AUSTIN, Texas -- The great unknown of Texas’ future remains unsolved two days after Texas’ loss to Baylor. But the imminent future was at least settled Sunday: Texas is returning to the Valero Alamo Bowl, this time to take on No. 10 Oregon.
And that proposition looks about as scary as anything Mack Brown and his loyalists might see in the next few weeks.
We don’t know what’s next for Brown. He traveled to New York on Sunday with UT president Bill Powers and athletic director Steve Patterson for the College Football Hall of Fame induction ceremonies. He’s supposed to hit the road this week for in-home visits with recruits.
The response from fans and pundits on Sunday night was relatively consistent: Texas (8-4) is going to get smoked by Oregon (10-2). It won’t be pretty.
Oddsmakers have made the Ducks a two-touchdown favorite, which is familiar territory for the Longhorns by now. This team liked playing the underdog role in 2013, so perhaps there’s no better way to end the year than with Texas’ most difficult matchup yet.
Oregon has a two-time All-Pac-12 quarterback in Marcus Mariota. He ranked No. 2 in the nation in QBR this season behind Florida State's Jameis Winston. If not for an MCL sprain that limited his game late in the season, Mariota would likely be New York-bound as well this week. The way this Heisman field fell apart, he still might.
The Ducks' famously fast tempo won’t be what causes this Texas defense trouble. The Longhorns have seen faster this season, and Oregon’s plays-per-game-average of 75 is down from a year ago.
The problem will be the option. Among spread offenses, nobody does that better in college football than the Ducks. It’s a big reason they’re 56-9 since 2009, the year former coach Chip Kelly took over.
Mariota rushed for 695 yards excluding sacks this season, his second as the starter. He says the knee injury that prevented him from running effectively should be 100 percent healed by the Dec. 30 bowl game.
And he’s surrounded by options: Three running backs surpassed 500 yards this season, led by second-year back Byron Marshall’s 995 yards. He has an ankle injury, but also plenty of time to recover.
And don’t forget De’Anthony Thomas, as explosive a player as there is in college football. He’s healthy again after missing four games with an ankle injury. Miss him once in space and he’ll hit the home run. And when you sell out to stop the run, Josh Huff (1,036 receiving yards, 11 TDs) can sneak behind the defense and make you pay.
“These guys are like Baylor," Brown said. "They can score fast and they do a tremendous job."
Read option, speed option, triple option, veer, packaged plays – the Ducks do it all. No other bowl team has more 20-yard runs this season than Oregon.
And few bowl teams struggled more to stop the option and the quarterback run than Texas. For all the progress Greg Robinson and the defensive staff made in the past 10 games, this remains the team's Achilles’ heel.
The Longhorns gave up the ninth-most rushing yards to quarterbacks in the bowl subdivision. As Brown joked midway through the season: If Texas’ opponents don’t run the option, they’ll put it in the playbook.
It was just too easy, even against a defense with a pair of All-Big 12-caliber ends. Injuries have rendered this unit thin at linebacker and defensive tackle. Robinson, his coaches and his defenders will need these 15 bowl practices to find answers.
Oregon’s defense is far from flawless, but it did hold foes to 19 points per game in its wins. It’s a top-three scoring defense in the Pac-12 and No. 4 in total defense. At the moment, though, the attention of Texas’ offense will be on fixing itself.
Case McCoy is coming off the worst start of his career. The Longhorns gained 59 yards in the second half Saturday at Baylor. Their only touchdown drive began at Baylor’s 11-yard line, and they still needed seven plays to score.
They’ll need every practice and film session afforded to them this month. Stanford beat Oregon with pure power. Arizona blew out the Ducks with an elite running back. What’s it going to take for Texas to pull this one off?
The Longhorns have their own problems to solve first, and plenty of preparation ahead. If you think the next three weeks will be rough and messy off the field, it can get a lot worse if Texas doesn’t stay focused on its toughest test yet.
Unidentified players reportedly organized the snowball fight and more than 100 students participated.
