Big 12: E.J. Gaines

In case you didn't know, Friday's AT&T Cotton Bowl matchup between No. 8 Missouri (11-2, 7-1 SEC) and 13th-ranked Oklahoma State (10-2, 7-2 Big 12) is a bit of a reunion.

Oklahoma State, proud members of the Big 12, will meet their old brothers who jumped ship for the SEC in 2012.

While a big deal has been made of Friday's meeting and its backstory, Missouri defensive end Michael Sam isn't moved by it. He's actually bored of it.

"I don't really care," Sam said. "We used to be in the Big 12; we're not any more. I think the media is blowing it way out of proportion. I could care less."

Sam might be on to something, but it is pretty cool when you think about the last two Cotton Bowls. This year, it's Mizzou-Oklahoma State. Last year, it was Texas A&M-Oklahoma.

Rematches of games that once had conference stakes on the line now feature bragging rights and even traitor talk in some circles. There are even whispers in Big 12 country that the Tigers ran away from their old league.

So while Sam might not care about the old Big 12 matchup, it does create an interesting storyline, and he'd be crazy to think that no one else in this game isn't intrigued by that aspect of the game.

"It is just a great opportunity to play a great Missouri team; they were in the Big 12, so it is a little rivalry there," Oklahoma State wide receiver Charlie Moore said. "You always want to play the best and always fun to play the SEC. It is going to be a good game no matter what conference they are in and it is fun to be in the Cotton Bowl."

[+] EnlargeMichael Sam
AP Photo/Rogelio V. SolisMichael Sam is tired of the Missouri vs. Big 12 storyline, but is eager to show the Tigers defense is better than it showed against Auburn.
And, like the Big 12 that Mizzou was used to, this one has the makings of being an old-fashioned shootout in the heart of Texas.

A year removed from an injury-plagued first season in the SEC, the Tigers bit back with one of the SEC's most potent offenses. Mizzou finished the regular season ranking in the top five in the league in passing offense, rushing offense, total offense and scoring. The Tigers went from averaging 356.4 yards a game and 25.8 points in 2012 to 492.9 yards and 39 points in 2013.

The Tigers also went from missing a bowl game to winning the SEC Eastern Division, beating Florida and Georgia and ranking as high as fifth in the BCS standings along the way. If they had beaten Auburn in the SEC championship game, these Tigers would be out in sunny California for the VIZIO BCS National Championship.

On the other side, the Cowboys are averaging 440.5 yards per game with an offense that features some "Air Raid," three-back and pistol. They'll throw in some zone-read just to make things interesting.

Sam said he's excited about facing Oklahoma State's passing game, which averages 268.5 yards per game. The Tigers ranked 13th in the SEC in pass defense (256 yards per game), but Sam made it clear that this defense hasn't had an issue defending the pass all season.

"We've never struggled stopping the pass," Sam said confidently. "We want to stop the run so they can be forced to pass. We hope they pass all night, to be honest with you."

Mizzou has 18 interceptions and has given up 16 passing touchdowns. But in games away from Faurot Field, the Tigers gave up 270.7 passing yards per game and quarterbacks enjoyed a combined efficiency rating of 129.3.

Oklahoma State quarterback Clint Chelf has thrown for 200 or more yards in four of his past five games and has 11 touchdowns to four interceptions.

"It definitely takes you back, so I am excited to see the ball in the air a little bit more than the SEC does," cornerback E.J. Gaines said.

Regardless of how the Cowboys approach their offensive plan, this is a chance for Mizzou to show the country that its defense is still worthy of being called a solid unit. Before surrounding 677 yards to Auburn (545 rushing), Missouri held opponents to fewer than 400 yards in five of the previous six games. After being gashed by Auburn, the perception is that the Tigers aren't as steady on defense as they once appeared.

"We've been a great defense all season," Sam said. "We had one bad game and I don't think that should define our season."

What will help define this season is the outcome of tonight's game. A victory would serve as more validation that the new kids deserve their seat at the SEC's big-kid table.

