Big 12: Kansas State Wildcats

Big 12 recruiting scorecard

July, 28, 2014
Jul 28
1:30
PM ET
Summer rages on but recruiting never stops with several Big 12 programs adding to their commitment lists during the past week. Here's the latest around the conference:

BAYLOR
Total commits: 10
ESPN 300 commits: 3
The latest: ESPN300 linebacker Malik Jefferson of Mesquite, Texas/Poteet visited Baylor over the weekend. The No. 39 player in the ESPN300 has an offer list that includes the nation’s elite and fellow Big 12 squads Oklahoma and Texas.

IOWA STATE
Total commits: 8
ESPN 300 commits: 0
The latest: The Cyclones landed arguably the top recruit on their current commit list when Sachse (Texas) running back Devine Ozigbo picked Iowa State. At 5-foot-11, 230 pounds, the three-star prospect is in line to bring a big, physical presence to the Cyclones’ running back corps. His pledge wasn’t the only positive news for Cyclone nation as Cedar Rapids (Iowa) Washington tackle Julian Good-Jones also picked ISU last week. Another three-star prospect, Good-Jones picked ISU over offers from Kansas State and Oregon State.

KANSAS
Total commits: 11
ESPN 300 commits: 0
The latest: The Jayhawks lost one of their top signees from the Class of 2013 when running back Traevohn Wrench failed to qualify and enrolled in Butler (Kansas) Junior College. Wrench was a four-star signee who had the talent to battle for carries in the race to replace James Sims this fall.

KANSAS STATE
Total commits: 8
ESPN 300 commits: 0
The latest: K-State held a camp over the weekend with 2016 quarterback Kasey Ford reportedly in attendance. The Bentonville (Arkansas) signal caller is largely considered a strong Arkansas lean but his attendance at Wildcats camp is a sign he’s willing to give Bill Snyder’s program an opportunity to earn his signature.

OKLAHOMA
Total commits: 9
ESPN 300 commits: 5
The latest: Defensive line coach Jerry Montgomery is a happy man. The Sooners landed a pair of defensive line commitments last week with Metairie (Louisiana) Archbishop Rummel defensive tackle Tyrell Jacobs and Burleson (Texas) defensive end Kenneth Mann picking OU. Mann picked the Sooners over Oklahoma State, Kansas State, Iowa, California and others. Jacobs selected OU over K-State, Arizona State, Tennessee and others.

OKLAHOMA STATE
Total commits: 8
ESPN 300 commits: 3
The latest: ESPN300 quarterback John Kolar of Norman (Oklahoma) North, a Cowboys commitment, told The Oklahoman he is taking summer classes and is considering enrolling early at OSU. Kolar is the No. 82 player in the ESPN300. If he chooses to enroll early he would be the third straight scholarship quarterback recruit to do so, following in the footsteps of Wes Lunt and Mason Rudolph.

TCU
Total commits: 16
ESPN 300 commits: 0
The latest: TCU’s coaching staff will have to wait a while to see the fruits of its labor but Class of 2016 quarterback Brennen Wooten could prove worth the wait after he decided to be a part of Gary Patterson’s program last week. The Marble Falls (Texas) signal caller is the No. 109 player in the ESPNJR300 and a four-star prospect. It’s pretty clear the Horned Frogs’ new offense is already paying dividends on the recruiting trail.

TEXAS
Total commits: 13
ESPN 300 commits: 7
The latest: While Charlie Strong was taking a hacksaw to his current roster, he was adding hope for the future. UT landed a pair of ESPN300 members with the commitments of Burton (Texas) athlete Louis Brown and Tallahassee (Florida) Lincoln receiver John Burt last week. Brown is the No. 251 player in the ESPN300 and Burt is the No. 236 player in the ESPN300.

TEXAS TECH
Total commits: 7
ESPN 300 commits: 2
The latest: Tech commit and Class of 2016 prospect Collin Wilder took an unofficial to Lubbock, Texas, this week. The Katy (Texas) defensive back is the No. 212 player in the ESPNJr300. Although he’s been committed to Kliff Kingsbury’s program since June, Wilder continues to be pursued by several programs so keeping him on Tech’s commit list will be just as important as landing him in the first place.

