Big 12: Oklahoma Sooners

The initial response to the preseason poll tells the tale.

Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty, receiver Antwan Goodley, linebacker Bryce Hager and defensive end Shawn Oakman weren’t exactly thrilled to see Oklahoma atop the Big 12 preseason poll with the Bears sitting at No. 2.

Oakman: “Same ol, same ol.”

Goodley: “I couldn’t believe it.”

Petty: “Let’s go, that’s all I can say.”

Hager: “Just another thing to motivate us.”

These are the same players that handed the Sooners a 41-12 defeat in Waco, Texas a year ago, making their displeasure very easy to understand.

“We beat them last season and won the Big 12,” Hager said. “So that is just another motivation heading into this season.”

All four players took it as a sign they still have work to do, both on the field and off the field.

“That’s not up to us to vote, it’s up to us to play,” Petty said. “That tells us that we’re not there yet, and that’s fine with me. I don’t think you’re ever there. Once you think you’ve arrived, that’s when you're in trouble.”

The Sooners, with their Allstate Sugar Bowl win over Alabama, carried more momentum into the offseason while the Bears stumbled into the offseason after a Tostitos Fiesta Bowl loss to Central Florida. OU’s win helped cement Bob Stoops program in the national spotlight during the offseason while Baylor got overshadowed.

“They deserve it, they beat a good football team on a big stage,” Goodley said. “We have no control over that. I guess we still have a lot to prove, we still don’t get the respect we deserve, but we haven’t been at the top that long. I feel like we’re going to get there though.”

Even with the feeling of disrespect helping the spur them into the preseason, the Bears understand their 2013 accomplishments mean nothing. Art Briles squad outscored opponents by 375 total points a year ago but those points don’t carry over into 2014, so this season’s team will still has plenty to prove. It’s part of the reason the Bears still consider themselves the hunter instead of the hunted despite entering the fall as the defending Big 12 champions.

“At Baylor we’ve been fighting for respect,” Oakman said. “One day we’re going to get it, but not today.”

Big 12 lunchtime links

July, 29, 2014
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Big 12 coaches read mean (well, more awkward than mean) tweets.
  • Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon met with police investigators on Monday, The Oklahoman's Jason Kersey reports. His attorney claims Mixon did nothing wrong regarding assault allegations of a female student from last week.
  • Texas Tech added a transfer QB from Iowa to shore up its depth.
  • Seafood po’boys, barbecue sandwiches and various deep-fried and bacon-wrapped concoctions are among the concession items that will be available at Baylor's McLane Stadium.
  • Athlon released its Big 12 breakout players for 2014.
  • Defensive tackle Du'Vonta Lampkin, a former Sooners pledge, committed to Texas, which has been picking up its recruiting momentum in July.
  • The Jayhawks are shrugging off negativity, writes KUSports.com's Benton Smith.
  • The little brother of West Virginia running backs coach running backs coach JaJuan Seider will be joining him in Morgantown.
  • Iowa State picked up a commitment from a Kansas linebacker.
  • There are plenty of questions about the Cyclones defensive line, writes the Ames Tribune's Bobby La Gesse.
  • The Oklahoman's Kyle Fredrickson did a Q&A with Oklahoma State receivers coach Jason Ray.

 
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The new ESPN 300 features 22 players currently committed to Big 12 programs. Texas leads the conference race with seven commits, while Oklahoma is next with five. Texas Tech has the conference’s highest-ranked ESPN 300 player in quarterback Jarrett Stidham, who is ranked No. 38 and is the No. 3 dual-threat quarterback in the country.

Here are five things to know in the Big 12:

ESPN.com has taken on the monumental task of ranking the top 100 players in college football going into the 2014 season. The rankings were done based on the expected contributions of each player for the 2014 season, regardless of position.

The list will be released in 20-player increments, beginning today with the Nos. 100-81.

Make sure to track the rankings all week long, as there will be Big 12 players in all five parts.

Also, keep in mind this national list, which was compiled by the entire ESPN.com college football team, won’t necessarily line up with our Top 25 ranking of Big 12 players, which was compiled exclusively by the Brandon, Max and myself.

Without further ado, here are the Big 12 players that made the first installment:

No. 81: Oklahoma QB Trevor Knight

No. 90: Texas DT Malcom Brown

No. 91: Baylor OT Spencer Drango

No. 96: Texas RB Johnathan Gray

All four players here have the upside to rise up these rankings. But two have consistency questions, and the other two have health questions.

Knight has only started and finished three games in his career, and struggled with his passing accuracy at times early in the season. But he flashed immense potential in the Sugar Bowl, shredding Alabama with 348 passing yards and four touchdowns in the biggest upset of the bowl season. If he plays consistently near that level this season, not only will the Sooners challenge for inclusion the College Football Playoff, but Knight could become a darkhorse Heisman Trophy contender.

Brown also has the ability to dominate. He was rated the second-best defensive tackle coming out of high school, and began realizing his recruiting pedigree last season. If he can produce more big plays, he could be one of the best defensive tackles in the country.

Drango and Gray also have the ability to finish the season higher than they start here. The key is staying healthy.

When 100 percent, Drango is one of the best pass-protecting left tackles in the country. The stats prove it, too. With Drango manning left tackle, Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty was sacked just eight times through the Bears’ first nine games. After Drango suffered a season-ending back injury, Petty was sacked nine times in the Bears’ last four games. Two of which they lost. Drango should be ready to go for this season, which is good news for Baylor and for Petty.

Gray was on his way to an All-Big 12 campaign last year when he suffered a season-ending Achilles injury in early November. He was recently cleared for preseason camp. When healthy, Gray is one of the best power-speed combination rushers in college football.

