Texas Longhorns: Iowa State Cyclones

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

More Big 12 predictions for 2014.

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

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

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

Final Big 12 standings

1. Oklahoma -- 11-1, 8-1
2. Baylor -- 10-2, 7-2
3. Kansas State -- 9-3, 7-2
4. Texas -- 8-4, 6-3
5. TCU -- 8-4, 5-4
6. Texas Tech -- 7-5, 4-5
7. West Virginia -- 5-7, 4-5
8. Oklahoma State -- 5-7, 3-6
9. Kansas -- 3-9, 1-8
10. Iowa State -- 2-10, 0-9
DALLAS -- Winning football games holds top billing in most cases, but when discussing the most important objective to college football coaches, a great recruiting class is always high on the totem pole.

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

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

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

What stuck out to you most?

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

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

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

What's something new you learned?

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

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

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

Your favorite exchange of the day?

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

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

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

The most impressive person?

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

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

Olson: Besides Diggs, who is absolutely money when it comes to spitting the truth in interviews, I had to say I enjoyed chatting with famed West Virginia punter Nick O'Toole -- better known as Boomstache by the Mountaineer faithful -- about his dedication to mustache maintenance. He went for the Rollie Fingers curled look Tuesday, with the help of a little wax, and was also sporting red USA socks. He is indeed a great American.

Big 12 lunchtime links

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

Monday

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

PHIL STEELE

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

ATHLON

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

LINDY'S

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

SPORTING NEWS

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

USA TODAY

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

Big 12 lunchtime links

June, 24, 2014
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I'm not a LeBron hater, but here's the early favorite for tweet of the day.

Big 12 recruiting scorecard

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

WEST VIRGINIA
Total commits: 13
ESPN 300 commits: 2
The latest: The Mountaineers recently added two linemen to the fold in Oviedo, Fla., nose tackle Alec Shriner and Belmont (Ohio) Union Local tackle Colton McKivitz, who'd been previously committed to Miami (Ohio). Shriner is also capable of playing center or guard on offense if necessary.
There can be various signs of success in the Big 12.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

West Virginia running back Wendell Smallwood's percentage of the Mountaineer’s total yardage: Smallwood accounted for 7.2 percent of WVU’s total yards from scrimmage as a freshman. Look for him to increase that percentage as a sophomore after a stellar spring. He could slide right into the versatile role manned by third-round pick Charles Sims. If the sophomore can match Sims’ 30.3 percent of WVU’s total yardage in 2013, it could be a great sign for the Mountaineers.

Big 12 lunchtime links

June, 18, 2014
Jun 18
12:00
PM ET
Rest in peace, Richard Durrett.
  • An Oklahoma State walk-on was stabbed, robbed and abducted in a bizarre story. The Tulsa World's Samantha Vicent has the details.
  • This is another really bad look for Oklahoma State freshman running back Devon Thomas, who was arrested last month on charges of burglary, robbery and shooting with intent to kill.
  • Waco, Texas, officials are discussing how they're going to handle parking and shuttles for Baylor's debut in McLane Stadium, reports the Waco Tribune-Herald's J.B. Smith.
  • Kansas added yet another commitment, this time a juco wide receiver. It was the Jayhawks' seventh commitment in four days.
  • "My All American" is filming in Dallas-Fort Worth this week, and extras are needed. The film is about University of Texas football standout Freddie Steinmark.
  • Oklahoma assistant Jay Norvell wrapped up his youth camp.
  • The Iowa State Daily's Kelby Wingert features Jack Trice, whom Iowa State named its football stadium after.
This summer, we've broken down each Big 12 team on the starting experience, lettermen and total tackles they bring back for 2014. So naturally, another piece of the puzzle is offensive production.

It might sound like a simplistic way to judge these Big 12 squads on paper, but it is worth taking stock of which teams lost their playmakers and which ones get 'em all back.

Below is the breakdown, in percentages, of how much passing, rushing and receiving production each team brings back from the 2013 season.

Untitled Document
Iowa State fared best in this study. The Cyclones bring back 82 percent of their total offensive production and have the only offense in the Big 12 that ranks above the league average in returning production in passing, rushing and receiving.

These aren't perfect numbers, of course, as we're not considering what these players did in 2012 or what transfers might have contributed at other programs. We're not using career stats, just 2013 numbers. So the impact of experienced players such as David Ash, Matt Joeckel, Tyreek Hill, Rushel Shell and any injured players from last fall aren't captured in these percentages.