According to a video that went viral Monday, the group stopped several cars and pelted them with snowballs and dumped containers of snow on windshields. In one case, a driver who got out of his car -- identified by KATU-TV as former professor Sherwin Simmons -- was hit repeatedly and had a large container of snow thrown on him through the driver's side door.
"I was one of the many UO students involved in the snowball fight on Friday, and my actions escalated to an inappropriate level and, for that, I sincerely apologize," Brown said in a statement released by the university. "We never should have engaged innocent people, and I deeply regret my actions and will accept the consequences."
The suspension was announced Monday by coach Mark Helfrich, who has apologized to the targeted drivers. Helfrich had promised discipline during the weekend, saying the behavior shown in the video was "completely unacceptable and dangerous."
Other players involved in the fight received unspecified punishments but will be allowed to play in the bowl game. All students involved in the fight, including nonplayers, are subject to further discipline from the dean of students, the university said.
Team of the week: Baylor was unranked to begin the season and picked to finish fifth in the Big 12. Instead, with a convincing 30-10 victory over Texas, the Bears won 11 games for the first time in school history to capture the program’s first outright conference title in 33 years. Baylor will cap its magical season against Central Florida in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl.
Disappointment of the week: Oklahoma State had a chance at a second Big 12 title and BCS bowl berth in three years. And all the Cowboys had to do was beat Oklahoma in Stillwater as 10-point favorites. Instead, despite shuffling through three quarterbacks and not scoring an offensive touchdown until 19 seconds left in the game, the Sooners knocked off their instate rival yet again. The Cowboys have lost 10 of 11 to Oklahoma, but given the circumstance and the ending, this one hurt worst of all.
Big (defensive) man on campus: Cornerback K.J. Morton returned from an abdominal strain to deliver the exclamation point to Baylor’s season. Morton picked off Texas quarterback Case McCoy twice, returning the second 57 yards in the fourth quarter for an apparent touchdown. The score was nullified on his celebration penalty. But by then, the party had already begun in Waco.
Special teams players of the week: The field goal tandem of Grant Bothun and Michael Hunnicutt converted Bob Stoops’ first successful fake field goal attempt in 11 years. After their drive stalled at the Oklahoma State 8-yard line, the Sooners lined up for a field goal. Instead, Bothun, the holder, took off running with the ball left and threw the ball to Hunnicutt, the kicker. Hunnicutt backed into the end zone before getting belted by two Cowboys, tying the score 17-17.
Play of the week: Cornerback Justin Gilbert appeared to have ended Bedlam with an Oklahoma State victory, as he came down with an apparent interception on a jump ball to Lacoltan Bester. But instead of landing on the turf, Gilbert landed on Bester, who tapped the ball out of Gilbert’s hands at the last moment. Officials ruled it an incompletion, and Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy inexplicably didn’t challenge the call. Five plays later, Bell hit Saunders for the game-winning score.
Stat of the week: As Oklahoma State’s head coach, Gundy’s record against Oklahoma is 1-8. Gundy’s record against the rest of the Big 12: 44-22
Quote of the week: “A defining moment for our program and one I think we'll be able to repeat many times." -- Baylor coach Art Briles, after the school’s first Big 12 championship
Oregon Ducks (10-2) vs. Texas Longhorns (8-4)
Dec. 30, 6:45 p.m. ET, San Antonio (ESPN)
OREGON DUCKS BREAKDOWN
During an 8-0 start, Oregon fans had only one thought in coach Mark Helfrich's first season: We want Bama. During a 2-2 finish, they started missing Chip Kelly.
Not only were the Ducks again in the thick of the national title hunt, but QB Marcus Mariota was also the nation's leading Heisman Trophy candidate.
But in that win over the Bruins, Mariota sprained his knee. While the injury didn't force him to miss a game, it severely limited his ability to run either on designed plays or scrambles. That put a major part of the Ducks’ offense on ice.
