Big 12: Kansas Jayhawks

Big 12 morning links

October, 1, 2014
Oct 1
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Come on LeBron. Is it that serious?
  • Texas players didn't hesitate to speak their minds about Baylor but the Bears' players refused to bite when asked about the comments of John Harris and Quandre Diggs on Monday, reports John Werner of the Waco Tribune. I'm sure the Bears had conversations about not feeding into the comments but somehow I think we will be looking at a different story on Saturday. I'd be shocked if the Bears are as quiet on Saturday as they were this week, there should be plenty of trash talk in Austin, Texas, this weekend. On the field and in the stands.
  • Can Iowa State mimic Baylor? Bobby La Gesse of the Ames Tribune thinks the Cyclones can follow BU's blueprint. It makes sense on a bunch of different levels since the Bears were once cemented on the bottom of the Big 12 standings. But BU has a much bigger talent base to tap into, even though they have to hold off nationwide suitors for the top players in their state. The Cyclones just don't have the pool of talent to recruit from like Baylor does, so evaluation and finding hidden gems becomes even more important in Ames, Iowa. That said, ISU does have plenty of assets to offer so a Baylor-like rise is not impossible, it would just have to be done differently.
  • The poor quarterback play at Kansas is now Clint Bowen's problem, writes Tom Keegan of the Lawrence Journal-World. Montell Cozart has been bad early this season and the fact the Jayhawks haven't turned to Michael Cummings speaks volumes about the state of the quarterback position in Lawrence. Cozart looked like the quarterback of the future but if he doesn't turn things around immediately the future may never come.
  • This was a classy move from Auburn athletic director Jay Jacobs. He took the time to write a letter to the editor at Kansas State's student newspaper to thank K-State and its fans for the hospitality when the Tigers visited Manhattan, Kansas, on Sept. 18.
  • Oklahoma confirmed the NCAA's denial of Baker Mayfield's eligibility on Tuesday, reports Eric Bailey of the Tulsa World. Mayfield will be allowed to be placed on scholarship. Of all the uncertainty surrounding the Sooners program in the offseason, Mayfield's ineligibility could be the biggest blow. Quarterback Trevor Knight has remained healthy through four games but if anything happens to Knight, OU could be forced to turn to Blake Bell under center or rely on a redshirt freshman Cody Thomas. Bell has moved to tight end and Thomas has only played one game in his career. If Mayfield had been cleared to play, it would have brought peace of mind to the program.

Roundtable: Keys for TCU, Texas

September, 30, 2014
Sep 30
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In our weekly Big 12 roundtable, we examine the keys to Texas and TCU knocking off Big 12 co-favorites Baylor and Oklahoma this weekend, and whether Kansas will notch another win under interim coach Clint Bowen:

What is the key to Texas pulling off the upset over Baylor?

Brandon Chatmon: If Texas actually decides to walk the walk. The Longhorns players haven’t been bashful in sharing their thoughts on Baylor’s rise. UT hung with Baylor for a while a year ago before the Bears finally pulled away, but that Longhorns squad had rebounded after a horrible start to the season and entered the 2013 meeting with some confidence. That’s not the scenario this time around. Are the Longhorns are trying to talk themselves into believing they can win?

Max Olson: Charlie Strong is the kind of coach who'll tell you Texas just needs to score one more point than Baylor. Well, how many points is that going to take? His track record suggests Strong and his staff will draw up a game plan that gives Texas' defense a chance to slow down Bryce Petty and his infinite weapons. But Tyrone Swoopes and this slow-moving Longhorn offense must find easier ways to run the ball and score and, more important, they must answer whenever Baylor does strike. It's going to take resilience, but Texas can't win unless its offense rises to the challenge in a way we've yet to witness in 2014.

Jake Trotter: The only way Texas will have a chance is if it runs the ball. Swoopes isn’t Blake Bortles or even Clint Chelf, so the Longhorns aren’t going to be able to simply outscore the Bears. That means Johnathan Gray and Malcolm Brown will have to move the chains to keep Petty and Co. off the field. The Longhorns actually are talented enough defensively to create issues for the Baylor offense. Defensive tackle Malcom Brown has been a beast in the middle, and the back seven is creating turnovers. But they can hold the finger in the dam for only so long. Eventually, the Bears will hit Texas up for big plays. Which is why it’s imperative the Horns grind out some drives and limit Petty’s opportunities to gouge them.

What is the key to TCU pulling off the upset over Oklahoma?

Chatmon: Trevone Boykin. Nobody knows how Boykin will react against the chaos the Sooners defense will create nor do we know just how much Boykin has improved since last season. It could get ugly for the TCU signal-caller. Or he could be the biggest nightmare this Sooners defense will see all season. If he executes TCU’s new offense like a veteran quarterback, Boykin has the ability to stress a defense unlike any other quarterback in the Big 12 with his ability to run like a running back in the open field. A great game from Boykin could be the worst-case scenario for OU.

Olson: Brandon is right, it's Boykin and the way he responds to the pressure of this Oklahoma defense. But I'm curious about the other side of the ball, too: How will the Horned Frogs attack Trevor Knight, make him uncomfortable and force him to make difficult throws? Against Tennessee and West Virginia, Knight was efficient when passing against blitzes. TCU needs to get after him and throw off the timing of this offense. OU will take this game over if Knight gets off to a sharp start.

