Big 12: Justin Thornton
Roads to recovery
1. Texas A&M
The Aggies have by far the most talent returning of the three teams, but they'll have to make it work in new coordinator Tim DeRuyter's 3-4 scheme to get better. Von Miller has to be the key to the pass rush once again, nose tackle Lucas Patterson will have to muck up opponents' running games and Trent Hunter will have to be everywhere in the secondary for the Aggies to see real success. No amount of offense will offset the defense if it struggles like it did last season. If Texas A&M can find some more solid players around those three, it should get better. Look for defensive back Lionel Smith to make an impact early.
We've talked about Baylor's competition in the secondary this spring that will only intensify in the fall, but it still has to replace linebackers Antonio Jones and Joe Pawelek, along with defensive lineman Jason Lamb. I probably would have pointed to Baylor as the most "talented" of these three teams in 2009, but it lost most of that talent. Four of its top five tacklers from last year's team graduated. Bouncing back will prove difficult, and if the Bears do it well enough to claw into a bowl game, Art Briles' legend in the Lone Star State will only grow.
Senior defensive lineman Jake Laptad is probably the only Jayhawk defender with a chance to make a preseason All-Big 12 team. Kansas' linebackers will probably be one of the team's quiet strengths, and perhaps its deepest position. Defensive coordinator Carl Torbush said his backers wowed him in spring practice, even without the team's leading tackler, Drew Dudley. Justin Springer, Huldon Tharp and Steven Johnson are among a handful that will battle in two-a-days for playing time in Turner Gill's first season in Lawrence. But like Baylor, Kansas lost talent like Darrell Stuckey and Justin Thornton from a defense that still struggled last season.
2009 conference record: 1-7
Returning starters: Offense (7), Defense (7) P/K (2)
Top returners: RB Toben Opurum, OL Brad Thorson, OL Jeremiah Hatch, LB Drew Dudley, WR Johnathan Wilson, LB Huldon Tharp, DE Jake Laptad
Key losses: WR Dezmon Briscoe, QB Todd Reesing, WR Kerry Meier, S Darrell Stuckey, RB Jake Sharp, S Justin Thornton, Coach Mark Mangino
2009 statistical leaders (*returners)
Rushing: Toben Opurum* (554 yards)
Passing: Todd Reesing (3,616 yards)
Receiving: Dezmon Briscoe (1,337 yards)
Tackles: Darrell Stuckey (93)
Sacks: Jake Laptad* (6.5)
Interceptions: Ryan Murphy* (2)
Three spring answers
1. This is how we do things. Coach Turner Gill set the tone for his program early, speaking out about his curse-free zone at practices and other team functions. That goes for coaches and players. Practices are slightly uptempo, and Gill gave each position a fresh start. Everyone wanted to know how Gill would run his program when spring began, and he gave a good look in his first 15 practices.
2. Pick leads the way. Kale Pick was the only one of Kansas’ six quarterbacks with past experience and looked like the front-runner to win the job. He and Jordan Webb emerged as the front-runners in the final week of practice before Pick took a firm hold of the job with his performance in the spring game. He threw a pair of touchdowns, including a game-winner to Christian Matthews—who he also beat out for the job.
3. Linebackers ready to play. Kansas entered the spring with way more questions on defense than offense. The linebackers answered those early on. Defensive coordinator Carl Torbush feels like he has six or seven linebackers ready to see action in the Big 12, led by Drew Dudley, the Jayhawks leading returning tackler.
Three fall questions
1. Can Gill compete in the Big 12? Gill accomplished a remarkable turnaround at Buffalo, but Kansas isn’t looking to rebuild and get back to winning eight games, Gill’s previous career high for wins in a season. Gill hasn’t competed in the Big 12 since coaching Nebraska’s wide receivers in 2004. Kansas likely won’t compete for any serious titles in 2010, but can he take a step toward doing it in the future?