But these numbers do provide an intriguing snapshot, both of experience and of which teams will need young or unproven players to step up in 2014. A few takeaways:
  • Only two units bring back 100 percent of their production: Baylor's passing and Texas' rushing. Iowa State and Oklahoma both came very close in the pass game. TCU brings back more than 80 percent of its rushing production, and no Big 12 squad brings 80 percent back among its receiving production.
  • The conference averages for these categories is about 60 percent. Only one program fell below average in all three categories: Oklahoma State. The Pokes must find a way to replace the production of Clint Chelf, Josh Stewart, Tracy Moore, Charlie Moore, Jeremy Smith and several other role players.
  • The units that took the biggest hits aren't necessarily a big surprise. The largest drop in production? Kansas State lost 85 percent of its 2013 rushing yards when John Hubert, Daniel Sams and Robert Rose departed this offseason. Three other groups lost at least 70 percent of last year's production: Kansas' pass game, Texas' pass game and Oklahoma's run game.
  • The fact that Baylor brings back 79 percent of its total offensive production should be scary for everyone else. In addition to having 100 percent of its passing back, the Bears get 78 percent of their receiving production back and, despite losing Lache Seastrunk and Glasco Martin, return more than 50 percent of their rushing production.
Another way to break down returning offensive production: by the skill players. Consider this chart, which combines the returning rushing-plus-receiving production against each team's 2013 total offense.

By this measurement, Texas and TCU are in the best shape when it comes to their returning backs, receivers and tight ends. Preseason Big 12 favorite Oklahoma, on the other hand, lost its top three running backs and three of its top four receivers and brings back 31 percent of its skill-player production. They'll have to find new players to help Trevor Knight keep the Sooners offense rolling.

And in fairness, Texas and TCU being atop this chart won't mean a thing if they don't find better solutions for their quarterback issues. As we said, these are just small pieces of the grander offseason puzzle.

Big 12 recruiting scorecard

June, 16, 2014
Jun 16
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Here's the latest in recruiting around the Big 12, with several programs seeing their commit list grow during the past week:

BAYLOR
Total commits: 10
ESPN 300 commits: 5
The latest: Baylor offered Class of 2016 standout Shane Simmons, a defensive end from Hyattsville (Maryland) DeMatha. The Bears joined West Virginia, Arizona State, Florida State, Maryland, North Carolina, Tennessee and others on his offer list. Baylor also joined the race for elite 2017 prospect Anthony Hines III of Plano (Texas). Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, TCU, Texas Tech and Kansas are among the 20-plus teams who have offered Hines, who has committed to Mississippi State.

IOWA STATE
Total commits: 3
ESPN 300 commits: 0
The latest: The Cyclones have been on a roll on the recruiting trail, landing Waukee (Iowa) defensive end Anthony Nelson early last week, just days after Cedar Rapids (Iowa) Prairie offensive lineman Bryce Meeker joined Iowa State's pledge list. At 6-foot-6 and 215 pounds, Nelson is a lean defensive line prospect with plenty of room to grow.

KANSAS
Total commits: 6
ESPN 300 commits: 0
The latest: Kansas' commit list exploded over the weekend with five junior college standouts picking the Jayhawks, according to KUsports.com. Charlie Weis’ program secured verbals from offensive lineman Jarek Smalley of Garden City (Kansas) Community College, defensive tackle Jacky Dezir of College of DuPage (Illinois), offensive lineman DeLonte Murray of Lackawanna (Pennsylvania) Community College, offensive lineman Will Smith of Butler County (Kansas) Community College and receiver Raeshawn Lee of College of San Mateo (California). It’s pretty clear new offensive coordinator John Reagan wants to upgrade the talent along the offensive line.

KANSAS STATE
Total commits: 3
ESPN 300 commits: 0
The latest: K-State landed a commitment from Seward, Nebraska, defensive end Adam Holtorf, who announced his pledge on social media late Sunday night. The Wildcats also began their pursuit of Class of 2015 Sachese, Texas, running back Devine Ozigbo with an offer last week. Kansas, Iowa State, Wisconsin and Boise State are among the teams that have offered the three-star prospect.

OKLAHOMA
Total commits: 7
ESPN 300 commits: 5
The latest: Oklahoma added another commit to its list, with Lancaster (Texas) guard Dominique Hearne choosing the Sooners. Hearne turned down offers from Oklahoma State, TCU, Texas Tech and Arizona State to pledge to Bob Stoops’ program.

OKLAHOMA STATE
Total commits: 7
ESPN 300 commits: 3
The latest: The Cowboys landed commitments on back-to-back days last week with the additions of Tyler (California) Junior College defensive tackle Motekiai Maile and Houston (Texas) Alief Taylor safety Kenneth McGruder.

TCU
Total commits: 14
ESPN 300 commits: 0
The latest: Gary Patterson’s squad continues to add athletes to its class with Mansfield (Texas) athlete Julius Lewis joining the Horned Frogs’ commit list this week. Lewis has the ability to play several different positions at TCU, but has been recruited as a cornerback to add speed and athleticism to Patterson’s secondary.

