Big 12: Kansas Jayhawks

Even though USC still has the top-ranked recruiting class in the Pac-12, things are a lot closer after Keisean Lucier-South picked UCLA over the weekend. Plus, Kansas is looking for positives on the recruiting trail and the Jayhawks have got a big one in quarterback Ryan Willis.

Big 12 viewer's guide: Week 13

November, 21, 2014
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Lesson learned.

Last weekend appeared like it would have minimal impact on the race for a College Football Playoff berth, with TCU visiting Kansas and Baylor sitting at home during a bye week. Instead, KU gave TCU everything it could handle and the Horned Frogs ended up dropping out of the CFP rankings top four despite a win.

This weekend, Baylor faces a similar scenario as the clear favorite over Oklahoma State, which is in the midst of a four-game losing streak.

Here are the storylines to watch in the Big 12 during Week 13:

[+] EnlargeCody Thomas
AP Photo/Alonzo AdamsCody Thomas will get his second start at QB this weekend for Oklahoma.
Kansas at No. 21 Oklahoma, noon ET (Fox Sports 1): The Sooners returned to the Top 25 after a 42-30 road win over Texas Tech last Saturday, but it has been a while since Bob Stoops' squad looked like one of the nation’s elite. Redshirt freshman quarterback Cody Thomas will get his second start and a second opportunity to show he should be in OU’s future plans. Meanwhile, the Jayhawks are coming off a strong performance, albeit a loss, against TCU. KU’s offense is more explosive with Eric Kiesau handling the play-calling duties and could make enough plays to put another ranked team on upset alert.

Texas Tech at Iowa State, 3:30 p.m. ET (Fox Sports Networks): Both teams badly need a win with one conference victory combined between the Red Raiders and Cyclones. Texas Tech showed plenty of fight in the loss to OU and has the better offense of the two with either Patrick Mahomes or Davis Webb at quarterback. But the Red Raiders also have an ugly trend of shooting themselves in the foot with turnovers and penalties. The Cyclones are coming off a bye week with a renewed focus on righting the ship after a blowout loss to KU in their last game. In a lot of ways, the 2015 season starts now for the Red Raiders and Cyclones with players on both teams looking to solidify themselves as key playmakers of the future.

Oklahoma State at No. 7 Baylor, 7:30 p.m. ET, (Fox): There is no shortage of reasons for Baylor to want to win -- and win impressively. Not only did Oklahoma State hammer Baylor 49-17 in 2013, but the Pokes have been the biggest thorn in the Bears' side in the entire conference in recent years, having won four of the past five meetings. Combine Baylor’s pursuit of a College Football Playoff berth and desire to impress the committee with Oklahoma State’s recent struggles and it could be an explosive night at McLane Stadium.

Big 12 morning links

November, 21, 2014
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Man, I forgot just how much NFL talent was on this team. It's crazy...
  • The Big 12 has a problem and it's not just the chance the conference finds itself on the outside looking in when the top four for the College Football Playoff is announced, writes Jonathan Clegg of the Wall Street Journal. The conference dealing with an image problem as Baylor and TCU could be overlooked Clegg contends. I'm sure its frustrating for coaches, players and fans alike to see the Big 12 show the depth and overall parity to rival the SEC but not get the credit for it. The committee's decision to keep Mississippi State in the top four tells you all you need to know.
  • Iowa State defensive coordinator Wally Burnham still has plenty of passion and hopes his players finally have some success in the Cyclones final few games, writes Randy Peterson of the Des Moines Register. It's one thing I've always noticed and respected about Paul Rhoads' teams. No matter how hard things get, his players generally continue to play hard. That's not an easy feat for a head coach.
  • Kansas' Nigel King has provided something the Jayhawks haven't had in years: A playmaking threat at the receiver position. Rustin Dodd of the Wichita Eagle details the Maryland transfer's road to Lawrence. King's emergence is yet another example of a change made by Clint Bowen, who felt King was among the Jayhawks' underused talents. King had 17 targets during Charlie Weis' four games as coach before amassing 43 targets in six games with Bowen at the helm. King heads into this weekend's game with Oklahoma after back-to-back games with more than 100 receiving yards.
  • The College Football Playoff has changed Bob Stoops' stance on the date of Bedlam, Oklahoma's annual meeting with Oklahoma State, reports Jason Kersey of The Oklahoman. The veteran head coach had previously expressed displeasure about the game's early December date because he felt it was handicapping the Sooners on the recruiting trail with OU losing a week to recruit in December. Now, with the College Football Playoff in mind, Stoops thinks playing in early December alongside the championship games of the other conferences, is a good idea. To me, playing on the final day of the regular season was always a good idea, playoff or not, because few teams get that chance and the added exposure playing in early December brings and any lost time recruiting can be made up during the final stretch of the recruiting cycle.
  • The committee's decision to rank Baylor No. 7 is putting the Bears in the position where they have to try to embarrass every team they play and impress the committee, suggests Matt Hayes of the Sporting News. There's plenty of football to be played, so hopefully it works itself out but I just have a hard time understanding how the Bears are behind some of these other one-loss teams, particularly Mississippi State and Ohio State. Considering the committee thinks highly enough to jump OU back into the top 25 after a decent, but not great, win at Texas Tech, why doesn't Baylor's road beatdown of the Sooners carry more weight?

