Big 12: Nevada Wolf Pack

Considering its long history of Polynesian influence, it should come as no surprise that the Pac-12 led the way with 15 players named to the preseason watch list for the inaugural Polynesian College Football Player of the Year Award.

Headlining the list is Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota, USC safety Su'a Cravens, Oregon State center Isaac Seumalo, Washington linebacker Hau'oli Kikaha and BYU linebacker Alani Fua.

The award was established by the Polynesian Football Hall of Fame, which inducted its first class of members in January. That group of seven included Kurt Gouveia (BYU), Olin Kreutz (Washington), Kevin Mawae (LSU), Junior Seau (USC), Jack Thompson (Washington State), Herman Wedemeyer (Saint Mary's College) and Ken Niumatalolo (Navy/Hawaii).

The full breakdown of players on the watch list by conference is as follows: Pac-12 (15), Mountain West (12), Independents (4), American Athletic (1), Big 12 (1) and Sun Belt (1).

Here is the complete list (34 total):
Five finalists will be announced on Nov. 20 with the winner set to be named on Dec. 9.

Biggest hiring of Sherman's tenure

January, 21, 2010
1/21/10
7:57
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The worst-kept secret in Central Texas finally was revealed Thursday afternoon when the Texas A&M Board of Regents approved the hiring of Air Force defensive coordinator Tim DeRuyter as the Aggies’ new defensive coordinator.

DeRuyter, 47, is considered one of the rising stars in his profession. His work in turning Air Force’s defense around despite the inherent talent limitations at the school has caught the eye of the football cognoscenti over the past few years.

It’s clearly the biggest hiring in Mike Sherman’s coaching tenure. The Aggies’ struggling defense is considered their biggest liability.

Sherman said he likes what he has seen in DeRuyter’s previous work.

“I like his aggressive, attacking style of defense,” Sherman said. “He has a great history of success and has shown great ability to teach and to lead young men.”

DeRuyter is coming off an impressive coaching performance in his last game. The Falcons limited Houston quarterback Case Keenum to a season-low 222 yards and forced six interceptions in a 47-20 victory over the Cougars in the Armed Forces Bowl.

That effort punctuated a breakout season for the Falcons. Air Force finished 11th nationally in total defense (288.3 yards per game), fifth in pass defense (154.3 yards per game) and 10th in scoring defense (15.7 points per game). DeRuyter’s defense ranked seventh in the country with 20 interceptions, fifth in the nation with 34 total turnovers and led the nation in turnover margin.

The Aggies will have nine defensive starters back from their 2009 team that went 6-7, including national sack leader Von Miller. But DeRuyter must turn around an A&M defense that ranked 114th and 105th nationally in the past two seasons under former coordinator Joe Kines. It allowed opponents to score at least 35 points in seven of its final 10 games last season.

It’s a far cry from the great defenses of the past that were keyed by legendary players like Dat Nguyen.

DeRuyter said those great A&M defenses have been an inspiration to him during his career.

“As a defensive player at Air Force and being a defensive coach, I’ve tried to emulate the “Wrecking Crew” style that R.C. Slocum had in place at (Texas) A&M,” DeRuyter said. “As a defense, we like to dictate to the offense and put them back on their heels.”

DeRuyter was an undersized, overachieving linebacker at Air Force in the mid-1980s, helping Fisher DeBerry’s team to three straight bowl victories. He coached at schools like Air Force, Ohio University, Navy and Nevada. The A&M job will be the first time he’s ever coached at in a conference with an automatic berth into the BCS.

Last August, DeRuyter described his ideal defense to the Colorado Springs Gazette in simplistic terms.

“We want to have guys that are chomping at the bit to go rip someone's head off,” DeRuyter said.

The Falcons responded by limited 11 of their opponents to 20 or fewer points.

But duplicating that success against the offensive firepower in the Big 12 will be a different challenge – particularly with the personnel the Aggies currently have.

Three predictions for Missouri

August, 6, 2009
8/06/09
9:59
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

There's no doubt after spending a lot of time around Missouri players last week that they feel disrespected by preseason prognosticators who aren't picking them to contend in the North Division title race this season.

Sure, the Tigers lose players like Chase Daniel, Chase Coffman, Jeremy Maclin, William Moore, Ziggy Hood and Jeff Wolfert from their back-to-back title-game teams. All arguably are among the greatest players at their positions in school history.

Recruiting has picked up in recent years for the Tigers. And that infusion will have them be competitive in nearly every game this season.

But being able to contend for a third-straight appearance in the Big 12 championship game might be a different story -- particularly with the balance that should be present in the rest of the division this season.

Here's a look at three predictions for the Tigers this year.

