Big 12: TCU Horned Frogs
Texas still holds the No. 8 spot, while Baylor remains at No. 16. Oklahoma fell one spot from No. 23 to No. 24, and Texas Tech remained in the top 40 at No. 36.
Here is a more in-depth look at the Big 12 class rankings:
Trending up: West Virginia and Iowa State both saw spikes in their 2014 recruiting, but the Mountaineers are the hottest of the two, particularly after picking up ESPN 300 athlete Dravon Henry (Aliquippa, Pa./Aliquippa), the top-ranked recruit in the state of Pennsylvania. West Virginia also landed junior college quarterback Skyler Howard (White Settlement, Texas/Riverside Community College), who threw for more than 3,100 yards and 33 touchdowns this season. Let’s also give credit to Iowa State, who scored five commitments in the first 10 days of the month, the latest being junior college defenders Jordan Harris (Wesson, Miss./Copiah-Lincoln Community College), an inside linebacker, and Gabe Luna (Garden City, Kan./Butler Community College), a defensive end.
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Each school can truly benefit from specific targets. Here is a look at some of the most important targets who could end up signing Big 12 national letters of intent.
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Baylor needed Oklahoma to top Oklahoma State in the annual Bedlam Series, but when Saturday came to an end, the Bears were the new Big 12 champion. While Baylor didn’t add to its recruiting tally for the 2014 class, TCU, West Virginia, Iowa State and Kansas landed commitments throughout the week. The Cyclones picked up three pledges, while the Horned Frogs and Jayhawks added two apiece.
Here are some of this past week’s highlights:
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To the 'bag:
Ross in Dallas writes: Ahmad Dixon showed no remorse after a targeting hit that could have greatly injured a player, and he went online after the game to reiterate his lack of contrition. Do you think this increases the risk that he will do something like that again against UT or in a bowl?
Trotter: Not really, though Gary Patterson would probably tell you different. Dixon is going to sit out the first half on Saturday, which will give him plenty of time to think about the targeting hit.
Trotter: I actually understand what Patterson was trying to do. He was sticking up for his player, and he wanted to show his fan base that TCU would not be backing down from Baylor on the field or the recruiting trail. But the timing of it was not good, considering the tragedy in the Briles family.
Doug Kearns in Sugar Land, Texas, writes: I would like to see Gary Patterson held accountable for his lack of class. Briles' brother just died and he was just going to bat for one of his players. He is giving TCU a reputation for being sore losers.
Trotter: Maybe the silver lining out of this will be a revived TCU-Baylor rivalry. After two rounds of conference realignment, the Big 12 needs more rivalries.
Andrew in Duncan, Okla., writes: If Mike Gundy gives Clint Chelf a real chance and doesn't pull him after two series against Mississippi State, this team is undefeated and most likely playing OU to go to the national championship. What do you think?
Trotter: I can’t disagree. I believe Oklahoma State beats West Virginia with Chelf at quarterback. The Cowboys had no passing attack that game. Now, whether they would be ahead of Ohio State or the SEC champ in the BCS is another discussion.
Kyle in Enid, Okla., writes: Hey Jake, love the blog. K-State alum and big fan. I have always wondered what has kept Bill Snyder in Manhattan? I understand why he stays now with his name on the stadium and close to retirement. But when he had success earlier in his career, why didn't a big-time program try to pick him up?
Trotter: That’s an interesting question. I don’t know the answer. But it will be something I will broach with coach Snyder down the line.
Christmas in Longhornville writes: What is the best scenario involving a Texas win vs. Baylor that gets two teams in the BCS? Is it even possible?
Trotter: It’s unlikely, but possible. The scenario would be if Northern Illinois lost to Bowling Green -- sending UCF to the Fiesta -- and Oklahoma routed Oklahoma State to become the Sugar Bowl’s at-large selection.
Jerry in Virginia writes: Jake, the blog is great, and I’m surprised I've kept reading it in the midst of one of WVU’s worst seasons in decades. I do, however, have to ask why are you all the only people in the media that seem to give Charles Sims much love?
Trotter: It’s always difficult to get noticed when playing on a bad team, which West Virginia was this year. Don’t worry. I have a feeling Sims will be getting plenty of love on our end-of-season teams.
Chris in Cedar Falls, Iowa, writes: Excitement has returned to Ames. We have the $25 million donation for the stadium expansion, and how about the two wins to close out the season? So, who do you think Iowa State should hire as its new offensive coordinator to keep the excitement going?