"The win would just prove that we belong in the SEC and we should be respected by everyone in that conference," Sam said. "... I think we earned a lot of respect from our conference, [and a victory would] show we belong where we are and we are one of the best in the country.”
We're moving on with our 2011 postseason position rankings. Today, it's time for cornerbacks. If you missed it, here's how I ranked them in the preseason.

Here are the other position rankings we've done so far:
Depth is somewhat of a factor here, but I weighted it heavily toward the top two starters at the position.

[+] EnlargeCarrington Byndom
John Albright/Icon SMICarrington Byndom went up against some of the Big 12's top receivers and held his own.
1. Texas — The Longhorns duo of Carrington Byndom and Quandre Diggs were by far the league's best at limiting the big play. Both are physical. Both return. Beware, Big 12 offenses. In just their first year as starters, they helped the Longhorns lead the league in pass defense. Diggs, a true freshman, led the team with four interceptions. Until the regular-season finale against Baylor, Texas and Alabama were the only teams that hadn't given up a touchdown pass longer than 20 yards. Obviously, that's way, way more impressive in the Big 12.

2. Kansas State — K-State overachieved in a lot of ways this year, and perhaps nowhere more than at cornerback. Juco transfer Nigel Malone led the league with seven interceptions. Known entity David Garrett was even more solid, making 88 tackles and 6.5 tackles for loss. I ranked this unit 10th in the Big 12 before the season. They finished second. I was wrong.

3. Oklahoma — The Sooners' corners were good, but not great, and underachieved slightly. Jamell Fleming and Demontre Hurst are supremely talented, but were susceptible to big plays this year. Granted, everybody in the Big 12 was, but the Sooners ranked fourth in pass defense. Fleming broke up 10 passes and intercepted two more. Hurst broke up 11 and had an interception.

4. Oklahoma State — At times, Oklahoma State's Brodrick Brown was a legitimate shutdown corner. Justin Gilbert turned in a solid effort in his first year as a starter, which was much more important after a season-ending injury to Devin Hedgepeth in September. Gilbert picked off five passes, second-most in the Big 12.

5. Iowa StateLeonard Johnson was quietly an NFL prospect that put together a huge year. He was a big reason for ISU's upset of No. 2 Oklahoma State, and helped shut down Justin Blackmon. He finished with 71 tackles, eight pass breakups and a pick. Jeremy Reeves added two picks and seven pass breakups.

6. MissouriE.J. Gaines led the Big 12 with 16 pass breakups, and the Tigers ranked fifth in the Big 12 in pass defense. Fellow first-year starter Kip Edwards added a pick and three pass breakups.

7. Texas A&M — The team's top corner, Coryell Judie, was hampered by a hamstring injury all season, but production is production. It wasn't there for Judie, one of the league's top corners in 2010. Terrence Frederick had a good year with 13 pass breakups and a pick, but the Aggies were susceptible through the air all year. Lionel Smith and Dustin Harris filled in well in Judie's absence, but not well enough. A&M finished eighth in pass defense and helped five QBs set career highs for passing yardage in 2011.

8. BaylorK.J. Morton played well down the stretch for Baylor, but the Bears defense left a lot to be desired almost everywhere. They finished last in the Big 12 in pass defense, giving up over 290 yards a game. Morton picked off four passes and broke up six more. All four of his picks came in the final three games of 2011. Chance Casey broke up six passes and made 48 stops.

9. Texas Tech — How's this for irony? The Red Raiders actually finished second in the Big 12 in pass defense. It doesn't matter much. Tre' Porter had the only interception for a cornerback all season, and broke up two passes. Injuries were a problem all season. Cornelius Douglas, Derrick Mays, Jarvis Phillips and Sawyer Vest filled the unit, but Tech faced 61 fewer pass attempts than Kansas and 111 fewer than the next team in the Big 12. That's what happens when you can't stop the run. Doesn't mean the corners played well.

10. KansasGreg Brown picked off two passes and broke up three more. Isiah Barfield made 35 tackles and broke up five passes. The Jayhawks ranked ninth in the Big 12 in pass defense. They didn't get much of a pass rush to help the corners, but the corners were very poor in 2011.

Lunch links: Texas' real issues in its bowl

December, 19, 2011
12/19/11
12:00
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There really is not a better draw in the NFL this year than one Timothy Tebow.

