Texas Longhorns: Jeremy Smith

Seventeen Big 12 players heard their names called during the 2014 NFL draft. Many other Big 12 alums will have a chance at the next level as undrafted free agents.

Below is a list of undrafted players who reportedly have agreed to free agent deals. This is not a final list, as teams are still working to sign undrafted free agents. But these are the players we know of so far.

Baylor
Iowa State
Kansas
Kansas State
Oklahoma
Oklahoma State
TCU
Texas
Texas Tech
West Virginia

Big 12 predictions: Week 6

October, 3, 2013
10/03/13
9:00
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Like the Steelers and Vikings, I crossed the pond to find this week’s guest picker, David in England.

David’s submission:

Hi there guys! I'm an avid follower of college football, which is rather rare in this country! I'd love to be your guest picker and give you some good ol' English dry wit to add to your insight!

David, after last week’s disaster picking games, we could use some insight. And since you’ll be picking games from our version of football, I’ll be picking one from yours. David is a Tottenham bloke, so we’re going to pick Sunday’s West Ham at Tottenham match.

If you want to be next week’s guest picker, contact me here, and tell me why. And, as always, creativity counts.

By the way, the Big 12 blog team will be out and about this weekend. Max Olson will be in Waco for West Virginia-Baylor, Brandon Chatmon will be in Stillwater for Kansas State-Oklahoma State, and yours truly will be in Norman for TCU-Oklahoma.

To the Week 6 picks:

SEASON RECORD

Trotter last week: 1-3 (.250)

Guest picker last week: 2-2 (.500)

Trotter overall: 26-8 (.765)

Guest picker overall: 12-5 (.706)

THURSDAY

Iowa State 27, Texas 25: The Longhorns revealed Wednesday that QB David Ash would not travel to Ames due to lingering issues from a head injury. Backup Case McCoy has actually filled in well for Ash this season. However, the offense is limited with McCoy, and I’m not sure that changes if the redshirt is pulled off freshman Tyrone Swoopes, either. The Cyclones, meanwhile, found their offensive footing last week with the healthy return of center Tom Farniok and emergence of speedy running back Aaron Wimberly. Ames will be rocking. Iowa State is tenacious on weekday games. I smell upset here.

David’s pick: Texas is coming off a bye week and a standout game against K-State. Iowa State is coming off losses to two other Iowa teams (neither of them particularly impressive games anyway) and could barely handle Tulsa. Watch for Johnathan Gray to have a standout game against a particularly poor rush defense. Texas 35-14

SATURDAY

No. 20 Texas Tech 28, Kansas 7: Long known for its high-powered offense, Tech has actually jumped to 4-0 with defense this season. Despite having talent on offense, the Jayhawks have struggled to score points. That continues, as the Red Raiders win another ugly game to remain undefeated.

David’s pick: Kansas welcomes a Texas Tech team that is achieving over 400 yards passing per game. The Jayhawks capitulate, as the combination of Baker Mayfield and Jace Amaro tears through them. Texas Tech 42-7

No. 21 Oklahoma State 29, Kansas State 17: For the first time in seemingly forever, Oklahoma State is without much of an offensive identity. The offense’s best asset is receiver, but J.W. Walsh is a running quarterback without the arm strength to get the ball downfield. So far, Jeremy Smith has also proven to be a major downgrade from Joseph Randle at running back, which has limited the effectiveness of the running game. Bill Snyder is one of the best, and off an open week, he’ll have a strong defensive gameplan that attacks Walsh’s weaknesses. OSU wins, but Walsh continues to sputter passing, raising questions about whether the Cowboys should turn back to Clint Chelf at QB.

David’s pick: OSU's BCS title dreams are in tatters thanks to a woeful showing against at West Virginia. Kansas State faces an angry team and one that's ready to let it rip. OSU 32-17

No. 11 Oklahoma 28, TCU 16: This is the ultimate trap game for the Sooners, who get TCU sandwiched between the big win at Notre Dame and the Texas game next weekend. The Sooners, however, know better than to overlook TCU, which has played OU tough over the years, winning in Norman in 2005. These Horned Frogs don’t have enough offense to pull off the upset, but the TCU defense keeps the Horned Frogs in the game until the fourth quarter.

David’s pick: A once-ranked TCU finally found some offense against SMU. If Oklahoma had lost to Notre Dame, this would have been a blowout. Instead, it’s a nail-biter. OU 28-27

No. 17 Baylor 49, West Virginia 21: Neither of these teams played defense last season. This season, both units have made major improvements. The difference is that Baylor’s offense is better than last year. West Virginia’s is much worse. Even though the Mountaineers toppled then-No. 11 Oklahoma State last weekend, they are four-touchdown underdogs in Waco. Vegas is giving Baylor major respect for a reason. This offense appears to have no weakness. The Bears continue to roll.