Trotter: The TCU offensive line has to hold up against Oklahoma’s swarming front seven. The Horned Frogs’ defense traditionally has fared well against the Sooners, but TCU has been unable to win in its two Big 12 meetings with the Sooners because of its inability to move the ball. The Horned Frogs opened last year’s game against Oklahoma with seven three-and-outs. TCU got dominated at the line of scrimmage and finished with only 44 yards rushing in that game. That didn’t cut it last year, and it won’t Saturday, either. Gary Patterson switched up his coordinators in the offseason to jump-start the offense. But it won’t amount to much if TCU gets obliterated up front again.

Under Bowen, will Kansas win another game?

Chatmon: Sure, why not? It only takes one team to slip up against the Jayhawks, and KU’s defense has actually been pretty good this season. But it has been overshadowed by the lackluster performance of its offense and sophomore quarterback Montell Cozart. The Jayhawks could find themselves hanging in a game thanks to their defense then getting one or two big plays to somehow pull out a win. I can’t say who should be on upset alert, but I wouldn’t be shocked if they pull off an win.

Olson: You would think that Texas Tech will have its house in order by the time KU plays in Lubbock on Oct. 18, though clearly at this point that's a team with some vulnerabilities. Realistically, though, Kansas' best chance comes at home against Iowa State on Nov. 8. And I think Bowen will treat the season finale at Kansas State like the Jayhawks' bowl game. That's going to be a throw-the-kitchen-sink game and a prime chance for Bowen to prove he deserves a shot at the job.

Trotter: I want to say yes, but look at the schedule and tell me who Kansas is going to beat? The Jayhawks have only three more home games. I don’t see Kansas being able to score against TCU on No. 15. I don’t see them being able to score with Oklahoma State on Oct. 11. That leaves Iowa State on Nov. 8. And if I had to pick that game today, I’d pick the Cyclones, who, by the way, slaughtered Kansas last year, 34-0. I think the Jayhawks will compete harder under Bown than they did under Charlie Weis. I’m just not sure this Kansas offense is competent enough for it to matter.

Weekend recruiting wrap: Big 12 

September, 30, 2014
Sep 30
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Baylor, Oklahoma State, Texas, TCU and Kansas State all scored victories over the weekend, but Kansas seemed to be the big story, as the Jayhawks lost head coach Charlie Weis, who was fired after compiling a 6-22 record and earning only one win against a Power 5 school in three seasons.

What will this mean for recruiting? Currently, the Jayhawks have 13 commits in the 2015 class, and while the consensus is still committed, the idea of exploring other options is a definite. Find out more about Kansas and the rest of Big 12 recruiting with these highlights.

The last time any excitement surrounded Kansas football, Mark Mangino was hoisting the Orange Bowl trophy.

Clint Bowen was around for that moment, as Mangino's defensive coordinator.

[+] EnlargeClint Bowen
Orlin Wagner/AP PhotoInterim head coach Clint Bowen said on Monday of the Jayhawks' program: "People that know football, they know that this is an unbelievable job."
And now, as the Jayhawks' interim head coach, he hopes to rekindle some of that passion in the program.

"I feel like we have a way of operating that is proven successful at the University of Kansas," said Bowen, during his introductory news conference Monday. "I've seen the blueprint before here."

It's been awhile since that blueprint was in effect.

The Jayhawks fired Charlie Weis on Sunday morning, just a little more than two years after letting go of Turner Gill.

During the Weis and Gill eras, the losses have piled up. Forty-one of them, in fact, in just over four seasons.

The quarterback play has been dreadful, Saturday's 23-0 loss to Texas notwithstanding in which Montell Cozart threw four interceptions.

As a result, the crowds have dwindled away, too, with Kansas' average attendance falling a Big 12-worst 8 percent last year, and on track to drop even farther this season.

With all hope seemingly vanished, Kansas finally bit a $7.5 million bullet and elected to part with Weis.

But Monday, Bowen painted a different picture of Kansas football.

"Anyone that would consider this a stepping stone job is an idiot," Bowen said. "This is a destination job. I've heard people say that before and I always defend it. Anyone that knows anything about Kansas, talking to coaches in this business, people understand that this is a sleeping giant of a program. You have an unbelievable community, you have an unbelievable university, you've got all the resources available to have a successful football program and all the support from the administration. People that know football, they know that this is an unbelievable job."

Kansas might not be a destination job at the moment. But if anyone can breathe optimism into Kansas football on an interim basis this season, it might be Bowen. He grew up in Lawrence. He played at Kansas. Has coached at Kansas off and on for 16 years since the late 1990s.

"The University of Kansas has given me so much in my life personally," Bowen said. "I've never known a day in my life that I wasn't a KU football fan. I grew up a Lawrence guy, grew up going to KU football games, so to be standing here today is truly one of the greatest honors I've ever had in my life."

Bowen shared a personal anecdote that underscored his passion for the program.

While a graduate assistant at Kansas, Bowen was on a date with his future wife at an ice cream parlor.

