Big 12: Jake Williams

Big 12 media days live: Day 2

July, 22, 2014
Jul 22
The Big 12 media days continue on Tuesday in Dallas, as Oklahoma's Bob Stoops and new Texas coach Charlie Strong each take the stage. Keep this page open throughout the day's proceedings as we bring you the latest from our reporters, who will cover all 10 teams at the event.

Spring superlatives: Iowa State

March, 30, 2011
Today: The second in our series looking at the strongest and weakest position for each team in the Big 12.

Strongest position: Linebacker

Key returnees: Jake Knott, A.J. Klein, Matt Tau'fo'ou, Matt Morton

Key losses: None.

Analysis: Knott is already one of the Big 12's best linebackers after starting just one year for the Cyclones, and he's flanked by Klein and Tau'fo'ou. Knott and Klein combined for a staggering 241 tackles, more than any other pair of teammates in the Big 12. Tau'fo'ou will likely return to start at middle linebacker after missing the second half of the season with a broken leg. Knott and Klein should be a solid duo at outside linebacker once again as they return for their junior years, and though they were excellent in year one, the future is even brighter for both. They were the only sophomores in the Big 12 to rank in the top 18 in tackles.

Weakest position: Wide receiver

Key returnees: Darius Darks, Darius Reynolds, Josh Lenz

Key losses: Jake Williams

Analysis: In the offense-minded Big 12, it's never a good sign if a tight end is a team's leading receiver, with 19 more catches and 126 more yards than the team's best receiver. For Iowa State, though, that was exactly the case in 2010. The Cyclones unit lacked big-play ability and as a result, the offense suffered. Darks, the team's top returning receiver, ranked 38th in the Big 12 in receiving last year. Reynolds was 45th. Only Kansas was a worse passing offense, and the Cyclones completed just under 57 percent of their passes last year, the lowest number in the Big 12. The Cyclones had just 20 pass plays longer than 20 yards, the fewest in the Big 12 and 114th nationally. They were also the only team in the Big 12 without a pass play longer than 40 yards all season. Iowa State will be breaking in a new quarterback next year, and Darks, Reynolds or Lenz simply have to be better if those numbers are going to get any better in 2011. Paul Rhoads also signed three receivers in the 2011 class, highlighted by three-star recruit Tad Ecby, a Texas native. New quarterback Steele Jantz is competing to win the quarterback job, and if he wins, he'll have at least one familiar receiver. Junior college teammate Aaron Horne enrolled early at Iowa State alongside Jantz in hopes of boosting the receiving corps.

Opening spring camp: Iowa State

March, 22, 2011
Schedule: Iowa State opens spring practice today and will close with its spring game on April 16.

What’s new: For one, the quarterback. Starter Austen Arnaud has been the face of the program for the last three seasons, but he's gone, taking with him an impressive legacy. His 6,777 career passing yards are second most in school history and he completed a higher percentage of his passes than any passer in school history.

On the mend: Linebacker Matt Tau'fo'ou missed most of the season with a broken leg suffered against Iowa, but he's back this spring and debuted at the top of the depth chart at middle linebacker. The senior, 5-foot-11, 243-pounder is pretty stout in the middle of the defense.

New faces: Quarterback Steele Jantz, a juco transfer, is in practice this spring. More on him in a second.

Key battle: It's pretty simple: Quarterback. Somebody has to fill Arnaud's shoes, and there should be a great competition in the spring to do it. Jerome Tiller has the most experience, so he'll start the spring atop the depth chart, but Jantz has earned plenty of buzz prior to spring practice. If he can make good on it, he'll win the competition that coach Paul Rhoads says is wide open. Jantz will start the spring at No. 2 on the depth chart, right ahead of James Capello and Jared Barnett.

Breaking out: Running back Shontrelle Johnson. Playing behind Alexander Robinson last year, Johnson showed quite a bit of burst and finished with 318 yards on his 35 carries. That included a 61-yard touchdown run against Texas Tech.

Don’t forget about: The secondary. The Cyclones struggled to stop the run, which perhaps prompted teams to run more than throw, but they finished sixth in the league in pass defense. Iowa State brings back both corners, Jeremy Reeves and Leonard Johnson, and safety Ter'Ran Benton. They should be good again, and sophomore Jacques Washington will begin the spring as the starter at free safety.

All eyes on: The skill positions. You can't win in the Big 12 without great play at quarterback, running back and receiver, and the Cyclones have big, big questions marks at all three positions. Johnson is the least of these, but he's still very low on experience. Jantz has never played major college football and in spot duty last year, Tiller struggled, especially late in the year against a stingy Missouri defense that beat the Cyclones 14-0 in Ames. The receivers, Darius Reynolds, Darius Darks and Josh Lenz, were underwhelming last year with neither cracking the Big 12's top 30 in receptions or yardage. The team's top two receivers, tight end Collin Franklin and receiver Jake Williams, are gone, and somebody has to emerge and ease the new quarterback's transition.

