Big 12: Kendall Wright

Charlie Strong’s arrival at the University of Texas is going to change the Big 12.

The on-field impact of the former Louisville coach’s arrival in Austin remains to be seen, but he will undoubtedly change the landscape of the conference. His words during his introductory news conference should put fear into the heart of two Big 12 teams in particular.

“Let's not get caught up in the five stars; let's not get caught up in the four stars,” Strong said Monday. “Let's get caught up in the football players.”

The Longhorns’ new head coach went on to speak of American Athletic Conference Defensive Player of the Year Marcus Smith, who was a quarterback when Strong recruited him to Louisville, yet recorded 14.5 sacks and 18.5 tackles for loss as a defensive end in 2013. His words should be music to the ears of Longhorns fans, as recruiting has not been the problem in recent years at Texas. Poor evaluation and player development has been one of the biggest contributors to the program’s slide.

[+] EnlargeCharlie Strong
Joe Robbins/Getty ImagesCharlie Strong says his staff won't get caught up in recruiting rankings, which is a philosophy employed by a few Big 12 rivals.
Largely by taking advantage of those struggles, Oklahoma State and Baylor sat alongside the Longhorns in the Big 12 title race heading into the final weekend of the regular season and seem poised to be the teams most impacted by Strong’s arrival. Oklahoma State and Baylor each went 3-2 against the Longhorns during the past five seasons after combining to go winless in 10 games against Texas in the previous five years. Their rise has had a direct correlation to the Longhorns’ decline.

The biggest impact on those two teams could come on the recruiting trail. If Strong’s priority is evaluation and development, as he contends, that's a shot across the bow to Oklahoma State and Baylor, two programs that have built their success upon their ability to better evaluate and develop their recruits. Those two schools featured 162 combined players from Texas and combined for 21 victories in 2013.

Running back Kendall Hunter, cornerback Justin Gilbert and tackle Russell Okung are just of few of the overlooked Texans that Oklahoma State pounced on. They had NFL-level talent and built the Cowboys into a Big 12 title contender. We all know about Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III and his journey to Baylor, but receiver Kendall Wright -- an NFL first-round pick -- and guard Cyril Richardson -- a 2013 Lombardi Finalist -- have been key contributors to the Bears’ rise. They each were overlooked by the Longhorns.

While Strong’s arrival could make it harder for Oklahoma State and Baylor to repeat their Big 12 championship runs of recent years, both schools have created enough momentum that they could still consistently compete for Big 12 titles regardless of how well Strong does in Austin.

Of all the Big 12 teams, Strong’s hire should have the least impact on Oklahoma. The Sooners are a tradition-rich program with the ability to compete for championships regardless of their surroundings. OU’s 5-5 record against UT since 2005 is second only to Kansas State (5-1 in six meetings). And the Sooners should have no problem recruiting in Texas against Strong’s Longhorns program, particularly with the stability head coach Bob Stoops brings to the program.

The rest of the Big 12 schools are less likely to be dramatically altered.

TCU and Texas Tech have combined to beat Texas once in the past five seasons, with the Horned Frogs’ 20-13 victory in 2012 as the lone triumph. Although both schools are similar to Baylor and Oklahoma State in their ability to turn hidden gems into productive players, they haven’t turned that into consistent on-field success against the Longhorns in a way the other two schools have, although TCU has only played UT twice during that five-year span. The impact on their recruiting will be similar to Oklahoma State and Baylor, but on a lower level as neither school can tout a Big 12 title as proof of their success when trying to land those hidden gems.

Kansas State, Kansas, West Virginia and Iowa State should see their biggest impact on the field, as their brushes with the Longhorns on the recruiting trail are few and far between.

Best WR tandems in Big 12 history

November, 4, 2013
11/04/13
2:30
PM ET
The Big 12 has featured some prolific wide receiver tandems over the years.

Baylor’s Tevin Reese and Antwan Goodley, however, have a chance to top that list.

[+] EnlargeAntwan Goodley, Tevin Reese
Jerome Miron/USA TODAY SportsAntwan Goodley and Tevin Reese rank 1-2 in the Big 12 in receiving yards per game.
This season, Reese is second in the Big 12 with 118 yards receiving a game. He trails only Goodley, who leads the league with an average of 128 yards receiving. They are a big reason why the Bears are on pace to break the FBS records for points (56.0) and yards (624.9) per game that were set by Army in 1944 and Houston in 1989.

Depending on how they finish, Reese and Goodley could wind up becoming the best duo in Big 12 history. But they aren’t the only big-time duos in the Big 12 this year.

Kansas State’s Tramaine Thompson and Tyler Lockett have been lighting it up since returning from injury. The last two weeks the two have totaled five touchdown catches.

Jalen Saunders and Sterling Shepard lead the Sooners with five touchdowns apiece. Texas Tech’s Eric Ward and Jakeem Grant are fifth and sixth in the league in receiving. Oklahoma State’s Josh Stewart and Tracy Moore are beginning to warm up with Clint Chelf at QB. And Jaxon Shipley and Mike Davis have been stalwarts in this league for years.

But who are the best tandems ever to play Big 12? We lay it out below.

Tight ends were not included (sorry Jermaine Gresham and Chase Coffman). The tandems were evaluated on what they accomplished together, not on whether their careers simply overlapped (eliminating Jeremy Maclin and Danario Alexander, for example); and, this is a list for duos, not singles, trios or quartets (apologies to Rashaun Woods, and the 2008 Oklahoma and 2010 Baylor receiving corps).

To the list:

1. Stedman Bailey and Tavon Austin, West Virginia (2012): In their only year in the league, this tandem was one-two in the Big 12 in receiving, combining for 224 receptions and 2,914 receiving yards. Bailey himself had 25 receiving touchdowns; nobody else in the league had more than 13. Austin, meanwhile, also rushed for 344 yards in one game at running back. As Bailey tweeted out earlier Monday morning on this topic, “case closed.”

2. Michael Crabtree and Danny Amendola, Texas Tech (2007): Crabtree got all the headlines in 2007 on his way to winning his first of two Biletnikoff awards. But out of the slot, Amendola quietly put up 109 receptions for 1,245 yards, as Tech went 9-4.

3. Jordan Shipley and Quan Cosby, Texas (2008): Shipley and Cosby starred on one of the three best Big 12 teams that didn’t win a conference title. The two each had 1,000 receiving yards and double-digit TDs from QB Colt McCoy, as the Longhorns finished the year 12-1, their only loss coming on Crabtree’s game-winning touchdown in the final seconds in Lubbock. The two were also prolific on special teams, with Shipley’s kick return touchdown sparking Texas’ 45-35 comeback win over Oklahoma.

