Texas Longhorns: Seth Doege

Storylines for the Longhorns as they face Oklahoma on Saturday:

1. Winner take all
OK, not exactly. But the loser almost certainly will be out of the Big 12 race while the winner will at the very least stay one game behind Kansas State and West Virginia.
Campus location: Norman, Okla.
Nickname: Sooners
Conference: Big 12
Record: 3-1, 1-1
Record vs. Texas: 42-59-5

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Not everybody gets their just deserts in college football, but it's time to do my part to change that. Sometimes, it's the team they play for. Sometimes, it's an underappreciated position. Other times, it's a combination of several things. Either way, here are the Big 12's most underrated players heading into 2012.

Tevin Reese, WR, Baylor: Reese is undersized at 5-foot-10, 165 pounds, sure. Who cares? He's productive, and should only be more so without Kendall Wright in Waco this season. Reese will likely be the second option behind Terrance Williams, but the speedster at inside receiver managed to rack up 877 receiving yards, eighth-most in school history, as the third option for RG3 last season.

[+] EnlargeTrey Millard
Matthew Emmons/US PresswireKeep an eye out for Sooners fullback Trey Millard this season.
Toben Opurum, DE/LB, Kansas: Opurum used to be a running back, but he's learned his new position well, playing the "Buck" spot last year for the Jayhawks. Opurum's a high-motor type of player, and ranked 10th in the Big 12 last season with 10.5 tackles for loss and made four sacks.

Trey Millard, FB/TE, Oklahoma: Millard is a jack of all trades for the Sooners, and played three positions last year. He's invaluable for the Sooners, and may be even more so this season. Look for him to grab some touches at tailback this season, probably in short yardage situations that require a power back.

Alex Elkins, LB, Oklahoma State: Elkins was second on the team with 90 stops, including five tackles for loss. The 6-foot-3, 230-pounder is a solid tackler, but too often, the former walk-on who didn't play football until junior college gets written off as one of the league's top linebackers.

James White, RB, Iowa State: White looked like a non-factor last season, but after Shontrelle Johnson went down with a neck injury, White ascended to starter status. He finished with 743 yards and eight scores, including the game-winner against Iowa in triple overtime.

Seth Doege, QB, Texas Tech: Doege's offense put up big numbers last year, but he didn't have much of a chance to win big last season. Doege's name never comes up among the league's best passers, but despite having no running game and tons of injuries on the offensive line, Doege topped 4,000 yards and threw for 28 touchdowns with just 10 picks. If Tech starts winning (which wasn't much of Doege's fault in 2011), his name might come up in the debate for the Big 12's best passer.

Jaxon Shipley, WR, Texas: Shipley's instincts and great hands are two things you simply can't coach. Now, he'll only get better as a sophomore, and his numbers will balloon if his quarterback improves and Shipley can stay healthy. Even with the revolving door at QB last year and an injury that caused him to miss three games, he finished with 607 yards and three scores on 44 catches.

K.J. Morton, CB, Baylor: Baylor's defense caught big criticism last year, but Morton was a big bright spot late in the season. The Bears were +10 in turnover margin over the last six games, and Morton was a big reason why. All four of his interceptions came in the final three games of the regular season. Now, he's got to improve his coverage skills.

John Hubert, RB, Kansas State: You know about Collin Klein, but it seems like nobody's paying attention to Hubert, who just so happens to be the Big 12's No. 3 returning rusher with 970 yards on just 200 carries.

Eric Ward, WR, Texas Tech: Texas Tech's 2011 season was rough, but Ward emerged as the most consistent target for a receiving corps racked by injuries. It wasn't fun last year, but now, the Red Raiders have some serious depth, and Ward gets no attention, despite catching 84 balls for 800 yards and 11 touchdowns.
We'll be walking through the top 10 players at each position in the Big 12 before the season, but we'll start with the most important, especially in this league.

Let's do this:

1. Geno Smith, West Virginia: Smith put up huge numbers (4,385 yards, 31 TD, 7 INT, 65.8 completion percentage) and did so efficiently last season. Both of his top two targets are back and the adjustment to Big 12 defenses shouldn't be too difficult.

2. Landry Jones, Oklahoma: Jones and Smith will go head-to-head all season for honors as the Big 12's top passer. Who comes out on top is anyone's guess, but Jones regressed last season, and his receivers let him down after Ryan Broyles' season ended with a knee injury. He'll try to bounce back with just one reliable target (Kenny Stills) to start the season. The rest of the receiving corps is loaded with potential, but very inexperienced.

3. Collin Klein, Kansas State: Clearly, I'm taking more than just passing acumen into account here. Klein is the Big 12's No. 2 returning rusher, and also threw for just under 2,000 yards last season, adding 13 passing touchdowns to the 27 he scored rushing. We'll see how much better he is as a passer this fall.

