RB: Desmond Roland, Oklahoma State. Roland ran for more than 100 yards for the first time all season and finished with 123 yards on 32 carries in Oklahoma State’s TicketCity Cactus Bowl win.
RB: Samaje Perine, Oklahoma. Perine was about the Sooners’ only positive in the Russell Athletic Bowl. Playing on a bum ankle, he ran for 134 yards to finish his true freshman season with a Big 12-best 1,713 rushing yards.
WR: Tyler Lockett, Kansas State. Lockett fueled a furious second-half comeback in the Valero Alamo Bowl with 164 receiving yards and two touchdowns. The rally came up short, but Lockett was fabulous in his final game at K-State.
WR: Kevin White, West Virginia. White was unstoppable yet again in his last college game. He finished with 129 yards receiving and a touchdown in West Virginia’s loss to Texas A&M in the AutoZone Liberty Bowl.
WR: K.D. Cannon, Baylor. By hauling in eight caches for 197 yards and two touchdowns, Cannon became just the seventh receiver and first underclassman in Baylor history to finish with more than 1,000 yards receiving.
AP: Aaron Green, TCU. Green ignited a 42-3 onslaught of Ole Miss in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl by hauling in a 31-yard pass on a trick play for TCU's first touchdown. He scored the Horned Frogs’ second touchdown too and finished with 114 yards rushing and receiving.
OT: Halapoulivaati Vaitai, TCU: With “Big V” locking up one of the edges, the Horned Frogs dominated the line of scrimmage and finished with 177 yards on the ground.
OG: LaQuan McGowan, Baylor. The 400-pound backup guard delivered one of the most unforgettable plays of the bowl season, when he lined up as an eligible receiver then snagged an 18-yard touchdown pass to give Baylor a 20-point lead.
C: B.J. Finney, Kansas State. With K-State struggling to protect quarterback Jake Waters through the first half, Finney swung from center to right tackle after halftime. The Wildcats had no trouble moving the ball the rest of the way.
OG: Brady Foltz, TCU: Foltz had one of the best games of his TCU career as the Horned Frogs rolled up 423 total yards against Ole Miss’ talented defense.
OT: Zach Crabtree, Oklahoma State. Crabtree’s return to the lineup late in the year helped stabilize the line. With Crabtree, the Cowboys controlled a Washington front seven that featured three All-Americans.
DE: Ryan Mueller, Kansas State. Mueller finished with seven tackles and produced a huge forced fumble of the Bruins in the third quarter that sparked K-State’s rally.
DT: James Castleman, Oklahoma State. Castleman’s biggest contributions actually came on offense. In Oklahoma State’s heavy set, Castleman rushed for a 1-yard touchdown, then late in the game hauled in a 48-yard yard reception off play-action that helped propel the Cowboys to victory.
DT: Malcom Brown, Texas. Brown did what he could in a 31-7 loss to Arkansas in the Advocare V100 Texas Bowl by leading Texas with eight tackles, a tackle for loss and a pair of QB hurries.
DE: James McFarland, TCU. McFarland essentially ended the game when he came up with an acrobatic, diving interception of Bo Wallace in the Ole Miss end zone that put the Frogs ahead 28-0 just before halftime.
LB: K.J. Dillon, West Virginia. Dillon had a 35-yard interception return for a touchdown that gave West Virginia a 10-point lead over the Aggies and early command of the game. Neither the lead nor the command lasted, however.
LB: Marcus Mallet, TCU. The Horned Frogs brutalized Ole Miss’ offense, and Mallet was a big reason for that. He put up a game-high 10 tackles and forced and recovered a fumble, as the Rebels finished with just 9 yards rushing.
CB: Kevin Peterson, Oklahoma State. In addition to providing solid coverage all night, Peterson came up with the game-clinching interception of Washington in the final seconds.
CB: Ramon Richards, Oklahoma State. The sure-tackling true freshman had perhaps the best performance in his young career and finished with six tackles, a tackle for loss and two pass breakups.
S: Karl Joseph, West Virginia. Joseph led the Mountaineers with 10 tackles and delivered yet another devastating hit that resulted in a forced fumble.
S: Derrick Kindred, TCU. Kindred picked off the Rebels in the first quarter and finished with five tackles and a tackle for loss as the TCU secondary swarmed Ole Miss' receivers all game.