4. Justin Blackmon and Josh Cooper, Oklahoma State (2011): As with Crabtree-Amendola, Blackmon got all the attention on his way to a second Biletnikoff award. But Cooper was a pivotal piece in OSU’s first Big 12 title team, as he racked up 71 receptions out of the slot. Blackmon, of course, had a monster year with 121 catches and 18 touchdowns.

5. Kendall Wright and Terrance Williams, Baylor (2011): Reese was actually the third wheel to this duo, which shined with RGIII at quarterback. Wright was an All-American with 108 catches, 1,663 yard and 14 touchdowns. Williams was big time, too, finishing fifth in the Big 12 in receiving before taking over the No. 1 role in 2012.

6. Ryan Broyles and Kenny Stills, Oklahoma (2010): Broyles led college football with 131 receptions on his way to becoming the all-time FBS leader in career catches. Stills broke OU’s freshman single-season receiving record, as the Sooners stormed back to capture the Big 12 crown after a pair of midseason losses.

7. Kerry Meier and Dezmon Briscoe, Kansas (2008): It might be difficult to remember now, but the Jayhawks used to play some ball. Meier tied Crabtree for second in the league with 97 receptions. Briscoe trailed only Dez Bryant with 1,402 receiving yards. This was an underrated duo.

8. Quincy Morgan and Aaron Lockett, Kansas State (1999): On one of the first passing teams in the Big 12, Morgan and Lockett shined. Morgan had 42 receptions for 1,007 yards and nine touchdowns and was a first-team all-conference selection. Lockett, Tyler Lockett's uncle, was a second-team all-league pick for the Wildcats, who went 11-1 and finished the year ranked sixth in the polls.

9. Mark Clayton and Travis Wilson, Oklahoma (2004): Clayton carried the moniker of best receiver in OU history until Broyles came around. Because of Adrian Peterson, Clayton’s numbers dipped in ’04, but he was still an All-American with 66 catches. Wilson led the Sooners with 11 TD grabs, as OU advanced to a second consecutive national championship game.

10. Jarrett Hicks and Joel Filani, Texas Tech (2005): Neither might be a household name around the Big 12 anymore, but these two were both first-team All-Big 12 selections in ’05 along with Iowa State WR Todd Blythe.
ESPN draft expert Mel Kiper has two Big 12 players -- Oklahoma’s Lane Johnson and Texas’ Kenny Vaccaro -- potentially going in the first round of this year’s NFL draft.

Fellow expert Todd McShay has the same two as Kiper and also is optimistic about the chances of West Virginia’s Geno Smith and Tavon Austin.

So let’s split the difference and label the potential Big 12 first-round picks as an optimistic three, with Johnson being the only absolute first-round lock.

Those three would represent the fewest Big 12 players taken in the first round of the NFL draft since 2008. Even if four went, the Big 12 still would have the fewest since 2008.

That year, only Kansas -- yep, the Jayhawks -- managed a first-rounder, Aqib Talib to Tampa Bay with the 20th pick. In the four drafts that followed, the Big 12 has always put at least five players into the first round, including the first four overall picks in 2010.

How well this year’s group of first-round picks will fare might not be known for years. What is known, though, is how well Big 12 players have done when they are selected in the first round. With that in mind, here is a ranking -- from worst to best -- of the Big 12’s best first-round draft classes over the past 10 years.

2008: It’s all about quantity, and a little bit of quality. In 2008, the Big 12 only produced one first-round pick, Talib. He has not produced dramatic returns in the NFL. In the past two years, he has only started nine games. He was somewhat productive for Tampa Bay in the previous three seasons, starting 41 games and playing in 53. But, again, he was the only Big 12 player taken in the first round in 2008.

2006: Vince Young is working out at Texas’ pro day at the end of March. Enough said. Davin Joseph and Michael Huff have been solid producers. But when the No. 3 overall pick is out of the league and having to work out at his alma mater's pro day, it means it was a bad year for the Big 12 in the first round of the NFL draft.

2004: Tommie Harris and Marcus Tubbs, the two defensive tackles taken in the first round, were productive for a few years, with Harris selected to Pro Bowls in 2005, '06 and ’07 before he was beset by injuries. Tubbs lasted four seasons in the NFL. Roy Williams had 5,715 receiving yards but never lived up to the hype he generated coming out of Texas. Rashaun Woods played only two years and had seven career catches.

2005: The lack of numbers might be what hurts this group the most. Cedric Benson, Jammal Brown, Derrick Johnson, Mark Clayton and Fabian Washington all proved they could play at the NFL level. Benson has had three 1,000-yard-plus seasons. Johnson is one of the top linebackers in the game. Brown remains a solid option on the offensive line. Clayton played seven NFL seasons; Washington played six. But there were only five guys selected and that isn't enough to push 2005 to the top of the list.

[+] EnlargeAdrian Peterson
Andy Clayton King/Getty ImagesThe Big 12's 2007 draft class wasn't huge, but did feature 2012 NFL MVP Adrian Peterson.
2009: Every Big 12 player selected in the first round in 2009 has produced and appears to be poised to continue to do so. Only Jason Smith didn’t have a start last year. But the offensive lineman still played in all 16 games for the New York Jets. Michael Crabtree, Brian Orakpo, Josh Freeman, Jeremy Maclin, Brandon Pettigrew and Ziggy Hood are all starters for their respective teams.

2007: It wasn’t the biggest group, but it did include Adrian Peterson, so there could be some quibbling that maybe 2007 should be higher in the rankings. Throw in Aaron Ross and Michael Griffin and the debate could get even more heated. Adam Carriker was also taken this year. He started his career strong but suffered an injury and only played in two games last season.

2003: Kevin Williams has been the standout of this group. The defensive tackle has started every game but four in his 10-year career. Terence Newman has been effective as a defensive back, first in Dallas and last season in Cincinnati. Tyler Brayton played at least 15 games on the defensive line in a nine-year career. Ty Warren played eight solid seasons for New England but tailed off last season with Denver. Andre Woolfolk lasted four seasons, mostly as a reserve.

2011: Von Miller, who was the highest pick among Big 12 players this year, has proved to be the top player so far. Aldon Smith is not far behind. Add in Prince Amukamara, Phillip Taylor, who when healthy is a starter at defensive tackle, a somewhat productive Blaine Gabbert and Nate Solder as well as reliable backups Danny Watkins and Jimmy Smith and this proved to be a successful year for Big 12 first-round selections.

2012: Three quarterbacks, and all were not only starters as rookies but also made huge differences for their respective squads. Clearly, Robert Griffin III made the most dramatic impact, but Ryan Tannehill, with the Dolphins, and Brandon Weeden, with Cleveland, were both solid. Kendall Wright and Justin Blackmon each had 64 catches, for Tennessee and Jacksonville, respectively. Blackmon was targeted more (133 to 104) and had 200 more receiving yards.