2. Are the wide receivers ready? Pick is replacing record-holding quarterback Todd Reesing, but he won’t have two NFL draft picks, Dezmon Briscoe and Kerry Meier catching his passes. In their place, senior Johnathan Wilson and sophomore Bradley McDougald. McDougald has moved outside, but both will be counted on for major production this season.
3. Can Kansas find a defense? The Jayhawks finished 2009 on a seven-game losing streak, finishing at 1-7 in conference. During that span, they gave up an average of almost 36 points per game. With no major defensive stars taking the field this season, can Kansas find playmakers and make that number shrink? If they don’t, year one of the Turner Gill era won’t be much fun.
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.
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.
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.
Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg
Filling in for the vacationing Tim Griffin today. Let's take a spin around the Big 12.
- The wounds from Colorado's disappointing 2008 season have healed, Steven Sipple writes in the Lincoln Journal Star.
- Kansas safety Justin Thornton is back from a suspension and hopes to lead his team to a Big 12 North title, Dugan Arnett writes in the Lawrence Journal-World.
- Five former Nebraska players will be inducted into the state's Hall of Fame, Jon Nyatawa writes in the Omaha World-Herald.
- Nebraska wide receiver Tim Marlowe was cited for underage possession of alcohol.
- Oklahoma is almost done with Phase IV of its massive stadium facelift, John Helsley writes in The Oklahoman. Former Sooners coach Barry Switzer expects Bob Stoops to break all his records at the school.
- Rice might host Texas next fall at Houston's Reliant Stadium, Megan Manfull writes in the Houston Chronicle.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
Kansas checks in at No. 22 in the preseason rankings compiled by my colleague Mark Schlabach.
The biggest concern about the Jayhawks has been their defense and specifically the loss of starting linebackers James Holt, Mike Rivera and Joe Mortensen from last season.
Any time you have to replace consistent producers like them, it's a big worry. But it might not necessarily be as troublesome for Kansas as you might expect.
First, Coach Mark Mangino is tinkering with a 4-2-5 defense that he expects he will use in most base situations. It's a good idea because of the heavy aerial attacks in the Big 12, but also because the four players he started in the final six games of the season all return. That group is keyed by a potential big-time producer in strong safety Darrell Stuckey, free safety Phillip Strozier and starting cornerbacks Justin Thornton and Daymond Patterson.
But the biggest reason I expect the Jayhawks to improve will be their depth up front along the defensive line. I really like Jake Laptad at defensive end who is one of the most underrated defensive linemen in the league. And I expect junior college transfer Quinton Woods to be an immediate force on the other side.
The Jayhawks also have a nice set of experienced tackles returning in Jamal Greene and Caleb Blakesley. Their experience will help them immeasurably in their second season together as starters.
It will be interesting to see how much the Jayhawks' statistics are altered with the losses at linebacker. Needless to say there's a lot of pressure on returnees like Dakota Lewis and Arist Wright. And I'm intrigued how much playing time that converted running back Angus Quigley will receive.
Another factor that will be interesting in the team's development will be what the addition of veteran co-defensive coordinator Bill Miller means to the group. Bill Young had all kinds of success with the defense and got much of the acclaim for the team that won the Orange Bowl two seasons ago.
When Young left, it was left to first-year coordinator Clint Bowen to start his program. There were some rocky parts along the way, considering they allowed at least 33 points in seven of their final 11 games.
Development in the defense will be the biggest key in the Jayhawks fulfilling their high preseason ranking and determining whether they will be able to contend for their first berth in the Big 12 championship game.
It won't necessarily be a surprise because Kansas' defense might not be as depleted as some might presume.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
No team has capitalized more on hidden recruiting gems than Kansas, which has utilized that development of sleepers to notch back-to-back bowl appearances for the first time in school history.
The Jayhawks are a fashionable challenger to contend for their first undisputed North championship, but coach Mark Mangino has some personnel holes to fill that can be addressed during recruiting.
