Big 12: Kansas State Wildcats

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
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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
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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
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A solid glimpse at what Big 12 media days felt like on Monday.

Big 12 media days live: Day 2

July, 22, 2014
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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.
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Jake Trotter and Max Olson discuss Big 12 media days Day 1.

Big 12 recruiting scorecard

July, 21, 2014
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The Big 12's head coaches are in Dallas today for Big 12 media days, but that doesn't mean they aren't busy as usual recruiting like crazy. The latest on each Big 12 program's recruiting efforts:

BAYLOR
Total commits: 10
ESPN 300 commits: 3
The latest: The Bears are capitalizing on their 2013 success in a big way for the future: Baylor might have the nation's top 2016 recruiting class at this point with six verbal pledges. Baylor landed one of its most impressive victories in a long time Friday when offensive tackle Patrick Hudson, a top-20 prospect for 2016, flipped to BU after being committed to Texas A&M for nearly four months. But that's not all. Art Briles and his staff also landed receiver Tren'Davian Dickson and local defensive back Eric Cuffee this weekend and locked up a big-time talent last week in ESPN Junior 300 running back Kameron Martin.

IOWA STATE
Total commits: 6
ESPN 300 commits: 0
The latest: We mentioned him in last week's Big 12 scorecard, and the big week is finally here. Running back Devine Ozigbo is set to announce his commitment on Tuesday at 2 p.m., and trimmed his list of 20 offense down to three: Iowa, Iowa State and Boise State. The three-star back is a top-100 recruit in the state of Texas and would be an important get for the Cyclones who could play right away for them.

KANSAS
Total commits: 11
ESPN 300 commits: 0
The latest: When you're able to get a player as talented as receiver Kevin Thomas on campus, you've got to lock him up. The Jayhawks did just that last week, securing a commitment from the three-star wideout from Texas powerhouse DeSoto High School, during his unofficial visit. Thomas chose KU over offers from the likes of Wisconsin, Nebraska and Clemson and is now KU's highest-rated pledge.

KANSAS STATE
Total commits: 8
ESPN 300 commits: 0
The latest: The Wildcat's newest commitment came from three-star defensive end Josh Little of Oklahoma City Millwood. The 6-foot-4, 230-pound lineman picked KSU over a handful of offers, including from Arizona State, Purdue, Washington State and Iowa State. Little hails from the same high school that produced All-Big 12 receiver Tyler Lockett and racked up 76 tackles and five sacks as a junior.

OKLAHOMA
Total commits: 7
ESPN 300 commits: 5
The latest: Former Sooners commit defensive tackle Du'Vonta Lampkin has set a decision date for Sept. 15, and he still has OU in his final three. The three-star recruit from Houston Cypress Falls is down to OU, Texas and LSU. While Texas is currently in the lead, Lampkin is planning to give the Sooners one last chance to sway him with his official visit for the Sept. 13 game against Tennessee.

OKLAHOMA STATE
Total commits: 8
ESPN 300 commits: 3
The latest: Three-star offensive tackle Joshua Jones released his top five this weekend and Oklahoma State made the list along with TCU, Texas Tech, Purdue and Wake Forest. The big 6-foot-6, 271-pound lineman hails from Bush High School in the Houston area, and it wouldn't be a surprise if this comes down to an OSU-TCU battle.

TCU
Total commits: 16
ESPN 300 commits: 0
The latest: TCU landed its first verbal commit for the class of 2016, from defensive end Jonathan Marshall, during its final summer camp. The Shepherd, Texas, standout is 6-foot-3 and 256 pounds and had early offers from Oklahoma State and North Texas. It's possible another commitment could come Monday from three-star DeSoto (Texas) defensive tackle Bryce English, a former Texas commit who is set to choose between TCU, Arkansas, Arizona State and UCLA.

TEXAS
Total commits: 11
ESPN 300 commits: 5
The latest: Texas did not land any new commitments off its inaugural "Under The Lights" camp on Friday, but ESPN Junior 300 offensive tackle J.P. Urquidez came close to announcing a decision Saturday and has Texas and Baylor at the top of his list. The Longhorns also hosted a critical unofficial visit from four-star QB Kai Locksley and his father, Maryland offensive coordinator Mike Locksley. He's set to make a commitment to either UT, Florida State or Maryland during his season opener.

TEXAS TECH
Total commits: 7
ESPN 300 commits: 2
The latest: The Red Raiders got a big opportunity recently to ensure one of their top commits stays in the fold. Three-star running back Corey Dauphine, who has long been rumored to be considering a flip to Texas A&M or Baylor, took an unofficial visit to Lubbock and went home saying he felt 100-percent solid with his commitment. Dauphine could still take a trip to A&M in early August, but this was a big step in the right direction for Tech's chances.

