Big 12: Jack Trice
Eathan in Manhattan, Kan., writes: The one thing I love most about my Wildcats is the overwhelming feel of family. We are allowed the best seats for students. The school puts emphasis in alum and fan relations and makes sure they are happy. K-State is a family and you feel at home when you step on Wildcat soil.
Matt Kuhns in Lakewood, Ohio, writes: Love about the Cyclones: Being "the cyclones." Lots of bulldogs, large cats and predatory birds in sports; not many tornadoes. So at least we've got that!
mhbtiger in KC, Mo., writes: My favorite tradition is the MIZZOU to TIGERS during pregame. The band makes the transition during the Fight Song. And speaking of...I like how we have 2 songs that fit together so nicely..A close 2nd is the Missouri Waltz at the end of the 3rd Q. Go! Fight! Win! TIGERS!!!
Tanner D. in Huntsville, Ala., writes: The things I love most about Oklahoma are Bob Stoops (not our first great coach), and seeing our players wear the Golden Hat Trophy after beating Texas.
Patrick Woo in State College, Penn., writes: About my Texas Longhorns, I LOVE...the burnt orange, Bevo, the logo, the success, but most importantly how Mack Brown and others conduct themselves and the class they do with it. Those are the people in the world that you should admire.I am FIRED up for 2011 and I love absolutely love Bryan Harsin. TEXAS is my life, but I'll admit I was riding the Boise Bus in 2010 and now we have Harsin.
Matt in Texas writes: I love the way oklahoma absolutely buries everybody at home, even top 5 teams! I just wish they could do it on the road...this is an abusive relationship.
Alex in Dallas writes: I love that our school, Baylor, lets the freshmen on the field to celebrate with the team before the game! Nowhere else can say that!
Dan in Dallas writes: What's my favorite thing about Iowa State: The story of Jack Trice, who Iowa State is named after. Amazing letter he wrote to himself the night before he died from injuries at the football game the next day. Great story here.
Tommy B in Stillwater, Okla., writes: I think one of the best atmospheres is at Boone Pickens Stadium. Where else is the student section no more than a few feet away from the field with paddles banging on mats the whole game? As former Texas A&M coach Jackie Sherrill once said, "I always hated playing in Stillwater because the crowd is right on top of you. The fans sit right on top of the field. You turn around and there is a fan in your face." Better tell Landry Jones not to turn around this year....
Jesse in KC writes: I love that we have a coach the whole school can get behind now, and have faith in, even if the first year was kind of tough: Turner Gill!
Josiah in Houston writes: David, gotta say love the blog. i've been an Aggie fan since they day i was born and i gotta say the thing i love most about my team is waching the team saw varsity's horns off after a win.
Drew in Austin writes: I love the burnt orange and white, the thundering roar of the crowd, the eyes of Texas, Texas fight, cannon shots after Texas touchdowns, old friends you see every football season, the overall aura of Saturdays at the DKR, it just doesn't get any better than that. I love the Red Out Around the World video Nebraska launched, and then proceeded to get beat yet again by a Texas team that history will show was inferior. What a beautiful way to send Nebraska out of the Big 12. 9-1 in Big 12 play against Nebraska.
Brian McCandless in Manhattan, Kan., writes: My absolute favorite things about K-State are the two things that I believe are the most unique as well. First is the Wabash Cannonball. There's nothing like watching the student section perform this mind-boggling back-and-forth dance that harks back to a fire that burned down the music building. The only surviving piece of music was the Wabash Cannonball and the band played it a lot for the basketball game following the fire. Thus the dance.The other is Willie the Wildcat doing K-S-U. Not only is Willie very unique with only a head as part of his costume, but performing the letters to the chant of the crowd is one of the more spine-tingling moments for every game - especially when we beat KU or Nebraska and it feels so good.K! S! U! Wildcats! K! S! U! Wildcats! Kaaaaaay! Essssssssssss! Uuuuuuuuuu! Wildcats!Go Cats!
Patrick Jeter in College Station, Texas, writes: What isn't there to love about Texas A&M, more-so now that our football team is on the verge of being truely great this season. From the Corps of Cadets marching in, Revielle on the sidelines, and who can forget the yells (along with Yell Practice)?!I believe that is what sets us apart from almost any other school in the country, win or lose we are there until the final minute yelling our heads off, when most fans would bail.
Adam Dalby in Louisville, Ky., writes: Three thingsI love about Texas Tech: 1) Always have a winning record/in a bowl game...even during rebuilding years. 2) TTU's Under Armour deal. Unquestionably the coolest jersey's and I am definitely unsurpassed with my alma mater workout attire at the gym. 3) Gameday in the LBK.