2010: This list maybe doesn’t have the star power and is not littered with offensive playmakers, but six of the nine players picked were selected for the 2013 NFL Pro Bowl: Gerald McCoy, Trent Williams, Ndamukong Suh, Earl Thomas, Russell Okung and Jermaine Gresham. And the other three players -- Dez Bryant, Sam Bradford and Sean Weatherspoon -- were vital pieces for their respective teams.

A closer look: Holiday Bowl

December, 12, 2012
12/12/12
1:00
PM ET
As the bowl season approaches, we're going to be looking a little closer at each game. We'll go down the Big 12 bowl schedule in chronological order. Let's start with the Baylor Bears' date with UCLA.

BRIDGEPOINT EDUCATION HOLIDAY BOWL

Baylor (7-5) vs. No. 17 UCLA (9-4)

Where: Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego, Calif.

When: Thursday, Dec. 27, 9:45 p.m. ET

TV: ESPN

About Baylor: Nobody knew for sure what was in store for Baylor after not only losing Heisman winner Robert Griffin III, but also the Big 12's leading receiver and fellow first-round draft pick Kendall Wright, and the Big 12's leading rusher, Terrance Ganaway. What we learned was Art Briles truly is a master of offense and quarterback development. The Bears enter this game as the hottest team in the Big 12, fresh off a dominant win over then-No. 1 Kansas State and wins over Oklahoma State and Texas Tech. Baylor looked very unlikely to crack the postseason sitting at 4-5 with three solid teams ahead. Then the Bears proved us all wrong and finished the season with the nation's No. 1 offense.

About UCLA: The first season under Jim Mora Jr. has gone better than almost anyone could have figured. The Bruins drew chuckles when they hired a coach with just one season of college experience among his two-plus decades in coaching, and even that was only GA experience at his alma mater, Washington. The longtime NFL coach proved himself in his first season, helping UCLA reach the Pac-12 title game. A loss to Stanford denied the Bruins a Rose Bowl bid, but there's no question that Mora's first season has been a success.

Bears to watch: The headliner is quarterback Nick Florence, the nation's leader in total offense. He's shown a propensity to toss a pick or two (his 13 are more than all Big 12 QBs except Texas Tech's Seth Doege), but he's a lot more than the only Bear to keep an eye on. Running back Lache Seastrunk broke out late in the season, rushing for 693 yards and five scores in the final five games of the season, grabbing a starting role and looking like the hottest player in the league to end the season. Receiver Terrance Williams is an All-American, the nation's leader in receiving yardage and a Biletnikoff Award finalist. Defensively, linebacker Eddie Lackey grabbed a pair of Big 12 Defensive Player of the Week honors after returning picks for scores in each of Baylor's final two games.

Bruins to watch: UCLA loves the zone read and quarterback Brett Hundley was a breakout star in the Pac-12 this season. So was running back Johnathan Franklin, who racked up 1,700 yards to finish ninth nationally in rushing. That would have led the Big 12. Hundley threw for 26 touchdowns and ran for nine more. If Baylor's going to win this game, it starts with slowing down those two.

Did you know? Baylor's offense doesn't mess around. The Bears have nine touchdown drives this season that lasted exactly one play. That's ridiculous. Baylor also has 16 touchdown drives that lasted three plays or less. The biggest reason for that? Williams and fellow receiver Tevin Reese. Williams' 22 catches longer than 30 yards are eight more than any player in the country, and Reese is eighth nationally with eight grabs of 40 yards or longer. Another reason for BU's success? The Bears were a rousing minus-11 in turnover margin during their 0-4 start in Big 12 play. Since then, the Bears are plus-10 and went 4-1 in Big 12 play down the stretch.

OSU wants continued dominance vs. Bears

November, 29, 2012
11/29/12
11:00
AM ET
Art Briles had to be in a little disbelief looking up at the scoreboard during his last two dates with Oklahoma State, both in Stillwater.

"They’ve whooped us pretty good the last two years, unless my memory serves me wrong," Briles said. "They’ve kind of had their way with us."

The 56-year-old's memory is just fine. The Bears' fell behind Oklahoma State 49-3 after three quarters a year ago, despite possessing the nation's No. 2 offense and future Heisman winner Robert Griffin III. Baylor moved the ball, but turnovers and red zone failures combined with a hapless defense turned a pivotal Big 12 game into a laugher.

A year earlier, it was much of the same. Oklahoma State raced out to a 41-7 lead late in the third quarter against a ranked Bears team.

Baylor's had a historical run behind Briles, qualifying for three consecutive bowl games for the first time in school history and winning 23 games over that span. Still, Oklahoma State's held a hefty advantage over the Bears, winning six consecutive games in the series.

[+] EnlargeArt Briles
AP Photo/LM OteroArt Briles' Bears have been outscored 114-52 by Oklahoma State during their past two meetings.
"It’s hard to explain why sometimes your players have really good weeks and then sometimes they don’t," coach Mike Gundy said of his team's recent dominance against Baylor. "We’ve played them later in the season, and our teams have practiced good and been healthy, but it’s hard to explain."

The Cowboys visit Waco this weekend for the first time since 2009 to close the season. Can Briles get his first win over a fellow Big 12 resurgent squad against OSU? He maintains the last two matchups won't affect this year's team or its confidence.

"One of those was what, 770 days ago or 800 days ago? The other one was 300 something days ago," he said.

Both teams are bowl eligible and out of the Big 12 title race heading into the final weekend, so they're playing for mostly bowl positioning and pride, but even a close loss might have Baylor feeling better about itself than it has the last two times the Cowboys have run the Bears out of Stillwater.

"With any great passing offense, you need to make them one-dimensional, so if you can limit their run game, which has been successful this year, you can get a better rush on the quarterback and make him throw some bad passes," linebacker Shaun Lewis said. "They kill teams with big plays, and if we can limit those big plays and make them drive the field, it might slow them down."

That's what happened the past two games. Before some garbage time scores in both games, OSU prevented the Bears' signature long touchdowns. Last year, a goal line stand, a fumble and an end zone interception left the Bears frustrated and out of the end zone until the game was well out of hand.

The Pokes will be looking for the same result against the Bears this week. Baylor doesn't have RG3 or Kendall Wright this time around, but Gundy's been impressed by his replacement, Nick Florence, who has the Bears back at No. 2 nationally in total offense.

"Coach Briles and their staff do a great job of getting him programmed for each game. He throws the ball, moves around and runs the ball effective enough to make some plays. He’s a very accurate passer. His numbers speak for themselves," Gundy said. "It’s extremely difficult what he’s done … I’m glad he’s a senior, to be honest with you."

