Big 12 recruiting scoreboard

September, 29, 2014
Sep 29
1:30
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Below is our weekly update on the Big 12 recruiting trail:

BAYLOR

Total commits: 12
ESPN 300 commits: 3
The latest: The Bears didn't land a recruit this past week, but plenty of Lone Star State prospects will be paying attention to Baylor’s trip to Austin. The Bears have been winning recruiting battles for the state top’s talent, and they have a chance to make another statement on the field.

IOWA STATE

Total commits: 11
ESPN 300 commits: 0
The latest: The Cyclones landed a commitment for the first time in more than a month in Kissimmee, Florida, cornerback Stephon Brown, who had offers from NC State, Hawaii, Marshall, South Florida and Southern Miss.

KANSAS

Total commits: 13
ESPN 300 commits: 0
The latest: The first order of business for interim coach Clint Bowen was calling all of Kansas’ commitments Sunday and telling them they are still wanted in Lawrence. Despite his troubles on the field, Charlie Weis had put together another decent recruiting class that Bowen needs to hold together.

KANSAS STATE

Total commits: 10
ESPN 300 commits: 0
The latest: The Wildcats have been quiet on the trail lately, after landing seven commitments from June to August. More will be on the way once Bill Snyder figures out which junior-college players he wants to target in this class.

OKLAHOMA

Total commits: 14
ESPN 300 commits: 6
The latest: The Sooners landed their third commitment in the month of September in McAlester, Oklahoma, tight end Dalton Wood, who jones Midwest City safety Will Sunderland and Jenks defensive tackle Marquise Overton as Oklahoma's three in-state commitments.

OKLAHOMA STATE

Total commits: 13
ESPN 300 commits: 4
The latest: The Pokes pulled off one of the better recruiting steals of the year last week in convincing ESPN 300 safety Kevin Henry to flip from LSU to OSU. Henry had been committed to the Tigers, where he projected as a safety/linebacker since January but started reconsidering his other options in July. Henry joins WR Jalen McCleskey as the second Louisiana recruit in OSU's class.

TCU

Total commits: 16
ESPN 300 commits: 0
The latest: No new pledges for the Horned Frogs this week, but they get a chance to impress visitors this Saturday when Oklahoma comes to Fort Worth. One TCU commit worth keeping an eye on is WR J.F. Thomas, the Frogs' highest-rated pledge. He received an offer from Texas recently, and two of his Dallas South Oak Cliff teammates -- Jamile Johnson and Jordan Stevenson -- are already committed to UT.

TEXAS

Total commits: 17
ESPN 300 commits: 8
The latest: Texas picked up a pledge from Austin Westlake LB Breckyn Hager, a three-star recruit who was committed to Baylor. The previous staff passed on Baylor's Bryce Hager in 2010, even though he's the son of Texas all-time leading tackler Britt Hager. Stevenson, who committed nearly a year ago, took an official visit to Wisconsin this weekend but remains solid with Texas.

TEXAS TECH

Total commits: 10
ESPN 300 commits: 3
The latest: The Red Raiders' staff made an intriguing find in East Texas last week. Longview's Broderick Washington committed soon after he received his Texas Tech offer. He's playing offensive tackle right now for Longview, but Tech loves his toughness and mean style of play and plans to develop him as a nose guard at the next level.

WEST VIRGINIA

Total commits: 19
ESPN 300 commits: 3
The latest: West Virginia locked up a huge commitment last Monday when ESPN 300 CB Tyrek Cole flipped from Florida State. You don't see that too often. WVU defensive line coach Damon Cogdell coached Cole at Miramar High School in Florida last year. The Mountaineers also received a commitment from three-star ILB David Long on Sunday. This 2015 class is in terrific shape so far.

Big 12 FPI rankings: Week 5

September, 29, 2014
Sep 29
11:30
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ESPN's Football Power Index is a measure of team strength that is meant to be the best predictor of a team's performance going forward for the rest of the season. Every week, ESPN will be updating its FPI to compile a ranking based on 10,000 simulations of the rest of the season using FPI, results to date and the remaining schedule.

Oklahoma didn't play this weekend but still climbed into the top four of the FPI rankings this week. The Sooners took over the No. 4 spot that Georgia held last week after the Bulldogs dropped to eighth. The top three ranked ahead of OU -- Alabama, Texas A&M and Auburn -- did not change.

