Big 12: David Gettis

Offensive roads to recovery

May, 17, 2010
5/17/10
4:03
PM ET
Earlier today, we looked at the three offenses in the Big 12 most in need of repair. Here's how they rank in ease of improvement.

Shortest road to recovery

1. Nebraska -- All the pieces seem to be there. The Huskers have one great receiver (Niles Paul) and a few solid options behind him (Brandon Kinnie, Mike McNeill). They have two great running backs in Rex Burkhead and Roy Helu Jr. running behind an offensive line that spent the spring getting healthy and drawing praise from coach Bo Pelini. If Zac Lee can pretend every game is the Holiday Bowl, or the one of quarterbacks behind him, Cody Green, Taylor Martinez or Kody Spano, can emerge, the Huskers could become scary fast. Arizona learned, but can the Huskers have a chance to teach the rest of the Big 12?

2. Baylor -- The idea is pretty formulaic. Bad offense + Robert Griffin III = good offense. We won't find out if the formula is faulty until the fall, but Baylor ranked 10th in total offense in Griffin's freshman season. He could battle rust as he returns to full speed from a serious knee injury, but he also got a season to sit back with a clipboard and learn the game, something he says helped him understand the finer points of the position more so than when he ran wild in 2008. He loses his biggest target in David Gettis, but keeps his main target, Kendall Wright. If Griffin does emerge from the injury a smarter player and keeps his aggressiveness and accuracy, the Bears could be a lot better on offense.

3. Colorado -- The Buffaloes have talent at the skill positions. Rodney Stewart should embrace the role as the featured back this season. Scotty McKnight and Markques Simas will be joined by Toney Clemons to form perhaps the most underrated receiving corps in the conference. But none of it will matter if they can't get better on the offensive line and quarterback. The offense was just as bad in 2008, even when Hawkins started all 12 games for the Buffaloes. Hansen completed better than 60 percent of his passes in three starts last season. He completed fewer than 50 percent in two. The goal for the spring was 70 percent. If the offensive line doesn't get better, that's not going to happen. Max Tuioti-Mariner will return from injury this season, but he and tackle Nate Solder can't block everyone. If they don't get help, the Buffaloes could be at the bottom of the Big 12 again with nearly 800 fewer yards than any team in the conference like in 2009.

Offenses in need of repair

May, 17, 2010
5/17/10
10:02
AM ET
Not everyone can throw for 300 yards, run for 200 and hang 40 points on the board every time out. Here are three offenses in need of some work, and this afternoon, we'll look at which have the shortest roads to recovery.

In need of repair

1. Colorado -- The Buffaloes' problems are everywhere, and the gap between Colorado and the rest of the league is enormous. The second-best offensive team in the Big 12 last season, Texas A&M, averaged 5.8 yards per play. The second-worst averaged 5.2 yards. Colorado averaged 4.4 yards. Its 44 sacks allowed were 12 more than any other team in the league as well. The quarterback play from both Tyler Hansen and Cody Hawkins wasn't very consistent, but when dealing with that kind of pressure, that's no surprise.

2. Baylor -- Baylor's offensive struggles were due in part to misfortune. Freshman Nick Florence played well, but the Bears were without 2008 Offensive Newcomer of the Year Robert Griffin III for all of conference play. In those eight games, the Bears scored only 13 points per game, 5.8 fewer than the 11th-place team, Nebraska. Florence's success didn't loosen defenses enough for the running game to flourish. In conference play, the Bears rushed for just two yards per carry. Barring a rule change providing teams five plays to achieve a first down, that's not good enough.

3. Nebraska -- Most of Nebraska's struggles on offense were self-inflicted. After a home loss to Iowa State that featured eight turnovers, the offense was so conservative, at times it looked like offensive coordinator Shawn Watson had handed over playcalling duties to Rush Limbaugh. The defense allowed just nine points in that loss, and averaged under 10 points a game from that point on. The bar was set, and the offense knew it was low. They won with field position and special teams, but a good offense to go with the nation's best defense a season ago would be other Big 12 teams' worst nightmare.

