Big 12: Oklahoma State Cowboys

Here’s what we learned about the Big 12 in Week 9:

[+] EnlargeTrevone Boykin
AP Photo/Tony GutierrezTrevone Boykin's record-setting day possibly helped propel the TCU quarterback into the Heisman race.
1. Boykin is a Heisman contender: It’s time for people to start taking Trevone Boykin’s Heisman candidacy seriously. The TCU quarterback threw for 433 yards and tossed a school-record seven touchdowns in the Horned Frogs’ 82-27 demolition of Texas Tech. TCU’s 82 points were a school record, and a Big 12 record for points in a conference game. The 82 points were also the most scored on an FBS team since 2010. Boykin, who ended last season as a wide receiver, has made a remarkable turnaround as a quarterback this year under first-year Horned Frogs coordinators Doug Meacham and Sonny Cumbie. Boykin now has 21 touchdown passes, leading a TCU offense that has been as lethal as any in the country this season. The Horned Frogs remain in the thick of the playoff conversation and the Big 12 title race. Boykin is the biggest reason why. And for that reason, he should begin to receive Heisman consideration.

2. The Oklahoma State offense is a train wreck: While the TCU offense has been a revelation, the Oklahoma State offense has been a total disaster. After a 34-10 home loss to West Virginia, the Cowboys have now gone 10 quarters with just one offensive touchdown. Oklahoma State did absolutely nothing in the second half offensively against West Virginia, capped by a pick-six interception in the fourth quarter that iced the victory for the Mountaineers. Once again, the Cowboys' offensive line couldn’t protect quarterback Daxx Garman or open holes for Desmond Roland or Tyreek Hill. And Garman was miserably inaccurate in the second half, overthrowing receivers pass after pass. This is shaping up to be Mike Gundy’s worst offense since his first season as coach in 2005. Oklahoma State’s past 40 drives have resulted in 20 punts, nine turnovers, six field goals, three touchdowns and two missed field goals. With No. 11 Kansas State, No. 12 Baylor and No. 17 Oklahoma -- all on the road -- still left on the schedule, there’s little end in sight, too. If the Cowboys don’t knock off Texas at home on Nov. 15, they could miss out on a bowl for the first time since that 2005 season.

3. The Texas offense still has a long way to go, too: After a rough start to the season, the Longhorns seemed to be turning a corner offensively. Texas moved the ball well on Oklahoma, then scored 48 points in a win over Iowa State. But in the 23-0 loss to Kansas State on Saturday, the Wildcats handed the Longhorns their first shutout in 10 years while exposing multiple deficiencies. The Wildcats took away the deep ball and stuffed Texas’ run game, forcing QB Tyrone Swoopes to try to move the chains with an intermediate passing game. In response, neither Swoopes nor the Longhorns could sustain a drive. Texas finished with just 196 yards of offense, and in 17 snaps on K-State’s side of the field, gained only 18 yards. Swoopes has shown promise in recent weeks, but he still has a long way to go. So does the rest of the Texas offense.

4. K-State can win in multiple ways: Last week in a 31-30 victory over Oklahoma, the Wildcats won with an efficient effort from quarterback Jake Waters. Saturday, with Waters nursing a sore shoulder, the Wildcats won with a dominating performance from their defense. Ryan Mueller and Jonathan Truman controlled the line of scrimmage, while Dante Barnett and Randall Evans batted away Swoopes’ passing attempts down the middle of the field. The Wildcats have proven they can win semi-shootouts slinging the ball with Waters and receivers Tyler Lockett and Curry Sexton. Against Texas, they showed they can win by flattening the opposing offense. That balance is why K-State has surged into a the Big 12 title mix. And why the Wildcats remain in playoff contention.

5. West Virginia is going bowling: Before the season West Virginia athletic director Oliver Luck wouldn’t commit to stipulating that the Mountaineers had to make a bowl for this season to be considered a success. The schedule was brutal. And the Mountaineers had shown very little in two seasons in the Big 12. Luck just wanted to see improvement. Well, Luck has gotten that improvement. And Saturday, the Mountaineers became bowl eligible, too, with a convincing victory at Oklahoma State. But after four straight victories, including two straight on the road for the first time since joining the Big 12, West Virginia can set its sights higher. With TCU visiting Morgantown next weekend, the Mountaineers have a chance to take a major leap forward in the Big 12 title race. This has already been an amazing year for West Virginia, which came into the season with little outside expectations. Now, it has a chance to get even better.

Big 12 viewer's guide: Week 9

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In Week 9 of Big 12 action, Kansas State and TCU will attempt to keep their playoff hopes alive, while Texas and Texas Tech will try to take a step on the road toward bowl eligibility. West Virginia, meanwhile, will look to keep rolling at Oklahoma State, which hopes to bounce back after getting blown out last week.

Those, among others, will be the storylines to watch Saturday in the Big 12:

Texas at No. 11 Kansas State, noon ET (ESPN): If the numbers are any indication, Texas won’t get anything easy in this game. Kansas State has allowed only 19 plays of 20 yards or more, which is the fewest given up by any Big 12 defense. The Longhorns have been better offensively the last two weeks. Still, only Kansas and Iowa State have produced fewer 20-yard-plus plays in the Big 12 than the Longhorns. Running backs Johnathan Gray and Malcolm Brown have also had problems breaking loose from the line of scrimmage. According to ESPN Stats & Information, Texas is averaging 1.4 yards after contact on designed runs, the worst average among Power 5 offenses. The Longhorns will have to be better on the ground to have a chance of pulling the upset in Manhattan, Kansas.