David’s pick: Being an Oregon fan at heart, Baylor's impression of the Ducks’ high-speed offense has paid off. But I must give credit to that Baylor defense. West Virginia's shocking win against OSU will give it the confidence, but only scoring just over 20 points per game is not going to give you a win against Baylor. Baylor, 52-10

Tottenham Hotspur 5, West Ham United 0: I wanted to pick West Ham to troll David. But then I found out Tottenham is third in the Premier League standings; West Ham is 17th out of 20 and has failed to score away from home. This is like when Louisiana-Monroe traveled to Baylor, and we all know how that turned out.

David’s pick: Tottenham is flying high to start this season. Only one loss (to top of the table Arsenal) is the blip in an otherwise comfortable start to life without Gareth Bale. Gylfi Siggurdson has had a tremendous start to the campaign, bank on him to get one or two against a frail West Ham side. West Ham, typically, doesn't travel well in the BPL. Their key to victory will be to play Tottenham at its game: slick passing counter attack. Fail to do so, and we could be looking at a blowout in the first half. Tottenham 3-0

Big 12 weekend rewind: Week 5

September, 30, 2013
9/30/13
11:00
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Taking stock of Week 5 in the Big 12:

Team of the week: Oklahoma. With their victory over Oklahoma State, the Mountaineers deserved strong consideration here. But by winning in South Bend, the Sooners delivered the Big 12 its best win of the year while vanquishing past demons. OU, which fell to 1-9 all-time against Notre Dame last season, controlled this game wire-to-wire in a 35-21 win. QB Blake Bell operated the Sooners' offense like a veteran in just his second career start. And the OU defense took it to QB Tommy Rees to force three first-half interceptions that allowed the Sooners to pad their lead. OU might have been one of the most overlooked teams during the preseason. After Saturday, the Sooners won’t be overlooked anymore.

Disappointment of the week: Oklahoma State. The Cowboys fell in Morgantown 31-21, despite being 18-point favorites. OSU sputtered all day offensively across the board. J.W. Walsh had a QBR of just 38.1 (scale of 0 to 100) and the Cowboys averaged just 2.8 yards per carry. The defense didn’t fare much better, allowing a West Virginia offense that had been completely inept to rack up 21 first downs. Dating to last year, the Cowboys have now lost three consecutive Big 12 games.

Big (offensive) men on campus: Sterling Shepard and Aaron Wimberly. Both the Oklahoma receiver and Iowa State running back sparked their offenses to big wins on the road. Shepard had five catches for 83 yards, and delivered the nail in the coffin to Notre Dame with a 54-yard touchdown reception to put OU back up by two scores in the fourth quarter.

In a 38-21 win at Tulsa, Wimberly produced Iowa State’s first 100-yard rushing game in more than a year with 137 yards on 19 carries. He added a 31-yard reception as the Cyclones came alive in their first win of the season.

Big (defensive) men on campus: The Oklahoma linebackers, and Sam Carter. Corey Nelson, Frank Shannon and Eric Striker came up with huge plays in the first quarter to set the tone for the OU defense the rest of the way against the Irish. On Notre Dame’s first series, Striker blindsided Rees from behind, popping the ball loose into the arms of Nelson, who returned it 24 yards for a TD. On Notre Dame's next play from scrimmage, Shannon caught a tipped pass and returned the interception 17 yards to the Notre Dame 32. The Sooners scored again four plays later on an 11-yard run by Damien Williams. OU rode the defensive flurry all the way to the win.

Carter, TCU’s junior safety, had a huge day against SMU. Carter had two interceptions, forced a fumble and recorded a sack in the Horned Frogs’ 48-17 victory over the Mustangs. For his efforts, Carter was named the Walter Camp national defensive player of the week. With cornerback Jason Verrett ailing with a shoulder injury, Carter might have to take an even bigger leadership role in the TCU secondary moving forward.

Special-teams player of the week: Jaden Oberkrom. In a complete downpour, TCU’s place-kicker nailed two field goals to help the Horned Frogs pull away from SMU in the second half. As the rain began to fall in droves early in the third quarter, TCU had the ball on the SMU 5-yard line trailing 10-7. Because of the rain, a botched shotgun snap resulted in a loss of 20. But Oberkrom made sure the Frogs came away with points with the 35-yard field goal conversion. Had Oberkrom missed, who knows how the game would have gone for TCU? Instead, buoyed in part by getting points off the drive, the Frogs dominated the rest of the way.