Mailbag: WVU back, upsets, BCS Horns?

November, 9, 2012
11/09/12
4:00
PM ET
Thanks for all the e-mails this week, everybody. Here's where you can reach me if you've got more to say.

Let's get to your e-mail!

Terry Nixon in Marietta, Ga., writes: Hey Squinky--uh I mean Ubbs,See you're back with us. What is it the 4th, or maybe just the 3rd time you've picked us for the upset special. Keep doing it and you will get at least one right. I know we ruined your forecasting year the last couple but you didn't have to get even all in one year. Oh well enjoy while you can--next year is out for you.

David Ubben: Ha, this stuff always cracks me up. Fans get more bent out of shape at being put on upset alert than being picked against. I'm not even kidding. You've got me there, Terry. I've put OSU on alert in three of the last four weeks, and they soundly proved me wrong against Iowa State and TCU.

Still, you can only project with given information. I wasn't the one spearheading the upset alert last year, but the simple nature of being an undefeated team is everyone's going to dissect the ways and possibilities you can lose each week. That's what spices up any BCS race. Ironically, the one game almost no one put OSU on upset alert last year for, it lost.

So, maybe we're doing you a favor. Kidding. But don't take it so personally.




Jeremy writes: What percentage do you give each of the four unbeatens to stay undefeated going into bowl season?

DU: You don't have to ask me. The last projection I saw (by our BCS expert Brad Edwards, I believe), the four unbeatens had 7.9 percent chance of all being undefeated, up from three percent last week. Coincidentally, that 7.9 percent is the exact same as the American national unemployment rate.

BUT WHAT DOES IT MEAN??




Ben Nelson in Dallas writes: You stated that you went 3-2 in your picks last week. Actually, it was more like 3-3."On Saturday, Texas Tech will beat Texas and transform into the best team in Texas after Mississippi State knocks off Texas A&M." I'll be checking for an update to the blog.

DU: You got me here too, Ben. I'll accept my reckoning. Thing about going out on a limb? Sometimes it snaps.




Eric Lovig in Paola, Kan., writes: In a recent blog you posted that "Oklahoma would need two K-State losses to win the conference outright, but would earn a share if they win out and Kansas State slips up in one of its final three games."I was reading up on the big 12 rules and via their website and it reads: "The following procedure will determine the Big 12 Conference representative to the Bowl Championship Series in the event of a first-place tie: a. If two teams are tied, the winner of the game between the two tied teams shall be the representative.") According to the Big 12 website, even if Kansas State "slips up" in one of its last 3 games and OU wins out, Kansas State (having one conference loss) would be the Big 12 champs since they own the tiebreaker with OU (also one conference loss) by beating them head to head. Am I missing something?

DU: You're missing one big thing, Eric. This isn't the old Big 12, where one team has to play for the Big 12 title from each division. Everybody knows K-State would be the real Big 12 champion, just like everybody knows who the real division champions are in the old Big 12. It's the team who represented the division in the Big 12 championship game.

That's true, but the Big 12 rules are only about who represents the Big 12 in the BCS. Oklahoma wouldn't get the Big 12's automatic bid if it tied Kansas State, but it would have earned a share of the Big 12 title. Get used to it now. I don't like it, and I'm sure you don't either.

The simple truth: Split Big 12 titles are a reality in the new Big 12. The Big 12 got lucky and didn't have one last year. It might happen again. Though, if K-State slips up, I expect Oklahoma to be sitting their waiting to collect another Big 12 title -- and a BCS bid, even though it won't be the Big 12's automatic BCS bid.




Johnny Bryant in Austin, Texas, writes: Does Texas have a realistic shot of making a BCS bowl?

DU: It's definitely realistic. Let's break down the obvious path. Texas is sitting pretty at No. 17 in the BCS right now with Iowa State this week and TCU on Thanksgiving night after a bye week. Then it's on the road at K-State.

Texas might be inside or near the top 10 if it wins those first two games, but if it beats K-State, there's no doubt. Texas would likely be at No. 7 or 8 and looking really, really good with a 10-2 record.

Do you really think any BCS bowl would turn down the Longhorns at 10-2 in the top 10 and rolling in with a six-game winning streak? Absolutely not.

Debate the possibility of Texas winning out to that point all you want, but the path is there, and after last week's win at Tech, the possibility looks a lot more realistic.




David Wells in McAlester, Okla., writes: Just read your article about your prediction for an upset, possibly even a blowout in the West Virginia vs Oklahoma State game. I'm not saying an upset isn't possible, but there is a much possibility of a blowout in OSU's favor as there is in WVU's. OSU beat TCU by 22 in Stillwater just 2 weeks ago, and TCU beat WVU at Morgantown just last Saturday. From appearances last Saturday, it looked like OSU's 3rd team quarterback played better than their 1st (it appeared Lunt was suffering from some rust), and by the way Chelf played, if he had played the whole game, OSU may have had a chance of upsetting KState (I don't now how the turnover situation may have panned out, that's anybody's guess). I can't see an advantage of one side knowing the other, both teams know how certain aspects of the other team operate, so any advantage would equal out. Would it surprise you if OSU walked away blowing out WVU?

DU: I mean, you could do this all day with about any two teams with losses. West Virginia beat Texas on the road. Oklahoma State lost to them at home.

WVU isn't playing very well the past month, and the truth is teams don't offer the same quality of play every week. That's the nature of the game. My prediction was West Virginia will snap out of whatever funk it's been in the last month and knock off the Cowboys.

Compare scores all you want. I know what I've seen: A West Virginia team not playing up to its potential the past month. They took a decent step forward last week, and they'll get over the hump this week.




Mike in Oklahoma City, Okla., writes: Terrance Williams has been given little love on the national stage for his performance so far. Do you forsee a repeat of last year when Kendall Wright was overshadowed by a nationally known receiver, Justin Blackmon? Blackmon got the the Biletnikoff in 2011 despite Kendall Wright having better overall numbers. What does Williams have to do to take home the award this year?

DU: Well, last year was kind of the perfect storm for Wright. I think Blackmon was a better receiver last year, but Wright put up his craziest numbers down the stretch last year after the finalists list was made. You can debate the legitimacy of the timing of that finalist list if you'd like. That's fair.

As for this year, Williams is hurt by playing for a weak Baylor team while Marqise Lee has had a lot of attention in playing for a national brand like USC, though the Trojans have plenty of struggles of their own.

I do think Williams ends up winning it if he keeps his pace. He's just been so consistent. We haven't seen a guy rack up numbers like this since Blackmon in 2010. He caught 100 yards and a TD in every single game. That was pretty unbelievable.