K: Matthew McCrane, Kansas State. McCrane nailed 47-yard and 29-yard field goals and nearly pulled off a remarkable onside kick using the “Rabona” soccer technique. Honorable mention honors here go to West Virginia’s Josh Lambert, who broke the FBS season record with 39 made field goals.
P: Kip Smith, Oklahoma State. Smith placed all four of his punts inside the Washington 20 to help the Cowboys control the field-position battle.
Returner: Mario Alford, West Virginia: The electric Alford had two big kick returns, as well as a 45-yard touchdown reception off a quick pass in his final game as a Mountaineer.
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The Horns will have a solid group of visitors in Austin this weekend, including a number of touted commitments like ESPN 300 prospects Louis Brown and DeShon Elliott. But what makes the weekend significant is three visitors that have yet to make up their minds. LSU commitment and No. 12 running back Nick Brossette is coming to town, along with ESPN 300 defensive backs Kris Boyd and Holton Hill. Brossette is giving Texas a serious look despite his pledge to the Tigers, and he’s built a great relationship with Charlie Strong. Boyd and Hill are two key defensive back targets the Horns would love to reel in.
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- Have you ever been so fired up that you punched yourself in the face over and over again? New Oklahoma State assistant Dan Hammerschmidt knows the feeling. Kyle Fredrickson of The Oklahoman reports on the Cowboys' defensive backs coach who made quite an impression on his Colorado State players in 1997 with that tactic. Hammerschmidt coached at Houston last season and appears to be filling the vacancy Van Malone left when he departed for SMU.
- Baylor has filled its coaching staff vacancies. Two-time Pro Bowler Cris Dishman was hired to coach the Bears' secondary. He takes over for Brian Norwood, who took a position at Tulsa. Baylor will also have a new receivers coach in Tate Wallis, who played quarterback for SMU under Phil Bennett and has worked in football ops for Baylor for the past three seasons. I figured Baylor might hire a quarterbacks coach and let offensive coordinator Kendal Briles remain in charge of receivers, but it's no surprise Art Briles preferred to promote from within.
- We've passed the deadline for underclassmen to enter the NFL draft (more on that later this morning in the blog) and Texas Tech must be pleased to know Le'Raven Clark is coming back. The two-time All-Big 12 offensive tackle is valuable for a whole lot of reasons. With Clark back, Tech has four returning starters on its offensive line. DeAndre Washington, the Red Raiders' first 1,000-yard rusher since 1998, should be just as thrilled as quarterbacks Patrick Mahomes and Davis Webb. Getting one more season out of Clark should do a lot of good for Tech's offense.
- Now this is crazy. The father of quarterback Connor Brewer told the Austin American-Statesman's Ryan Autullo they would "absolutely entertain" the possibility of coming back to Texas in 2015. Brewer transferred from Texas to Arizona in the summer of 2013 but never cracked the starting lineup. He's leaving the Wildcats as a graduate transfer with two seasons left. The knock on Brewer in 2013 was that he lacked the arm strength to thrive at this level, but I don't think that matters in Texas' current predicament. Any quarterback who's eligible this fall is worth at least considering.
- Finally, here's a thorough and very thoughtful analysis of expanding the College Football Playoff from the great Nate Silver at FiveThirtyEight. In an effort to ensure perfectly qualified teams like Baylor and TCU get in, Silver suggests expanding to a six-team playoff or an eight-team one with automatic bids. Silver does a terrific job here of breaking down what we've witnessed from 1998 to 2014 and makes some compelling points. Readers, what do you think?
Few recruiting battles are more intriguing than the ones going on in Texas for high-profile players such as Daylon Mack, Soso Jamabo and Chris Warren III. What schools they pick could tilt recruiting supremacy in the Lone Star State moving forward
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Kiper Jr. has Big 12 alums Kevin White (WR, West Virginia), Dorial Green-Beckham (WR, Oklahoma), Malcom Brown (DT, Texas), and Jordan Phillips (DT, Oklahoma) going in the first round.
To see where he has them going, and to check out the rest of the mock draft, click here .
An asterisk denotes a junior for the 2014 season; two asterisks denote a redshirt sophomore.
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Aug. 30: Oklahoma State almost beat Florida State!