"I was trying to impress her a little bit and she said, 'What are you going to be in life?'" he recalled. "'Well, I'm going to be the head football coach at Kansas.'"

Bowen has his work cut out for him. The Kansas defense has played admirably the past two weeks. But the Jayhawks have been abysmal offensively, scoring a combined three points in losses in Duke and Texas. Through the Weis and Gill eras, the Jayhawks have ranked dead last in the Big 12 in scoring, including this season.

But Bowen has seen firsthand Kansas football succeed before.

He was a defensive back for Glen Mason in the early 1990s, and graduated the year before Mason led Kansas to a 10-2 record and a trip to the Aloha Bowl.

After several years as a Kansas assistant, Mangino tabbed Bowen to be his defensive coordinator in 2007. That season, the Jayhawks went 12-1, won the Orange Bowl and featured the nation's No. 12-ranked defense. The offense was prolific, as well, behind under-recruited quarterback Todd Reesing.

"My mind, right now, is 100 percent on giving the players in this program -- the seniors, the guys that have been here, the guys that have worked so hard -- the best possible opportunity they can have for success," Bowen said. "To show appreciation for the people that came before them, from the way to go out and work, the way to go out and represent yourself in the community, the way to practice, the way to be physical and tough -- the core elements.

"We have nine weeks to not only help these seniors get out of here with a successful season, but also start to instill in those younger players what this program is going to be about in the future."

Big 12 recruiting scoreboard

September, 29, 2014
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Below is our weekly update on the Big 12 recruiting trail:

BAYLOR

Total commits: 12
ESPN 300 commits: 3
The latest: The Bears didn't land a recruit this past week, but plenty of Lone Star State prospects will be paying attention to Baylor’s trip to Austin. The Bears have been winning recruiting battles for the state top’s talent, and they have a chance to make another statement on the field.

IOWA STATE

Total commits: 11
ESPN 300 commits: 0
The latest: The Cyclones landed a commitment for the first time in more than a month in Kissimmee, Florida, cornerback Stephon Brown, who had offers from NC State, Hawaii, Marshall, South Florida and Southern Miss.

KANSAS

Total commits: 13
ESPN 300 commits: 0
The latest: The first order of business for interim coach Clint Bowen was calling all of Kansas’ commitments Sunday and telling them they are still wanted in Lawrence. Despite his troubles on the field, Charlie Weis had put together another decent recruiting class that Bowen needs to hold together.

KANSAS STATE

Total commits: 10
ESPN 300 commits: 0
The latest: The Wildcats have been quiet on the trail lately, after landing seven commitments from June to August. More will be on the way once Bill Snyder figures out which junior-college players he wants to target in this class.

OKLAHOMA

Total commits: 14
ESPN 300 commits: 6
The latest: The Sooners landed their third commitment in the month of September in McAlester, Oklahoma, tight end Dalton Wood, who jones Midwest City safety Will Sunderland and Jenks defensive tackle Marquise Overton as Oklahoma's three in-state commitments.

OKLAHOMA STATE

Total commits: 13
ESPN 300 commits: 4
The latest: The Pokes pulled off one of the better recruiting steals of the year last week in convincing ESPN 300 safety Kevin Henry to flip from LSU to OSU. Henry had been committed to the Tigers, where he projected as a safety/linebacker since January but started reconsidering his other options in July. Henry joins WR Jalen McCleskey as the second Louisiana recruit in OSU's class.

TCU

Total commits: 16
ESPN 300 commits: 0
The latest: No new pledges for the Horned Frogs this week, but they get a chance to impress visitors this Saturday when Oklahoma comes to Fort Worth. One TCU commit worth keeping an eye on is WR J.F. Thomas, the Frogs' highest-rated pledge. He received an offer from Texas recently, and two of his Dallas South Oak Cliff teammates -- Jamile Johnson and Jordan Stevenson -- are already committed to UT.

TEXAS

Total commits: 17
ESPN 300 commits: 8
The latest: Texas picked up a pledge from Austin Westlake LB Breckyn Hager, a three-star recruit who was committed to Baylor. The previous staff passed on Baylor's Bryce Hager in 2010, even though he's the son of Texas all-time leading tackler Britt Hager. Stevenson, who committed nearly a year ago, took an official visit to Wisconsin this weekend but remains solid with Texas.

TEXAS TECH

Total commits: 10
ESPN 300 commits: 3
The latest: The Red Raiders' staff made an intriguing find in East Texas last week. Longview's Broderick Washington committed soon after he received his Texas Tech offer. He's playing offensive tackle right now for Longview, but Tech loves his toughness and mean style of play and plans to develop him as a nose guard at the next level.

WEST VIRGINIA

Total commits: 19
ESPN 300 commits: 3
The latest: West Virginia locked up a huge commitment last Monday when ESPN 300 CB Tyrek Cole flipped from Florida State. You don't see that too often. WVU defensive line coach Damon Cogdell coached Cole at Miramar High School in Florida last year. The Mountaineers also received a commitment from three-star ILB David Long on Sunday. This 2015 class is in terrific shape so far.