Williams has at least 130 yards in every game but one, and scored in every game but two. Keep that pace up, and he's going to be very, very hard to turn down for the award. He's got to just keep on trucking. Baylor winning some games would help, but it doesn't have to happen. Like I've said all season, receivers don't have a heavy influence on whether teams win games when you compare them to running backs and quarterbacks. Teams are running 80-100 plays in the Big 12 these days, and receivers touch the ball 10-15 times a game tops. He can't single-handedly win games for Baylor. He hasn't had much help from the defense and a productive but turnover-prone Nick Florence this year.

What we learned in the Big 12: Week 9

October, 28, 2012
10/28/12
10:00
AM ET
Here's what I learned during a pretty wild weekend in the Big 12.

Kansas State needs style points or losses by top-five teams. I didn't buy Notre Dame as a team good enough to run the table ... until last night. The Fighting Irish beat Oklahoma convincingly, and in the process won over a whole lot of voters. K-State did its dirty work early, beating the Sooners, West Virginia and then Texas Tech on Saturday. But in the final month of the season, the Wildcats might go without a matchup against a Top 25 team, while BCS challengers Notre Dame and Oregon go head-to-head with USC, and the Ducks also get a shot at Oregon State to close the season. The chances of K-State hanging on to the No. 2 spot if Notre Dame wins out are minimal at best. Oregon will be a nail-biter. It's unfair for the Wildcats, but somebody has to get left out if there are three or four undefeated teams. As it stands, K-State looks like the team that will get stuck on the outside looking in. That said, there's still a month of football left to be played. Nobody thought Oklahoma State would lose to Iowa State last year, or that West Virginia would lose to Pitt back in 2009. Anything can happen.

[+] EnlargeMack Brown
AP Photo/Reed HoffmannSkies could be sunnier for Mack Brown and Texas even though the Longhorns improved to 6-2.
Texas' season is hanging by a thread. The Longhorns narrowly avoided disaster, but there are still quality teams left on Texas' schedule. The Longhorns wouldn't have beaten any of them playing like they did on Saturday, needing a dramatic fourth-quarter comeback led by Case McCoy to beat Kansas, a team with a 16-game losing streak in the Big 12. A loss to Kansas would have legitimized all the talk about Mack Brown being on the hot seat. He's OK for now, but if Texas stumbles to another eight-win season, will that still be the case? As one fellow scribe reminded me on Saturday, if you change two fourth-quarter throws on fourth down, Texas would be slumming at 4-4. It's 6-2 instead, but not a very impressive 6-2.

Oklahoma State might be preparing for a late-season charge. Quietly, the Cowboys beat up on good teams at the bottom of the Big 12 standings. TCU and Iowa State aren't that far off from being Top 25 teams, and the Cowboys beat both by three touchdowns. When OSU runs the ball, it's really hard to beat. Texas looks overrated, but Arizona knocked off USC on Saturday, and OSU will get its chance to prove just how good it really is with a trip to K-State next week, then a visit from West Virginia the following week. Then it's Texas Tech and OU. That's a whole lot of Top 25 teams, but OSU is going to be a tough out.

Baylor is in big, big trouble. The Bears looked to have the offensive firepower to withstand the losses of Robert Griffin III, Terrance Ganaway and Kendall Wright, but I'm not so sure any more. The defensive deficiencies are catching up to Baylor, and the offense isn't playing well enough to keep up. The Bears are now 0-4 in Big 12 play, joining Kansas as the only teams to lose every league game so far. Baylor talked a big game about validating what RG3 did for the program, but has fallen flat to this point.

Winning at Oklahoma doesn't seem so hard anymore. Oklahoma lost two games under Bob Stoops in Norman from 1999 until the 2011 season. Before this season, it had never lost to a ranked team at home under Stoops. But now? Texas Tech pulled a huge upset last year, and ranked foes K-State and Notre Dame walked into Norman and outplayed the Sooners. The mystique from that 39-game home winning streak is gone, and Notre Dame beat the Sooners by 17 on their home field, dominating the line of scrimmage and the fourth quarter. Ugly stuff. It's worth noting that OU's two losses came to teams that are among just six undefeateds left in college football, but Oklahoma hoped it would be among the nation's elite this season. It's not.
WACO, Texas -- It's been almost five years since Baylor hasn't had Robert Griffin III on its roster, but later tonight, Art Briles begins his first season at Baylor without last year's Heisman winner.

The Bears have plenty of offensive talent returning, though the Big 12's rushing champ (Terrance Ganaway) and receiving champ (Kendall Wright) are gone, too.

What will the new faces look like? We'll find out tonight. Kickoff is set for 6:30 p.m. ET on Fox Sports, and this should be a fun one between two teams that love to open up their offenses and let it fly.

That's what I'm watching today. We know Nick Florence can do it in spots. We saw it last year in the win over Texas Tech, and we saw flashes of it back in 2009 when he filled in for RG3 following his torn ACL early in the season.

Can he do it every week? That starts today. I'm a believer in Florence, in part because of the solid guys in front of him, headlined by center Ivory Wade and tackle Cyril Richardson, who are both All-Big 12-caliber guys. His backs should have plenty of holes and receivers like Tevin Reese and Terrance Williams are speedy, with plenty of experience playing with Griffin the past couple of seasons.

How will the defense handle SMU? The Bears made some strides late in the season in the turnover department, but the last time we saw the Bears, they were giving up 56 points to Washington in the bowl game ... and still finding a way to win. Florence is good, but the loss of RG3 no doubt trims the margin of error for this defense.

Baylor's got to be careful. Cornerbacks K.J. Morton, Demetri Goodson and Joe Williams need to play well against June Jones' run-and-shoot attack, but the bigger concern might be Zach Line up front. Baylor won't face many running backs like him in the Big 12.

Curious Big 12 fans can get a their first look at former Longhorn Garrett Gilbert in his new surroundings. He's a good fit for Jones' scheme, and despite his obvious failures at Texas, there's no denying his physical skills and resume as one of the greatest high school players in Texas history. This is a completely different offense and a completely different challenge. Should be interesting to see how he responds.

I expect the Bears to hang enough points to win this one, but the Mustangs will light up the scoreboard, too, and make it interesting. Either way, this should be a fun one. Let's get started. Stay right here for coverage throughout the night.
Time to move on with our rankings of the top 10 players at each position in the Big 12. Today, we're covering receivers. This is a pretty good class, but it's pretty clustered to only a few teams. Look for Oklahoma State to have one or two guys on this list by season's end, but right now, I couldn't reason putting any of them on the list over the guys who made it. There's a bit of a drop-off after the league's top five receivers, too.

Remember: This isn't a prediction or projection. This is where it stands to start the season.

My only rule for this list: No freshmen or newcomers. You don't know until you know.