Season openers can be consistently pretty good at making people look foolish. With all the prep time coaches have, the results can be about as meaningful and enduring as bowl games. In this instance, Oklahoma State played No. 1 Florida State a lot closer than most expected. The Seminoles won 37-31 at AT&T Stadium but almost squandered a 17-0 lead. That game was a coming-out party for Emmanuel Ogbah and Tyreek Hill, who went on to have great seasons, but the Pokes finished 7-5. We sensed that OSU's showing and West Virginia's close game against Alabama signaled that the Big 12 can play with anyone. That might be right, but the Cowboys' season didn't get much easier from there.
Oct. 18: Texas has its QB of the future!
Nov. 1: Sugar Bowl Trevor is back!
Speaking of quarterbacks with highs and lows, Oklahoma's Trevor Knight was also a tough dude to peg during the 2014 season. Once again, we witnessed a quarterback shred Iowa State and believed this meant progress. Knight was at his dual-threat best on Nov. 1: 230 yards passing, 146 rushing and six total TDs in a 59-14 beatdown in Ames. That "Sugar Bowl Trevor" label of how good he can be on the right day remains both unfair and elusive, though, as the Sooners' showing against Baylor the next week proved.
Dec. 2: TCU is making the College Football Playoff!
They really got us good with this one. We didn't make such a bold prediction at the time, but all the indicators were there, right? When the playoff committee boosted the Horned Frogs up to No. 3, ahead of Florida State, going into the final weekend of the season, it seemed reasonable to conclude that a blowout win against Iowa State would be enough to secure TCU's playoff bid. This ended up being a false hope, and it was heartbreaking for Horned Frogs fans. Baylor fans were angry at the time, too, but didn't need to be. A few days later, the playoff committee finally bumped the Bears ahead of TCU, which lost to Baylor in October.
Have you had enough yet? No? Here's a preview of a few talking points you're sure to hear about in the offseason that might in fact be regrettable overreactions. Only time will tell, really, but we have to discuss 'em anyway.
Mason Rudolph is a star!
The way Oklahoma State QB Mason Rudolph closed out the season with three inspiring starts, including the shocking upset of Oklahoma in Norman, is inspiring a lot of confidence about where the Pokes are heading in 2015. But he was a true freshman, and surely there will be speed bumps along the way as he grows in his sophomore year. Let's have a little patience, shall we?
Paul Rhoads is on the hot seat!
You knew this talking point was coming eventually. To this point, the job of beloved Iowa State coach Paul Rhoads has never really seemed to be in jeopardy, despite the on-field results (2-10). But the Cyclones just endured a winless conference season and have lost 23 of their past 29 games. Recruiting isn't going great, either. The pressure will build if Rhoads can't produce more promising results in 2015.
Maybe TCU and Baylor can both make the playoff!
Putting both teams in the top three of our Way-Too-Early preseason rankings might lead to this viewpoint, but it's probably a shaky one. Only one of these teams can go undefeated, and there are no guarantees for one-loss teams. Whoever wins their Black Friday showdown in Fort Worth should be in great shape. But who knows what that game will mean for the loser?
There are 30 players committed to Big 12 schools in the final update of the ESPN 300 for the Class of 2015. That number is comparable to the Big Ten and the Pac-12, but definitely trails behind the ACC and SEC. What also has to be troubling is the lack of top-flight national recruits ending up at Big 12 schools. Only two top-50 players and seven in the top 100 are heading to Big 12 programs. The good news is that those numbers could change down the stretch as some good talent remains on the board in Texas and Oklahoma.
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Here are 10 Big 12 defenders to keep an eye on next season:
Oklahoma linebacker Dominique Alexander: A starter as a true freshman and second-team All-Big 12 performer as a sophomore, Alexander has exceeded all expectations as an underclassman. And the conference's leading returning tackler still has plenty of room to improve despite a 107-tackle season in 2014. The Sooners will need Alexander to play a critical role if they hope to become a dominant defense in 2015.
Baylor defensive tackle Andrew Billings: The Big 12's top returning defensive tackle was consistently disruptive in the middle of Baylor's defense in 2014 with 11.5 tackles for loss. His strength and leverage makes him a handful for any offensive lineman. Even as he attracts increased double teams, Billings should continue to create problems as the foundation of Baylor's defense.