WEST VIRGINIA
Total commits: 15
ESPN 300 commits: 2
The latest: The Mountaineers added to their commit list with the pledge of Belle Glade (Florida) Glades Central guard Jah'Shaun Seider. The three-star prospect picked WVU over offers from LSU, Ole Miss and others. He is the younger brother of WVU running backs coach JaJuan Seider.

Big 12 lunchtime links

July, 28, 2014
Jul 28
12:00
PM ET
Who are the top 100 players in college football? We attempted to answer that question.
Our series of preseason picks for every single Big 12 game of 2014 concludes today with Week 15. The past two Big 12 champions face off, and Bedlam is always fun.

More Big 12 predictions for 2014.

at Baylor 41, Kansas State 24: With the final weekend mirroring 2013, the Bears know this game could gain added importance if the Sooners slip up in Bedlam. Taking the field with that mindset, Baylor takes a two-touchdown lead in the first quarter and never really looks back. Bryce Petty is efficient and effective, and Baylor's defense uses the experience gained in the first 11 games to help slow Bill Snyder’s Wildcats in a comfortable win to end Year 1 at McLane Stadium.

at Oklahoma 38, Oklahoma State 35: Another Bedlam, another close game, another late-game win for the Sooners. This time it’s true freshman running back Joe Mixon who turns a swing pass into a late fourth-quarter touchdown, giving the Sooners a late lead and, for the second straight Bedlam game, Oklahoma linebacker Eric Striker seals the win with a big play on the Cowboys’ final drive. The Sooners win the Big 12, and their campaign to be included in the College Football Playoff begins immediately with Bob Stoops saying the Sooners “absolutely” deserve to be one of the four teams included during his postgame comments.

at TCU 42, Iowa State 20: The Horned Frogs end a solid eight-win season in style with a blowout win against the Cyclones. TCU’s offense gives Horned Frogs fans plenty of hope with a six-touchdown performance to end the season, including a touchdown pass and touchdown reception from “Mr. Versatility” Trevone Boykin.

Final Big 12 standings

1. Oklahoma -- 11-1, 8-1
2. Baylor -- 10-2, 7-2
3. Kansas State -- 9-3, 7-2
4. Texas -- 8-4, 6-3
5. TCU -- 8-4, 5-4
6. Texas Tech -- 7-5, 4-5
7. West Virginia -- 5-7, 4-5
8. Oklahoma State -- 5-7, 3-6
9. Kansas -- 3-9, 1-8
10. Iowa State -- 2-10, 0-9

Big 12 lunchtime links

July, 25, 2014
Jul 25
12:00
PM ET
It's been a busy week at ESPN but Big 12 coaches aren't the only ones who made a visit to Bristol.

Big 12 lunchtime links

July, 24, 2014
Jul 24
12:00
PM ET
Texas coach Charlie Strong spent some time with the Numbers Never Lie crew on Wednesday.

Big 12 media days takeaways

July, 23, 2014
Jul 23
5:00
PM ET
DALLAS -- Big 12 media days have come and gone. Some of the storylines (Dairy Queen, fake watches) were silly. Others were far more serious. Here are some of the takeaways from this year’s edition of media days:

Baylor has a chip on its shoulder: Despite winning the Big 12 last season and returning the Big 12 offensive player of the year in quarterback Bryce Petty, Baylor was voted second in the conference’s preseason poll behind Oklahoma. The Bears clearly felt a bit disrespected while in Dallas this week. "That comes with being Baylor," defensive end Shawn Oakman said. "We're gonna be great one day and y'all are gonna notice." The Bears were pretty great last season, stomping the Sooners 41-12 on the way to their first Big 12 title. "That game from OU last year, that should have showed you that that product was nowhere near as good as the product that Baylor was putting on the field," Oakman said. "The execution, the players from each and every position ... You could tell we were on a different level from OU." Still getting picked to finish behind Oklahoma has given the Bears extra fuel for this season. "In our minds, we’re still underdogs," Oakman said. "We play with a chip on our shoulder. You only get the respect if you earn it."