Their biggest personnel need is at linebacker where starters James Holt, Joe Mortensen and Mike Rivera all completed their college careers last season. Dakota Lewis, Drew Dudley and Arist Wright are penciled in as the likely starters, but Kansas desperately needs depth at the position.
After losing starting guards Adrian Mayes and Chet Hartley and starting center Ryan Cantrell to graduation, the Jayhawks will have to rebuild the middle of their offensive line. They also need to develop depth at quarterback, where both Todd Reesing and Kerry Meier will be seniors next season and at running back, where top rushing threats Jake Sharp, Jocques Crawford and Angus Quigley all will be seniors in 2009.
The Jayhawks turned their secondary around with the insertion of sophomore Phillip Strozier at free safety and freshman Daymond Patterson at right cornerback. But more players are needed as starting left corner Justin Thornton and strong safety Darrell Stuckey both will be seniors next season.
The immediate personnel needs aren't that severe outside of linebacker and running back. But if the Jayhawks can develop depth at those positions, it could likely determine whether they have a legitimate chance to challenge for their first undisputed North title.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
After making a trip to the Orange Bowl last season as the first BCS appearance in school history, Kansas is back for more in tonight's Insight Bowl against Minnesota. Here's a look at several items to watch in the game.
Who to watch: It's easy to get lost as a quarterback in the Big 12 at times, but Kansas quarterback Todd Reesing quietly broke a slew of his own single-season school records this season with 302 completions, 406 attempts and 3,575 passing yards. When Kansas' young offensive line gives him protection, the diminutive Reesing can carve defenses up. His chances for success Wednesday will be magnified by the return to health of key weapons like wide receiver Kerry Meier and running back Jake Sharp, who both struggled with injuries late in the season. It will be the healthiest that Kansas has been since early in the season, providing the Jayhawks an opportunity against a slumping Minnesota team that lost its last four games after starting 7-1.
What to watch: The play of Kansas' secondary will be critical to the Jayhawks' chances. Starting cornerback Justin Thornton did not make the trip for undisclosed disciplinary reasons. Senior Kendrick Harper will start in his place. That retooled unit will try to contain Minnesota quarterback Adam Weber, who was hot during the Gophers' fast start but averaged only 144.7 yards and threw more interceptions than touchdowns in Minnesota's last three games. Minnesota coach Tim Brewster fired offensive line coach Phil Meyer and replaced him with Tim Davis as the running-game coordinator after the late slump. But the Gophers' ability to pass the ball from the spread offense will determine whether they can sneak out of Sun Devil Stadium with an upset against an erratic Kansas pass defense that ranked 113th nationally and allowed 19 touchdown passes in its last six games.
Why to watch: The Jayhawks already made their mark by making back-to-back bowl trips for the first time in the 119-season history of the program. They can crack another barrier Wednesday by winning, which would give them 20 victories in the last two seasons for the first time as well. A big effort against Minnesota also could set the tone heading into next season when the Jayhawks are positioned to be one of the North's preseason favorites.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
The Big 12 claimed its first bowl victory Monday night. But it will get a lot tougher tonight when Oklahoma State faces Oregon in the Pacific Life Holiday Bowl.
Before we get there, here are a few lunchtime links to help prime the palate:
- Joseph Duarte of the Houston Chronicle writes that Texas players are excited to start their football preparations for the Jan. 5 Tostitos Fiesta Bowl against Ohio State. "There comes a point when your mom asks you to take the trash out, so it was time to leave home and get here," Texas quarterback Colt McCoy said. "Those days off are nice, but now it's time to go back to work."
- The Kansas City Star's Jason Whitlock writes that Missouri shouldn't celebrate its Valero Alamo Bowl victory over Northwestern. Instead, Whitlock calls them "The kings of the pathetic North Division."
- Reid Laymance of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that Missouri linebacker Sean Weatherspoon, the defensive MVP of the Tigers' Alamo Bowl victory over Northwestern, will return for another college football season. Weatherspoon hopes to convince his roommate Jeremy Maclin to join him.