[+] EnlargeIshmael Banks
AP Photo/Tyler EvertWVU's Ishmael Banks' interception return for a TD was one of many big plays that cost OSU in a game that changed everything for the Cowboys.
Play of the week: After Josh Stewart took a screen pass 73 yards for the touchdown and Justin Gilbert intercepted Clint Trickett three plays later at midfield, the Cowboys seemed to be on the verge of blowing the game away in the first quarter. Instead, West Virginia cornerback Ishmael Banks read Walsh’s eyes off a rollout, stepped in front of the pass for the pick, then returned it 58 yards for a touchdown. The Cowboys never found their footing again offensively, as West Virginia held them to just two scores the rest of the game.

Stat of the week: Oklahoma State running back Jeremy Smith rushed for just 1 yard on 15 carries at West Virginia. According to ESPN Stats & Info, Smith’s rushing total was the second worst by an FBS running back with that many carries in any game in the past 10 years.

Quote of the week: "No doubt in my mind that we're a national championship-type of team." – OU running back Brennan Clay, after the Notre Dame win

Big 12 unsung heroes: Week 3

September, 16, 2013
9/16/13
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Here are the Big 12's unsung heroes in Week 3.

Receiver Quenton Bundrage, Iowa State: Overshadowed by the Cyclones’ struggles against Iowa, Bundrage could be emerging as a go-to target for quarterback Sam Richardson. He finished with seven receptions for 146 yards and three touchdowns. Four of his catches resulted in first downs for the Cyclones. He could be a reassuring option for Iowa State's offense if he can be consistent for the rest of the season.

Safety Isaiah Johnson, Kansas: The junior college transfer had a strong showing against Rice. He had nine tackles, including seven solo stops, and one interception against the Owls. It was a disappointing 23-14 loss for the Jayhawks, but coach Charlie Weis praised the performance of his defense and hopes that unit will continue to play well when Big 12 play opens. Secondary play is critical in this league, and Johnson could help the Jayhawks in that regard.

Running back John Hubert, Kansas State: It’s odd to call Hubert an unsung hero, but the Wildcats’ use of their star running back should be noted. He’s gotten more opportunities to get the ball in space and has seen the ball more in the passing game since KSU's season-opening loss to North Dakota State. Hubert had 168 all-purpose yards (118 rushing, 50 receiving) and one touchdown in KSU’s 37-7 win over UMass. With KSU facing Texas this weekend, Hubert could be a key guy to watch for the Wildcats.

Cornerback Zack Sanchez, Oklahoma: Sanchez is quietly off to an outstanding start in the first three games of his college career. He had six tackles, including 0.5 tackles for loss, and one pass breakup against Tulsa. The redshirt freshman has been competitive, trustworthy and confident as the starter opposite All-Big 12 cornerback Aaron Colvin. Sanchez gone from potential weak link for the Sooners to a potential strength in the secondary.

Running back Jeremy Smith, Oklahoma State: The senior had the quietest three-touchdown performance in recent memory with 10 carries for 40 yards and three scores. Smith makes the list because he will be critical for the Cowboys offense moving forward. If he can continue to be a physical, slashing runner who takes the attention off quarterback J.W. Walsh, the entire field opens up for OSU’s offense on the ground and through the air.

[+] EnlargeJohnathan Gray
Cooper Neill/Getty ImagesTexas RB Johnathan Gray rushed for 91 yards and a TD in the Longhorns' loss to Ole Miss.
Running back Johnathan Gray, Texas: Gray had a productive day against Ole Miss despite the Longhorns’ 44-23 loss. He finished with 19 carries for 91 yards and one touchdown while adding four receptions for 12 yards. The Longhorns leaned more on Gray with Daje' Johnson out, and the sophomore responded with a solid showing. Nonetheless, UT will need even more from Gray if it hopes to get the ship turned back in the right direction.

Defensive back Derrick Kindred, TCU: The sophomore, a backup safety, was all over the field in the Horned Frogs’ 20-10 loss to Texas Tech on Thursday. He finished with five tackles, including one tackle for loss, while adding an interception and a pass breakup. Playing in a defensive backfield that features big names like cornerback Jason Verrett and safety Elisha Olabode, Kindred is looking like he can provide quality depth in TCU’s secondary.