Big 12 morning links

November, 20, 2014
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Well, that didn't take long.
  • The Dallas Morning News' Chuck Carlton gave his thoughts on the 2015 Big 12 schedule being released. Carlton noted Baylor's November slate, which, while brutal, will also give the Bears an opportunity to impress. The Bears travel to Kansas State (on a Thursday), Oklahoma State and TCU (on a Black Friday) and then play host to Oklahoma before welcoming Texas the first week in December. Whatever happens, the Bears won't be flying under the radar against that stretch.
  • The West Virginia and K-State defenses will be in the spotlight tonight, notes the Charleston Gazette's Dave Hickman. K-State is tough against the run. West Virginia is second in the Big 12 in pass defense. Hickman believes that whichever defense limits the big plays in Morgantown will give its team a win in a Big 12 matchup that will go a long way in determining the bowl fates of both sides.
  • The Tulsa World's Bill Haisten reported that Oklahoma State QB Daxx Garman was able to practice Wednesday. According to Haisten, Garman had been rendered inactive by what is believed to have been concussion symptoms. What will be interesting is if Garman is ruled out this weekend at Baylor. The Cowboys could pull the redshirt off freshman Mason Rudolph with only two games left in the season. The Cowboys would obviously like to avoid that, and end the season with Garman behind center. But finally getting the chance to see what Rudolph can do will would be intriguing.
  • TCU coach Gary Patterson said the College Football Playoff selection committee has a hard job, and he’s trying to make it harder. “I just want to make it tough on them,” he told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram's Carlos Mendez. “I want to win the next two, be 11-1, and let them decide. That’s all I can control. I just want to finish the journey.” All the Horned Frogs can do is beat Texas. But there's still a lot of ball to be played around the country. And Patterson seems to realize, if college football has taught us anything over the years, we could be in for a major upset or two.
  • Kansas coach Clint Bowen told the Lawrence Journal-World's Matt Tait that he's been hearing the voices of support, including from Patterson and from Iowa State offensive coordinator Mark Mangino, who both suggested that Bowen deserves the permanent job. “Anytime someone says something positive about you, obviously you notice,” Bowen said. “And it means a lot." Bowen has done everything possible to show the Kansas administration he deserves the permanent job. A strong finish these final two games will only help, too.
  • Great read today by Mike Finger of the San Antonio Express-News on Texas' beloved loudmouth, cornerback Quandre Diggs. The senior four-year starter gets called an old soul by his family and teammates, which is an apt label. He grew up fast and has always brought a mature presence to this Texas team. Referring to Diggs as his team's "conscience" is spot-on. He's the kind of hard-nosed competitor Charlie Strong would love to have a lot more of at UT.
  • Two years ago, we got Collin Klein vs. Geno Smith in Morgantown. This time around, the QB showdown of Jake Waters vs. Clint Trickett promises to be a good one. The second-year starters have more in common than you might think -- both are transfers who've raised their game now that they're more at ease operating their respective offense. Keep this in mind, too: Among Big 12 teams, only WVU, KSU and TCU have managed to avoid starting multiple QBs this season. Excited to see how two of the league's most efficient passers respond in coming back from crushing losses.
  • Texas Tech is wondering whether left tackle Le'Raven Clark will be back next season. The junior, a three-year starter, could pursue the NFL draft this spring if he gets good feedback from the league. Clark admits he wouldn't like to leave Tech behind after this season, but Kliff Kingsbury and his coaches went through this with Jace Amaro last year and will support Clark no what matter what he decides. The fact that Clark is versatile and experience at playing multiple spots on the line should help his cause.