- Texas Tech's defense is bracing for a heavy dose of Mississippi wide receiver Dexter McCluster from coach Houston Nutt's "Wild Rebel" formation in Friday's AT&T Cotton Bowl.
- Tonight's Pacific Life Holiday Bowl could serve as an important catapult for an Oklahoma State program hoping to compete for its first Big 12 South Division title next season. The Oklahoman's John Rohde said a win tonight could serve as a serious stimulus to the program's first BCS bowl appearance.
- Starting Kansas cornerback Justin Thornton won't play in the Jayhawks' Insight Bowl game Wednesday night against Minnesota, starting linebacker James Holt told the Topeka Capital-Journal's Tully Corcoran. It will mean senior Kendrick Harper will get the start for a Kansas pass defense that ranked 113th nationally in yards allowed.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
Here are a few tidbits, notes and quotes from around the conference that I've collected over the past week. Enjoy them.
WHO'S HOT AND NOT
Oklahoma running back Chris Brown, who is averaging 108.6 yards per game and 7.95 yards per carry in his last three games. And he's doing it while splitting time with DeMarco Murray in the Sooners' backfield platoon.
Texas wide receiver Malcolm Williams, who produced 182 yards on four receptions in his most substantial playing time last week against Texas Tech. Williams also downed a punt at the Texas Tech 1 and contributed two special-teams tackles.
Texas Tech's offensive line, which allowed only one sack combined in the first seven games of the season, but two sacks in each of its last two games.
Colorado's pass rush, which notched four sacks on 31 Texas A&M passing attempts last week. The Buffaloes had produced four sacks in their previous three games, a span of 115 passing attempts.
Colorado's sputtering offense. The Buffaloes have scored 31 points in five Big 12 games.
Nebraska linebacker Tyler Wortman, who produced 11 tackles against Oklahoma. Wortman had seven tackles combined in the first eight games of the season.
Kansas cornerback Chris Harris, a key performer last season for the Jayhawks. He's been beaten out by Justin Thornton and converted wide receiver Daymond Patterson for the starting cornerback positions. Harris is listed as a backup free safety behind starter Phillip Strozier.
Kansas State walk-on linebacker Alex Hrebec, who notched a team-high nine tackles after drawing a start against the Jayhawks.
Kansas State kick returner/wide receiver Deon Murphy, who vowed to "take one to the crib" for a touchdown against Kansas. He didn't come close, producing only 60 all-purpose yards against the Jayhawks.
Missouri DE Brian Coulter, who produced six tackles and 1 ½ sacks for theTigers vs. Baylor in his first career start.
Kansas WR Kerry Meier, who produced a season-low three receptions last week against Kansas State.
Missouri WR Tommy Saunders, who produced seven receptions for a career-best 109 yards against Baylor last week.
Texas Tech's special teams. The Red Raiders have had nine kicks blocked this season - five extra points, three field goals and a punt. That total is the most of any team in the country.
Here are a few quotes that kept reporters titillated across the Big 12 this week.
"Oklahoma State is now the biggest game in the history of this year," Texas Tech coach Mike Leach, describing his team's approach to the Cowboys after beating No. 1 Texas last week.
"I don't believe in moral victories, but we showed that we come to play every day," Baylor freshman quarterback Robert Griffin told the Waco Tribune-Herald after the Bears' near-miss against Missouri last week.
"I'm 47, I still haven't made man," Leach on Mike Gundy's infamous "I'm a man. I'm 40" tirade.
"No, I don't wish I didn't say it. I mean, I'm confident. I'm that dude. That's just me. If anybody doesn't like it . . . oh, well." Kansas State wide receiver Deon Murphy told the Topeka Capital-Journal after his pre-game comments backfired after calling out Kansas before last week's game.
"Crab made an unbelievable catch, and not only did he make an unbelievable catch, he made an unbelievable run after that and got into the zone and got us a win." Texas Tech quarterback Graham Harrell, on Michael Crabtree's game-winning catch against Texas.