Iowa State recruiting analysis

February, 3, 2011

The class

Signees: 22 (four junior college, four enrolled early)

Top prospects: The Cyclones' top signee is running back DeVondrick Nealy, and they added another back in Rob Standard. Both are among the nation's top 75 running backs. Tad Ecby is the nation's No. 83 receiver, and Quenton Bundrage and Ted Lampkin will also catch passes for Paul Rhoads. Sam Richardson is the nation's No. 53 quarterback and Jamison Lalk is the nation's No. 104 offensive tackle.

Needs met: Rhoads did this well, adding three receivers among his highest-rated recruits to boost a position that in 2010, was probably one of the Big 12's worst. And Sedrick Johnson, tight end Collin Franklin and Jake Williams are all leaving Ames. Jared Brackens and Sam Richardson should also help a secondary that loses both starting safeties and the top reserve at safety.

Analysis: Iowa State is not a team that's going to go toe-to-toe with Texas and get ready-made talents that can be impact players in the Big 12 immediately. Winning in Ames is about getting guys in the right positions to succeed and developing the talent you can get. Iowa isn't a deep state in terms of talent, and the Cyclones already have to deal with big brother in Iowa City scooping up the state's top talent. As a result, you see five players from Texas, five from California, and four from Florida to compliment the five from Iowa. Iowa State got some talent where they need bodies, and developing that talent will be crucial to continuing what Rhoads has built so far in two seasons with the Cyclones. Their class ranks last in the Big 12, but the Cyclones deal with disadvantages not many others in the Big 12 have to contend with.

ESPN recruiting grade: C-minus

Recruiting needs: Big 12 North

January, 26, 2011
Signing day is exactly a week from today, and it's time to take a look at who needs what in its 2011 class.

Some schools have addressed these with their current class. Some haven't. Others are still trying.

We'll kick things off with the artists formerly known as the Big 12 North and examine the South later today.


Cornerback: Jalil Brown and Jimmy Smith were pretty reliable for the Buffaloes, but both are headed to the NFL, and the Buffaloes could definitely use some depth behind their first-year starters. It's not quite as pressing of an issue considering their move to the less pass-happy Pac-12, but they still like to sling it out west.

Receiver: Colorado isn't exactly starving anywhere on offense, but receiver sticks out a bit. Toney Clemons was good, but maybe not quite what the Buffaloes hoped he'd be in 2010, but they caught a break in getting Paul Richardson back after a great freshman season. The Buffaloes need some complementary pieces around Clemons and Richardson to replace departed pass-catchers Scotty McKnight and Travon Patterson. Next year, that should be tight end Ryan Deehan and receiver Will Jefferson.


Receiver: It's been a struggle for Iowa State in recent years, but they have to get better outside to help out their quarterback. Sedrick Johnson's transfer only worsens the Cyclones depth at the position, but Jake Williams and tight end Collin Franklin, the team's leading receiver, are gone. Shontrelle Johnson looks ready to become a big factor in the offense, but the Cyclones filling the space at receiver will make it easier for Johnson to replace running back Alexander Robinson.

Safety: Both starters, David Sims and Zac Sandvig, are gone. So is the Cyclones top reserve at the position, Michael O'Connell. Sims was a top-notch talent that will be tough to replace, but Iowa State needs more depth here. They should be solid at corner with Leonard Johnson, Ter'ran Benton, Jeremy Reeves and Anthony Young, which could make the new safeties' jobs easier.


Defensive line: KU is losing three of four starters on the line, including the team's only All-Big 12 talent, defensive end Jake Laptad. Turner Gill wants more speed, and this is a place to install it. Tackles that tip the scales at 320 pounds aren't too necessary in this league, but speed on the edge can go a long way in stopping the pass.

Quarterback: Neither Jordan Webb or Quinn Mecham look like long-term answers at quarterback for the Jayhawks. Mecham will be a senior, and Webb might develop into a better player as a sophomore next year, but Kansas needs other options. The Jayhawks hope Brock Berglund, the top-rated recruit in Colorado, is the solution to the problem.


Running back: I hear your cries for Bryce Brown, Wildcats fans, but K-State can't expect to hitch their wagon to the former blue-chip recruit turned Tennessee transfer in the same way it did for Daniel Thomas. Thomas and his backup, William Powell, are gone, and the Wildcats need some depth at running back to show up.

