Big 12: Texas Tech Red Raiders

Big 12 viewer's guide: Week 13

November, 21, 2014
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Lesson learned.

Last weekend appeared like it would have minimal impact on the race for a College Football Playoff berth, with TCU visiting Kansas and Baylor sitting at home during a bye week. Instead, KU gave TCU everything it could handle and the Horned Frogs ended up dropping out of the CFP rankings top four despite a win.

This weekend, Baylor faces a similar scenario as the clear favorite over Oklahoma State, which is in the midst of a four-game losing streak.

Here are the storylines to watch in the Big 12 during Week 13:

[+] EnlargeCody Thomas
AP Photo/Alonzo AdamsCody Thomas will get his second start at QB this weekend for Oklahoma.
Kansas at No. 21 Oklahoma, noon ET (Fox Sports 1): The Sooners returned to the Top 25 after a 42-30 road win over Texas Tech last Saturday, but it has been a while since Bob Stoops' squad looked like one of the nation’s elite. Redshirt freshman quarterback Cody Thomas will get his second start and a second opportunity to show he should be in OU’s future plans. Meanwhile, the Jayhawks are coming off a strong performance, albeit a loss, against TCU. KU’s offense is more explosive with Eric Kiesau handling the play-calling duties and could make enough plays to put another ranked team on upset alert.

Texas Tech at Iowa State, 3:30 p.m. ET (Fox Sports Networks): Both teams badly need a win with one conference victory combined between the Red Raiders and Cyclones. Texas Tech showed plenty of fight in the loss to OU and has the better offense of the two with either Patrick Mahomes or Davis Webb at quarterback. But the Red Raiders also have an ugly trend of shooting themselves in the foot with turnovers and penalties. The Cyclones are coming off a bye week with a renewed focus on righting the ship after a blowout loss to KU in their last game. In a lot of ways, the 2015 season starts now for the Red Raiders and Cyclones with players on both teams looking to solidify themselves as key playmakers of the future.

Oklahoma State at No. 7 Baylor, 7:30 p.m. ET, (Fox): There is no shortage of reasons for Baylor to want to win -- and win impressively. Not only did Oklahoma State hammer Baylor 49-17 in 2013, but the Pokes have been the biggest thorn in the Bears' side in the entire conference in recent years, having won four of the past five meetings. Combine Baylor’s pursuit of a College Football Playoff berth and desire to impress the committee with Oklahoma State’s recent struggles and it could be an explosive night at McLane Stadium.

Big 12 Week 13 predictions

November, 20, 2014
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Why Kansas State will win: West Virginia will bounce back and give K-State a heck of a fight in Morgantown. The Wildcats haven't gone on the road much this season (three times, in fact), but they'll be locked in and angry. KSU's defense gets after Clint Trickett just as Texas did. Kansas State 38, West Virginia 34 -- Max Olson

Why West Virginia will win: After battling four top 10 teams, the Mountaineers finally looked like a tired bunch in Austin. The week off should have done wonders for them physically and psychologically. I expect West Virginia to come out fired up for this game, knowing a win over the Wildcats would ensure this season will be deemed a success. West Virginia 34, Kansas State 31 -- Jake Trotter



Why Iowa State will win: Trotter has a two-game lead in our picks contest. I have to catch up. Fortune favors the bold. The Cyclones are fresh off a bye and will be able to move the ball on Tech. This is their best (only?) chance to avoid a winless conference season. If Davis Webb is back and dealing, I might be dead wrong. Iowa State 27, Texas Tech 24 -- Olson

Why Texas Tech will win: The Red Raiders simply have more firepower. Neither defense is great, so the team with the bigger arsenal should triumph, and that team is Tech. Texas Tech 38, Iowa State 24 -- Chatmon

Unanimous selections:

Baylor over Oklahoma State: Have you been watching the Oklahoma State offense? The Cowboys lead the Big 12 in three-and-outs, and since the Bears are gunning for style points, this could get ugly fast in Waco. The only variable to this game will be whether Oklahoma State is forced to pull the redshirt off freshman Mason Rudolph if a banged up Daxx Garman can't go. Yet even though Rudolph is an intriguing quarterback prospect, he won't have enough help around him and up front for it to make much of a difference against the speedy Bears. Baylor 66, Oklahoma State 13 – Trotter

Oklahoma over Kansas: If the Sooners lean on their running game, KU could struggle to find answers. Even though Clint Bowen’s Jayhawks are much improved, a road win at OU still seems out of reach. Oklahoma 31, Kansas 17 – Chatmon

But...