More position rankings:
1. Tavon Austin, West Virginia: Austin's speedy and shifty, and will give Big 12 defenses headaches every week this season. The Mountaineers' offense is predicated upon getting him the ball, and when he gets it, he does some special, special things with it.

[+] EnlargeTavon Austin
J. Meric/Getty ImagesTavon Austin caught 101 passes for 1,186 yards and eight scores last season.
2. Stedman Bailey, West Virginia: Bailey, though? He's the only guy in the Big 12 who had more receiving yards than Austin last season. Coincidentally, they're on the same team. Bailey's a more traditional receiver to Austin's hybrid receiver/running back type of role, and he loves to stretch the field. Fortunately for him, he's got a QB in Geno Smith who loves to get him the ball. He caught 72 balls for 1,279 yards and 12 scores last year.

3. Kenny Stills, Oklahoma: Stills may make a run at the No. 1 spot on this list in the postseason, but he's got to prove it without Ryan Broyles. He's still searching for his first 1,000-yard receiving season, but he's going to be the only player with legitimate Big 12 experience on this team to start the season. How much help will he get from freshman Trey Metoyer and Penn State transfer Justin Brown?

4. Josh Boyce, TCU: Boyce was 2 yards away from 1,000 yards last season, but he's an aerial threat who's also a solid route-runner and he has great hands, too. He's got a great QB in Casey Pachall and a nice supporting cast in the passing game. TCU won't be blowing out many teams this year, and I'd be shocked if Boyce didn't easily clear 1,000 yards.

5. Terrance Williams, Baylor: Williams might challenge for the No. 1 spot, too. He was overshadowed by Kendall Wright last year, but he's got the pleasure of being No. 1 on Mel Kiper's list of draft-eligible receivers for next year's draft. Nick Florence still has a bit to prove, but I wouldn't rule out a 1,500-yard season for Williams in 2012.

6. Eric Ward, Texas Tech: Ward came out of nowhere in the midst of injuries to Tech's receivers last year and racked up 84 receptions for 800 yards. His physical skills won't wow you, but you simply don't argue with production.

7. Tevin Reese, Baylor: Reese is a true speedster who'll probably shoot up this list by season's end with the departure of Kendall Wright. Florence already has chemistry with the undersized junior, who plays a heck of a lot bigger than 5-foot-10, 165 pounds.

8. Darrin Moore, Texas Tech: Moore is anything but undersized. He's still suspended after an offseason DUI and had a rough 2011 marred by injuries, but if he's full strength, he's going to be scary. The 6-foot-4, 216-pounder missed some time but tried to play through some ankle and knee issues last year and caught 47 balls for 571 yards and eight scores. He missed three games last season.

9. Jaxon Shipley, Texas: Shipley made a big impact in Texas' offense last season, despite the position's struggles. He's got an unbelievable knack for the position and instincts you don't see often from a true freshman. As a sophomore, he'll probably remind us even more of his older brother, Jordan, and certainly grow from grabbing 44 balls for 607 yards and three touchdowns.

10. Alex Torres, Texas Tech: Torres is coming back from a torn ACL, but he's been a constant in this league. Unfortunately for him, injuries have been a constant in his career. Last year, it was his back before the knee. He's still never surpassed his 806-yard freshman year, but the pieces are in place for him to do it as a senior this season.

Three Big 12 teams have elite receivers

August, 1, 2012
8/01/12
4:00
PM ET
Colleague Travis Haney took to his blog to rank the nation's top 10 receiving corps, and no surprise, three Big 12 teams cracked the list.

This year's crop of receivers aren't as loaded as 2011, when the Big 12 nearly swept all three finalist spots for the Biletnikoff Award, but the group in 2012 is still solid. That's clear when you run down Haney's list.

No. 2 is West Virginia, behind only USC. Couldn't agree more with this. USC's Robert Woods is more physically gifted than WVU's Stedman Bailey or Tavon Austin, but don't be surprised if one (or both) of the Mountaineers' duo outproduces Woods.

They're the only teammates other than Woods and Marqise Lee to both top 1,000 yards and return this season. Nice.

Baylor checked in at No. 6 on the list, offering a little more confirmation of what I've said all offseason. Yes, Baylor doesn't have RG3. It doesn't have Kendall Wright.

It has a lot more than nothing, though. Nick Florence will be able to get Terrance Williams and Tevin Reese the ball. Don't be surprised if both flirt with or surpass 1,000 yards, with Florence divvying out the receptions liberally.

Oklahoma is the only other Big 12 team on the list -- at No. 8 -- despite the loss of Ryan Broyles. Kenny Stills has all the physical measurables you could want, but still has to prove he can be the No. 1 target. Last season, he played in the slot where Broyles made his living, which was unfamiliar. We'll see how the Sooners use him now.

Haney got an up-close look at newcomer Trey Metoyer in the spring game, but he's still got to prove he can be what everyone around the program believes he can be. I'm betting (quite confidently, I might add) that he's going to do it, but it'll be fun to watch him this season.

It's a good list. I'd agree with all the selections. TCU (Josh Boyce, Skye Dawson, Brandon Carter) and Oklahoma State (Isaiah Anderson, Tracy Moore, Josh Stewart, Charlie Moore, Blake Jackson) can ascend to elite status this season, but just have to prove it.

Mailbag: Snyder film, QB race, RG3 '12

July, 13, 2012
7/13/12
4:00
PM ET
Thanks for all the emails this week, and for putting up with my absence on Thursday. All the birthday wishes from you guys and gals were much appreciated. Here's where you can reach me if you've got more to say.

Truth be told, a weak set of mailbag questions this time around. Are the summer doldrums catching up with y'all? Step it up, folks.

Stefan F. in Waco, Texas, writes: If RG3 had stayed another year, how many more wins do you think Baylor would have got this year?

David Ubben: Interesting question. Considering we haven't seen Baylor's 2012 squad play just yet, it might be easier to compare the Bears to the 2011 team. Losing Kendall Wright and Terrance Ganaway is big, but the bigger problem is a very deep Big 12 that should be even better in 2012 than in 2011. My guess is Baylor would stay at 9-10 wins in 2012 with RG3. This season, I've got Baylor slotted for 6-7 wins.

So, in short, I'd give RG3 the worth of about three additional wins for Baylor this season.


Brad in Madison, Wisc., writes: D.U., love the blog! Which Big 12 QB (if named their team's respective starter going in to Week 1) will have the best statistical year in 2012: Casey Pachall? Seth Doege? Nick Florence?

DU: Interesting question. I'll probably go with Doege, talking strictly stats. He'll have the most pass attempts by far, and Pachall will have the fewest. Doege will be chucking it quite a bit, and his receivers should be healthy this season. I'd expect him to clear 4,000 yards much more easily this season. I expect Florence to do the same, but I doubt Pachall will do so.