ESPN.com's All-Underrated Big 12 team

December, 13, 2011
12/13/11
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We unveiled our All-Big 12 team last week with lots of talent.

Time for a new take, with a little help from the Big Ten Blog: The All-Underrated team.

My criteria: The conference's most underrated player at each position. This is, of course, subjective. This isn't for the second-best player at each position. It's for the player who doesn't get enough respect. The only rule: He can't be on my All-Big 12 team.

Here goes:

OFFENSE

QB: James Franklin, Missouri
RB: Christine Michael, Texas A&M
RB: John Hubert, Kansas State
FB: Braden Wilson, Kansas State
WR: Ryan Swope, Texas A&M
WR: Tevin Reese, Baylor
WR: Josh Cooper, Oklahoma State
TE: James Hanna, Oklahoma
OL: Clyde Aufner, Kansas State
OL: Philip Blake, Baylor
OL: Austin Wuebbels, Missouri
OL: David Snow, Texas
OL: Lonnie Edwards, Texas Tech

DEFENSE

DE: Toben Opurum, Kansas
DT: Nicolas Jean-Baptiste, Baylor
DE: Meshak Williams, Kansas State
DE: Jackson Jeffcoat, Texas
LB: Steven Johnson, Kansas
LB: Elliot Coffey, Baylor
LB: Alex Elkins, Oklahoma State
CB: David Garrett, Kansas State
CB: Leonard Johnson, Iowa State
S: Terrance Bullitt, Texas Tech
S: Daytawion Lowe, Oklahoma State

SPECIALISTS

P: Trey Barrow, Missouri
PK: Michael Hunnicutt, Oklahoma
PR/KR: Jarvis West, Iowa State

Coach: Paul Rhoads, Iowa State

ESPN.com's 2011 All-Big 12 Team

December, 9, 2011
12/09/11
10:30
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Editor’s Note: Tune into the “AT&T ESPN All America Team Show” on Saturday (ABC, 1:30 p.m. ET) to see who ESPN’s writers and experts selected.

It's been a fun season across the Big 12, with a few big names who didn't play as well as we thought, and lots of unknowns who became household names by the end of the season.

I'll offer my comments below, but here's our All-Big 12 team for 2011.

OFFENSE

[+] EnlargeRobert Griffin III
Jerome Miron/US PresswireThe heroics of Robert Griffin III got Baylor to 9-3 and made him a Heisman Trophy finalist.
QB: Robert Griffin III, Baylor
All-purpose: Collin Klein, QB, Kansas State
RB: Terrance Ganaway, Baylor
RB: Henry Josey, Missouri
FB: Trey Millard, Oklahoma
WR: Kendall Wright, Baylor
WR: Justin Blackmon, Oklahoma State
WR: Ryan Broyles, Oklahoma
TE: Michael Egnew, Missouri
C: Grant Garner, Oklahoma State
OL: Kelechi Osemele, Iowa State
OL: Levy Adcock, Oklahoma State
OL: Gabe Ikard, Oklahoma
OL: Luke Joeckel, Texas A&M

DEFENSE

DE: Frank Alexander, Oklahoma
DT: Dominique Hamilton, Missouri
DE: Alex Okafor, Texas
DE: Jamie Blatnick, Oklahoma State
LB: Sean Porter, Texas A&M
LB: Jake Knott, Iowa State
LB: Emmanuel Acho, Texas
NB: Tony Jefferson, Oklahoma
CB: Nigel Malone, Kansas State
CB: Carrington Byndom, Texas
S: Kenny Vaccaro, Texas
S: Markelle Martin, Oklahoma State

SPECIALISTS

P: Quinn Sharp, Oklahoma State
PK: Randy Bullock, Texas A&M
PR: Dustin Harris, Texas A&M
KR: Tyler Lockett, Kansas State

Finally, a few notes and explanations:

  • I loved the media's idea to craft an all-purpose spot to accomodate Collin Klein. The Big Ten did the same for Michigan's Denard Robinson last season. I followed suit, and did so on the defensive side of the ball with a nickel-back spot for Oklahoma's Tony Jefferson. Two players that missed first-team designation by the coaches, but clearly deserve to be recognized.
  • Additionally, I prefer the teams to reflect the Big 12 style of play, so the nickel back fits. Each team doesn't have 11 players, but there were deserving linebackers. The same with Egnew and Millard. Does every team use a fullback or a tight end? No, but both are standout performers. They'd rotate in anyway, just as Jefferson would in a theoretical package.
  • Tough call to leave Philip Blake from Baylor off my team, but Garner's been better. Blake is very, very close, though.
  • Hated to leave off Brodrick Brown and E.J. Gaines, but I went with a more traditional two corners and two safeties, rather than four corners like the media's team.
  • Steven Johnson and Arthur Brown would have been right behind my three linebackers. That race was probably closer than at any other position, except maybe cornerback. Difficult to leave either of those guys off my first team, but the three on the team were better. I gave Brown my Newcomer of the Year nod, though.
  • I don't like going with three defensive ends and one defensive tackle, but there wasn't a defensive tackle who deserved the honor more than Okafor, my third defensive end. Okafor was a defensive tackle last year anyway, so that's close enough, right? He moved from tackle to end before spring practice earlier this year. In the Big 12, an additional pass rusher is necessary, too, right?
  • I made a similar move with my offensive line. Went tackle-heavy, but the guards didn't have quite as many standouts.

Season recap: Missouri

December, 7, 2011
12/07/11
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MISSOURI TIGERS

Record: 7-5 (5-4)

The Big 12 is a quarterbacks league and The Big Question for Mizzou was simple: Did it have one? It had two until Tyler Gabbert transferred, but James Franklin proved in 2011 that the answer was yes. He progressed as a passer throughout the season and never lost sight of his ability to run, either, rescuing Missouri from a 3-4 start to win four of the team's final five games and reach a bowl game.

The Tigers won seven games, the fewest since the 2005 season, but that's telling of the program's progress. All five losses were quality, and the Tigers might be the best five-loss team in America. Take that for what it's worth, but No. 3 Oklahoma State was the only team to beat Mizzou at home. It's other losses came to Oklahoma, Arizona State, Baylor and Kansas State, all on the road. Not bad at all. The defense was a bit underwhelming, but the Tigers were playing their best football late in the season, and won a dramatic game against Texas Tech in the home finale without coach Gary Pinkel, who was suspended for the game after a drunk driving arrest. The Tigers handled that crisis as well as possible, being up front about the mistakes made and handing Pinkel a stiff punishment that included financial penalties exceeding $300,000. It didn't prove to be a huge distraction for the team, and though the Tigers would have liked to leave for the SEC with more impact, the bar is not high in the Big 12 for teams with first-year starters at quarterback.

Offensive MVP: Henry Josey, running back. Josey suffered a serious knee injury, tearing his left MCL, ACL and patellar tendon, but he was still the Big 12's leading rusher for almost three full weeks after his season was over and the Big 12 continued on. He averaged an outlandish 8.06 yards per carry and finished with 1,168 yards, despite having just the 12th-most carries in the Big 12. Not bad for a guy who started the season as the team's No. 3 back.

Defensive MVP: E.J. Gaines, cornerback. No clear winner here. Missouri could point to a handful of places, but I went with the team's truly most outstanding season. Gaines intercepted three passes, but he broke up 16 more. The next most on Missouri's team: four. In a passer's league like the Big 12, that's pretty amazing. So, with apologies to Andrew Wilson, Zaviar Gooden, Luke Lambert, Brad Madison and Jacquies Smith, I'm going with Gaines.

Turning point: The overtime win over Texas A&M. You could see in the Tigers' emotion after the win how much it meant. Dropping to 3-5 would have been a huge hit and put a lot of pressure on the team down the stretch. Franklin highlighted the day with a certified "Beast Mode" run, bouncing off tacklers for a 20-yard touchdown run early on, but the win featured a 14-point second-half comeback and keyed off a 4-1 finish for the Tigers. The only loss came on the road to Baylor by three points.

