Big 12: Jevan Snead
Here's an update on the Big 12's recent notable transfers. The results are all over the map.
Garrett Gilbert, transferred from Texas to SMU in 2011: Struggled in 2010 during Texas' 5-7 season, despite a strong showing in relief of Colt McCoy in the 2009 national title game against Alabama. Earned a starting position in June Jones' offense in Dallas and threw for 2,932 yards, 15 touchdowns and 15 interceptions last season. He'll start as a senior in 2013.
Keith Nichol, transferred from Oklahoma to Michigan State in 2008: Nichol was a superstar recruit but lost a quarterback competition to some guy named Sam Bradford. After taking his talents to Lansing, he earned some time at quarterback as a sophomore in 2009, but found a home at receiver. He finished his career with 50 catches for 625 yards and four touchdowns, highlighted by a game-winning, Hail Mary touchdown to beat Wisconsin in 2011. He also threw for 826 yards and nine touchdowns.
Jevan Snead, transferred from Texas to Ole Miss in 2006: Played some in relief of Colt McCoy, but left for Oxford in search of playing time and found it. Carried the Rebels to a Cotton Bowl win and threw for 2,762 yards, 26 touchdowns and 13 interceptions in 2008. A year later, he tossed 20 touchdowns and 20 interceptions and racked up 2,632 yards. He left Ole Miss early, but wasn't drafted.
G.J. Kinne, transferred from Texas to Tulsa in 2008: Kinne never cracked the field at Texas, but had a huge career as a Golden Hurricane. He threw for just under 9,500 yards, ran for 1,365 yards and accounted for 96 total touchdowns in three seasons as starter. He went undrafted and hasn't caught on in the NFL, but is under contract with the Philadelphia Eagles.
Connor Wood, transferred from Texas to Colorado in 2011: Wood couldn't get on the field at Texas, but sought playing time in Boulder, and it looks like he's found it. After Nick Hirschman transferred last week, Wood is Colorado's likely starter in 2013, and has three years of eligibility remaining.
Jacob Karam, transferred from Texas Tech to Memphis in 2012: Was eligible immediately because he had already received his degree. He won the Tigers' starting job and threw for 1,895 yards and 14 touchdowns with just three interceptions. He'll be a senior, and the starter again in 2013.
Scotty Young, transferred from Texas Tech to Louisiana Tech in 2012: Never got on the field for the Red Raiders and sat out the 2012 season at Louisiana Tech. He's in good position to be the Bulldogs' starter next season, replacing Colby Cameron.
Drew Allen, transferred from Oklahoma to Syracuse in 2013: Allen served as a backup his entire career, but after receiving his degree, started looking for a place to play out his career. He believes Syracuse is the place to do it, and he'll compete for the starting job in the fall.
Jared Barnett, transferred from Iowa State to Illinois State in 2013: Barnett earned a place in ISU lore when he led the Cyclones to a win against undefeated, BCS No. 2 Oklahoma State in 2011, but struggled after that and throughout 2012. He finished the season on the bench behind Sam Richardson and elected to become a Cardinal after the season. He's eligible immediately, because his new team is an FCS school.
Bobby Reid, transferred from Oklahoma State to Texas Southern in 2007: Reid was the subject of Mike Gundy's infamous "I'm a man, I'm 40!" rant, and later said he felt like that rant ended his "life", though Gundy was defending his player. He threw for 1,791 yards, 12 touchdowns and six interceptions at Texas Southern in 2008, but he and Gundy seem close again. He joined Gundy's staff in an administrative role this year.
Rhett Bomar, transferred from Oklahoma to Sam Houston State in 2006: Bomar's transfer wasn't his choice. Bob Stoops famously kicked Bomar off the team in the wake of reports that he had received payment from a local car dealership without doing the work. That was an obvious NCAA violation. He played just 19 games over the next two seasons, but finished as the school's all-time leader in passing yards, with 5,564 yards. He was a finalist for the 2008 Walter Payton Award as the nation's best FCS player. He was drafted in the fifth round of the 2009 draft by the New York Giants, but has been out of the NFL since May 2012.
Jordan Webb, transferred from Kansas to Colorado in 2012: Started two seasons for the Jayhawks, but left town when Charlie Weis brought Dayne Crist and Jake Heaps with him to Lawrence. He played 10 games last season, throwing for 1,434 yards, eight touchdowns and eight interceptions. He tore his ACL in spring practice, though, and is questionable to get back on the field this fall. He's not helping his case to regain his starting status by getting arrested on felony assault charges last weekend.
What we learned from Big 12 Media Days
The Big 12's coaches weren't excited to see high school games on the Longhorn Network. Almost a week before media days, Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe put a hold on the Longhorn Network's plans to broadcast high school games, but the league's coaches voiced their displeasure at the possibility in various ways, none stronger than Missouri's Gary Pinkel. "It's a lack of common sense there to think that the network, the university network, can have high school games," he said. Oklahoma State's Mike Gundy said his "antenna went up when I started to hear that information." Baylor's Art Briles was the only coach who said it didn't bother him, but on Monday, the league announced it would declare a one-year moratorium on broadcasting high school games, allowing the issue to be further examined by the NCAA.
