Big 12: Texas Tech Red Raiders

Our series of preseason picks for every single Big 12 game of 2014 continues today with Week 13. Beware, Texas Tech, winning in Ames, Iowa, can be difficult, especially late in the season.

More Big 12 predictions for 2014.

Kansas State 38, at West Virginia 35: K-State’s ability to win close games rises to the forefront as the Wildcats grab a key road win in Morgantown, West Virginia. The Mountaineers lead for the majority of the second half but All-Big 12 receiver Tyler Lockett comes through when K-State needs him with a late touchdown.

at Baylor 48, Oklahoma State 28: The Bears jump on the Cowboys early, taking a three touchdown lead after one quarter of play. OSU’s big-play threats Tyreek Hill and Jhajuan Seales spark a Cowboy rally with back-to-back second quarter scores but BU quarterback Bryce Petty isn’t about to let the Pokes ruin the party, passing for two scores in the third quarter and finishing with five touchdowns overall in the win. Revenge is sweet for Art Briles’ squad.

at Oklahoma 49, Kansas 10: The Sooners are dominant at home against the Jayhawks scoring on four of their first five drives and taking a comfortable lead at halftime. It’s a rough but important experience for KU quarterback Montell Cozart who struggles against OU’s athletic defense but starts to find a rhythm toward the end of the game. Meanwhile, OU’s eyes turn to Bedlam and securing another Big 12 title.

Texas Tech 38, at Iowa State 34: The Cyclones appear ready to secure yet another upset win in Ames until Davis Webb suddenly gets on fire in the final 15 minutes with a pair of long touchdown passes and a quarterback sneak for another score in the final two minutes to help the Red Raiders escape with a win.

Current Big 12 standings

1. Oklahoma -- 10-1, 7-1
2. Kansas State -- 8-2, 6-1
3. Baylor -- 8-2, 5-2
4. Texas -- 7-4, 5-3
5. TCU -- 7-3, 4-3
6. Texas Tech -- 7-4, 4-4
7. Oklahoma State -- 5-6, 3-5
8. West Virginia -- 4-7, 3-5
9. Kansas -- 3-8, 1-7
10. Iowa State -- 2-8, 0-7
DALLAS -- Winning football games holds top billing in most cases, but when discussing the most important objective to college football coaches, a great recruiting class is always high on the totem pole.

The Big 12 media days on Monday and Tuesday gave coaches a chance to share their opinions on their teams, their competitors and the future of college football. It also allowed each coach to talk about the positives and negatives of recruiting.

The media voted Oklahoma as the clear preseason favorite to win the Big 12.

But the league’s players give the slight edge to Baylor as the team to beat in the Big 12 this season.

This week, the Big 12 blog team anonymously polled 30 of the 39 players that attended Big 12 media days.

Oklahoma received 47 of 56 first-place media votes in the Big 12’s preseason poll, which was released last week. But 43 percent of the players polled said the defending Big 12 champion Bears were actually the team to beat in the league, narrowly topping the Sooners.

The players were asked several other questions about the league, including its most impressive coach, its most obnoxious team, and its most underrated player.

The results of the poll:

(Note: players were not allowed to answer their own school or any teammate in any of the questions)

Who is the team to beat this year in the Big 12?

Baylor: 43%

Oklahoma: 40%

Kansas State: 6%

Oklahoma State: 6%

Texas: 3%

Who is the league’s most impressive coach?

Kliff Kingsbury: 24%

Bill Snyder: 21%

Art Briles: 17%

Bob Stoops: 14%

If you could draft an opposing Big 12 player and put him on your team, who would it be?

Baylor QB Bryce Petty: 27%

Baylor WR Antwan Goodley: 15%

Kansas State WR Tyler Lockett: 12%

Kansas State QB Jake Waters: 12%

Who is the league’s most underrated player?