What’s next: For now, it's a brief jaunt into SEC country -- Shreveport for the AdvoCare V100 Independence Bowl -- before a permanent stay next season. The Tigers will bring back a ton of experience on offense, though three of the top six tacklers on defense will be gone. The program's already altered its recruiting strategy, assigning two coaches to recruit Florida and another in Atlanta. Maintaining recruiting ties to Texas as much as possible is important for the program's future, and a cross-divisional rivalry with Texas A&M -- Missouri will visit the Aggies every other year, vs. once every six years for the other SEC West teams--should help a bit. The Tigers should contend for the SEC East title next year, but their recruiting will determine longterm success in their new home.

Big 12 by the numbers: Week 11

November, 9, 2011
11/09/11
2:01
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Time for the story of the Big 12 this week, as told by calculators.

50.1: Points scored on average by Oklahoma State.

49: Points scored on average by Oklahoma State in conference play.

68: Tackles in six conference games by Kansas linebacker Steven Johnson, 14 more than any player in the Big 12.

117.3: Opponent pass-efficiency rating in conference play for Oklahoma State, the best mark in the Big 12.

156.7: Opponent pass-efficiency rating in conference play for Kansas State, the worst mark in the Big 12.

2,253: Passing yards given up in six conference games by Kansas State, 345 more than any Big 12 team.

2: Kickoff returns each for touchdowns by Kansas State's Tyler Lockett and Texas' Fozzy Whittaker in conference play.

1: Kickoff returns for touchdowns by the rest of the Big 12 in conference play. (Justin Gilbert)

0: Number of Big 12 players with one kickoff returned for a touchdown this season. Gilbert, Whittaker and Lockett all have two.

2: Field goals missed by Texas A&M kicker Randy Bullock last week in a loss to Oklahoma.

1: Field goals missed by Bullock in his first eight games.

49.4: Fewer yards per game given up by Texas (310.8) than any Big 12 team. The Longhorns have led the Big 12 in total defense in each of the past four seasons.

24: Difference in turnovers gained between Oklahoma State (31) and Texas A&M (7). Both began the season in the top 10. OSU is undefeated and ranked No. 2. Texas A&M is unranked and has four losses.

1: Big 12 team that has converted fewer than 50 percent of its fourth-down attempts. Texas A&M is 1-of-6.

44: Plays longer than 10 yards for OSU receiver Justin Blackmon. Only Missouri's Henry Josey (47) has more among Big 12 players.

2: Plays longer than 80 yards this year, both runs by OSU's Herschel Sims and Baylor's Terrance Ganaway.

10: Plays longer than 80 yards for Big 12 teams in 2010.

1: Punt return longer than 40 yards in 2010. (E.J. Gaines, Missouri)

34: Runs longer than 10 yards for Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein. Only Josey (43) has more.

Big 12 Awards Update: Week 11

November, 9, 2011
11/09/11
11:00
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We've seen a lot of movement in the offensive list, but it's kind of crazy how static the Defensive Player of the Year race has been. A bit of a shift in order this week, but the same three guys who have been on the list all season, plus a few others who deserve mention.

Offensive Player of the Year

1. Brandon Weeden, QB, Oklahoma State: Weeden got the job done in the fourth quarter despite a few ugly mistakes early and finished with staggering numbers. His 502 yards were a school record and his four touchdowns helped the Cowboys stay undefeated and move to No. 2 in the BCS standings.

2. Ryan Broyles, WR, Oklahoma: This will likely be Broyles' last week on this list after tearing his ACL on Saturday, but what a career it’s been. He’ll go down as one of the greatest Sooners ever and one of the best college football players of all-time. He finishes his career with an FBS record 349 catches for 4,856 yards and 45 touchdowns. Amazing.

3. Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor: Griffin could make a late charge for this award with a few more wins. He’s thrown for 400 yards in three consecutive weeks and helped beat Missouri last week, 42-39, to get Baylor to 5-3.

Honorable mention: Collin Klein, QB, Kansas State; Landry Jones, QB, Oklahoma, Henry Josey, RB, Missouri

Defensive Player of the Year

1. Frank Alexander, DE, Oklahoma: Alexander leads the league with 13.5 tackles for loss and is second with 7.5 sacks. He's been a disrupting force all season for an often dominant OU defensive line.

2. Sean Porter, LB, Texas A&M: Porter still leads the Big 12 with 8.5 sacks and is third in the Big 12 with 12 tackles for loss. He's made 56 tackles and forced a fumble.