Interior offensive linemen: K-State loses both guards and its center from an offense that produced the Big 12's leading rusher in 2010. Don't expect them to do it again in 2011 without Wade Weibert, Kenneth Mayfield and Zach Kendall, as well as Thomas and Powell, but finding some new talent behind them will help them come close.

Cornerback: David Garrett emerged as a budding star in 2010 ready for a breakout senior year in 2011, but the Wildcats lose Terrance Sweeney and Stephen Harrison, as well as safety Troy Butler. Like we've mentioned earlier, good secondaries are a must for success in the Big 12, and K-State had one of the league's worst in 2010.


Receiver: Missouri has some good ones ready to suit up in 2011, namely Wes Kemp, Jerrell Jackson and T.J. Moe, but the Tigers don't have a true gamebreaker. They have some younger players in Marcus Lucas and Jimmie Hunt who they hope will develop into big-time, All-American caliber receivers, a la Jeremy Maclin and Danario Alexander. In Missouri's system, though, adding a few receivers is always a good idea. They certainly don't need any more running backs.

Defensive backs: Mizzou doesn't have any huge holes that need to be filled with recruiting, but the Tigers lose both corners, Carl Gettis and Kevin Rutland from their 2010 team. Kip Edwards and E.J. Gaines look likely to fill those roles, but the Tigers could use some depth and keep recruiting in the secondary to help add some talent around Tavon Bolden and Matt White, safeties who will replace departed Jarrell Harrison, who actually had to play some linebacker in 2010 because of injuries.


Every kind of kicker: Alex Henery, the team's punter and kicker is gone. So is kickoff specialist and lover/producer of touchbacks, Adi Kunalic. Fan favorite Henery was hardly underappreciated by the Nebraska faithful, but they'll miss him even more if the Huskers can't find a suitable placekicker and punter. Bo Pelini was reportedly after Wake Forest commit Mauro Bondi this week.

Receiver: Niles Paul and Mike McNeill are gone. The Huskers need Brandon Kinnie to come through with another good year and it'd be nice if Quincy Enunwa broke through in 2011, but Taylor Martinez needs some more help at wide out, and a couple new recruits could provide it as Martinez's passing prowess matures.
For most of Thursday night's 27-10 win over Northern Illinois, Austen Arnaud looked like a different player than the one who struggled in 2009. Iowa State coach Paul Rhoads said his quarterback was the most improved player of any on his entire team, and Arnaud proved Rhoads right most of the time. He completed 17 of 22 passes in the first half, and finished with a solid 27-of-36, 265-yard stat line.

[+] EnlargeAusten Arnaud
AP Photo/Charlie NeibergallAusten Arnaud had some brilliant moments against Northern Illinois but also threw two interceptions.
On four separate occasions, he completed high-pressure passes on third down to extend drives. Once, on an 11-yard checkdown to Alexander Robinson -- who finished with 97 yards including a 63-yard touchdown scamper in the second quarter. Another -- on the same drive -- featured a strike to Darius Darks for a 15-yard reception on 3rd-and-14. The next drive saw Collin Franklin catch a 16-yard pass on the sideline to convert a 3rd-and-7. Jake Williams caught another 16-yard pass on 3rd-and-15.

When Arnaud was good, he was very good. He succeeded in plenty of tight spots that might have been turnovers last year.

But troubling for Arnaud's night were a pair of interceptions -- something Cyclones fans might have expected from the 2009 edition of their quarterback. Arnaud threw 13 picks last season, more than all but one passer in the conference.

The first was a forced pass through the middle of a defense that could have been intercepted by two defenders. The mistake was inconsequential, after Northern Illinois failed to convert on three separate field goal attempts from 33 yards. The Huskies got three tries, courtesy of a pair of icing attempts by Rhoads in the form of late timeouts.

The second would have been a wise, comfortable checkdown to put the Cyclones in the red zone -- if Arnaud's intended target was Northern Illinois' Tyrone Clark. Arnaud dumped a pass to no one in particular and turned it over, robbing his team of a chance to to go up 24-3 in the third quarter.

On an otherwise sterling night that also featured 14 carries for 45 yards and a touchdown -- not counting a 53-yard touchdown run called back for an illegal formation -- Arnaud will likely most closely scrutinize those interceptions in the film room.

Iowa State can beat plenty of teams on its brutal schedule. They'll have a shot at beating Utah during nonconference play and only four games -- at Iowa, at Oklahoma, at Texas and Nebraska -- look like reaches for the Cyclones. A bowl game is definitely possible for a team that looked like the Big 12 North's third-best on Thursday night.