TEXAS
Total commits: 10
ESPN 300 commits: 6
The latest: The Longhorns didn’t hesitate to throw their name into the mix for ESPN 300 athlete Louis Brown of Burton, Texas, making an offer to a player who decommitted from Baylor last week. Charlie Strong’s program also offered Class of 2016 running back Devwah Whaley of Beaumont (Texas) Central.

TEXAS TECH
Total commits: 7
ESPN 300 commits: 2
The latest: Kliff Kingsbury’s program secured a early commitment from up-and-coming safety Collin Wilder of Katy, Texas, as Texas Tech got a jump start on its Class of 2016. The Red Raiders offered Marvel, Texas, athlete D'Eriq King joining Clemson, Louisville, Michigan State and UCLA. Kingsbury’s program also offered Hines and Class of 2016 quarterback Shane Buechele of Arlington (Texas) Lamar Consolidated in the past week.

WEST VIRGINIA
Total commits: 11
ESPN 300 commits: 2
The latest: The Mountaineers began their pursuit of in-state signal caller Tyrhee Pratt of Charleston Capital. The Class of 2016 prospect could be a key recruit for West Virginia's 2016 class, as they’d hate to miss out on a in-state prospect who could end up with a lengthy offer list.
The rule never made sense to West Virginia running backs coach JaJuan Seider. Recent signees would arrive on campus but couldn’t spend time with the Mountaineers' coaching staff due to NCAA rules prohibiting coaches interaction with their players during the summer.

“You’re talking about kids who might be 1,000 miles away from home for the first time,” Seider said. “And you can’t even go hang out with your coach if you want to. That was a dumb rule, you bring a kid up here for the first time and you can’t have any interaction with those kids.”

A silly rule. And one that is in the past.

You get to be around those kids and help them to adjust, it helps tremendously. You can be around those kids, you can see their growth, you can watch film with them, they'll understand how you coach and then they're comfortable. They get to see the guy who recruited them, the guy who will be coaching them. I can't tell you how important it is.

-- West Virginia RB coach JaJuan Seider
A new NCAA rule allows Big 12 coaches more interaction with their players this summer. Gone are the days of freshman arriving on campus with only upperclassmen to help make their transition into the schedule of a college football player as smooth as possible. Under the new rule, football players can be required to attend weight training and conditioning for eight hours per week during summer semesters with two of those hours available to use for film study. No on-field work is allowed.

The Mountaineers welcomed 10 new faces into the program this week, including quarterback William Crest and defensive back Dravon Henry. In the past WVU coaches couldn’t have interacted with those newcomers to help prepare them to play this fall. Now, the coaching staff gets the opportunity to help those players -- including Crest, who could insert himself into the starting quarterback battle this summer -- make a smoother transition into the program.

“You get to be around those kids and help them to adjust, it helps tremendously,” Seider said. “You can be around those kids, you can see their growth, you can watch film with them, they’ll understand how you coach and then they’re comfortable. They get to see the guy who recruited them, the guy who will be coaching them. I can’t tell you how important it is.”

At Oklahoma State, the new rule could help a young Cowboys’ roster be better prepared to open preseason camp in August. Instead of kids teaching kids, the Pokes’ coaches can teach them both.

“To be able to work with these guys in the summer time takes the mental game to another level,” Cowboys cornerbacks coach Van Malone said. “Now, rather than relying on [true sophomore] Jordan Sterns to teach [true freshman] Dylan Harding, we have the opportunity to spend time, especially with this young team, to teach them both. It’s really only an hour a week but you get the opportunity to be around them and help them grow.”

Malone doesn’t expect to even use the full allotment of time but instead wants to use it as quick primer for what to expect in the fall.

“You just try to get one point across, two points across in that time you have,” Malone said. “Take advantage of this time, even though we have an hour a week, we’re not going to grind them up every week, we’re not going to use that full hour. You just try to get one point across, two points across and let them go. I think when you do it that way it ends up being much more fruitful.”

For new Iowa State running backs coach Louis Ayeni, the time will be valuable for him to start to interact with his freshmen, but he wants to make sure the Cyclones running backs get time away from him before the season heats up at the end of the summer.

“This biggest thing it will do is answer those little questions they have as they work out with the guys, we can go on the board and draw it,” Ayeni said. “It will help the freshman as they get adjusted. As they get adjusted, they’ll be more on their own. My freshmen ... I’ll be able to help get adjusted. My older guys are on the ball, so they’ll see me when they see me.”

Even with the increased interaction, the overall time demands still remain limited and manageable for both the players and coaches. Coaches will still have the opportunity for some valuable down time during the summer months, and players will continue to have much needed time away from a coaching staff they’re around day in and day out during the fall.

“The thing about the summer is they’ll get away from me for a little bit,” Ayeni said. “Because once the season comes around I’ll be on them 24/7 so I want the message to still be fresh.”

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