[+] EnlargeClint Trickett
AP Photo/Chris JacksonClint Trickett has thrown 15 touchdown passes and only five interceptions this season.
No. 22 West Virginia at Oklahoma State, 3:30 p.m. ET (ESPN): How much better has West Virginia QB Clint Trickett been this year? He has improved his Total QBR by 29 points from last season, the third-largest increase among Power 5 QBs, according to ESPN Stats & Information. One reason for the dramatic improvement has been the long ball. Trickett has already thrown eight touchdowns on passes of 20 yards or more, tied for third among Power 5 QBs. He had just one such touchdown pass all of last season. Kevin White, the nation’s leading receiver, has been on the other end of the majority of Trickett’s long throws. White tops the country with 16 receptions of 20 yards or more. Oklahoma State, meanwhile, has been even more reliant on throwing deep. Daxx Garman has 35 completions on passes thrown 15 yards or longer, tied for the most by a Power 5 QB. One thing is certain in this game: The ball will be flying downfield often.

Texas Tech at No. 10 TCU, 3:30 p.m. ET (FOX): Trickett isn’t the only Big 12 QB who has been a completely different player this year. Trevone Boykin’s Total QBR is up 28.7 points from last season, the fifth-largest increase in college football, per ESPN Stats & Information. Thanks in big part to Boykin’s turnaround, the Horned Frogs have featured one of the best big-play offenses in the country. TCU has 13 touchdown drives of three plays or fewer, tied for the most such drives in the country, according to ESPN Stats & Information. Boykin & Co. could add to that total this weekend. Texas Tech's defensive efficiency is the worst among Power 5 teams. Opponents have scored a touchdown on 36 percent of their drives against Tech, the worst percentage of any Power 5 defense. The Red Raiders will probably need their best defensive effort of the year to have any shot at toppling the surging Horned Frogs.

Big 12's top recruiting visits 

October, 24, 2014
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It’s a relatively slow week in the Big 12, but “slow” doesn’t mean “nonexistent” when it comes to big conference matchups. TCU, Kansas State and Oklahoma State all host major games, and all three games will have potential commits in attendance. Check out some of the names and where they will be where this weekend:

Texas Tech at TCU

The Horned Frogs may be the hottest team in the Big 12, and they have a chance to impress a couple of top-ranked recruits who will be on campus this weekend. ESPN 300 receiver Carlos Strickland is a primary target for the Horned Frogs, and he is expected to take his official visit. Strickland, at 6-foot-5 and 200 pounds, can be a major get for an offense gaining more and more national respect each week. ESPN Junior 300 cornerback Jared Mayden also will be in Fort Worth this weekend. Mayden is one of the top-ranked cornerbacks in the 2016 class, and he would fit in well in TCU’s always-respected defense.

Big 12 players in Week 9 spotlight

October, 23, 2014
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Our weekly effort to predict which Big 12 players are primed for a breakout performance had a few good calls last week: Ben Heeney was a monster and Jake Waters led Kansas State to an upset of Oklahoma. But we can always do better, can't we? Here's a closer look at six players who have a chance to shine in Week 10.

TCU CB Kevin White: Next week, we get the long-awaited rematch of Kevin White vs. Kevin White. This week, the TCU one gets another chance to prove he's one of the league's best corners. He snagged an interceptions last week against Oklahoma State and will have to bring his best against a Texas Tech receiving corps that's probably underrated at this point.

Kansas State FB Glenn Gronkowski: Just when you forget about him, that's when he burns you. The youngest Gronk brother is averaging 31.8 yards per reception and is so deadly in the Wildcats' delayed pop passes. Texas will be on alert after Gronkowski's 67-yard touchdown last week, but he's still going to get chances if Texas' inexperienced safeties make mistakes.

[+] EnlargeJaxon Shipley
Stacy Revere/Getty ImagesJaxon Shipley has a chance to break his touchdown drought this week.
Texas WR Jaxon Shipley: The secret is out on John Harris. Texas' senior go-to receiver is going to start drawing extra attention from opposing defenses. Shipley caught the huge 39-yarder against Iowa State last week to set up the win, but he's yet to catch a touchdown this season. He'll get a chance to snap that shutout this week.

West Virginia DE Shaquille Riddick: After putting up the most sacks by a WVU defender in three years, what does Riddick have to offer for a follow-up? He was terrific as a pass-rusher against Baylor, and now he gets to take on an Oklahoma State offensive line that's playing like one of the conference's worst.

Texas Tech QB Davis Webb: He doesn't have to outduel Trevone Boykin to pull off an upset against TCU. But Webb does have to avoid turnovers and he needs to capitalize every time the Red Raiders manage to cross midfield. It's probably going to take a lot of points to take down the top-10 ranked Frogs. Can Webb make this a back-and-forth, four-quarter fight?

Oklahoma State DT James Castleman: If you missed his interception against TCU last week, it was a beauty. Right place, right time, impossible catch. The Cowboys need a lot more of that luck this weekend. Castleman and this OSU defensive line need to get after Clint Trickett and throw off the pace and timing of West Virginia's dangerous offense.
Two teams that appear headed in different directions will face off at Boone Pickens Stadium in Stillwater, Oklahoma, on Saturday.

After a win over Baylor, West Virginia is setting itself up for a Big 12 title run while Oklahoma State is licking its wounds after TCU dominated Mike Gundy's squad, 41-9, in Fort Worth, Texas, last weekend. OSU will be looking to avenge last year's 31-20 loss to the Mountaineers while cementing a spot in the top half of the conference. WVU will be looking to extend its win streak to four games while putting itself in prime position to win its first Big 12 title.