The respective ranks could be debated, but I can’t argue against any of the four making the top 100.

A few Big 12 players just missed the cut for the top 100. Kansas State defensive end Ryan Mueller, Kansas State center B.J. Finney, Oklahoma defensive end Charles Tapper, Texas running back Malcolm Brown, Oklahoma linebacker Dominique Alexander and Baylor running back Shock Linwood.

In my opinion, Mueller, Finney and Tapper have the biggest gripes. Mueller was eighth in the country last year in sacks. Finney is a two-time first-team All-Big 12 selection. And Tapper was the only defensive underclassman to get named All-Big 12 team in 2013.

Coming Tuesday: Nos. 80-61.

Big 12 recruiting scorecard

July, 28, 2014
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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
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Who are the top 100 players in college football? We attempted to answer that question.

Video: 3 questions around the Big 12

July, 28, 2014
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video
Brandon Chatmon discusses three burning questions around the Big 12 as players are set to report for preseason camp.
Friday, Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin fired back at Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops, who mocked the Aggies’ nonconference schedule while at the ESPN car wash this past week.

"They have Lamar, Rice, SMU and Louisiana-Monroe," Stoops said. "Boy, those are all a bunch of toughies, right?”

According to AggieSports.com, Sumlin was asked about Stoops’ comments at a fan event in Houston:

Behind Heisman winner Johnny Manziel, the Aggies hammered the Sooners in the 2012 Cotton Bowl 41-13. Sumlin actually coached under Stoops at Oklahoma until 2008.

During his Houston appearance, Sumlin also had this to say:

It’s unclear if that was a veiled jab at the Longhorns. But this week, Texas coach Charlie Strong did dismiss six players from his team. Of course, Sumlin could have been exclusively referencing his own program. Seven Aggies players have been arrested since December.
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
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It's been a busy week at ESPN but Big 12 coaches aren't the only ones who made a visit to Bristol.
In today's Big 12 blog, we discuss Trevor Knight, Devonte Fields and Iowa State Cyclones scheduling.

Click here to submit an entry for a future mailbag.

Now, on to the 'bag:

Will in Houston: Do ya'll think defensive coaches can succeed in the Big 12? Gary Patterson so far has not, which makes me a little nervous about Charlie Strong.

Trotter: Bob Stoops is a defensive coach, and he's done just fine in the Big 12.

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Alex in Searcy, Arkansas writes: How well do you think Oklahoma would do if Trevor Knight went down with an injury for any length of time? Who do you think could step up and replace him in a leadership role if this were to happen?

Trotter: With Blake Bell having moved to tight end full time, this scenario would present a huge dilemma for the Oklahoma Sooners. That is, assuming Baker Mayfield's petition for eligibility with the NCAA falls through. Mayfield, the reigning Big 12 Offensive Freshman of the Year, would be an excellent backup option for the Sooners. But if he's out until 2015, Oklahoma would have to roll the dice with either Cody Thomas or Justice Hansen, neither one of which looked ready yet for the big time during the spring. That's why Stoops said this week Knight had better be sliding a bunch this season. Right now, they can't afford to lose him.

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Ryan in Crystal Lake, Illinois writes: I realize every year they play Iowa. But I was wondering why Iowa State does not also schedule non-conference opponents from the SEC or Pac-12.

Trotter: The baseline goal for Iowa State every year is to get bowl eligible. That goal would be that much more difficult with an SEC or Pac-12 team on the schedule. The Cyclones already play the Iowa Hawkeyes, which went 8-5 last year. That's plenty. Nobody in the Big 12 has more than one Power Five conference opponent on its non-conference slate, except for the West Virginia Mountaineers.

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Christopher Edwards in North Carolina writes: What are the chances that Joe Mixon jumps Alex Ross for the No. 2 spot on Oklahoma's running back depth chart?

Trotter: Based on what I've heard, I don't think it's unthinkable that Mixon eventually jumps everyone into the starting lineup.

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Harry in Austin, Texas, writes: Is TCU on a string of bad setbacks or does Gary Patterson have a discipline problem? First the drug busts, then Casey Pachall, now Devonte Fields. These offseasons have not been good to the Frogs.

Trotter: The TCU Horned Frogs certainly have had some discipline issues since joining the Big 12. But the Horned Frogs are hardly alone. Several other schools in the Big 12 have been in the news for ugly off-the-field incidents. Too many to even list here. It really hasn't been a great offseason overall for the league. And, it's been another bad one for TCU.

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Bob Budiselic in Carlsbad, California writes: I was really hoping that Texas and Oklahoma were going to move to the Pac-12. Do you think that this might happen in the future, and bring Tech and OSU?

Trotter: When it comes to conference realignment, never say never. But that ship has sailed for the foreseeable future.

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Nicholas in Houston writes: Say Tech or TCU wins the conference this season. That would be four straight championships by teams not considered traditional powerhouses. What would that mean for the Big 12's national perception? Would it be a positive because it would show the league is deep? Or, would it be a negative because it would appear that the major powers are on the decline?

Trotter: Tech or TCU winning the Big 12 in a vacuum wouldn't be a negative for the league. But the Big 12 is always going to be perceived as being stronger when Texas and Oklahoma are strong, too. The same goes for Ohio State and Michigan in the Big Ten, USC and Oregon in the Pac-12, Florida State, Miami and Clemson in the ACC and Alabama, Florida and LSU in the SEC. Right or wrong, perception is reality in college football, and conferences are perceived to be better when their traditional powers are winning.

Big 12 lunchtime links

July, 24, 2014
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Texas coach Charlie Strong spent some time with the Numbers Never Lie crew on Wednesday.

Big 12 media days takeaways

July, 23, 2014
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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.
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.


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