Why Kansas will keep it close: The Jayhawks will find a way to force OU to pass the ball. KU plays great pass defense. Without Trevor Knight, Oklahoma isn't playing great pass offense. Oklahoma 31, Kansas 21 -- Olson

Season records:
  • Trotter: 58-6
  • Chatmon: 56-8
  • Olson: 55-9

Big 12 stat check: Week 13

November, 19, 2014
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A closer look at one statistic worth keeping an eye on for each Big 12 team entering Week 12:


Baylor: The Bears' defense was supposed to take a step backward after losing several starters from its 2013 unit. Instead BU ranks among the conference leaders in several categories and leads the Big 12 by forcing a punt on 50.8 percent of opponents possessions and could see that number increase this weekend with a hapless Oklahoma State offense visiting McLane Stadium on Saturday.


Iowa State: The Cyclones will need to improve their sack percentage if they hope to slow down Texas Tech’s passing attack. ISU’s 3.5 sack percentage ranks last in the Big 12 as the Cyclones have struggled to get pressure on opposing quarterbacks outside of defensive end Cory Morrissey’s five sacks.


Kansas: Beware of the Jayhawks coming out of the halftime locker room. KU has a plus-8 turnover margin in the third quarter, which leads the Big 12. Clint Bowen’s squad could need some turnovers to upset Oklahoma in Norman, so an opportunistic defense could be the Jayhawks' key against OU.


Kansas State: The Wildcats are tough to stop once they get rolling. K-State scores on 66.2 percent of its drives that begin with an initial first down. In other words, a three-and-out is the best bet to slow the Wildcats’ offense, so West Virginia should take heed.


Oklahoma: The Sooners' running game has been impressive but their ball protection has been even more impressive. OU is averaging 240.9 rushing yards per game yet has lost a fumble once in 408 rushes. That’s a 0.7 fumble percentage, best in the Big 12.


Oklahoma State: The Cowboys' offense is trending downward and the offensive line is a big reason why. Negative plays have become the norm for Mike Gundy’s team with 36.2 percent of their plays resulting in negative yardage. Only Iowa State (37.9) has a worse percentage in the Big 12.


Texas: With a date with TCU quarterback Trevone Boykin on the horizon, the Longhorns might be the best equipped to handle the conference’s top dual-threat signal-caller. UT’s 9.3 sack percentage is the best in the Big 12 with Baylor (8.4) as the only other Big 12 team with a sack percentage higher than 8 percent.


TCU: The Horned Frogs do a good job of adjusting their approach at halftime. Their average of 8.39 yards per play in the third quarter is first in the Big 12 and nearly two yards better than second-ranked K-State (6.68 ypp).


Texas Tech: Even with Tech’s uncertainty at the quarterback position, the Red Raiders' defense is at the heart of the struggles for Kliff Kingsbury’s team. Tech is allowing 3.04 points per drive, last in the Big 12 and No. 123 among FBS teams. The Red Raiders' offense hasn’t helped the cause with 22 turnovers but the defense has been unable to overcome those mistakes.


WVU: The Mountaineers' defense has played a huge role in the improvement of Dana Holgorsen’s team. WVU’s pass defense has been much improved with the Mountaineers allowing 6.06 yards per pass attempt, ranking second in the Big 12. Last season, WVU ranked last in the conference at 7.88 yards allowed per pass attempt.

Big 12 releases 2015 schedule

November, 19, 2014
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The Big 12 released its conference schedule Wednesday for the 2015 season. Here's the schedule, along with a few of my thoughts below:

Sept. 26
Oklahoma State at Texas
TCU at Texas Tech
Oct. 3
Texas Tech vs. Baylor (Arlington)
Kansas at Iowa State
Kansas State at Oklahoma State
West Virginia at Oklahoma
Texas at TCU
Oct. 10
Baylor at Kansas
Iowa State at Texas Tech
Oklahoma vs. Texas (Dallas)
Oklahoma State at West Virginia
TCU at Kansas State
Oct. 17
West Virginia at Baylor
Oklahoma at Kansas State
Texas Tech at Kansas
TCU at Iowa State
Oct. 24
Iowa State at Baylor
Kansas at Oklahoma State
Kansas State at Texas
Texas Tech at Oklahoma
Oct. 29 (Thursday)
West Virginia at TCU
Oct. 31
Oklahoma at Kansas
Oklahoma State at Texas Tech
Texas at Iowa State
Nov. 5 (Thursday)
Baylor at Kansas State
Nov. 7
Iowa State at Oklahoma
Kansas at Texas
Texas Tech at West Virginia
TCU at Oklahoma State
Nov. 14
Kansas at TCU
Kansas State at Texas Tech
Oklahoma at Baylor
Oklahoma State at Iowa State
Texas at West Virginia
Nov. 21
Baylor at Oklahoma State
Iowa State at Kansas State
West Virginia at Kansas
TCU at Oklahoma
Nov. 26 (Thursday)
Texas Tech at Texas
Nov. 27 (Friday)
Baylor at TCU
Nov. 28
Iowa State at West Virginia
Kansas State at Kansas
Oklahoma at Oklahoma State
Dec. 5
West Virginia at Kansas State
Texas at Baylor