Following their wins in Week 5, TCU and Texas both made noticeable jumps in the national ranks. The Horned Frogs moved ahead of Oklahoma State and up seven spots to No. 22 with their 56-0 win at SMU. Their chances of winning the Big 12 nearly tripled from 3.3 percent to 9.8 percent. The computers have enough respect for TCU's start that the Frogs' wins projection went up nearly one full win to 8.9.

Texas, meanwhile, moved ahead of West Virginia and Kansas State and into the No. 30 spot nationally after its 23-0 shutout of Kansas. The Longhorns are still projected to finish 6-6. Oklahoma State's win over Texas Tech did not result in any movement in the FPI ranks, while the Red Raiders moved up two spots.

Here's how they and the rest of the Big 12 stack up entering Week 6.

ESPN 300 Player of the Week: Sept. 29 

September, 29, 2014
Sep 29
10:00
AM ET
video
Each week, RecruitingNation's scouts will highlight great performances from the nation's top recruits.

This week's honoree is Texas Longhorns QB commit Zach Gentry, No. 87 in the ESPN 300, and the No. 5 pocket passer prospect in the country. Check out the highlights Video.

Big 12 weekend rewind: Week 5

September, 29, 2014
Sep 29
10:00
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Taking stock of Week 5 in the Big 12:

Team of the week: Baylor. Any time you go to Iowa State and come up with a win, it’s a big deal -- even if three teams have already done it now this season. Ames traditionally has not been an easy place to play, and Baylor made it look easy with a four-touchdown halftime lead on the way to a 49-28 win. The Bears dominated with 32 first downs and 601 yards of offense.

Disappointment of the week: Kansas. The Jayhawks played Texas tough its last trip to Lawrence, and had every opportunity to give the offensively challenged Longhorns another tough fight. Instead, Montell Cozart threw four interceptions, and Kansas squandered away every scoring opportunity in a 23-0 defeat. The lackluster performance was the final straw in the Charlie Weis era.

Big (offensive) man on campus: Corey Coleman. Baylor insiders had been touting the sophomore as the next great Baylor wide receiver during the offseason. But when Coleman suffered a preseason hamstring injury, true freshman K.D. Cannon stole that hype. Coleman got it back in Ames with a monster debut to the season. He had 12 catches for 154 yards and a touchdown, leading the Baylor scoring barrage.

Big (defensive) man on campus: James McFarland. Sure, SMU might be inept offensively. Really inept, in fact. Still, the TCU defensive end had a huge afternoon in the Horned Frogs’ 56-0 stomping of the Mustangs. McFarland finished with three of TCU’s nine sacks. It was a career-high for McFarland, and the most sacks for the Horned Frogs in a game since 2002. McFarland also forced two fumbles, and produced a pass-breakup on a fourth down at the TCU 1-yard line to preserve the shutout.

Special-teams player of the week: Tyler Lockett. Another game, another big day for K-State’s do-it-all playmaker. In a 58-28 win against UTEP, Lockett finished with 143 yards on punt returns, the second-most in school history and 29 short of tying the school record of 172 set by David Allen in 1998. Lockett also caught four passes for 84 yards. He now leads the country in punt return yards per game.

Play of the week: It’s not easy to fumble and throw an interception on the same play. But that is what happened to backup Texas Tech quarterback Patrick Mahomes in relief of injured starter Davis Webb. Early in the fourth quarter, Mahomes had the ball stripped away. He then scooped it up and tossed it to his right wildly as he was falling down. The ball deflected off running back Quinton White and into the arms of Seth Jacobs for an interception. The Cowboys scored four plays later to go up 45-28 and put the game away.

Stat of the week: Texas Tech was flagged 16 times for 158 yards in the 45-35 loss to Oklahoma State. As a result, the Red Raiders now lead the nation with 105.5 penalty yards per game.

Quote of the week: "We have not made the on-the-field progress we believe we should." -- Kansas athletic director Sheahon Zenger, on why he fired coach Charlie Weis.