As for wins: I'll take Pachall with a couple more than Baylor and Tech, who will be really, really close. That race will come down to their game at Cowboys Stadium this season. Both will hover around seven wins.


Chris Cantrell in Savannah, Ga., writes: When is Bill Snyder getting his 30 for 30? He is in one of the all time greats as far as coaches go, so when should we be expecting to tune in to watch?

DU: I'd love to see that, but good luck getting Snyder to sit down for it. Even if he did, I don't know that he'll be very forthcoming or very entertaining. That's not exactly Snyder's forte. Winning is his forte. That said, if he did a movie like that after he retired, discussing how he turned around Kansas State in the early 90s after taking the job? That would be an absolute must see.

I guarantee it'd be awesome, awesome stuff that everybody would enjoy. Coaching the way it's meant to be done.


TX Longhorn Phan in Anytown, Texas, writes: Come on Ubbs, when do weeks 8 & 9 come out?

DU: In time, everybody. In time. We were a little busy this week with our coaching package. We'll get to the rest of the season very soon. Stay tuned.


Kelly Riley in Fort Worth, Texas, writes: David, Will Nebraska transfer, Aaron Green, be eligible to play for the Horned Frogs this fall?

DU: Sorry to disappoint, Kelly, but he won't be eligible this season. It doesn't sound like TCU is going to appeal, either. There's no need for him this season. Even with the loss of Ed Wesley, the Frogs will be fine. Waymon James and Matthew Tucker have a case as the league's best backfield duo, along with Texas and Oklahoma State.

They're going to need Green next season, and it's a huge pickup. Not having him this season is better, especially considering he won't have time to go through the spring. It's the same type of deal we saw last season. Baylor fans were a little mad when Lache Seastrunk couldn't play after transferring from Oregon, but he's going to be a lot better this season after a year in the system than he would have been last season, especially without much practice.

TCU's better off for it, just like Baylor was.


Jason in Little Rock, Ark., writes: Hey Ubbs, I really enjoyed the Daily Oklahoman's simulation of Oklahoma State's virtual season on NCAA '13, even though it was brutal. But Lunt is a 68 and Gilbert is an 89 speed?? Come on.Since you are a big fan of the game, I was wondering if you could comment or do a post on your impression of team/player ratings from the Big 12.

DU: I haven't really been playing with very many teams, and I've been a little busy this week, but I heard about the Lunt/Gilbert deal with OSU. The Gilbert 89 speed is ludicrous. He might not be the fastest guy in the league, but he's definitely up there. Anything less than a 97 is an insult.


Jason in Memphis, Tenn., writes: Is Texas Tech the Big 12's biggest question mark team this year? I have seen them be projected to win anywhere between 4 and 9 games, both of which seem very possible. It all comes down to whether or not the defense can improve enough to give the offense a chance.

DU: They probably are in my book. The Red Raiders or Kansas State. It's not outside the realm of possibility for Tech to win 4-9 games, but I'm firmly in the middle of that, probably about seven games. I don't think it's as much about the defense, though. Tech probably would have been a 7-8 win team last season if it had stayed healthy. The defense was completely depleted, and the loss of Eric Stephens hurt more than anyone realized. Doege tried to hold it together, but he wasn't enough without a running game, and with a banged up set of targets in the passing game.

Tech's got a really wide variance of possibilities this season, and yes, the defense needs to get better, but the biggest question is whether or not it can stay healthy.

Lunch links: Big 12 expansion possibilities

May, 14, 2012
5/14/12
12:00
PM ET
Puppies, y'all.

Grading my 1,000-yard receiver projections

May, 11, 2012
5/11/12
9:00
AM ET
This time last year, we broke down which Big 12 players would most likely reach the benchmarks for their positions in 2011.

The benchmark for receivers is clearly 1,000 yards. Here's what I wrote about the Big 12's 1,000-yard receivers.

It's time to revisit those projections.

SportsNation

How would you grade my projections?

  •  
    23%
  •  
    17%
  •  
    6%
  •  
    19%
  •  
    35%

Discuss (Total votes: 884)

College football had 40 players top 1,000 yards receiving. The Big 12 had four. Here's who I picked to do it:
1. Ryan Broyles, Oklahoma: Don't read much into Broyles being over Blackmon. They'll both clear the 1,000-yard mark easily, barring injury. Broyles, though, has done it twice already and has more guaranteed touches in Oklahoma's short passing game.
Final 2011 yardage tally: 1,157 yards

Thoughts: Ugh, it's hard to read that "barring injury" part from last April, but Broyles cleared the 1,000-yard mark and set the FBS career record for receptions before tearing his ACL against Texas A&M. Broyles probably had the inside track at the Biletnikoff Award over Blackmon, but settled for finalist status after the injury.
2. Justin Blackmon, Oklahoma State: Blackmon won't come from nowhere this year, but teams were well aware of him after a few games last year. Look for Blackmon and Broyles to clear the 1,500-yard mark like they did last year, when they ranked second and third nationally in receiving yards. Both were finalists for the Biletnikoff Award won by Blackmon, and both have a decent chance to be Heisman finalists next year.
Final 2011 yardage tally: 1,522 yards

Thoughts: Called that 1,500-yard mark on the button, no? Only three receivers in the country topped that mark, and Blackmon was one of them. He also repeated as the nation's top receiver, becoming the second Big 12 player to take home the Biletnikoff Award in consecutive seasons. Heck of a career for Blackmon.
3. T.J. Moe, Missouri: Missouri could help out Moe quite a bit by finding a deep threat to soften up defenses for his underneath routes, but he should be a nice safety blanket for the Tigers' new quarterback. Like we wrote earlier this week, Missouri is the only team in the Big 12 without a quarterback on the roster who has started a game.
Final 2011 yardage tally: 649 yards

Thoughts: Much of the step back was anything but Moe's fault. For one, Mizzou never really found a deep threat to help stretch the field and open things up for Moe, and though quarterback James Franklin played well, he carried the ball almost 200 times. Moe doesn't have eye-popping straight-line speed, and his ability to get open was marginalized by defenses that could afford to show a lack of respect for the long ball.
4. Jeff Fuller, Texas A&M: Fuller became the first Texas A&M receiver to ever reach the 1,000-yard mark last season, and there's no reason to believe he won't do it again. He's experienced, a good route-runner and near impossible to cover on the fade route.
Final 2011 yardage tally: 828 yards

Thoughts: Who knows what went wrong with Fuller last season? He struggled early on with a hamstring injury, but coach Mike Sherman said Fuller was healthy late in the season, and just never turned it on. Fuller is physically gifted, but to me, looked like he was lazy in his route-running, and struggled with drops, too. As a result, he went undrafted.
6. Alex Torres, Texas Tech: Torres was slowed last year by a back injury, but Texas Tech loses its top two receivers from last year's team, and Torres is likely the beneficiary.
Final 2011 yardage tally: 639 yards

Thoughts: Nope. Injuries got Torres again, capped by a torn ACL late in the season. He was banged up for much of the season, and had just two games with at least 100 yards receiving.