Stanford dominated the Ducks on both sides of the ball in a 26-20 win on Nov. 7, the Pac-12's marquee date of the year. Mariota struggled mightily, but the real issue was the line of scrimmage. The Cardinal owned it.
The low point, however, was a 42-16 defeat at Arizona that proved the death knell of the Ducks' BCS bowl hopes. It was Oregon's first loss to an unranked team since 2009. The 26-point margin of defeat was their biggest since losing 44-10 to USC in 2008.
The Ducks bounced back with a victory in the Civil War, but that 36-35 nail-biter at home over a reeling Beavers team was hardly suggestive of the team that dominated foes through the first eight games. It will be interesting to see how the Ducks respond in the postseason. It should help that Mariota should be close to full health. -- Ted Miller
TEXAS LONGHORNS BREAKDOWN
The Longhorns had everything on the line against Baylor, including a Big 12 title and a trip to the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl. They couldn’t get the job done. The bowl matchup that the 30-10 loss leads to is immaterial to Texas fans now. All they want to know is whether the Mack Brown era is over.
Despite losing five starters to season-ending injuries, the Longhorns turned around a rough start with a 7-2 record in Big 12 play. They made that run with a potent power run game, now led by Malcolm Brown (774 yards, nine touchdowns). Whether or not Mack Brown is done, this is the final game for nine senior starters and an opportunity for Case McCoy to end his up-and-down career on a high note.
Texas’ defense underwent a revival in 10 games under Greg Robinson and did hold Baylor’s top-ranked scoring offense to three points in the first half. Jackson Jeffcoat finished with a Big 12-leading 12 sacks in his senior season and anchors a unit that has plenty of experience defending high-tempo spread offenses. -- Max Olson
The No. 19 Badgers (9-3) are playing in a non-BCS bowl for the first time in three seasons following three consecutive appearances in the Rose Bowl. Wisconsin lost those games, though, and will be looking for its first bowl win under coach Gary Andersen.
South Carolina (10-2) won its final five games of the season, including a double-overtime victory against then-unbeaten Missouri.
The Gamecocks are making their second Capital One Bowl appearance in three seasons, having beaten Nebraska in 2012.
South Carolina is also the only team to beat Fiesta Bowl-bound UCF, rallying in the final three quarters to claim a three-point victory.
It is the first meeting between the schools.
AT&T Cotton Bowl: Missouri vs. Oklahoma State
SEC runner-up Missouri is headed to the Cotton Bowl, where the No. 8 Tigers will play No. 13 Oklahoma State on Jan. 3.
Missouri (11-2) is coming off a 59-42 loss to Auburn in the SEC championship game in only its second season in that league.
Oklahoma State (10-2) was on track for a Big 12 title and a spot in the Bowl Championship Series before a 33-24 loss to Oklahoma on Saturday.
SEC teams have won the last five Cotton Bowls, and nine of the last 10, over Big 12 teams. The lone exception was the 2008 game when Missouri, then in the Big 12, beat Arkansas 38-7.
Here are our Week 15 bowl projections for the Big 12:
Tostitos Fiesta Bowl (Jan. 1): Baylor vs. BCS at-large
Allstate Sugar Bowl (Jan. 2): Oklahoma vs. SEC champion (or replacement)
AT&T Cotton Bowl (Jan. 3): Oklahoma State vs. SEC No. 3/4
Valero Alamo Bowl (Dec. 30): Texas vs. Pac-12 No. 2
Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl (Dec. 28): Kansas State vs. Big Ten No. 4/5
National University Holiday Bowl (Dec. 30): Texas Tech vs. Pac-12 No. 3
Texas Bowl (Dec. 27): None available vs. Big Ten No. 6
New Era Pinstripe Bowl (Dec. 28): None available vs. American No. 4
Heart of Dallas Bowl (Jan. 1): None available vs. Big Ten No. 7
1. Baylor is the one and only champ: The last time Baylor won an outright conference championship, Mike Singletary was its middle linebacker. Until Saturday. With a little help from their friends from Norman, the Bears captured their first Big 12 title, and won’t have to share it with anybody. Baylor faces some adversity with the loss at Oklahoma State, but Art Briles’ bunch showed some gumption, bouncing back for a hard-fought win at TCU before closing out Floyd Casey Stadium in style.