Big 12 morning links

September, 29, 2014
Sep 29
8:00
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Jerry Jones apparently has plans of taking over the world.
  • After winning just one Big 12 game as coach of the Jayhawks, Charlie Weis was fired over the weekend on the heels of a 23-0 loss to Texas. Kansas athletic director Sheahon Zenger told the Lawrence Journal-World's Matt Tait that the "program had lost support at all levels." Though it was a tad surprising that Zenger pulled the trigger after just one Big 12 game, you can hardly blame him. Kansas had showed no signs of improvement this season, scoring a combined three points in losses to Duke and Texas. Attendance was plummeting again this season, even after an 8 percent drop the year before. Under Weis, there was just no excitement surrounding Kansas football whatsoever.
  • After two disastrous hires, the pressure is on Zenger and the Jayhawks to get this next hire right. Zenger, remember, fired Turner Gill after just two seasons; Weis, the man Zenger hired to clean up Gill's mess, lasted 33 months. CBSSports.com's Dennis Dodd throws out some possible candidates that Zenger might look at, including Oklahoma offensive coordinator Josh Heupel. The Jayhawks had success previously hiring an Oklahoma offensive coordinator, as Mark Mangino took Kansas to the 2007 Orange Bowl. The Lawrence Journal-World's Tom Keegan, meanwhile, writes that interim coach and Kansas alum Clint Bowen brings some much-needed passion to the program. The Jayhawks are in some definite need of that.
  • Embattled NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and NFL executive vice president Troy Vincent interestingly met with Texas coach Charlie Strong on Sunday to discuss the coach’s five core values and his approach to building the Longhorns. Vincent was very complimentary of Strong's disciplinary stances following their meeting, telling Yahoo Sports' Eric Adelson that "this is a model that should be emulated across the country in both amateur and professional football." Vincent gave Strong and his staff plenty of ammo to use when meeting with parents on the recruiting trail. If opposing coaches try to negatively recruit against Texas because of its suspensions and dismissals, the Longhorns will be able to counter with the ultimate trump card, as defensive coordinator Vance Bedford points out.
  • There were some actual games over the weekend, too, and Baylor got a huge boost from the returns of wideouts Antwan Goodley and Corey Coleman from injuries, as the Waco Tribune-Herald's John Werner details. Back from a hamstring injury he suffered in preseason camp, Coleman caught a career-high 12 passes for 154 yards and a touchdown in the 49-28 win at Iowa State. Goodley returned from a quadriceps injury suffered in the early minutes of the season opener against SMU to catch six passes for 114 yards. Clay Fuller also came back from a preseason collarbone injury and made two fourth-quarter catches. Levi Norwood could be back as soon as this weekend from a fractured wrist. After an injury plagued non-conference, the Baylor offense is operating at full strength again. Just in time for Texas, too.
  • The next two weeks will provide an opportunity for Oklahoma State to grow, writes The Oklahoman's John Helsley. The Cowboys get Iowa State at home this weekend, then travel to Kansas. In other words, Oklahoma State has a great chance to get off to a 5-1 start to the season after dispatching of Texas Tech last week. With so much inexperience coming into the season, coach Mike Gundy has to be pleased with the way the 2014 season has begun. At one point, Oklahoma State had five true freshmen on the field at once defensively in the Tech game. Those young players have a chance to develop even more over the next two weeks before the Cowboys hit the heart of their Big 12 schedule with an Oct. 18 road trip to TCU.

Big 12 bowl projections: Week 5

September, 28, 2014
Sep 28
8:00
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Baylor, Texas and Oklahoma State got their Big 12 Conference schedules off to a good start while TCU and Kansas State cruised to easy wins.

This week provides TCU and Texas the opportunity to stake their claim in the conference race with games against Big 12 favorites OU and Baylor. If the Horned Frogs knock off the Sooners or the Longhorns shock the Bears, either team would skyrocket up our projections.

Allstate Sugar Bowl: Oklahoma
Cotton Bowl: Baylor
Valero Alamo Bowl: Kansas State
Russell Athletic Bowl: West Virginia
AdvoCare V100 Texas Bowl: Oklahoma State
AutoZone Liberty Bowl: TCU
Cactus Bowl: Texas

Big 12 Power Rankings: Week 5

September, 28, 2014
Sep 28
2:00
PM ET

Roger Goodell meets Charlie Strong

September, 28, 2014
Sep 28
1:26
PM ET
video

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and league executive Troy Vincent met with Charlie Strong on Sunday morning to discuss the Texas coach's "Core Values" system, which has garnered widespread attention following the dismissals of nine Longhorns players.