Big 12 weekend rewind: Week 5

September, 29, 2014
Sep 29
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Taking stock of Week 5 in the Big 12:

Team of the week: Baylor. Any time you go to Iowa State and come up with a win, it’s a big deal -- even if three teams have already done it now this season. Ames traditionally has not been an easy place to play, and Baylor made it look easy with a four-touchdown halftime lead on the way to a 49-28 win. The Bears dominated with 32 first downs and 601 yards of offense.

Disappointment of the week: Kansas. The Jayhawks played Texas tough its last trip to Lawrence, and had every opportunity to give the offensively challenged Longhorns another tough fight. Instead, Montell Cozart threw four interceptions, and Kansas squandered away every scoring opportunity in a 23-0 defeat. The lackluster performance was the final straw in the Charlie Weis era.

Big (offensive) man on campus: Corey Coleman. Baylor insiders had been touting the sophomore as the next great Baylor wide receiver during the offseason. But when Coleman suffered a preseason hamstring injury, true freshman K.D. Cannon stole that hype. Coleman got it back in Ames with a monster debut to the season. He had 12 catches for 154 yards and a touchdown, leading the Baylor scoring barrage.

Big (defensive) man on campus: James McFarland. Sure, SMU might be inept offensively. Really inept, in fact. Still, the TCU defensive end had a huge afternoon in the Horned Frogs’ 56-0 stomping of the Mustangs. McFarland finished with three of TCU’s nine sacks. It was a career-high for McFarland, and the most sacks for the Horned Frogs in a game since 2002. McFarland also forced two fumbles, and produced a pass-breakup on a fourth down at the TCU 1-yard line to preserve the shutout.

Special-teams player of the week: Tyler Lockett. Another game, another big day for K-State’s do-it-all playmaker. In a 58-28 win against UTEP, Lockett finished with 143 yards on punt returns, the second-most in school history and 29 short of tying the school record of 172 set by David Allen in 1998. Lockett also caught four passes for 84 yards. He now leads the country in punt return yards per game.

Play of the week: It’s not easy to fumble and throw an interception on the same play. But that is what happened to backup Texas Tech quarterback Patrick Mahomes in relief of injured starter Davis Webb. Early in the fourth quarter, Mahomes had the ball stripped away. He then scooped it up and tossed it to his right wildly as he was falling down. The ball deflected off running back Quinton White and into the arms of Seth Jacobs for an interception. The Cowboys scored four plays later to go up 45-28 and put the game away.

Stat of the week: Texas Tech was flagged 16 times for 158 yards in the 45-35 loss to Oklahoma State. As a result, the Red Raiders now lead the nation with 105.5 penalty yards per game.

Quote of the week: "We have not made the on-the-field progress we believe we should." -- Kansas athletic director Sheahon Zenger, on why he fired coach Charlie Weis.

Big 12 morning links

September, 29, 2014
Sep 29
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Jerry Jones apparently has plans of taking over the world.
  • After winning just one Big 12 game as coach of the Jayhawks, Charlie Weis was fired over the weekend on the heels of a 23-0 loss to Texas. Kansas athletic director Sheahon Zenger told the Lawrence Journal-World's Matt Tait that the "program had lost support at all levels." Though it was a tad surprising that Zenger pulled the trigger after just one Big 12 game, you can hardly blame him. Kansas had showed no signs of improvement this season, scoring a combined three points in losses to Duke and Texas. Attendance was plummeting again this season, even after an 8 percent drop the year before. Under Weis, there was just no excitement surrounding Kansas football whatsoever.
  • After two disastrous hires, the pressure is on Zenger and the Jayhawks to get this next hire right. Zenger, remember, fired Turner Gill after just two seasons; Weis, the man Zenger hired to clean up Gill's mess, lasted 33 months. CBSSports.com's Dennis Dodd throws out some possible candidates that Zenger might look at, including Oklahoma offensive coordinator Josh Heupel. The Jayhawks had success previously hiring an Oklahoma offensive coordinator, as Mark Mangino took Kansas to the 2007 Orange Bowl. The Lawrence Journal-World's Tom Keegan, meanwhile, writes that interim coach and Kansas alum Clint Bowen brings some much-needed passion to the program. The Jayhawks are in some definite need of that.
  • Embattled NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and NFL executive vice president Troy Vincent interestingly met with Texas coach Charlie Strong on Sunday to discuss the coach’s five core values and his approach to building the Longhorns. Vincent was very complimentary of Strong's disciplinary stances following their meeting, telling Yahoo Sports' Eric Adelson that "this is a model that should be emulated across the country in both amateur and professional football." Vincent gave Strong and his staff plenty of ammo to use when meeting with parents on the recruiting trail. If opposing coaches try to negatively recruit against Texas because of its suspensions and dismissals, the Longhorns will be able to counter with the ultimate trump card, as defensive coordinator Vance Bedford points out.
  • There were some actual games over the weekend, too, and Baylor got a huge boost from the returns of wideouts Antwan Goodley and Corey Coleman from injuries, as the Waco Tribune-Herald's John Werner details. Back from a hamstring injury he suffered in preseason camp, Coleman caught a career-high 12 passes for 154 yards and a touchdown in the 49-28 win at Iowa State. Goodley returned from a quadriceps injury suffered in the early minutes of the season opener against SMU to catch six passes for 114 yards. Clay Fuller also came back from a preseason collarbone injury and made two fourth-quarter catches. Levi Norwood could be back as soon as this weekend from a fractured wrist. After an injury plagued non-conference, the Baylor offense is operating at full strength again. Just in time for Texas, too.
  • The next two weeks will provide an opportunity for Oklahoma State to grow, writes The Oklahoman's John Helsley. The Cowboys get Iowa State at home this weekend, then travel to Kansas. In other words, Oklahoma State has a great chance to get off to a 5-1 start to the season after dispatching of Texas Tech last week. With so much inexperience coming into the season, coach Mike Gundy has to be pleased with the way the 2014 season has begun. At one point, Oklahoma State had five true freshmen on the field at once defensively in the Tech game. Those young players have a chance to develop even more over the next two weeks before the Cowboys hit the heart of their Big 12 schedule with an Oct. 18 road trip to TCU.
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Charlie Weis stood before Kansas fans at a preseason pep rally last month and made his plea. He probably helped seal his fate, too.