Big 12 Week 13 predictions

November, 20, 2014
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Why Kansas State will win: West Virginia will bounce back and give K-State a heck of a fight in Morgantown. The Wildcats haven't gone on the road much this season (three times, in fact), but they'll be locked in and angry. KSU's defense gets after Clint Trickett just as Texas did. Kansas State 38, West Virginia 34 -- Max Olson

Why West Virginia will win: After battling four top 10 teams, the Mountaineers finally looked like a tired bunch in Austin. The week off should have done wonders for them physically and psychologically. I expect West Virginia to come out fired up for this game, knowing a win over the Wildcats would ensure this season will be deemed a success. West Virginia 34, Kansas State 31 -- Jake Trotter



Why Iowa State will win: Trotter has a two-game lead in our picks contest. I have to catch up. Fortune favors the bold. The Cyclones are fresh off a bye and will be able to move the ball on Tech. This is their best (only?) chance to avoid a winless conference season. If Davis Webb is back and dealing, I might be dead wrong. Iowa State 27, Texas Tech 24 -- Olson

Why Texas Tech will win: The Red Raiders simply have more firepower. Neither defense is great, so the team with the bigger arsenal should triumph, and that team is Tech. Texas Tech 38, Iowa State 24 -- Chatmon

Unanimous selections:

Baylor over Oklahoma State: Have you been watching the Oklahoma State offense? The Cowboys lead the Big 12 in three-and-outs, and since the Bears are gunning for style points, this could get ugly fast in Waco. The only variable to this game will be whether Oklahoma State is forced to pull the redshirt off freshman Mason Rudolph if a banged up Daxx Garman can't go. Yet even though Rudolph is an intriguing quarterback prospect, he won't have enough help around him and up front for it to make much of a difference against the speedy Bears. Baylor 66, Oklahoma State 13 – Trotter

Oklahoma over Kansas: If the Sooners lean on their running game, KU could struggle to find answers. Even though Clint Bowen’s Jayhawks are much improved, a road win at OU still seems out of reach. Oklahoma 31, Kansas 17 – Chatmon

But...

Why Kansas will keep it close: The Jayhawks will find a way to force OU to pass the ball. KU plays great pass defense. Without Trevor Knight, Oklahoma isn't playing great pass offense. Oklahoma 31, Kansas 21 -- Olson

Season records:
  • Trotter: 58-6
  • Chatmon: 56-8
  • Olson: 55-9

Big 12 stat check: Week 13

November, 19, 2014
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A closer look at one statistic worth keeping an eye on for each Big 12 team entering Week 12:


Baylor: The Bears' defense was supposed to take a step backward after losing several starters from its 2013 unit. Instead BU ranks among the conference leaders in several categories and leads the Big 12 by forcing a punt on 50.8 percent of opponents possessions and could see that number increase this weekend with a hapless Oklahoma State offense visiting McLane Stadium on Saturday.


Iowa State: The Cyclones will need to improve their sack percentage if they hope to slow down Texas Tech’s passing attack. ISU’s 3.5 sack percentage ranks last in the Big 12 as the Cyclones have struggled to get pressure on opposing quarterbacks outside of defensive end Cory Morrissey’s five sacks.


Kansas: Beware of the Jayhawks coming out of the halftime locker room. KU has a plus-8 turnover margin in the third quarter, which leads the Big 12. Clint Bowen’s squad could need some turnovers to upset Oklahoma in Norman, so an opportunistic defense could be the Jayhawks' key against OU.


Kansas State: The Wildcats are tough to stop once they get rolling. K-State scores on 66.2 percent of its drives that begin with an initial first down. In other words, a three-and-out is the best bet to slow the Wildcats’ offense, so West Virginia should take heed.


Oklahoma: The Sooners' running game has been impressive but their ball protection has been even more impressive. OU is averaging 240.9 rushing yards per game yet has lost a fumble once in 408 rushes. That’s a 0.7 fumble percentage, best in the Big 12.


Oklahoma State: The Cowboys' offense is trending downward and the offensive line is a big reason why. Negative plays have become the norm for Mike Gundy’s team with 36.2 percent of their plays resulting in negative yardage. Only Iowa State (37.9) has a worse percentage in the Big 12.


Texas: With a date with TCU quarterback Trevone Boykin on the horizon, the Longhorns might be the best equipped to handle the conference’s top dual-threat signal-caller. UT’s 9.3 sack percentage is the best in the Big 12 with Baylor (8.4) as the only other Big 12 team with a sack percentage higher than 8 percent.


TCU: The Horned Frogs do a good job of adjusting their approach at halftime. Their average of 8.39 yards per play in the third quarter is first in the Big 12 and nearly two yards better than second-ranked K-State (6.68 ypp).