"That's crazy that they would drop. It surprises me, but all they can do is take care of their business," Nebraska coach Bo Pelini, after seeing Oklahoma drop from fourth to sixth in the BCS standings despite beating his Cornhusker team by 34 points last week.
"At least when they come crying wondering why they're not playing, they'll know why. It's pretty simple to see." - Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops to the Lincoln Journal-Star after his reserve defense has allowed late touchdowns against Kansas, Kansas State and Nebraska in its last three games.
"The snowball started rolling on us, and we didn't do anything to get it stopped," Pelini, after Oklahoma jumped to an early 35-0 lead over his team last week.
"That's going to teach him as a running back, you're never, ever going to be healthy. And once he realizes that, he'll be fine. He'll realize it this weekend." Colorado assistant coach Darian Hagan, who told the Rocky Mountain News that freshman Darrell Scott will have to adjust to the physical nature of college football.
"All we did was score too quickly. And then, two great players made a great play at the end," Texas coach Mack Brown, on Texas Tech's wild comeback last week.
254 - Yards needed by Nebraska wide receiver Nate Swift to break Johnny Rodgers' career receiving yardage record of 2,479.
THE BIG 12 - IN FACTOIDS
- Baylor has lost 17 straight games in which they trailed at the half.
- Each of Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops' four previous games against Texas A&M have been decided by seven points or less.
- Oklahoma State will become only the second team in history to face three top-three teams in true road games in one season. The Cowboys beat No. 3 Missouri and then lost to No. 1 Texas before playing No. 3 Texas Tech on Saturday. The only other team to face such a gauntlet was the 1969 TCU team, which lost games at No. 1 Ohio State, No. 3 Arkansas and No.
2 Texas.The Horned Frogs lost those games by a combined 155-13 margin.
- Robert Griffin is the first player in Baylor history to rush for 10 TDs and pass for 10 TDs in same season.
- Nebraska free safety Ricky Thenarse's interception snapped an interception drought that had stretched nearly six complete games for Nebraska. The Cornhuskers failed to produce an interception during a stretch of 142 opposing pass attempts - a period of 357 minutes, 42 seconds.
- Kansas State has allowed two of its last three opponents to post season-high rushing totals - Colorado (247) and Kansas (280). And Oklahoma's 275-yard effort missed beating the Sooners' best mark by only one yard.
- Texas Tech is off to a 5-0 start in conference play for the first time since 1953, when the Red Raiders were members of the Border Conference.
- Oklahoma State wide receiver Dez Bryant needs three more touchdown receptions to match OSU's single-season TD reception record of 17 set by Rashaun Woods in 2002.
- Baylor went 4-for-4 on fourth downs last week against Missouri. The Bears were 5-for-13 on third-down conversions.
- Kansas State has allowed at least 50 points in a game three times this season - most since 1988.
- Iowa State has forced three punts in the last two games. The Cyclones have forced four punts or fewer in four of their last five games and in six of nine games this season.
- Kansas State quarterback Josh Freeman has created 13 turnovers in his three games against Kansas.
- Missouri tailback Derrick Washington failed to score a touchdown in last week's game for the first time this season.
BY THE NUMBERS, PART I
Kansas quarterback Todd Reesing has struggled in recent games after a hot start. He's averaging only 158 yards passing in his last two games, compared to an average of 331.7 yards per game in his first seven categories.
Here's an indication of how Reesing's production has dropped during the last two games.
Att. Comp. Int. Yds TD Pass Eff. rating W-L
First seven games 280 195 5 2322 17 155.77 5-2
Last two games 49 30 4 316 3 119.27 1-1
BY THE NUMBERS, PART II
Texas Tech will be facing a huge challenge of facing a top-10 team the week after beating the No. 1 team in the country. Only once since 1965 has a team been able to beat a No. 1 team and then beat a top-10 team the following week.