“I’m only asking for September,” he told the fan base. “You give me September, and I’ll give you a reason to come in October and November.”

He got more specific than that, according to the Lawrence Journal-World: “Go to those three games at home, watch the one game on the road and then you make the decision on where the direction of the football team is going. It’s as simple as that. Because I think you’re going to be greatly surprised.”

His boss, athletic director Sheahon Zenger, made the decision for him. Weis, fired on Sunday after a 23-0 loss to Texas, preached a five-year plan but never produced the momentum needed to get through three.

Four games in is early, yes, but Kansas had every right to do this now. His preseason plea in Corinth Square on Aug. 22 was a perfect example of the empty promises of the Weis era, a 28-game tenure in which Kansas’ trajectory never improved.

There was just never a spark in the two years and nearly 10 months that Weis ran the program. No signs of momentum no matter what Weis said or tried. The roster is probably marginally better. Maybe the recruiting is, too. But the results aren’t.

The road losing streak Weis inherited remains intact. The Jayhawks have lost 25 straight away from home. They followed every win under Weis with a loss. They beat just three FBS teams in his tenure and lost 19 of 20 against Power 5 schools.

The lone exception, a 31-19 victory over a four-win West Virginia team last November, was billed as a potential turnaround moment. Fans celebrated their first conference victory since 2010 by dumping KU’s goalposts in Potter Lake. Who could blame them?

The next game, at Iowa State, offered a chance to really start something. Snap the road slide, win two in a row, change the narrative. Kansas lost 34-0. A week later, a 31-10 loss to Kansas State finished the year.

The September wins Weis bet his fan support on? Kansas nearly blew a 27-point lead in its opener, a 34-28 win over Southeast Missouri, and then played Central Michigan to a 10-10 draw through three quarters before pulling away in the fourth.

A 41-3 loss to Duke highlighted by a 245-yard rushing effort from the Blue Devils' Shaun Wilson, a freshman back who wasn’t listed on the depth chart, hurt far more than those wins helped. On Saturday, Kansas’ offense crossed midfield eight times but averaged 1.7 yards on its 34 plays in Texas territory.

[+] EnlargeCharlie Weis
John Rieger/USA TODAY SportsCharlie Weis posted a 6-22 record at Kansas.
There was never any “decided schematic advantage” under Weis, nor was there ever a breakout quarterback. Weis tried to find sparks in recruiting. He lured two high-profile QB transfers to Lawrence -- Notre Dame’s Dayne Crist and BYU’s Jake Heaps -- and both flopped. Crist went 1-6 as a starter. Heaps was 2-7 and transferred again, to Miami, after losing his job.

The most coveted recruit of the Weis era, junior college defensive tackle Marquel Combs, transferred after being benched for the first three games of his KU career. The roster today has a few promising pieces and one clear All-Big 12 player, senior linebacker Ben Heeney, but was clearly misjudged by Weis as being ready to compete and win in Big 12 play.

The blueprint that Weis sold back in December 2011 -- of restoring Kansas’ temporary status as a “perennial winning program” by the end of his five years -- was given more than 1,000 days. Now it’s been rightfully scrapped and KU now needs its fourth head coach since Mark Mangino’s exit in 2009.

It’s sad to say, but it’s true: Kansas was probably wise to start the search now, because it’s not inconceivable KU will compete with SMU for similar candidates. And don't forget, Kansas could've had Gus Malzahn in 2011.

Kansas can win in the Big 12. We’ve seen it before. The remarkable revival at Baylor is perfect proof that, with the right guy and the right plan, this program can escape the basement.

What these Jayhawks -- and the 36,000 fans who showed up Saturday -- desperately need is a coach who can build that momentum again. After these past few years, they need and deserve a reason for excitement. They need a reason to care about October and November again.