Garrett Morgan in Austin writes: I am a Red Raider who grew up in Austin and left for Lubbock to attend Texas Tech. I never thought that I would cheer for any team other than the Longhorns growing up here, but after a year in Lubbock I was bleeding red and black. I always loved our all black uniforms and the way that the city with a small town feel rallied behind their team during the high and low times. To this day I never get more pumped than on a Red Raider football Saturday.
Russell in Norwalk, Iowa, writes: I love Paul Rhoads as head coach of the Iowa State Cyclones. I loved Mac, but Rhoads may take over as the greatest Cyclone football coach in my life.
Ben in San Antonio writes: Harrell to Crabtree......TOUCHDOWN Red Raiders!
But the game should prove interesting as the enthusiastic Cyclones play in their first bowl game since 2005.
Here’s how the game should shake out.
WHO TO WATCH: Alexander Robinson, RB, Iowa State
If the Cyclones are going to be successful in their bowl game, their running game will be the key reason. And Robinson is the key weapon after rushing for 1,000 yards for the first time in his career as he finished with 1,058 yards to rank third in the Big 12. He rushed for three 100-yard games in non-conference play a career-high 152 yards against Kansas. His running will be critical in the Cyclones’ upset hopes, as well as setting up the Cyclones’ play-action passing attack with quarterback Austen Arnaud.
WHAT TO WATCH: Will the Cyclones be as enthusiastic to play as their fans are to watch?
Considering the snow that has socked the Midwest over the last week, it’s understandable why Iowa State fans would consider their trip to the Insight Bowl as manna from heaven. ISU’s fan support helped sway bowl organizers to offer them the bowl over a team like Missouri that had a better record and a head-to-head victory over the Cyclones. Iowa State should be similarly stoked for the game and a chance to finish the season with an improbable winning record in Coach Paul Rhoads’ first season.
WHY TO WATCH: A rare matchup between two old rivals
Minnesota and Iowa State once played fairly often, meeting 20 times during a 21-season period from 1895-1915. The two teams met when iconic Iowa State running back Jack Trice was mortally injured in a 1923 game in Minneapolis. After that game, the two teams have met only four times in the ensuing seasons. The Gophers have dominated the series, claiming a 20-0-1 edge with Iowa State’s last victory in the series coming in 1898. Despite that past history, Wednesday’s game should be entertaining between two evenly matched teams.
PREDICTION: This game might be decided on what team is more excited to be at Sun Devil Stadium. Iowa State is making its first trip to a bowl game since 2005. And Minnesota is making its third trip to the Insight Bowl in four seasons. It could be worse --the Gophers could be playing at the Motor City Bowl. But the Insight Bowl appears to have become a destination for Minnesota in late December, not exactly a strong show of growth for a developing program. Look for the Cyclones to be more enthusiastic to be here, which might boost them to an upset. Iowa State 27, Minnesota 24.
Dec. 31, 6 p.m. (ESPN)
Insight Bowl officials jumped all over the Cyclones, picking them over teams with a better record.
The Cyclones were one of the biggest surprises in the Big 12, claiming six victories to earn a bowl berth under first-year coach Paul Rhoads. But a close examination reveals that they defeated only one team with a winning record all season -- a 9-7 triumph at Nebraska where they forced eight turnovers, including three inside the Cornhuskers' 5-yard line.
The Cyclones struggled offensively when quarterback Austen Arnaud and running back Alexander Robinson were injured. But, new defensive coordinator Wally Burnham helped craft a gritty defense that was smaller than most opponents, but overachieved and ranked 27th in turnover margin.
Meanwhile, the Gophers will be making their third Insight Bowl trip in the last four seasons – not exactly a mark of distinction among Big Ten teams.
Tim Brewster’s team limped home with four losses in its last six games and failed to score an offensive touchdown in its final two games. The Gophers never really recovered from the loss of standout wide receiver Eric Decker and ranked last in the Big Ten in offense. Their lack of offensive weapons should make this a relatively equal battle with the Gophers.
These two teams were early rivals, playing 22 times between 1895-1924, but have met only three times since then. It was in the 1923 game where Jack Trice sustained an injury that later took his life, becoming a iconic martyr whose spirit pervades Iowa State to this day. The Cyclones haven't beaten Minnesota since 1898.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
I often have people ask me if I have a favorite stadium in the Big 12 or if I think one is better than the others.
Let me say that I like traveling to them all. I'm a stadium junkie and love the special nooks, crannies and special features that all seem to have.
But if I had to rank Big 12 stadiums from 1 to 12, this would be my current listing.