Safety Tre' Porter, Texas Tech: The Red Raiders senior was a key reason Texas Tech was able to limit TCU to 10 points. He had a team-high nine tackles, all solo. His ability to tackle in space and limit game-changing plays by opponents could be critical for the Red Raider defense when it starts facing Big 12 offenses. He was moved to safety to provide a consistent playmaker at that position for the Red Raiders, and that's exactly what he's done.

Defensive end Kyle Rose, West Virginia: Rose had six tackles, including 1.5 tackles for loss, and one sack for WVU in the Mountaineers' 41-7 win over Georgia State. The sophomore provided quality depth last season and could become a key contributor along the defensive line if he continues to play well. He could also help lessen the burden and double-team opportunities on defensive tackle Shaq Rowell in the middle.

Note: Baylor did not play in Week 3.

Big 12's lunchtime links

August, 28, 2013
8/28/13
12:00
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He's not heading to the Big 12, but any football fan would love this run... stop it, Jabrill, just stop it.

Most to prove in the Big 12

August, 28, 2013
8/28/13
10:00
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At long last, we can put an end to all the offseason chatter and preseason hype. All those expectations get thrown out the window on the first weekend of college football.

Who’s going to rise to the occasion and live up to those expectations? And who already has a lot on the line entering the season opener? Here are 10 Big 12 players, coaches and positions that have plenty to prove this weekend.

1. TCU QB Casey Pachall: Even if he does earn the start for TCU this weekend -- Gary Patterson is sticking to his strategy of not naming a starter until kickoff -- you have to imagine Trevone Boykin will enter the game if Pachall has some early struggles against an LSU defense that, despite losing so many starters to the NFL, should still have legitimate talent at all three levels. Remember, Pachall started only one Big 12 game last season before leaving the program, and it was a not-so-stellar 20-6 win over Kansas. So much is expected of him this season, and the presence of Boykin puts pressure on Pachall to be as good as advertised.

2. Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury: The man who molded Johnny Manziel in 2012 now must find a way to work wonders with a true freshman quarterback on the road. How will Davis Webb or Baker Mayfield operate his offense, and how much confidence will they have? Few coaches have more to prove this season than Kingsbury, and if his team isn’t ready SMU will give Tech a battle on Friday night.

3. Baylor QB Bryce Petty: There might not be a more hyped player in the Big 12 entering the opener. Most assume the junior with only 14 career passing attempts will end up becoming the league’s best quarterback by December. He gets to prove a lot of people right -- or wrong -- Saturday versus Wofford.

4. TCU linebackers: LSU’s potent power run game will give the Frogs' linebacker corps as good a test as it’ll get all season. The departure of leading tackler Joel Hasley earlier this month makes that task even tougher. Juniors Marcus Mallet, Paul Dawson and ex-safety Jonathan Anderson have to step up.

5. Oklahoma State offensive line: The Cowboys lost left tackle Devin Davis for the season to a torn ACL this week, and line coach Joe Wickline will have some interesting decisions to make as he reworks his lineup before Saturday’s game against Mississippi State. Parker Graham could slide over from guard to tackle, or a few others could fill the vacancy. Not a good problem to have when you’re prepping for an SEC foe instead of an FCS cupcake.

6. Oklahoma defensive coordinator Mike Stoops: Stoops’ first year back in Norman wasn’t exactly the smashing success most expected, and he’ll put a defense on the field against Louisiana-Monroe that features only four returning starters. With West Virginia coming to town the next week, Stoops’ rebuilt D needs to get off to a good start Saturday.

7. Oklahoma State RB Jeremy Smith: OSU has been spoiled at the running back position with Kendall Hunter and Joseph Randle, and Smith will try to keep that trend going as the new feature back. What kind of dent can he make against a Mississippi State unit that ranked No. 11 in the SEC in run defense last season?

8. Kansas State QB Jake Waters: Waters was named the starter Monday but will still have to split snaps with Daniel Sams to some extent. Much is expected of the junior college transfer who has been on campus for only eight months. With Sams ready to play at any moment, he’ll need to be sharp against North Dakota State.

9. West Virginia RB Charles Sims: Coach Dana Holgorsen likes Sims and his revamped stable of backs so much, he’s redshirting 2012 leading rusher Andrew Buie. How’s that for some pressure to perform? Sims, a Houston transfer, may have to help carry the offense while WVU’s quarterback situation remains unresolved.

10. Texas offensive coordinator Major Applewhite: The first-year playcaller worked all offseason to implement an up-tempo offense at Texas, and Mack Brown has set high goals for pace and plays per game. Will the tempo make Longhorn players more mistake-prone or wear them out faster? We’ll find out how much progress has been made Saturday when they faces New Mexico State.