Vincent, the NFL executive vice president of football operations, announced the meeting in a series of tweets, saying that the league also wants to improve its relationships with college programs.

Texas offensive lineman Kennedy Estelle was dismissed from the program Tuesday, becoming the ninth player kicked off the team since Strong was hired in January. Two other players are suspended from the team for undisclosed reasons.

Strong, who spent four years as Louisville's head coach prior to coming to Texas, has instituted the following five "Core Values" for his players: honesty, treating women with respect, no drugs, no stealing and no weapons.


(Read full post)


Big 12 helmet stickers: Week 5

September, 28, 2014
Sep 28
9:00
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Below is a look at the best performances from the Big 12 in Week 5:

DE James McFarland, TCU: McFarland led the nine-sack TCU barrage against SMU with three himself, as the Horned Frogs rolled 56-0. It was a career-high for McFarland, and the most sacks for TCU in a game since 2002. McFarland also had two forced fumbles, and his pass breakup on a fourth-and-1 at the TCU 1-yard line in the second quarter helped preserve the 11th shutout of the Gary Patterson era.

WR Corey Coleman, Baylor: Coleman had a monster outing in his first appearance of the season, hauling in 12 passes for 154 yards and a touchdown in the Bears 49-28 win at Iowa State. Coleman had missed the first three games of the season with a hamstring injury. He showed no signs of being slowed down in Ames.

CB Duke Thomas, Texas: After getting burned for the game-deciding touchdown against UCLA, Thomas bounced back with a monster performance in a 23-0 win over Kansas. Thomas grabbed two of Texas’ four interception, and could have had a third had it not been for penalty. Thomas also broke up a fade attempt on fourth-and-goal in the third quarter. The Jayhawks never came close to scoring a touchdown again.

LB Ben Heeney, Kansas: Don't blame Heeney or the Kansas defense for the Jayhawks' loss to Texas. Heeney had 10 tackles, two tackles for loss, a sack and a fumble recovery at the Kansas 2-yard line that thwarted a Texas scoring opportunity. It was actually the All-Big 12 performer's first career fumble recovery. Behind Heeney, the Jayhawks also limited Texas to just 111 yards rushing.

RB Charles Jones, Kansas State: Jones scored three of the Wildcats’ first five touchdowns, as K-State demolished UTEP, 58-28. Jones finished with 76 yards on just 12 carries, as K-State held a 45-point lead over the Miners heading into the fourth quarter.

WR Tyler Lockett, Kansas State: In another tantalizing performance, Lockett put up 143 punt return yards, the second-most in school history and 29 yards short of tying the school record of 172 set by David Allen in 1998. Lockett also hauled in four passes for 84 yards.

WR James Washington, Oklahoma State: The Cowboys’ true freshman wideout torched Texas Tech in Oklahoma State’s 45-35 win Thursday. Washington reeled in a 33-yard touchdown in the first quarter, then a 39-yard score in the second. Three of Washington’s five catches this season have resulted in touchdowns.

What we learned in the Big 12: Week 5

September, 28, 2014
Sep 28
1:27
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Here’s what we learned about the Big 12 in Week 5:

[+] EnlargeAntwan Goodley
David Purdy/Getty ImagesAntwan Goodley made a triumphant return for Baylor after missing the previous two games due to injury.
1. Petty's toys are back in business: No video-game-crazy numbers for Baylor's offense in a 49-28 victory at Iowa State, just the usual display that makes it tough for Big 12 defensive coordinators to sleep at night. Bryce Petty sure had some catching up to do with his favorite injured wideouts, and Corey Coleman (12 catches, 154 yards, 1 TD) and Antwan Goodley (6 catches, 114 yards) both made it count. The Bears weren't up to their optimal speed -- there were five three-and-outs, a Petty interception and a failed fourth-down conversion -- but Shock Linwood (three TDs) makes them so difficult to stop when they hit the red zone, and the starters got to sit out the final quarter. Business as usual for Baylor.

2. Pokes can beat you deep: Oklahoma State won the Big 12's first primetime fight because it wasn't afraid to take big shots. Daxx Garman connected on eight passes of 20-plus yards, and even better, they were hauled in by six different receivers over the course of the 45-35 victory on Thursday. It's time to stop underestimating Marcell Ateman and James Washington after the underclassmen combined for 217 yards and two TDs, and OSU put something plenty scary on tape when Tyreek Hill beat his defender by a good 7 yards for a 50-yard scoring bomb. It wasn't easy, and it sure wasn't pretty -- 287 combined penalty yards on 26 flags -- but OSU found out Garman can handle the bright lights just fine.