Texas Tech: Even with Tech’s uncertainty at the quarterback position, the Red Raiders' defense is at the heart of the struggles for Kliff Kingsbury’s team. Tech is allowing 3.04 points per drive, last in the Big 12 and No. 123 among FBS teams. The Red Raiders' offense hasn’t helped the cause with 22 turnovers but the defense has been unable to overcome those mistakes.


WVU: The Mountaineers' defense has played a huge role in the improvement of Dana Holgorsen’s team. WVU’s pass defense has been much improved with the Mountaineers allowing 6.06 yards per pass attempt, ranking second in the Big 12. Last season, WVU ranked last in the conference at 7.88 yards allowed per pass attempt.

Big 12 releases 2015 schedule

November, 19, 2014
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The Big 12 released its conference schedule Wednesday for the 2015 season. Here's the schedule, along with a few of my thoughts below:

Sept. 26
Oklahoma State at Texas
TCU at Texas Tech
Oct. 3
Texas Tech vs. Baylor (Arlington)
Kansas at Iowa State
Kansas State at Oklahoma State
West Virginia at Oklahoma
Texas at TCU
Oct. 10
Baylor at Kansas
Iowa State at Texas Tech
Oklahoma vs. Texas (Dallas)
Oklahoma State at West Virginia
TCU at Kansas State
Oct. 17
West Virginia at Baylor
Oklahoma at Kansas State
Texas Tech at Kansas
TCU at Iowa State
Oct. 24
Iowa State at Baylor
Kansas at Oklahoma State
Kansas State at Texas
Texas Tech at Oklahoma
Oct. 29 (Thursday)
West Virginia at TCU
Oct. 31
Oklahoma at Kansas
Oklahoma State at Texas Tech
Texas at Iowa State
Nov. 5 (Thursday)
Baylor at Kansas State
Nov. 7
Iowa State at Oklahoma
Kansas at Texas
Texas Tech at West Virginia
TCU at Oklahoma State
Nov. 14
Kansas at TCU
Kansas State at Texas Tech
Oklahoma at Baylor
Oklahoma State at Iowa State
Texas at West Virginia
Nov. 21
Baylor at Oklahoma State
Iowa State at Kansas State
West Virginia at Kansas
TCU at Oklahoma
Nov. 26 (Thursday)
Texas Tech at Texas
Nov. 27 (Friday)
Baylor at TCU
Nov. 28
Iowa State at West Virginia
Kansas State at Kansas
Oklahoma at Oklahoma State
Dec. 5
West Virginia at Kansas State
Texas at Baylor

Thoughts:
  • The biggest thing that jumps out is the Baylor-TCU game on Black Friday. I saw some dissension about this on Twitter, but I actually kind of like it. The Big 12 needs rivalries after the Red River Showdown and Bedlam, and TCU-Baylor seems to be the league's best chance at developing a third major rivalry. Putting the game on a special day like Black Friday places an added emphasis on the game. Especially if it again holds Big 12 title and playoff implications.
  • Baylor has a killer November slate, with road trips to K-State, Oklahoma State and TCU, and a home bout with Oklahoma. The Bears will also play their first two conference games away from home. I doubt Art Briles will be fired up about this schedule.
  • TCU has a brutal stretch late in November, playing Oklahoma and Baylor in a six-day span. That two-game swing could define the Horned Frogs' season.
  • Dec. 5 potentially could be a big weekend for the league. West Virginia, K-State, Texas and Baylor could all be in the Big 12 title mix. The league should have a national presence while other conferences are playing their championship games.
  • The Big 12 has three Thursday night conference games, and all three have a chance to be good ones.