1. Kyle Field, Texas A&M: No stadium has more tradition -- even when the team is struggling. There's still something about heading into town and seeing the huge facility looming in the distance as you approach College Station. And no stadium in the conference is louder -- particularly when the Aggies' defense is at its former "Wrecking Crew" playing level.
2. Memorial Stadium, Nebraska: Walking into the stadium for a big game still gives me goose bumps. They did a nice job of renovating the press box into one of the very best in college football. And it still gets me when I'm down on the field after a game and see Nebraska fans providing a standing ovation for the visiting team as they leave the field. You don't see that very often.
3. Folsom Field, Colorado: Maybe it's because the mountainous scenery is so different here than any other Big 12 stadium. But coming to Boulder has always been an event for me. I love the walk around the stadium on a crisp autumn afternoon. It's just a special place to watch a game.
4. Royal-Memorial Stadium, Texas: The best in bells and whistles are off the charts here, topped with the enormous "Godzillatron" scoreboard. I still miss the track that used to ring the football field and reminded me of the Texas Relays in the past. But a pleasant stadium that also qualifies as the closest thing I have to a home field. And it's always reassuring for me to see Bevo propped up in the south end zone.
5. Memorial Stadium, Oklahoma: I get the sense of history here as you can almost feel the ghosts of Bud Wilkinson and Barry Switzer strolling the sideline. But be aware that you need to leave early because traffic can back up on Interstate 35 if you cut things too tightly.
6. Faurot Field, Missouri: This place has grown on me over the years. I never was around for the infamous Omni Turf that was the curse of visiting coaches. Just seems like a solid facility to me -- even with the long walk there from the parking lots.
7. Boone Pickens Stadium, Oklahoma State: This place has really been transformed over the years and it no longer has the feel of an erector-set facility like in the past. I've never played there or watched games from anyplace but the press box, so the weird layout with the east-west orientation has never bothered me. The new façade gives this place a big-time feel and I'm excited to see how it looks this season. I know my television friends love games from here because the fans are right on top of the action.
8. Jones AT&T Stadium, Texas Tech: I feel like I've grown up here over the years with as many games as I've seen in the facility. I've seen a horse crash into a retaining wall here, Spike Dykes finish his career and Michael Crabtree's dramatic catch that beat Texas. The area around the stadium has come a long way from the old Southwest Conference days. It's also been spruced up immeasurably with the new façade. And it gets a plus from me because the acoustic guitars at "Raider Alley" always remind me of the best of Texas music.
9. Bill Snyder Family Stadium, Kansas State: I usually stay in Kansas City for a game, so I never had really experienced the "Little Apple" on the night before a big game. I know this is a good, solid facility that was one of the first I visited with a "wow" press box. The others have caught up now, but I'm still always excited to watch a game from here. And I still love when Willie the Wildcat rides in the pregame motorcycle parade before really big games.
10. Memorial Stadium, Kansas: The atmosphere here has really picked up as Mark Mangino has improved the program's on-field efforts. In the old days, coming to a game here was like visiting a morgue a lot of times when the Jayhawks were struggling. But it's gotten better and should really be exciting this season with all of the preseason hype. And I still feel like I'm living history, considering it was a prominent feature of "The Day After" television move.
11. Floyd Casey Stadium, Baylor: I always know not to drink any Dr Pepper products for a few days before heading over there, because I know what's available at the stadium. I really like the murals outside the stadium that remind me of the strongest historical elements of the program. And if Robert Griffin can help the team challenge for a bowl berth, it might be filled occasionally in upcoming years, too.
12. Jack Trice Stadium, Iowa State: I still get a lump in my throat when I pass the statue of Jack Trice outside the facility and remember his story. It's too bad the facility inside doesn't live up to the history that named it. It's the Big 12's newest facility and the administration has some big plans to spruce it up. They hope to eventually enclose the south end zone and add an upper deck and connect the concourses. If they do that -- along with a little on-the-field excitement -- it would help this stadium take a big step forward.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
Iowa State's history isn't as rich as some Big 12 schools, but the Cyclones still have several worthy candidates if they ever constructed a Mount Rushmore for its football history.
Here are my selections:
- Earle Bruce -- Taking the Cyclones to a career record above .500 deserves something, doesn't it?
- Troy Davis -- Two-time rushing leader was second in the Heisman in 1996, narrowly losing to Danny Wuerffel.
- Jack Trice -- His heroic but fleeting career has served as an inspiration for every Cyclone who followed him.
- Seneca Wallace -- His knack for making big plays remains memorable seven years after his last game.
I thought long and hard about Dan McCarney, who holds the school record for victories and had a run of bowl appearances earlier in the decade.
Anybody I missed?