Mack Brown knows what he wants from his quarterbacks. Brown said summer workouts helped Colt McCoy separate himself from Jevan Snead the last time Texas had a quarterback battle, and he's hoping the same thing happened this summer. Brown wants leadership from his quarterbacks above all, but he wants them to take care of the ball second for a team that ranked 116th in turnover ratio in 2010. Garrett Gilbert has the experience and is the most vocal of the group, but he threw 17 interceptions to 10 touchdowns last season. Case McCoy, Connor Wood and David Ash were supposed to spend their spring and summer mostly learning Bryan Harsin's new, complex offense. Now, it's time to focus on competing. The separation could happen fast, and Texas opens fall camp on Friday.
Art Briles narrowly edges out Tommy Tuberville for the league's most entertaining coach. Tuberville poked at the Big 12 on his way off the stage, but Briles earned a few more fans with a solid collection of one-liners, including one about Ahmad Dixon that somehow got overlooked. "I take a lot of pride in being able to guess how much a male weighs," Briles said of the 206-pounder. "If you looked at him, you'd say that guy looks like he weighs about 183. He's put together pretty good." Briles also argued that talking trash was "in the ear of the beholder" and compared his quarterback to famed hurdler Edwin Moses.
Oklahoma will be fascinating to watch. The Sooners got by far the most attention on Day 2, sharing the second half of media days with the four teams picked to finish at the bottom of the Big 12. Oklahoma, though, isn't shying away from the hefty preseason expectations and players also spoke openly about the death of their teammate, Austin Box, this summer. The Sooners have a few subtle tributes planned, and won't have Box far from their minds throughout the season.
Kansas State's quarterback race is over. Bill Snyder brought Collin Klein to Big 12 Media Days, which seemed conspicuous enough, but he confirmed the obvious once he made it to Dallas. "He’ll take the first snap when we start in the fall," Snyder said. Klein was the most impressive during the spring, ahead of Boston College and Blinn College transfers Justin Tuggle and Sammuel Lamur, but Snyder maintained there wasn't a lot of separation between the three following the spring game. After the summer, it looks like that's changed.
What we have yet to learn after Big 12 Media Days
How will Texas rebound? We won't know this until the Longhorns suit up against Rice and BYU to open the season, but Texas is the Big 12's biggest wild card after a 5-7 season precipitated wholesale changes on the coaching staff. The depth chart is wide open for new coordinators Manny Diaz and Bryan Harsin, and fall camp should be one of the most competitive ever for the Longhorns.
Are Big 12 realignment rumors over for now? Texas A&M said the Longhorn Network produced uncertainty about the Aggies' future in the Big 12, but the one-year moratorium on broadcasting high school games may only delay conversations about the future of the Big 12, especially if the NCAA rules in favor of the practice.
Is this Oklahoma's year? Or the SEC's decade? Bob Stoops told a crowd at an recent caravan that it was "about time" for Oklahoma to win a national title, 11 years after its seventh national championship in 2000. The Sooners have enough talent to do it, but can they play consistently and catch the right breaks to rip off the 13 wins it will take to bring a national title back to the Big 12? Texas' championship with Vince Young in 2006 was the last time any non-SEC team won a national championship.
Who will start at Texas and Iowa State? The Big 12 has just two true quarterback battles left. The Longhorns have to pick between four, but the race in Ames is likely boiled down to Jerome Tiller, who has played in spot duty behind Austen Arnaud, and juco transfer Steele Jantz.
Here's a quick refresher course on every Big 12 ESPNU 150 signee:
- Big 12 signees in the 2006 ESPNU 150
- Big 12 signees in the 2007 ESPNU 150
- Big 12 signees in the 2008 ESPNU 150
- Big 12 signees in the 2009 ESPNU 150
- Big 12 signees in the 2010 ESPNU 150
- Big 12 signees in the 2011 ESPNU 150
I learned a lot in looking back on these classes, and the spectrum of results was fascinating. Here are a few thoughts:
- There wasn't a Heisman Trophy winner among the bunch -- Oklahoma's Sam Bradford was a three-star recruit -- but there were plenty of All-Americans and All-Big 12 talents, as well as a few draft picks. It's interesting to note that the 2010 class was the only one in which more than one Big 12 Freshman of the Year came to campus as an elite recruit. Oklahoma State linebacker Shaun Lewis and Oklahoma safety Tony Jefferson shared the defensive honors last season.
- I'll count probable draft picks, but here's how many NFL draft picks emerged from each class. Obviously, the most recent classes won't be included, and it tapers off quite a bit as you reach the '08 class, which will have a few more drafted eventually. Any players after the 2008 class are ineligible for the draft.
- 2006: 8
- 2007: 3 (Dez Bryant, Sam Acho, Curtis Brown)
- 2008: 1 (Blaine Gabbert)
- Additionally, I don't have a ton to say about the 09-11 classes because, well, at this point, you can't have much to say. Oklahoma or Texas don't have too many four-year, or even three-year starters at too many positions. It's still very, very early to pass judgment on those guys.
- Obviously there's still time, but the 2008 class looking back was pretty weak in comparison to those around it. It's easily the worst of the four classes, not including 2011. Two of the top five recruits have transferred. The other three in that group have yet to make significant contributions. Players like Jon Major, Cyrus Gray, Emmanuel Acho, Kendall Wright and Landry Jones join Gabbert as some of the best in the class, but guys like Jameel Owens, Kye Staley, Lynn Katoa and Justin Johnson aren't even with the teams they've signed anymore. Plenty of others haven't come close to the projected impact others would hope.