Jake Trotter and Brandon Chatmon break down the matchup.

How West Virginia can control the game: The Mountaineers can wear down Oklahoma State's young defense with their methodically efficient passing attack. Clint Trickett leads the Big 12 in completion percentage, and West Virginia leads the conference in yards after the catch. If the Mountaineers can get the chains moving, the Cowboys will be hard pressed to keep up on the other side. Daxx Garman has been sacked more than any other quarterback in the league. And because of his paltry 55.4 completion percentage rate, Oklahoma State has only 67 passing first downs (West Virginia has 105). If the Mountaineers can get to Garman and Trickett can keep reeling off first-down completions, they should be in control. -- Trotter

How Oklahoma State can control the game: The Cowboys can control the game with a strong performance from a defensive line that has been one of the most active units during Mike Gundy’s tenure. Defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah sits atop the Big 12 in tackles for loss (11.5) and is second in sacks (7). If OSU’s defensive front can harass Trickett -- who has eight turnovers in seven games -- into mistakes, it will increase the Cowboys chances significantly. -- Chatmon

West Virginia’s X factor: Defensive end Shaquille Riddick broke out with three sacks and four tackles for loss in the win over Baylor. Riddick, who transferred in from Gardner-Webb, has filled a major role on the West Virginia defense, which ranked next-to-last in the Big 12 in sacks last year. The Cowboys have been woeful protecting the passer this season. If Riddick can break through Baylor’s formidable pass protecting offensive line, he can certainly do the same to Oklahoma State’s. -- Trotter

Oklahoma State’s X factor: The story hasn’t changed much in the past month. The Cowboys' offensive line will ultimately decide if this game is winnable or not. OSU has quality skill position players, particularly at receiver, so if the offensive line can improve and hold up against a West Virginia defense, led by Riddick, that had four sacks against Baylor last week, the Pokes' offensive playmakers could change the game with some big plays. -- Chatmon

What a win would mean for West Virginia: The Mountaineers entered the Big 12 title conversation last week with the victory over Baylor. A win in Stillwater would show West Virginia has staying power in that conversation, and send the Mountaineers back to Morgantown for a massive clash with No. 10 TCU on Nov. 1. -- Trotter

What a win would mean for Oklahoma State: A win would show that the Cowboys plan to remain the the Big 12 title race for the duration after being embarrassed by TCU a week ago. Was that a one-game abberation or a sign the Pokes' youth was starting to catch up with them? A win over West Virginia would go a long way toward showing that Mike Gundy’s squad will be a deciding factor in the Big 12 title race with Kansas State, Oklahoma and Baylor remaining on the schedule. — Chatmon
With Halloween on the horizon it's been a scary early conference schedule for the Big 12's pair of preseason favorites.

Baylor and Oklahoma find themselves looking up at several teams in the conference standings as multiple squads have exceeded expectations. Several Big 12 coaches have done a terrific job this season, making the battle for Big 12 Coach of the Year honors one of the most interesting conversations of the midseason.

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Who is the Big 12 Coach of the Year thus far?

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    2%
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    4%

Discuss (Total votes: 7,443)

It's no surprise for Bill Snyder to elevate his Kansas State team to the top of the Big 12 standings in late October. The Wildcats are the only Big 12 team without a conference loss after KSU's road win over preseason favorite Oklahoma last Saturday. Snyder's team is well-coached yet extremely creative, a combination that has been making other coaching staffs pull out their hair for years.

West Virginia could be the surprise of the conference. The Mountaineers entered the season with the Big 12's toughest schedule but that hasn't deterred Dana Holgorsen's squad. After a loss to OU in its first Big 12 game, WVU has won three straight games including its upset win over Baylor. Holgorsen has done an exceptional job getting quarterback Clint Trickett to excel in his offense while receiver Kevin White is playing like the Biletnikoff Award favorite. Holgorsen was our Big 12 Midseason Coach of the Year and prompting one of the best tweets of the week.

TCU could be an even bigger surprise than WVU, going toe-to-toe with OU and BU and more than holding its own against the preseason favorites. Gary Patterson's decision to change the Horned Frogs offense looks like the best offseason move by any coach as TCU's offense has carried its defense at times this season as opposed to a year ago when the offense's turnovers and miscues put Patterson's defense behind the eight ball time and time again.

Mike Gundy has done an admirable job with Oklahoma State, even though the Cowboys came back to earth after last weekend's 41-9 thrashing at the hands of the Horned Frogs. After losing a roster full of senior standouts from last year's squad, Gundy has his inexperienced team at 5-2 with one conference loss. The Cowboys have yet to play a game that didn't feature glimpses of their youth yet find themselves one game from bowl eligibility before Halloween. The Pokes, picked fifth in the Big 12 preseason poll, probably won't win the Big 12 but they've exceeded preseason projections thus far.

Snyder, Holgorsen, Patterson and Gundy have done admirable jobs but other coaches could stake their claim on Big 12 Coach of the Year honors as well. OU's Bob Stoops and BU's Art Briles have had their teams looking like College Football Playoff contenders at times this season while Texas' Charlie Strong has the Longhorns looking like their best is yet to come heading into the second half of the season and Paul Rhoads' Iowa State squad just keeps getting up no matter how many times it gets knocked to the canvas.

Who do you think has been the Big 12's Coach of the Year thus far? Vote and leave your comment below. Let the debate begin!