Big 12 morning links

November, 19, 2014
Nov 19
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Fear the Beard. A new "This is SportsCenter" ad has arrived.
  • Iowa State is hoping to use the final stretch of the season as a springboard for next year, writes Bobby LaGesse of the Ames Tribune. The Cyclones used their bye week to change their outlook heading into games with West Virginia, Texas Tech and TCU. It's been a rough year for the Cyclones but going winless in Big 12 play could be a disaster for Paul Rhoads' team.
  • Kansas' improved performances on the weekend have begun during the week, writes Matt Tait of the Lawrence Journal-World. The intensity of practices have increased and players are starting to understand they have to pay the price, says interim coach Clint Bowen. It's interesting that the intensity and fun have picked up at Bowen's practices. It speaks to the relationships that Bowen has created with his players. If they didn't have a strong relationship, it's unlikely KU's players would respond to Bowen like they have.
  • Kansas State coach Bill Snyder would have liked to see one of the Wildcats' running backs seize the primary ball carrier spot and become the "man" in the backfield, writes Ken Corbitt of the Topeka Capital-Journal. The Wildcats' inability to replace John Hubert has seemed like a handicap to the K-State offense for the bulk of the year. Quite frankly, it shows how well KSU has played as a team for the Wildcats to be 7-2 through nine games without a running back with more than 500 rushing yards.
  • Becoming a Mountaineer was a dream come true for Clint Trickett and now the West Virginia quarterback can make it a perfect home finale with an upset win over Kansas State. Trickett has had a terrific season but has fallen off in recent weeks with more interceptions (3) than touchdowns (2). Make no mistake, he has been a key to WVU's improved record this season and he will be the key on Thursday night.
  • Lastly, Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury said the Red Raiders changed defensive signals "as soon as they found out" their signals may have been compromised after former defensive coordinator Matt Wallerstedt left the program, reports Don Williams of the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal. Earlier this week questions arose about the possibility of Tech's defensive signals "being passed around" during the past two to three weeks. It's such an odd situation but it seems odd the Red Raiders didn't immediately change signals upon Wallerstedt's departure but I can also see how, particularly in the midst of a tough season, it wouldn't even cross their mind that those signals could be compromised.
The Big 12 is full of playmaking defenders.

Several top-notch defensive linemen have made their mark on their teams, productive linebackers have helped shut down running games and defensive backs have changed games with big hits or interceptions. Yet nobody has run away with the moniker of Big 12 defensive player of the year.

In today's roundtable, Jake Trotter, Max Olson and Brandon Chatmon present five defenders who can make a strong case as the defensive player of the year. Here's a look at those five candidates, their stats, their best moment and their case for earning the award:

SportsNation

Who is the Big 12 defensive player of the year?

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Discuss (Total votes: 3,170)

S Dante Barnett, Kansas State
Stats: 54 tackles, 4 TFLs, 1 INT, 7 pass deflections
Best moment: Thanks in large part to Barnett’s heady pass defense, K-State beat Texas 23-0 on Oct. 25 for the school’s first home conference shutout in 15 years. He was named the Big 12 defensive player of the week for his efforts.
Case for: The Wildcats have been excellent defensively all season, and Barnett is the biggest reason why. He might not have the gaudy numbers of some of the other contenders, but he has been the glue of a K-State secondary that’s been tough against the pass and superb helping against the run. -- Trotter

DT Andrew Billings, Baylor
Stats: 27 tackles (18 solo), eight tackles for loss, two sacks, eight quarterback hurries, one forced fumble.
Best moment: Billings was at his best in Baylor’s lone loss of the season with eight tackles and two sacks in BU’s 41-27 loss to West Virginia.
Case for: While Shawn Oakman has got a lot of attention along the Bears' defensive line, Billings has been a monster in the middle for Art Briles’ team. He’s one reason Briles lauded his defensive line before the season began and the sophomore hasn’t disappointed as one of the Big 12’s best defensive tackles as a disruptive force game in and game out. -- Chatmon

DT Malcom Brown, Texas
Stats: 66 tackles, 14 TFLs, 6.5 sacks, 6 QB hurries, 2 forced fumbles
Best moment: Absolutely unblockable against BYU, racking up 4 TFLs, 2.5 sacks, and a forced fumble in addition to 10 tackles.
Case for: Brown is giving Texas an All-America caliber season up the middle as an explosive 6-foot-2, 320-pound run-stuffer who can get after your quarterback even when you double-team him. With his wicked combination of brute power and speed, Brown is a nightmare to block. He leads all Big 12 defensive tackles in tackles, sacks and TFLs, and has also helped pave the way for breakout seasons from Texas LBs Jordan Hicks and Steve Edmond. The junior has first-round material written all over him and could go pro early. -- Olson

LB Paul Dawson, TCU
Stats: 105 tackles, 15 TFLs, 5 sacks, 3 interceptions, 5 pass breakups, 2 forced fumbles, 3 fumble recoveries
Best moment: A 41-yard interception return for a touchdown in the fourth quarter for the game-winning score in a 37-33 upset of then-No. 4 Oklahoma.
Case for: What more does Dawson need to prove at this point? He’s the No. 2 tackler (including tackles for loss) in the Big 12. He ranks in the top 10 nationally in solo tackles. Dawson has been as consistent as it gets from a production standpoint, and the senior has stepped up in huge moments, like the game-changing INTs he snagged against OU and West Virginia. He’s simply a playmaker, and one who’s helped play a major role in the Horned Frogs’ ascent. -- Olson