3. Arthur Brown, LB, Kansas State: Brown's slipped down the list after two losses to spread offense teams, but he'll get a chance to get dirty with a physical Texas A&M attack on Saturday. He's sixth in the Big 12 with 69 tackles and might have the fewest missed tackles of any Big 12 player.

Honorable mention: Ronnell Lewis, DE, Oklahoma; Jake Knott, LB, Iowa State; Nigel Malone, CB, Kansas State; E.J. Gaines, CB, Missouri

Coach of the Year

1. Bill Snyder, Kansas State: Snyder's Wildcats suffered a last-second loss to Oklahoma State, but I think I'll be voting for Snyder as long as his team finishes at least 9-3.

2. Mike Gundy, Oklahoma State: Gundy's undefeated Cowboys have landed him on the short list for coach of the year, and he'l have to make a trip to Lubbock on Saturday after a dramatic home win on Saturday against Kansas State.

3. Bob Stoops, Oklahoma: The Sooners dominated the third quarter and after a frustrating loss to Texas Tech, the Sooners have been sharp for two consecutive weeks. This week, the Sooners are in a bye.

Honorable mention: Mack Brown, Texas

What to watch for in the Big 12: Week 10

November, 3, 2011
11/03/11
10:15
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Here's what I'm keeping an eye on in this week's games.

1. Kansas State's secondary. The Wildcats failed their big test last week against Oklahoma and it gets just as difficult, if not more so, this week in Stillwater. And time it's on the road. OSU's running game is better than Oklahoma's, and its passing game is just as difficult to cover. Brandon Weeden has been sharp, and the task ahead of Nigel Malone and David Garrett is enormous. This matchup will decide the game.

[+] EnlargeJames Franklin
Sarah Glenn/Getty ImagesMissouri QB James Franklin should give SEC defenses cause for concern next season.
2. Baylor's front seven. The Bears are giving up almost 250 yards on the ground in conference play, and Missouri fields a two-headed rushing attack with James Franklin and Henry Josey, who both torched a solid Texas A&M front seven last week. These guys have to play well to give Robert Griffin III and the Bears a chance, or Missouri will control possession and the game.

3. Oklahoma's home prowess. The home streak is gone, but did the mystique follow Texas Tech out of the building? Badly beating a good Texas A&M team would be a nice start for the Sooners, but Texas A&M has to be significantly less intimidated by a) seeing that result and b) beating Oklahoma last season. So which is it?

4. Texas QB(s)? Texas continues to list Case McCoy and David Ash as co-starters when the playing time looks like there's nothing "co" about it. Does McCoy still have a future on the field, or has the true freshman, Ash, taken over a full-time role? My guess is the latter, but Texas Tech will be a real test, unlike Kansas. The Red Raiders could be revealing.

5. Kansas ... offense? Prove to us that this offense really is better. Iowa State's defense doesn't really scare many folks across the Big 12, but KU had just three first downs against Texas last week and 46 total yards in a 43-0 loss. Part of that was the Longhorns eliminating the Jayhawks' running game, but can the offense help the Jayhawks get their first conference win?

6. Missouri's secondary. E.J. Gaines & Co. have stepped up their play in recent weeks, but this week will be a tough test for the Tigers. Griffin III endured a frustrating outing against Oklahoma State last week and will be back at home, where he's been dominant all season. Are the Tigers up to the task? They're dealing with one of the best receiving corps in the league, and a quarterback that would love nothing more than to beat them over the top.

7. Seth Doege's accuracy. Iowa State didn't blitz Tech much in last week's 41-7 win, but Doege wasn't sharp and the Red Raiders paid the price with a nonsensical loss. Doege's been outstanding, but can he bounce back this week? I expect him to, but Texas' secondary is one of the league's best, and the Longhorns will harass him and make him hurry throws at corners Quandre Diggs and Carrington Byndom.

8. Texas A&M's second half. It has to be said, does it not? Texas A&M has been the league's most odd team this year, only a few plays away from being in the top 3, instead of Oklahoma State. But alas, here they are, with losses to three teams after possessing double-digit halftime leads. Second halves haven't been the issue on the whole for this team, but they've been more evident in the losses. What's in store this week at Oklahoma?