[+] EnlargeCasey Pachall
Otto Kitsinger III/Getty ImagesTCU's Casey Pachall could be poised for a big year with a stable of talented receivers.
4. Seth Doege, Texas Tech: I refuse to hang last year's failures on Doege's shoulders. Absolutely not. He played well, at least as well as he could. The running game struggled and offered almost no support after Eric Stephens' injury. The defense was a disaster and there were injuries all over the place. Doege still went for more than 4,000 yards, 28 scores and just 10 picks. Don't be surprised if Doege throws his hat in the ring as the Big 12's best passer by season's end.

5. Casey Pachall, TCU: Pachall didn't have eye-popping numbers, but only because TCU rode on the shoulders of its trio of running backs. Still, Pachall's numbers are going to be better this year, and he's got great targets in Josh Boyce, Skye Dawson and Brandon Carter, not to mention youngster LaDarius Brown.

6. Nick Florence, Baylor: I like Florence to have a big year with really good receivers, but he's got too much to prove for now. He looked good in spot duty for RG3 against Texas Tech last season, but his senior season will look much, much different than his inconsistent freshman year all the way back in 2009.

7. Wes Lunt, Oklahoma State: The Big 12's only freshman quarterback is a true freshman, and Lunt earned this spot by beating out some really tough competition in J.W. Walsh and Colton Chelf this spring. Amazing stuff, and his coaches know good quarterbacks. Zac Robinson and Brandon Weeden have established quite the QB tradition in Stillwater. Here's guessing Lunt continues it.

8. Dayne Crist, Kansas: Crist's college career hasn't been what he imagined after coming to Notre Dame as one of the most highly recruited signal-calling prospects in his class, but he's got a chance to start something special at Kansas in his senior year, reunited with former coach Charlie Weis. Crist won't have the weapons some of the other guys on this list have, but he gives KU a big, big upgrade at the position.

9. Steele Jantz/Jared Barnett, Iowa State: These two have to cut down the turnovers, but they've both shown the ability to be playmakers. There's no guessing who wins this legitimate battle in the fall, but coach Paul Rhoads isn't afraid to bench either one if the turnovers don't stop.

10. David Ash/Case McCoy, Texas: Mack Brown insists it's still a contest. My jaw will be on the floor if Ash doesn't trot out on the field for the first game of the season. Ash has some potential and promising targets in Mike Davis and Jaxon Shipley, but he hasn't shown the big-play ability of Jantz or Barnett. Expect Ash to move up this list by season's end, but for now, it's all just potential.
Today is the next step in a new series on the Big 12 blog that we've never done before. I love predicting the standings from top to bottom, but we're going to do it week by week leading up to the season. The end goal is to offer my official prediction for each Big 12 team's record heading into the bowl games.

Remember, these are preseason predictions. We'll obviously still do week-to-week picks once the season arrives, and they may change between now and then. There are a lot of preseason practices and a whole lot of games between now and the end of the season.

There are always teams who disappoint and teams who surprise. But here's how I see the Big 12 shaking out in Week 6.

PREVIOUS PREDICTIONS
TCU 27, Iowa State 24: The Cyclones nearly trip up the Horned Frogs' undefeated season in a physical game in Fort Worth, but Waymon James rumbles in for a three-yard, go-ahead score in the final minute to deny Paul Rhoads another big upset. James White tops 100 yards, but the struggles at quarterback are catching up to the Cyclones a bit.

Kansas State 44, Kansas 17: The Sunflower Showdown is no longer a joke, but the state is still very much owned by Kansas State. Kansas prevents the Wildcats from scoring 59 points this year (a feat it failed to do in 2010 and 2011), but the Wildcats save their best performance of the season so far for the rival Jayhawks, who leave Manhattan limping.

Oklahoma 41, Texas Tech 34: Call this one revenge. The Sooners haven't won in Lubbock in three tries since 2003, and the Red Raiders knocked off top-ranked OU at home last season. The Sooners hold off a late Texas Tech rally behind Eric Ward and Seth Doege, but escape West Texas as winners, an unfamiliar feeling for Sooners in some time.

West Virginia 31, Texas 27: Can West Virginia walk into Austin and leave with a win in its first year as a Big 12 member? Yes, yes it can. The Longhorns don't make it easy. It's a fistfight. Geno Smith is sacked five times and throws two interceptions. Malcolm Brown tops 150 yards on the ground against an inexperienced front seven for the Mountaineers, who somehow find a way to get the program's biggest win in awhile.

And looky who's sitting all alone at the top of the Big 12. It's the new guys.