Trotter: I have no idea what direction Paul Rhoads is leaning. But here are a couple of interesting names Rhoads might consider: Dave Christensen and Mark Mangino. Christensen was just fired as the head coach at Wyoming but had success calling offense during the Chase Daniel years at Missouri. Mangino won a national title at Oklahoma as the Sooners' offensive coordinator. He also took Kansas to the Orange Bowl, a feat that looks all the more insurmountable today. Mangino has a checkered past. But there’s no doubt he can coach.
Jack in Atlanta writes: Why is Texas predicted to go to the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl and Oklahoma, the Alamo Bowl? Texas has the better conference record and they have the head-to-head.
Trotter: Texas went to the Alamo last year, and OU has never been.
J.L. in New Orleans writes: Who has been more of a disappointment, TCU – which has fallen short due to drug problems and poor offensive calling -- or West Virginia – which had three of the best players in Big 12 history and only went 7-6?
Trotter: I’d give the disappointment edge to West Virginia. TCU, no doubt, has been a bust so far. But losing QB Casey Pachall for the better part of two seasons really hurt that team. West Virginia was ranked in the top five last year, then inexplicably fell apart the second half of the season. This year, the Mountaineers lost to Iowa State and Kansas -- two teams TCU at least beat.
This week’s recruiting storylines focuses on some of the Under Armour All-Americans being recruited by Big 12 programs.
Big 12 representation -- or lack thereof -- at the UA game. The Big 12 currently has four representatives who will compete in the Under Armour All-America Game -- Texas defensive end commit Derick Roberson (San Antonio/Brennan) and cornerback commit Jermaine Roberts (New Orleans/St. Augustine), Oklahoma quarterback pledge Justice Hansen (Edmond, Okla./Santa Fe) and Kansas offensive lineman pledge Jacob Bragg (Nacogdoches, Texas/Nacogdoches).
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- Here's an excellent story from Jenni Carlson about where Oklahoma State WR Tracy Moore finds his inspiration. Efficiency ratings suggest Oklahoma State's offense is better than its defense. DT Calvin Barnett is looking forward to a trench battle.
- Oklahoma will be prepped for cold weather on Saturday. A win over OSU would help ease Charles Tapper's pain of losing his dreadlocks.
- Baylor has dedicated its full attention to Texas, not its bowl future. Can the Bears survive the first-half suspension of "nice guy" Ahmad Dixon?
- The Washington Post profiles Art Briles' career.
- Mack Brown says his coaching future should be "unimportant" to his players entering the finale. New AD Steve Patterson says he's "working on" resuming the Texas A&M rivalry.
- Iowa State needs to find a "quarterback whisperer" in its next OC, writes Bobby La Gessa of the Ames Tribune. ISU landed another junior college safety, Qujuan Floyd.
- Kansas State is in for a big-time matchup against a Pac-12 power in the Holiday Bowl. K-State makes some schedule changes for 2014.
- Texas Tech quarterback Baker Mayfield had the most memorable debut of this Big 12 season. Could the Red Raiders face Minnesota in a bowl again?
- Reviewing West Virginia's troubles on the road two years into joining the Big 12. A WVU cornerback was charged with DUI.
- What's in store for Charlie Weis' coaching staff during Kansas' offseason?
- A closer look at new TCU offensive coordinator Doug Meacham's resume.
- Weather could be a factor in this year's Bedlam game. A preseason meeting set the tone for Oklahoma State's success. Mike Gundy doesn't see Oklahoma as a hated rival.
- Oklahoma has a midseason offense in time for its regular season finale. Brennan Clay has a chance to surpass 1,000 rushing yards on Saturday.
- Oliver Luck released a statement on the state of West Virginia football. Breaking down what Luck's statement means for WVU. The Mountaineers have a lot of work to do, writes Mike Casazza of the Charleston Daily Mail.
- Case McCoy says all the marbles are on the table for Texas this week. What if Texas had played an easy nonconference schedule?
- Baylor safety Ahmad Dixon is a planning a big second half against Texas for after sitting out the first half due to suspension.
- TCU is expected to hire Houston's Doug Meachem as its next offensive coordinator. The former OSU assistant was Houston's sixth OC in six years.
- Could Michael Brewer be a candidate for a post-grad transfer? Projecting where Texas Tech could wind up for a bowl game.
- New Iowa State junior college commit wants to start from day one.