Big 12 Week 9 predictions

October, 23, 2014
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Why Kansas State will win: In case you haven't noticed, the Wildcats have been playing good football all season. It took three missed field goals and a pair of untimely turnovers for Auburn to escape Manhattan last month. Behind QB Tyrone Swoopes, the Longhorns have been getting better. And they should be able to hang tough, as they did against Baylor and Oklahoma. But they ultimately won't be able to run the ball well enough or contain dual-threat QB Jake Waters enough to also escape with a win. Kansas State 29, Texas 21 -- Jake Trotter

Why West Virginia will win: The Mountaineers are playing great, physical defense that complements the fireworks of QB Clint Trickett, receiver Kevin White and all of their skill-position talent. Oklahoma State will get its chances -- WVU has a minus-six turnover margin during its three-game win streak -- but its offensive line is in brutal shape and the Pokes showed no resilience in the second half last week at TCU. This just isn't a good time to play the Mountaineers. West Virginia 38, Oklahoma State 17 -- Max Olson

Why TCU will win: The Horned Frogs will simply overwhelm the Red Raiders with an active defense and relentless offense. Tech will have its share of big plays but TCU and quarterback Trevone Boykin should have plenty of big plays of their own against a Red Raiders defense that ranks No. 114 among FBS teams with 36.9 points per game allowed. TCU 49, Texas Tech 31 — Brandon Chatmon

Season records:
  • Trotter: 45-4
  • Chatmon: 43-6
  • Olson: 43-6

Big 12 morning links

October, 23, 2014
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In case you missed it, the Royals took Game 2.
  • Oklahoma State has sued Texas co-offensive coordinator Joe Wickline for breach of contract, alleging he misled his former employer about his new position at Texas, and the school is seeking more than $593,000 in damages. According to the suit filed in an Oklahoma district court on Oct. 17, Oklahoma State’s board of regents asserts that Wickline violated his contractual agreement to pay a buyout fee of $593,487 if he left OSU for an FBS offensive coordinator job that did not include play-calling duties. Wickline filed a countersuit this week and claims that he is indeed calling plays for Texas’ offense, according to an Austin American-Statesman report. This is a bizarre and unfortunate situation. Wickline was such a big part of the success Oklahoma State had in the Mike Gundy era. Now, the two sides are involved in litigation. Texas, by the way, travels to Stillwater on Nov. 15.
  • Kansas State coach Bill Snyder, Oklahoma linebacker Brian Bosworth and Texas running back Ricky Williams are just a few of the Big 12 names that were nominated for the College Football Hall of Fame. I don't know how anyone couldn't vote for those three, and anyone that leaves Snyder off his or her ballot should have it stripped away for life.
  • West Virginia's revamped 3-3-5 scheme is earning praise, writes Stephen J. Nesbitt of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. And deservedly so. The Mountaineers held Baylor’s offense, which was averaging 57.2 points and 623 total yards per game, to just 318 yards in West Virginia’s 41-27 upset victory. Much has rightfully been made of what TCU co-offensive coordinators Doug Meacham and Sonny Cumbie have done at TCU. But West Virginia defensive coordinator Tony Gibson and assistant Tom Bradley have done a phenomenal job turning the Mountaineers into arguably the most improved defense in the Big 12. If West Virginia contends for the Big 12 title, it won't just be because of Clint Trickett and Kevin White. It will be because of that defensive unit, too.
  • Speaking of TCU, the Dallas Morning News' Ryan Gerbosi wonders whether TCU QB Trevone Boykin is a legitimate candidate for the Heisman Trophy. It's a little strange that Boykin hasn't generated more Heisman buzz so far. He's been the pivotal piece in TCU going from having the nation's 106th best offense last year to the seventh-best one this season. With West Virginia and Kansas State coming up back-to-back to start the month of November, Boykin might begin to appear on Heisman straw polls if he can lead the Horned Frogs to a sweep of those two games.
  • While TCU is flying high, Texas Tech is going the opposite way, writes Jimmy Burch of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Exactly one year ago, Tech was 7-0 and ranked No. 10 in the polls. That feels like a long time ago. The Red Raiders have exactly one Big 12 win since then -- over Kansas last weekend. It hasn't been a fluke, either. Of the 33 team categories tracked by Big 12 statisticians, Tech is last in the league in nine of them, according to Burch. That is a bad sign. Of course, the Red Raiders can always turn it around. Just look at what TCU has done.

Big 12 stat check: Week 9

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A closer look at one statistic worth keeping an eye on for each Big 12 team entering Week 9:

Baylor: The problem with penalties is no one-week fluke. Yes, Baylor's 215 penalty yards against West Virginia were the most by any FBS team in the past decade. But the reality is, since 2010, Baylor leads the nation in penalties (8.05 per game), penalty yards (74.6) and offensive penalties (4.12).

Iowa State: E.J. Bibbs is establishing himself as one of the nation's top tight ends this season. After catching two more touchdowns against Texas on Saturday, he now ranks first nationally in TDs (six) and second in receptions (32) among tight ends. He's not putting up Jace Amaro-level numbers, but this year there simply aren't many like Bibbs in the Big 12 or elsewhere.

Kansas: The Jayhawks are showing signs they're going to win a Big 12 game this year. One factor that's helping their cause: stingy goal-line defense. Opponents are scoring touchdowns on just 54.5 percent of their goal-to-go situations. That rate ranks second-best in the Big 12 behind TCU. Kansas has allowed six TDs, forced teams to settle for 12 field goals and recorded one takeaway. For comparison's sake, that's a dozen fewer TDs than Iowa State has given up in those situations.

Kansas State: This one paid off big last week and has continued during Bill Snyder's return to K-State: Since 2009, the Wildcats are No. 1 in the Big 12 at blocking field goals (seven) and extra points (eight). Travis Britz got No. 8 last week on the point-after attempt that would've tied the game against Oklahoma.