3. The Mack Brown speculation is about to ramp up: It has been a storyline all season. Now it’s about to reach a fevered pitch. It would have been interesting to see what Texas would have done had the Longhorns upset Baylor, captured the outright Big 12 title and gone to the Fiesta Bowl. Instead, Texas finished with less than nine regular-season wins for the fourth straight season, which requires a thorough internal review from the burnt orange brass. Will Brown be forced to resign before the bowl game? Let the speculation commence.
4. Oklahoma owns Bedlam: The Cowboys have made great strides with their program under Mike Gundy. But one fact remains: They cannot beat the Sooners in the fourth quarter. Oklahoma really had no business winning this one. Oklahoma State was the heavy favorite. At home. With the superior quarterback. And a senior-laded defense. The Sooners didn’t even score an offensive touchdown through the first 59 minutes, 41 seconds of the game. But Oklahoma's defense hung tough, and the Sooners reeled off a pair of remarkable special teams plays to keep the score close. Then, like so many times before in this game, Oklahoma broke Oklahoma State’s back in the final two minutes. Even with all their recent success, the Cowboys have now lost 10 of 11 in Bedlam. And the Sooners still own their instate rivals.
5. Bob Stoops can still win big games: People often needle Stoops’ “Big-Game Bob” moniker. But Saturday, Stoops proved again he can still win the big games. Even the ones nobody expects him to win. Despite rotating three different quarterbacks and playing without the starting left side of his offensive line, Stoops manufactured a win in Stillwater with bold special teams calls and a defense that gave up yards but never broke. The Cowboys had the advantage over the Sooners in many different ways -- quarterback, experience, defense and home field -- but Stoops outcoached his Oklahoma State counterpart. And somehow, someway, added another big-game win to his resume.
1. Not ready for a championships: Texas really did do everything it wanted to in the first half, at least when it comes to stopping Baylor, and yet this was a 3-3 score at halftime. The game was there for the taking, and the Longhorns missed their shot. They couldn't sustain drives, Case McCoy couldn't pass (12-34, 54 yards, 1 TD, 2 INTs), and they paid for it once the Baylor offense got going. Their only touchdown drive began at Baylor's 11-yard line, and they still needed seven plays and a miraculous throw from McCoy to get the score. You can't go 2-for-17 on third downs and expect to beat anybody, especially a top-10 team on the road.
2. Defining success: Some Texas players admitted on Monday that they wouldn't consider the 2013 season a success until Texas won at least a share of the Big 12 title. They got their chance and couldn't get the job done, but most players who met with reporters after the loss -- all of them juniors and seniors -- believed this was still a successful season regardless. Or at least that's what they said, citing adversity and injuries and rallying from a 1-2 start. Still, it's a tough ending for a senior class that, for the first time in Mack Brown's tenure, never won a division or conference title in their four years on campus.
3. Buckle up: All four of Texas' losses this season have come by 20-plus points. They weren't close. While this blowout doesn't officially doom Brown's hopes of returning for 2014, it's not going to help. These next few weeks in Austin could get messy depending on what direction this program is going when it moves forward. UT president Bill Powers and new AD Steve Patterson -- who's only been on the job for two weeks -- face an uncomfortable decision, but it's one they'll have to make soon. The Texas standard is not eight wins, but for the second season in a row that's the result in the regular season.
RB Malcolm Brown: He’s rushed for more yards before -- against Oklahoma State in 2011 -- but against Baylor, especially in the first half, might’ve been the best Brown has run in his whole career. The junior rushed for 131 yards on 25 carries and also caught Case McCoy’s lone touchdown pass in the loss. He was an absolute workhorse in the first two quarters, racking up 118 yards and repeatedly finding cutbacks up the middle for big gains. One of the unsung heroes of this offense, Brown finishes the regular season with 774 yards and nine touchdowns.