Oklahoma State defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah: What can the Cowboys standout defensive end do as an encore? Ogbah was one of the Big 12's leaders in sacks (11) and tackles for loss (17) during a breakout sophomore season. His numbers may drop as a junior, as added attention comes his way, but Ogbah should make plenty of plays while opening up opportunities for teammates in 2015.
West Virginia safety Karl Joseph: One of the Big 12's hardest hitters, Joseph decided to return for his senior season as the anchor of the Mountaineers' secondary. He earned a hard-hitting reputation as a true freshman and has improved in coverage during his first three seasons in Morgantown. He will enter 2015 as one of the Big 12's most complete defensive backs.
Kansas State safety Dante Barnett: The Wildcats defense will be looking toward Barnett to be an leader, not only on the defense but for the entire roster in 2015. His 77 tackles, 56 solo, don't begin to account for his importance on the K-State defense.
Texas Tech defensive end Pete Robertson: The Big 12 leader in sacks with 13, Robertson is easily the conference's most overlooked star. He was an impact player as a sophomore and took his game to another level as a junior but went largely unnoticed as things around him fell apart during a 4-8 season.
TCU defensive tackle Davion Pierson: A three-year starter along TCU's defensive interior, Pierson sets the tone for the Horned Frogs defense. Not only is he disruptive, with 20 career tackles for loss, Pierson plays with a fire and energy that rubs off on teammates. He will need help in the middle with Chucky Hunter moving on but Pierson is a terrific foundation to build upon.
Oklahoma linebacker Eric Striker: Another Big 12 defender who considered leaving early, Striker has been one of the conference's top pass rushers for the past two seasons. As a junior, he showed his versatility and proved to be more than just an elite pass rusher. Striker will aim to show he can raise an entire defense to another level as a senior.
Texas defensive tackle Hassan Ridgeway: Malcom Brown is NFL bound, but the Longhorns may not skip a beat with Ridgeway appearing ready for an increased role. He had six sacks and 9.5 tackles for loss as a sophomore and looks like he could get even better as a junior.
Five other names to watch: S Kamari Cotton-Moya, Iowa State; CB Daryl Worley, West Virginia; S Derrick Kindred, TCU; CB Danzel McDaniel, Kansas State; CB Zack Sanchez, Oklahoma.
But for whatever reason, college football lends itself to hilarious viral moments, and this season was no exception. Below you'll find a collection of the lighthearted posts that you the readers clicked on the most during the 2014 season. Enjoy the trip down memory lane!
Everyone loves it when one of the big ol' boys in the trenches gets the chance to find the end zone. It seemed to happen a lot in 2014, but three really stood out. At Arkansas, a 6-foot-5, 350-pound offensive lineman actually threw a touchdown pass to a long snapper. Seriously, it happened. On the FCS level, a Mercer O-lineman scored a touchdown and led a phenomenal celebration that included him pulling off a cartwheel. No, seriously. And during the Cotton Bowl, Baylor's LaQuan McGowan -- at 6-foot-7, 400 pounds -- rumbled into the end zone for the biggest of all big-guy touchdowns.
Refs can be funny, too!
Like the one who got emotionally descriptive while flagging a player for removing his helmet "in disgust." Like the one who once penalized a player for "giving him the business" and making us laugh again. Like the one who got really mad at himself for accidentally turning his back to the camera while making a call.
Arkansas State of hilarity
An unlikely candidate for viral team of the season, but Arkansas State was just that for a beautiful two-week stretch in September. First, it was the pair of teammates named Clark and Griswold that TV cameras caught standing next to each other for this splendid image. Then, the following week at Miami, a Red Wolves player named Booker Mays played dead in the now-infamous "Fainting Goat" play that you all couldn't get enough of, along with Mitch Sherman's profile of the Fainting Goat himself.
Campus cops bring the funny
We didn't see this one coming. But two of our most popular posts involved a humorous Twitter back-and-forth between the campus police departments at Iowa and Iowa State before and after the two schools met on the gridiron. Then, a couple of months later, the police at Wisconsin had a memorable exchange with the genius that runs the great @FauxPelini Twitter account.