- Kansas' AD believes in the direction of the program under Charlie Weis.
- Kansas State hasn't won a bowl game since 2002 and intends to end that streak.
Matt (Stillwater): Has Bedlam taken over as the Big 12's top rivalry?
Jake Trotter: Bedlam is a long way from overtaking the Red River Rivalry. However, there's no doubt that Bedlam has had more riding on it in terms of Big 12 titles the last five seasons. After the Iron Bowl, Army-Navy, Ohio State-Michigan and the Red River Rivalry, Bedlam has been right there with any rivalry in college football the last five years. It has a chance to only get better, if Oklahoma State can start winning on consistent basis.
Dustin (Tulsa): Is this Trevor Knight's breakout game or is the OSU D too strong?
Jake Trotter: It's a tough matchup for Knight. For one, Oklahoma State has the CBs to lock up OU's WRs on the outside one-on-one. That will allow OSU to add another body to the box, like it did against Baylor. Knight was terrific against K-State, but OSU's front seven is the best in the league. It will not be easy for the Sooners to move the ball.
Harry (Miami): I thought Iowa State was on an upswing. What happened this season? Too many young players? Lack of talent? Poor coaching? All of the above? Thanks.
Jake Trotter: All of the above.
BOXMAN (Everywhere): Assuming OSU and Baylor win, what bowl game do you see Baylor playing in?
Jake Trotter: Cotton Bowl.
Mike (Lenexa, Kan.): Who are your offense/defense players of the year?
Jake Trotter: At the moment, Bryce Petty and Caleb Lavey.
Steven (Atlanta): I'm a Texas fan, but I'm also a realist. Do you think our best defensive ends (Jackson Jeffcoat, Cedric Reed) will be able to apply enough pressure on Bryce Petty to give us a chance this weekend?
Jake Trotter: No question. Watch the TCU game. The Frogs got pressure all game.
Patrick (Waco): Who gets the edge in the trenches between Texas and Baylor?
Jake Trotter: Interesting question. Up the middle, Baylor has the advantage on offense. But can its tackles block Reed and Jeffcoat? On the other side of the ball, I think Texas could have success pounding the ball inside.
Handel (Canton): The 2014 Big 12 MVP will be?
Jake Trotter: Petty would have to be the early favorite, right?
Justin (Stillwater): With the season nearing completion, who's your Big 12 head coach, offensive coordinator and defensive coordinator of the year?
Jake Trotter: As of today, Art Briles, Philip Montgomery and Glenn Spencer.
KD (Houston): I might have missed it but what's your take on Gary Patterson's rant?
Jake Trotter: I get what Patterson was trying to do, but the timing of it was poor, with Briles having suddenly lost his brother just a couple days before.
Shawn (OK): With the addition of TCU and WV are you surprised that those teams are struggling, even in these last two years the Big 12 has been down?
Jake Trotter: To this degree, yes. There was always going to be an adjustment. But I never expected either team to miss out on bowls in their second seasons in the league.
Larry (Arvada): How much do you HATE WVU... and feel that WVU does not deserve to be in the Big 12... your columns and writings seem to point that out.
Jake Trotter: Why, because I put West Virginia last in the power rankings? That's what happens when you lose to Kansas and Iowa State to finish out the season. Just calling it like I see it.
- Baylor safety Ahmad Dixon insists he had no bad intentions with his targeting hit against TCU. The Bears are excited to close out Floyd Casey Stadium.
- Going back to Clint Chelf has proven to be a gutsy move for Oklahoma State's coaches. Glenn Spencer praises the elite talent OU still has this season.
- Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops calls the role of the spoiler the "lowest form of motivation" his team could have. Cornerback Aaron Colvin plans to play against OSU.
- Texas once again relishes its role as the underdog this week. An early-season players-only meeting helped change the Longhorns' season.
- What should Iowa State seek in its next offensive coordinator? ISU defensive lineman David Irving pleads not guilty to assault charges. Grant Rohach is the Big 12 Offensive Player of the Week.
- Gary Patterson's postgame rant on Saturday went ignored by Art Briles.
- How will Dana Holgorsen go about fixing West Virginia this offseason?
- John Hubert answered the call for the Kansas State offense once again. The Wildcats seem likely to end up in the Holiday Bowl. KSU schedules UTEP for 2014.
- Kliff Kingsbury explains his fashion choices to Esquire. A look at some crazy stats from the Big 12 in week 14, including Ryan Erxleben's season-long run.