WEST VIRGINIA
Total commits: 14
ESPN 300 commits: 2
The latest: WVU's newest pledge should be a familiar name: Three-star QB David Sills. As a 13-year-old, he made a (very) early commitment to USC and then-coach Lane Kiffin. He went back on the market this year -- he didn't have much of a relationship with Steve Sarkisian -- and the Mountaineers won out for the standout from Eastern Christian Academy in Maryland. Stills is up to 6-foot-3 and 190 pounds and should be a fairly polished passer when he arrives in Morgantown after years of training with famed QB coach Steve Clarkson.

Big 12 lunchtime links

July, 21, 2014
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Shouldn't NCAA 15 be out by now? Oh, wait...
Our series of preseason picks for every single Big 12 game of 2014 continues today with Week 11. Oklahoma and Baylor, the preseason favorites in the Big 12, face off at Oklahoma Memorial Stadium in one of the season's most anticipated games.

More Big 12 predictions for 2014.

at Kansas 35, Iowa State 34: One of the most entertaining games of the season goes largely unnoticed as the Jayhawks and Cyclones offenses go back-and-forth in the fourth quarter. A late Montell Cozart touchdown run followed by an interception by Ben Heeney cements the win for KU.

Kansas State 23, at TCU 20: Bill Snyder’s squad uses a Tyler Lockett kickoff return for a touchdown and a late TCU turnover to grab the road win over the Horned Frogs and further cement its place among Big 12 title contenders. Neither offense is stellar but K-State makes key plays and key conversions when they need them while TCU’s offense fails in those key moments, ultimately providing the difference as K-State improves to 5-1 in the Big 12.

at Texas 31, West Virginia 21: With UT treading water at .500 in Big 12 play, the Longhorns take on an “us against the world” mentality and begin what they hope will be late-season rally, starting with a home win over the Mountaineers. Longhorn running back Johnathan Gray finishes with 150 yards and two scores as WVU’s defense doesn’t have an answer for the Longhorns running game.

at Oklahoma 35, Baylor 24: The Sooners defense is stellar against Baylor’s offense, limiting the Bears to three touchdowns while forcing two turnovers that set up a pair of Sooners scores. OU's Trevor Knight outduels BU's Bryce Petty, throwing for two touchdowns and zero interceptions while Petty’s two touchdown tosses are offset by an interception and fumble. And four different OU defenders record sacks as OU harasses Petty into one of his worst games of the year. Ultimately, the hostile road environment at Oklahoma Memorial Stadium is too much for Art Briles' group to overcome as the Sooners cement themselves in the driver's seat in the Big 12 title race.

Current Big 12 standings

1. Oklahoma -- 8-1, 5-1
2. Kansas State -- 7-2, 5-1
3. Baylor -- 7-2, 4-2
4. Texas -- 6-4, 4-3
5. TCU -- 6-3, 3-3
6. Texas Tech -- 6-3, 3-3
7. Oklahoma State -- 5-4, 3-3
8. West Virginia -- 4-6, 3-3
9. Kansas -- 3-6, 1-5
10. Iowa State -- 2-7, 0-6
Our series of preseason picks for every single Big 12 game of 2014 continues today with Week 10, a week that will likely be remembered for battles between teams in the middle of the pack.

More Big 12 predictions for 2014.

at Kansas State 38, Oklahoma State 31, OT: It's not a marquee matchup, but this goes down as one of the better Big 12 games of the season. Kansas State gets a stop on the first possession of overtime, then Tyler Lockett goes for the kill with the 25-yard walk-off touchdown. Back-to-back wins over Texas and OSU have the Powercats back on track.

Texas 40, at Texas Tech 21: The Longhorns notch their sixth consecutive victory over Texas Tech thanks to some wizardry from Daje Johnson, who contributes a rushing touchdown, a receiving touchdown and a bunch of TTU missed tackles in a bounce-back performance. Davis Webb is sharp early on, but has no run game to lean on.

at Baylor 63, Kansas 10: Poor Kansas. Nobody wants to play the angry Bears on this week, after their loss to West Virginia and a bye to recover. Bryce Petty gets the Heisman Trophy campaign back on track with five touchdown passes and three Baylor running backs find the end zone.

at West Virginia 27, TCU 24: The Horned Frogs' fourth-quarter rally comes up just short against the tag team of Rushel Shell and Dreamius Smith, who run wild behind an underrated WVU offensive line and give TCU's linebackers lots of trouble. Dana Holgorsen gets a Red Bull bath as celebration for knocking off the one-loss Frogs.

Oklahoma 45, at Iowa State 13: The Sooners are rolling again and Trevor Knight is growing more confident. Having the powerful Keith Ford (two rushing touchdowns) and the lightning-quick Joe Mixon (65-yard TD run) at his disposal certainly helps. For ISU, there's at least hope on the horizon with a trip to Kansas next on the schedule.

Current Big 12 standings

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

Ranking Big 12 games: Part V

July, 18, 2014
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This week, we’ve ranked the Big 12 games, both in and out of conference, from Nos. 75 to 16.

Today we wrap up this series with the top 15 games:

No. 15: Kansas State at Oklahoma (Oct. 18): K-State toppled the Sooners in its previous trip to Norman. Oklahoma had best cover Tyler Lockett better than it did last season (278 receiving yards, three touchdowns) to avoid a similar result.

