Big 12: Adrian Clayborn

Missouri has already secured its third 10-win season in four years under Gary Pinkel, as the Tigers prepare to face an Iowa team that lost its last three games. The Tigers enter favored by a field goal, and Iowa is hoping to secure a win to cap a disappointing season that began with legitimate Big 12 title hopes and a top-10 national ranking.

WHO TO WATCH: Missouri receiver T.J. Moe. The Tigers resident slot machine rang up 77 receptions and his 893 yards ranked fourth in the Big 12. The former high school quarterback suffered a broken foot as a freshman in 2009, and had just two catches for 8 yards. As a sophomore, he's emerged as one of the most difficult covers in the conference and the country. If Iowa lets the 6-foot, 200-pounder run free in the secondary, Missouri's offense will start humming and prove difficult to stop. Stopping Moe puts the Tigers a bit out of sync. He's been held to fewer than five catches just twice this season.

WHAT TO WATCH: Missouri's offensive line versus Iowa's defensive line. Headliner Adrian Clayborn didn't put up any record-setting numbers, but the Hawkeyes boast a fearsome front four that can disrupt Missouri's offense with plenty of penetration. Karl Klug and Mike Daniels must be slowed and contained for Missouri to earn a win. If not, expect quarterback Blaine Gabbert's pass attempts to balloon and the Tigers offense to turn one-dimensional.

WHY WATCH: To keep an eye on all the black-and-gold? I kid. The game features plenty of big names in Gabbert and Clayborn, as well as Iowa quarterback Ricky Stanzi. The Hawkeyes are playing without their top receiver and top running back, but both teams spent time in the top 10 and are the premier programs in their states. It should be quality football, and any time two clashing offenses like Iowa's power game and Missouri's spread get together -- offenses that personify their respective conferences -- there's a little bit more on the line.

PREDICTION: Missouri 27, Iowa 17. The Tigers struggle early on offense, but make a few adjustments to get things rolling in the second half while the Hawkeyes search for reliable options in their own offense.

On the spot: Insight Bowl

December, 17, 2010
Missouri's headed to the Insight Bowl, the program's sixth consecutive postseason trip under coach Gary Pinkel.

Iowa carries a three-game losing streak into its matchup with the Tigers, but the Hawkeyes will be a different kind of challenge than Missouri has seen all season. So, who needs to play well for the Tigers to get the win?

The offensive line. Suspensions and transfers have Iowa playing without its leading receiver and its two best running backs, but the Hawkeyes have a defense capable of shutting down Missouri's offense. Specifically, it can do it on the defensive line.

Although Iowa finished the season at 2-3, it was giving up just over 17 points a game during that stretch. Adrian Clayborn headlines the defensive line, but fellow linemen Karl Klug and Mike Daniels both had more tackles for loss. The trio combined for 29 TFLs and Iowa ranks sixth nationally in rush defense, giving up just over 100 yards a game.

Missouri's offense can look pretty smooth when it gets its running game rolling, but a one-dimensional Tigers offense with Blaine Gabbert throwing the ball 40-plus times isn't nearly as effective.

The Hawkeyes ranked just 55th nationally against the pass, but the Tigers cannot live on the pass alone. All-Big 12 center Tim Barnes leads a very experienced unit flanked with a pair of experienced tackles in Dan Hoch and Elvis Fisher and guards Jayson Palmgren and Austin Wuebbels. They'll need to pave the way or Missouri's undersized set of backs, De'Vion Moore, Kendial Lawrence, Henry Josey and Marcus Murphy.

Iowa isn't likely to make many big plays offensively, but if Gabbert takes a free shot to his blind side for a costly fumble or is hasseled into mistakes, the Tigers could give up that big play to the defensive line.

Keep them at bay with a steady diet of screen passes and jet sweeps, and Missouri could win its third bowl game in four years.

Von Miller a Hendricks Award finalist

December, 1, 2010
Texas A&M linebacker/defensive end Von Miller has been named one of six finalists for the Ted Hendricks Award, given annually to college football's top defensive end.

"I am blessed to be a finalist,” Miller said in a release. "This is a tremendous honor and if it wasn’t for my teammates and their fanatical effort, I would not be receiving this recognition. The most important thing is winning games and my senior season has been a lot of fun with a great group of guys. I am looking forward to going to our bowl game and getting a chance to play one more game with these guys on my team."

The other finalists are:
  • Da'Quan Bowers, Clemson
  • Adrian Clayborn, Iowa
  • Ryan Kerrigan, Purdue
  • Jabaal Sheard, Pittsburgh
  • J.J. Watt, Wisconsin

"Von has had a special senior season,” Aggies coach Mike Sherman said in the statement. "Beyond his play on the field, he has been a leader as the defensive captain and he has given great effort across the board. That includes the off-season workouts, the classroom, the film room and I am very proud of him."

Mailbag: Trading QBs and a Husker upset

September, 3, 2010
So, opening night. That was pretty awesome. Saturday should be even better, even though I'll be on my couch in Dallas. See you all in Lubbock on Sunday.

Wyatt in Nebraska asks: If Nebraska were to lose would this be a bigger upset then the Appalachian St. Vs michigan?

David Ubben: Different circumstances, different teams. To answer your question in short -- yes. Much bigger. But Appalachian State was a top-level FCS team who ended up winning the national championship that year. Western Kentucky is an FBS team that hasn't won a game in 20 tries. It's pretty obvious that Armanti Edwards and Co. would beat the Hilltoppers pretty solidly.