Thoughts:
  • The biggest thing that jumps out is the Baylor-TCU game on Black Friday. I saw some dissension about this on Twitter, but I actually kind of like it. The Big 12 needs rivalries after the Red River Showdown and Bedlam, and TCU-Baylor seems to be the league's best chance at developing a third major rivalry. Putting the game on a special day like Black Friday places an added emphasis on the game. Especially if it again holds Big 12 title and playoff implications.
  • Baylor has a killer November slate, with road trips to K-State, Oklahoma State and TCU, and a home bout with Oklahoma. The Bears will also play their first two conference games away from home. I doubt Art Briles will be fired up about this schedule.
  • TCU has a brutal stretch late in November, playing Oklahoma and Baylor in a six-day span. That two-game swing could define the Horned Frogs' season.
  • Dec. 5 potentially could be a big weekend for the league. West Virginia, K-State, Texas and Baylor could all be in the Big 12 title mix. The league should have a national presence while other conferences are playing their championship games.
  • The Big 12 has three Thursday night conference games, and all three have a chance to be good ones.

Big 12 morning links

November, 19, 2014
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Fear the Beard. A new "This is SportsCenter" ad has arrived.
  • Iowa State is hoping to use the final stretch of the season as a springboard for next year, writes Bobby LaGesse of the Ames Tribune. The Cyclones used their bye week to change their outlook heading into games with West Virginia, Texas Tech and TCU. It's been a rough year for the Cyclones but going winless in Big 12 play could be a disaster for Paul Rhoads' team.
  • Kansas' improved performances on the weekend have begun during the week, writes Matt Tait of the Lawrence Journal-World. The intensity of practices have increased and players are starting to understand they have to pay the price, says interim coach Clint Bowen. It's interesting that the intensity and fun have picked up at Bowen's practices. It speaks to the relationships that Bowen has created with his players. If they didn't have a strong relationship, it's unlikely KU's players would respond to Bowen like they have.
  • Kansas State coach Bill Snyder would have liked to see one of the Wildcats' running backs seize the primary ball carrier spot and become the "man" in the backfield, writes Ken Corbitt of the Topeka Capital-Journal. The Wildcats' inability to replace John Hubert has seemed like a handicap to the K-State offense for the bulk of the year. Quite frankly, it shows how well KSU has played as a team for the Wildcats to be 7-2 through nine games without a running back with more than 500 rushing yards.
  • Becoming a Mountaineer was a dream come true for Clint Trickett and now the West Virginia quarterback can make it a perfect home finale with an upset win over Kansas State. Trickett has had a terrific season but has fallen off in recent weeks with more interceptions (3) than touchdowns (2). Make no mistake, he has been a key to WVU's improved record this season and he will be the key on Thursday night.
  • Lastly, Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury said the Red Raiders changed defensive signals "as soon as they found out" their signals may have been compromised after former defensive coordinator Matt Wallerstedt left the program, reports Don Williams of the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal. Earlier this week questions arose about the possibility of Tech's defensive signals "being passed around" during the past two to three weeks. It's such an odd situation but it seems odd the Red Raiders didn't immediately change signals upon Wallerstedt's departure but I can also see how, particularly in the midst of a tough season, it wouldn't even cross their mind that those signals could be compromised.

Weekend recruiting wrap: Big 12 

November, 18, 2014
Nov 18
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video
The Big 12 had a relatively slow week, as three games were on tap. The result of the slow week, however, proved to be prosperous for Baylor, as the Bears landed a commit to increase its 2015 class to a baker's dozen.

Here's an in-depth look at how the weekend fared from a recruiting perspective:

Texas Tech quarterback Davis Webb entered the season as the Big 12’s second-best signal-caller.

Now, there’s no guarantee he’s the future behind center for the Red Raiders.

That is partially because true freshman Patrick Mahomes is making his case to become the man under center for Tech. With Webb ailing with an ankle injury, Mahomes could be staking his claim as the man to run Kliff Kingsbury’s offense in 2015 and beyond after delivering a solid performance in a loss to Oklahoma on Saturday.

Placed alongside the numbers put up by Tech quarterbacks in recent history, Mahomes' statistics don’t stand out. He finished 27 of 50 for 393 yards and four touchdowns in a 42-30 loss to the Sooners. But it was one number in particular, his zero interceptions, that did stand out.

[+] EnlargePatrick Mahomes
John Weast/Getty ImagesFreshman quarterback Patrick Mahomes played a turnover-free game against Oklahoma.
“That was huge,” coach Kliff Kingsbury said. “That’s what we’ve been missing, really the entire year. We haven’t been good enough offensively to turn it over then make up for it. I think that was the key stat that jumped out to me.”