But the Cyclones won't get there if Arnaud can't prevent those bad decisions that resulted in turnovers. They'll need an Arnaud who calmly led his team and converted again and again on third down during their win against Northern Illinois.

Iowa State spring wrap

May, 6, 2010
2009 overall record: 7-6

2009 conference record: 3-5

Returning starters: Offense (8), Defense (4) P/K (1)

Top returners: RB Alexander Robinson, QB Austen Arnaud, DB David Sims, DB Leonard Johnson, WR Darius Darks, WR Darius Reynolds

Key losses: OL Reggie Stephens, LB Jesse Smith, DB James Smith, LB Fred Garrin, DE Christopher Lyle, WR Marquis Hamilton

2009 statistical leaders (*returners)

Rushing: Alexander Robinson* (1,193 yards)

Passing: Austen Arnaud* (2,017 yards)

Receiving: Marquis Hamilton (606 yards)

Tackles: Jesse Smith (135)

Sacks: Christopher Lyle (5)

Interceptions: David Sims (5)

Three spring answers

1. All about the linebackers. Iowa State lost five linebackers to graduation from last year’s team. A.J. Klein, Jake Knott and juco transfer Matt Tau’fo’ou are the likely replacements. Iowa State coach Paul Rhoads says they’re still thinking and playing short of full speed, but their development pleased him in the spring.

2. Arnaud takes hold. Quarterback Austen Arnaud struggled for much of 2009, but Rhoads says the senior was the most improved player on the team in the spring. Sophomore Jerome Tiller played well enough in spot duty last season to push for playing time this season, but Arnaud’s performance in the spring likely postponed Tiller’s chances until next year.

3. Year Two. Last spring, Iowa State was on its third coach in four years. This year, the team has been able to more firmly grasp the concepts of Rhoads’ systems and try to build on the team’s 7-6 finish last season.

Three fall questions

1. Scheduled for a rough landing? Iowa State has one of the conference’s toughest schedules, and Rhoads believes his 2010 team could be better than last year’s and finish with a worse record. The Cyclones play Northern Illinois, Iowa and Utah in the non-conference, and have to play at Texas and Oklahoma in consecutive weeks later in the season.

2. Who’s catching the ball? The Cyclones lost Marquis Hamilton to graduation, and have a talented group of receivers, but how they’ll shake out remains to be seen. Darius Reynolds got off to a hot start in 2009, but a broken leg ended his season. Jake Williams, Darius Darks and Sedrick Johnson will also be options for Arnaud.

3. Sustainable defense? Iowa State ranked in the top half of the conference in scoring defense in 2009, but lost seven starters from the bowl-winning team. Iowa State could be improved in the passing game, but it won’t matter much if the defense can’t be at least almost as good as they were last season.

Big 12 North recruiting needs

January, 21, 2010
Signing day is just around the corner, and each Big 12 team is doing what it can to keep together its class while adding a late upgrade in talent.

Here's a look at what immediate recruiting needs each North Division team must address first.


Running back: With the departure of Darrell Scott and Demetrius Sumler, Dan Hawkins needs to find some talent at running back. With only three scholarship backs on the roster, an immediate talent infusion is needed. Tony Jones is the only commitment and the Buffaloes could use size from a bigger back.

Tight end/H-back: All of the positions are important in Kent Riddle’s offense, and six players graduated from those positions in December. The only player who will return with experience includes junior tight end Ryan Deehan, so Hawkins needs players at the position who can help immediately.

Quarterback: With Tyler Hansen set at quarterback and Cody Hawkins set to graduate after next season, the Buffaloes still would like to add some depth at the position. Nick Hirschman has enrolled early to get a head start on his development, and Josh Moten appears ready to enroll after failing to make his grades before last season.

Iowa State

Across the board talent infusion: The Cyclones already have added 24 commitments for the upcoming season. Junior college players like massive offensive lineman Jon Caspers, defensive end Rony Nelson, wide receiver Anthony Young and tight end Ricky Howard should provide an immediate lift. And look for coach Paul Rhoads to add a couple of more to capitalize on the late momentum from the Insight Bowl victory.

Running back: Preparing for the future will be important as Alexander Robinson will be entering his senior season. Freshmen Beau Blankenship still has some developing to do and Jeremiah Schwartz has left the program. The Cyclones have added depth with the addition of Duran Hollis and Shontrelle Johnson. Don’t be surprised if Hollis moves positions once he comes to college if Johnson develops as expected.

Wide receiver: The Cyclones had trouble making big plays and could use a talent boost at the position. Leading 2009 receiver Marquis Hamilton has graduated and Jake Williams will be a senior next season. Recruits Jarvis West and Chris Young appear to have addressed those needs.