I don't expect Saturday's game to be close at all in the second half.

David in Austin, Texas asks: With the Longhorns naming Cody Johnson as their lead running back, I'm significantly more confident that Texas will devote themselves to a somewhat solid running game. Keeping that in mind, I find it exceedingly difficult for Gilbert to produce "Heisman-esque" numbers. If I recall, it's been a few years since a pro-style, non-spread QB has won the award. Your thoughts?

DU: First off, I don't think the name or size of the starting running back means anything in relation to Texas' commitment to the run. Mack Brown wants balance to make life easier for Garrett Gilbert, a guy who has loads of potential but doesn't have a single start. They may throw the ball a little more later in the season, but Brown knows they'll beat elite teams with more ease if they can run the ball. So, no matter how well Gilbert plays, I still don't see them giving him more than 35-40 attempts in a game unless the running game is getting absolutely stuffed.

As for the Heisman, the last pro-style QB to win it was Matt Leinart, but he had Lendale White and Reggie Bush on his team. Gilbert doesn't have the receivers Leinart did, of course, but let's take it easy with the Gilbert Heisman talk. We've seen him play one game, albeit against a great team. That said, if Texas is 12-0 heading into December, Gilbert's name will be in the conversation if he puts up reasonably good numbers.

JimmyBoar in Amazing Ames asks: DU, I'm thrilled for the victory over northern Illinois , but I can't help but feel like we left some points on the field. Should I shut up and enjoy the win or fear an inability to move the ball against conference foe?

DU: I'd shut up for now. Iowa State looked great in the first quarter and pretty good in the fourth. There's probably some validity to the idea that they relaxed up 17-0. From my perspective, it all of a sudden looked like the Cyclones were going to make this look easy. Once Northern Illinois pushed them to 17-10, they responded about as well as you can ask. For Iowa State fans, that has to be comforting. There was a lot of pressure on that drive that made it 24-10, and they really put together a fantastic 10 plays.

They left some points on the board, but Northern Illinois has a solid defense. They led the MAC last year in total defense. Take from that what you want, but the MAC is not a bad league.

Michael in Brooklyn, NY asks: Sorry if this was previously explained, but I think (and I could be wrong about the source) an awful lot of yacht rock quotes have been popping up. What's that all about?

DU: The smooth, clearly.

Scott in Huskerland asks: I gotta ask. Are you taller than Rittenberg or are the players from the Big 10 taller so it seems that way?

DU: Ha, he's a little bit taller than me, but the discrepancy between us and players is heightened (!) when we're trying to hold a microphone up to Adrian Clayborn or another 6-foot-9 lineman.

To speak in absolutes, I'm about 5-foot-8.

Christopher G. Luce in Columbus, Neb asks: Lets say Robert Griffin 3 was playing for Nebraska right now. Could he be the next Tommie Frazier if not mabie even better? Or could even the team be as good as that 95 team with him?

DU: Intriguing question. I'd pick the Huskers as the runaway favorite for the Big 12 if they had RG3, but with that would come all kinds of variables that probably aren't worth discussing. Sounds like good fodder for others, though.

Big 12 lunchtime links

July, 16, 2010
Back again. Can't get enough of the Big 12.

Remember the Cyclones, Clayborn?

July, 1, 2010
Iowa defensive end Adrian Clayborn got the rabble-rousers rabbling with a rather inflammatory quote about his apparently invisible in-state rival earlier this week.

“Too much actually, it makes me want to stay in the house,” Clayborn told reporters when asked about the expectations on the Hawkeyes this season. “But it comes with being a Hawkeye football player. I mean we’re the only team in the state, as far as I know. And it comes with being us, I guess.”

But apparently he's forgotten about what he said helped spur the Hawkeyes to a 9-0 start. A special thanks to commenter branvon, who brought this recent story from colleague Adam Rittenberg back into play, in which Clayborn revisits Iowa's 35-3 win over Iowa State last season.

"We played like [expletive]," Clayborn said. "We weren't doing well on the pass rush. I was getting my [butt] kicked sometimes. I don't know what was wrong, but that was our turning point. We got together after that game and said we need to turn it around."

Though the final score was convincing, Iowa gave up 190 rushing yards, including 100 from Alexander Robinson. They also didn't record a sack and quarterback Austen Arnaud rushed for 56 yards on nine carries.

A week earlier, it took a blocked field goal to beat Northern Iowa. But if the on-field troubles weren't enough, the Hawkeyes had some talking to do.
Other than the final outcome, Iowa's linemen and defensive coordinator Norm Parker had little to be happy about.

"I just didn't think they played as hard as they should have," Parker said. "On film, there didn't appear to be enough extra effort."

Parker smiled.

"We had a nice talk."

Safe to say, it wasn't G-rated. But whatever was said seemed to work.

What else is safe to say? Clayborn's comments won't leave the Cyclones bulletin board -- physical or mental -- until the two meet on Sept. 11.

Lunch links: Iowa talks big

June, 30, 2010
Tommy Tuberville's newest controversial comments: "America's national debt is over 10 trillion dollars, and that is a mistake."..."World Cup officials have missed a few goals this tournament, and they should have gotten them right."..."I just think dumping oil into the ocean is something nobody should be doing."