Baylor spring wrap

May, 6, 2010
5/06/10
11:30
AM ET
2009 overall record: 4-8

2009 conference record: 1-7

Returning starters: Offense (6), Defense (6) P/K (2)

Top returners: QB Robert Griffin III, WR Kendall Wright, RB Jay Finley, OT Danny Watkins, LB Antonio Johnson, DT Phil Taylor, P Derek Epperson

Key losses: C J.D. Walton, WR David Gettis, LB Antonio Jones, LB Joe Pawelek, S Jordan Lake, DL Jason Lamb

2009 statistical leaders (*returners)

Rushing: Jay Finley* (370 yards)

Passing: Nick Florence* (1,786 yards)

Receiving: Kendall Wright* (740 yards)

Tackles: Joe Pawelek (109)

Sacks: Tracy Robertson*, Jason Lamb (3)

Interceptions: Chance Casey* (2)

Three spring answers

1. The return of RG3. He does still exist. And though he was only a partial participant in spring practice, fans got to see him back on the field for the first time since September. Griffin unsuccessfully campaigned with Baylor coach Art Briles to let him play in the spring game, but says he’s about 80-90 percent recovered from knee surgery.

2. Deeper and deeper. Briles finally feels like his team has a quality two-deep full of players who won’t have a significant dropoff if forced into action. It’s something he didn’t have in the team’s first two seasons under Briles, and now his focus shifts to becoming as deep as some of the teams who routinely finish above them in the Big 12 South.

3. Patching together the O-Line. Baylor is replacing All-American J.D. Walton, among others on the offensive line, and the spring was the first step to filling those holes. Briles says offensive tackle Danny Watkins could be one of the best in the conference, and juco transfer Robert T. Griffin will compete for time at guard in the fall after recovering from shoulder surgery in the middle of this spring.

Three fall questions

1. Is Robert Griffin really back? He’ll be back on the field, but will he be the same Griffin? There isn’t a lot of reason to think he won’t be, but you never know until he takes the field. Whether it’s in his mind or in his legs and arms, a layoff from live action for almost a year could be tough to come back from.

2. Competition in the secondary? Baylor brings in two talented recruits in Prince Kent and Ahmad Dixon in the secondary, along with a few others, but the Bears have three seniors and sophomore Chance Casey leaving the spring with starting positions. The fall camp could play host to heated competition from the talented youngsters.

3. Bowl-bound Bears? This season, not unlike the last, begins with plenty of optimism and legitimate hopes of reaching the program’s first bowl game since 1994. By turning down Texas Tech in the offseason, Briles re-affirmed his commitment to doing it, and he’ll get a chance to prove it when the season arrives.

Sorting out the draft for the Big 12

April, 26, 2010
4/26/10
1:15
PM ET
The Big 12 had 30 players drafted over the weekend, fifth most among the major six conferences.


Here's a look at who went where when:

First round (9):
1. Sam Bradford, QB, Oklahoma (St. Louis)

2. Ndamukong Suh, DT, Nebraska (Detroit)

3. Gerald McCoy, DT, Oklahoma (Tampa Bay)

4. Trent Williams, OL, Oklahoma (Washington)

6. Russell Okung, OL, Oklahoma State (Seattle)

14. Earl Thomas, DB, Texas (Seattle)

19. Sean Weatherspoon, LB, Missouri (Atlanta)

21. Jermaine Gresham, TE, Oklahoma (Cincinnati)

24. Dez Bryant, WR, Oklahoma State (Dallas)

Second round (2):

43. Sergio Kindle, DE, Texas (Baltimore)

44. Lamarr Houston, DT, Texas (Oakland)

Third round (3):
80. J.D. Walton, C, Baylor (Denver)

84. Jordan Shipley, WR, Texas (Cincinnati)

85. Colt McCoy, QB, Texas (Cleveland)

Fourth round (4):

110. Darrell Stuckey, FS, Kansas (San Diego)

115. Phillip Dillard, LB, Nebraska (New York Giants)

121. Keenan Clayton, LB, Oklahoma (Philadelphia)

131. Roddrick Muckelroy, LB, Texas (Cincinnati)

Fifth round (6):