- Kansas landed a junior college offensive lineman on Monday as well as a pledge from his teammate, a fellow lineman.
- A breakdown of the stats and trends between Oklahoma and Oklahoma State. Trevor Knight has found a sounding board in his brother, an OU tight end.
- Baylor's offense has taken a detour in recent weeks, writes John Werner of the Waco Tribune. Offense gets a C- in grading out the win over TCU.
- Texas still appears to be in the picture for three bowl games going into its showdown with Baylor. Texas A&M is still ranked ahead of the Longhorns in the Dallas Morning News' latest Best in Texas poll.
- Kliff Kingsbury is not stressed by how he's handling his trio of quarterbacks entering the bowl game. Despite the defense's struggles in the loss to Texas, Will Smith was all over the place.
- Signs that TCU would struggle in 2013 became evident in August, Stefan Stevenson writes in his review of the Horned Frogs' rough season.
- In case you missed it, Iowa State fired two assistant coaches on Sunday. Paul Rhoads has a plan to get ISU back to a bowl in 2014.
- Kansas coach Charlie Weis is ready to move on and shift his focus to a senior-heavy 2014 team. Offensive line coach Tim Grunhard's tenure with KU is now over.
- Dana Holgorsen says 2014 started on Sunday and West Virgnia's recruiting needs to get better. The loss to Iowa State was a microcosm of the Mountaineers' season.
- Bill Synder says Kansas State needed to use QB Daniel Sams more against Kansas.
Team of the week: After trailing by three scores for most of the game, Iowa State came roaring back with 17 straight points in the fourth quarter and ultimately prevailed 52-44 in a stunning, triple-overtime comeback. Freshman QB Grant Rohach was terrific in his second career road start, accounting for five touchdowns, including the winning toss on the first play of the third overtime. The defense forced four turnovers to help spearhead the rally. And punter Kirby Van Der Kamp converted a fake punt into a huge first down, igniting the comeback early in the fourth quarter. As a result, Iowa State finished off an otherwise disappointing season with a thrilling road victory and a two-game winning streak to build on for 2014.
Big (offensive) men on campus: Kansas State running back John Hubert and Iowa State wide receivers Quenton Bundrage and Justin Coleman.
Hubert unleashed a monster performance in his final Sunflower Showdown. The senior rushed for a career-high 220 yards and a touchdown on 30 carries, as K-State defeated Kansas 31-10 for a fifth consecutive victory in the series.
Together with Rohach, Bundrage and Coleman fueled Iowa State's comeback with huge catches down the stretch. After Van Der Kamp's fake punt conversion, Bundrage hauled in a 62-yard touchdown grab to cut West Virginia's lead to 10. Later, Coleman's 19-yard scoring reception tied the game with a minute left in regulation. And on the first play of the third overtime, Coleman reeled in another touchdown, which proved to be the game winner.
All told, Bundrage and Coleman combined for 12 receptions, 184 receiving yards and four touchdowns.
Big (defensive) men on campus: Baylor linebacker Eddie Lackey, TCU cornerback Jason Verrett and Texas defensive end Jackson Jeffcoat.
Lackey played a hand in two turnovers that ultimately led to defensive touchdowns. With the Horned Frogs driving at the end of the second quarter with a chance to take the lead before halftime, Lackey charged up the middle and tagged TCU QB Casey Pachall's legs. The hit forced Pachall's pass to be behind his intended receiver, and Orion Stewart intercepted it and raced 82 yards for a touchdown. Then on TCU's first possession of the third quarter, Lackey picked off Pachall and dashed 54 yards for another score, putting the Bears up 34-17. Lackey added six tackles and a sack in Baylor's 41-38 win.
As good as Lackey was, no player was more dominant than Verrett. Matched up one-on-one with Baylor's Antwan Goodley the entire game, Verrett checked the Big 12's leading receiver to just one reception for 12 yards. As a result, Baylor finished with a season-low 206 passing yards.
Jeffcoat also flourished in his final home game, recording a game-high three sacks as Texas shut down Texas Tech's passing game. Jeffcoat also had seven tackles and a quarterback hurry, solidifying his candidacy as an All-Big 12 defensive end.