Big 12 Power Rankings: Week 5

September, 28, 2014
Sep 28
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What we learned in the Big 12: Week 5

September, 28, 2014
Sep 28
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Here’s what we learned about the Big 12 in Week 5:

[+] EnlargeAntwan Goodley
David Purdy/Getty ImagesAntwan Goodley made a triumphant return for Baylor after missing the previous two games due to injury.
1. Petty's toys are back in business: No video-game-crazy numbers for Baylor's offense in a 49-28 victory at Iowa State, just the usual display that makes it tough for Big 12 defensive coordinators to sleep at night. Bryce Petty sure had some catching up to do with his favorite injured wideouts, and Corey Coleman (12 catches, 154 yards, 1 TD) and Antwan Goodley (6 catches, 114 yards) both made it count. The Bears weren't up to their optimal speed -- there were five three-and-outs, a Petty interception and a failed fourth-down conversion -- but Shock Linwood (three TDs) makes them so difficult to stop when they hit the red zone, and the starters got to sit out the final quarter. Business as usual for Baylor.

2. Pokes can beat you deep: Oklahoma State won the Big 12's first primetime fight because it wasn't afraid to take big shots. Daxx Garman connected on eight passes of 20-plus yards, and even better, they were hauled in by six different receivers over the course of the 45-35 victory on Thursday. It's time to stop underestimating Marcell Ateman and James Washington after the underclassmen combined for 217 yards and two TDs, and OSU put something plenty scary on tape when Tyreek Hill beat his defender by a good 7 yards for a 50-yard scoring bomb. It wasn't easy, and it sure wasn't pretty -- 287 combined penalty yards on 26 flags -- but OSU found out Garman can handle the bright lights just fine.

3. K-State defense rallies in big way: Kansas State was missing two starters on defense but had no trouble taking out its Auburn-inspired anger on UTEP, a team that proved against Texas Tech it's no pushover. In the 58-28 win, KSU held the nation's No. 2 rusher, Aaron Jones, to nine yards in the first half and 47 on the day. The Miners couldn't get anything going for the three quarters KSU's starters played -- it was 52-7 when Bill Snyder sent in the backups -- and UTEP ended the first half down 31 points with just 23 total yards and one first down. KSU got right back on track and still looks like a legit contender for the Big 12 crown.

4. TCU's Air Raid keeps making it look ... too easy? The Horned Frogs are 3-0 with wins over Samford, Minnesota and now SMU, a team that’s been outscored 202-12 through four games. If there's an FBS team playing worse football than the Mustangs, I would not like to see it. So it’s tough to confidently make conclusions about TCU after this 56-0 victory. But Trevone Boykin (six total TDs) still looks incalculably more polished than a year ago. He has a diverse array of receivers and backs at his disposal, and the Frogs' 614 total yards were their most since 2011. To TCU's credit, Minnesota was solid in a 30-14 win against the dumpster fire in Ann Arbor. The Horned Frogs' offense couldn't have asked for a better start to 2014. It's time to find out what they're made of against the Sooners.

5. Texas still has issues: If Texas plays against Baylor next Saturday the way it did in Lawrence, Kansas, it probably doesn't stand much of a chance. Charlie Strong won't get too mad about a 23-0 victory that snaps a two-game slide, but he won't spend much time celebrating it, either. Texas never had to sweat too much, thanks to Montell Cozart's four interceptions, but its patchwork offensive line remains a work in progress (Malcolm Brown and Johnathan Gray combined for 73 rushing yards), and scoring points is still a struggle. Still, Texas did at least do what it needed to and gave Strong his first Big 12 win. KU showed some nice things in the run game and has a better defense than you think, but its offensive execution in many trips into Texas territory was fruitless.

Big 12 viewer's guide: Week 5

September, 27, 2014
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In Week 5 of Big 12 action, TCU will try to hand SMU another heavy defeat; Kansas State will attempt to bounce back from a disappointing loss; Texas and Kansas will meet in their conference opener; and Baylor will look to avoid getting upset by Iowa State in Ames.

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

TCU at SMU, noon ET (CBS Sports Network): TCU coach Gary Patterson said he expects to get SMU’s best shot. That still might not amount to much. The Mustangs are a complete mess, having been outscored 146-12 in their first three games. SMU is expected to start its third different quarterback already this season, walk-on Garrett Krstich, who opened the year fourth on the depth chart. The Horned Frogs ought to be able to keep the Iron Skillet trophy in Fort Worth while keeping the game plan relatively vanilla as they gear up for next weekend’s crucial home showdown against fourth-ranked Oklahoma.

UTEP at No. 25 Kansas State, noon ET (Fox Sports Regional): It will be interesting to see how the Wildcats bounce back after their gut-wrenching loss to Auburn last week. This, however, figures to be a good matchup for K-State. UTEP running back Aaron Jones ranks second in the country with 182 rushing yards per game, but the Wildcats appear to have a formidable run defense, which snapped Auburn’s 13-game streak of producing at least 200 rushing yards. Meanwhile, K-State coach Bill Snyder has indicated that Jack Cantele will remain the Wildcats' place-kicker despite missing all three field goals against the Tigers. Getting Cantele back on track will be paramount for the Wildcats on Saturday before they resume conference play next week.