That team was the 1984 Oklahoma team, which was coached by Barry Switzer and featured current Texas coach Mack Brown as its offensive coordinator.
Here's a look at how teams fared the following week against a top-10 foe after beating a No. 1 team in their previous game (since 1965).
Team No. 1 team Score Next week (opponent/rank) Score
1993 Boston College @Notre Dame 41-39 West Virginia (No. 5) L, 14-17
1990 Michigan State @Michigan 28-27 @Illinois (No. 8) L, 13-15
1984 Oklahoma @Nebraska 17-7 Oklahoma State (No. 3) W, 24-14
1982 Notre Dame @Pittsburgh 31-16 Penn State (No. 5) L, 14-24
1981 Wisconsin Michigan 21-14 UCLA (No. 9) L, 13-31
Source: ESPN Stats & Information Department
BY THE NUMBERS, PART III
Michael Crabtree's dramatic game-winning touchdown pass did more than merely keep Texas Tech's BCS national title hopes alive. It also extended Crabtree's string of consecutive games with a touchdown reception to 12 games - with barely a second to spare.
Here's a list of the top consecutive touchdown reception streaks in college football history.
Years Player School Consecutive TD catch games
2002-03 Larry Fitzgerald Pittsburgh 18
2005-06 Jarett Dillard Rice 15
2001-02 Charles Rogers Michigan State 14
1990-91 Desmond Howard Michigan 13
1997 Randy Moss Marshall 13
2007-08 Michael Crabtree Texas Tech 12
1990-91 Aaron Turner Pacific 12
Source: ESPN Stats & Information Department
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
Here are a few tidbits from across the conference heading into this week's games.
1. A transformed Kansas secondary has been readied for the Jayhawks' late push for the North Division title. Kansas coach Mark Mangino has gradually broken in new cornerbacks Daymond Patterson and Justin Thornton and moved up former backup Darrell Stuckey to the starting job at free safety. Those moves have left early-season starting cornerbacks Kendrick Harper and Chris Harris buried in Mangino's playing rotation. The change is being made to boost Kansas' athleticism before huge tests against the horde of playmaking wide receivers the Jayhawks will be facing against Texas and Missouri in upcoming weeks.
2. Oft-injured playmaking Oklahoma defensive end Auston English will be missed during the rest of the regular season, although Sooner coaches privately aren't disappointed that redshirt freshman Frank Alexander will be the player replacing him. Alexander's comeback from an early-season stabbing injury has been strong and he's shown some noticeable instinctive defensive moves. There will be a drop-off from English to Alexander, but not as much as might be expected.
3. One of the major reasons for Texas Tech's recent defensive success has been the simplification of schemes since Ruffin McNeill took over as defensive coordinator midway through last season. Two players who have particularly thrived up front have been defensive ends Brandon Williams and McKinner Dixon, who have combined for 17 sacks this season. And Tech's starting safeties, Darcel McBath and Daniel Charbonnet, merely are playing like the best pair at their position in the conference since the change.
4. Kansas State coach Ron Prince took over the play-calling responsibilities in the second half of the Wildcats' 52-21 loss last week at Kansas, helping spark a late offensive charge after the Wildcats had fallen into an early 31-0 hole at the half. While Prince was careful to say he hasn't lost confidence in offensive coordinator Dave Brock's calls from the press box, he wanted to provide his team immediate feedback from the sideline by taking a more active play-calling role.
5. Missouri tight end Chase Coffman has been listed as questionable for Saturday's game against Kansas State because of a sprained toe. But Coffman has a little extra inspiration to return to the lineup quicker. It's not only his final home game at Missouri, but he'll be playing against the old college team of his father, former NFL tight end Paul Coffman. And his little brother, Carson, is a backup quarterback for the Wildcats. If Chase Coffman can't go, freshman Andrew Jones would get the start, but expect him to at least to try to play early in the game.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
Here's a collection of factoids, notes and quotes that I came up with during the course of the week.