135. Dominique Franks, CB, Oklahoma (Atlanta)

137. Perrish Cox, CB, Oklahoma State (Denver)

141. Joshua Moore, DB, Kansas State (Chicago)

160. Larry Asante, SS, Nebraska (Cleveland)

162. Brody Eldridge, TE, Oklahoma (Indianapolis)

165. Kerry Meier, WR, Kansas (Atlanta)

Sixth round (4):

191. Dezmon Briscoe, WR, Kansas (Cincinnati)

196. Jamar Wall, CB, Texas Tech (Dallas)

198. David Gettis, WR, Baylor (Carolina)

202. Jordan Pugh, DB, Texas A&M (Carolina)

Seventh round (2):

228. Reggie Stephens, OL, Iowa State (Cincinnati)

250. Zac Robinson, QB, Oklahoma State (New England)

When you arrange those by team, Oklahoma comes out on top, with seven selections.
1. Oklahoma (7)

2. Texas (6)

3. Oklahoma State (4)

T-4. Nebraska (3)

T-4. Kansas (3)

6. Baylor (2)

T-7. Iowa State (1)

T-7. Kansas State (1)

T-7. Missouri (1)

T-7. Texas Tech (1)

T-7. Texas A&M (1)

12. Colorado (0)

Lunch links: Hawkins grows mustache to support QBs

March, 16, 2010
3/16/10
12:30
PM ET
I'm headed to Waco today to check out the opening of Art Briles' spring workouts at Baylor. Heads up for more coverage of the Bears in the coming days.

  • Kyle Ringo of the Boulder Daily Camera updates us on the status of Colorado coach Dan Hawkins' face: officially mustachioed, in support of his quarterbacks, who are doing the same. But where is the photo?
  • Texas Tech moved its season opener back a day to Sunday, Sept. 5 against SMU for a national broadcast on ESPN.
  • Early favorite for shocking story of 2010: Baylor has put "Protect Robert Griffin" high on its priority list this spring, writes Dwain Price of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Griffin is returning this spring from a torn ACL.
  • Russ Lande of The Sporting News says heading into next month's draft, Baylor WR David Gettis is a "tease" and Nebraska S Larry Asante is "solid."
It was a busy weekend at the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis, and several former Big 12 stars found themselves in the spotlight during the extensive evaluations.

Here's a quick look at the Big 12's top performers in the combine events (more events follow today and Tuesday):

40-Yard Dash

  • Zac Robinson, Oklahoma State, third among quarterbacks (4.71 seconds)
  • Colt McCoy, Texas, fifth among quarterbacks (4.79)
  • Brandon Banks, Kansas State, fifth among wide receivers (4.43)
  • Trent Williams, Oklahoma, second among offensive linemen (4.88)
Bench Press

  • Keith Toston, Oklahoma State, tied for fourth among running backs (22 reps)
  • Jordan Shipley, Texas, tied for eighth among wide receivers (16 reps)
  • Jermaine Gresham, Oklahoma, tied for eighth among tight ends (20 reps)
  • Russell Okung, Oklahoma State, second among offensive linemen (38 reps)
  • Ndamukong Suh, Nebraska, tied for sixth among defensive linemen (32 reps)
  • Sean Weatherspoon, Missouri, second among linebackers (34 reps)
  • Keenan Clayton, Oklahoma, tied for fifth among linebackers (27 reps)
Vertical Jump

  • Zac Robinson, Oklahoma State, second among quarterbacks (35 inches)
  • Chris Brown, Oklahoma, tied for 10th among running backs (36 inches)
  • Jermaine Gresham, Oklahoma, fifth among tight ends (35 inches)
  • Trent Williams, Oklahoma, first among offensive linemen (34.5 inches)
Broad Jump

  • Colt McCoy, Texas, tied for third among quarterbacks (9 feet, 6 inches)
  • Zac Robinson, Oklahoma State, tied for fifth among quarterbacks (9 feet, 2 inches)
  • David Gettis, Baylor, third among wide receivers (10 feet, 4 inches)
  • Jared Perry, Missouri, ninth among wide receivers (10 feet, 1 inch)
  • Jermaine Gresham, Oklahoma, tied for fifth among tight ends (9 feet, 5 inches)
  • Trent Williams, Oklahoma, tied for second among offensive linemen (9 feet, 5 inches)
3-Cone Drill

