke, kind of like flipping a coin. It'll be a good game and it'll be fun to watch."

While Martin meant the comment in jest, he is serious about those two schools. The Sooners and the Aggies are his top two at the moment and it appears he'll choose between the two when making the decision on his college destination.

"They're both just really great schools," Martin said while attending the Houston Touchdown Club's High School Awards Dinner on Thursday at the J.W. Marriott. "I feel like whoever I pick wouldn't be a bad decision. They're both great schools with great traditions. I like both of their coaching staffs and I like winning programs. OU has had a history of winning and A&M's doing great in the SEC right now, which is a great accomplishment. And both schools are just really good schools. Those are my top two right now."

Martin, a 6-foot-6, 245-pound prospect, plays tight end and defensive end for the Mavericks but plans for him at the next level could be at another position.

"A&M wants me at offensive tackle so I would definitely have to get bigger," Martin said. "But I have to get bigger for whatever position I play. OU wants me as a tight end, or if I grow into a tackle, then I can do that. Or maybe defensive end based on what they've seen on film this year. [The schools] are a little bit different position-wise but both schools are great programs with great schools and great college towns and great traditions. A&M's a little bit closer but both schools are good decisions."

Linebackers coach Tim Kish has been recruiting Martin for the Sooners.

"He's a great coach," Martin said. "I have a pretty good relationship with him and he's a really good recruiting coach and I feel like he's a pretty nice guy and I'm forming a good relationship with him."

Recruiting coordinator and running backs coach Clarence McKinney and offensive line coach B.J. Anderson are recruiting him for the Aggies.

"I'm still getting to know them a little bit," Martin said. "They're both great coaches too and are part of a great program. They recently offered me so I'm getting to know them more."


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

AT&T Cotton Bowl

December, 2, 2012
12/02/12
9:06
PM ET
Texas A&M Aggies (10-2) vs. Oklahoma Sooners (10-2)

Jan. 4, 8 p.m. ET, Arlington, Texas (Fox)

Texas A&M take by GigEmNation's Sam Khan Jr.: The Aggies are one of the surprise stories nationally in college football this season, exceeding preseason expectations by going 10-2 in their first Southeastern Conference campaign.

New coach Kevin Sumlin has injected energy into the program and helped reverse the narrative of 2011, when the preseason-top-10 Aggies couldn't hold on to a second-half lead. Now, Texas A&M closes games out as good as any team.

A lot of that credit can go to its Heisman Trophy candidate at quarterback, redshirt freshman Johnny Manziel. Nicknamed "Johnny Football," Manziel took the college football world by storm with his playmaking ability, producing an eye-popping statistical season by breaking Cam Newton's single-season SEC total yardage record. Manziel compiled 4,600 offensive yards this season, throwing for 3,419 and rushing for 1,181. He was responsible for 43 touchdowns.

But the Aggies have been far from a one-man show.

Questions about the defense -- and the defensive line in particular -- were answered emphatically. Junior Damontre Moore spent most of the season at or near the top spot in the country in tackles for loss (20) and sacks (12.5), where he's tied for fifth and third, respectively.

Perhaps the team's best unit has been its offensive line, which has two future NFL draft picks at the tackle spots (juniors Luke Joeckel and Jake Matthews), and a senior center (Patrick Lewis) who has been a catalyst to the team's success.

The Aggies have displayed a high-powered, quick-strike offense under Sumlin and offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury, and an aggressive defense under coordinator Mark Snyder.




Oklahoma take from SoonerNation's Jake Trotter: From Lee Roy Selmon to Brian Bosworth, Oklahoma has a long, strong defensive tradition. But like almost everyone else in the Big 12, these Sooners win with their high-flying pass offense. Senior quarterback Landry Jones finished off the regular season on fire, throwing for more than 500 yards twice in November while leading the Sooners to a pair of come-from-behind, fourth-quarter wins. Jones, who has a chance to go 4-0 as a bowl-game starter, benefits from one of the most explosive wide receiving corps in the country.

Four different receivers boast more than 500 yards receiving, including Kenny Stills, who leads the Sooners with 75 receptions and 11 touchdowns. All three of OU’s running backs are dangerous in the passing game, too, especially fullback Trey Millard, who had a 73-yard reception against Texas earlier this season.

Opposing offenses have gashed Bob Stoops’ defense on the ground, but the Sooners are not easy to thrown on. Free safety Tony Jefferson is a ferocious tackler, and cornerback Aaron Colvin is a ball hawk.

As co-Big 12 champs, the Sooners had a season worthy of a BCS bowl. But Northern Illinois' sudden ascendance knocked them out of the BCS and the Sugar Bowl. The Sooners did not have a win over a team currently ranked in the AP Top 25. But their two losses came at the hands of top-ranked Notre Dame and Kansas State, which was No. 1 before the Irish. OU was in both games until falling apart in the fourth quarter. The Sooners, however, have owned the fourth quarter down the stretch, coming back in the final seconds to knock off West Virginia and Oklahoma State, then holding off TCU in the last minute.

OU commit Mastrogiovanni visits A&M 

October, 21, 2012
10/21/12
2:06
PM ET
Dallas Jesuit inside linebacker Jordan Mastrogiovanni has heard plenty about the game-day experience at Texas A&M's Kyle Field. So along with a teammate, Dallas Jesuit offensive tackle and Texas A&M commitment J.J. Gustafson, Mastrogiovanni decided to experience it for himself to see if it lived up to the hype.

"I think it did," said Mastrogiovanni, an Oklahoma commitment. "I've heard so much about how loyal the fans are to their team and that proved to be true. When it became obvious that LSU was going to get the win there in the last couple of minutes, I didn't notice any of the fans leaving, which was pretty cool. They proved themselves to be really loyal team so I found that to be a pretty special quality, what the fans did to the players."

[+] EnlargeJordan Mastrogiovanni
Damon Sayles/ESPN.comFour-star LB Jordan Mastrogiovanni is solid with Oklahoma though he attended Texas A&M's game vs. LSU.
The ESPN 300 linebacker, who is ranked seventh at his position nationally, has been committed to Oklahoma since June. That hasn't kept the Aggies coaches from reaching out to him and inviting him to games. Texas A&M receivers coach David Beaty, linebackers coach Matt Wallerstedt and special teams coordinator Brian Polian have all been in contact with the four-star prospect, but he said he still has his heart set on Oklahoma right now.

To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

SPONSORED HEADLINES

Eric Striker: What's In A Name?
After wreaking havoc on opposing quarterbacks in 2013, and more of the same so far in 2014, there is little doubt that Oklahoma LB Eric Striker has the most fitting name in college football.
VIDEO PLAYLIST video