Stoops is loose as a goose: The loosest coach at Big 12 media days might have been Oklahoma’s Bob Stoops. He was cracking jokes, photo-bombing his wife’s TV interview (she was there for a Mary Kay convention) and taking a break between interview sessions to grab a strawberry smoothie. He even chided Alabama coach Nick Saban for suggesting the Crimson Tide didn’t care about being in the Sugar Bowl. "So if I’m not in a national championship game, that means I’ve got a built-in excuse?" Stoops said. Such bravado could be a sign that Stoops thinks he has a pretty good team. With Trevor Knight at quarterback and nine starters back defensively, it’s not hard to see why.

TCU has a big problem: Though they had already left, the Horned Frogs were the story the second day of Big 12 media days. Defensive end Devonte Fields, who last week was voted the league's preseason defensive player of the year, was accused of pulling a gun on his ex-girlfriend. TCU acted quickly after the news surfaced, claiming it had "separated" from Fields. If any part of the allegations levied against Fields are true, it’s difficult to see him ever playing another game in the Big 12. That is a big loss for the league. And an even bigger one for TCU, which is attempting to bounce back from one of its worst seasons in the Gary Patterson era.

Strong believes in Ash: The biggest question mark in Charlie Strong’s first season as coach at Texas is quarterback. More specifically, quarterback David Ash. But even though Ash missed virtually all of last season with concussion issues, then the spring with a fractured foot, Strong said he was impressed with Ash when watching old game film. "When Ash is healthy, he played very well," Strong said. All signs point to Ash being the starter when the Longhorns open the season. Whether he can be consistent and be healthy could go a long way in dictating how Strong’s first season goes, too.

Bowlsby does not believe in the NCAA: According to Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby, cheating pays. And the enforcement wing of the NCAA is broken. Bowlsby painted a bleak future for the NCAA, also predicting that Olympic sports could be in trouble down the line. "If you like intercollegiate athletics the way it is, you're going to hate it going forward," he said. "There's a lot of change coming." Because of its popularity, football will always be fine. But with lawsuits and athletic department expenses about to rise dramatically, Bowlsby thinks something will have to give.

Everyone’s mind is on the playoff, even if all minds don’t quite get it: The inaugural College Football Playoff was one of the big topics of conversation this week. The Big 12 coaches all believe the league is positioned strongly for inclusion, thanks to a robust nonconference slate of games and a nine-game conference schedule. Many players, however, weren’t well-informed about how the playoff will work. One didn’t know how many teams would be in it. Another thought every conference champ automatically advanced to it. And still another had no idea just how the playoff would be picked. The playoff is going to be an adjustment for college football fans. There is going to be an adjustment for the players, too.

Trickett was always the guy: According to West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen, Clint Trickett was always going to be this season’s starting quarterback. It was just a matter of him getting cleared medically. "We wanted him to be the guy," Holgorsen said. "We had to wait and see how he did coming off the shoulder surgery." Holgorsen said there was little the other West Virginia quarterbacks could have done this spring to unseat Trickett, who sat out while recovering from the shoulder injury. "He was the best option we had this year, he was the best option we had last year," Holgorsen said. "Once I was pleased with what I saw, it was a no-brainer to me."

Hill will get the ball a lot: Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy has had some talented offensive players over the years. But Gundy said it has been a long time since the Cowboys had a playmaker like juco running back Tyreek Hill. "He's very fast," said Gundy, comparing him to former West Virginia standout Tavon Austin. "He gets [past] that first level [of the defense] and no one is caching him." Gundy wants Hill to touch the ball at least 20 times a game. Whether he’s at running back or lined up in the slot, Hill is going to be the focal point of the Oklahoma State attack.

Snyder is still the man: Kansas State coach Bill Snyder is 74 years old, just two years younger than former Oklahoma coach Barry Switzer, who popped by media days Monday night. But Snyder is still coaching strong, with a team that was voted third in the preseason poll behind co-favorites Oklahoma and Baylor. Apparently everyone should eat only one meal a day.
Bill SnyderJasen Vinlove/USA TODAY SportsKansas State coach Bill Snyder is 74, but still lives the fast-food nightlife.
BRISTOL, Conn. -- Kansas State coach Bill Snyder says the legend of him eating one meal a day is true.