  • Jared Perry, Missouri, fifth among wide receivers (6.75 seconds)
  • Jermaine Gresham, Oklahoma, fifth among tight ends (7.07 seconds)
  • J.D. Walton, Baylor, tied for ninth among offensive linemen (7.60 seconds)
20-Yard Shuttle

  • Riar Geer, Colorado, second among tight ends (4.29 seconds)
  • Trent Williams, Oklahoma, fifth among offensive linemen (4.63 seconds)
  • J.D. Walton, Baylor, tied for 10th among offensive linemen (4.69 seconds)
60-Yard Shuttle

  • Jermaine Gresham, Oklahoma, fourth among tight ends (11.88 seconds)

'The Punisher' plays big in Texas' victory in Nation All-Star Game

February, 8, 2010
2/08/10
3:30
PM ET
Oklahoma State safety Lucien "The Punisher" Antoine provided a big game in the Pro Football Hall of Fame Texas vs. the Nation All-Star Challenge game.

Antoine produced two tackles and an assist for the Texas team, which rolled to a 36-17 victory over the Nation at the Sun Bowl in El Paso.

Several other former Big 12 players participated in the fourth annual February all-star game.

Here's a look at what the Big 12 players accomplished in the game. All of them played for the Texas team.
  • Texas A&M FB Jamie McCoy: Rushed twice for 12 yards and produced one catch for 5 yards.
  • Iowa State P Mike Brandtner: Two kicks for a 33.0 yard average. His longest was 43 yards and he had one pooch kick inside the 20.
  • Baylor S Jordan Lake: Two assists, a shared tackle for a loss and one pass broken up.
  • Missouri WR Jared Perry: One reception for 16 yards.

Several players who appeared on game rosters earlier in the week did not participate. Among those who were missing included Baylor wide receiver David Gettis, Oklahoma State guard Andrew Lewis, Texas A&M center Kevin Matthews, Texas Tech defensive end Brandon Sharpe and Texas Tech tackle Marlon Winn, according to the official statistical game book that was posted at the game's web site.

After the game, organizers told the El Paso Times that they were disappointed with an announced crowd of 26,041 for the game. That attendance was down significantly from last season's attendance of 42,000.

Game CEO Kenny Hansmire told the Times the game could be headed for San Antonio or Dallas because of the attendance decline.

Six Big 12 schools represented in all-star game

February, 5, 2010
2/05/10
8:44
AM ET
Some of the nation's more underrated draft prospects will see action at the Pro Football Hall of Fame Texas vs. the Nation All-Star Challenge game at 2 p.m. ET Saturday at the Sun Bowl in El Paso.

The Big 12 will be represented by a group of players looking to make some pre-draft buzz.

Here's a look at the prospects representing the Big 12 schools, who will participate on the Texas team in the game.

Baylor

WR David Gettis

S Jordan Lake

Iowa State

P Mike Brandtner

Missouri

WR Jared Perry

Oklahoma State

S Lucien Antoine

G-C Andrew Lewis

Texas A&M

FB-H-back Jamie McCoy

C Kevin Matthews

Texas Tech

DE Brandon Sharpe

T Marlon Winn

Former Dallas Cowboys standout Bill Bates and Florida Atlantic University head coach Howard Schnellenberger will serve as the coaches at Saturday's game.

NFL combine list dotted by Big 12 players

February, 3, 2010
2/03/10
8:08
AM ET
The NFL has released its final list of late additions to its annual pre-draft player combine, which will take place in Indianapolis from Feb. 24 to March 2.

The Big 12 is well represented on the list of invited players, with every team but Iowa State and Texas A&M having at least one representative.

Here's the final list. The late invitations, typically from underclassmen who declared for the draft, are listed in bold.