LB Peter Jinkens: Where’d this performance come from? Texas was essentially down to two linebackers this week and that meant lots of snaps for Jinkens, the athletic sophomore whose season has been a bit disappointing. But on this night, he was all over the place. Jinkens finished with 12 tackles and was spotted throwing guys around a few times. He’s coming on strong late, just as he did in 2012.
DE Jackson Jeffcoat: The stat book says Jeffcoat had a solid night on Saturday, with 11 tackles and two sacks. As a senior, though, all he cared about was the win. Jeffcoat did surpass Kansas State’s Ryan Mueller to finish with a Big 12-leading 12 sacks in 2013. He was the only Texas player to sack Bryce Petty, though, and Texas logged just three QB pressures. Jeffcoat was good; he just needed more help.
WACO, Texas -- For the second year in a row, Texas players watched and walked away. Another team celebrated a Big 12 championship after beating the Longhorns. Another team got to party at home.
Last year, Kansas State. This time, Baylor. Both headed off to the Fiesta Bowl while Texas is left to wonder where this is all going.
This time, coach Mack Brown had to address and assess the future. He didn't convey much worry about where he fit into the Longhorns' future.
"Just got to keep playing, keep winning," Brown said. "We had our chance to get in the Big 12 championship this year. Guys will go out recruiting tomorrow. Go back to work, try to win the bowl game, get your ninth win and go back to spring practice. We've got spring practice in February, so it happens fast."
The game, the day, the season -- all opportunities missed. And Brown acknowledged that, to some extent. He opened his postgame press conference by running through the laundry list of costly mistakes.
What he didn't want to speak to, though, was whether he has decided if he wants to come back and give it another go in 2014.
"I'm not talking about any of that tonight," Brown said. "I'm in the same position I was when I've been asked the other 15 times. We'll talk about the team tonight."
The hard, complicated question isn't whether Mack Brown should come back. It's this: Why would he want to?
That Texas got this far was admirable, considering all the injuries and hurdles. It was truly a crazy, unpredictable season, all the way down to the final quarter of this game.
But does Brown want to do this all over again? Why would he sign up for another season of this?
If Texas president Bill Powers and athletic director Steve Patterson give Brown another season, it's hard to envision a 2014 campaign that won't be just as rough and challenging as this one, if not more so.
The schedule next season is awfully similar, with the marquee non-conference game a showdown with UCLA at AT&T Stadium next September. Lose that game -- to a Bruins program that went 9-3 this season, has serious momentum and began Mack's misery in 2010 -- or stumble against BYU, and we'll go right back down this road again.
Week after week of scrutiny and distractions and fires to put out. A fan base growing more discontent and apathetic each Saturday. Who wants to coach in that culture?
Brown already will be tagged and tarred as the coach on the hottest hot seat this offseason if he returns. The national chatter that he's running out of time will undermine his efforts in recruiting. The doubters can cause the same kind of prove-yourself mentality that doomed former defensive coordinator Manny Diaz.
That's not to say he can't win next year. That's not to say that, if Texas struggles early, Brown can't unleash another masterful performance of crisis management and coax his players to go on another run.
But he has coached 50 games since the BCS championship game against Alabama. Texas is now 30-20 in the last four years and one game above .500 (18-17) in Big 12 games. Brown restructured after 2010 around two coordinators who now are gone. If things go downhill from here, is he really interested in rebuilding his rebuild?
Texas lineman Trey Hopkins said Brown still has the full support of the locker room. His players aren't bailing on him. But 10 senior starters will graduate. David Ash will have to lead the offense after missing 10½ games this season with a concussion.