Waters: 10%

TCU DT Davion Pierson: 10%

Iowa State TE E.J. Bibbs: 10%

Other answers: Kansas State DE Ryan Mueller, Texas Tech LB Sam Eguavoen, Oklahoma WR Sterling Shepard, Oklahoma State LB Ryan Simmons, Baylor DE Shawn Oakman, Kansas State C BJ Finney, TCU CB Kevin White, Baylor RB Devin Chafin, Baylor RB Johnny Jefferson, Kansas State CB Randall Evans, Oklahoma State DT James Castleman

Who is the team you’re most fired up to play?

Texas: 24%

Kansas State: 21%

Oklahoma: 21%

Baylor: 10%

Who is the most obnoxious team in the league?

TCU: 21%

Baylor: 18%

Texas: 14%

Texas Tech: 14%

What program has the best pregame intro?

Oklahoma: 27%

Oklahoma State: 19%

Texas: 15%

Who do you predict will make the inaugural playoff?

(Note: Players were allowed to include Big 12 teams here)

Florida State: 20%

Oregon: 16%

Alabama: 15%

Other top vote-getters: Auburn, Baylor, LSU, Oklahoma, Ohio State, Stanford

Big 12 lunchtime links

July, 22, 2014
Jul 22
12:00
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A solid glimpse at what Big 12 media days felt like on Monday.
Our series of preseason picks for every single Big 12 game of 2014 continues today with Week 12. Not a good week to be the home team, evidently.

More Big 12 predictions for 2014.

Texas 28, at Oklahoma State 27: Even with the Pokes in the bottom half of the Big 12 standings, you knew this game was going to be a tricky one for Texas. The Longhorns find the end zone with 2 minutes left -- no controversial fumble this time, either -- and Charlie Strong's defense clamps down once J.W. Walsh crosses the 50, securing victory with a fourth-down sack off the edge on a risky blitz from Quandre Diggs.

TCU 35, at Kansas 15: TCU lets the Jayhawks into the red zone too many times early on, but keeps forcing field goals and rallies in the third on some big-time playmaking from Trevone Boykin, who notches a touchdown reception and a long touchdown run as a Wildcat quarterback. The missed opportunities in the first half cost KU a chance to capitalize off its win over ISU the week before.

Oklahoma 38, at Texas Tech 34: The Trevor Knight vs. Davis Webb duel, with the crown for the Big 12's second-best QB on the line, does not disappoint. Tech takes a double-digit lead into the start of the fourth quarter, but Knight flips the switch with heroics that can only be described as Sugar Bowl-caliber and connects with Taylor McNamara on third-and-goal for the go-ahead score in the final minute to clinch victory in a downright brawl.

Current Big 12 standings

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

Big 12 media days roundtable: Day 1

July, 21, 2014
Jul 21
7:30
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video
It was an action-packed day as Big 12 media days opened in Dallas, Texas. Baylor carried itself with the look and confidence of the defending Big 12 champion, while Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby made it clear that change is on the horizon for college athletics. ESPN.com Big 12 reporters Jake Trotter, Max Olson and Brandon Chatmon answered four questions in our roundtable to conclude the first session, which was comprised of Baylor, Kansas, Oklahoma State, TCU and Texas Tech.

What stuck out to you most?

Trotter: The confidence Baylor carried throughout the day. The Bears are the defending Big 12 champs, and they walked and talked like it Monday. Defensive end Shawn Oakman even took issue with Oklahoma getting voted as the preseason favorite, saying Baylor's 41-12 win over OU last season showed that the Sooners' "product was nowhere near as good as the product that Baylor was putting on the field." Bears coach Art Briles said the preseason seeding was fair because OU beat Alabama in the Sugar Bowl, while Baylor fell to UCF in the Fiesta. But there’s little doubt the Bears will go into this season with the swagger of the league's best team.