Snyder, 74, still works 18-hour days as he is about to begin his 23rd season as the Wildcats' coach, and he refuses to take lunch breaks. He usually doesn't eat until after he leaves the office.

"One meal a day is accurate," Snyder said Wednesday, during an interview at ESPN. "It's not always Taco Bell. I like Taco Bell. But I eat at other places."

Snyder said Taco Bell is sometimes his only option because he returns home so late.

"Taco Bell is open at midnight," Snyder said. "[My wife's cooking] is not."
Our series of preseason picks for every single Big 12 game of 2014 continues today with Week 13. Beware, Texas Tech, winning in Ames, Iowa, can be difficult, especially late in the season.

More Big 12 predictions for 2014.

Kansas State 38, at West Virginia 35: K-State’s ability to win close games rises to the forefront as the Wildcats grab a key road win in Morgantown, West Virginia. The Mountaineers lead for the majority of the second half but All-Big 12 receiver Tyler Lockett comes through when K-State needs him with a late touchdown.

at Baylor 48, Oklahoma State 28: The Bears jump on the Cowboys early, taking a three touchdown lead after one quarter of play. OSU’s big-play threats Tyreek Hill and Jhajuan Seales spark a Cowboy rally with back-to-back second quarter scores but BU quarterback Bryce Petty isn’t about to let the Pokes ruin the party, passing for two scores in the third quarter and finishing with five touchdowns overall in the win. Revenge is sweet for Art Briles’ squad.

at Oklahoma 49, Kansas 10: The Sooners are dominant at home against the Jayhawks scoring on four of their first five drives and taking a comfortable lead at halftime. It’s a rough but important experience for KU quarterback Montell Cozart who struggles against OU’s athletic defense but starts to find a rhythm toward the end of the game. Meanwhile, OU’s eyes turn to Bedlam and securing another Big 12 title.

Texas Tech 38, at Iowa State 34: The Cyclones appear ready to secure yet another upset win in Ames until Davis Webb suddenly gets on fire in the final 15 minutes with a pair of long touchdown passes and a quarterback sneak for another score in the final two minutes to help the Red Raiders escape with a win.

Current Big 12 standings

1. Oklahoma -- 10-1, 7-1
2. Kansas State -- 8-2, 6-1
3. Baylor -- 8-2, 5-2
4. Texas -- 7-4, 5-3
5. TCU -- 7-3, 4-3
6. Texas Tech -- 7-4, 4-4
7. Oklahoma State -- 5-6, 3-5
8. West Virginia -- 4-7, 3-5
9. Kansas -- 3-8, 1-7
10. Iowa State -- 2-8, 0-7
DALLAS -- Winning football games holds top billing in most cases, but when discussing the most important objective to college football coaches, a great recruiting class is always high on the totem pole.

The Big 12 media days on Monday and Tuesday gave coaches a chance to share their opinions on their teams, their competitors and the future of college football. It also allowed each coach to talk about the positives and negatives of recruiting.

The media voted Oklahoma as the clear preseason favorite to win the Big 12.

But the league’s players give the slight edge to Baylor as the team to beat in the Big 12 this season.

This week, the Big 12 blog team anonymously polled 30 of the 39 players that attended Big 12 media days.

Oklahoma received 47 of 56 first-place media votes in the Big 12’s preseason poll, which was released last week. But 43 percent of the players polled said the defending Big 12 champion Bears were actually the team to beat in the league, narrowly topping the Sooners.

The players were asked several other questions about the league, including its most impressive coach, its most obnoxious team, and its most underrated player.

The results of the poll:

(Note: players were not allowed to answer their own school or any teammate in any of the questions)

Who is the team to beat this year in the Big 12?

Baylor: 43%

Oklahoma: 40%

Kansas State: 6%

Oklahoma State: 6%

Texas: 3%

Who is the league’s most impressive coach?