And if you want to go deeper, recognize the hole Texas could be in if Ash has issues. Case McCoy is gone. Tyrone Swoopes wasn't entrusted to contribute much as a freshman. ESPN 300 commit Jerrod Heard can't enroll early for spring ball. Jalen Overstreet moved to running back. Bringing in an experienced transfer quarterback seems like a must now.
Brown will do this kind of math, calculating whether Texas can win with what returns. He wants to win and win big.
He thought the Longhorns could do that this year, and in all fairness, it has been a hell of a season. If Brown had been on this job only a few years, he'd get the injury mulligan that Will Muschamp received at Florida. Heck, he still might. Brown's team fought and overcame and came up short.
Just as important, though, the guy wants some respect. Brown put up with an awful lot this season. He put his pride on the line and tried to shoot down all the speculation as best he could. But at a certain point, when is it no longer worthwhile?
Forget legacy and statues and ego for a moment. Signing up for another year of this carnival would make any coach miserable over time.
Brown will travel to New York this week with Powers and Patterson for the College Football Hall of Fame inductions. At some point, there will be a discussion about the future.
But Brown has a decision of his own to make. He has to search his feelings. Even if he's given the choice, does he really want to do this again?
Here are a few storylines in the Big 12 in Week 15:
No. 17 Oklahoma (9-2, 6-2 Big 12) at No. 6 Oklahoma State (10-1, 7-1), noon ET (ABC): Bedlam has become much more than an in-state battle. It’s had major Big 12 title ramifications in recent years as the Cowboys have risen to the top half of the conference. And the Sooners always have to be dealt with if any team hopes to secure a Big 12 title ring. This year, OSU features the Big 12’s best defense, an underrated offense and is coming off the Big 12’s most impressive win. But OU quarterback Trevor Knight could be the unknown factor on a chilly day in Stillwater. If Knight plays well, the Cowboys' road to a Fiesta Bowl berth gets tougher.
No. 25 Texas (8-3, 7-1) at No. 9 Baylor (10-1, 7-1), 3:30 p.m. ET (Fox): Baylor hopes to close Floyd Casey Stadium with a bang and Texas wants to prove it's not how you start, but how you finish. A share of the Big 12 title also is on the line for both teams. The Bears offense hasn’t looked as explosive in the past two games, but it still looks like it could explode at any time. But if Texas defensive ends Cedric Reed and Jackson Jeffcoat, who combined for five sacks against Texas Tech on Thanksgiving, continue to be a quarterback's nightmare off the edge, it could become a long afternoon for Bryce Petty.
To the 'bag:
Ross in Dallas writes: Ahmad Dixon showed no remorse after a targeting hit that could have greatly injured a player, and he went online after the game to reiterate his lack of contrition. Do you think this increases the risk that he will do something like that again against UT or in a bowl?
Trotter: Not really, though Gary Patterson would probably tell you different. Dixon is going to sit out the first half on Saturday, which will give him plenty of time to think about the targeting hit.
Trotter: I actually understand what Patterson was trying to do. He was sticking up for his player, and he wanted to show his fan base that TCU would not be backing down from Baylor on the field or the recruiting trail. But the timing of it was not good, considering the tragedy in the Briles family.
Doug Kearns in Sugar Land, Texas, writes: I would like to see Gary Patterson held accountable for his lack of class. Briles' brother just died and he was just going to bat for one of his players. He is giving TCU a reputation for being sore losers.
Trotter: Maybe the silver lining out of this will be a revived TCU-Baylor rivalry. After two rounds of conference realignment, the Big 12 needs more rivalries.
Andrew in Duncan, Okla., writes: If Mike Gundy gives Clint Chelf a real chance and doesn't pull him after two series against Mississippi State, this team is undefeated and most likely playing OU to go to the national championship. What do you think?
Trotter: I can’t disagree. I believe Oklahoma State beats West Virginia with Chelf at quarterback. The Cowboys had no passing attack that game. Now, whether they would be ahead of Ohio State or the SEC champ in the BCS is another discussion.