Olson: Other than Bowlsby's scorched-earth, "Winter is Coming" assessment of today's NCAA, I enjoyed Briles' presence at this event, as always. He had his usual great lines -- when Baylor was called a heavyweight, he said "I try to eat as healthy as possible" -- and Texas charm, but unlike last year he's not out to play hype man for his program. He was resolute in saying he's aiming for the College Football Playoff and that OU deserves to be the Big 12 favorite considering how last season ended. He also seems to have taken it personally that QB Bryce Petty wasn't a Heisman finalist last year. With former Texas coach Mack Brown now out of the picture, it appears Briles is the guy reporters love to gravitate toward. He seems as confident and relaxed as ever when it comes to his team's chances in 2014.

Chatmon: Bowlsby didn’t mince words at all Monday. He kicked off Big 12 media days with a bang, talking about the need for restructuring in the NCAA, the possibly bleak future of some Olympic sports, and the potential for cheating in college football nationwide. The cheating discussion was easily the part that stood out to me, as Bowlsby’s candor was unexpected. “The infractions committee hasn't had a hearing in almost a year, and I think it's not an understatement to say that cheating pays presently,” he said. He went on to say he didn’t think it was rampant and didn’t have any concerns “on a local basis” when asked specifically about the Big 12.

What's something new you learned?

Trotter: TCU added Texas A&M transfer quarterback Matt Joeckel in the spring. But Trevone Boykin is not going to relinquish the job and slide to receiver without a fight. “He wants to be the guy,” coach Gary Patterson said. Whether at receiver or quarterback, Boykin is going to help the Horned Frogs offensively. But he’s going to try to help them at quarterback first.

Olson: I was hardly surprised, but Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy loves Tyreek Hill. OSU will play Hill at running back and receiver, and Gundy said his goal is to get the speedster the ball 15 to 20 times a game. Hill was voted Big 12 Preseason Newcomer of the Year, and Gundy admitted that the blueprint for how to maximize Hill's talent hasn't completely come together yet. But the guy has a chance to be a Tavon Austin-type playmaker all over the field. Gundy would be wise to put the keys to the offense in Hill's hands, and it's good to see that the coach gets that.

Chatmon: Sam Eguavoen is a confident guy … who doesn’t like spiders. The Texas Tech linebacker has a lot of confidence in the Red Raiders’ potential this season, pointing to Tech’s narrow road setback to Oklahoma as a key moment in 2013: “If it wasn’t for the out route to a slot receiver, we had that game. The bowl game showed what we’re capable of. That’s the expectation for this season.” Eguavoen went on to say he’d pick Tyrese Gibson, Paul Pierce and Kobe Bryant to kick it with if he could hang with celebrities. He was then asked about Tech cheerleader Kendall Jones, who gained national attention for posting photos of her hunting exploits in Africa this summer, and responded with this gem: “I’ve killed a couple of roaches before, but she’s out here killing bears and tigers, and I’m scared of spiders. I respect her. If I ever see a lizard in my backyard, I’ll have to hit her up.”

Your favorite exchange of the day?

[+] EnlargeArt Briles
Kevin Jairaj/USA TODAY SportsAccording to Baylor coach Art Briles, Bears quarterback Bryce Petty has "name recognition" all the way up to Salem, Oregon.
Trotter: Briles was in fine form Monday. Besides verbally tussling with Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher about the Big 12 not playing a conference title game, Briles explained why QB Bryce Petty has a better chance to win the Heisman this season. “Go to Salem, Oregon ... and talk to the guys at the Dairy Queen that follow college football and say, ‘Bryce Petty.’ And they’ll say, ‘Oh yeah, that’s that quarterback from Baylor.’ That’s why. Because he’s got name recognition.” Petty certainly has more name recognition, though maybe not so much in Salem. A Portland radio station called all six Dairy Queens in Salem to see if anyone had ever heard of Petty. The results for Petty weren’t good.

