Big 12: Courtney Herndon
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
Nebraska will likely be playing in a bowl game this season. The Cornhuskers' 56-28 victory over Kansas State only improved their resume.
Joe Ganz paced a Nebraska offense that rolled up 608 yards in improving to a 7-4 record.
Notre Dame's triumph over Navy makes the Irish's bowl portfolio stronger. It's hard to believe that the Gator Bowl will avoid Notre Dame, even with a potential 7-5 record.
So Nebraska's victory likely makes them more likely to play in either the Alamo Bowl or the Sun Bowl. And both warm-weather locales should be intriguing for Nebraska fans who missed out on a bowl game last season.
The Cornhuskers are playing their best football of the season in their last two games. Ganz passed for 270 yards and two touchdowns and chipped in with a game-high 95 rushing yards to key Nebraska's attack. Ganz was one of five rushers with at least 49 yards as the Cornhuskers dominated in the trenches, piling up a season-best 338 yards rushing.
But an even more impressive facet of the Cornhuskers' defense. After Kansas State jumped ahead early on a 57-yard interception return by Courtney Herndon, the Cornhuskers played like they deserved the Blackshirts awarded to them earlier in the week by Coach Bo Pelini.
Take away that score and a 97-yard kickoff return by Brandon Banks and the Cornhuskers allowed only two touchdowns. The Nebraska defense helped chase Kansas State quarterback Josh Freeman, who was replaced in the second half by Carson Coffman.
It was the kind of performance that will make bowl selectors take notice.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
Coming into its game against Kansas State, Nebraska hoped to make quick work of the Wildcats by taking control of the game early in Ron Prince's first home game since his dismissal last week.
And despite some early struggles, the Cornhuskers have taken control as they have cruised to a 35-14 halftime lead.
Almost like Prince would have ordered, the Wildcats produced an early turnover that resulted in a 57-yard interception return by Courtney Herndon for a touchdown barely 4 minutes into the game for an early lead.
A Nebraska defense that was awarded its Blackshirts earlier this week played like it throughout the first half. The Cornhuskers have limited Kansas State to minus 7 yards rushing and 107 total yards in the first half.
Prince left himself open for a lot of second-guessing on Kansas State's final possession of the first half. After Nebraska defensive end Zach Potter was flagged for a helmet-to-helmet personal foul on Kansas State quarterback Josh Freeman, the Wildcats advanced to the Nebraska 12-yard line late in the first half.
But Prince disdained an easy field goal to go for a touchdown on the final play of the first half. And Freeman's pass for Brandon Banks was short, leaving Kansas State with no points on the drive.
Nebraska is playing for better bowl positioning and Prince's team will have its bowl hopes snuffed out with a loss.
After the first half, it looks like the Cornhuskers postseason hopes appear much more alive than the Wildcats'.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
Bob Stoops turned 48 earlier this week. And while the Oklahoma coach is revered in the Sooner State, it wasn't a holiday or anything.
At least not that we know of.
Oklahoman columnist Berry Tramel put his spin on Stoops' birthday in a unique way. He compared the career stages for other notable Oklahoma football coaches when they turned 48.
Barry Switzer's wishbone was struggling a little when he turned 48 in 1985 with Troy Aikman as his starting quarterback. Bud Wilkinson was in the middle of his run for the U.S. Senate in 1964. Chuck Fairbanks was trying to rebuild a struggling program at Colorado, well after his salad days at OU. Bennie Owen was getting ready for his 19th season as the Sooners' head coach. And Howard Schnellenberger was preparing for his fourth season as Miami's head coach, only 23 victories into his college head-coaching career.
With Stoops apparently excited about continued coaching at Oklahoma, it will be interesting to see what happens for him in the years after his 48th birthday.
Of a more immediate interest for him will be his team's trip to Washington to attack some nasty road karma. Joseph Duarte of the Houston Chronicle writes that Stoops currently has a nation-best 20-game home winning streak at Owen Field. During that same time, the Sooners are a more pedestrian 12-9 on the road.
Those recent road woes have raised the stakes for Saturday's game at Husky Stadium.