Non-FBS play of the year
You don't know much about Indiana State football, but you know a good trick play when you see it. And many of you clicked on this post and saw it clear as day as the Sycamores pulled off the hidden-ball trick to perfection and set up the winning kick against Missouri State.
News conference moment of the year
After Oregon's win against Colorado, one industrious 12-year-old student reporter took it upon himself to get to the bottom of whether the Ducks' quarterback would declare for the NFL draft. It led to a hilarious and endearing back-and-forth with Oregon coach Mark Helfrich in which he declared that "Jesus, girls and Marcus Mariota" were all anyone talked about at his Catholic school in Eugene. The memorable phrase led to a T-shirt, a Tom Rinaldi video feature on the phenomenon and our very own Chantel Jennings visiting the school to get some hilarious answers from the student body.
Same team, fellas!
First, Penn State pulled it off early in the season, letting Florida off the hook for its infamous self-blocking incident in 2013. Then Florida, as if almost offended by someone challenging its title as the King of Teammate Blocking Schemes, managed to pull it off for a second straight year, this time against Florida State. Then FSU, not content to let the rival Gators steal the spotlight in this seemingly unenviable category, insisted on doing just the same during its much-mocked, second-half collapse against Oregon in the playoff.
Hollywood and the music industry mixed well with college football in 2014. Among our favorite moments: Matthew McConaughey doing Matthew McConaughey things during a pep talk to his beloved Texas Longhorns. Tennessee creating a "Third Down for What" tune that fired up the fan base and made a Vols fan out of Lil Jon. George Clinton himself endorsing a Michigan player's "Atomic Dog" funk. And of course, Katy Perry taking over Ole Miss and besting Lee Corso on picks on "College GameDay" during the show's unforgettable first visit to the Grove.
It sure seemed as if 2014 was the year victorious coaching dances in the locker room became a thing. There were so many to choose from, but among our favorites: Oklahoma State's Mike Gundy, the self-proclaimed "dance-circle" king, living up to the billing after a stunning win against rival OU; Virginia Tech's Frank Beamer not letting his age get in the way of a good celebration; Wisconsin interim coach Barry Alvarez getting one last dance in after a bowl win, before settling back into his job as the school's AD. Oh, and then there was whatever this was, an unearthed video of Auburn coach Gus Malzahn breakdancing to "U Can't Touch This" in one of the most 1990s images you'll ever see.
SEC's 'enthusiastic' fans
The passion people have for college football never ceases to impress or entertain us. And this season did not disappoint, especially in the ever-passionate SEC. There was the fan driving around in a car transformed to look like Alabama's elephant mascot. The Vandy man who got so frustrated at the refs that he threw his hat and shirt onto the field and stormed off. The SEC sing-off between "That's Amari" and "I'm A Bielemer." The negative political ad and $14 barber shop debt that awaited Lane Kiffin upon his return to Knoxville. And of course, the King of All Crazy down South, Harvey Updyke, the infamous tree poisoner who claimed he'd be dressed as a dead tree for his Halloween costume.
Of course, there were others -- some sneaky Michigan State students painting Michigan's block "M" Spartan green, Penn State fans giving the Ohio State players an early wake-up call, creative haircuts throughout the nation -- but the SEC, despite some of the shine coming off this season on the field, still is the undisputed champion of viral fans.
Best of the rest
There were some moments that didn't fit neatly into one of our categories, but were so popular with you the fans that we had to find a place for them here in our end-of-season recap. For example, who could forget Ohio State assistant strength coach Anthony Schlegel body-slamming an idiot fan who ran onto the field? Or the Minnesota man who affectionately became known as "Dilly Bar Dan" after TV cameras caught him eating an ice cream bar on the sidelines when it was 15 degrees and snowing. His 15 minutes of fame was pretty amazing.
So was the last-second block that a member of the Texas A&M Corps of Cadets delivered on a fast-charging SMU player, thus saving a sideline collision with Reveille, the school's revered dog mascot. And speaking of the sideline, how about that Auburn kid who challenged FSU's "Red Lightning" for most-celebrated ball boy status by showing crazy SEC speed while sprinting down the sideline? That dash was so popular that it spawned an ESPN Sport Science segment comparing the two ball boys.