- Compare that to the accomplished 2006 class, which was loaded at the top of the board. DeMarco Murray, Sergio Kindle, Jevan Snead, Gerald McCoy and Eddie Jones won't make anybody say, "Who?" That's a strong top 5. Mike Goodson, Jeremy Beal, Josh Freeman, and Jermaine Gresham could all have solid NFL careers, too. In my book, this is the class others will have to live up to.
- One quick thought: Are Jevan Snead and Josh Freeman's careers the inverses of each other?
- I'll give a full breakdown of the team totals later on next week, but I was shocked at how few Nebraska reeled in. From 2006-10, they had just three. S Rickey Thenarse signed in '06, OT Baker Steinkuhler signed in '08 and OG Andrew Rodriguez signed in '10. Steinkuhler, of course, has moved to defensive tackle since. For a team that's won the North the past two seasons and at times looked like a national title contender in 2010, that's a pretty solid endorsement of Bo Pelini's coaching. He's won 29 games in his first three seasons, and his nationally-ranked class in 2011 signed four ESPNU 150 recruits alone. For all you non-mathematicians out there, that's more than 06-10 combined. That has to give Nebraska fans a whole lot of confidence about the program moving forward, even if three of those four signees are from Texas, where Nebraska may struggle to recruit after its move to the Big Ten. That, however, is a whole different post and discussion.
- As an overview of all this, I can't stand it when people decry the recruiting rankings system all together, declaring it worthless. It's not. I also can't stand it when others contend the rankings mean everything. They don't. The truth is right where it usually is: somewhere in the middle. Cite all the two-star recruits you want. I can come back with 10 more that showed in their college careers why they were two-star recruits. You can build a successful program on three and four-star signees, but the facts are this: if you keep reeling in top-level recruits, you've got a much, much greater chance of having big success. Bottom line, that's the truth. You'll encounter some busts among the five-stars. You'll encounter some gems in the two-stars. But recruiting rankings mean something, just not as much or as little as people like to think sometimes.
Well, it's the same for the recruits who came to campus with high rankings and high profiles. Going back to 2006, here's how every Big 12 commit from the ESPNU 150 turned out. We'll look at 2006 in this post before eventually reaching 2010 and the current class, 2011, by signing day.
No. 6: DeMarco Murray, RB, Oklahoma. Murray set the school records for touchdowns (64) and all-purpose yards (6,498) as a Sooner. He's projected to be drafted on the first day of this year's NFL Draft.
No. 7: Sergio Kindle, OLB, Texas. Kindle was a finalist for the Butkus and Hendricks Awards and was a two-time All-Big 12 performer with 176 career tackles. He was drafted by the Baltimore Ravens in the second round last year's NFL Draft, but missed his rookie season after fracturing his skull in a fall on the stairs at his home.
No. 13: Jevan Snead, QB, Texas. Lost a quarterback battle to Colt McCoy following the 2005 season. Played sparingly as a freshman before transferring to Ole Miss. Went undrafted in 2010. Now plays for Arena League's Tampa Bay Storm.
No. 21: Gerald McCoy, DT, Oklahoma. McCoy was a Lombardi finalist, a three-time All-Big 12 performer, a two-time All-American who left Oklahoma after his junior season and was selected No. 3 overall by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the 2010 NFL Draft.
No. 22: Eddie Jones, DE, Texas. Jones just finished his career at Texas with an All-Big 12 honorable mention year in 2010. Finished his career with 111 tackles and 13.5 sacks.
No. 34: J'Marcus Webb, OT, Texas. Webb played one year at Texas before transferring to Navarro College and eventually West Texas A&M. He was drafted in the seventh round of the 2010 draft and spent the season with the Chicago Bears.
No. 36: Adron Tennell, WR, Oklahoma. Tennell finished his four-year career at Oklahoma with 40 catches, 505 yards and five touchdowns.
No. 42: Dustin Earnest, LB, Texas. Earnest finished his career in 2010 with 84 tackles and a sack for the Longhorns.
No. 45: Mike Goodson, RB, Texas A&M. Goodson was the Big 12 Freshman of the Year in 2006 with his career high 847 yards. He finished with 1,966 yards and 13 TDs in three seasons before being drafted in the fourth round by the Carolina Panthers.
No. 67: Phillip Payne, WR, Texas. Caught his first career pass in 2009, his third year at UT, before transferring after the season.
No. 75: Derek Burton, DE, Oklahoma State. Started 15 games in four years for the Cowboys, recording 67 career tackles.
No. 82: Ben Alexander, DT, Texas. Made four career starts, with 51 tackles and half a sack in 38 career appearances.
No. 104: Terrance Anderson, CB, Oklahoma State. Made 96 tackles in four years with the Cowboys. Had four career interceptions.
No. 110: Jonathan Nelson, CB, Oklahoma. Started all 14 games in 2010 for the Sooners after earning All-Big 12 honorable mention as a junior in 2009. Finished career with 155 tackles and five interceptions.
No. 111: Jermaine Gresham, TE, Oklahoma. Caught 111 passes for 1,629 yards and 26 touchdowns in three seasons, including an All-American season in 2008. Missed all of 2009 with knee injury. Drafted No. 21 overall in the 2010 draft by Cincinnati Bengals.