BIG 12 STANDINGS (after Week 4)

1. TCU: 5-0 (2-0)
1. West Virginia: 5-0 (2-0)
3. Oklahoma: 4-0 (2-0)
4. Kansas State: 4-1 (1-1)
4. Texas: 4-1 (1-1)
4. Texas Tech: 4-1 (1-1)
7. Oklahoma State: 3-1 (0-1)
7. Baylor: 3-1 (0-1)
9. Kansas: 3-2 (0-2)
10. Iowa State: 2-3 (0-2)
Today is the next step in a new series on the Big 12 blog that we've never done before. I love predicting the standings from top to bottom, but we're going to do it week by week leading up to the season. The end goal is to offer my official prediction for each Big 12 team's record heading into the bowl games.

Remember, these are preseason predictions. We'll obviously still do week-to-week picks once the season arrives, and they may change between now and then. There are a lot of preseason practices and a whole lot of games between now and the end of the season.

There are always teams who disappoint and teams who surprise. But here's how I see the Big 12 shaking out in Week 5.

PREVIOUS PREDICTIONS
West Virginia 47, Baylor 38: Ah, the sweet smell of conference play. Legitimate competition at last and the first week of Big 12 play with more than one conference game. West Virginia and Baylor remind us all why we love Big 12 play, putting on an offensive showcase. West Virginia's simply more experienced and has better talent at the skill positions. The Mountaineers get a couple more stops than Baylor and defend Milan Puskar Stadium in their first Big 12 game ever.

Texas Tech 41, Iowa State 31: Iowa State has beaten the Red Raiders in each of the past two seasons, but the Red Raiders get their revenge in Ames this time. Seth Doege shreds an underrated Iowa State secondary, and with an offense that's finally healthy, gets Texas Tech looking like it's back on the right track. The heat on Tommy Tuberville feels pretty nil so far.

Texas 31, Oklahoma State 14: Growing pains had to happen sometime. Texas scored on its first two possessions and forced Oklahoma State to miss a field goal on its first to take a 14-0 lead. Wes Lunt forced balls at the worst possible time against the league's best defense and the true freshman finishes with four interceptions. Texas looks like a serious Big 12 title contender, and Oklahoma State's conference opener is a rough one. Both teams will only get better, though.

TCU 38, SMU 31: TCU struggles early, but earns its revenge in Dallas over a fast-improving June Jones team. Garrett Gilbert's Redemption Tour crashes back into the Big 12, but TCU's offense is too much. The powerful running game wears down the Ponies in the fourth quarter and keeps Gilbert, Zach Line and the rest of the offense off the field.

BIG 12 STANDINGS (after Week 4)

1. TCU: 4-0 (1-0)
1. Texas: 4-0 (1-0)
1. Texas Tech: 4-0 (1-0)
1. West Virginia: 4-0 (1-0)
5. Oklahoma: 3-0 (1-0)
6. Oklahoma State: 3-1 (0-1)
6. Baylor: 3-1 (0-1)
6. Kansas State: 3-1 (0-1)
6. Kansas: 3-1 (0-1)
10. Iowa State: 2-2 (0-1)
The Big 12 season is approaching, and there's no league in which the quarterback position is more important. Want success? Experience is a good place to start. How do the QBs rank in experience? Let's take a look.

1. Landry Jones, Oklahoma (37 starts): Jones is the league's elder statesman by a long, long ways. He took over as a redshirt freshman in 2009 when Sam Bradford injured his shoulder, and didn't miss any of his 27 starts in 2010 and 2011.

2. Geno Smith, West Virginia (26 starts): Smith has been the team's unquestioned starter for each of the past two seasons, and should be ready for a big 2012 after topping 4,000 yards in 2011.

[+] EnlargeCollin Klein
Cal Sport Media/AP ImagesNo doubt, Kansas State QB Collin Klein drew a ton of attention from opposing defenses in 2011.
3. Collin Klein, Kansas State (15 starts): Klein had two more starts at receiver earlier in his career, but we're not counting those. Klein was a gadget QB in 2010, but took over as the team's offensive workhorse in 2011, accounting for nearly 70 percent of the team's total offense.

4. Casey Pachall, TCU (13 starts): Pachall played well in his first year as a starter, but often relied on his three star running backs in the offense and didn't top 3,000 yards. He's ready for more responsibility if necessary this year.

5. Seth Doege, Texas Tech (13 starts): Doege earned one start all the way back in 2009, but ceded that spot by the end of the game. He did no such thing in a strong 2011 season, though Tech missed a bowl game and had a losing season (5-7) for the first time in almost two decades.

6. Dayne Crist, Kansas (10 starts): Crist's 10 starts all came at Notre Dame, but there doesn't look to be much challenge from any other QBs on the roster this season. Does he have the offensive weapons to be productive?

7. Nick Florence, Baylor (seven starts): Florence started seven games in 2009 when Robert Griffin III suffered a knee injury, and earned a half of playing time last season against Texas Tech that cost him his redshirt season.