No. 14. West Virginia vs. Alabama in Atlanta (Aug. 30): A strong showing against the nation's preeminent program would bode well for coach Dana Holgorsen’s future in Morgantown.

No. 13. Oklahoma State vs. Florida State in Arlington, Texas (Aug. 30): Even if they don’t beat the defending national champs, a resilient performance would be a good sign for the young Cowboys for the rest of the season.

No. 12. Texas at Texas Tech (Nov. 1): The Red Raiders haven’t defeated Texas since Michael Crabtree’s catch in 2008. This could be a prime chance to end that streak and finally get off to a good start in November.

No. 11. Kansas State at Baylor (Dec. 6): K-State watched its national championship hopes vanish with emphasis in Waco, Texas, two years ago. The situations could be reversed this time around, but the Wildcats hope they’ll go into this regular-season finale with more on the line than the role of spoiler.

No. 10. Baylor vs. Texas Tech in Arlington, Texas (Nov. 29): In their past four meetings, these two sides have averaged more than 96 total points per game. This game has shootout written all over it, especially with Davis Webb and Bryce Petty at quarterback.

No. 9. Oklahoma at TCU (Oct. 4): The league’s two best defenses will be on full display here. The Horned Frogs have played tough against the Sooners in the past two years but have come up empty in the fourth quarter.

No. 8. Oklahoma at Texas Tech (Nov. 15): Texas Tech has traditionally struggled in November, but Oklahoma has traditionally struggled in Lubbock, having lost three out of four games there. Something will have to give.

No. 7. Texas vs. UCLA in Arlington, Texas (Sept. 13): The BYU game will be Texas coach Charlie Strong’s first test. But this will be his debut on the national stage. This is a huge game in setting the tone for the Strong era and for this season, with Big 12 co-favorites Baylor and Oklahoma looming early on Texas’ schedule.

No. 6. TCU at Baylor (Oct. 11): These sides clearly care little for one another, underscored last season by Ahmad Dixon’s targeting ejection followed by Gary Patterson’s postgame rant. The Big 12 needs to regenerate rivalry games after conference realignment destroyed many of them. This one has potential.

No. 5. Baylor at Texas (Oct. 4): Texas linebacker Steve Edmond pumped more acrimony into this game by calling Baylor “trash” in the spring. The high-powered Bears will be eager to trash Texas in its own stadium.

No. 4. Auburn at Kansas State (Sept. 18): The Big 12 has several chances to land a marquee non-conference win, and this might be its best shot at such a victory. The Little Apple will be uncontainable for this Thursday night showdown. Hopefully for the Wildcats, Tyler Lockett will be, too.

No. 3. Oklahoma State at Oklahoma (Dec. 6): The Cowboys might be down, and the Sooners might be up, but the Bedlam series always delivers in the drama department. Oklahoma State took Oklahoma to overtime in its previous trip to Norman and was in control until its fourth-quarter lead evaporated.

No. 2. Texas vs. Oklahoma in Dallas (Oct. 11): The coach at either school has been defined by how he fares against his Red River counterpart. Just ask Blair Cherry, who went 9-2 in 1950 but was chased out of Austin after losing three in a row to Bud Wilkinson. Charlie Strong will be much better off if he fares better against the Sooners than Cherry or Mack Brown did.

No. 1. Baylor at Oklahoma (Nov. 8): This is the one most likely to decide the Big 12 title. The Bears may have defeated Oklahoma by 29 points last year, but they have never won in Norman. On the other side, this could be Oklahoma’s biggest conference bout since 2008, when Texas Tech visited and was ranked second in the polls.
Our series of preseason picks for every single Big 12 game of 2014 continues today with Week 9. Just three games in the Big 12 this week but all three games should breed plenty of interest and intrigue.

More Big 12 predictions for 2014.

Oklahoma State 42, West Virginia 38: The Cowboys gain a measure of revenge with a win over a Mountaineer program that upset OSU in 2013. OSU’s offense gets on a roll in the second quarter, scoring three consecutive touchdowns to give the Pokes a double-digit lead. The Mountaineers rally within a touchdown in the fourth quarter, but a Kevin Peterson interception seals the deal for OSU.

TCU 30, Texas Tech 17: The classic offense vs. defense matchup ends with TCU’s defense rising to the occasion and slowing Tech quarterback Davis Webb as well as any team does in 2014. TCU defensive end Devonte Fields becomes the clear favorite for Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year with another strong performance and the Horned Frogs secondary wins the battle against Tech’s receivers.

Kansas State 28, Texas 20: KSU receiver Tyler Lockett rises to the occasion, much like he did so often in 2013, with more than 150 receiving yards and two touchdowns to be the difference against UT. Meanwhile, the Longhorns struggle to get big plays from Daje Johnson or any other offensive threat as questions about the direction of the program run rampant deep into Charlie Strong's first season.

Current Big 12 standings

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

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