Special-teams player of the week: Tech punter Ryan Erxleben produced one of the special-teams plays of the year in the Big 12 in Austin. On Tech's second possession, Erxleben took off on a fake punt and raced 51 yards down the sideline for a touchdown, giving the Red Raiders an early 7-0 lead. After the game, coach Kliff Kingsbury confirmed Erxleben called the fake on his own. It proved to be Tech's longest rush of the season, but pretty much its only highlight in the lackluster loss to the Longhorns.
Play of the week: After falling behind 34-17 on two Baylor defensive touchdowns, TCU made a furious rally and drove into field goal range with a chance to either win or send the game to overtime. Instead, with 18 seconds to go, quarterback Pachall's pass to Brandon Carter was tipped away by Baylor nickelback Sam Holl and into the arms of Terrell Burt for the game-clinching interception to seal Baylor's victory.
Stat of the week: By holding Baylor to 370 yards of offense, TCU snapped the Bears' 37-game streak of at least 400 yards of offense. Ball State now holds the longest FBS streak at 12 games.
Quote of the week: "Gary Patterson lives in Fort Worth. If he's got a problem with me, that's where I live."
-- TCU coach Gary Patterson, after a pair of heated exchanges with Baylor coach Art Briles
1. Oklahoma State (10-1, 7-1 Big 12, last week 1): The Cowboys have a chance to state their case as the Big 12’s top program of the last five seasons. Beating Oklahoma to win a second Big 12 title in three years would convey a very compelling argument.
2. Baylor (10-1, 7-1 Big 12, LW 2): Baylor’s two worst offensive outputs have come in the last two weeks. Is America’s top offense running on fumes? The friendly confines of Floyd Casey Stadium -- for one final game -- should give QB Bryce Petty & Co. the refueling they need.
3. Texas (8-3, 7-1 Big 12, LW 3): For all their issues and injuries, the Longhorns remain in the mix for an outright Big 12 title and automatic BCS bowl berth heading into this final week of the season. Ironically, if Texas somehow upset Baylor, this would actually be one of Mack Brown’s better coaching performances.
4. Oklahoma (9-2, 6-2 Big 12, LW 4): Nobody before the season predicted these Sooners, with a young defense and a new quarterback, would contend for a national championship. A victory at Oklahoma State and another 10-win season would make this a solid season in Norman.
5. Kansas State (7-5, 5-4 Big 12, LW 5): Even after a 2-4 start, Kansas State still managed to finish ahead of where it was picked in the preseason for a third straight season. Going forward, the media should automatically bump K-State up two spots when filling out Big 12 preseason ballots, to account for the “Bill Snyder effect.”
6. Texas Tech (7-5, 4-5 Big 12, LW 6): After another November slide, the Red Raiders are likely headed back to the Texas Bowl for the second straight season. Tech has had several memorable moments in Kliff Kingsbury’s first season. The 41-16 loss at Texas was not one of them.
7. TCU (4-8, 2-7 Big 12, LW 8): In their final game, the Horned Frogs finally showed what could have been this season. While the TCU defensive backs locked up Baylor’s receivers, senior QB Casey Pachall looked the sharpest he had in two years, even with the two pick-six interceptions. Take away those two plays and the fumble at the TCU 1-yard line, and the Frogs might have won this game going away. Yes, TCU finished with its worst season since going 1-10 in 1997. But if defensive end Devonte Fields can return to his freshman form, and TCU can figure out the answer at QB, the Frogs could be a force next year.
8. Iowa State (3-9, 2-7 Big 12, LW 9): Coach Paul Rhoads proved those who have wanted him out to be ridiculous. Despite all the tough losses, the Cyclones never quit on their coach, even when down 17 points in the fourth quarter on the road in Morgantown. With a little bit of luck, especially around the goal line, the Cyclones have the pieces to return to a bowl next year.
9. Kansas (3-9, 1-8 Big 12, LW 10): Hey, at least they beat West Virginia.
10. West Virginia (4-8, 2-7 Big 12, LW 7): The Mountaineers capped off another depressing season with an epic fourth-quarter collapse. Good thing no one was there to see it. Well, almost no one. Saturday featured the third-smallest crowd in Milan Puskar Stadium’s 33-year history, and the smallest since 1992.
As we inch closer to signing day, more and more schools are filling up their 2014 recruiting classes, and more and more elite athletes are preparing to make big announcements. While college football week saw one of its greatest weeks in a long time, many commits and targets were trying to balance their time watching college games with playing in their own high school playoff contests.