Oklahoma: Michael Hunnicutt had a rough day Saturday, but he's still one of the most consistent kickers in Big 12 history. Hunnicutt's 84.5 percent career success rate on field goals ranks No. 3 among kickers in the past decade with more than 70 attempts.

Oklahoma State: Against TCU, the Cowboys had undeniably one of their worst offensive performances of the Mike Gundy era. For only the third time in his tenure, OSU produced zero touchdowns in any phase of the game. The minus-33 scoring margin was OSU's worst since a 56-20 loss to Texas Tech in 2008 and fourth-worst in Gundy's 10 seasons, and the Pokes' 4.03 yards per play ranked fifth-worst.

TCU: The Horned Frogs are now 91-3 under Gary Patterson when they hold a team to 17 points or fewer. After last Saturday's 42-9 win over Oklahoma State, the Frogs have now won their last 10 games against Big 12 teams when achieving that 17-or-under feat defensively.

Texas: Offensive coordinator Shawn Watson's efforts to script the first 15 to 25 plays of a game are paying dividends for quarterback Tyrone Swoopes. He's completing 77 percent of his passes in the first quarter this season, connecting on 40 of 52 attempts for 426 yards and 10.6 yards per completion. That's certainly helping him get into an early rhythm.

Texas Tech: DeAndre Washington is quietly putting together one of the best seasons by a Tech running back in years. He's averaging 5.55 yards per carry (No. 2 in Big 12), 88.8 yards per game (No. 3) and is on pace to become Tech's first 1,000-yard rusher since 1998. Texas Tech is still passing on nearly 63 percent of its snaps, but Washington is making this run game go when he gets his touches.

West Virginia: There are a ton of numbers we can throw around for Kevin White, the nation's leading receiver, but here's an impressive one: If he surpasses 100 receiving yards against Oklahoma State, he'll become just the second FBS receiver in the last decade to start a season with eight straight 100-yard games. The other guy? Another Dana Holgorsen prodigy, Justin Blackmon. He put up 100-plus in every game of his 2010 season.
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The updated ESPN 300 player rankings are now live, and one of the primary Big 12 targets is the newly crowned top-ranked running back.

Soso Jamabo said in September that he was gunning for the No. 1 spot at running back, and after several huge games, Jamabo has earned that spot, bypassing Kentucky running back Damien Harris. The hunter, however, is now the hunted, as Jamabo looks to maintain that spot. He'll have to fight off Harris, Oklahoma State commit Ronald Jones II, fast-rising Chris Warren III -- who jumped from 183 to 102 in the new rankings -- and several others.

Here are five things to know involving Big 12 recruiting:


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Big 12 morning links

October, 22, 2014
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Oh, really?
  • Outside of leading his team to a upset win over Baylor, last Saturday was a tough day for West Virginia quarterback Clint Trickett, reports Bob Cohn of the Pittsburgh Tribune. Trickett's father, Florida State offensive line coach Rick Trickett, missed FSU's game against Notre Dame due to health issues and Clint was dealing with flu-like symptoms. Trickett played his best game in October with 322 passing yards and three touchdowns so it seems the senior quarterback could be well-equipped to handle anything that comes up during the second half of the season.
  • TCU's explosive offense is having a impact on how Gary Patterson calls the Horned Frogs' defense, reports Carlos Mendez of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Patterson said knowing the offense can put up 30 or 40 points results in less urgency to make things happen on the defensive side of the ball. All the positives of the offensive change makes you wonder, why didn't TCU make this change earlier?
  • Jake Waters is proving to be a tough character at Kansas State, writes Ken Corbitt of the Topeka Capital Journal. Waters remained in the game after hurting his shoulder during KSU's 31-30 win over Oklahoma last Saturday. It's been interesting to see Waters evolve in the Wildcat offense since last year when he split time with Daniel Sams. He seems like a type of player who excels when the pressure is on and people are counting on him so it shouldn't be a surprise to see him handle being "the man" for KSU's offense.
  • The NCAA and Oklahoma State jointly announced allegations of wrongdoing by the football program were "fundamentally unfounded" on Tuesday. The NCAA's ruling means the SI saga is in the past and didn't hurt Oklahoma State football, writes Berry Tramel of The Oklahoman. The Cowboys must feel relieved and validated after Tuesday's announcement as the program can now move forward without a cloud over its head.
  • While linebacker Pete Robertson gets the numbers (eight sacks), defensive lineman Branden Jackson has been an impact player for Texas Tech's defense reports Don Williams of the Lubbock Avalanche Journal. Interim defensive coordinator Mike Smith praises Jackson's work in the defensive interior. Robertson has always been a active player for Tech but he's been even more productive this season. Sounds like Jackson could be one reason why.
It's amazing how things can change in a matter of 18 days. Earlier this month we took a look at the Big 12's most efficient offenses based on the points per possession of the top five teams in the conference.

Almost three weeks later, the list has transformed, much like the Big 12 standings. Here's a look at the overall efficiency of all 10 Big 12 offenses, with the help of ESPN Stats & Information, including each team's points per drive during the past three weeks.

T-1. Kansas State -- 3.11 points per possession overall

Key stat: The Wildcats' success on third down has been a key to their efficiency. They convert 50 percent of their third-down conversion attempts.

Last three games: KSU has been even better in recent weeks, averaging 3.53 points per possession in games against UTEP, Texas Tech and Oklahoma as Jake Waters has gotten comfortable in his dual-threat role.