I almost picked Kendall Wright to have more than 1,000 yards, but narrowly decided not to. He'd never had 1,000 yards in a season before exploding for 1,663 yards in 2011, but I thought the depth of Baylor's offense would prevent him from hitting quadruple digits. Nope.

The other player I missed? Texas A&M's Ryan Swope, who emerged as a the top receiver in College Station while Fuller struggled. Never, ever saw that one coming.

How would you grade my projections?

Baylor spring wrap

May, 9, 2012
5/09/12
10:30
AM ET



2011 overall record: 10-3
2011 conference record: 6-3
Returning starters: Offense (6), Defense (8), P/K (2)

Top returners: WR Terrance Williams, WR Tevin Reese, S Ahmad Dixon, S Sam Holl, CB K.J. Morton, S Mike Hicks, OL Cyril Richardson, OL Ivory Wade

Key losses: QB Robert Griffin III, WR Kendall Wright, RB Terrance Ganaway, OL Philip Blake, LB Elliot Coffey, DT Nicolas Jean-Baptiste, DL Tracy Robertson

2011 statistical leaders (*returners)

Rushing: Terrance Ganaway (1,547 yards)
Passing: Robert Griffin III (4,293 yards)
Receiving: Kendall Wright (1,663 yards)
Tackles: Elliot Coffey (114)
Sacks: Tracy Robertson (4.5)
Interceptions: K.J. Morton* (4)

Spring answers

1. Don't sweat the quarterbacks: Anybody who thinks Baylor's destined to go back to 3-4 win seasons in the post-RG3 era isn't paying much attention. Nick Florence had a rough time as a true freshman filling in for RG3 in 2009, but he's grown up a whole lot since then, and he'll get a chance to show it this fall. Behind him, Bryce Petty is itching for a chance, too, but Florence's leadership and decision-making assured him the job in the spring.

2. The receivers are ready to roll: And what about Kendall Wright's absence? He led Baylor in receiving for each of the past four seasons, but Baylor's going to be just fine in his wake, too. Terrance Williams is a future NFL draft pick, and Tevin Reese is ready to see an increased role in the offense, too. Lanear Sampson offers more depth and playmaking ability at the position.

3. Lache Seastrunk is a lot more than just hype: The Temple, Texas, native couldn't quite catch on at Oregon, but he's proving he'll be a factor at Baylor at some point, if not immediately. The backfield is still crowded, but he exploded for 138 yards and a touchdown on seven carries. He's the fastest of the Baylor backs, but he's got to prove he can be the most productive too.

Fall questions

1. How much better can the defense get? Baylor doesn't have the RG3 Express to fall back on anymore. He helped make the Bears the first team to ever win four consecutive games in a single season while also giving up at least 30 points. BU won games in 2011 while giving up 56, 48 and 42 points, too. Phil Bennett's defense has the athletes, but it's got to force more turnovers like it did the second half of the season and get those point totals down. Florence is good, but he's no RG3. If the defense doesn't improve, making a bowl will prove difficult.

2. Can Baylor truly carry on without Robert Griffin III? Baylor has all the pieces in place to get back to a bowl game, but RG3 had plenty of truly intangible attributes that are hard to duplicate. He was a compelling leader who always seemed to make everyone around him better. Florence sounds like he has many of those same things, but will they translate into wins? You never quite know for sure. RG3 was a truly transcendent player unlike anything Waco had ever seen.

3. Will the Bears have a featured running back? Seastrunk made lots of noise in the spring game, but Jarred Salubi and Glasco Martin have a lot more experience, and that could pay off in playing time when it comes to things like pass blocking and doing the little things right. Jay Finley and Terrance Ganaway grabbed starring roles the past two seasons, but will coach Art Briles use a committee come fall? Or will he find a back to lean on?
The 2012 NFL draft is over, but it's never too early to look ahead to 2013. I mean, we basically have to, right?

NFL draft guru Todd McShay released his first-round mock draft, Insider and there are plenty of Big 12 talents on the list. You'll need ESPN Insider to see it all, but here's who he pegs as a first-rounder for next year.

No. 3, Minnesota Vikings: Jackson Jeffcoat, DE, Texas

My take: This is the first of many times you'll see Jeffcoat's name on draft lists. Jeffcoat came to Texas as the nation's No. 1 recruit in the 2009 class, and next offseason will be the first in which he's available for the NFL draft. He's made good on his potential, but struggled with an ankle injury that slowed an otherwise outstanding first season. He was very solid in 2011, but could be poised for a breakout season in 2012 on the national stage. Either way, I'd be shocked if Jeffcoat wasn't a first-rounder whenever he leaves. If he continues to progress, top five is a near certainty.

No. 12, Seattle Seahawks: Terrance Williams, WR, Baylor

My take: Williams has a lot to prove in 2012. He may have had the quietest 900-yard receiving season in history last season, overshadowed by the Big 12's leading rusher (Terrance Ganaway), leading receiver (Kendall Wright, 1,600+ yards), and Heisman winner Robert Griffin III. Can Williams handle the pressure from defenses as the bona fide No. 1 target for a new quarterback in Nick Florence? You have to love Williams' physical attributes, but can he maintain his production? I'm confidently betting yes, but we'll find out next year.

No. 19, Kansas City Chiefs: Landry Jones, QB, Oklahoma

My take: Jones has plenty to prove, too. When Ryan Broyles went down, Jones struggled. He's back, and coaches love what he's done this spring. If he plays well, I could see Jones reinvigorating his stock and rising into the top 10 or top five. If he struggles again, I'd be shocked if he was a first rounder. Of all the Big 12 talents on this list, I'd say Jones' stock is the most volatile.

No. 25, Cincinnati Bengals: Alex Okafor, DE, Texas

My take: Love Okafor's game a whole lot, and admittedly, I regret snubbing him from the Big 12's top 25 players in 2011. The thing with him is, his physical attributes don't wow you like his teammate Jeffcoat's does. That said, he's consistently productive, and that says a lot. He has plenty of help in Texas' defense, and the Longhorns defensive line will be scary this year with Jeffcoat, Okafor and juco transfer defensive tackle Brandon Moore, who teammates pegged as "unstoppable" this spring.

SPONSORED HEADLINES

BIG 12 SCOREBOARD

Thursday, 9/25
Saturday, 9/27