8. Steele Jantz, Iowa State (seven starts): Jantz got off to a strong start, but never figured out his very serious turnover issues. That cost him his starting job in midseason, despite three fourth-quarter comebacks to begin the 2011 season 3-0.

9. David Ash, Texas (six starts): Ash was the fourth-string QB last summer, but when Garrett Gilbert and Connor Wood transferred, it was up to him and Case McCoy to carry the load. By season's end, Ash had established himself as the future at the position, at least immediately, but Texas' coaches haven't given him the official designation yet.

10. Jared Barnett, Iowa State (six starts): Barnett took over for Jantz in the middle of the season and engineered wins over Texas Tech, Kansas and a historic win over No. 2 Oklahoma State, but struggled with inconsistency late and opened up the competition to Jantz in a Pinstripe Bowl loss to Rutgers. There's no assurance for either to be the starter after the spring.

11. Case McCoy, Texas (five starts): McCoy's gutsiest performance came in a comeback win over Texas A&M, but his lack of arm strength limited what the Longhorns could do in 2011. McCoy's got all the heart you could ask for, but his physical attributes bring about plenty of questions about his ability to carry the team over the course of his career.

12. Wes Lunt, Oklahoma State (zero starts): Lunt shocked even his own offensive coordinator by beating out junior Clint Chelf and redshirt freshman J.W. Walsh in the spring to earn the starting job. He still has to validate that spot in the fall, but Lunt is in a class of his own at the bottom of the Big 12 when it comes to experience. He's a big, NFL-sized QB with a big arm, though. Can his mind catch up fast enough to help the Cowboys defend a Big 12 title?
The spring is nearing its end with just a little over a week remaining for some.

Oklahoma State and West Virginia will wrap up their spring practices this weekend. Until then, it's time to break down where we stand in the quarterback competitions around the league.

Baylor: Bears coach Art Briles said it was Nick Florence's job to lose entering the spring, and Florence did nothing to let Briles down. Instead, he seized the job ahead of talented backup Bryce Petty, who has a bright future ahead of himself. Florence gave up his redshirt last season by playing the second half against Texas Tech, but he'll try to make his senior season count. For now, this is his team.

Iowa State: Nothing's been settled after Iowa State's spring game last Saturday. Steele Jantz got back into the race when Jared Barnett struggled in the bowl game, and the competition was too close to call at the end of spring. ISU coach Paul Rhoads even said redshirt freshman Sam Richardson isn't out of the race. Former QB Jerome Tiller is, though. He was in the four-man competition last spring, which Jantz eventually won, but missed the season because of academic issues. He's a receiver now, and doing well at the position.

Kansas: Charlie Weis brought in his guy, Dayne Crist, from Notre Dame, and last year's starter, Jordan Webb, transferred. Crist has entrenched himself as the starter midway through spring practice, which ends with the spring game on April 28. BYU transfer Jake Heaps is taking reps with the second team now, but he'll be phased out in the fall while he sits out his NCAA-mandated redshirt season after transferring.

Kansas State: Collin Klein is still developing as a passer, but he is K-State's offense. Moving on ...

Oklahoma: Landry Jones returned for his senior season, but with a healthy set of running backs, the Belldozer, a power formation named after big-bodied backup Blake Bell, may be phased out this season. Bell, though, showcased his arm in the spring game and outperformed the older Drew Allen. The backup QB race should be interesting to watch this fall.

Oklahoma State: Coach Mike Gundy really wanted to name a starter by the end of spring, but it doesn't look likely to happen. No quarterback has established any distance, but they'll have a huge chance in Saturday's spring game. For now, true freshman Wes Lunt is still in the race, though dual-threat man J.W. Walsh may be the favorite ahead of junior Clint Chelf, who has some game experience the past two seasons. This is the league's best race, but also its most difficult to predict. Just about anything could happen.

Texas: Coach Mack Brown isn't making anything official, but sophomore David Ash was getting nearly all the first-team reps in the spring, ahead of Case McCoy. There's no official title yet, but there would be major shock if anyone but Ash starts the season opener. Now, if Ash struggles...

TCU: Casey Pachall had a great first year, and brings back his top three targets in Josh Boyce, Skye Dawson and Brandon Carter. The sky is the limit for Pachall.

Texas Tech: The Red Raiders' staff liked what Seth Doege did as a first-year starter, but the defense and injuries to his offense put too much strain on him in 2011. He'll look a lot better if his receivers and running backs can stay healthy.

West Virginia: Geno Smith may be the league's best quarterback, and coach Dana Holgorsen can't quit calling him "special." That's not to say he should. It could be a special season for him and the Mountaineers as they join the Big 12.
Spring is already underway at three Big 12 schools (Texas, TCU, Texas Tech), but it's March today, and we're headed for full swing this month.