No. 137: Jeremy Beal, DE, Oklahoma. Had 224 tackles, 58.5 tackles for loss, and 29 sacks in four seasons, including three All-Big 12 seasons, an All-American season and was a Hendricks Award finalist in 2009. Projects as middle-round pick in 2011 NFL Draft.
No. 141: Josh Freeman, QB, Kansas State. Threw for 8,078 yards and 44 touchdowns and 34 interceptions in 35 career games. Also ran for 404 yards and 14 touchdowns as a junior. Drafted No. 17 overall by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the 2010 NFL Draft.
For every Jake Locker and Jevan Snead, there's a Sam Bradford: There's nothing wrong with sticking around another year if you're projected as a first-rounder, and the risk of injury is somewhat overrated.
The lack of an elite receiver like Jeremy Maclin or Danario Alexander kept Gabbert from posting jaw-dropping numbers in 2010, but he played well and notched Missouri's fourth 10-win season in school history. To Gabbert's credit, he didn't force very many plays this year, and did what he needed to do for Missouri to win games. Missouri notched 10 wins because of it.
Gabbert is a competitive guy, and he'd surely like to achieve more than he did -- he never played in a Big 12 Championship or won a bowl game -- but he still had a great career and will go down as one of the best quarterbacks in Tigers history. He'll lack the legacy of Heisman finalist and three-year starter Chase Daniel, but don't be surprised if Gabbert is better in the NFL than in college. He's an Academic All-Big 12 performer and a smart, coachable player who made clear strides for all three of his seasons at Missouri. I'd expect that to continue in the NFL.
For the Tigers, things get a bit complicated.
The knee-jerk reaction for some will write off Missouri as a Big 12 contender in 2011, but that's not necessarily what should happen. It'll be tough for Missouri to win, but they bring back plenty of talent, especially on defense and in a more experienced receiving corps with a stable of young running backs who all got experience this year. Talk about replacing starters all you'd like, but Oklahoma State lost a "franchise" quarterback in Zac Robinson and played a first-year quarterback in Brandon Weeden who had not made a start in nine years. His last start was in high school. That worked out pretty well for them. I'd say 11 wins is a pretty good season.
Replacing Gabbert will be crucial for Missouri not just in 2011, but in retaining its stability as a winner in the Big 12. Tommy Tuberville said it last week at the TicketCity Bowl: In the SEC, you win with running backs and defense. In the Big 12, you win with quarterbacks. That's exactly how Missouri has done it.
In the last four years, Oklahoma is the only team with more Big 12 wins than Missouri.
Sam Bradford, Colt McCoy, Chase Daniel, Zac Robinson, Graham Harrell, Todd Reesing -- the bar has been set high in this league, even in just the most recent few years.
And for Missouri, any hope they have of being a legitimate Big 12 contender hinges on the guy who steps in for Gabbert. And unlike Daniel and Gabbert were, choosing the next starting quarterback won't be a formality this spring.
James Franklin played more than any of Missouri's other young quarterbacks, but he was used mostly as a runner. He was a miniature version of Brad Smith, at the risk of Missourian heresy.
He has the arm strength, but his decision making ability is a question mark. His coaches probably have only a bit more information from what they've seen in practices. That's what Missouri has to figure out when spring practice kicks off in a couple months.
The true freshman threw all of 14 passes in 2010. That's not much of a sample size.
I'd expect a fierce competition between Franklin and Gabbert's younger brother, freshman Tyler Gabbert, as well as redshirt freshman Ashton Glaser.
Franklin's experience, however limited, gives him the edge. And the Tigers have a few proven playmakers in receiver T.J. Moe, tight end Michael Egnew and receivers Wes Kemp and Jerrell Jackson.
Franklin's legs produced a valuable change of pace, especially in the red zone. He ran 23 times for 116 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
But those legs won't win him the job in 2011. He has to prove it as a passer. Maybe he's Missouri's most accurate passer. Maybe it's the younger Gabbert or Glaser.
We'll find out soon. It should be an interesting spring in Columbia.
How the game was won: Ole Miss took advantage of six Oklahoma State turnovers on consecutive fourth-quarter possessions to blow the game open. The Rebels got the ball back via interceptions by free safety Kendrick Lewis on consecutive drives, followed by back-to-back fumble recoveries and then interceptions by Patrick Trahan and Fon Ingram during a run in which the Rebels scored the game’s final 14 points.
It’s notable: Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt becomes the first coach to win back-to-back Cotton Bowls since Lou Holtz at Notre Dame in 1993 and 1994.
Turning point: With about 9 minutes remaining in a tie game, OSU had the ball on the Ole Miss 19-yard line and appeared poised to claim the lead. Ole Miss defensive tackle Jerrell Powe looked to have obviously jumped offsides on a snap as he charged past OSU center Andrew Lewis before the snap was completed. Feeling that he had a free play, Robinson threw to the end zone, where he was intercepted by Lewis in the end zone. The Cowboys unraveled from that point in the game.
Player of the game: Oklahoma State’s defense was gearing to stop Ole Miss running back Dexter McCluster. And it still didn’t matter. McCluster rushed for 185 yards on 34 carries, including touchdown runs of 86 and 2 yards to account for both of the Rebel’s offensive touchdowns. He also produced five receptions for 45 yards, becoming the first player in Southeastern Conference history to account for 1,000 rushing yards and 500 receiving yards in the same season.