Future outlook: The Wildcats' running game has been solid but not spectacular, but KSU’s efficient offensive numbers should continue with Waters' ability to provide a run-pass threat and Curry Sexton's emergence alongside Tyler Lockett.

T-1. Baylor -- 3.11

Key stat: Baylor has gained 58 percent of the possible yards on its drives this season, best in the Big 12. The conference average is 46.7 percent.

Last three games: As the competition has stepped up, Baylor’s offense has slowed down. The Bears averaged 2.22 points per drive in games against Texas, TCU and West Virginia.

Future outlook: In recent weeks, the Bears and Bryce Petty haven’t displayed the consistency that made them the conference’s most explosive offense. All the ingredients still remain for Baylor’s elite production to return in the second half of the season.

3. TCU -- 2.79

Key stat: The Horned Frogs are averaging 83.2 plays per game, ranking behind only Baylor and West Virginia in the Big 12. It’s a clear sign TCU has made a smooth transition into its new up-tempo attack.

Last three games: The Horned Frogs' offense has continued to be productive against Oklahoma, Baylor and Oklahoma State, averaging 2.54 points per drive in its last three games. Trevone Boykin has been at his best against increased competition.

Future outlook: There’s no reason to think TCU’s offense will slow down any time soon with Boykin and a roster full of big-play running backs and receivers.

4. Oklahoma -- 2.51

Key stat: The Sooners score touchdowns 73.3 percent of the time in the red zone, second in the Big 12.

Last three games: OU averaged 1.95 points per drive against TCU, Texas and Kansas State as a lack of big plays has resulted in Sooners stumbles.

Future outlook: More playmakers must emerge to join Sterling Shepard or the Sooners could tumble down this list.

5. West Virginia -- 2.43

Key stat: Only 22 percent of WVU’s drives have ended without a first down or touchdown. Only Baylor has a better percentage (21.3), and the conference average is 29.3.

Last three games: The Mountaineers averaged 2.26 points per possession in games against Kansas, Texas Tech and Baylor.

Future outlook: As long as Clint Trickett and Kevin White continue playing like the Big 12’s best quarterback-receiver duo, the sky is the limit for WVU’s offense.

6. Texas Tech -- 2.3

Key stat: The Red Raiders have committed a turnover on 17 percent of their drives, worst in the Big 12.

Last three games: Tech averaged 1.98 points per drive in games against Kansas, Kansas State and West Virginia.

Future outlook: Kliff Kingsbury’s offense would be just fine if it could cut down the turnovers and limit the penalties. Quarterback Davis Webb and a reborn running game make this offense one to keep an eye on.

7. Oklahoma State -- 2.12

Key stat: The Cowboys have settled for field goals on 17 percent of their drives, worst in the Big 12.

Last three games: OSU averaged 1.4 points per drive in games against Kansas, Iowa State and TCU.

Future outlook: As the Cowboys look toward the second half of their season, the offensive line needs to steadily improve if the Pokes hope to rise up this list.

8. Iowa State -- 2.07

Key stat: The Cyclones are averaging 4.96 yards per play, with only Kansas (4.6) averaging less yards per play.

Last three games: ISU is getting better as the season progresses, averaging 2.5 points per drive in its last three games against Texas, Toledo and Oklahoma State.

Future outlook: The Cyclones are starting to find a rhythm under new offensive coordinator Mark Mangino and could rise up this list in the second half of the season.

9. Texas -- 1.58

Key stat: The Longhorns' average drive distance is 25.8 yards per drive, ranking ninth in the Big 12. The Big 12 average is 32.6, with West Virginia leading the conference at 39.5.

Last three games: UT averaged 1.72 points per drive in games against Baylor, Oklahoma and Iowa State.

Future outlook: Quarterback Tyrone Swoopes is coming along behind center after a poor start. If he continues to play like he did against Iowa State last Saturday, UT’s offense could make some noise in the second half of the season.

10. Kansas -- 1.08

Key stat: The Jayhawks have managed a touchdown on just 12.9 percent of their drives, worst in the Big 12. The conference average is 28.7 percent.

Last three games: KU has averaged 1.09 points per drive in games against West Virginia, Oklahoma State and Texas Tech.

Future outlook: The offense is on a upswing with Michael Cummings at quarterback under Clint Bowen. After struggles in Bowen’s first game at WVU, KU averaged 1.33 points per drive against OSU and 1.5 points per drive against Tech in the past two weeks.
In our weekly Big 12 roundtable, we examine what the strongest position has been in the league so far, who has a better chance of going bowling between Texas and Texas Tech, and whether Oklahoma State should consider pulling the redshirt off quarterback Mason Rudolph:

What has been the strongest position in the league so far?

[+] EnlargeKevin White
AP Photo/Chris JacksonThrough seven games this season, Mountaineers senior receiver Kevin White has 69 receptions for 1,020 yards and seven touchdowns.
Brandon Chatmon: As we saw last week with our midseason All-Big 12 team, it's got to be the linebacker spot. The Big 12 is overflowing with all-conference worthy linebackers. Oklahoma's Eric Striker, Kansas' Ben Heeney, Baylor's Bryce Hager and Kansas State's Jonathan Truman entered the season among the Big 12's best at the position and haven't disappointed while other linebackers such as West Virginia's Nick Kwiatkoski, Texas' Jordan Hicks, Texas Tech's Pete Robertson, TCU's Paul Dawson and Iowa State's Jevohn Miller have emerged to join the fray. There are more teams with an all-conference worthy linebacker than without one.

