Big 12: Jason Ford

Big 12 viewer's guide: Week 14

November, 28, 2014
Nov 28
10:00
AM ET
Baylor and Kansas State each face one final hurdle before a head-to-head matchup at McLane Stadium on the final Saturday of the season that could garner plenty of headlines. Meanwhile, West Virginia and Iowa State look to snap significant losing streaks.

Here are the storylines to watch in the Big 12 during Week 14:

West Virginia at Iowa State, noon ET (Fox Sports 1): Neither team brings much momentum into this game with the Cyclones on a four-game losing streak and the Mountaineers on a three-game slide. Those downward trends won't sit well with Dana Holgorsen or Paul Rhoads. ISU watched its first Big 12 win slip out of its hands against Texas Tech a week ago, so the Cyclones could be entering this game with more momentum than previous weeks. Intrigue will join WVU on the plane to Ames, Iowa, with Skyler Howard's performance against Kansas State putting a spotlight on the quarterback spot for Holgorsen’s squad. Even if starter Clint Trickett is healthy, Holgorsen might not hesitate to turn to Howard if Trickett struggles.

No. 7 Baylor versus Texas Tech in Arlington, Texas, 3:30 pm ET (ABC): The Bears can't seem to get the traction they need to rise in the College Football Playoff rankings. But BU needs to win, and win impressively, if it hopes to keep its name in the conversation for another week. The Bears have minimal room for error. Tech enters the game after its first win since mid-October against ISU a week ago. The Red Raiders would love to play spoiler for the Bears while creating a little momentum heading into the offseason if they're able to finish the regular season with a two-game win streak which includes a win over the nation's No. 7 team.

Kansas versus No. 12 Kansas State, 4 p.m. ET (Fox Sports 1): The final home game for all-purpose threat Tyler Lockett could inspire the senior to do something special at Bill Snyder Family Stadium. The Wildcats have plenty to play for with a Big 12 title still within reach. Meanwhile, KU interim coach Clint Bowen could strengthen his résumé even further with a win over the in-state rival Wildcats. And the Jayhawks' sloppy showing at Oklahoma should give KU plenty of motivation to show they're better than they played against the Sooners a week ago.

Instant analysis: Illinois 38, Baylor 14

December, 29, 2010
12/29/10
9:31
PM ET
A 38-14 loss is not how Baylor pictured its return to the postseason turning out, but considering the way Baylor's offense opened the game, it could have been worse. A few bounces the other way could have made this game come down to the final drive, too.

How the game was won: Baylor's offense sputtered early (missed field goal, two lost fumbles and four punts in their first seven possessions), while Illinois scored on its first four possessions and led 24-0 after opening the second half with a touchdown. The early lead was too big for a late Bears rally to overcome, thanks to Illinois' running game, which overpowered Baylor for most of the game and racked up 306 yards on the ground.

Turning point: Baylor grabbed a solid hold on the game's momentum with a 39-yard touchdown pass from Robert Griffin III to Kendall Wright that cut Illinois lead to 24-14, and the Bears followed that with a defensive stop to get the ball back down 10 early in the fourth quarter. Baylor got stuffed on a 3rd-and-1 for a three-and-out and Illinois came up with the ensuing muffed punt. Seven plays (six runs) later, Illinois was in the end zone with a 31-14 lead to put the game out of reach.

Stat of the game: Nathan Scheelhaase's completion percentage: 78. The redshirt freshman quarterback completed just under 57 percent of his passes on the year entering the Texas Bowl, ninth in the Big Ten. He was a perfect 13-of-13 for 170 yards in the first half and made Baylor respect the pass. The Bears defense has had plenty of struggles in 2010, but when Illinois can throw the ball efficiently, it's much more difficult to defend. Because of Scheelhaase's play, the Bears experienced that firsthand. He finished 18-of-23 for 241 yards.

Player of the game: Illinois' offensive line. Baylor needed to get a push up front to slow the Illini running game, and it didn't happen. That's because the Illinois big men up front paved the way for Mikel Leshoure and Jason Ford. Baylor didn't tackle particularly well, but often, no Bears defender was getting a shot at ballcarriers until they were 4-to-7 yards upfield. That's a credit to Illinois. LeShoure racked up 184 yards on his own and Scheelhaase added a late 55-yard touchdown run.