Unsung hero: Patrick Trahan capped the victory with two pivotal fourth-quarter plays. He recovered a fumble by OSU wide receiver Hubert Anyiam and returned it 34 yards for a touchdown to give the Rebels a 21-7 lead. He then provided an interception on OSU’s next possession to ice the victory.
Stat of the game: The two teams combined for 12 turnovers, but it didn't top the Cotton Bowl record of 13 that was set when Alabama claimed a 29-21 victory over Texas A&M on Jan. 1, 1942.
What it means: Oklahoma State failed to tie a school record with a 10th victory. The Cowboys’ late collapse in the final two games was a disappointment, but OSU overachieved considering their injury and suspension losses over the course of the season. The Cowboys lose key players like Robinson, Russell Okung, Keith Toston, Perrish Cox and starting linebackers Andre Sexton, Donald Booker and Patrick Lavin next season. But they will try to rebuild around a retooled offense that will should be centered around running back Kendall Hunter, who looked to regain his form Saturday after struggling with injuries all season.
Ole Miss didn’t achieve its preseason goal of contending for an SEC championship, but the Rebels claimed back-to-back 10-win seasons for the first time since 1959 and 1960. And they likely will have Jevan Snead back for another season as well.
Cox is very familiar with Mississippi quarterback Jevan Snead. Cox and Snead were roommates at the 2006 Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio.
"I've kind of got a good relationship with him," Cox said. "I asked him to throw me a couple (of interceptions), but I don't know if that's going to work out."
Snead will challenge the Cowboys with speedy receiver Dexter McCluster in Saturday's game as his primary offensive weapon.
"A guy his size (5-foot-8, 165 pounds), you really don't want to let him get outside with his speed," Cox said. "You want to try to contain him and keep him to the inside."
McCluster and SEC receiving leader Shay Hodge have combined for 102 receptions this season. The Mississippi duo ranks only behind Florida's Aaron Hernandez and Riley Cooper, who produced 103 catches this season.
But he's been more proficient as a rusher, where McCluster gained a team-best 985 rushing yards and averaged 6.7 yards per carry. He also snagged 39 receptions for 475 yards.
"Our defense has said great things about him, and obviously some of the tape that I’ve watched he’s been very impressive. He’s got great speed and a great ability to make you miss," Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy said. "There’s concerns there, there’s no question. He’s very, very talented. Our guys are looking forward to the challenge of corralling him.”
We've got some good games and others that might not be as appealing for those from outside the respective fan bases. Here's a look at how I rank the Big 12's eight bowl games this season.
I based my selections on importance, style of the two teams, coaching and starpower. Here are my rankings.
1. Citi BCS National Championship Game
Texas vs. Alabama
My take: The national title will be decided between two tradition-steeped programs with Heisman finalists Colt McCoy and Mark Ingram. Who could ask for more?
2. Brut Sun Bowl
Oklahoma vs. Stanford
My take: Even if Andrew Luck doesn't play, we'll have an intriguing battle between Toby Gerhart and the Sooners' defense. Toss in the Sooners' need for a bowl victory and this could be a good one.
3. Pacific Life Holiday Bowl
Nebraska vs. Arizona
My take: Two strong defenses will square off in this game. Throw in two fiery coaches like Mike Stoops and Bo Pelini and it should be an intriguing coaching matchup.
4. Advocare V100 Independence Bowl
Texas A&M vs. Georgia
My take: Sure, the Georgia staff has been blown up after the firing of Willie Martinez. But two high-powered offenses keyed by Jerrod Johnson and Joe Cox should result in a lot of points and passing yards.
5. Texas Bowl
Missouri vs. Navy
My take: The Tigers slid all the way into the bottom of the Big 12's pecking order, but this game still will be interesting. Danario Alexander and the potent Missouri passing game against Navy's option attack should be an interesting contrast of styles.
6. AT&T Cotton Bowl
Oklahoma State vs. Mississippi
My take: The Cowboys must rebound from their final-game struggles at Oklahoma, or they will face a difficult challenge against Jevan Snead and the Rebels.
7. Valero Alamo Bowl
Texas Tech vs. Michigan State
My take: Texas Tech's high-powered offense and underrated defense will be going against an undermanned Spartan team wracked by suspensions. I have no idea how either team will approach their trip to San Antonio.
8. Insight Bowl
Iowa State vs. Minnesota
My take: Insight Bowl officials jumped all over the Cyclones, hoping they will drive tickets for this battle of 6-6 programs. They better hope the Arizona golfing is good, because Minnesota's struggling offense produced no touchdowns in the last two games of the season.
Jan. 2, 2 p.m. (FOX)
Mike Gundy’s team had hopes of making its first BCS at-large appearance before a stunning 27-0 loss to Oklahoma to finish the season. They could be facing more of the same against a talented Mississippi defense that ranked in the top 25 in pass efficiency defense, total defense, scoring defense, sacks and tackles for loss. The Rebels whipped Texas Tech at the point of attack last season in the Cotton Bowl and will be looking for more of the same against the Cowboys. But they will be facing a different challenge from a run-heavy Oklahoma State offense keyed by All-American offensive tackle Russell Okung, bullish running back Keith Toston (1,177 rushing yards) and 2008 Big 12 rushing leader Kendall Hunter, who will have another month to get over his early-season injuries.