BAYLOR (2)

WR David Gettis

C J.D. Walton

COLORADO (1)

TE Riar Geer

KANSAS (3)

WR Dezmon Briscoe

WR Kerry Meier

S Darrell Stuckey

KANSAS STATE (3)

WR Brandon Banks

TE Jeron Mastrud

CB Joshua Moore

MISSOURI (4)

WR Danario Alexander

G Kurtis Gregory

WR Jared Perry

LB Sean Weatherspoon

NEBRASKA (4)

S Larry Asante

LB Phillip Dillard

C Jacob Hickman

DT Ndamukong Suh

OKLAHOMA (9)

QB Sam Bradford

RB Chris Brown

OLB Keenan Clayton

TE Brody Eldridge

CB Dominique Franks

TE Jermaine Gresham

CB Brian Jackson

DT Gerald McCoy

T Trent Williams

OKLAHOMA STATE (6)

S Lucien Antoine

WR Dez Bryant

CB Perrish Cox

T Russell Okung

QB Zac Robinson

RB Keith Toston

TEXAS (7)

DT Lamarr Houston

DE Sergio Kindle

QB Colt McCoy

LB Roddrick Muckelroy

WR Jordan Shipley

S Earl Thomas

T Adam Ulatoski

TEXAS TECH (2)

G Brandon Carter

CB Jamar Wall

Big 12 lunch links: Is Odighizuwa headed to Huskers?

February, 2, 2010
2/02/10
1:36
PM ET
The day before signing day obviously is dominated by recruiting news.

But it's not all that is going on across the Big 12.

Check out these links along with your lunchtime respite. You'll thank me for it later.

Thirty-two invited to combine from Big 12

January, 12, 2010
1/12/10
3:15
PM ET
The Big 12 will be well represented when the NFL holds its scouting combine in Indianapolis.

The official list has not been released, although SportingNews.com has accounted for most of the early players. The list does not include juniors and other players who might be invited late to the festivities, which will begin Feb. 24 in Indianapolis.

I would think Baylor linebacker Joe Pawelek, Baylor safety Jordan Lake and Texas center Chris Hall all will be invited later.

And I would expect eligible juniors such as Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford and Oklahoma State wide receiver Dez Bryant to get their opportunity at the combine.

Baylor: WR David Gettis, C J.D. Walton.

Colorado: TE Riar Geer.

Iowa State: None.

Kansas: WR Kerry Meier, S Darrell Stuckey.

Kansas State: WR Brandon Banks, TE Jeron Mastrud.

Missouri: WR Danario Alexander, G Kurtis Gregory, WR Jared Perry, LB Sean Weatherspoon.

Nebraska: S Larry Asante, LB Phillip Dillard, C Jacob Hickman, DT Ndamukong Suh.

Oklahoma: RB Chris Brown, TE Brody Eldridge, TE Jermaine Gresham, CB Brian Jackson, T Trent Williams.

Oklahoma State: CB Perrish Cox, T Russell Okung, QB Zac Robinson, RB Keith Toston.

Texas: DT Lamarr Houston, DE Sergio Kindle, QB Colt McCoy, LB Roddrick Muckelroy, WR Jordan Shipley, OT Adam Ulatoski.

Texas A&M: None.

Texas Tech: G Brandon Carter, DB Jamar Wall.

Big 12 lunch links: Redemption approaches at the Cotton Bowl

October, 16, 2009
10/16/09
12:13
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin


We're about 24 hours from that little battle at the State Fair of Texas tomorrow.

Several other meaningful games will be played that will stamp Saturday as the most interesting day of the season so far in the Big 12.

Here's something to prime your palate for what is approaching.

Big 12 predictions, Week 4

September, 24, 2009
9/24/09
8:46
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin


I had my best week of the season last week by picking nine out of 11 games correctly, but assuredly I can do better. Hopefully this week's picks will continue my hot streak.

Missouri 38, Nevada 24: The Wolf Pack likely will stack the box and dare Missouri sophomore quarterback Blaine Gabbert to beat them by throwing the ball without much benefit of a running game. If the Tigers can do a good job of containing Nevada defensive ends Dontay Moch and Kevin Basped, they should be able to dominate the offensive part of the game. Nevada has lost disappointing road games to Notre Dame and Colorado State, and Chris Ault’s team will be charged about its home debut in a rare national television game. And bet the Wolf Pack will be itching for revenge after last year’s 69-17 loss to the Tigers at Columbia. But Missouri still has too many weapons.