3. K-State defense rallies in big way: Kansas State was missing two starters on defense but had no trouble taking out its Auburn-inspired anger on UTEP, a team that proved against Texas Tech it's no pushover. In the 58-28 win, KSU held the nation's No. 2 rusher, Aaron Jones, to nine yards in the first half and 47 on the day. The Miners couldn't get anything going for the three quarters KSU's starters played -- it was 52-7 when Bill Snyder sent in the backups -- and UTEP ended the first half down 31 points with just 23 total yards and one first down. KSU got right back on track and still looks like a legit contender for the Big 12 crown.

4. TCU's Air Raid keeps making it look ... too easy? The Horned Frogs are 3-0 with wins over Samford, Minnesota and now SMU, a team that’s been outscored 202-12 through four games. If there's an FBS team playing worse football than the Mustangs, I would not like to see it. So it’s tough to confidently make conclusions about TCU after this 56-0 victory. But Trevone Boykin (six total TDs) still looks incalculably more polished than a year ago. He has a diverse array of receivers and backs at his disposal, and the Frogs' 614 total yards were their most since 2011. To TCU's credit, Minnesota was solid in a 30-14 win against the dumpster fire in Ann Arbor. The Horned Frogs' offense couldn't have asked for a better start to 2014. It's time to find out what they're made of against the Sooners.

5. Texas still has issues: If Texas plays against Baylor next Saturday the way it did in Lawrence, Kansas, it probably doesn't stand much of a chance. Charlie Strong won't get too mad about a 23-0 victory that snaps a two-game slide, but he won't spend much time celebrating it, either. Texas never had to sweat too much, thanks to Montell Cozart's four interceptions, but its patchwork offensive line remains a work in progress (Malcolm Brown and Johnathan Gray combined for 73 rushing yards), and scoring points is still a struggle. Still, Texas did at least do what it needed to and gave Strong his first Big 12 win. KU showed some nice things in the run game and has a better defense than you think, but its offensive execution in many trips into Texas territory was fruitless.

Swoopes TDs, 4 picks help Texas blank Kansas 23-0

September, 27, 2014
Sep 27
7:46
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LAWRENCE, Kansas -- Tyrone Swoopes passed for one touchdown and ran for another and Texas picked off four Kansas passes, leading the Longhorns to a 23-0 victory Saturday in the Big 12 opener.

Swoopes, in his first start in a conference game, was 19 for 34 for 218 yards and two TDs as Texas (2-2, 1-0) beat Kansas for the 12th straight time. A stifling Texas defense limited Kansas sophomore Montell Cozart to 12 for 31 for 140 yards and the four picks. Cornerback Duke Thomas had two of the interceptions and also broke up a short pass in the end zone on fourth down. Texas also sacked Cozart four times while holding the Jayhawks to 313 total yards.

All week long, Kansas (2-2, 0-1) kept the Texas fight song blaring across the practice field and filled the locker room with reminders that the Jayhawks had not beaten Texas in 76 years.


(Read full post)


Big 12 viewer's guide: Week 5

September, 27, 2014
Sep 27
8:00
AM ET
In Week 5 of Big 12 action, TCU will try to hand SMU another heavy defeat; Kansas State will attempt to bounce back from a disappointing loss; Texas and Kansas will meet in their conference opener; and Baylor will look to avoid getting upset by Iowa State in Ames.

Those, among others, will be the storylines to follow Saturday in the Big 12:

TCU at SMU, noon ET (CBS Sports Network): TCU coach Gary Patterson said he expects to get SMU’s best shot. That still might not amount to much. The Mustangs are a complete mess, having been outscored 146-12 in their first three games. SMU is expected to start its third different quarterback already this season, walk-on Garrett Krstich, who opened the year fourth on the depth chart. The Horned Frogs ought to be able to keep the Iron Skillet trophy in Fort Worth while keeping the game plan relatively vanilla as they gear up for next weekend’s crucial home showdown against fourth-ranked Oklahoma.