Kyle in Enid, Okla., writes: Hey Jake, love the blog. K-State alum and big fan. I have always wondered what has kept Bill Snyder in Manhattan? I understand why he stays now with his name on the stadium and close to retirement. But when he had success earlier in his career, why didn't a big-time program try to pick him up?
Trotter: That’s an interesting question. I don’t know the answer. But it will be something I will broach with coach Snyder down the line.
Christmas in Longhornville writes: What is the best scenario involving a Texas win vs. Baylor that gets two teams in the BCS? Is it even possible?
Trotter: It’s unlikely, but possible. The scenario would be if Northern Illinois lost to Bowling Green -- sending UCF to the Fiesta -- and Oklahoma routed Oklahoma State to become the Sugar Bowl’s at-large selection.
Jerry in Virginia writes: Jake, the blog is great, and I’m surprised I've kept reading it in the midst of one of WVU’s worst seasons in decades. I do, however, have to ask why are you all the only people in the media that seem to give Charles Sims much love?
Trotter: It’s always difficult to get noticed when playing on a bad team, which West Virginia was this year. Don’t worry. I have a feeling Sims will be getting plenty of love on our end-of-season teams.
Chris in Cedar Falls, Iowa, writes: Excitement has returned to Ames. We have the $25 million donation for the stadium expansion, and how about the two wins to close out the season? So, who do you think Iowa State should hire as its new offensive coordinator to keep the excitement going?
Trotter: I have no idea what direction Paul Rhoads is leaning. But here are a couple of interesting names Rhoads might consider: Dave Christensen and Mark Mangino. Christensen was just fired as the head coach at Wyoming but had success calling offense during the Chase Daniel years at Missouri. Mangino won a national title at Oklahoma as the Sooners' offensive coordinator. He also took Kansas to the Orange Bowl, a feat that looks all the more insurmountable today. Mangino has a checkered past. But there’s no doubt he can coach.
Jack in Atlanta writes: Why is Texas predicted to go to the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl and Oklahoma, the Alamo Bowl? Texas has the better conference record and they have the head-to-head.
Trotter: Texas went to the Alamo last year, and OU has never been.
J.L. in New Orleans writes: Who has been more of a disappointment, TCU – which has fallen short due to drug problems and poor offensive calling -- or West Virginia – which had three of the best players in Big 12 history and only went 7-6?
Trotter: I’d give the disappointment edge to West Virginia. TCU, no doubt, has been a bust so far. But losing QB Casey Pachall for the better part of two seasons really hurt that team. West Virginia was ranked in the top five last year, then inexplicably fell apart the second half of the season. This year, the Mountaineers lost to Iowa State and Kansas -- two teams TCU at least beat.
- Mike Gundy would be OK with facing Northern Illinois in the Fiesta Bowl. Five key matchups in Bedlam. The back story of why Kye Staley wears No. 9.
- What might the future hold for Blake Bell? Gabe Ikard earns an Academic All-America of the Year honor. Bedlam is very much a big deal when it comes to recruiting.
- Texas president Bill Powers responds to the Nick Saban rumors. Should Texas make a run at Gus Malzahn if Saban says no?
- The Longhorns are a familiar hurdle for Baylor's Big 12 title hopes. Floyd Casey Stadium's biggest moments since 1950. Everything you need to know about Baylor's retro uniforms the Bears will wear Saturday.
- The hate is starting to brew between TCU and Baylor, writes Randy Galloway of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. TCU lost a linebacker commit who could end up at Texas A&M.
- Bill Snyder doesn't like Kansas State's 2014 schedule, including a potential Thursday game against Auburn. K-State players are serious about reversing the program's bowl losing trend and are taking a break before bowl prep.
- Despite Kansas' loss of an OL coach, an ESPN 300 recruit is solid with his pledge to the Jayhawks.
- Does Kliff Kingsbury deserve an extension in the near future?
- An Iowa State assistant is seeking a head coaching job.
- West Virginia is pursuing some renovations for Mountaineer Field.