Kansas 31, Southern Mississippi 20: It’s been a trying week for the Fighting Manginos around Lawrence after some players were involved in a nasty brawl with the Kansas basketball team that splashed both programs on the front pages. They will be challenged to stop the Golden Eagles, who come into the game with an eight-game winning streak -- tied with Mississippi behind only Florida on the national list. The streak continued last week when the Golden Eagles rallied from an early 17-point deficit to claim a 37-34 victory over Virginia. The improving Kansas defense will be challenged to contain running backs Damion Fletcher and Tory Harrison, who both gashed the Cavaliers for more than 100 yards. Both teams should be able to score points in bunches, but I’m thinking that Kansas has too much firepower with Todd Reesing and Dezmon Briscoe, even with the status of leading rusher Jake Sharp likely to be a game-time decision.

Kansas State 31, Tennessee Tech 7: The Wildcats have started out slowly on offense, scoring the fewest points since Bill Snyder’s first season coaching them in 1989. And they will be playing an underrated Tennessee Tech team coached by Watson Brown, older brother of Texas coach Mack Brown. The Golden Eagles were competitive against preseason Ohio Valley Conference favorite Eastern Kentucky last week before falling 17-7. But they’ll be stepping up in class against a Kansas State team hopeful of stopping a recent two-game losing streak. Look for Snyder to try to get tailback Daniel Thomas involved early and try to build some confidence for quarterback Carson Coffman to take into Big 12 play.

Texas 52, UTEP 10: Texas still hasn’t strung together a complete game this season. This might be the Longhorns’ opportunity. Colt McCoy struggled again last week in the first half, battling the vestiges of a flu attack. But he again rebounded in the second half, taking advantage of new offensive weapons in running back Tre’ Newton and flex receiver Dan Buckner. UTEP has been effective running the ball with Donald Buckram, who is averaging almost 7 yards a play. The Miners scored five rushing touchdowns in last week’s victory over New Mexico State -- their first victory of the season -- but will be supremely challenged against Texas’ massive defensive front.

Oklahoma State 48, Grambling 17: The Cowboys will be looking to build some momentum in their final nonconference game. Zac Robinson looked closer to his 2008 form last week against Rice, although the Cowboys’ struggling pass defense continues to be a concern. And Oklahoma State might have to play without top playmakers Dez Bryant (calf) and Perrish Cox (shoulder) in this game. Grambling has been plagued with 12 turnovers in its first three games and will be facing an opportunistic Oklahoma State defense intent to boost that total.

Iowa State 33, Army 21: This should be an intriguing battle as two 2-1 teams coming off impressive victories over Mid-American Conference teams will meet. Iowa State will be gunning to beat its 2008 season win total with a victory Saturday night. The Cyclones rebounded from a struggling performance against Iowa with an impressive victory at Kent State that snapped a nation-worst 17-game road losing streak. Austen Arnaud orchestrated a strong performance as Alexander Robinson rushed for 143 yards for his second straight 100-yard game. The key for the Cyclones will be to contain Army’s option-based attack and force quarterback Trent Steelman into long-yardage passing situations. This one will be won in the trenches, and I like Iowa State’s chances because the Cyclones are more multi-faceted.

Nebraska 45, Louisiana-Lafayette 10: All things about Nebraska football will be celebrated in this game as the Cornhuskers toast their 300th straight home sellout. This game will be similar to many of the previous ones during the streak. Look for the Cornhuskers to mash the Ragin’ Cajuns at the point of attack with a potent running attack keyed by Big 12 rushing leader Roy Helu Jr. Quarterback Zac Lee sustained a splinter fracture on his left (non-throwing) thumb last week against Virginia Tech, but should play. More worrisome, the Cornhuskers' defense collapsed in last week’s disappointing loss, but won’t be tested that much by Louisiana-Lafayette quarterback Chris Masson. Look for the Cornhuskers to empty the benches early, using youngsters like Cody Green and Rex Burkhead throughout much of the second half.