"For me, this is the game of the year because this sets the tone for our future road games and sets the tone for our team," redshirt freshman LB Travis Lewis told the Chronicle. "It's easy playing in front of 85,000 who love you, but what about the 80,000 who hate you?"
It will make Saturday's game the biggest test for the Sooners so far this season. If Stoops can win, he would become the fourth OU coach to have won 100 games during their careers at the school, joining Wilkinson, Switzer and Owen.
Pretty select company, indeed.
Kind of like being included with these morning links:
- Lawrence Journal-World columnist Tom Keegan predicts that Kansas QB Todd Reesing will be the difference in the Jayhawks' key game with South Florida. But in order to win, Kansas must neutralize South Florida DE George Selvie, who has been dubbed "The Baddest Man in College Football."
- New Mexico State will have endured 35 practices before it finally opens the season Saturday against Nebraska.
- Teammates may kid Texas LB Roddrick Muckelroy about sounding like a squeaky mouse, but they love his production on the field.
- Injured Texas Tech CB L.A. Reed is expected to play Saturday night against SMU and could even start against the Mustangs.
- Nebraska has confirmed a three-year scheduling deal with Fresno State. The Cornhuskers will host the Bulldogs in 2011 and 2016 and visit Fresno in 2014.
- There's no quarterback controversy at Iowa State, where both Austen Arnaud and Phillip Bates understand their roles. But perhaps the biggest reason for the Cyclones' 2-0 start has been their special teams.
- Missouri backup TB Jimmy Jackson is OK with his reserve role in the Tigers' backfield.
- Former Colorado coach Eddie Crowder, who died Tuesday at the age of 77, leaves an unmatched legacy at Colorado. Former Boulder Camera sports editor Dan Creedon writes about some of his favorite memories of Crowder.
- Baylor QB Robert Griffin isn't a normal 18-year-old college student, on or off the field.
- Increased attention to his schoolwork helped Kansas State CB Courtney Herndon grow up. He's on track to graduate after playing the game of his college career last week.
- State Fair of Texas officials are excited about changes around the Cotton Bowl and it has nothing to do with the introduction of chicken-fried bacon as a midway food staple. The Cotton Bowl's new seating configuration will expand capacity to 92,180 -- making it the ninth-largest stadium in the nation.
- Texas A&M coach Mike Sherman is learning about the big adjustment from the NFL to college football.
- Tulsa World columnist Dave Sittler said media members whiffed by placing no Oklahoma State players on the preseason all-conference team.
Let's jump right in.
Rodney from Salina, Kan., writes: Why did you not include the Kansas State and Louisville game in your links this morning?
Tim Griffin: I didn't link a story to that game because I thought the other stories were more immediate. With that game still more than a week away, I thought it was a better idea to highlight the upcoming games instead.
Ben from San Diego writes: Tim, Double-T Nation is already upset about the fact that Texas Tech is the No. 12 team and has yet to have a televised game this season. An honest question though - although Tech plays the proverbial 'cupcake' out-of-conference schedule, why do networks still air other games instead. I mean, look at some of the other games on broadcast over weeks 1 and 2 and tell me that you wouldn't rather watch Texas Tech. Love your blog!
Tim Griffin: I agree with you about Tech's lack of national exposure so far, although their game against SMU will be a FSN broadcast available through most of the southwest and Big 12 region.
But I will say this. I would have thought that the Nevada-Tech game would have been picked up by somebody. Two potential explosive offenses would have made for a good TV game -- at least as good as the Navy-Ball State game that was shown.
I've got to think that if the Tech-Tulsa game had been played earlier this season rather than cancelled, that game would have been picked up by somebody. But I think it's understandable why most television networks would steer clear of games like Massachusetts and Eastern Washington -- I think for obvious reasons.
Kenny Lyndon writes: Why hasn't Kansas State received any attention after back to back weeks of the Big 12 player of the week and national defensive player of the week in Courtney Herndon? Josh Freeman is leading the league in pass efficiency and has four rushing scores and four passing scores.