But we close this piece with our favorite opening of the college football season. It occurred when Eastern Michigan attempted to illustrate a season-long theme by sledge-hammering their way through a wall before running onto the field. Only problem was, the wall put up quite a fight. Let's just say ... it took awhile. And it was awkward. And it was awesome. All at the same time.
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Mark in Snyderville writes: Who will the the starting quarterback for Kansas State next season?
Brandon Chatmon: I'm going to go with Joe Hubener although consider it a way-too-early prediction. A lot can happen in seven months, including transfers and other additions to the roster that could become the man behind center. If none of that happens, I'll go with Hubener to be the guy.
Dion Sanchez in Pasadena writes: In light of Oklahoma's returning talent, do you see them out of the top 25? If so, will starting so low effect the CFP committee?
BC: I'm not ready to say Oklahoma is going to return to the top 25 until I see how the Sooners' coaching staff shakes out and how the newcomers implement change, so yes, I think the Sooners should be unranked in the preseason. OU had top-25 talent and it didn't seem to help much this season. If everything falls into place in 2015 and the Sooners earn their way into the playoff debate, I don't think their preseason ranking, or lack thereof, will keep them out of contention.
JC in Galveston, Texas writes: Will Texas fans finally see the full potential of Johnathan Gray? Or see Jerrod Heard at all?
BC: It's an interesting question JC. I thought Gray could be a breakout star for UT in 2014 but it never really happened. In fact, you could say he took a step backward as he never looked like the explosive and quick pre-injury Gray that looked a future star. But I'm not ready to write him off quite yet and I wouldn't be shocked to see him have a terrific senior season. As far as Heard, I've consistently said I think he's the future at quarterback and unless UT brings in a transfer quarterback, I think that future starts in 2015.
Ryan in Vienna, West Virginia writes: Do you see any receivers that can step up for West Virginia in 2015 season? If so, who do you think can be their go to guy?
BC: If you're hoping to replace Kevin White, that's not going to happen, Ryan. But I think the Mountaineers will have enough at the receiver spot to move the ball and keep defenses honest so they don't overload the line to slow down the Mountaineers' great group of running backs. Between Daikiel Shorts, Jordan Thompson and the young receivers Dana Holgorsen's team has secured in the past few recruiting classes, I think the offense will have plenty of targets, although nobody on White's level. I'd be more worried about the quarterback position if I was an WVU fan.
Jonathan Gillespie in Waco, Texas writes: As a Baylor Bear, I have a lot of hope for the potential of next year's squad, but I'm fairly certain that it's entirely reliant on the performance of Seth Russell (or possibly Jarrett Stidham). Throughout the season Russell played well, but at times he was inconsistent. Do you see Russell being a good replacement for Petty, or do you think there's cause for concern?
BC: I'm not ready to hand the job to Russell, although I think he could do the job and do it well. To me Russell, Stidham and Chris Johnson each could be the answer. But I have no doubt Art Briles will get production from the quarterback position after getting the best out of Robert Griffin III, Bryce Petty and Nick Florence. That's one reason Petty's departure doesn't keep me from considering BU right alongside TCU as the favorites in the conference next year even though I have no idea who is the best option behind center.
Charles in Tulsa, Oklahoma writes: With the fire power Baylor and TCU bring back next year, and OSU/WVU on the rise... how likely are OU or Texas to get 10 wins?
BC: Sure, why not? I think 10-3 is doable for both teams, maybe even better if the best-case scenario emerges. But it won't happen at either place without good quarterback play, something neither team has had for the past two years. TCU and Baylor are the only teams that have cemented a spot in the top half of the conference. The Big 12 race from three to eight is pretty wide open for me, with Iowa State and Kansas as the bottom two teams.
Steven Smith writes: Do you think Lincoln Riley will use OU's stud RB's as they should be?
BC: Absolutely. There's no way Bob Stoops hires Lincoln Riley if he's not confident his new offensive coordinator isn't smart enough to put the ball in the hands of proven playmakers. I'd imagine Samaje Perine will get plenty of carries while the Sooners' passing offense gets a major kickstart. There's no reason to think OU won't combine a physical running game with an "Air Raid" style passing attack, other teams have done it before.
Jeremy Shadowbird writes: Will Bob Stoops be on the hot seat next season?
BC: Hot seat might be strong, but it feels like he definitely hitched his future on Riley. If Riley flops, Stoops' seat starts blazing.