It was the Red Raiders' first game without an interception since their Sept. 6 win over UTEP. The Red Raiders’ 16 interceptions are tied for 119th among FBS teams, and their 3.4-percent interception percentage is tied for 85th.

“He protected the football,” Kingsbury said. “I asked him to do that and he did a great job of it against a very good defense. He was under duress most of the evening but continued to make great plays with his feet and threw some balls away, had a couple big plays called back.”

Mahomes' poise under duress really stood out against the Sooners, as the true freshman showed unusual calm amidst the chaos of the pocket and repeatedly turned Sooners pressure into Red Raiders opportunities.

“He was throwing on the run, escaping rushers and still delivering the ball with great accuracy and touch on the ball,” receiver Bradley Marquez said.

Mahomes, who spurned the opportunity to play professional baseball to play at Tech, also showed a toughness and willingness to stand in the pocket and take a hit to deliver the ball.

“The maturity to stand in there, know you’re going to get hit and still deliver the ball was awesome to see,” Marquez said. “It’s kind of the composure you have to have.”

It’s a maturity that Marquez, who also has a baseball background as a former outfielder in the New York Mets organization, thinks might have been honed on the diamond. While Marquez is a outfielder and Mahomes a prized pitcher, both have been toughened up by their baseball backgrounds. Mahomes made an adult decision in turning down the money that professional baseball could have provided him and exposing himself to physical punishment on the football field. It's likely made him mentally tougher and more mature than the average true freshman quarterback.

“That’s exactly what I think has helped him,” Marquez said. “I’ve gone through the same process as him so I know first hand the maturity it takes to do those things. I think it’s definitely something that benefited him and his game.

“In baseball, you’re going to fail more times than you’re going to succeed, so you have to have the maturity to move on when you do something bad so it doesn’t disrupt you later on in the game. It’s helped me be mentally strong, and I think Pat would agree it’s helped him as well.”

The maturity, poise and ball protection by Mahomes has put him in the position to continue to run the Red Raiders attack, even with Webb inching closer to full health. On Monday, Kingsbury said he would name his starter “at kickoff” when Tech faces Iowa State on Saturday, a thought would have been unthinkable before the season. And no matter who starts the final two games of Tech’s season, Kingsbury says all bets are off heading into the spring.

“Going into the spring, it will be an open competition,” Kingsbury said. “Anytime you have a record of 3-7, you have to re-evaluate some things.”

And what a competition it could be with the rapidly improving Mahomes, the experienced Webb, and ESPN 300 quarterback Jarrett Stidham among several quarterbacks ready to battle it out in the spring.

But, make no mistake, Mahomes has taken a step toward convincing Kingsbury he can be the answer at a position that has been unstable since he took over. Mahomes' development and ability to excel while protecting the ball in a game against a defensive front full of athletes will be remembered once the competition begins.

“He’s just a gamer,” Marquez said. “There’s something you can’t really see until he plays a game. I see how hard he plays and how hard he works, he’s going to be a great player for years to come.”

Big 12 FPI rankings: Week 12

November, 17, 2014
Nov 17
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ESPN's Football Power Index is a measure of team strength that is meant to be the best predictor of performance going forward for the rest of the season. Every week, ESPN will be updating its FPI to compile a ranking based on 10,000 simulations of the rest of the season using results to date and the remaining schedule.

Baylor continued its rise up the FPI, moving into the top four, but it is TCU’s drop behind Oklahoma that headlines this week’s update of the FPI.

After a 42-30 win against Texas Tech, the Sooners jumped TCU, moving from No. 10 to No. 9. TCU’s lackluster showing in a 34-30 win against Kansas drops the Horned Frogs two spots to No. 11.

Baylor remains the clear favorite to win the Big 12, with its odds increasing from 71.7 percent to 74.3 during the off week.

TCU saw its odds drop from 24.2 percent to 21.7 percent, yet continues to have hope for a Big 12 title. But, after losing head-to-head to the Bears, TCU will need a Baylor loss to become the conference’s designated champion.

KSU is the only other team with Big 12 title odds, at four percent, with the Wildcats hoping to win out and see TCU suffer a loss to Texas or Iowa State in its final two games.

Three-loss Oklahoma is projected to win out with home games against Kansas and Oklahoma State remaining on the schedule.

Interim coach Clint Bowen’s Jayhawks continue to rise. After sitting at No. 103 two weeks ago, Kansas has risen to No. 89 on the heels of a win against Iowa State on Nov. 8 and the close loss to TCU on Saturday.

Oklahoma State is the biggest mover in the conference, dropping seven spots to No. 62 after Texas manhandled the Cowboys in its 28-7 win at Boone Pickens Stadium over the weekend.