Kliff Kingsbury: 24%

Bill Snyder: 21%

Art Briles: 17%

Bob Stoops: 14%

If you could draft an opposing Big 12 player and put him on your team, who would it be?

Baylor QB Bryce Petty: 27%

Baylor WR Antwan Goodley: 15%

Kansas State WR Tyler Lockett: 12%

Kansas State QB Jake Waters: 12%

Who is the league’s most underrated player?

Waters: 10%

TCU DT Davion Pierson: 10%

Iowa State TE E.J. Bibbs: 10%

Other answers: Kansas State DE Ryan Mueller, Texas Tech LB Sam Eguavoen, Oklahoma WR Sterling Shepard, Oklahoma State LB Ryan Simmons, Baylor DE Shawn Oakman, Kansas State C BJ Finney, TCU CB Kevin White, Baylor RB Devin Chafin, Baylor RB Johnny Jefferson, Kansas State CB Randall Evans, Oklahoma State DT James Castleman

Who is the team you’re most fired up to play?

Texas: 24%

Kansas State: 21%

Oklahoma: 21%

Baylor: 10%

Who is the most obnoxious team in the league?

TCU: 21%

Baylor: 18%

Texas: 14%

Texas Tech: 14%

What program has the best pregame intro?

Oklahoma: 27%

Oklahoma State: 19%

Texas: 15%

Who do you predict will make the inaugural playoff?

(Note: Players were allowed to include Big 12 teams here)

Florida State: 20%

Oregon: 16%

Alabama: 15%

Other top vote-getters: Auburn, Baylor, LSU, Oklahoma, Ohio State, Stanford
video
Big 12 media days came to a close Tuesday in Dallas, yet the biggest news of the day came from nearby Fort Worth, where the future of TCU defensive end Devonte Fields, the preseason Big 12 defensive player of the year, is in doubt after he has "separated" from the Horned Frogs program. Meanwhile, on site, Texas coach Charlie Strong made his debut and Oklahoma arrived with plenty of confidence.

ESPN.com's Big 12 reporters Jake Trotter, Max Olson and Brandon Chatmon answered four questions in our roundtable to wrap up the final session, which included Iowa State, Kansas State, Oklahoma, Texas and West Virginia.

What stuck out to you most?

Trotter: The biggest Big 12 story of the day actually didn't come from one of the five teams at media days Tuesday. Quickly, the buzz about the serious allegations levied against TCU defense end Devonte Fields made its way around the hotel with reporters and coaches alike. Later in the day, the Horned Frogs "separated" with the Big 12 preseason Defensive Player of the Year, placing Fields' collegiate-football future gravely in doubt. That could have a major impact on the Big 12 landscape.

Chatmon: The way Kansas State players seemingly take on the personality of Wildcats coach Bill Snyder is a sight to see. Quarterback Jake Waters, receiver Tyler Lockett, center B.J. Finney, linebacker Jonathan Truman and defensive end Ryan Mueller were personable, thoughtful and engaged during their answers yet still navigated their way through the landmines some college football players seem to step on during similar settings. The overriding message: K-State is confident yet hungry heading into 2014.

[+] EnlargeCharlie Strong
AP ImagesNew Texas coach Charlie Strong said all the right things at his Big 12 media days debut.
Olson: Everyone came hoping for Charlie Strong to do or say something memorable at his Big 12 media days debut. Easily a dozen TV cameras surrounded his table Tuesday afternoon before he even showed up. Strong carried himself well and said all the right things, and the talking points -- such as "putting the 'T' back in Texas" -- he's been repeating since the spring went over well. He also threw Texas fans a bone by confirming David Ash is his starting QB. All in all, a pretty solid day for the first-year coach.

What's something new you learned?

Trotter: Even though Charlie Strong arrived at Texas via Louisville, he and Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops know each other well due to their connection as former Florida defensive coordinators. "I think Charlie's a great coach," Stoops said. "He's an excellent person. We've really enjoyed the times I have been around him. So I gotta be careful. I can't wish him too much luck, but I know he'll do a great job."