Here's what you can expect when it comes to quarterback competitions this fall. Each spot is ranked from most to least secure entering spring 2012.

FASTEN YOUR SEATBELTS

1. Oklahoma State: This should be the best battle by far. Junior Clint Chelf is the elder statesman of the group, but redshirt freshman J.W. Walsh and early enrolling true freshman Wes Lunt were both much more highly recruited. Lunt hails from Illinois and Walsh from Denton, Texas, but Chelf, from nearby Enid, Okla., will try to hold off the younger guys to grab the reins of one of the most powerful passing offenses in the country.

2. Texas: The Longhorns didn't resolve much late in the season, but David Ash had the best finish, helping Texas win the Holiday Bowl. Case McCoy is back, too, though, and the coaches say the competition is still wide open. Early enrolling freshman Connor Brewer would like to crash the party, and he and Ash are more physically gifted passers, but McCoy made plenty of plays during the season. He'll be right there fighting, too.

TIME TO LOCK IT DOWN

3. Iowa State: Jared Barnett looked like the future of the program over the second half of the season, but struggled down the stretch and opened the door for senior Steele Jantz, who helped Iowa State start the season 3-0 before being benched for Barnett. It's probably Barnett's job, but he's got to earn it. If he doesn't improve, Jantz could take advantage.

4. Baylor: Nick Florence started nine games in 2009 with mixed results, but looked good in relief of Heisman winner Robert Griffin III in a win over Texas Tech. Coach Art Briles says it's Florence's job to lose to start the spring, but Bryce Petty will be looming during the spring, too.

5. Kansas: Last year's starter, Jordan Webb, has transferred, and ex-Golden Domer Dayne Crist is on campus and taking part in promotional videos for the program. He looks like the guy, but juco national champion Turner Baty is joining the team, too. Could Michael Cummings be a factor, too? Jake Heaps is waiting his turn until 2013 while he sits out his NCAA-mandated redshirt season after transferring from BYU.

FIX ALL THE LITTLE THINGS

6. Oklahoma: Hush, Sooner fans clamoring for Blake Bell. He's part of the Belldozer gadget formation that produced 13 rushing touchdowns in the final half of 2011. But it's exactly that, a gadget formation. If OU can run the ball between the tackles well next year, we may not even see much of it. He's not touching Landry Jones' spot, though. Jones enters 2011 as a legitimate Heisman contender.

7. Kansas State: Collin Klein is the guy at Kansas State, but he's still got to develop as a passer. We'll see what kind of growth he shows this offseason.

8. Texas Tech: The Red Raiders' coaches were pleased with Seth Doege's performance in all but two games (Iowa State, Oklahoma State), but the defense gave him almost no chance to succeed. He's back this spring. Michael Brewer's development is encouraging, but it's highly unlikely we see any shift in the starter's status.

9. TCU: Casey Pachall threw for 25 touchdowns, seven picks and completed 66.5 percent of his passes. His top three targets return. When it comes to the QB spot, the spring is about preparing for a big year on offense at TCU.

10. West Virginia: Geno Smith makes WVU's offense go, and he'll be back for his senior year with big hopes in Morgantown. Smith threw for 4,385 yards and 31 touchdowns with just seven interceptions. Like Pachall, Smith's spring is about getting ready for a memorable Big 12 debut.

Big 12 position rankings: Quarterback

January, 25, 2012
1/25/12
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Today, we'll kick off a look at the postseason rankings for each position in the Big 12. Here's a look back on where our first position, quarterback, stood in the preseason.

Quarterbacks' rushing talents are factored into these rankings. As such, it's tough to figure out how to weigh that vs. passing acumen. Ultimately, teams ranked 4-7 were really, really close.

In these position rankings, we take into account backups, though that impact is minimal at the quarterback spot.

1. Baylor

If your quarterback wins the Heisman, you're not finishing below No. 1 on this list. Robert Griffin IIIlit up defenses and broke the NCAA record for passing efficiency, even though Wisconsin's Russell Wilson did the same this year, and finished higher than RG3. Even when RG3 suffered concussion-like symptoms against Texas Tech, backup Nick Florencecame in and burned Texas Tech's defense in a 66-42 win. Griffin finished with as many touchdowns as Brandon Weeden (37), but threw as few interceptions as Collin Klein (6), despite throwing the ball 121 more times than Klein.

(Read full post)

The best Big 12 games of 2011

January, 18, 2012
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We took a look at the best atmospheres on Tuesday, and today, it's time to rank the top 10 games involving Big 12 teams of 2011.

1. Kansas State 53, Texas A&M 50 (4 OT): Kansas State erased a double-digit lead in the final half of the fourth quarter to force overtime. Collin Klein burrowed into the end zone on a quarterback sneak to earn a huge win and a memorable night in Manhattan.