Tim Griffin: It hasn't helped Kansas State that they've played North Texas and Montana State during the first two weeks of the season. I've mentioned them a couple of times in some of my blog posts and I plan to do a lot more leading up to their game against Louisville next week. And as I said earlier this week, Freeman might have been the conference's most productive quarterback after two weeks. It will be interesting to see if that carries over when he starts playing some big boys across the conference.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
Better late than never. Here's a list of the "official" Big 12 players of the week. Dez Bryant of Oklahoma State won the offensive player of the week, Cha'pelle Brown of Colorado and Courtney Herndon of Kansas State shared the co-defensive player of the week and Niles Paul of Nebraska won the special teams players of the week. It's the first time that all four players have been honored by the conference.
Big 12 Offensive Player of the Week
Dez Bryant, Oklahoma State, WR, So., Lufkin, Texas
Produced 311 all-purpose yards and scored four touchdowns in OSU's win over Houston. He had touchdown receptions covering 39, 29, and 74 yards and added a fourth score on a 71-yard punt return. He also totale nine catches for 236 yards. His yardage total is the best in the country this season and the second-best receiving day in OSU history, topped only by Adarius Bowman's Big 12 record 300-yard game at Kansas in 2006. Bryant leads the Big 12 and ranks third nationally with 163 receiving yards per game. He also leads the league and ranks fifth nationally in all-purpose yards (242 per game).
Big 12 Defensive Co-Players of the Week
Cha'pelle Brown, Colorado, CB, Jr., La Puente, Calif.
Returned an interception 27 yards for a touchdown with 1:44 left in the game to rally Colorado to victory over Eastern Washington. Produced six tackles, all solo, including two third-down stops and also broke up two passes.
Courtney Herndon, Kansas State, DB, Jr., Dallas, Texas
Returned a fumble 43 yards for a touchdown, blocked a punt that was recovered for a touchdown and intercepted a pass and returned it 26 yards to set up another K-State score in the win over Montana State. He recorded four total tackles, one of which went for a loss. The junior defensive back scored or played a part in 21 non-offensive points for the Wildcats.
Big 12 Special Teams Player of the Week
Niles Paul, Nebraska, KR/PR/WR, So., Omaha, Neb.
Returned two kickoffs for 111 yards, including an 85-yarder for a touchdown in Nebraska's win over San Jose State. Paul also had two punt returns for 21 yards and caught two passes for 27 yards. He is averaging 40.0 yards per kickoff return to rank third in the Big 12 and fifth nationally. He is sixth in the league in punt returns (13.2) and in the top 30 in NCAA rankings.
BIG 12 SCOREBOARD
2:00 PM ET Washington State Colorado State 3:30 PM ET 20 Fresno State 25 USC 5:30 PM ET Buffalo San Diego State 9:00 PM ET Tulane Louisiana-Lafayette
6:00 PM ET Pittsburgh Bowling Green 9:30 PM ET Utah State 23 Northern Illinois
2:30 PM ET Marshall Maryland 6:00 PM ET Syracuse Minnesota 9:30 PM ET Brigham Young Washington
12:00 PM ET Rutgers Notre Dame 3:20 PM ET Cincinnati North Carolina 6:45 PM ET Miami (FL) 18 Louisville 10:15 PM ET Michigan Kansas State
11:45 AM ET Middle Tennessee Navy 3:15 PM ET Ole Miss Georgia Tech 6:45 PM ET 10 Oregon Texas 10:15 PM ET 14 Arizona State Texas Tech
12:30 PM ET Arizona Boston College 2:00 PM ET Virginia Tech 17 UCLA 4:00 PM ET Rice Mississippi State 8:00 PM ET 24 Duke 21 Texas A&M
12:00 PM ET Nebraska 22 Georgia 12:00 PM ET UNLV North Texas 1:00 PM ET Iowa 16 LSU 1:00 PM ET 19 Wisconsin 9 South Carolina 5:00 PM ET 5 Stanford 4 Michigan State 8:30 PM ET 15 UCF 6 Baylor
7:30 PM ET 13 Oklahoma State 8 Missouri 8:30 PM ET 12 Clemson 7 Ohio State