Bill Young has done a nice job retooling Oklahoma State's defense, which ranked sixth nationally in rush defense and will be tested by leading Mississippi running back Dexter McCluster (985 yards). The key for the game could well be which team gets the best play from quarterbacks who struggled late in the season. Oklahoma State’s Zac Robinson was hobbled with injuries and Mississippi's Jevan Snead threw three interceptions in a season-ending loss at Mississippi State. These teams have met once before when Mississippi escaped with a 31-28 victory over the Cowboys in the 2004 Cotton Bowl.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
Welcome to Wednesday, which means the Big 12 football is only a day away this week.
Here are some lunchtime links to get you primed for the upcoming action.
- The single-wing offense that Kansas State coach Bill Snyder employed with Michael Bishop in the late 1990s was a precursor to today’s Wildcat offenses, the Kansas City Star’s Kellis Robinette reports.
- The Oklahoman’s Jake Trotter reports that Sam Bradford had another strong practice on Tuesday, splitting reps with Landry Jones.
- Topeka Capital-Journal columnist Kevin Haskin advises Kansas fans it’s OK to stay for the end of games.
- Texas A&M coach Mike Sherman reached out to former A&M coach R.C. Slocum to provide a little inspiration to this season’s “Wrecking Crew” defense, Brent Zwerneman of the San Antonio Express-News/Houston Chronicle reports.
- Dave George of the Palm Beach Post opines that Miami has to beat Oklahoma Saturday to justify the preseason swagger in the Hurricanes’ program.
- The Oklahoman’s Brandon Chatmon grades how Oklahoma State has fared in accomplishing Mike Gundy’s five preseason goals.
- The Des Moines Register’s Randy Peterson reports that CBS-TV’s Gary Danielson thinks the Southeastern Conference has cornered the market on top quarterbacks. Danielson thinks that Florida’s Tim Tebow, Mississippi’s Jevan Snead and Arkansas’ Ryan Mallett are better than any quarterbacks currently playing in the Big 12.
- Landry Locker of the Texas Tech Daily Torreador wonders how Mike Leach can call any of his players “narcissists” after the coach appeared on the cover of “Texas Monthly” wearing an eye patch.
- Salaries for Iowa State assistant coaches trail most other schools in the conference, the Des Moines Register’s Randy Peterson reports.
- Jay Walker, the football play-by-play broadcaster of Louisiana-Lafayette, found what he called “College Football Nirvana” in Lincoln, Neb., last weekend.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
Oklahoma State quarterback Zac Robinson prepared for his senior season in a unique manner.
Robinson spent part of his break serving as a camp coach at the Manning Passing Academy in Thibodaux, La., where he worked alongside some of the nation's top quarterbacks. Additionally, Robinson worked with the camp's namesakes, Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning, New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning and their father, retired NFL quarterback Archie Manning.
Robinson recently shared some of his thoughts with okstate.com about his experience.
Q: So what was a typical day like at the Manning Camp?
Zac Robinson: The first day, we got there in the morning and in the afternoon, the college guys threw with Peyton and Eli. The other days, we'd wake up at 7:30 and coach kids. My station was the deep ball. We would have lunch, then another afternoon session, then we'd have dinner and come back for a little seven-on-seven. My team was 4-0 and won. Manning Camp champs. Another night we did something called "Air it Out" where we'd throw to the receivers.
Q: Who were some of the other quarterbacks there?
ZR: Sam Bradford, Colt McCoy, Jevan Snead from Ole Miss. He was my roommate. T.J. Yates from North Carolina and Jonathan Crompton from Tennessee. There were more, but those were some of the guys that immediately jump out.
Q: Did you get any time to visit with any of the Mannings?
ZR: I did get to talk to Peyton and Eli. I spoke to Eli for about 45 minutes the first night. Those guys brought us in to answer any questions that we had. They talked about the NFL and what to expect when you get there. That whole session was a great part of the camp because they really want to help you as a college quarterback and teach you some things both on the field and off the field.
Q: What did you take from those sessions and from the camp in general?
ZR: They said the biggest thing is to just enjoy your senior year because it's the last time you are going to play college ball and have that camaraderie with your teammates. Don't even think about the NFL at this point. Just enjoy what you have because it's a great thing.
Q: What did they know about you as a quarterback going into the camp?
ZR: They watched a bunch of our games last season. Archie Manning in particular kept up with me because I worked their camp last summer too. He sent text messages to me before a few of the games last season wishing us well. They knew that I am an athletic quarterback who can throw it too.
Q: Describe what it was like to be around those other quarterbacks who worked camp, some of whom are on teams that you'll face this year:
ZR: It's good to be around those guys. Sam Bradford, Colt McCoy and I actually hung out together out at the camp. It's fun to sit around and talk to those guys about their experiences and kind of compare notes because we are all in a similar situation and we all face the same teams in the Big 12. It's good to get their input.
The experience obviously has helped Robinson mature into a more experienced and seasoned quarterback. It will be interesting to see if he uses those lessons as he tries to boost the Cowboys into the Big 12 championship game for the first time in school history.