2. Baylor 50, TCU 48: The first game of the entire season for the Big 12 began in style. Robert Griffin III began his Heisman campaign with five touchdown passes, but the Bears blew a 47-23 lead in just over 11 minutes, giving up 25 fourth-quarter points. Griffin, though, hauled in his only catch of the season to extend a game-winning drive on third down, and Aaron Jones booted a 37-yard game winner with just over a minute left, cueing the Baylor fans to storm the field after a game-clinching interception.

3. Oklahoma State 41, Stanford 38 (OT): This was what we thought it was. Neither defense could stop the opposing offense, and Oklahoma State converted a fourth down from Brandon Weeden to Justin Blackmon to extend the game and take the lead, but Stanford drove back down the field and missed a 35-yard field goal as time expired. It missed another kick in overtime, and OSU kicked a game-winning field goal after Colton Chelf's game-winning touchdown was overturned to just a 24-yard gain.

4. Baylor 45, Oklahoma 38: This gave way to the signature moment of Robert Griffin III's Heisman campaign, and it wasn't the 87-yard touchdown pass to Kendall Wright off Tevin Reese's helmet. The teams traded second-half leads and Oklahoma erased a 14-point, fourth-quarter lead before Griffin extended a play and hit Terrance Williams for a 34-yard, game-winning touchdown pass with eight seconds left.

5. Iowa State 37, Oklahoma State 31 (2 OT): This game made our top 10 moments of 2011, too. The Cowboys lost a 24-7 second-half lead and missed a game-winning field goal. Brandon Weeden threw an interception in the second overtime and Jeff Woody set off the biggest party in Ames in a long while with his game-winning, four-yard touchdown run in the second overtime.

6. Texas 27, Texas A&M 25: The Aggies led 10-0 and 16-7, but once again, it didn't matter. Jeff Fuller gave the Aggies back the lead with a big 16-yard touchdown with 1:48 to play. The two-point conversion failed, though, and Case McCoy got free for a 25-yard scramble that set up a 40-yard, game-winning field goal by Justin Tucker as time expired to give the Longhorns bragging rights in the heated rivalry for as long as they want, perhaps forever. The two teams aren't scheduled to meet again after A&M leaves for the SEC.

7. Oklahoma State 52, Kansas State 45: OSU fell behind 24-14 early after a pick six by Weeden, putting the undefeated season in doubt. The teams traded three touchdowns in just under two minutes, and Joseph Randle's 23-yard run gave OSU the lead for good with 3:16 to play, making it four touchdowns in three minutes. Kansas State drove to tie the game and possibly win it with a two-point conversion, but two Collin Klein passes fell incomplete, and OSU survived to move to 9-0.

8. Baylor 31, Kansas 30 (OT): This game wasn't televised, but it was quietly a classic. Baylor struggled to stop the run, and trailed 24-3 in the fourth quarter before RG3 broke a 49-yard run and hit on two long touchdown passes to tie the game. The two teams traded touchdowns in overtime, but Kansas failed to convert a game-winning two-point conversion, and Turner Gill's guts went unrewarded. Kansas also went without a win in conference play. Baylor loses this game, and RG3 doesn't win the Heisman.

9. Missouri 31, Texas Tech 27: This is a sneaky pick for our top 10 list. Texas Tech jumped out to a 14-0 lead, and Missouri trailed by 10 in the fourth quarter, but James Franklin threw one touchdown pass and ran for another to take the lead. Texas Tech drove inside the Missouri 10-yard line in the final minute, but a tipped Seth Doege pass was intercepted to give Mizzou a dramatic win.

10. Missouri 38, Texas A&M 31 (OT): The SEC bowl helped bury Texas A&M's season and spark Missouri's. The Tigers trailed by 14 early and 11 points at half before taking the lead in the fourth quarter. Randy Bullock tied the game with a field goal in the final minutes to force overtime. James Franklin hit Marcus Lucas for an 11-yard score and Ryan Tannehill's final pass was batted down as Missouri stormed the field and celebrated the end of their three-game losing streak. The Tigers would win four of their final five games, and that bounced Mizzou to 4-4 instead of 3-5. That loss for then-No. 16 Texas A&M keyed off four in the final five regular-season games, including two in overtime (K-State, Mizzou) and another as time expired (Texas).

Honorable mention: Kansas State 28, Miami 24; Baylor 67, Washington 56; Iowa State 44, Iowa 41 (3 OT); Texas 17, BYU 16; Arkansas 42, Texas A&M 38; Oklahoma State 30, Texas A&M 29.

Early 2012 Big 12 power rankings

January, 10, 2012
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With the season over, it's time to take a look at the Big 12 in 2012. For now, that means assuming a few things. And we all know what assuming does.

It makes us all look like geniuses.

So, for the purpose of this, I'll assume a few predictions. First, I'll assume Robert Griffin III is heading for the NFL. I'll also assume Mike Stoops lands back at Oklahoma.