HOT AND NOT
- Nebraska's ball-control offense in the last two games. The Cornhuskers have dominated time of possession by a 77:23 to 42:37 difference -- an incredible margin of nearly 35 minutes. And Nebraska's 10 scoring drives in those two games have averaged 10.3 plays, 73.6 yards with an average time of possession of 5 minutes, 7.6 seconds.
- Oklahoma State's run defense, which has limited opponents to 53 yards and 2.2 yards per carry in the last two games.
Texas A&M, which started the season at 2-5 for the first time since 1980.
- Missouri tight end Chase Coffman who has produced 38 catches in his last four games, including more than 10 receptions in three of the games.
- Missouri running back Derrick Washington, who has rushed for an average of 14 yards per game and 1.9 yards per carry in his last two games. Washington produced an average of 100 yards per game and 7.5 yards per carry in his first five games.
- Texas' depth at wide receiver behind starters Jordan Shipley and Quan Cosby. Brandon Collins produced six receptions and freshmen Dan Buckner and Malcolm Williams both produced long TD receptions last week against Missouri.
- Missouri's defense, which slid to 114th in pass defense and 100th in total defense after losing to the Longhorns last week.
- Kansas, which has won 13 straight games at home. Texas Tech, however, will be the first foe during that streak that has been ranked.
- Baylor has lost 15 straight games to ranked teams
- Texas Tech's defense, which limited Texas A&M to 32 yards in the second half and 20 yards rushing in the game to nail down a 43-25 victory over the Aggies.
- Texas Tech's kicking game, which has missed six extra point opportunities and made only 4 of 8 field goal attempts. No wonder coach Mike Leach is considering walk-on Matt Williams as an alternative.
- Colorado running back Rodney Stewart, who last week tied the school freshman record with his third 100-yard game of the season.
- Colorado kicker Aric Goodman has missed six straight field goals since earning a scholarship after his game-winning kick against West Virginia on Sept. 18.
- Missouri's ballyhooed offense at the start of last week's game against Texas. In their first four possessions, the Tigers produced 14 yards on 15 plays.
BIG 12 SCOREBOARD
Final Central Michigan 48 Western Kentucky 49 Final Fresno State 6 Rice 30
Final Nevada 3 Louisiana-Lafayette 16 Final Utah State 21 UTEP 6 Final 22 Utah 45 Colorado State 10 Final Western Michigan 24 Air Force 38 Final South Alabama 28 Bowling Green 33
Final Marshall 52 Northern Illinois 23 Final Navy 17 San Diego State 16
1:00 PM ET Illinois Louisiana Tech 4:30 PM ET Rutgers North Carolina 8:00 PM ET North Carolina State UCF
1:00 PM ET Cincinnati Virginia Tech 2:00 PM ET 15 Arizona State Duke 3:30 PM ET Miami (FL) South Carolina 4:30 PM ET Boston College Penn State 8:00 PM ET Nebraska 24 USC
2:00 PM ET Texas A&M West Virginia 5:30 PM ET Oklahoma 17 Clemson 9:00 PM ET Arkansas Texas
3:00 PM ET Notre Dame 23 LSU 6:30 PM ET 13 Georgia 21 Louisville 10:00 PM ET Maryland Stanford
12:30 PM ET 9 Ole Miss 6 TCU 4:00 PM ET 20 Boise State 10 Arizona 8:00 PM ET 7 Mississippi State 12 Georgia Tech
12:00 PM ET 19 Auburn 18 Wisconsin 12:30 PM ET 8 Michigan State 5 Baylor 1:00 PM ET 16 Missouri 25 Minnesota 5:00 PM ET 2 Oregon 3 Florida State 8:30 PM ET 1 Alabama 4 Ohio State
12:00 PM ET Houston Pittsburgh 3:20 PM ET Iowa Tennessee 6:45 PM ET 11 Kansas State 14 UCLA 10:15 PM ET Washington Oklahoma State