9. Iowa State's identity. Who are these Cyclones? Was last week a statement of how good they can be? Or did Texas Tech lay an egg? I don't know how much Kansas can answer that question this week, but the Cyclones would be well-served to be the next team to blow out the Jayhawks, but Kansas could reach up and do to Iowa State what the Cyclones did to Tech. Should be an interesting matchup.

10. Oklahoma State's yes, focus. We've seen it the past two weeks. Oklahoma, then Texas Tech. If Oklahoma State isn't sharp, K-State will make it pay for dropped passes and poorly-timed three-and-outs. The ranking beside K-State's name should help the Cowboys perk up, but seeing last week's blowout loss to Oklahoma might inspire a bit of complacency. Or will it? OSU's stayed pretty loose this week, and this will be one of the toughest tests left before the showdown with Oklahoma.

Predictions: Big 12 Week 10

November, 3, 2011
11/03/11
9:00
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Week 9 wasn't my best, but it always gets a lot tougher in conference play.

Last week: 3-2 (.600)

Overall: 42-12 (.777)

Texas Tech 31, No. 21 Texas 27: Tech showed what it's capable of two weeks ago against Oklahoma, and Texas hasn't dealt well with dynamic offenses. The Red Raiders are getting healthier and healthier, and will pose major problems. Seth Doege and the Red Raiders are angry, and this challenge looks a lot different than Kansas. A word of advice, Horns: Look out for that slip screen.

Iowa State 38, Kansas 28: All of a sudden, there are major questions about Kansas' offense, but the Jayhawks will get back on track this week. Once again, though, the defense will keep the Jayhawks from capitalizing on their best chance to grab a conference win. Jared Barnett continues to mature, and Darius Reynolds gets back to early season form with a big game.

No. 6 Oklahoma 45, Texas A&M 21: I went back on a fearless prediction once. Not this time. You wouldn't like the Sooners when they're angry, and this team isn't real happy about what happened the last time they played on their home field. Oklahoma protects the quarterback better than anybody, and Landry Jones is smart enough to get the ball out to prevent putting the offense in holes. Texas A&M's poor pass defense is exposed, and the Sooners roll.

Missouri 34, Baylor 30: Missouri has by far the Big 12's best rushing offense in conference play. Baylor has the league's worst rush defense. That'll be too much for Robert Griffin III to overcome, though he'll get back on track with a huge day. E.J. Gaines on Kendall Wright will be a fun matchup to watch, but Henry Josey and James Franklin carry the Tigers to a second consecutive road victory in Texas, the first time all season Missouri has won consecutive games.

No. 3 Oklahoma State 44, No. 14 Kansas State 28: There will be too much offense for the Wildcats to handle in this one. Oklahoma State's is playing at Oklahoma's level, and this one won't be pretty for the K-State defense. Come back later Thursday for a video that further explores this matchup.

Big 12 by the numbers: Week 10

November, 2, 2011
11/02/11
2:45
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Here's the story of the Big 12 this week, as told by calculators.

5: Wins for Texas, equalling last year's total with five weeks remaining in the season.

0: Road wins for Baylor in three tries in 2011

8.6: Points scored per game separating the No. 3 team in the Big 12, Texas A&M, from the league's top two teams, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State.

22.6: More Missouri rushing yards per game in conference play than any Big 12 team.

26.2: Oklahoma State's average points allowed in conference play, which ranks second in the Big 12, behind Oklahoma.

1: Interception for Brandon Weeden in Big 12 play, the fewest of any Big 12 quarterback.

20: Turnovers gained in Big 12 play for Oklahoma State. Kansas State is No. 2, with 12.

17: Fewer first downs for Kansas than any Big 12 team in league play. The Jayhawks have 82 in five games.

25: Fewer first downs given up for Texas than any Big 12 team in league play. The Longhorns have given up 72 in four games.

1: Sack given up by Oklahoma in five league games. Two Big 12 teams are tied at No. 2, with seven.

10: Made field goals in 10 attempts for Texas A&M in five league games. Only two teams have attempted more, but the Aggies are the only Big 12 team still perfect.