Chatmon: Short conversations with Texas defensive end Cedric Reed and center Dominic Espinosa left me with the impression that Charlie Strong's vision for the Longhorn program is starting to take hold. Reed said he could see signs the Longhorns could be tougher mentally this fall with guys showing up to meetings on time (or even early), and Espinosa said the mental focus of the squad has been upgraded with players willing to do the extra things to get to the another level. UT might not have a 100 percent buy-in to Strong's ways, but it sounds like things are heading in the right direction.

Olson: I'm sorry, I just have to address one of my favorite quotes of the day here. When Bill Snyder was asked to assess how optimistic he is about his team in 2014, he paused and said warmly, "My degree of optimism is negotiated daily." Then he continued a winding answer about one-day-at-a-time expectation that concluded with a laugh and Snyder proudly saying, "Didn't tell you anything, did I?" He later acknowledged he is "as old as time and that's not going to change." Basically, Bill Snyder is the best.

Your favorite exchange of the day?

Trotter: I don't know if counts as an "exchange," but Stoops purposefully photobombed his wife's TV interview. He actually did it twice. Carol Stoops, a national director with Mary Kay, was at the same hotel for a Mary Kay convention. Stoops was laid-back all day, which is usually a sign he thinks he has a good team.

Chatmon: I walked up on Tyler Lockett doing a Q&A with another reporter who asked which three people he would like to have dinner with if he could choose anyone in the world. Lockett looked at me with a sideways glance and responded: "This guy." Once our laughter subsided, Lockett answered the question. I now have a new favorite player.

Olson: I pressed Quandre Diggs on the state of his relationship with Kevin Durant. This is a sore subject for the Texas cornerback, who's a vocal member of Team LeBron. He said Durant unfollowed him on Twitter due to Diggs' preference for LeBron. Diggs is hoping to repair that relationship with his fellow Longhorn soon, and he has plenty of respect for the MVP. But Diggs was adamant he will not be able to bury the hatchet until Durant gives him a follow again.

The most impressive person?

Trotter: Texas cornerback Quandre Diggs, Iowa State center Tom Farniok, West Virginia cornerback Daryl Worley and Kansas State quarterback Jake Waters were all very impressive. Diggs would make a great sports columnist someday. He has an opinion on everything. Worley, just a true sophomore, comes off like he's 10 years older than he actually is. Waters pulled off donning a bow tie, and he and Farniok were plenty sharp to extemporize on any player or team in the conference -- something many players in the conference struggle with.

Chatmon: West Virginia cornerback Daryl Worley may be more impressive off the field than he was on it in 2013. The sophomore appears to be on the road to becoming one of the Big 12's best cornerbacks, but the way he handled our one-on-one session left me holding him in a high regard. He's just a sophomore, but he handled himself like a fifth-year senior. It's easy to see why Dana Holgorsen had the trust to bring a true sophomore into this setting. "Last season enhanced my work ethic, just knowing I didn't reach my goals. I told myself I wouldn't let that happen again," he said. This from a guy who started five games at cornerback as a true freshman in the Big 12.

Olson: Besides Diggs, who is absolutely money when it comes to spitting the truth in interviews, I had to say I enjoyed chatting with famed West Virginia punter Nick O'Toole -- better known as Boomstache by the Mountaineer faithful -- about his dedication to mustache maintenance. He went for the Rollie Fingers curled look Tuesday, with the help of a little wax, and was also sporting red USA socks. He is indeed a great American.

Big 12 goes back in time

July, 22, 2014
Jul 22
6:25
PM ET
It might be 2014, but a couple of players at Big 12 media days looked like they belonged in another era.

West Virginia punter Nick O'Toole, also known as the "Boomstache," wore his trademark handlebar mustache. The 'stache gave O'Toole a 1920s boxer look.


Meanwhile, Kansas State quarterback Jake Waters was the only player to arrive wearing a bow tie. Waters was nervous that K-State coach Bill Snyder wouldn't approve. But Snyder agreed the bow tie made Waters look distinguished.

Big 12 lunchtime links

July, 22, 2014
Jul 22
12:00
PM ET
A solid glimpse at what Big 12 media days felt like on Monday.