[+] EnlargeBen Heeney
John Albright/Icon SMIBen Heeney and the Kansas defense get another crack at Texas this weekend.
Texas at Kansas, 4 p.m. ET (Fox Sports 1): Texas hasn’t loss to Kansas since 1938, but there have been some close calls over the years. In their last trip to Lawrence, the Longhorns need a game-winning touchdown drive from backup quarterback Case McCoy to escape in the final seconds with a 21-17 win. There’s reason to believe this game could be tight, too. The Longhorns have completed only five passes of at least 20 yards this season, while the running game has been among the least effective in the conference. On the other side of the ball, the Jayhawks feature a veteran defense, led by linebackers Ben Heeney and Jake Love, that is coming off a solid performance in a 24-10 win over Central Michigan.

No. 7 Baylor at Iowa State, 8 p.m. ET (Fox): Baylor handed the Cyclones a 71-7 whupping last season, the worst margin of defeat in Iowa State history. The Cyclones, however, have been a much tougher team at home under Paul Rhoads. Iowa State, in fact, defeated the Bears 35-21 in their last visit to Ames two years ago. Since falling to North Dakota State in the opener, the Cyclones have played much better, but Baylor will be getting a couple of key offensive weapons back in its lineup. Starting receivers Antwan Goodley and Corey Coleman are expected to return from injuries on an offense that has led the country in every major statistical category without them.

Big 12's top recruiting visits 

September, 26, 2014
Sep 26
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With four weekend games on tap this weekend, the Big 12 will have an opportunity to add some quality players. It’s already been an interesting week, as ESPN 300 defensive back Kevin Henry (Oklahoma State), athlete Tony Nicholson (Baylor), lineman Broderick Washington (Texas Tech) and linebacker Breckyn Hager (Texas, flipped from Baylor) already have declared their college futures.

Of the four games, only one involves a Big 12 team on the road. TCU travels toward the eastern Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex to face rival SMU. Here are two home games pitting Big 12 foes to keep an eye on, as it could be a big weekend for recruiting.

Texas at Kansas

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Big 12 morning links

September, 26, 2014
Sep 26
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Re2pect.
  • In case you went to bed early, Oklahoma State finished off Texas Tech 45-35 in Stillwater in the Big 12 opener for both teams. It was quite the uniform game, with the Red Raiders debuting their "White Ombré" ensemble; the Cowboys countered with their new orange chrome helmets. But it was Daxx Garman's big arm that was the difference for the Cowboys, and the long ball figures to be at the heart of Oklahoma State's offensive attack the rest of the year, wrote the The Oklahoman's Berry Tramel. That was pretty evident Thursday. Texas Tech kept daring the Cowboys to throw deep. And Garman obliged with 370 yards on just 17 completions. The Cowboys also have the wideouts to complement Garman's skill set. James Washington, Marcell Ateman, Brandon Sheperd and Jhajuan Seales can all go up and get the ball downfield, which the Red Raiders found out the hard way. As a result, Garman is currently tied for the national lead in completions of at least 30 yards, even though he didn't play in the Cowboys' first game.
  • It was a disappointing result for the Red Raiders, though they did perform better than they did two weeks ago against Arkansas. Tech moved the ball well and the defensive front held up, but penalties and turnovers doomed the Red Raiders yet again, according to Nicholas Talbot of the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal. Tech also lost QB Davis Webb to an injury to his non-throwing shoulder in the second half, forcing true freshman Patrick Mahomes into the game. Coach Kliff Kingsbury had no update on Webb after the game, though Webb shouldn't be out long. He tried to come back after briefly going into the locker room, but was overruled by the Tech training staff. If Tech has any chance of bouncing back from a disappointing start to this season, it needs Webb. He was by far the best thing the Red Raiders had going in Stillwater.
  • It's been another newsy last couple of days for Texas. In case you missed it, Brian Davis of the Austin American-Statesman had some excellent reporting in revealing that drug-testing has doubled for the football team since Charlie Strong has taken over as head coach. Former Texas coach Mack Brown reacted to Strong's dismissals on the Paul Finebaum Show. You can read the transcript here. In my opinion, Strong is doing the right thing. It might cause some rocky waves this year. But ultimately, the program will be stronger down the road for it. Also, Notre Dame backed out of two future games it had scheduled against Texas, according to the Dallas Morning News' Chuck Carlton.
  • Speaking of Notre Dame, former Irish QB Brady Quinn told the Topeka Capital-Journal he's a believer in Kansas coach Charlie Weis. Quinn was Weis' QB when Weis was the coach at Notre Dame a few years ago. Weis can produce a lot more believers if he can beat Texas on Saturday.
  • Mountaineers quarterback Clint Trickett is feeling at home in West Virginia, wrote the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review's Bob Cohn. With a healthy shoulder and a clear mind, Trickett ranks second nationally with 1,600 yards passing. If the season ended today, Trickett would get my vote for Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year. The Mountaineers are 2-2, but both of their losses have come against teams that could be in the playoff. Behind Trickett, West Virginia has a chance to win a lot of games this season.

Big 12 players in the Week 5 spotlight

September, 25, 2014
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Our weekly effort to identify one player poised for a breakout on each Big 12 team told you Samaje Perine was going to have a big night against West Virginia. Who's going to be the star of Week 5? Here are eight players we'll be watching:

Oklahoma State QB Daxx Garman: The junior is playing on a national stage tonight, and I can't wait to see how he handles the pressure. Texas Tech DC Mike Smith has a rep for loving to blitz, and he's going to find ways to get after a quarterback making his second career start. The OSU run game can set him up to succeed against Texas Tech.