96.2: Oklahoma's scoring percentage in the red zone in league play, the highest of any Big 12 team.

36.1: Receiving yards per game separating Ryan Broyles (149.6) and the Big 12's No. 2 in conference play, Kendall Wright (113.5).

11: Passes defended by Missouri CB E.J. Gaines, four more than any player in the Big 12 in league play.

Lunch links: Special visitor at Oklahoma St.

November, 1, 2011
11/01/11
12:00
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I can guarantee your Halloween costume wasn't better than this.

Big 12 Players of the Week: OU, MU, Texas

October, 31, 2011
10/31/11
11:30
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The Big 12 has named its Players of the Week for Week 9.

OFFENSE

Landry Jones, QB, Oklahoma: Jones threw for a school-record 505 yards on 35-of-47 passing in a 58-17 win against Kansas State. He also threw for five touchdowns and helped OU rack up the most yards of offense (690) for the program since 1978. Jones also moved past Sam Bradford for the school record in career touchdown passes, with 90.

DEFENSE

E.J. Gaines, CB, Missouri: Gaines made a career-high 10 tackles and broke up a career-high four passes, including three in the fourth quarter of a 38-31 overtime win against Texas A&M. The Aggies' offense scored just three second-half points, and Missouri rallied from a 28-14 deficit.

SPECIAL TEAMS

Justin Tucker, K, Texas: Tucker made two field goals, including a 52-yarder, and five PATs in Texas' 43-0 win against Kansas. He punted just once and pinned Kansas at its 12-yard line. He's the first Texas player to win any player of the week award this season.

The roadblocks for Oklahoma State reaching Bedlam undefeated with a chance to play for the national title are dwindling.

Missouri was a major one on Saturday. Plenty across the league, yours truly included, had the Cowboys on upset alert.

Oklahoma State's response? Another solid performance, exactly like this team has put together in every other game this season.

Brandon Weeden was sharp, unfazed by numerous drops from a solid receiving corps that could have frustrated less mature, less experienced passers. He finished with 338 passing yards and three scores. Joseph Randle ran for 138 yards and three touchdowns, scoring another on a 13-yard catch.

The defense gave up 463 yards of offense, but forced four turnovers, including a monster second half from Jamie Blatnick, who tipped two passes to teammates for interceptions and forced a fumble on a sack.

OSU's only turnover was costly. Weeden threw an interception to E.J. Gaines in the end zone and Gaines returned it to midfield, igniting the crowd with Missouri trailing by just 14. OSU's answer? Force another turnover deep in its own territory to snatch back momentum.

A strong sign. Like last week against Texas, OSU wasn't at its best. It still won convincingly on the road. This time, against a good opponent and good offense, the Cowboys took another step toward an unprecedented season. If you're coach Mike Gundy, that's exactly what you want to see.

Justin Blackmon suffered an injury and missed the entire second half, too.

"Justin got dinged in the head, and he's fine, but that young man's got too much in the future," Gundy told the FX sideline reporter in postgame. "We're just not going to put him back in there."

Gundy said he'd be back at practice this week.

So, too, will the rest of the Cowboys, with a perfect record and a lot to play for.

Momentum swinging wildly in Columbia

October, 22, 2011
10/22/11
2:49
PM ET
This is the type of game that's frustrating for both sides.

Missouri, with an untimely fumble, feels the game could be much closer. Oklahoma State, with an ugly interception and a parade of dropped passes, feels the score could be much more lopsided.

Late in the third quarter, Oklahoma State leads 38-17 after Joseph Randle snatched momentum back with a 59-yard touchdown run for his third score of the day.

OSU looked like it would put the Tigers out on the previous drive, but E.J. Gaines picked off Brandon Weeden in the end zone and returned it to midfield. Missouri threatened, but James Franklin fumbled, giving way to OSU's answer.

Surely it's frustrating for both sides.

Oklahoma State's high-powered offense gives it a little more leeway to make mistakes, but Franklin already has two turnovers in the second half and a fumble recovered by Missouri. Now, after those mistakes, it may be up to Franklin's arm to try to bring Mizzou back within striking distance.

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