Big 12 fantasy football: Draft recap

August, 27, 2013
8/27/13
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Following in the footsteps of our brethren over at the Big Ten Blog, we held our inaugural Big 12 fantasy draft on Saturday. And yes, it was pretty awesome.

We drew names out of a hat for draft order. Brandon Chatmon won and wisely chose Baylor RB Lache Seastrunk first overall. Jake Trotter was second and chose Seastrunk’s teammate, QB Bryce Petty. I went with Kansas RB James Sims and Oklahoma State WR Josh Stewart with picks No. 3 and 4.

Jake followed that by selecting Oklahoma State RB Jeremy Smith. Brandon went with a surprise move for the sixth pick, TCU QB Casey Pachall. And it was all downhill from there.

We drafted out a full 15-team roster, will follow standard fantasy scoring and are allowing up to two free-agent pickups each week. The guy whose team puts up the most points in a week gets a ‘W.’ The season title goes to whoever wins the most weeks.

The reward? Believe me, immeasurable bragging rights are on the line. So stay tuned, because we’ll be posting weekly updates here.

Take a look at the teams we put together and be sure to let us know who has the best roster starting off. Let the (friendly) trash talk begin.

Brandon Chatmon’s team

QB: Casey Pachall, TCU

RB: Lache Seastrunk, Baylor

RB: Johnathan Gray, Texas

FLEX: Tony Pierson, Kansas

WR: Jalen Saunders, Oklahoma

WR: Mike Davis, Texas

TE: Cody Clay, West Virginia

K: Michael Hunnicutt, Oklahoma

DEF: Texas Tech

BENCH: WR Tyler Lockett, Kansas State

BENCH: WR Corey Coleman, Baylor

BENCH: DEF Oklahoma State

BENCH: QB J.W. Walsh, Oklahoma State

BENCH: QB Sam Richardson, Iowa State

BENCH: WR Jakeem Grant, Texas Tech

Chatmon: Landing the preseason player of the year with the first pick was a no-brainer. Lache Seastruck seems ready for a superb season and matching him up alongside Johnathan Gray is a terrific 1-2 punch at running back. That duo coupled with Jalen Saunders and Mike Davis at receiver gives me a group of runners and pass catchers that is second to none. I decided to take a chance on Casey Pachall at quarterback and should have one of the conference’s top scorers in Oklahoma kicker Michael Hunnicutt. Add in Kansas’ Tony Pierson and I’m ready to light up the scoreboard.

Jake Trotter’s team

QB: Bryce Petty, Baylor

RB: Jeremy Smith, Oklahoma State

RB: Damien Williams, Oklahoma

FLEX: Charles Sims, West Virginia

WR: Eric Ward, Texas Tech

WR: Tracy Moore, Oklahoma State

TE: Jace Amaro, Texas Tech

K: Aaron Jones, Baylor

DEF: TCU

BENCH: WR Jaxon Shipley, Texas

BENCH: WR Sterling Shepard, Oklahoma

BENCH: RB Waymon James, TCU

BENCH: WR Kevin White, West Virginia

BENCH: QB David Ash, Texas

BENCH: RB Dreamius Smith, West Virginia

Trotter: In Bryce Petty, I have a quarterback who is guaranteed his starting job and is going to put up monster numbers. In Jeremy Smith and Damien Williams, I have the primary running backs from two of the league's most explosive offenses. In TCU, I have -- by far -- the best defense. And in Eric Ward, Tracy Moore, Jaxon Shipley, Sterling Shepard and Kevin White, I have a deep collection of wide receivers who could all have huge years. If Charles Sims blows up like I expect him to, my fantasy team is going to be rather formidable. Sorry boys, this might be over before it begins.

Max Olson’s team

QB: Trevor Knight, Oklahoma

RB: James Sims, Kansas

RB: John Hubert, Kansas State

FLEX: Brandon Carter, TCU

WR: Josh Stewart, Oklahoma State

WR: Tevin Reese, Baylor

TE: Blake Jackson, Oklahoma State

K: Jaden Oberkrom, TCU

DEF: Texas

BENCH: RB Kenny Williams, Texas Tech

BENCH: WR Robbie Rhodes, Baylor

BENCH: RB Glasco Martin, Baylor

BENCH: QB Clint Chelf, Oklahoma State

BENCH: RB Joe Bergeron, Texas

BENCH: QB Daniel Sams, Kansas State

Olson: I had the third pick and got a lineup that features the supposed next Johnny Manziel, two 1,000-yard rushers and two of the Big 12’s three best receivers. Yeah, I’ll take that. Carter was my favorite pick, don’t know how he slipped to the seventh round. I love pairing Baylor’s best WRs. In the past two years, BU’s two best have combined for an average of 2,700 yards and 23 TDs. I wouldn’t do this in regular fantasy football, but taking this trio of QBs felt right because Knight has never played. Chelf could lead the Big 12 in passing, and Sams’ rushing talents might make him a fantasy stud (if he wins the job).
Storylines for the Longhorns as they face Oklahoma State on Saturday:

1. Handling success
Texas doesn’t understand success. Not anymore. Not after going 5-7 and 8-5. After starting 4-0 last season, Texas was unable to string together wins against teams with winning records. For example, back-to-back wins against Kansas and Texas Tech were followed by back-to-back losses to Missouri and Kansas State. A win against Texas A&M was followed by a loss to Baylor.

First glance: Breaking down OSU 

September, 24, 2012
9/24/12
3:30
PM ET
Campus location: Stillwater, Okla.
Nickname: Cowboys
Conference: Big 12
Record: 2-1
Record vs. Texas: 4-22

Last game: The Cowboys got the win over a lowly Louisiana-Lafayette team but suffered the loss of quarterback Wes Lunt. The freshman was named the starter in the spring and as such took the majority of the snaps in the preseason. Lunt had set a Big 12 freshman record of 436 passing yards against Arizona the previous week. His status for the Texas game remains unclear. Another freshman, J.W. Walsh, finished out the Lafayette game for the Cowboys.


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We're moving on with our rankings of the top 10 players at each position in the Big 12. Today, we tackle the running backs, a position with a lot of potential but not very much returning talent. My only rule for this list: No freshmen or newcomers. You don't know until you know.

Let's get started.

1. Joseph Randle, Oklahoma State: Randle is the Big 12's only returning 1,000-yard running back, and even the league's best back has something to prove in 2012. Quarterback Brandon Weeden and receiver Justin Blackmon took a ton of pressure off him and opened up a lot of space. Can he help carry the offense early this season with a true freshman at quarterback and unproven receivers in the passing game?

[+] EnlargeMalcolm Brown
Ray Carlin/Icon SMIMalcolm Brown has the talent to emerge as the top rusher in a crowded Texas backfield.
2. Malcolm Brown, Texas: Brown's nose for tiny creases in the line is unparalleled in this league, even though he doesn't have breakaway speed. He's tough to bring down and loves to fall forward. In short, he's a perfect fit for Texas' offense, and the likeliest member of Texas' talented backfield trio to top 1,000 yards in 2012.

3. John Hubert, Kansas State: Life is good for Hubert when defenses focus heavily on quarterback Collin Klein, but you can't argue with his production. He averaged nearly five yards a carry and racked up 970 rushing yards last season.

4. Waymon James, TCU: James averaged a silly 7.23 yards per carry last season, leading TCU's trio of backs in rushing, though all three had between 120 and 123 carries (seriously). Ed Wesley is gone, and James' yards per carry average will drop as he faces tougher defenses this season, but he's still a big talent.

5. Jeremy Smith, Oklahoma State: Smith is the forgotten man in Oklahoma State's backfield until he keeps his legs churning and converts third downs, and chips a blitzing nickel back in the backfield to give Wes Lunt a couple more seconds to get rid of the ball. He's faster than he gets credit for, and averaged better than seven yards a carry in the Big 12 last season, the league's second-highest average.

6. Eric Stephens, Texas Tech: Stephens' season was cut way short last year by an awful knee injury. There's no telling how he'll look when the season starts back up, but not many guys were better than him over the first half of last season.

7. Dominique Whaley, Oklahoma: Whaley's season was cut short, too. He suffered a broken ankle, but the former walk-on is back and will try and make a run at a 1,000-yard season for the Sooners' pass-heavy offense. If he plays like he did last season before the injury, expect it to happen, and expect him to hog the carries in a crowded backfield.

8. Matthew Tucker, TCU: Tucker joins James in TCU's backfield. He scored 12 touchdowns last season, which ranks second among returning Big 12 running backs. Without Wesley, Tucker is due for more touches. The trio combined for more than 2,300 yards on the ground last season. Watching Tucker and James race for 1,000-yard seasons will be fun.

9. Roy Finch, Oklahoma: Finch loves to put defenders in the spin cycle, but could hardly get on the field last season until Whaley was injured. Once he did, though, he made a big impact. He topped 83 yards four times in five weeks late last season, but he has to be more consistent. He also had four yards on six carries against Iowa. We'll see if he showcases his explosiveness as a junior in 2012.