That said, it's time to project what this league looks like in 2012.

And, before we start, let me make this clear: The Big 12 from 1-6 is absolutely wide open. Last year, the league only had three legitimate title contenders: Oklahoma, Texas A&M and Oklahoma State. This year, every one of the top six teams (and maybe seven, if RG3 returns) can win the Big 12 in a realistic scenario. The difference between Nos. 2 and 6 is minuscule and could change a ton by the end of spring practice.

And for the curious: I would have Missouri behind Kansas State on this list, and I'd have Texas A&M right behind Texas.

1. Oklahoma: The Sooners moved into the familiar role of favorite after Landry Jones announced he'd return in 2012, but not nearly as heavy a favorite as they were in 2011. Injuries hurt Oklahoma late this season, and replacing Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year Frank Alexander, along with linebacker Travis Lewis and corner Jamell Fleming won't be easy. Receivers Kenny Stills and Jaz Reynolds have to play big for the Sooners to get the win.

(Read full post)

Longhorns alone on QB indecision

November, 30, 2011
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Texas made it official this week, removing the "or" between David Ash and Case McCoy's names on the depth chart.

[+] EnlargeCase McCoy
Brett Davis/US PresswireTexas has decided on Case McCoy as their quarterback after a season of shuffling at the position.
McCoy, after completing 16 of 27 passes for 110 yards and running 25 yards on seven carries in a 27-25 win over Texas A&M, took over the No. 1 spot. McCoy started and played most of the game, but the Longhorns have had a revolving door at quarterback all season.

Garrett Gilbert began the season as starter after winning the offseason quarterback battle. He was benched midway through the season's second game and eventually transferred to SMU after undergoing shoulder surgery.

Since then, Ash and McCoy have split the starter role. Ash, a true freshman, has had significantly more playing time until a string of five games midseason where he had no touchdowns and six interceptions.

McCoy threw the ball 16 times (the same number as Ash) against Kansas State, tied for his highest total this season before throwing it 27 times against Texas A&M. Ash didn't have a pass attempt, but entered the game on a handful of plays.

McCoy has yet to throw an interception this season.

Looking around the league, the trend at Texas is troubling. The Longhorns are the only team doing the quarterback shuffle.

Here's how the rest of the league has handled their quarterback situation.

  • Baylor: Robert Griffin III started all 11 games, replaced in the second half on Saturday by Nick Florence after suffering concussion-like symptoms. Will return this week versus Texas.
  • Iowa State: Started Steele Jantz for the season's first seven games, benched early for Jared Barnett in a loss to Texas A&M. Barnett started the next four games, winning three, including an upset of No. 2 Oklahoma State.
  • Kansas: Jordan Webb started all 12 games. Quinn Mecham threw 18 passes.
  • Kansas State: Collin Klein started 11 games and will start this week, rushing for 1,013 yards and 25 touchdowns, and throwing for 1,587 yards, 11 touchdowns and 5 interceptions.
  • Missouri: James Franklin started all 12 games, throwing for 2,740 yards, 20 touchdowns and 10 interceptions and rushing for 839 yards and 13 scores.
  • Oklahoma: Landry Jones started all 12 games, but the Sooners rotate in freshman Blake Bell in short yardage situations in the "BellDozer" formation. Bell has nine rushing touchdowns in four games.
  • Oklahoma State: Brandon Weeden started all 12 games, ceding to Clint Chelf often in blowout wins.
  • Texas A&M: Ryan Tannehill started all 12 games.
  • Texas Tech: Seth Doege started all 12 games, though backup Jacob Karam threw a 43-yard touchdown pass on a trick play this week.

Not a good sign when the Big 12's best recruiting school can't settle on a player at the game's most important position, especially when every other team in the league hasn't had any troubles in that area.

Big 12 weekend rewind

November, 27, 2011
11/27/11
3:14
PM ET
Here's our look back at the weekend that was in the Big 12, which set up a de facto Big 12 Championship game between Oklahoma and Oklahoma State.

Best offensive player: Terrance Ganaway, RB, Baylor. Ganaway quite literally "put da team on his back, doe." The 250-pounder rumbled for 247 yards and two touchdowns on a school-record 42 carries. Robert Griffin III was out with a concussion and Baylor needed somebody to step up. Ganaway did it in spectacular fashion, helping the Bears hold off Texas

[+] EnlargeEmmanuel Acho
Brett Davis/US PresswireQB Case McCoy, 6, celebrates with Emmanuel Acho after Texas defeated Texas A&M last week.
Best defensive player: Emmanuel Acho, LB, Texas. Acho was everywhere for the Longhorns in their 27-25 win against Texas A&M. He made 14 tackles (10 solo) and had a tackle for loss in the win.