Max Olson: I agree it's linebacker right now, but I think we'll be talking about this group of wide receivers as being special by the end of the season. West Virginia's Kevin White is playing at Biletnikoff Award level. Sterling Shepard is a potential All-American. You can make a case that KD Cannon, Tyler Lockett, Josh Doctson, Antwan Goodley, Jakeem Grant and John Harris are playing at an all-conference level or should be soon. Throw in underrated guys such as Mario Alford, Curry Sexton, Kolby Listenbee and Bradley Marquez and this position group looks deep and impressive in 2014.

Jake Trotter: Linebacker is a deep position in the Big 12. But I'm going with wide receiver. White has begun to generate Heisman buzz. Shepard has had an All-American season. And Lockett and Goodley are All-American-caliber players. It doesn't stop there. Doctson had 225 yards receiving over the weekend. Grant could break 100 receptions. Harris could pass 1,000 yards. And true freshmen Allen Lazard (Iowa State) and Cannon are budding stars. There's no better league for the position in the country.

At 3-4, both Texas Tech and Texas are holding out hope of qualifying for a bowl game. Of the two, who has the better shot?

Chatmon: Texas Fight! Or least that's what Charlie Strong's team looks like it will do for the remainder of the 2014 season. The Longhorns' defense is superb and Tyrone Swoopes is looking better and better with each game, surpassing my expectations for the sophomore quarterback. Even with three of its final five games away from Austin, I think Texas will find a way to go bowling in Strong's debut season.

Olson: That Texas Tech schedule just scares me too much. The Red Raiders go to TCU, host Texas, then a bye, home against Oklahoma, on the road at Iowa State and a meeting Baylor at AT&T Stadium to finish that run off. Are there two obvious wins on that slate? That's just a brutal ask. Texas doesn't have it much easier -- they'll probably have to beat Tech, West Virginia and Oklahoma State to win six -- but already having OU and Baylor out of the way at least gives them the upper hand here.

Trotter: Given their remaining schedules, it's possible -- if not probable -- that neither qualifies for a bowl. But even though the Longhorns have to go to Lubbock, I give them the better chance. Texas has been playing better than Tech as of late. The Longhorns have the decidedly superior defense. And Swoopes seems to be gaining confidence with every start. The Red Raiders will have to beat either No. 10 TCU, No. 17 Oklahoma or No. 12 Baylor, just to have a chance at a bowl. And they'll be heavy underdogs in all three.

[+] EnlargeDaxx Garman
AP Photo/Sue OgrockiDaxx Garman has led OSU's offense since starter J.W. Walsh went out in Week 2 with an injury.
In light of the recent struggles offensively, should Oklahoma State give redshirting freshman Mason Rudolph a crack at QB?

Chatmon: No. That just changes who will spend the game running for their life. Some Cowboys fans might point the finger at Daxx Garman, but the Cowboys' struggles are rooted in the problems up front with a inexperienced offensive line. OSU is averaging 3.69 yards per carry (96th among FBS teams) and has a 7.5 sack percentage (99th among FBS teams). It doesn't matter who is playing quarterback.

Olson: I'm with Brandon on this. No point in crossing that bridge unless Rudolph begins to consistently and seriously outplay Garman in practice. Mike Gundy says he's getting maximum reps during the week. That's a good start. But you can't throw the rookie in there, behind that offensive line, out of sheer curiosity of whether he's a little better than Garman. I get the whole build-for-the-future viewpoint, but isn't J.W. Walsh still the imminent future? The potential downsides still seem like they outweigh the marginal benefits, at least for now.

Trotter: Rudolph intrigues me. The ESPN recruiting scouts loved his skill set Insider, and he was a winner in high school. But with only five games remaining, I don't see the point in pulling his redshirt. This Oklahoma State team is not contending for a Big 12 championship, regardless, due to other issues, namely along the offensive line. The staff clearly feels he's not ready, or else they would have given him a shot early in the season after Walsh's injury in Week 2. Rudolph might very well be the Cowboys' QB of the future. But it's way too late to squander his redshirt for the last five games of a rebuilding season.
Baylor’s undefeated season went out the window and Oklahoma suffered its second conference loss during a crazy weekend in the Big 12, as the standings were shuffled and preseason predictions fell by the wayside.

No team took a bigger blow than Oklahoma State.

[+] EnlargeDaxx Garman
Tony Gutierrez/Associated PressDaxx Garman has struggled at times for Oklahoma State, but his offensive line isn't helping him much.
Not only did TCU snap the Cowboys’ five-game losing streak, they overwhelmed Mike Gundy’s team in the process. The numbers are pretty staggering.

  • OSU ran 18 plays for 51 yards, an average of 2.83 yards per play, in the second half.
  • OSU quarterback Daxx Garman was 0 of 6 with one interception in the second half.
  • OSU was 3 of 15 on third down.
  • OSU ran 15 third-down plays for 36 yards, averaging 2.4 yards per play.
  • TCU quarterback Trevone Boykin’s 451 yards of total offense was 193 more yards than the Cowboys' team total (258).

Gundy’s squad hasn’t looked anything like the offenses we’ve seen from his program since the change to an “Air Raid” style offense under Dana Holgorsen after the 2009 season. The Cowboys will try to right the ship when Holgorsen’s West Virginia team visits Boone Pickens Stadium on Saturday.

As bad as things were against the Horned Frogs, Oklahoma State still sits at 5-2 and 3-1 in Big 12 play alongside Baylor, West Virginia and TCU as Big 12 teams with one conference loss. Their destiny remains largely in their hands.

"We can win all of them, that's what we’ve got to think,” linebacker Ryan Simmons said. “We can't think, ‘We may have a chance,’ because that's already putting doubt in our mind. We have to be confident in one another and what we can do with one another. We just have to approach every game like it's the Big 12 Championship game."