10. James White, Iowa State: Iowa State badly needed White to step up when Shontrelle Johnson went down with a neck injury, and White did. He topped 135 yards twice after Johnson's injury and scored eight times, including two in a triple-overtime win against Iowa early in the season.

Honorable mention: Dustin Garrison, West Virginia; Joe Bergeron, Texas; James Sims, Kansas; Shontrelle Johnson, Iowa State; Tony Pierson, Kansas
We've already discussed the conference's 3,000-yard passers in 2012, followed by the 1,000-yard receivers.

But what about the guys toting the ball?

Last season, 47 running backs topped 1,000 yards, including five from the Big 12.

Here's who will hit quadruple-digit rushing yards in 2012 across the Big 12.

1. Joseph Randle, RB, Oklahoma State: Randle is one of two returning 1,000-yard rushers in the Big 12, and the league's leading returner. He'll do it again as a junior in 2012. He's the best and most experienced weapon in OSU's offensive arsenal, and he'll get plenty of touches with true freshman quarterback Wes Lunt learning the ropes in 2012.

2. Collin Klein, QB, Kansas State: Nobody could stop him in 2011, so why would anyone be able to do it in 2012? Manhattan, Kansas' resident Panzer tank could have stood up and alerted the entire defense to the play for some of his snaps in 2011, and it still wouldn't have mattered. He led the Big 12 in carries last season and he may do it again this year. He'll top 1,000 yards easily. He may throw it better and a little more, but coach Bill Snyder won't get away from the bread and butter of his offense.

3. Malcolm Brown, RB, Texas: Brown will break through a crowded backfield this season and surge ahead of Joe Bergeron and Johnathan Gray to earn his first 1,000-yard season as a sophomore. He'll barely do it, but he'll do it. The carries will be spread out between that trio, but Brown should be the most consistent of the group. The only variable is his health. Brown and Bergeron both had trouble staying healthy in 2011.

4. Waymon James, RB, TCU: Ed Wesley's offseason exit frees up 120 or so carries in the offense, and James will be the man to take a few more and top 1,000 yards. James had 875 yards last year, and TCU will have to throw it more than it did in 2011, but James will hit quadruple digits late in the season.

Just missed: Dustin Garrison, RB, West Virginia; Matthew Tucker, TCU; Tony Pierson, Kansas; Joe Bergeron, Texas; John Hubert, Kansas State; Jeremy Smith; Oklahoma State; James White, Iowa State

Big 12 position rankings: Running back

January, 26, 2012
1/26/12
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We're continuing our look at the postseason rankings for each position in the Big 12. Here's a look back at where the running backs ranked in the preseason.

In this position, unlike quarterback, depth is a major, major factor in these rankings.

1. Texas A&M

The Aggies had the two most talented backs, and despite injuries to both, proved it through an otherwise frustrating 2011. Christine Michael suffered a torn ACL, but still managed 899 yards on just 149 carries. Cyrus Gray injured his shoulder late in the season, but secured his second consecutive 1,000-yard season and ranked third in the Big 12, despite carrying the ball just 198 times. This duo should have easily surpassed 1,000 yards, but even when they were injured, Ben Malena played well in the final two games.

[+] EnlargeChristine Michael
AP Photo/Brandon WadeChristine Michael averaged 6 yards per carry before a torn ACL ended his season.
2. Missouri

Mizzou dealt with injuries, too, first to Kendial Lawrence and De'Vion Moore. Cue Henry Josey. Josey became the best back in the Big 12 this year before suffering a major knee injury that included torn ligaments. He may not be back in 2012. His 1,168 yards were third most in the Big 12, despite carrying the ball just 145 times. Lawrence finished 12th with 566 yards.

3. Oklahoma State

Joseph Randle stole the show this year, rushing for 24 scores and ranking second in the Big 12 with 1,216 yards. Only Collin Klein ran for more touchdowns and Terrance Ganaway was the only player with more yardage. Still, Jeremy Smith had averaged more than 7 yards a carry, and he'd be able to start for anyone else in the league. Herschel Sims showed promise, too, with 242 yards on 31 carries.

4. Baylor

Ganaway led the Big 12 in rushing with huge performances late in the season, including a 200-yard, five-touchdown game in his final outing as a college athlete in the Alamo Bowl. He averaged more than 6 yards on his 250 carries and had 330 more yards than any other back in the league. Jarred Salubi added 331 yards, too.