Olson: Patterson elicited a lot of confused frowns when he said, regarding his changes on offense, "I like Gatorade. When you have to beat people 17-13 just drinking water, you'd like to be able to go back and find out what the different Gatorades are and do everything, you know, for a few years, Rose Bowl year and all that when you score a lot of points." Makes no sense, right? What Patterson was getting at is that, when you're coasting at the end of a blowout win, there's plenty of time for sports drink taste-testing on the sideline. That's a luxury the Frogs rarely enjoyed last year. So, uh, his new offense wants more points and more blowouts. At least, I think that's what he meant ...

Chatmon: Anything Oakman-related was gold. As the hashtag #OakmanisSoBig began to make waves during media days, the Baylor defensive end said his favorite was “#OakmanisSoBig his cereal bowl has a lifeguard." The Bears’ beast of a defender went on to question Oklahoma’s win over Alabama and its preseason favorite status in the Big 12. “It’s kind of disrespectful. You have your starting QB back, most of the front line back, and you’re still ranked No. 2. That doesn’t make sense to me. We beat OU,” he said.

On Tuesday, Iowa State, Kansas State, Oklahoma, Texas and West Virginia will take over the stage in Dallas. What are you looking forward to Tuesday?

Trotter: The newcomer to the league, Texas coach Charlie Strong, will be in the house. Mack Brown was always great in the media days setting. How will Strong acquit himself in his Big 12 media days debut? A good first impression can go a long way.

Olson: Gee, I wonder if Strong is going to face any scrutiny? He's the Big 12's only first-year head coach and he's hoping to change the perception that he's not a savvy public speaker. Plus, Mack was kind of the king of soapbox speeches and offering his take on college football issues at media days. So I'm guessing the many reporters who crowd around Strong will be practically waiting for him to slip up. He's always said he's OK with the media responsibilities of being Texas' head coach, and his performance Tuesday is truly inconsequential to the big picture, if you ask me. But can Strong make a good impression and inspire some believers on Tuesday?

Chatmon: I’m looking forward to what West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen will say as a huge year looms for the Mountaineers. The veteran coach is hitching his future, to begin the season at least, on the shoulders of senior quarterback Clint Trickett. The Mountaineers have plenty of skill-position talent and could have an explosive offense with good quarterback play, but people tend to forget WVU had superb quarterback play with Geno Smith in Year 1 in the conference and still finished 7-6 in 2012. So I’m interested to hear what Holgorsen has to say about his defense and the changes on that side of the ball, as well.
video 

Jake Trotter and Max Olson discuss Big 12 media days Day 1.

Big 12 recruiting scorecard

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Big 12 lunchtime links

July, 21, 2014
Jul 21
12:00
PM ET
Shouldn't NCAA 15 be out by now? Oh, wait...
Our series of preseason picks for every single Big 12 game of 2014 continues today with Week 11. Oklahoma and Baylor, the preseason favorites in the Big 12, face off at Oklahoma Memorial Stadium in one of the season's most anticipated games.

More Big 12 predictions for 2014.

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

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

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

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

Current Big 12 standings

1. Oklahoma -- 8-1, 5-1
2. Kansas State -- 7-2, 5-1
3. Baylor -- 7-2, 4-2
4. Texas -- 6-4, 4-3
5. TCU -- 6-3, 3-3
6. Texas Tech -- 6-3, 3-3
7. Oklahoma State -- 5-4, 3-3
8. West Virginia -- 4-6, 3-3
9. Kansas -- 3-6, 1-5
10. Iowa State -- 2-7, 0-6
Big 12 media days have finally arrived. Here’s what to expect from Day 1 in Dallas:

Baylor Bears

Attending: Coach Art Briles, quarterback Bryce Petty, receiver Antwan Goodley, defensive end Shawn Oakman, linebacker Bryce Hager

Storyline: The Bears may have won the Big 12 championship last year. But do they have the staying power to defend their title? With stars such as Petty and Goodley, they just might. Petty turned heads last year with his precision and poise. He turned heads this summer as an Elite 11 camp counselor with his mental and physical toughness. In other words, Petty is the total package. The Bears have glaring questions, notably a secondary with virtually no experience. But with Petty at the helm -- and weapons like Goodley at his disposal -- the Bears will have their chance to repeat.