Here are some of this past week’s highlights:
Biggest commitment: Oklahoma State picked up its 23rd commitment when three-star defensive end Trey Carter (Dallas/Pinkston) gave his verbal pledge. Carter became the third defensive end and fifth defensive lineman to commit to the Cowboys. At 6-foot-5 and 255 pounds, Carter said he chose Oklahoma State for the athletic and academic opportunities. “Coach [Mike] Gundy said it didn’t matter if I get hurt; he still was going to promise me an education. No matter what, I’d still get my education,” said Carter, who wants to major in law enforcement and become a district attorney. “I didn’t hear that from the other schools.”
Biggest offer: Junior college quarterback Skyler Howard (White Settlement, Texas/Riverside Community College) has been impressive in Southern California Football Association play, throwing for more than 3,100 yards, 33 touchdowns and six interceptions. Howard had offers from New Mexico State and Northern Colorado, but the 6-0, 205-pound quarterback recently earned his first BCS offer from West Virginia. Recruited to West Virginia by offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson, Howard has Big 12 interest and could be a great addition to the Mountaineers. Wherever he plays, he will have three years of eligibility, as he was an academic qualifier out of high school.
Best performance by a commit/target: In arguably the biggest game of the year for his high school team, Texas Tech commit Ian Sadler (Argyle, Texas/Argyle) put on a show Friday night. Sadler accounted for 220 rushing and receiving yards and five touchdowns in a 45-38 win against Gilmer, Texas, a team Argyle has played four consecutive years and earned victories in three out of four games. Sadler, recruited to play inside receiver for the Red Raiders, rushed for 182 yards and four touchdowns and also caught two passes for 38 yards and a fifth score.
Afterward, Sadler took to Twitter to show some love to his teammates.
Most important visit: Texas isn’t a fan of its commits taking official visits to other schools. Four-star defensive tackle Trey Lealaimatafao (San Antonio/Warren) is still solid to the Longhorns, but he made the trip to Tempe, Ariz., to check out the Arizona State campus. Ranked as the nation’s No. 27 defensive tackle, Lealaimatafao has visited Arizona State and UCLA, and he’s expected to take his official visit to Texas the weekend of Dec. 13. The 6-1, 301-pound defender committed to Texas on March 30.
Like I said before... THE HYPE IS REAL! #ilovethisteam— Ian Sadler (@isssadler) November 30, 2013
Biggest answer: While TCU didn’t get the win against Baylor on Saturday, the Horned Frogs silenced the critics who thought Gary Patterson’s group hung up their cleats early. Baylor needed all 60 minutes to beat TCU, 41-38, and it was enough to impress the Horned Frogs’ commits -- particularly, TCU’s top-ranked recruit, four-star quarterback Foster Sawyer (Fort Worth, Texas/All Saints Episcopal).
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1. Patterson has no love for Baylor: While the Baylor players were talking about getting an emotional win for coach Art Briles, who lost his brother earlier in the week, TCU coach Gary Patterson was railing on Baylor; specifically, Briles and Bears safety Ahmad Dixon, who was ejected after targeting TCU's Trevone Boykin. Said Patterson, among many other things, referring to Briles and Dixon: "If that's what class is, I don't want to be it." This old Southwest Conference rivalry just got kicked up another notch.
3. Baylor only barely still alive for a BCS at-large bowl: With Wisconsin falling to Penn State and Clemson losing at South Carolina, the door cracked a little wider for Baylor to sneak into a BCS bowl game, even if Oklahoma State wins next weekend. But only just a little. Assuming the Orange Bowl sticks with its ACC ties and takes Clemson, as expected, there's really only one scenario that gets Baylor an at-large. That would entail Bowling Green knocking off Northern Illinois in the MAC championship game. If that happened, AAC champion Central Florida likely would end up in the Fiesta, freeing up the Sugar to take Baylor.
4. League in line for some intriguing bowl matchups: Even if it fails to get a second BCS bowl team, the Big 12 could be in for some compelling non-BCS bowl games. Here are some possibilities: Baylor-LSU in the AT&T Cotton; OU-Oregon in the Valero Alamo; Texas-Nebraska in the Buffalo Wild Wings; K-State-Stanford in the National University Holiday; and Tech-Michigan in the Heart of Dallas. I could get on board with all five of those matchups.