Ivan Maisel sits down with Tim Griffin and Chris Low to figure out whether the Big 12 (Sam Bradford and Colt McCoy) or the SEC (Tim Tebow and Jevan Snead) has the better tandem of quarterbacks.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
Oklahoma (Big 12 No. 2) vs. Mississippi (SEC No. 2)
Oklahoma's record against the SEC: 3-3
Mississippi's record against the Big 12: 5-4
Previous series: Mississippi leads the series, 1-0
Most recent game: Mississippi won, 27-25, in the 1999 Independence Bowl
Distance between them (as the crow flies according to How Far Is It): 448 miles.
Where they should play: Shreveport, La. (279 miles from Oxford, 279 miles from Norman)
Who wins: Oklahoma.
Why: The Sooners won't be playing in the featured matchup of the mythical tournament. Maybe that would work in their favor against Mississippi, which is approaching the season with more national hype than any in recent memory.
Oklahoma's nine returning starters on defense would dictate this game, particularly in the trenches. A big concern would be at left tackle, where the Rebels will miss All-American Michael Oher. His likely replacement Bradley Sowell would be facing waves of Oklahoma pass rushers intent on pressuring Jevan Snead.
The Rebels' lack of depth along the offensive line is another big question mark I have. Oklahoma would be able to take advantage of that weakness with one of the nation's deepest and most talented defensive fronts, keyed by playmakers like Gerald McCoy, Auston English and Jeremy Beal.
Coach Houston Nutt has most of his skill-position players back and one of the nation's most talented quarterbacks in Snead. It would be interesting to see how Oklahoma defensive coordinator Brent Venables would try to counteract Mississippi wide receiver Dexter McCluster, particularly in the "Wild Rebel" formation.
I'd look for Sam Bradford and his collection of playmaking wide receivers to be able to exploit Mississippi's secondary. The Rebels have three starters back, but they still ranked 81st nationally in pass defense and would struggle to keep Oklahoma from dictating the game with their no-huddle passing attack.
The Rebels have the better kicker in Joshua Shene, who would be vitally important in a close game. But this one wouldn't be, as I would look for the Sooners to prevail by at least 10 points.
Friday: Texas (Big 12 No. 1) vs. Florida (SEC No. 1).
The count: SEC, 6-5.
Note: Matchups are determined by the most recent rankings of Big 12 blogger Tim Griffin and SEC blogger Chris Low. All cumulative records go back to the 1996 season -- the first of competition in the Big 12.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
The number crunchers at Docsports.com have come up with the common statistical traits that the BCS national championship winners have shared.
1. Be a member of a "Big Six" conference or Notre Dame:
Teams still fitting the profile: 67.
2. Have at least eight wins in the previous season. Of the 11 BCS title winners nine teams (and the past six consecutive) have had at least eight wins the season prior to winning the championship. All have had at least seven.
Teams still fitting the profile: 37
3. Have a winning regular-season record in November-December games in the previous season. Winning games late in the season usually ensures a strong finish. Only LSU in 2002 -- with a 2-2 record in November and December -- claimed a BCS national championship without a winning record in those two months in the year before.
Teams still fitting the profile: 25.
Among those still standing are: Alabama (4-0), Boston College (4-1), California (3-2), Cincinnati (5-0), Florida (5-0), Georgia Tech (3-1), Iowa (3-1), Michigan State (3-1), Mississippi (4-0), Missouri (3-1), Nebraska (3-1), Northwestern (3-1), Ohio State (3-0), Oklahoma (4-0), Oregon (3-1), Oregon State (4-1), Penn State (3-1), Pittsburgh (4-1), Rutgers (4-0), Texas (3-1), Texas Tech (3-1), USC (5-0), Wake Forest (3-2), West Virginia (3-2) and Virginia Tech (3-1).
4. Have a junior or senior quarterback with some playing experience. All 11 teams that have won BCS national titles have had a junior or senior playing. All but Tee Martin of Tennessee had starting experience entering the season.
Teams still fitting the profile: 17.
Among those still alive are: California (Kevin Riley), Cincinnati (Tony Pike), Florida (Tim Tebow), Georgia Tech (Josh Nesbitt), Iowa (Richard Stanzi), Mississippi (Jevan Snead), Northwestern (Mike Kafka), Oklahoma (Sam Bradford), Oregon (Jeremiah Masoli), Oregon State (Lyle Moevao), Penn State (Daryll Clark), Pittsburgh (Bill Stull), Texas (Colt McCoy), USC (Mitch Mustain), Wake Forest (Riley Skinner), West Virginia (Jarrett Brown) and Virginia Tech (Tyrod Taylor).
5. Have six returning defensive starters from a unit that ranked in the top 20 in scoring defense in the previous season. Eight of the past nine teams to have won the BCS title have had a defense in the nation's top 20 in scoring defense the previous season (Florida was 46th in 2007) and all but one team (1998 Tennessee) returned at least six starters from their previous season's defense.
Teams still fitting the profile: 6.
Those teams that are eligible include Florida (fourth in scoring defense, 11 returning starters), Iowa (fifth in scoring defense, eight returning starters), Mississippi (20th in scoring defense, eight starters), Texas (18th in scoring defense, seven starters), West Virginia (11th in scoring defense, eight starters) and Virginia Tech (ninth in scoring defense, seven starters).