LB Ben Heeney, Kansas
Stats: 112 tackles, 10 TFLs, 1.5 sacks, 1 interception, 3 QB hurries, 1 forced fumble, 1 fumble recovery
Best moment: After being snubbed on our midseason All-Big 12 team, Heeney went out and dominated at Texas Tech with 21 tackles and a 37-yard interception.
Case for: While he might not play on a Big 12 contender, Heeney has been tremendous. He leads the country with 78 solo tackles as the anchor of a Kansas defense that has been solid, especially under interim head coach Clint Bowen. Heeney, who has been a stalwart for the Jayhawks the last three years, also sports the best beard in the Big 12. -- Trotter

Who do you think is the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year? Vote in our poll and comment below. Oh, and if you think the real candidate is missing ... well, stay tuned, your candidate could get his chance to shine on the Big 12 blog later this week.

Weekend recruiting wrap: Big 12 

November, 18, 2014
Nov 18
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video
The Big 12 had a relatively slow week, as three games were on tap. The result of the slow week, however, proved to be prosperous for Baylor, as the Bears landed a commit to increase its 2015 class to a baker's dozen.

Here's an in-depth look at how the weekend fared from a recruiting perspective:


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This week, USA Today, in the latest of its fan index lists, catalogued the top 10 traditions in college football.

Among them, dotting the "i" at Ohio State, lighting the Tower at Texas and rolling Toomer's Corner at Auburn. All fine events, but no list of such customs in the sport is complete without the latest craze: the wait for Tuesday night.

I say that somewhat jokingly, so refrain from the angry tweets. No, I don't really think it's more fun to dream about the details of a five-minute interview with Jeff Long than to decorate an intersection with toilet paper.

But it's close.

So welcome to the fourth of seven Tuesday College Football Playoff poll unveils, where it finally gets real in the selection-committee room.

Why is this Tuesday different? Because after last Saturday, none of the remaining unbeaten or one-loss Power 5 contenders will meet in the regular season or in conference-title games.

To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

Big 12 FPI rankings: Week 12

November, 17, 2014
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ESPN's Football Power Index is a measure of team strength that is meant to be the best predictor of 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 results to date and the remaining schedule.

Baylor continued its rise up the FPI, moving into the top four, but it is TCU’s drop behind Oklahoma that headlines this week’s update of the FPI.

After a 42-30 win against Texas Tech, the Sooners jumped TCU, moving from No. 10 to No. 9. TCU’s lackluster showing in a 34-30 win against Kansas drops the Horned Frogs two spots to No. 11.

Baylor remains the clear favorite to win the Big 12, with its odds increasing from 71.7 percent to 74.3 during the off week.

TCU saw its odds drop from 24.2 percent to 21.7 percent, yet continues to have hope for a Big 12 title. But, after losing head-to-head to the Bears, TCU will need a Baylor loss to become the conference’s designated champion.

KSU is the only other team with Big 12 title odds, at four percent, with the Wildcats hoping to win out and see TCU suffer a loss to Texas or Iowa State in its final two games.

Three-loss Oklahoma is projected to win out with home games against Kansas and Oklahoma State remaining on the schedule.

Interim coach Clint Bowen’s Jayhawks continue to rise. After sitting at No. 103 two weeks ago, Kansas has risen to No. 89 on the heels of a win against Iowa State on Nov. 8 and the close loss to TCU on Saturday.

Oklahoma State is the biggest mover in the conference, dropping seven spots to No. 62 after Texas manhandled the Cowboys in its 28-7 win at Boone Pickens Stadium over the weekend.

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Big 12 weekend rewind: Week 12

November, 17, 2014
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Taking stock of Week 12 in the Big 12:

Team of the week: The Texas Longhorns are bowl-eligible after hammering Oklahoma State in Stillwater, 28-7. Three weeks ago, it didn’t look like Texas would get there. But the pass rush has become dominant, the offensive line has gradually improved and quarterback Tyrone Swoopes has settled in. Getting to a bowl game might not seem like a big deal for a program the stature of Texas. But the way this season began, it gives Charlie Strong plenty to build on going forward.

Disappointment of the week: Even with all their offensive struggles, the Oklahoma State Cowboys had a prime opportunity to get that coveted sixth win at home coming off an open week. Yet once again, the offense no-showed, and Oklahoma State was blown out of its own stadium. The Cowboys had just 51 yards of offense in the first half, which was the lowest total of the Mike Gundy era. With road trips to Baylor and Oklahoma left, the Cowboys will likely miss out on a bowl for the first time since Gundy’s first season in 2005. With one of the youngest teams in college football, this was always going to be a rebuilding season for the Cowboys. Even so, it’s been a disappointing one.