Texas A&M 38, UAB 24: The surprisingly potent Texas A&M offense will get its toughest challenge to date against UAB. A key for the Aggies will be to continue their explosive passing game that has helped quarterback Jerrod Johnson, who ranks third nationally in total offense and 20th in passing efficiency. Johnson should have a ready target in the UAB pass defense, which ranks 118th nationally and was blistered for 413 yards last week by Troy. The Aggies will have to play without leading receiver Jeff Fuller, but precocious freshman Uzoma Nwachukwu produced four touchdowns on four “touches” last week against Utah State. Texas A&M’s defense needs some improvement after struggling against Utah State’s option-based attack and UAB quarterback Joe Webb will test it. A&M should win this game if it can give Johnson enough time to hit his downfield receivers.

Baylor 48, Northwestern State 7: The Bears will be attempting to rebuild their confidence after a disappointing loss to Connecticut snuffed out much of the momentum after their season-opening triumph over Wake Forest. Quarterback Robert Griffin struggled through a miserable game with a career-low 139 yards of total offense. He needs to get his confidence back, hopefully by throwing the ball downfield to get David Gettis and Kendall White involved early. The Bears’ rush defense has to be a big concern after allowing 235 yards and two touchdowns to Connecticut last week. And they’ll be facing a competent Northwestern State rushing attack that dented Houston for 155 rushing yards in their first game of the season. But I’m expecting the Bears to rebound with a strong performance after last week.

Texas Tech 45, Houston 44: Get out your calculators and prepare to stay up late to watch the end of this one. It should be an entertaining contest between two of the nation’s top quarterbacks in Texas Tech’s Taylor Potts and Houston’s Case Keenum. The Red Raiders stuck with Texas last week until deep in the fourth quarter when turnovers and penalties finally caught up with them. But Potts passed for 430 yards in an impressive road debut. He’ll be facing another challenge against Houston, which stunned then-No. 5 Oklahoma State two weeks ago before taking last week off. It will be the first matchup between the two old Southwest Conference rivals since the conference dissolved in 1995. The No. 18 Cougars will be playing as a ranked team for the first time since 1991 -- when David Klingler was their quarterback. The Red Raiders have a better defense than Oklahoma State and are familiar with Houston because they face a variation of the Cougars’ spread offense every day in practice. That should provide them with just enough of an edge to boost them to win a wild victory.

Last week: 9-2 (81.8 percent)

Season: 25-8 (75.8 percent)

Big 12 internal affairs: CU's Stewart provides RB depth

September, 23, 2009
9/23/09
12:08
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin


Here are a few tidbits from around the conference that people are talking about as we approach the games this weekend.
  • The performance of running back Rodney "Speedy" Stewart last week against Wyoming was an obvious indicator of why Colorado’s biggest offensive strength is its deep backfield. And Dan Hawkins has shown no hesitancy to go with different backs as his featured runner depending on game situations. Darrell Scott will get his chances after he becomes healthy, but Stewart is a consistent substitute if the Buffaloes need another feature back.
  • Oklahoma State used its third set of starting offensive linemen in as many games last week against Rice, an underrated cause for the Cowboys' lack of offensive continuity so far this season. Redshirt freshman Lane Taylor made his first career start against Rice. He became the third different player to start at right guard after the Cowboys previously used Andrew Mitchell against Georgia and Anthony Morgan against Houston.
  • Baylor’s lack of a vertical passing game has been the most surprising aspect of the Bears' offense early this season and it was a big liability against Connecticut. One would think with Robert Griffin, David Gettis and Kendall Wright that Art Briles would have been tempted to challenge the Connecticut secondary a little more. But the Bears had only one completion longer than 15 yards -- a 29-yard strike to Wright. They had only three passes longer than 15 yards against Wake Forest in the opener and one of those was a 33-yard gadget pass from running back Ernest Smith to Lanear Sampson.
  • Kansas State’s game this week against Tennessee Tech will provide a victory, but it won’t count in the Wildcats’ bowl hopes. They’ve already beaten Massachusetts to qualify for the Division I-AA triumph that would count toward bowl certification. But after losses to Louisiana-Lafayette and UCLA in their last two games, the Wildcats aren't worrying about bowl games at this point of the season.
  • Texas defensive coordinator Will Muschamp looked like he learned something from his team’s defensive effort last season against Texas Tech. The most impressive factor in this year's matchup was the way Texas' roaming defense snuffed out Tech’s screen game, which is the best in the conference. Tech’s running backs produced five receptions for no yardage in last week’s game. The week before against Rice, Tech’s running backs produced four receptions for 82 yards.
  • The biggest early concern at Kansas State has been its lack of production on offense, where the Wildcats have not scored more than 21 points and are averaging 15 points a game. It’s the fewest points they've scored after three games since the Wildcats started 0-3 and scored only 28 points in Bill Snyder’s first season at the school in 1989. The biggest surprise has been the Wildcats' inability to get Brandon Banks involved in the offense as a deep threat. His average yards per reception are down from last season’s average of 15.7 per catch to 8.3 this season. The Wildcats need to get their prime playmaker involved quickly.
  • Missouri is expecting Nevada to sell out to cover the run, daring sophomore quarterback Blaine Gabbert to beat them with his passing skills. Gabbert has looked good to this point of the season by completing 68 percent of his throws with eight touchdown passes and no interceptions. But he’s also had the benefit of a running game to balance his passing game in his first two games. Nevada coach Chris Ault is in the College Football Hall of Fame for a reason. I expect his Wolf Pack will cook up a strategy meant to flummox and confuse a young quarterback like Gabbert making his first road start.