If the Cowboys hope to rebound from their first conference loss with another win streak, they will have to start with a win over West Virginia, another team with one loss in conference play. As OSU looks to plan for success against the Mountaineers, the Cowboys offense will need to transform into a unit we’ve rarely seen in 2014. OSU’s struggles have been caused by subpar offensive line play, but the entire group of 11 needs to play better if the Pokes hope to prove last Saturday was an anomaly.

Gundy has been banging the drum about the need for his team to run the ball better, but he was encouraged by what he saw from the Cowboys running game.

"I know everybody is tired of hearing this, but we have to run the ball,” Gundy said. "We actually blocked better in the run game [against TCU].”

OSU ran for 126 rushing yards, averaging 3.23 yards per carry against TCU, its best yards per carry average since its 3.76 average in a 45-35 win over Texas Tech on Sept. 25.

Garman has shouldered his share of the blame after the Cowboys couldn’t manage double-digit points for the first time since before Holgorsen arrived, but Gundy sees no reason to consider a change under center, even with Garman’s bad outing against TCU. Garman’s early success made it easy to forget he is seeing his first extensive action since 2009 and has a grand total of six collegiate games (five starts) under his belt.

“We need to protect Garman better,” Gundy said. “I'm not trying to defend anybody, but if we don't run the ball better than we did Saturday and protect, then it is hard for him to operate. With the learning and information that he's getting in the game and the adjustments he's making, he's doing fine.”

Big 12 recruiting scorecard

October, 20, 2014
Oct 20
2:30
PM ET
Here’s the latest around the Big 12 on the recruiting trail after another big weekend of official and unofficial visits:

BAYLOR
Total commits: 12
ESPN 300 commits: 3
The latest: There aren't many spots left in Baylor's class, but one of them is presumably being saved for Waco Midway four-star safety Kahlil Haughton. He took an official visit to Arkansas last weekend and could take his official trip to a Baylor game on Nov. 1. Haughton has already taken officials to Oklahoma and Nebraska, and his final two trips are expected to go to BU and Texas Tech.

IOWA STATE
Total commits: 13
ESPN 300 commits: 0
The latest: The Cyclones' latest pledge came from Itawamba (Mississippi) C.C. -- defensive lineman Xavier Pegues. He committed one day after juco teammate Larry Jefferson picked ISU. Both big men attended Iowa State's win over Toledo this month. Pegues, a 6-foot-3, 270-pound lineman, will likely play defensive tackle next year.

KANSAS
Total commits: 13
ESPN 300 commits: 0
The latest: Despite the coaching change, Kansas' recruiting class has stayed intact to this point. The Jayhawks aren't making many new offers under interim coach Clint Bowen, and its committed prospects seem to be taking a wait-and-see approach on how this season and subsequent coaching search play out.

KANSAS STATE
Total commits: 10
ESPN 300 commits: 0
The latest: One recruit expected to be in Manhattan on Saturday for the Wildcats' game against Texas is Kylan Johnson. The three-star safety from Dallas Skyline is planning to take an official visit and is reportedly also considering Texas Tech and Arkansas.

OKLAHOMA
Total commits: 14
ESPN 300 commits: 6
The latest: The Sooners had a surprising star on campus for an official visit this weekend: Texas A&M commit Kyler Murray, the No. 1 quarterback recruit in the nation. The five-star from Allen, Texas, also attended OU's Red River Showdown win last week before taking in A&M's loss to Ole Miss.

OKLAHOMA STATE
Total commits: 13
ESPN 300 commits: 4
The latest: Playing at TCU gave OSU coaches a chance to check in on their DFW-area commitments on Friday night. The Pokes staff got a chance to watch their coveted ESPN 300 running back pledge, Ronald Jones II, rush for 130 yards and two scores (including a 73-yard TD) to help McKinney North beat rival McKinney.

TCU
Total commits: 16
ESPN 300 commits: 0
The latest: The Horned Frogs had a nice collection of 2016 recruits in the house Saturday for their beatdown of OSU, including No. 1 overall recruit Greg Little and ESPN Junior 300 defensive backs Jared Mayden and Jaylon Jones. Three more important visitors: 2015 three-star corner DeShawn Raymond, LSU commit Hanner Shipley and 2017 athlete Anthony Hines III, who holds more than 50 offers.

TEXAS
Total commits: 17
ESPN 300 commits: 8
The latest: The Longhorns got a critical opportunity on Saturday to convince receiver John Burt to stick with his commitment. The ESPN 300 receiver from Florida is contemplating flipping his commitment to Auburn after taking an official visit there this season. He returned to Austin this weekend for an unofficial visit to watch Texas' 48-45 win over Iowa State. Burt has been committed to UT since July.

TEXAS TECH
Total commits: 11
ESPN 300 commits: 3
The latest: The Red Raiders landed a commitment last Sunday from three-star defensive tackle Courtney Wallace of Monroe (Louisiana) Neville. He turned down a dozen offers to become the fourth defender in Tech's class. This Sunday, TTU extended an offer to ESPN Junior 300 linebacker Dontavious Jackson, the Houston Elsik standout who now holds six offers.

WEST VIRGINIA
Total commits: 21
ESPN 300 commits: 3
The latest: The latest member of the Mountaineers' class is Longwood, Florida, defensive end Adam Shuler. He committed on Saturday after taking an official visit to WVU earlier this month for the Kansas game. The 6-foot-5 end turned down offers from Cincinnati, Purdue and Indiana.

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