Defensive end: The Jayhawks could use a talent upgrade here with occasional starters Jeff Wheeler and Maxwell Onyegbule graduated, and Jake Laptad and Quintin Woods entering their senior seasons in 2010. It became more of a need after Oklahoma beat out the Jayhawks for top defensive end prospect Geneo Grissom earlier this week.

Quarterback: With unproven Kale Pick set to take over for Todd Reesing, the Jayhawks have added junior college transfer Quinn Mecham of Snow Junior College to immediately contend for playing time. Meacham threw for 3,091 yards and 40 touchdowns last season and has already captured the attention of new offensive coordinator Chuck Long because of his experience in the spread offense.

Secondary: New coach Turner Gill also needs help in the secondary where starters Darrell Stuckey and Justin Thornton were seniors and Philip Strozier, Chris Harris and Calvin Rubles will be seniors next season.

Kansas State

Adjust time-held notions to recruiting: Bill Snyder said recruiting seemed “out of kilter” in his first season back because of how teams now are in a hurry to link up with rising juniors. This strategy has caused Snyder to change his recruiting strategy, looking into signing more players earlier than in his previous coaching strategy.

Junior-college additions again will be critical in the trenches: Snyder has attacked the junior colleges with his traditional fervor as he attempts to unearth a couple of under-recruited gems in the offensive line and defensive lines -- the Wildcats’ two primary needs. Also, the Wildcats need some immediate help from the junior colleges after a recruiting imbalance during the last two seasons under Ron Prince that has left them with a need for immediate contributors. Snyder has estimated that up to 13 players will enroll at the semester break to contend immediately for playing time.

Quarterback: Even with a crowded group of potential contenders at the position, Snyder is still considering another quarterback. Carson Coffman, Sammuel Lamur, Collin Klein and Oregon transfer Chris Harper all are in the mix at the position heading into spring practice.


Wide receiver: The Tigers have a lot of talent returning, but still will lose leading 2009 receiver Danario Alexander and Jared Perry. The opportunity for eventual playing time will be there for new arrivals, although Jerrell Jackson, Brandon Gerau, T.J. Moe and Wes Kemp will be back.

Nose tackle: The graduation of Jaron Baston and Bart Coslet’s senior-to-be status opens up a position for a contribution in the trenches for the Tigers.

Secondary: All four of Missouri’s projected starters next season -- cornerbacks Carl Gettis and Kevin Rutland and safety Jarrell Harrison and Jasper Simmons -- will be seniors. The Tigers need to restock depth at the position and perhaps move it forward from this class.


Defensive end: The Cornhuskers could use an additional player with Barry Turner graduating and Pierre Allen set to enter his senior season in 2010. They are in the hunt with Oregon for Owamagbe Odighizuwa, a heralded speed rusher from Portland, Ore., who would be the crown jewel in the Cornhuskers’ incoming class if he commits.

Wide receivers: Many players are back, although the Cornhuskers could use an infusion of speed at the position. Niles Paul will be a senior and more talent is needed to make the Cornhuskers competitive with the athletic teams in the South Division like Texas, Oklahoma and Texas Tech.

Safety: Starters Matt O’Hanlon and Larry Asante both will be graduating and Eric Hagg will be a senior in 2010. The Cornhuskers will need some help to join with youngsters Courtney Osborne, Austin Cassidy and P.J. Smith at the position.

Instant analysis: ISU 14, Minnesota 13

December, 31, 2009
Iowa State pushed the Big 12's bowl record to 3-2 with an upset victory over Minnesota in the Insight Bowl.

Here's how the Cyclones pulled off the victory.

How the game was won: Minnesota was driving for a winning score when quarterback MarQueis Gray fumbled at the Iowa State 20. Cornerback Ter’ran Benton made the recovery to kill the Gophers’ final possession with 4:03 left in the game.

It’s notable: ISU’s victory snapped a 21-game winless streak against Minnesota. It was ISU’s first victory over the Gophers since notching a 6-0 triumph over the Gophers on Oct. 22, 1898.

Turning point: After struggling offensively through the beginning of the game, the Cyclones scored touchdowns on back-to-back possessions late in the first half to account for all of their scoring. ISU went 71 yards on 10 plays on the first touchdown and executed offensive coordinator Tom Herman’s no-huddle offense to perfection on the following drive. Austen Arnaud completed all four passes on that 89-yard drive drive, capping it with a 38-yard strike to Jake Williams that boosted them to a 14-3 halftime advantage.

Alexander Robinson
AP Photo/Matt YorkAlexander Robinson dominated the match with a game-high 137 rushing yards.
Player of the game: ISU running back Alexander Robinson dominated with a game-high 137 rushing yards and a key 26-yard reception that helped tilt field position in the fourth quarter.