Big 12 media days live: Day 2

July, 22, 2014
Jul 22
9:40
AM ET
The Big 12 media days continue on Tuesday in Dallas, as Oklahoma's Bob Stoops and new Texas coach Charlie Strong each take the stage. Keep this page open throughout the day's proceedings as we bring you the latest from our reporters, who will cover all 10 teams at the event.

DALLAS -- The first day of Big 12 media days delivered several compelling storylines. Here's what to expect from Day 2 in Dallas:

Iowa State Cyclones

Attending: Coach Paul Rhoads, tight end E.J. Bibbs, center Tom Farniok, defensive end Cory Morrissey, linebacker Jevohn Miller.

Storyline: The Cyclones missed out on a bowl game last season after back-to-back appearances. But Rhoads appears to have the offensive pieces to get back to bowl eligibility. Bibbs was a preseason All-Big 12 selection, and Farniok leads an offensive line that trails only Oklahoma in the league in career starts. Rhoads appears to have the offensive coordinator, too. Mark Mangino has returned to the Big 12 after four years away from coaching in the FBS. Mangino's résumé includes a national championship as offensive coordinator at Oklahoma, and an Orange Bowl victory as the head coach at Kansas.

Kansas State Wildcats

Attending: Coach Bill Snyder, quarterback Jake Waters, receiver Tyler Lockett, center BJ Finney, defensive end Ryan Mueller, linebacker Jonathan Truman.

Storyline: From start to end, the Wildcats were the most improved team in the Big 12 last season. The biggest reason was the emergence of Waters at quarterback during the second half of the year. Waters actually outperformed Baylor quarterback and Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year Bryce Petty during the final seven games in QBR. Waters has one of college football's top playmakers to throw to again in Lockett, and the team is solid again on both sides of the trenches. Snyder's squads usually improve over the course of a season. But if K-State starts out this season the way it finished the previous, look out.

Oklahoma Sooners

Attending: Coach Bob Stoops, quarterback Trevor Knight, offensive tackle Daryl Williams, defensive end Geneo Grissom, safety Julian Wilson.

Storyline: After a brief malaise, the bloom is back on Oklahoma. That's what a 45-31 bowl win over the preeminent program in college football will do. But can the Sooners carry over the momentum generated from the Alabama win into this season? The answer to that question will depend largely on Knight, the sophomore quarterback. In the Sugar Bowl, Knight was sensational, throwing for 348 yards and four touchdowns. But he has started and finished only three games in his young career. If he can rekindle the Sugar Bowl magic, the Sooners will push for inclusion in the inaugural College Football Playoff.

Texas Longhorns

Attending: Coach Charlie Strong, running back Malcolm Brown, center Dominic Espinosa, defensive end Cedric Reed, cornerback Quandre Diggs.

Storyline: The Strong era is afoot in Austin.

Regardless of what he has or hasn't said this offseason to boosters or high school coaches, Strong ultimately will be measured by how many games he wins on the field. At almost every position, the Longhorns are equipped for success. But that won't amount to much if they don't get better quarterbacking than they have the previous four seasons. That makes David Ash the most important player on the roster. He missed almost all of last season with concussion issues and then the spring with a fractured foot. If Ash can stay healthy, the Longhorns can make a serious run in the Big 12. If he can't, the Strong era could be off to a tumultuous start.

West Virginia Mountaineers

Attending: Coach Dana Holgorsen, receiver Kevin White, cornerback Daryl Worley, punter Nick O'Toole.

Storyline: It's make-or-break time for Holgorsen, who has produced a pair of mediocre seasons in West Virginia's first two years in the Big 12. The schedule is brutal, but that won't discharge Holgorsen from showing improvement from last year's 4-8 season. The Mountaineers have good running backs and receivers. But do they have the answer at quarterback? Holgorsen unexpectedly gave the early nod this summer to Clint Trickett, even though he missed all of spring ball recovering from shoulder surgery. Holgorsen's fate figures to be intertwined with that of his senior quarterback.

SPONSORED HEADLINES