5. Texas

Texas' Malcolm Brown and Joe Bergeron were banged-up late in the season, but Fozzy Whittaker played well until suffering a torn ACL against Missouri, too. Scatback D.J. Monroe was effective in the passing game as well. Four running backs topped 300 yards and Brown led the team with 742 yards, despite missing three games and having his carries limited early in the season.

6. Oklahoma

Oklahoma got great contributions from walk-on Dominique Whaley early on, and he proved to be the team's most effective runner and best runner between the tackles. He fractured his ankle in midseason, and finished with just 627 yards to lead the team. Roy Finch emerged late in the seasons after a quiet first half and added 605 yards.

7. Kansas

KU's James Sims led the team in rushing again with 727 yards. Darrian Miller was excellent, too, with 559 yards, though he was dismissed after the season. Freshmen Tony Pierson and Brandon Bourbon have plenty of promise, both averaging more than 5.5 yards a carry in 2011. The bad news: All their carries were limited by an awful defense that limited KU's chances to run the ball.

8. Kansas State

K-State's rushing attack centered around Klein, but John Hubert, a slippery back from Waco, Texas, had a good year. Hubert was seventh in the Big 12 with 970 yards. Bryce Brown offered basically nothing to K-State, and beyond Klein and Hubert, the Wildcats were pretty thin. Additionally, without Klein, would Hubert have duplicated his success?

9. Texas Tech

An awful knee injury derailed Eric Stephens' likely 1,000-yard season, and the rest of Texas Tech's backfield got banged-up, too. Stephens will probably return in 2012 from his dislocated knee, and finished with 565 yards, 17th in the Big 12. Aaron Crawford and DeAndre Washington both topped 300 yards.

10. Iowa State

ISU lost Shontrelle Johnson for the season early on, but James White filled in well. He finished with 743 yards, which ranked ninth in the Big 12. Jeff Woody had 380 yards and provided quality carries late, including the game-winning touchdown against Oklahoma State.

What to watch in the Big 12: Week 11

November, 10, 2011
11/10/11
10:56
AM ET
Here's what I'm watching in this week's games.

1. The first half in Lubbock. Upsets happen when the underdog hangs around or races to an early lead. Oklahoma State has been really strong in the first half, but if it's close early on or if the Red Raiders jump out to a lead? We've got a ballgame.

2. The line of scrimmage in Columbia. Who wins the battle up front in Mizzou and Texas' game on Saturday? Both running games are versatile, with Henry Josey and James Franklin going up against the Longhorns' Malcolm Brown, David Ash and others. That said, this boils down to the battle up front. Lose that, and none of those ballcarriers will do much.

[+] EnlargeJoe Bergeron
Erich Schlegel/Getty ImagesWhere does Joe Bergeron, who had a career day Saturday, fit in Texas' offense?
3. Joe Bergeron. The freshman burst on the scene with a career-high 191 yards and three scores last week while Brown was sidelined with turf toe. Against Missouri this week, is Brown back to health after spending this week in a boot? If he is, how are carries distributed? What did Bergeron earn with his performance last week?

4. Texas A&M's second half. The Aggies were right there with Oklahoma last week, trailing just 13-10 after a physical first half. Then, after a span of about seven minutes, the Aggies trailed 41-10. Second halves have become the story of this team this season, and by now, correcting it won't bring back the goals already lost.

5. Collin Klein's passing. Klein had a career day through the air against Oklahoma State and took a step in the right direction. He'll get more opportunities this week against the nation's last-ranked pass defense. The Aggies' front seven is stingy, but Klein might lead the Wildcats to a win with his throwing.

6. Texas Tech's run defense. I mentioned this Wednesday, but the only chance Texas Tech has to win on Saturday is if it slows down Joseph Randle and Jeremy Smith. If OSU gets the running game going, the game's over. If it slows that down, OSU might still win with the pass, but the chances of an upset are much higher. Tech may do that with points early on like it did against OU, but the rushing yards will tell the story of this one.

7. Robert Griffin III's rushes. Iowa State quarterback Jared Barnett ran for 125 yards in a win over the Jayhawks last week. He's the Big 12's least experienced quarterback. Griffin is the Big 12's most experienced quarterback and much more athletic than Barnett, as well as a better passer. Griffin's topped 100 yards on the ground just once this week. He might not need to on Saturday, but will he do it anyway?

8. Kansas' offense. The Jayhawks were improving big time early in the season, but they've hit a snag the last two games, averaging just five points a game in their last two Big 12 games. Kansas is the only Big 12 team worse in total defense than Baylor. If the Jayhawks can't put a few points up against the Bears, who are they going to score against?

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