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Big 12 weekend rewind: Week 12

November, 17, 2014
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Taking stock of Week 12 in the Big 12:

Team of the week: The Texas Longhorns are bowl-eligible after hammering Oklahoma State in Stillwater, 28-7. Three weeks ago, it didn’t look like Texas would get there. But the pass rush has become dominant, the offensive line has gradually improved and quarterback Tyrone Swoopes has settled in. Getting to a bowl game might not seem like a big deal for a program the stature of Texas. But the way this season began, it gives Charlie Strong plenty to build on going forward.

Disappointment of the week: Even with all their offensive struggles, the Oklahoma State Cowboys had a prime opportunity to get that coveted sixth win at home coming off an open week. Yet once again, the offense no-showed, and Oklahoma State was blown out of its own stadium. The Cowboys had just 51 yards of offense in the first half, which was the lowest total of the Mike Gundy era. With road trips to Baylor and Oklahoma left, the Cowboys will likely miss out on a bowl for the first time since Gundy’s first season in 2005. With one of the youngest teams in college football, this was always going to be a rebuilding season for the Cowboys. Even so, it’s been a disappointing one.

Big (offensive) man on campus: In the spring, Kansas coach Charlie Weis announced a three-way quarterback competition that included Montell Cozart, Jake Heaps and T.J. Millweard, and not Michael Cummings. But since taking over at quarterback, Cummings has been a revelation, and he delivered his best performance yet in the Jayhawks’ narrow 34-30 loss to TCU. Cummings threw for 332 yards and two touchdowns, and ran for another score. The Horned Frogs were so nervous about Cummings beating them at the end of the game they went for a fourth-and-one instead of kicking a field goal and giving him the ball with a chance to score a touchdown and win the game on a potential two-point conversion. Honorable-mention honors here go to Oklahoma freshman Samaje Perine, who rumbled for 213 yards and three touchdowns to key the Sooners' 42-30 comeback win at Texas Tech. Perine could become Oklahoma's first freshman running back to earn All-Big 12 honors since Adrian Peterson in 2004.

Big (defensive) man on campus: Texas defensive tackle Malcom Brown obliterated yet another offensive line. This time it was Oklahoma State’s. Brown finished with three tackles, two sacks and a forced fumble as the Longhorns put the clamps on Oklahoma State’s anemic offense that had only two first downs until late in the second half. After another strong performance, Brown is making a strong push for Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year honors.

Special-teams player of the week: With TCU trailing 27-24 late in the third quarter, Cameron Echols-Luper hauled in a punt, then weaved through the Jayhawks for a 69-yard touchdown to give the Horned Frogs the lead. The Echols-Luper return wound up being the difference in the four-point game.

Play of the week: Midway through the third quarter, Kansas wideout Nigel King hauled in an acrobatic one-handed grab off a tip, then raced 78 yards down the sideline to give the Jayhawks a 27-17 lead. When the Jayhawks recovered the ensuing kickoff, it looked like it was actually going to be their day. But Kansas couldn’t capitalize off the turnover, and TCU scored 17 straight points to regain control of the game.

Stat of the week: Via pistolsfiringblog.com, Oklahoma State has either punted or turned the ball over on 50 of its past 59 offensive possessions dating to halftime against Kansas on Oct. 11. The Cowboys now rank last in the Big 12 in total offense in conference games.

Quote of the week: "They thought it was cold. I told them it wasn't cold." -- Texas coach Charlie Strong, who had his players remove their cold-weather gear before the game in Stillwater.

Big 12 morning links

November, 17, 2014
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It's always hard to keep your bluff when this happens.
  • Will Muschamp was fired Sunday, and seemingly every coach in the Big 12 has been mentioned as a possible replacement at Florida, including Bob Stoops, Charlie Strong, Mike Gundy, Art Briles and Gary Patterson. If I were a betting man, I would place a wager that the next coach at Florida will not come via the Big 12. But, this will be worth monitoring the next couple months.
  • Of those five names, Stoops would probably be Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley's No. 1 choice. Foley has made overtures toward Stoops before, and the two have a history dating to when Stoops was the Gators' defensive coordinator in the 1990s. The Oklahoman's Jason Kersey, however, raised an astute point that could turn this into a non-starter for Stoops. His brother, Mark, is the head coach at Kentucky. Would Stoops really sign off on playing his brother every year?
  • Speaking of coaching vacancies, the Lawrence Journal-World's Tom Keegan believes Clint Bowen deserves to have the interim tag stripped at Kansas. Following a valiant performance in a narrow 34-30 loss to fourth-ranked TCU, Keegan wrote that Bowen has transformed a depleted roster into a high-flying, hard-hitting ball of focused fire." I was in Lawrence on Saturday, and it's hard to disagree. Kansas looks like a completely different team right now. And Bowen is making it very hard for Kansas athletic director Sheahon Zenger not to hand him the keys to the program full time.
  • The one silver lining in Texas Tech's 42-30 defeat against Oklahoma over the weekend was the performance of true freshman quarterback Patrick Mahomes, who tossed four touchdown passes and no interceptions. In the opinion of the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal's Nick Talbot, the Red Raiders should turn the offense over to Mahomes for good. I'm not ready to write off Davis Webb just yet. But Mahomes' ability to make plays outside of the pocket definitely sparked the Red Raiders, and opened up big plays. He also avoided turnovers, which has been Webb's downfall this season. Whether it's Mahomes, Webb or high school senior Jarrett Stidham, it's going to be interesting to see who eventually emerges as Tech's quarterback of the future.
  • Back to the coaching theme, the Des Moines Register's Randy Peterson weighed in on whether Iowa State should fire coach Paul Rhoads after a second straight disappointing season. Personally, I think it's way too soon for the Cyclones to be seriously considering this. Sure, this season has been a disaster in every way. But Rhoads took Iowa State to three bowl games in his four years. Under Rhoads, Ames had been a difficult place to play. And the fans have been coming to the games, propelling plans to renovate Jack Trice Stadium. Iowa State bailed on former coach Dan McCarney too early. The Cyclones would be making the same mistake in bailing on Rhoads at this point, too.