Stat of the game: 168:51. The amount of time between offensive touchdowns for Minnesota. Nick Tow-Arnett’s 23-yard touchdown pass from Adam Weber in the third quarter snapped a touchdown drought for the Gophers’ offense that dated to their game against Illinois on Nov. 7 - a stretch of more than 11 quarters.

Best call: Despite some earlier struggles, Arnaud’s 38-yard TD strike to Williams gave the Cyclones a comfortable halftime lead they were able to barely maintain for the rest of the game.

What it means: The 7-6 Cyclones finished a remarkable turnaround in Coach Paul Rhoads’ first season, improving by five games over their 2-10 record last season. It enabled them to finish with a winning record for the first time since 2005 as they claimed only the third bowl victory in the 118-season history of the program. And while 2009 made the Cyclones one of the biggest surprises in the Big 12, Rhoads will be hard-pressed to duplicate this season’s surprising success. The Cyclones schedule will become much harder next year with Texas, Oklahoma, Texas Tech, Northern Illinois and Utah added to the schedule. It will be a huge challenge for the Cyclones to duplicate their first-season success with Rhoads.

Big 12's top 25 moments of 2009

December, 24, 2009
I've always been intrigued by those end-of-the-year montages where videographers encapsulate an event or a season.

I've tried to do something similar for the Big 12 -- boiling down the conference's 2009 campaign into the 25 most significant moments of the regular season.

Here are my choices. Let me know if you think I've forgotten any. A bunch of good moments were left out, let me assure you.

Unfortunately for the conference, the most significant moments were off-the-field items like injuries and suspensions.

They aren't ranked in any order, although some assuredly are more important than others.

    Tim Heitman/US PresswireLosing Sam Bradford for most of the season derailed Oklahoma's shot at a Big 12 title.

  • Sam Bradford’s injury: Oklahoma’s hopes of claiming the BCS championship were abruptly detoured in the first half of the Sooners’ first game. Bradford was hit by BYU linebacker Coleby Clawson shortly before halftime, knocking him out of the Cougars' 14-13 season-opening victory. The legal hit caused a sprained AC joint in Bradford's right shoulder that kept him out for the next three games.
  • Bradford’s injury – part two: After successfully returning form injury, and leading the Sooners to a victory over Baylor in their conference opener, Bradford started strongly against Texas the following week. He directed a 77-yard scoring drive on the Sooners’ first possession for a 3-0 lead. On the next Oklahoma offensive play, the Sooners' hopes of a fourth straight Big 12 title were dealt a cruel ending. Texas cornerback Aaron Williams knocked Bradford out of the game with a devastating sack. Bradford landed on his shoulder and didn’t play the rest of the season, undergoing surgery several weeks later.
  • “I’m so proud to be your coach”: Without starting quarterback Austen Arnaud and top rusher Alexander Robinson, and with a sapping flu bug, first-year Iowa State coach Paul Rhoads was overcome with his emotion in the locker room following his team's 9-7 upset of Nebraska. His heartfelt reaction captured by an ISU film crew became an immediate YouTube sensation. But something tells me that Bo Pelini will show it to his Nebraska team often before the Cornhuskers’ rematch in Ames next season.
  • Robert Griffin’s injury: Baylor’s worst fears were realized in the Bears’ 68-13 victory over Northwestern State when their stellar sophomore quarterback suffered a season-ending knee injury. It killed their hopes of snapping the conference’s longest bowl drought.
  • Todd Reesing is pulled late from Texas Tech game: Kansas appeared on the verge of a breakthrough road win at Texas Tech that would have qualified them for a bowl game. But the Jayhawks squandered a 21-14 lead entering the fourth quarter after two drives ended with fumbles by senior quarterback Todd Reesing. Coach Mark Mangino pulled Reesing for Kale Pick, saying he thought his quarterback was battered from the constant Tech pressure. Removing Kansas’ most decorated player foreshadowed the Kansas collapse the rest of the season. The Jayhawks lost the game 42-21 and the remaining four games on their schedule.
  • Blocked kick saves the Wildcats: Iowa State had pulled within a point of Kanas State with 23 seconds left, but Emmanuel Lamur blocked the ensuing conversion, preserving a 24-23 victory that catapulted the Wildcats into the North Division lead for much of the season.
  • Banks’ kickoff returns: Brandon Banks provided kickoff returns of 91 and 92 yards in less than 3 minutes to boost Kansas State past Tennessee Tech.
  • Colt McCoy's "too early" Heisman moment: Texas quarterback Colt McCoy was presumed to have locked up his Heisman with a 65-yard touchdown run through the middle of the Texas A&M defense, helping spark a 49-39 victory over the Aggies. It punctuated an effort in which McCoy accounted for 479 yards and five touchdowns against A&M. That was, until …

  • John Rieger/US PresswireNdamukong Suh dominated Big 12 opponents all season, but never more than in the Big 12 title game.