Texas Tech CB Nigel Bethel II: His three-game suspension is over. Now it's time to find out if the freshman from Miami was worth the hype and the second chance. The Red Raiders have found some promising young DBs in Bethel's absence, but let's see what he can do with a few snaps in Stillwater.

Kansas State WR Curry Sexton: Really like how Sexton showed up against Auburn, with 11 receptions for 121 yards. He's just what K-State needs in terms of a go-to No. 2 when Tyler Lockett draws double coverage and has developed a nice rapport with Jake Waters. Watch him score his first touchdown since 2012 this week.

TCU RB B.J. Catalon: Well, SMU does have one of the worst run defenses in FBS. These TCU running backs haven't shown all they can do yet -- they recorded just 13 carries against Minnesota -- but it's an intriguing stable led by Catalon, who has just 58 rushing yards through two games. He should more than double that number this week.

Texas DE Cedric Reed: The preseason All-Big 12 lineman is off to a quiet start statistically (16 tackles, one TFL, 0.5 sacks) but did a solid job of getting pressure against UCLA. With defensive tackle Desmond Jackson out for the season, Texas needs Reed to get back to getting in the backfield. He'll get some takedowns this weekend.

Kansas RB Corey Avery: The freshman running back from Dallas is going to be motivated to shine against Texas, a program that recruited him on and off throughout 2013 and did bring him in for a January official visit. KU will try to pound the middle of Texas' defense, but Avery has the burst to pick up some big gains outside or inside.

Baylor DE Javonte Magee: The breakthrough is coming soon for Magee, the nasty 6-foot-5, 275-pound lineman who rejoined the program this offseason and racked up three TFLs and a sack in nonconference play. With all the attention Shawn Oakman will get from Big 12 foes, Magee has the potential to catch people by surprise.

Iowa State RB Aaron Wimberly: The Cyclones don't stand a chance if they can't keep Baylor's offense off the field as much as possible. They don't want a shootout. Mark Mangino needs his running backs to step up and pick up the tough conversions if they hope to achieve the kind of ball-control offense required to make Baylor uncomfortable. Wimberly hasn't surpassed 40 rushing yards in a game this season, but he needs a big night.

Big 12 Week 5 predictions

September, 25, 2014
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Why Oklahoma State will win: The Cowboys' offensive line has struggled, bogging down its rushing attack. What better tonic than the Texas Tech defense, which has been dismal this season. Quarterback Daxx Garman's arm will stretch the field, which will create plenty of creases for running backs Tyreek Hill, Desmond Roland and Rennie Childs in the running game. Oklahoma State 42, Texas Tech 28 -- Jake Trotter

Why Texas Tech will keep it close: The Red Raiders still have the ability to make defenses pay with a terrific passing game, and Oklahoma State's safeties will be tested in ways they haven't seen thus far. Add the Cowboys' subpar running game into the equation, and the result will be Tech putting up a much better fight than it did against Arkansas. Oklahoma State 49, Texas Tech 45 -- Brandon Chatmon


Why Baylor will win: Too many points, too quickly. The return of Antwan Goodley and several Baylor playmakers from injury spells trouble for ISU. The Bears will continue to do what made them so tough to beat in 2013: score 21-plus in the first quarter and put all the pressure on the Cyclones. Baylor 56, Iowa State 21 -- Max Olson

Why Iowa State will keep it close: The first time Baylor went on the road in the Big 12 last season, its offense sputtered, at least by Art Briles' lofty standards. The last time the Bears traveled to Iowa State, they lost by two touchdowns. The Cyclones won't pull off another gigantic upset. But behind a hard-nosed effort from Wally Burnham's defense, they will play Baylor much tougher than last season's 71-7 pasting in Waco. Baylor 39, Iowa State 22 -- Trotter


Why Texas will win: The Longhorns have the benefit of a bye week and two invaluable weeks of prep time for Tyrone Swoopes. Even if it's inconsistent, this seems like the breakout game for the Malcolm Brown-Johnathan Gray duo. Montell Cozart is in for a frustrating day if Texas can force him to pass. Texas 27, Kansas 10 -- Olson

Why Kansas will keep it close: The Jayhawks almost beat the Longhorns the last time Texas traveled to Lawrence, and there's no reason to think they can't do it again. Kansas' defense is better than people think. If Cozart and the Jayhawks' offense can hold up its end of the bargain and put up points, all bets are off. Texas 24, Kansas 20 -- Chatmon

OTHER UNANIMOUS PICKS

TCU over SMU 40-2: SMU is expected to start its third different QB already this season in walk-on Garrett Krstich, who opened the season fourth on the depth chart. That's not exactly the recipe to success against a Gary Patterson-coached TCU defense. -- Trotter

Kansas State over UTEP 31-14: This is the perfect game for K-State's running attack to find its rhythm, against a UTEP defense that is allowing 242 rushing yards per game. -- Chatmon

Our records:
Brandon Chatmon: 26-3
Max Olson: 26-3
Jake Trotter: 26-3

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