The formula has been accurate over the years. Of the seven teams that fit the profile coming into last season -- Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Rutgers, USC, and Wake Forest -- all won at least eight games and Florida won the national championship. The team the Gators beat for the national title, Oklahoma, was not included among those on the list.
So keep these trends in mind this season. It might be the reason why we end up seeing Texas and Florida playing for the national championship, if not Iowa, Mississippi, West Virginia or Virginia Tech at the Rose Bowl.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
After watching way too many uncompetitive September matchups in recent seasons, I started thinking of some fantasy matchups I'd love to see for each Big 12 team.
Here are my dream games for each school.
Baylor: The Bears are on the verge of making their first bowl game in nearly 15 seasons if we are to believe many preseason magazines. It might be fun to see them hook up Duke, which also qualified for its last bowl during that same 1994 season. The Bears' bowl drought is actually three days longer than the Blue Devils'. This would also be an intriguing matchup of two underrated coaches in Baylor's Art Briles and Duke's David Cutcliffe. Which program will get to a bowl game first? It might be interesting to see them play on the field.
Colorado: Before his youngest son, Drew, decided to leave Boise State because of concussions, it might have been cool to see a Hawkins family reunion on the blue turf in Boise. The game still has much appeal to me as it would be interesting to see Hawkins and his other son, Cody, try to beat the team where he earned much of his early acclaim as a coach.
Iowa State: Before his first game at Iowa State two years ago, they were minting coins to honor Gene Chizik. But after two struggling seasons with the Cyclones, many ISU fans felt betrayed when Chizik jumped to Auburn. How about the delicious matchup of Chizik and the Tigers against ISU and Paul Rhoads, who was Auburn's defensive coordinator last season?
Kansas: Two of the most imposing coaches strolling the sideline are Mark Mangino of the Jayhawks and Charlie Weis of Notre Dame. And both can coach a little offense, too. It might be a cool chess match watching the underrated Jayhawks offense try to overcome an Irish offensive attack that receives way more national publicity.
Kansas State: Bill Snyder has been careful to say nice things about his old offensive coordinator, Andy Ludwig, who was in Manhattan for only a few weeks this spring before bolting to California. It still would be an interesting matchup between Snyder and the offensive coordinator who left the KSU program before a first game was played.
Missouri: The Tigers have developed one of the most innovative and productive offenses in the nation during the past several seasons. It would certainly be interesting for them to show their stripes against Oregon and new coach Chip Kelly, who knows a thing or two about big offensive numbers. It would also be a matchup of two interesting uniform combinations, too.
Nebraska: I'm a sentimentalist at heart. And who couldn't resist the story lines of seeing Bo Pelini return home and play his alma mater, Ohio State, back at the Horseshoe where he played his college career? And even better would be the return game at Memorial Stadium in Lincoln, where the Buckeyes have never played before.
Oklahoma: Before last season, I imagined that Florida would be an ideal dream opponent for the Sooners, but the end results turned out to be a little nightmarish for them when they finally played. This time, I'd like to see Bob Stoops hooking up with his coaching guru, Steve Spurrier and South Carolina. That would be an interesting matchup.
Oklahoma State: The two teams have played previously, but I'd really like to see the matchup between OSU and UCLA. Both teams have flashy, young coaches -- OSU's Mike Gundy and UCLA's Rick Neuheisel -- who found success as quarterbacks at their schools in the 1980s. Both have made strong, early starts, but still find themselves in the shadows of nearby prominent programs -- USC for UCLA and Oklahoma for OSU. And both Gundy and Neuheisel would have some interesting things to say after the game was over, too.
Texas: A rematch with USC would be sweet to see, considering the two teams haven't met since the titanic BCS title game in the Rose Bowl in 2006. Some old-school Longhorns would like to meet Notre Dame. But a better one-season dream matchup for this season would be Mississippi. It's always fun to see Mack Brown hook up with Houston Nutt, particularly after Nutt's celebrated upside-down hook 'em sign after upsetting the Longhorns in the 2000 Cotton Bowl with Arkansas. And the Rebels would be particularly interesting this season as Colt McCoy would square off with Jevan Snead, the quarterback who couldn't beat him out before leaving for Oxford.
Texas A&M: The Aggies and LSU have shared an intense rivalry over the years that seemed to get more forceful as both got better and started recruiting against each other. The battle has a history of 48 games between them, including every season from 1960-1975 and 1986-1995. They haven't met since then. It's been too long to see both old rivals compete.
Texas Tech: The Red Raiders and TCU could have a pretty spicy rivalry if they played more often. The last two games between Mike Leach and Gary Patterson were particularly memorable. In 2004, TCU jumped out to a quick 21-0 lead in Lubbock before the Red Raiders stormed back to score eight straight touchdowns that blew open their 70-35 victory. It was the most points ever allowed by a Patterson-coached team. Patterson got his revenge in Fort Worth in 2006 when he produced a 12-3 victory, using the postgame news conference as a bully pulpit to talk about how little respect his program receives. And there's even more after Patterson's votes in the coaches' poll after last season. Patterson voted the Red Raiders 11th in the final coaches' poll last season -- their lowest national ranking -- and it's evident there's still a little bad blood between Patterson and Leach. What better reason for staging this one again?
Does anybody have any other dream games they'd like to see Big 12 teams play?