Big (offensive) man on campus: In the spring, Kansas coach Charlie Weis announced a three-way quarterback competition that included Montell Cozart, Jake Heaps and T.J. Millweard, and not Michael Cummings. But since taking over at quarterback, Cummings has been a revelation, and he delivered his best performance yet in the Jayhawks’ narrow 34-30 loss to TCU. Cummings threw for 332 yards and two touchdowns, and ran for another score. The Horned Frogs were so nervous about Cummings beating them at the end of the game they went for a fourth-and-one instead of kicking a field goal and giving him the ball with a chance to score a touchdown and win the game on a potential two-point conversion. Honorable-mention honors here go to Oklahoma freshman Samaje Perine, who rumbled for 213 yards and three touchdowns to key the Sooners' 42-30 comeback win at Texas Tech. Perine could become Oklahoma's first freshman running back to earn All-Big 12 honors since Adrian Peterson in 2004.

Big (defensive) man on campus: Texas defensive tackle Malcom Brown obliterated yet another offensive line. This time it was Oklahoma State’s. Brown finished with three tackles, two sacks and a forced fumble as the Longhorns put the clamps on Oklahoma State’s anemic offense that had only two first downs until late in the second half. After another strong performance, Brown is making a strong push for Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year honors.

Special-teams player of the week: With TCU trailing 27-24 late in the third quarter, Cameron Echols-Luper hauled in a punt, then weaved through the Jayhawks for a 69-yard touchdown to give the Horned Frogs the lead. The Echols-Luper return wound up being the difference in the four-point game.

Play of the week: Midway through the third quarter, Kansas wideout Nigel King hauled in an acrobatic one-handed grab off a tip, then raced 78 yards down the sideline to give the Jayhawks a 27-17 lead. When the Jayhawks recovered the ensuing kickoff, it looked like it was actually going to be their day. But Kansas couldn’t capitalize off the turnover, and TCU scored 17 straight points to regain control of the game.

Stat of the week: Via pistolsfiringblog.com, Oklahoma State has either punted or turned the ball over on 50 of its past 59 offensive possessions dating to halftime against Kansas on Oct. 11. The Cowboys now rank last in the Big 12 in total offense in conference games.

Quote of the week: "They thought it was cold. I told them it wasn't cold." -- Texas coach Charlie Strong, who had his players remove their cold-weather gear before the game in Stillwater.

Big 12 morning links

November, 17, 2014
Nov 17
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It's always hard to keep your bluff when this happens.
  • Will Muschamp was fired Sunday, and seemingly every coach in the Big 12 has been mentioned as a possible replacement at Florida, including Bob Stoops, Charlie Strong, Mike Gundy, Art Briles and Gary Patterson. If I were a betting man, I would place a wager that the next coach at Florida will not come via the Big 12. But, this will be worth monitoring the next couple months.
  • Of those five names, Stoops would probably be Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley's No. 1 choice. Foley has made overtures toward Stoops before, and the two have a history dating to when Stoops was the Gators' defensive coordinator in the 1990s. The Oklahoman's Jason Kersey, however, raised an astute point that could turn this into a non-starter for Stoops. His brother, Mark, is the head coach at Kentucky. Would Stoops really sign off on playing his brother every year?
  • Speaking of coaching vacancies, the Lawrence Journal-World's Tom Keegan believes Clint Bowen deserves to have the interim tag stripped at Kansas. Following a valiant performance in a narrow 34-30 loss to fourth-ranked TCU, Keegan wrote that Bowen has transformed a depleted roster into a high-flying, hard-hitting ball of focused fire." I was in Lawrence on Saturday, and it's hard to disagree. Kansas looks like a completely different team right now. And Bowen is making it very hard for Kansas athletic director Sheahon Zenger not to hand him the keys to the program full time.
  • The one silver lining in Texas Tech's 42-30 defeat against Oklahoma over the weekend was the performance of true freshman quarterback Patrick Mahomes, who tossed four touchdown passes and no interceptions. In the opinion of the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal's Nick Talbot, the Red Raiders should turn the offense over to Mahomes for good. I'm not ready to write off Davis Webb just yet. But Mahomes' ability to make plays outside of the pocket definitely sparked the Red Raiders, and opened up big plays. He also avoided turnovers, which has been Webb's downfall this season. Whether it's Mahomes, Webb or high school senior Jarrett Stidham, it's going to be interesting to see who eventually emerges as Tech's quarterback of the future.
  • Back to the coaching theme, the Des Moines Register's Randy Peterson weighed in on whether Iowa State should fire coach Paul Rhoads after a second straight disappointing season. Personally, I think it's way too soon for the Cyclones to be seriously considering this. Sure, this season has been a disaster in every way. But Rhoads took Iowa State to three bowl games in his four years. Under Rhoads, Ames had been a difficult place to play. And the fans have been coming to the games, propelling plans to renovate Jack Trice Stadium. Iowa State bailed on former coach Dan McCarney too early. The Cyclones would be making the same mistake in bailing on Rhoads at this point, too.