Kansas Jayhawks

Attending: Coach Charlie Weis, receiver Nick Harwell, tight end Jimmay Mundine, linebacker Ben Heeney, safety Cassius Sendish

Storyline: In two years, Weis has gone 1-17 in the Big 12, which is why his seat has begun to warm up. But despite the recent record, Kansas isn’t devoid of any talent. Harwell, Mundine and Tony Pierson form a competent pass-catching trio. Heeney is an All-Big 12 performer, and leads a defense that returns eight other starters. Still, Kansas won’t go into the season favored to win any of its Big 12 games. But the Jayhawks -- and Weis -- will have to fare better than they have.

Oklahoma State Cowboys

Attending: Coach Mike Gundy, receiver Jhajuan Seales, linebacker Ryan Simmons, cornerback Kevin Peterson

Storyline: No team in college football got ravaged by graduation more than the Cowboys. In fact, Seales, Simmons and Peterson are three of just eight returning starters from last year’s 10-win team. Yet while inexperienced, Oklahoma State has recruited well and has talented prospects eager to prove their mettle. Will that be enough to stave off a rebuilding year? That will hinge heavily on junior quarterback J.W. Walsh, who won’t actually be at media days. Walsh was terrific in spot-starting duty two years ago as a redshirt freshman. But he struggled in 2013 with accuracy and decision-making, and eventually lost the starting job back to Clint Chelf. Now that Chelf is gone, the keys to the offense are Walsh’s again. Can he keep the Oklahoma State attack humming?

TCU Horned Frogs

Attending: Coach Gary Patterson, receiver David Porter, center Joey Hunt, defensive tackle Chucky Hunter, safety Sam Carter

Storyline: The Horned Frogs have been stout defensively since joining the Big 12. And this year should be no different with standouts like Hunter, Carter and defensive end Devonte Fields, who last week was named the Big 12 Preseason Defensive Player of the Year. Yet even with all that defense, a sputtering offense has prevented TCU from winning many games. This offseason, Patterson brought in coordinators Doug Meacham and Sonny Cumbie to jumpstart the offense. If the Horned Frogs can finally begin to score, they could emerge as dark-horse threats to co-favorites Oklahoma and Baylor.

Texas Tech Red Raiders

Attending: Coach Kliff Kingsbury, receiver Bradley Marquez, linebacker Sam Eguavoen, linebacker Kenny Williams

Storyline: In Kingsbury’s first season, the Red Raiders followed a familiar script. They got off to another hot start. But when the schedule stiffened, they crumbled again in November. Then, however, Tech went off script. In one of the biggest upsets of the bowl season, the Red Raiders knocked off Arizona State in the National University Holiday Bowl. The win completely changed the tenor of the offseason. And the rapid development of sophomore quarterback Davis Webb has elevated the expectations for 2014. Webb threw touchdown passes on Tech’s first four possessions in the Holiday Bowl, and after putting on weight, was just as impressive during the spring. Kingsbury seemingly has the quarterback to take Tech to the next level. But does he have the defense? That will require Williams, Eguavoen and four junior college transfers along the defensive line to come up big.
Our series of preseason picks for every single Big 12 game of 2014 continues today with Week 10, a week that will likely be remembered for battles between teams in the middle of the pack.

More Big 12 predictions for 2014.

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

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

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

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

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

Current Big 12 standings

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

Ranking Big 12 games: Part V

July, 18, 2014
Jul 18
1:30
PM ET
This week, we’ve ranked the Big 12 games, both in and out of conference, from Nos. 75 to 16.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

No. 1. Baylor at Oklahoma (Nov. 8): This is the one most likely to decide the Big 12 title. The Bears may have defeated Oklahoma by 29 points last year, but they have never won in Norman. On the other side, this could be Oklahoma’s biggest conference bout since 2008, when Texas Tech visited and was ranked second in the polls.
In today's mailbag, we discuss TCU's defense, Texas' recruiting and Oklahoma's backfield.