UTEP at No. 25 Kansas State, noon ET (Fox Sports Regional): It will be interesting to see how the Wildcats bounce back after their gut-wrenching loss to Auburn last week. This, however, figures to be a good matchup for K-State. UTEP running back Aaron Jones ranks second in the country with 182 rushing yards per game, but the Wildcats appear to have a formidable run defense, which snapped Auburn’s 13-game streak of producing at least 200 rushing yards. Meanwhile, K-State coach Bill Snyder has indicated that Jack Cantele will remain the Wildcats' place-kicker despite missing all three field goals against the Tigers. Getting Cantele back on track will be paramount for the Wildcats on Saturday before they resume conference play next week.

[+] EnlargeBen Heeney
John Albright/Icon SMIBen Heeney and the Kansas defense get another crack at Texas this weekend.
Texas at Kansas, 4 p.m. ET (Fox Sports 1): Texas hasn’t loss to Kansas since 1938, but there have been some close calls over the years. In their last trip to Lawrence, the Longhorns need a game-winning touchdown drive from backup quarterback Case McCoy to escape in the final seconds with a 21-17 win. There’s reason to believe this game could be tight, too. The Longhorns have completed only five passes of at least 20 yards this season, while the running game has been among the least effective in the conference. On the other side of the ball, the Jayhawks feature a veteran defense, led by linebackers Ben Heeney and Jake Love, that is coming off a solid performance in a 24-10 win over Central Michigan.

No. 7 Baylor at Iowa State, 8 p.m. ET (Fox): Baylor handed the Cyclones a 71-7 whupping last season, the worst margin of defeat in Iowa State history. The Cyclones, however, have been a much tougher team at home under Paul Rhoads. Iowa State, in fact, defeated the Bears 35-21 in their last visit to Ames two years ago. Since falling to North Dakota State in the opener, the Cyclones have played much better, but Baylor will be getting a couple of key offensive weapons back in its lineup. Starting receivers Antwan Goodley and Corey Coleman are expected to return from injuries on an offense that has led the country in every major statistical category without them.
In today's Twitter mailbag, we discuss Thursday night's game between Oklahoma State and Texas Tech and preview the games this weekend.

On to the 'bag:

@jake_trotter: Definitely. Look at last night alone. Forget the three turnovers, the Red Raiders left 10 points off the board directly because of penalties. Jakeem Grant's kickoff return touchdown. And the delay of game that pushed Tech out of field-goal range. Add those 10 points, and the game would have been tied. Tech is explosive enough offensively for this to be a bowl team. But when you shoot all the toes off your feet, it's hard to beat anyone. And Tech is going to have a hard time beating anyone as long as they lead the nation in penalties and lose the turnover battle.

@jake_trotter: I hear Garman Airlines will be taking plenty of flights this fall.

@jake_trotter: I would be deflated too if my team led the country in penalties. That said, everyone needs to show a little patience with Kingsbury, just like they need to show a little with Charlie Strong. Kingsbury has recruited well. He needs time for more of those prospects to make an impact. It hasn't been pretty so far this season, but it's way to early to judge Kingsbury.

@jake_trotter: Iowa State still has a chance to be a good, solid team in my opinion. But we're also talking about a squad that got run out of its own stadium by North Dakota State in the opener. So no, a win in Ames won't exactly quiet the doubters. But if the Bears win the following three games at Texas, TCU and at West Virginia, you won't hear a peep from the Baylor doubters.

@jake_trotter: If anyone deserves a break, it's West Virginia. In facing Alabama, Maryland and Oklahoma, the Mountaineers have played the toughest schedule in the country so far. So the open week comes at the perfect time. West Virginia can reset, heal and gear up for the final two-thirds of the season. If the Mountaineers play like they did the first third, they will win a bunch of games the rest of this season.

@jake_trotter: The player who has really impressed me so far this is Texas defensive tackle Malcom Brown. He has been the most impressive defensive linemen in my opinion, despite the Longhorns' troubles elsewhere. Other guys who have caught my eye so far: Kansas State's Ryan Mueller and Travis Britz, Baylor's Shawn Oakman, Oklahoma State's Emmanuel Ogbah, Iowa State's Cory Morrissey, Oklahoma's Jordan Phillips and Charles Tapper, Kansas' Keon Stowers and TCU's Davion Pierson.

@jake_trotter: Well, yeah. If the Horned Frogs defeat Oklahoma, they have to be considered a legitimate Big 12 contender. That is going to be a huge game for the Frogs. Perhaps, in fact, the biggest of the TCU Big 12 era.