Best of the visits: Big 12

November, 16, 2014
Nov 16
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When Texas needed to produce, it responded in huge fashion and earned bowl eligibility. TCU did just enough to win, but it may have damaged its College Football Playoff hopes. And when Texas Tech thought it was in the driver's seat for a win, Oklahoma used a big fourth quarter to pull away and earn an important road win.

There were only three Big 12 games on tap Saturday, but each game had its own major storyline. Additionally, Texas Tech and Oklahoma State both hosted a handful of visitors over the weekend. Here are some highlights from recruiting visits around the conference.

Oklahoma State falls, but recruits enjoy Stillwater

Texas earned bowl eligibility in defeating Oklahoma State, 28-7. While it was the third consecutive win for the Longhorns, it also was the Cowboys' fourth straight loss. Fortunately for Oklahoma State, recruits on official visits said they still had a great time in Stillwater. One of the biggest targets in attendance was four-star DT Darrion Daniels, who also is considering Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Baylor, Texas and several other schools -- including his father's alma mater, Texas Tech. Darrion's father is former Red Raiders DE Tony Daniels, but don't expect the younger Daniels to make any decisions without making his own judgments.


High three-star LB Christian Folau made Stillwater his first official visit over the weekend. Wisconsin is believed to be high on the Utah prospect's recruiting list, but Oklahoma State may have shot up the charts after what was a productive trip.


California high three-star OL Vaimoe Sekona committed to Oklahoma State on Oct. 27, and he was excited about his official visit. Although the team didn't get the win, Sekona had a chance to spend time with his future unit.


Part of an official visit for some schools involves getting the opportunity to spend time with the coaching staff off campus. Junior college WR Dede Westbrook may have been most impressed with the home of Mike Gundy.


High three-star DB Montrel Wilson has offers from Baylor, Arkansas and a few other schools, but he made the trip to Stillwater with high school teammate Randall Friday to take in the environment.
Texas Tech hosts ESPN 300 OL among others

For 2 1/2 quarters, it looked as though Texas Tech would get a big home win against Oklahoma. The Sooners, however, turned up their game in the second half and left Lubbock with a 42-30 victory. ESPN 300 OL Fred Ulu-Perry Jr., the nation's fourth-ranked offensive guard, was in Lubbock on an official visit. It was a huge opportunity for the Red Raiders, as Ulu-Perry has been a UCLA commit since July. Ulu-Perry, from Honolulu, is good friends with fellow Honolulu prospect and ESPN 300 athlete -- and Texas Tech commit -- Breiden Fehoko.


Another big visitor in town was Kahlil Haughton. The four-star safety had taken official visitors to Oklahoma, Nebraska, Arkansas and Baylor. Texas Tech was his final official visit. The Red Raiders are hoping Haughton's last visit made the biggest impact.


ESPN Junior 300 DT Mike Williams continues to make trips to various locations. A rising name in the 2016 class, Williams said he was impressed with what the Red Raiders had to offer on and off the field, regardless of the outcome of the game.


You can bet that Kliff Kingsbury & Co. are always looking to recruit for the future. 2017 OL Jack Anderson is expected to be one of the nation's top-ranked recruits when he is a senior. Anderson has visited Lubbock before, and there's a reason why he comes back.
Kansas loses, but impresses against TCU

Many dislike giving credit to moral victories, but after watching Kansas play TCU, a moral victory for the Jayhawks is warranted. Kansas fell, 34-30, to the No. 4 team in the College Football Playoff rankings, and it showed for the second consecutive week that it is playing a new level of confidence under interim coach Clint Bowen. One player in Lawrence was 2016 Jack Domandle, a 6-foot-4, 270-pound interior offensive lineman who made the unofficial visit from Nebraska. The two-year starter is looking to become a household name in the spring. He not only enjoyed his trip to Kansas but also nearly watched one of the biggest college football upsets of the year.