Best play: Texas kicker Justin Tucker's 40-yard game-winner to beat Texas A&M. No pressure, man. Just the bragging rights of one of America's quintessential football states for a long, long time. Tucker's kick was perfect. A no-doubter as soon as he kicked it. No matter what happens in the future, Tucker will always hold a special place in burnt orange lore. An ugly game with a gorgeous finish for the Longhorns.

Best game: Baylor 66, Texas Tech 42. So, Texas and Texas A&M had all the drama, but it was a pretty unattractive game. The Bears and Red Raiders in Cowboys Stadium was a ton of fun and had a different kind of drama. We had a crazy trick play, a team trying to rally without perhaps the nation's best player, big plays by his replacement, tons of turnovers and lots of offensive talent that put a ton of points on the board. This one was just fun to watch. A lot more fun than the Lone Star Finale.

Coolest play: Texas Tech's mistaken identity TD. Texas Tech backup quarterback Jacob Karam's No. 3 jersey was torn in pregame, and the Red Raiders gave him a nameless No. 85 jersey instead. Quarterback Seth Doege faked a handoff to the running back and tossed it to Karam on the end around, and we can only assume Baylor had no idea who No. 85 was. Karam slung it downfield to Darrin Moore, who caught it over a defender, stayed on his feet and trotted in the last few yards for a 43-yard score that cut Baylor's lead to 24-21 midway through the second quarter.

Best fashion sense: Texas A&M. The Aggies broke out maroon jerseys, maroon pants and maroon helmets for the first time since 2006 in their rivalry finale against Texas. A solid look.

Craziest statistic: Texas A&M. I heard it on Thursday and double-checked it. In the Aggies' six losses this season, they've been outscored 83-0 in the third quarter.

Best team performance: Texas. The Longhorns didn't do it pretty, but the defense kept them in it with a defensive touchdown, and Quandre Diggs added a huge 81-yard punt return to help Texas outscore the Aggies 17-0 in the third quarter. Texas played in one of the most frenzied atmospheres in the league this year, and strung together a huge late drive after the Aggies snatched the lead with 1:48 to play. Texas showed a lot of guts in this one.

Best appearance in relief: Nick Florence, QB, Baylor. RG3 came back in after taking a hit to the head and having it slammed against the turf. He looked dazed, but returned to the game and ran for a touchdown. When the Bears returned from halftime, though, the Bears announced that Griffin was done. Enter Florence. He made plays and threw two 40-plus yard touchdown passes, completing 9-of-12 passes for 151 yards and two scores.

Worst moment: The clock running out in Texas' and Missouri's victories. To me, it's nothing but sad. I watched games like Ohio State and Michigan on Saturday. It's rivalry weekend. The idea of never playing that game again is insanity. In the Big 12, though, it's accepted. The Border Showdown and Lone Star Showdown are done for awhile, and to me, it's the worst aspect of the recent realignment moves.

Best tweets: Cyrus Gray, RB, Texas A&M. Gray was hurt and stuck on the sidelines in a letter jacket after suffering a stress fracture in his shoulder against Kansas. Gray, though, was tweeting and taking photos from the sideline and giving some love to his replacement, Ben Malena, who played outstanding against the Aggies.
Turning point: When it was announced that wide receiver Jaxon Shipley would not play because of a knee injury and Malcolm Brown would be limited due to turf toe and a foot injury. That pair represents Texas leading receiver and running back. Without them Texas had to turn to Fozzy Whittaker and Joe Bergeron in the backfield. Both did a solid job as the run game continues to pile up the yards. Texas had 237 rushing yards in the first half and four rushing touchdowns.

Stat of the half: David Ash finally hit a pass for more than 20 yards. The quarterback had only one 20-yard pass in the past three games. He found Mike Davis for 24 yards in the first quarter. He missed Davis later in the half on what could have been a 50-yard plus pass play. But followed that with a 48-yard pass to Davis. Davis had the only two receptions of the half.

Best player in the half: Not only did Ash not make any huge mistakes, he was able to get involved in the running game. The freshman had runs of 47 and 14 yards. He also was alert when the pressure was on and threw the ball away. Ash was 2 of 3 passing, for 72 yards.

Best call: To put the ball in Whittaker's hands when inside the 15 yard line. The senior running back understands what is needed in the end zone and barreled through tacklers on one run for a score. On another, Whittaker got outside and used his speed to score.

What Texas needs to do: Keep the ball on the ground and don't get too fancy with trick plays. Texas tried a halfback pass late in the second quarter and it resulted in a badly thrown ball by Whittaker. Just grind it out and control the clock.

What Tech needs to do: Block Ashton Dorsey. The Texas defensive tackle has been blowing up the inside of the Red Raiders' line and disrupting Seth Doege. That has limited Tech's ability to throw the inside screen.

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