@jake_trotter: Anything is possible, but I have a hard time seeing K-State winning in Norman and Waco. That said, before the season, one of my bold predictions was that K-State would win one of those road games. I see no reason to back off that prediction just yet, either.

@jake_trotter: I asked my wife about this and she vetoed it. However, she said if Iowa State knocks off Baylor and Oklahoma in Ames, then I can do it. So we're on, provided you find me a barber familiar with the Cy logo..

AUSTIN, Texas – When Charlie Strong gave Hassan Ridgeway a shout-out back in mid-August in front of a banquet crowd that included coaches, teammates, boosters and fans, the big man cringed in the back of the arena.

He wasn’t uncomfortable because Strong told the room that, back in the spring, Ridgeway would get gassed after one or two plays.

“That was true,” Ridgeway said.

No, he cringed because Strong was kind enough to mention Ridgeway’s burgeoning nickname.

"I call him ‘The Green Mile,’ and it's probably going to embarrass him," Strong declared, “but he is so fun to watch."

[+] EnlargeHassan Ridgeway
AP Photo/Michael ThomasTexas' Hassan Ridgeway is starting to show his huge potential.
The name came from teammates one day earlier this year. Strong overheard it and rolled with it. The reference is just as applicable for Ridgeway’s hulking size (6-foot-4, 308 pounds) as his gentle demeanor. That’s one of many traits of Texas’ new starting defensive tackle that scares his coaches.

“One of these days, Hassan is actually going to get mad,” Texas defensive coordinator Vance Bedford said. “He is one the nicest young people I've ever been around. If he ever gets mad, I'm going to be the first person to leave the room because he will hurt somebody. My man could be a beast.”

“Could be” is a good way of putting it. Ridgeway has had jaw-dropping potential ever since he arrived in Austin from Mansfield, Texas. Mack Brown and his staff fought hard to land Ridgeway after he nearly flipped to Texas A&M before signing day. They just didn’t get a chance to see him blossom.

The big man has gigantic shoes to fill this week and beyond. He’s taking over for Desmond Jackson, the senior nose tackle who was lost for the season to foot surgery. Ridgeway should make his first career start Saturday against Kansas.

“Tank [Jackson] is a big loss. Tank is our emotional leader on defense,” Bedford said. “He comes to practice and works hard every day. He plays with a lot of enthusiasm, and that is contagious and we are going to miss that.”

Teammates say Ridgeway’s work ethic entering 2014 was the wrong kind of contagious. Defensive end Cedric Reed said a year ago, Ridgeway played like a guy who’d packed on 50 pounds, and “all he could do was sleep.” In truth, during his two-plus years in the program, Ridgeway went from a 255-pound defensive end to a 3-technique defensive tackle who’s tipped the scales at 315 pounds.

This was intentional, of course. Ridgeway flashed as a defensive tackle during his redshirt season in 2012, and Texas needed him to successfully make the transition that offseason after it failed to sign A’Shawn Robinson, Andrew Billings or any other defensive lineman in its 2013 class.

He wasn’t ready last year. Ridgeway appeared in 12 games and showed glimpses of his potential in nonconference play. He made four tackles the rest of the season.

Then the new coaching staff arrived. In Ridgeway, they inherited a player whose progress represents a good chunk of this Texas roster: A lot of hype, a lot of untapped potential, a lot to learn.

“I think he has the ability to be a special talent,” Bedford said. “He's gotten better every single week. He is a guy that is growing, developing, he's learning how to play the football game and I think his future could be bright. Again, I'm talking about potential, not reality.”

The reality through three games: Ridgeway recorded two sacks and five tackles in the season opener against North Texas and added another sack and four tackles against UCLA. Now, with Jackson out, Ridgeway must prove he can be an every-down player.

“I had a lot of people pushing me, like Malcom [Brown] and Tank. They were the ones helping me to get better,” Ridgeway said. “I just try to be like them, to be as good as them. When I come on the field, I don’t want there to be a drop-off from anybody else. I want to be just as good.”

That’ll be a tall task, as Brown is playing at an All-America level right now. But the big fella does seem ready for a big challenge.

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Goodell Meets With Charlie Strong
ESPN senior NFL writer John Clayton discusses why NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and league executive Troy Vincent met with Texas coach Charlie Strong.
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