While he was unable to make the trip to Lawrence, RB Aubrey White, the Jayhawks' lone 2016 pledge, made sure he was keeping his eyes and ears on the game. Although the Jayhawks couldn't score the win, he's still excited about the future.

Big 12 helmet stickers: Week 12

November, 16, 2014
Nov 16
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Here are the Big 12's top performers in Week 12:

TCU RB Aaron Green: The Nebraska transfer continued to impress with 19 carries for 128 yards and two touchdowns in TCU’s 34-30 win over Kansas. He averaged 6.7 yards per carry and both of his scores came in the third quarter.

KU QB Michael Cummings: Although his team came up short, it was a strong effort for Cummings. He finished 19-of-37 for 332 yards and two touchdowns with one interception against the Horned Frogs. Cummings has passed for at least 250 yards in four of his five starts this season.

TCU LB Paul Dawson: Consistent, productive and active, Dawson seems to get better every week. He finished with 10 tackles (eight solo), two tackles for loss and two pass breakups. He has double digit tackles in seven games this season including his 18-tackle effort against Baylor on Nov. 11.

Oklahoma RB Samaje Perine: We knew he could pound opponents into submission but he ran away from a couple of Red Raiders as well in OU’s 42-30 win over Texas Tech. The true freshman finished with 25 carries for 213 yards and three touchdowns including a 64-yard fun that showed big-play ability that he hadn’t put on display until Saturday. Perine did a lot of his damage on first-down plays, when he rushed 15 times for 140 yards and two touchdowns.

Texas Tech QB Patrick Mahomes: Although he barely completed more than half his passes, the true freshman was fairly solid against the Sooners. He finished 27-of-50 for 393 yards and four touchdowns without an interception. It was Mahomes first career 300-yard game and the first time he’s passed for multiple touchdowns in a Red Raider uniform.

Texas QB Tyrone Swoopes: The sophomore quarterback is growing up and getting better each week for Charlie Strong’s Longhorns. He finished 24-of-33 for 305 yards and two touchdowns in UT’s 28-7 win over Oklahoma State. Swoopes was excellent on third down, going 9-of-13 for 163 yards and two touchdowns.

Texas DT Malcom Brown: Malcom did what Malcom does, creating havoc in OSU’s backfield and terrorizing its offensive line in the Longhorns win. Brown had three tackles, two sacks and a forced fumble to spark a UT defensive unit that finished with seven sacks and 10 tackles for loss.
In today's Twitter mailbag, we discuss all the TCU-Baylor scenarios, the bowl possibilities for Kansas State and Oklahoma, and @FauxHolgorsen.

This weekend, I'll be in Lawrence to check out the Jayhawks, who are riding a one-game winning streak. Some other team is supposed to be there, too, I hear. Brandon will be in Stillwater as Texas and Oklahoma State gun for that coveted sixth win. And Max will be home trying to perfect his homemade chili, which sources tell me may or may not include kidney beans.

Now, on with the 'bag:

Trotter: I think this is very possible. The committee said this week that head-to-head is a tiebreaker that only comes into play when all else is equal. The committee doesn't see TCU and Baylor as equal at the moment. Nor should they. TCU's overall body of work is more impressive at the moment. But if Minnesota tumbles down the stretch and Baylor waxes a top-15 Kansas State in the regular-season finale, would the committee see TCU and Baylor as equal? I think they very well could. And that's when Baylor's head-to-head advantage could catapult the Bears past TCU in the playoff rankings.

Trotter: Pretty important. The win over a 7-2 Minnesota is a major part of what is distinguishing the Horned Frogs from Baylor right now. That win is either going to even better at the end of the season. Or a lot worse. The Gophers face No. 8 Ohio State, No. 16 Nebraska and No. 20 Wisconsin to close out the year. If the Gophers can just win one of those three games, it will go a long way in boosting TCU's resume. But if the Gophers get destroyed in all three, the committee is liable to view TCU's Minnesota victory much differently than it does now.

Trotter: TCU and Baylor both getting into the playoff is not an unthinkable scenario. Let's say Mississippi State and Miami won this weekend. That would probably leave next week's top five as Mississippi State, Oregon, TCU, Arizona State and Baylor. The Ducks and Sun Devils would have to face each other, opening up the fourth spot for Baylor. Unless Ohio State or a two-loss SEC West team somehow jumped Baylor, the Bears and Horned Frogs would both be in. Sign me up for that. And for the rematch.