Big 12 'hot and not' from Week 1

September, 7, 2009
9/07/09
4:27
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin


Here's a look at the naughty and nice across the conference in the first game of the season.

Hot: Missouri’s defense. After being torched for 451 yards and five touchdown passes last season against Juice Williams, a simpler Missouri defense squeezed the Illinois quarterback. Williams passed for 179 yards and no touchdown passes in Saturday’s game against the Tigers.

Not: Colorado’s offense. The Buffaloes had trouble with the play clock all night long and produced only 29 rushing yards on 21 carries. And that’s from a Buffalo offense that was thought to have one of the Big 12 North’s most potent running games. It was the worst rushing performance for the Buffaloes since producing minus-27 yards against Florida State in 2007.

Hot: Iowa State’s offensive execution. Despite playing most of the game without headset communications between the press box and sidelines, the Cyclones did not commit an offensive penalty in their first game utilizing offensive coordinator Tom Herman’s hurry-up attack.

Not: Oklahoma offensive line. First, they allowed the pressure that ended up getting Sam Bradford hurt. And they were flagged with three false starts on Oklahoma’s opening possession, major penalties on the first play of the first two second-half drives and six penalties by Oklahoma tackle Cory Brandon.

Hot: Oklahoma State’s defense: After allowing Georgia to convert two first downs on an 80-yard scoring drive to start the game, veteran coordinator Bill Young masterfully turned the tables from that point. After that scoring drive, the Cowboys defense allowed only 177 yards and 2-for-10 on third-down conversions.

Not: Kansas State’s special teams. This unit -- typically the strength of Ron Prince’s teams the last several seasons -- nearly cost the Wildcats the game in a closer-than-expected victory over Massachusetts. A muffed punt by Brandon Banks led to one UMass touchdown and a blocked punt that was returned for a touchdown made the game much closer than Bill Snyder was hoping his coaching return would be.

Hot: Texas redshirt freshman running back D.J. Monroe. He returned a kickoff 89 yards for a touchdown the first time he touched the ball and added 64 rushing yards on nine carries to lead the Longhorns' victory over Louisiana-Monroe.

Not: Colorado running back Darrell Scott. The Buffaloes’ top 2008 recruit hardly was a factor in the Buffaloes’ loss to Colorado State. Scott had two touches -- one carry and one reception -- and produced only 15 total yards.

Hot: Baylor wide receiver David Gettis. After struggling to produce in previous seasons, Gettis came through in a big way in the Bears’ victory over Wake Forest. He produced a game-high five receptions for 65 yards, including an 8-yard TD grab that was his first touchdown since 2006.

Not: Texas running back Vondrell McGee. His starting position might be short lived if he continues to struggle protecting the ball. McGee had a pair of fumbles, a rarity for Texas considering the last time that a Longhorn running back fumbled came in the 2007 Baylor game.

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