  • "Big Suh" dominates Texas: Nebraska defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh provided a dominating performance, and almost single-handedly pushed his team to the Big 12 title before losing 13-12 against Texas. Suh had a Big 12 title game record 4.5 sacks, and the Cornhuskers harassed McCoy into three interceptions and sacked him nine times. Goodbye Heisman for McCoy in a performance that undoubtedly sparked Suh's trip to the Heisman presentation at the same time.
  • Nebraska’s comeback in the rain against Missouri: The Tigers had dominated the first three quarters en route to a 12-0 lead. But Nebraska quarterback Zac Lee torched Missouri’s secondary for three touchdowns in a span of 202 seconds to spark a 27-12 victory. Lee had completed 9 of 27 passes heading into the fourth quarter.
  • Danario’s late-season explosion: Missouri wide receiver Danario Alexander progressed into the nation’s most explosive receiver during the final half of the season. He nearly became the first player in college football history to notch back-to-back-to-back-to-back 200-yard receiving games. He finished with 214 yards against Baylor, 200 against Kansas State, 173 yards against Iowa State and 233 yards against Kansas in his final four games.
  • Virginia Tech’s late rally against Nebraska: The Cornhuskers appeared poised to steal a victory at Virginia Tech despite an offensive attack that consisted of five Alex Henery field goals. But with less than 90 seconds remaining, Danny Coale got behind Matt O’Hanlon for an 81-yard reception from Tyrod Taylor. The Cornhuskers’ collapsed three plays later when Taylor hooked up with Dyrell Roberts on an 11-yard touchdown with 21 seconds left to cap the Hokies' 16-15 victory.
  • Nebraska’s fumble-fest against Iowa State: The Cornhuskers’ sputtering offense bottomed out in a 9-7 loss at Iowa State. The Cornhuskers started the day on offense with a fumble and finished with a Zac Lee interception on their final play. In between, there were six turnovers that doomed the Cornhuskers’ hopes, leading to the Cyclones’ first victory in Lincoln since 1977.
  • Broyles slices through the Cowboys: Oklahoma wide receiver/punt returner Ryan Broyles punctuated a 209-yard punt return effort with an 87-yard scoring return to lead the Sooners’ 27-0 victory over Oklahoma State, ending the Cowboys’ hopes of making a trip to a BCS game. His 316 all-purpose yards were the third-best effort in school history.
  • Tyler Hansen's redshirt season abruptly ends: After seeing a 14-10 halftime lead over Texas dissipate into a 24-14 deficit in one quarter, Colorado coach Dan Hawkins inserted quarterback Tyler Hansen into the lineup for the first time, ending thoughts that he would redshirt. The Buffaloes beat Kansas in their next game and Hansen remained in the starting lineup much of the rest of the season in front of Hawkins’ son, Cody.
  • Dez Bryant’s dismissal: Oklahoma State wide receiver Dez Bryant rebounded from nagging early-season injuries and appeared ready to help the Cowboys challenge for their first South Division title. He produced five touchdowns in OSU’s first three games. But he was ruled ineligible for the rest of the season on October 7 for violating an NCAA bylaw. Bryant failed to fully disclose his interactions with former NFL standout Deion Sanders to the NCAA.
  • The emergence of "Sticks" Sheffield: A 2-2 Texas Tech team looked in trouble when starting quarterback Taylor Potts suffered a concussion shortly before the half against New Mexico. Backup Steven “Sticks” Sheffield responded by completing his first three passes and punctuated that possession with a 25-yard touchdown pass to Alex Torres as time expired in the first half to boost Tech to a 14-7 lead. That sparked a run of four straight drives capped by touchdowns and a 48-28 victory. Tech won its next three games with Sheffield as a starter.
  • They can play defense at Tech: The offensive-minded Red Raiders led the conference with 34 sacks. Their defensive emergence was best typified in a late-stand against Baylor that preserved a 20-13 victory.
  • Florence’s comeback: Baylor freshman quarterback Nick Florence rallied the Bears from an 11-point halftime against Missouri to an eventual 40-32 victory. In their only conference victory, Florence passed for a school-record 427 yards and three touchdowns, overcoming a 468-yard passing effort by Missouri's Blaine Gabbert.
  • Cha'pelle's clutch pass defense: Colorado cornerback Cha’pelle Brown’s defense in the end zone preserved the Buffaloes’ 34-30 victory over Kansas. It was the loss that started the Jayhawks’ seven-game losing streak, costing them a bowl berth and ultimately Mark Mangino’s job.
  • Mangino's coaching gaffe: Nursing a three-point lead with 2:59 left, Mangino curiously went for three straight passes from his end zone against Missouri. On the final play, Reesing was sacked for a safety by Brian Coulter and Aldon Smith, setting up Grant Ressel’s 27-yard field goal on the last play to give Missouri a 41-39 victory.
  • Matt O’Hanlon’s trio of picks: Former walk-on safety O’Hanlon provided three interceptions, including the game-sealing one with 27 seconds left, to preserve Nebraska’s 10-3 victory over Oklahoma.