Second guessing: Baylor's decision not to try and make a 24-point deficit a three-possession game. It's a mild complaint, but Baylor has a mobile quarterback that's particularly difficult to defend in the red zone and has lots of playmaking receivers who can get open in tight spaces on two-point conversion attempts. The Bears only got to within 24-14, but if that lead had been 24-16, you wonder if it might have applied enough pressure on the Illinois offense to produce a different result. Maybe not, but it's worth considering.

Record performance: Baylor running back Jay Finley broke the single-season rushing record during the game, and Griffin broke the career passing yards record.

What it means: It's a disappointing loss for Baylor, but the Bears are a program looking to make strides year upon year. Getting to a bowl game was a big one, and it was especially good for fans to be able to make a short trip to Houston to see a program with a big opportunity, similar to the basketball team's appearance in the Houston regional back in March. With Griffin returning in 2011, the Bears figure to make another run to the postseason.

On a conference-wide scale, it's another black eye for the Big 12, who drops to 0-2 in the bowl season with a pair of losses to Big Ten teams after Missouri dropped a 27-24 game in the Insight Bowl on Tuesday night.

That's a big disappointment for a conference favored in nearly every bowl game and had a reasonable chance to go 8-0. That's an afterthought now, and if the Big 12 can't get some wins later on in the bowl season, a league already low on prestige after being raided during this summer's conference realignment gets even more so.

video

Texas Bowl

December, 5, 2010
12/05/10
10:40
PM ET
Illinois Fighting Illini (6-6) vs. Baylor Bears (7-5)

Dec. 29, 6 p.m. ET (ESPN)

Illinois take by Big Ten blogger Adam Rittenberg: After doubling its wins total from 2009, Illinois enters somewhat unfamiliar territory Dec. 29 at Houston’s Reliant Stadium.

The Illini have been the nation’s ultimate all-or-nothing program the last decade, reaching two BCS bowls -- the 2002 Sugar and the 2008 Rose -- and enduring eight losing seasons. They haven’t played in a non-BCS bowl since the 1999 MicronPC.com Bowl, which also marked the program’s last postseason victory. Illinois can take a step toward consistency in the Texas Bowl against Baylor.

Illinois has made strides in all three phases this season, although the Illini remain prone to erratic play.

Junior Mikel Leshoure emerged as the Big Ten’s best running back this season, ranking eighth nationally in rushing (126.1 ypg). Paul Petrino’s offense is built around the run, and Illinois boasts plenty of ball-carrying options with Leshoure, classmate Jason Ford and redshirt freshman quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase.

The Illini defense surged at the start of Big Ten play but backslid down the stretch. Illinois needs standouts like defensive tackle Corey Liuget and linebackers Martez Wilson and Nate Bussey to perform at their peak against Baylor’s multitalented quarterback Robert Griffin.

The big question: Which Illinois team will show up in Houston? If it’s the one that pounded Penn State and Northwestern and beat a good Northern Illinois team, the Illini have a good shot to win. But if it’s the one we saw Friday night against Fresno State or Nov. 13 against Minnesota, it’ll be a long night.


Baylor take by Big 12 blogger David Ubben: You won't hear any complaints from Baylor on its bowl destination during the holidays. Bears fans stormed the field at Floyd Casey Stadium after a win over Kansas State in October gave the team its sixth win, officially qualifying for bowl eligibility for the first time since 1995. A three-game losing streak to end the season slowed some of the Bears' momentum after a 7-2 start, but the official announcement should serve as a jolt of energy and a reminder of the accomplishment's significance within the program.

The Bears boast an exciting set of skill position talent in quarterback Robert Griffin III, running back Jay Finley and five receivers with at least 40 catches this season. Baylor had to use that offense to outscore a handful of opponents this season, but they did it enough times to reach the team's ultimate goal when the season began: ending that infamous bowl drought.

The Bears bowl destination isn't exactly exotic -- just a short trip east to Houston -- but like I said, you won't hear them complaining.

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