Trotter: I tweeted about this earlier in the week. It's an absurdity committee chairman Jeff Long kept stating Tuesday night this week that Baylor owns only one top 2Top 255 win, when if the Bears had taken it easy on OU, they would have two. The Sooners fell from No. 15 out of the Top 25 because they got steamrolled. The Bears should not be penalized for how dominant they were. They should be rewarded for it.

Trotter: From what I've been told, he's in a lot of pain. He can't even brush his teeth without hurting. But there's nothing structurally wrong. When the swelling goes down, he should be fine. That could happen before next weekend.

Trotter: If the Wildcats won out, they could snag a spot in the Goodyear Cotton Bowl over Baylor. If K-State won in Morgantown but lost in Waco, it most likely would end up in the Valero Alamo Bowl.

Trotter: Cale Gundy has been the running backs coach at Oklahoma since 1999. That's what he is. He's done a good job bringing quality runners to Norman. But if he had coordinator aspirations, he would have pursued them a long time ago. And if Bob Stoops wanted to promote Gundy to coordinator, he could have all the times he's had a vacancy there.

Trotter: Oklahoma is probably looking at the Russell Athletic Bowl in Orlando. The Sooners could face someone like Duke or Notre Dame there.

Trotter: It doesn't have to be. Oklahoma is banged up, both physically and mentally. Cody Thomas will be making his first career start at quarterback. And who knows what mental state the Sooners will be in with all their preseason goals already dashed? If the Red Raiders can avoid turnovers -- I know, a big if -- they'll have a chance to hang around.

Trotter: They're both great. I have laughed out loud many times at both of them. Especially at this tweet from @FauxHolgorsen. But @FauxPelini gets the edge because he got the real Bo to bring his cat out of the tunnel before Nebraska's spring game. Ball's in your court, @FauxHolgorsen... 

Big 12 viewer's guide: Week 12

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We don't have the battle of heavyweights that we've become accustomed to during the past few weeks, but it's an interesting week in the Big 12 nonetheless. The conference’s top-ranked team is in action, and a pair of programs will be battling for bowl eligibility.

TCU needs to finish its stretch of eight straight games with a strong showing against a Kansas team that will be riding high after its first conference win. Two teams that are seemingly going in different directions meet in Stillwater, Oklahoma, when Texas and Oklahoma State fight for bowl eligibility at Boone Pickens Stadium. Texas Tech comes off a bye week looking to earn its second win since Sept. 6, and Oklahoma wants to rebound after being embarrassed at home by Baylor.

Here are the storylines to watch in the Big 12 during Week 12:

No. 4 TCU at Kansas, 3 p.m. ET (Fox Sports 1): KU is clearly improving under interim coach Clint Bowen. Gary Patterson's TCU team will look to continue to make its case for a College Football Playoff berth while affirming the committee's decision to jump them into the top four. Baylor hammered the Jayhawks 60-14 on Nov. 1 in Waco, Texas. So will the Horned Frogs try to match the Bears' win margin? Or will they just be happy to escape Lawrence with a good performance and a win against the improving Jayhawks?

Oklahoma at Texas Tech, 3:30 p.m. ET (ESPN): Lubbock, Texas has been unkind to the Sooners in the past and OU is looking to rebound from arguably the most embarrassing loss of Bob Stoops' tenure. Texas Tech is healthier at the quarterback position with Davis Webb and Patrick Mahomes appearing poised to return. The Sooners will lean on their running game, led by a trio of talented backs, to control the tempo and keep the Red Raiders' offense off the field. For both teams, this is the time to start building for next year and giving young guys opportunities to shine.

Texas at Oklahoma State, 7: 30 p.m. ET (Fox): These two teams are moving in opposite directions, yet both need one win to become bowl eligible. Texas is averaging 5.64 yards per play and 1.89 points per drive in its last four games. OSU is averaging 4.47 yards per play and 0.81 points per drive in its last four games. Clearly Tyrone Swoopes and the Longhorns' offense is improving, and Daxx Garman and OSU's offense has hit the wall. And UT holds the edge if it comes down to a defensive battle. But Boone Pickens Stadium has been a tough place to win in recent years, with home-field advantage and dynamic all-purpose threat Tyreek Hill serving as OSU's main hopes for a win.

Big 12's top recruiting visits 

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It’s a three-game week in the Big 12, but two of those three games will have a few big-time official visitors in attendance.

Kansas will host TCU, and several committed and uncommitted players will continue monitoring if the Horned Frogs can stay in the top four in the College Football Playoff race. Others will continue to pay attention to how the Jayhawks are doing under the Clint Bowen era, particularly after the Jayhawks scored a 34-14 win against Iowa State last week.

There are two other games on tap Saturday that have potential to see players commit -- and, perhaps, a player or two decommit and/or flip.


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