  • Ronald Martinez/Getty ImagesHunter Lawrence's game-winning kick gave Colt McCoy, above, and the Longhorns reason to celebrate.

  • It’s just not only Suh, too: Nebraska defensive tackle Jared Crick was overshadowed most of the season playing next to Ndamukong Suh --except during Crick's record-breaking five-sack performance during a 20-10 win over Baylor. Crick tied the school record with seven tackles for losses and provided a fumble recovery in the fourth quarter that helped seal the victory.
  • Marquise Goodwin's clutch kickoff return: Texas A&M had just pulled within 42-39 of Texas, and had Kyle Field roaring after a 20-yard touchdown pass from Jerrod Johnson to Jeff Fuller. But freshman Marquise Goodwin, returning kickoffs only because of D.J. Monroe's suspension, silenced the crowd with a 95-yard kickoff return for a touchdown that iced the Longhorns' victory.

And how could we forget …
  • Hunter Lawrence’s field goal: After it appeared Texas had mismanaged its way to losing the Big 12 title game, one second was put back on the clock. Hunter Lawrence took advantage with a 46-yard field goal that gave the Lonhorns a 13-12 victory over Nebraska and a berth in the BCS title game. It was the first time in Lawrence’s career – dating back to pee-wee football – that he had ever attempted a game-winning kick.

Late conference swing before leaving for Columbia

October, 24, 2009
Posted by's Tim Griffin

Paul Rhoads stung Nebraska with a fake punt, sparking the Cyclones 9-7 lead over Nebraska late in the first half.

After the Cyclones had been stymied at their own 33, punter Mike Brandtner rushed for 20 yards and a first down.

Jerome Tiller and Jake Williams then hooked up on a 47-yard touchdown on the next play. It was remarkably similar to the defensive gaffes that marked the end of the Cornhuskers' loss at Virginia Tech.

The Cyclones will be gunning for their first victory in Lincoln since 1977. It won't be easy, but they appear to be gaining confidence by the moment.

Kansas State took advantage of a fumble by Tyler Hansen deep in Colorado territory to add another field goal and go up over the Buffaloes, 13-6. Daniel Thomas has accounted for most of the Wildcats' offense with 89 yards.

And Oklahoma State appears to be cruising for a potential game for first place against Texas next week in Stillwater as the Cowboys are thumping Baylor 17-0 late in the first half.

The Cowboys have piled up 243 yards as Zac Robinson has torched a soft Baylor secondary for 132 yards and Keith Toston has rushed for 71 yards on nine carries.

I'm off to Columbia, but I'll check back in as soon as I get to the stadium.

ISU hex strikes again

October, 3, 2009

Posted by's Tim Griffin

Is there any Big 12 team that is haunted with more bad luck than Iowa State?

Another chapter to the Cyclones' stories of woe occurred Saturday when Emmanuel Lamur blocked a PAT in the final seconds, preserving Kansas State's 24-23 victory over the Cyclones.

Iowa State rallied as Austen Arnaud hit a pair of clutch passes to set up the Cyclones with a chance to tie. His 23-yard TD pass to Jake Williams got them close with 46 seconds left.

But Grant Mahoney, who was having a strong season for the Cyclones, had his extra point blocked by Lamur to preserve the Wildcats' triumph.

It was a gutty performance by KSU, capped by two fourth-quarter touchdown passes by Grant Gregory, who finished with 206 yards in his first start.

The way that Gregory played, the former South Florida transfer appears to have won the Wildcats' starting job heading into next week's game at Texas Tech.

The loss has to be especially bitter for new ISU coach Paul Rhoads, who had his team in position to start the season 4-1 with strong bowl hopes.

But the loss settled in final moments means that the Cyclones still have to find a way to cobble together three wins in conference play to get to six victories.

Losing like he did today is the first time that Iowa State's bad luck bit Rhoads. I bet he'll be kicking himself about the blocked conversion for a long time.