To submit a future mailbag entry, simply go here.

Now, on to the 'bag:


Bo McKown in Charleston, West Virginia writes: Jake, just saw that you were a W&L grad. I play football for the Generals, but I'm also a huge WVU fan. I would love to hear your predictions for this WVU team this upcoming year. If we get decent QB play, I think we could win eight games. If the defense comes along nicely, I think we could put together a solid season. Thoughts?

Trotter: Always great to hear from a fellow General, Bo. I actually believe there’s a good chance West Virginia will be improved this fall. The addition of Tom Bradley to the defensive staff should really bring a calming influence to that unit. There’s also quality depth at running back, receiver, linebacker and in the secondary. But even if Clint Trickett plays well, I’m not sure where the eight wins come from. Essentially, the Mountaineers would have to win five games they probably won’t be favored in. That’s asking a lot. I’m much more bullish on the Generals’ 2014 outlook. Good luck on the upcoming season, Bo.


Mitch in Fort Worth, Texas, writes: Most of what I have read regarding TCU football for 2014 talks only of our new additions for the offense. I was wondering what you knew about new developments in our defense for the 2014 season (not including Devonte Fields returning).

Trotter: The TCU defense should be one of the best in the country. Kevin White looks ready to take over for Jason Verrett as the team’s No. 1 corner. Opposite White, redshirt freshman Ranthony Texada had a tremendous spring and will move into the starting lineup. Junior-college safety Kenny Iloka impressed during the spring as well and will boost an already stout group at safety that includes Sam Carter, Chris Hackett, Derrick Kindred and Geoff Hooker. Of course, the biggest development this offseason was Fields returning to form. He’s the X-factor. If he plays the way he did as a freshman two years ago, look out.


 Eric Robinson in Dayton, Ohio, writes: I read a lot about how Texas is getting bludgeoned on the recruiting trail by Texas A&M. Other than ego, why should Texas care? Shouldn't it be more concerned about what OU and Baylor are doing?

Trotter: They ought to care care, Eric, because those are players that might otherwise be going to Texas. The more talent the Longhorns get, the better they’re likely to be. And the Aggies are snagging players a lot of players that in the past would have ended up in Austin.


 Crimson runner in Tulsa, Okla., writes: Will OU's running game be a one-two punch with Alex Ross and Keith Ford?

Trotter: Maybe more like a three-headed monster. Incoming freshman Joe Mixon has really been turning heads this summer. The Sooners have recruited extremely well at the position. Mixon, Ford and Ross were ranked 53rd, 27th and 70th in the ESPN 300 coming out of high school. All three players figure to get carries, but it will be interesting to see who emerges as the primary running back. Ford showed promise as a true freshman. But a lot of people in Norman think it might be Mixon.



John Madison in Salt Lake City writes: Jake, there has been a lot of buzz around the Red Raiders and something great is growing in Lubbock. Writers and analysts have nodded to the great things happening there, but still Texas Tech is projected to finish 6th or 7th in the conference. Are they really still an underdog in all but three or four games?

Trotter: This might be the first mailbag entry by way of Salt Lake that wasn’t about BYU. The Red Raiders, John, still have much to prove. The win over Arizona State was very encouraging. But before that, Tech lost five straight to the top five teams in the conference by an average margin of more than 20 points. To finish any higher than sixth in the league, the Red Raiders are going to have to show they can beat some of those teams. I think they can this year. But that’s why you don’t see Tech getting picked higher this preseason.
Our series of preseason picks for every single Big 12 game of 2014 continues today with Week 9. Just three games in the Big 12 this week but all three games should breed plenty of interest and intrigue.

More Big 12 predictions for 2014.

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

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

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

Current Big 12 standings

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

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