5. Big 12 newcomers end second seasons very differently: TCU and West Virginia finished their seasons with losses. But both finished in very different ways. The Horned Frogs overcame three crushing turnovers (two pick-sixes and a fumble at their own 1) to take ninth-ranked Baylor to the wire. The Mountaineers blew a 17-point, fourth-quarter lead before falling to Iowa State in triple overtime. Without West Virginia, the Cyclones would have ended their season with just one conference win, and Kansas would have ended the year without one, as the Mountaineers lost to both to close out the year. Neither TCU nor West Virginia will be going bowling in their second seasons in the Big 12. But Patterson will be feeling a lot better about the way his team finished out the season than West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen will about his.
FORT WORTH, Texas -- Before Baylor's game at TCU, Bears running back Lache Seastrunk pulled his head coach to the side.
“Coach Briles, I know you lost somebody,” Seastrunk told him. “But you’ve gained 99 of us.”
On Wednesday, Art Briles lost his brother, Eddie, who died unexpectedly from a head injury after falling in the bathroom of his home.
On Saturday, Briles’ football family gave him a win to ease the pain of that loss, if only for a little bit.
Keeping their Big 12 title and BCS bowl aspirations alive, the ninth-ranked Bears (10-1, 7-1 Big 12) held on to defeat TCU 41-38 at Amon G. Carter Stadium in a thriller that came down to the final seconds.
“That just showed we're a tough football team,” said Briles, who declined to speak directly about his brother, but spent time outside the locker room emotionally hugging players, boosters and administrators. “You want to be in a room full of fighters and believers, and that’s what we have.”
This week required some fight from the Bears.
They suffered their first loss of the season last weekend, as Oklahoma State emphatically bounced them from the national title picture with a 49-17 victory in Stillwater.
Four days later, Eddie -- a nurse in Haskell, Texas, and Briles’ only sibling -- passed away, leaving behind a wife and two children.
Eddie actually appeared in a "College GameDay" feature last weekend, and spoke to ESPN.com for a feature story on his younger brother earlier this month. Their parents, Dennis and Wanda Briles, and their aunt, Elsie "Tottie" Kittley, died in a car accident while traveling to the Cotton Bowl in Dallas to watch Art play for the University of Houston on Oct. 16, 1976.
“(Winning for Coach Briles) was the emphasis of the week for sure,” Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty said. “Every guy in that locker room loves him like their own dad. It hurts you to see him hurt. I think this win was huge for him and that’s what we wanted to do.”
The win didn’t come easily.
TCU (4-8, 2-7), without enough wins to have a chance of qualifying for a bowl, turned Baylor into its de facto bowl game.
Due to an array of injuries and suspensions, the Horned Frogs had struggled offensively all season. But with an extra week to prepare, they saved their best performance for last. The Horned Frogs outgained the nation’s top statistical offense by 40 yards. Yet, after a flurry of turnovers, they found themselves still trailing Baylor 34-17 early in the third quarter.
Over the course of four possessions, TCU fumbled at its own 1-yard line, then Pachall threw two interceptions that Orion Stewart and Eddie Lackey returned for touchdowns.
"I made quite a few mistakes that cost us the ball game,” Pachall said. “I gave them 14 points, just handed it over on a platter."
But TCU didn't go down without a fight, either.
And the turning point came on its following possession. Baylor senior captain and safety Ahmad Dixon was ejected for a targeting penalty on Horned Frogs wide receiver Trevone Boykin, seemingly igniting a heated exchange between Briles and TCU coach Gary Patterson on the field.
Briles avoided addressing the exchange after the game. But Patterson didn't.
“To come across the field to me. ... He's picking on the wrong guy,” said Patterson, who didn't refer to Briles by name. “You're not going to come across to me. You can go correct your player, not me.
"If that's what class is, then I don't want to be it."
The penalty ultimately ignited the Horned Frogs, too. TCU scored touchdowns on its next two possessions, thanks to a Pachall 4-yard touchdown scamper, then a 16-yard scoring toss to Josh Doctson at the back of the end zone.
After Petty found Levi Norwood for a touchdown, TCU came right back again with Pachall’s touchdown strike to David Porter, trimming the deficit to 41-38.
The Horned Frogs got the ball back again with 1 minute, 23 seconds remaining and moved the ball all the way to the Bears’ 23. But two plays later, Pachall’s attempt to Brandon Carter was tipped away by Baylor nickelback Sam Holl, and into the arms of Burt in the end zone.
“This win really showed the character of this team,” Holl said. “We were all playing for Coach Briles. He’s family. He’s going through a rough time right now.
“So we really wanted to get this one for him.”