Best of the visits: Big 12

November, 16, 2014
Nov 16
2:50
PM ET
When Texas needed to produce, it responded in huge fashion and earned bowl eligibility. TCU did just enough to win, but it may have damaged its College Football Playoff hopes. And when Texas Tech thought it was in the driver's seat for a win, Oklahoma used a big fourth quarter to pull away and earn an important road win.

There were only three Big 12 games on tap Saturday, but each game had its own major storyline. Additionally, Texas Tech and Oklahoma State both hosted a handful of visitors over the weekend. Here are some highlights from recruiting visits around the conference.

Oklahoma State falls, but recruits enjoy Stillwater

Texas earned bowl eligibility in defeating Oklahoma State, 28-7. While it was the third consecutive win for the Longhorns, it also was the Cowboys' fourth straight loss. Fortunately for Oklahoma State, recruits on official visits said they still had a great time in Stillwater. One of the biggest targets in attendance was four-star DT Darrion Daniels, who also is considering Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Baylor, Texas and several other schools -- including his father's alma mater, Texas Tech. Darrion's father is former Red Raiders DE Tony Daniels, but don't expect the younger Daniels to make any decisions without making his own judgments.


High three-star LB Christian Folau made Stillwater his first official visit over the weekend. Wisconsin is believed to be high on the Utah prospect's recruiting list, but Oklahoma State may have shot up the charts after what was a productive trip.


California high three-star OL Vaimoe Sekona committed to Oklahoma State on Oct. 27, and he was excited about his official visit. Although the team didn't get the win, Sekona had a chance to spend time with his future unit.


Part of an official visit for some schools involves getting the opportunity to spend time with the coaching staff off campus. Junior college WR Dede Westbrook may have been most impressed with the home of Mike Gundy.


High three-star DB Montrel Wilson has offers from Baylor, Arkansas and a few other schools, but he made the trip to Stillwater with high school teammate Randall Friday to take in the environment.
Texas Tech hosts ESPN 300 OL among others

For 2 1/2 quarters, it looked as though Texas Tech would get a big home win against Oklahoma. The Sooners, however, turned up their game in the second half and left Lubbock with a 42-30 victory. ESPN 300 OL Fred Ulu-Perry Jr., the nation's fourth-ranked offensive guard, was in Lubbock on an official visit. It was a huge opportunity for the Red Raiders, as Ulu-Perry has been a UCLA commit since July. Ulu-Perry, from Honolulu, is good friends with fellow Honolulu prospect and ESPN 300 athlete -- and Texas Tech commit -- Breiden Fehoko.


Another big visitor in town was Kahlil Haughton. The four-star safety had taken official visitors to Oklahoma, Nebraska, Arkansas and Baylor. Texas Tech was his final official visit. The Red Raiders are hoping Haughton's last visit made the biggest impact.


ESPN Junior 300 DT Mike Williams continues to make trips to various locations. A rising name in the 2016 class, Williams said he was impressed with what the Red Raiders had to offer on and off the field, regardless of the outcome of the game.


You can bet that Kliff Kingsbury & Co. are always looking to recruit for the future. 2017 OL Jack Anderson is expected to be one of the nation's top-ranked recruits when he is a senior. Anderson has visited Lubbock before, and there's a reason why he comes back.
Kansas loses, but impresses against TCU

Many dislike giving credit to moral victories, but after watching Kansas play TCU, a moral victory for the Jayhawks is warranted. Kansas fell, 34-30, to the No. 4 team in the College Football Playoff rankings, and it showed for the second consecutive week that it is playing a new level of confidence under interim coach Clint Bowen. One player in Lawrence was 2016 Jack Domandle, a 6-foot-4, 270-pound interior offensive lineman who made the unofficial visit from Nebraska. The two-year starter is looking to become a household name in the spring. He not only enjoyed his trip to Kansas but also nearly watched one of the biggest college football upsets of the year.


While he was unable to make the trip to Lawrence, RB Aubrey White, the Jayhawks' lone 2016 pledge, made sure he was keeping his eyes and ears on the game. Although the Jayhawks couldn't score the win, he's still excited about the future.

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