1. There's no way that Missouri can escape the nonconference part of their schedule without at least one loss.

Illinois has lost all four games in the Missouri series since it returned to St. Louis in 2002. The Illini have been embarrassed by allowing an average of 46 points per game in the last two seasons. They will want revenge and with Juice Williams, they probably will get it this season.

And veteran Nevada coach Chris Ault still remembers how the Tigers ran up the score in a 69-17 loss at Columbia last season. The Wolf Pack will have their chance at revenge this season, buying quarterback Colin Kaepernick some exposure before a national television audience.

I'm expecting Missouri to lose at least one of those nonconference games. And it wouldn't be a shock to me if they lost both of them.

2. Blaine Gabbert won't be Chase Daniel, but he won't fare badly in his first season as starter.

There was some "Chicken Little" thinking among Missouri fans when Gabbert struggled during the spring game. Don't worry about him. By the middle of the season, I'm expecting him to be an accomplished Big 12 starter.

And even with the troubles I'm expecting for his team early, the Big 12 will be a different story. And if Gabbert can orchestrate a big victory over Nebraska on Oct. 8 in the Tigers' Big 12 opener, they might hang around the Big 12 North Division title race a lot longer than most are expecting.

3. Missouri will have five receivers who will produce at least 50 receptions this season.

The Tigers won't have Maclin, Coffman or Tommy Saunders this year. Don't look for as much concentration at the top of the receiving list, but expect a lot more balance. Danario Alexander, Wes Kemp, Andrew Jones, Jared Perry and even running back Derrick Washington are ready to step up as receivers this season. New coordinator David Yost's offensive strategy will feature a lot of producers.

The Big 12's toughest nonconference games

July, 20, 2009
7/20/09
6:32
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

The Big 12's nonconference schedule is marked with several extremely difficult tests early. These are statement games for the conference as a whole. If Big 12 teams can win these games, it would grab a lot of national attention.

If not, the Big 12's national reputation could take an early hit that could have naysayers reminding us about the conference's bowl struggles last season against the SEC.

But here's a look at six games that will be the most difficult for Big 12 teams. These will be a little more difficult than those last week I listed as potential trap games.

1. Nebraska at Virginia Tech, Sept. 19: Bo Pelini's toughest nonconference road game to date. The Hokies are ranked no lower than 14th nationally in any preseason magazine I've seen yet and will be a tremendous challenge in Blacksburg. In order to win, the Cornhuskers will have to keep Virginia Tech's defense and special teams in check and hope for a break or two.

2. Georgia at Oklahoma State, Sept. 5: This game will arguably be the biggest nonconference game in Oklahoma State history. And even though the Cowboys likely will be favored and facing a Georgia team breaking in a new starting quarterback, it will still be a huge test to beat one of the Southeastern Conference's traditional power teams.

3. Iowa at Iowa State, Sept. 12: The Cyclones have won four of the last five games at home in the series, but Paul Rhoads' first big test against his cross-state rivals looms especially large. Particularly with the Hawkeyes expected by many to be the surprise team in the Big Ten this season.

4. Illinois vs. Missouri (at St. Louis), Sept. 5: This game was already going to be tough before Sean Weatherspoon started tweeting about squeezing "the pulp" out of Illinois quarterback Juice Williams. And bet that Ron Zook and the Fighting Illini haven't forgotten that the Tigers have won four straight games against them in the bragging-rights battle.

5. Oklahoma at Miami, Oct. 3: This rivalry was one to circle back in the mid-1980s when Barry Switzer and Jimmy Johnson were battling. It's still a good one and Randy Shannon will be looking for a statement victory that would grab attention for his program from across the nation. Bet that Shannon will remind his team about the 51-13 whipping it endured last season in Norman for a little inspiration before the game at Land Shark Stadium.

6. Baylor at Wake Forest, Sept. 5: Baylor should be much better than last season and the Demon Deacons should be a little down from last season. But Wake Forest still should be a challenge considering Jim Grobe's recent transformation of the Demon Deacons, who have posted a 14-5 home record in the last three seasons. Baylor's defense will have to play much better than last season, when it allowed scoring drives on Wake Forest's first three possessions in an eventual 41-13 loss in Waco.

And 10 others to watch:

Colorado at West Virginia, Oct. 1
Oklahoma at BYU (at Arlington), Sept. 5
Texas A&M vs. Arkansas (at Arlington), Oct. 3
Texas Tech at Houston, Sept. 26
Houston at Oklahoma State, Sept. 12
Kansas at UTEP, Sept. 12
Missouri at Nevada, Sept. 26
Connecticut at Baylor, Sept. 19
Southern Mississippi at Kansas, Sept. 26
Kansas State at UCLA, Sept. 19

Big 12 lunch links: Leach tells Missouri to beware Nevada trip

July, 20, 2009
7/20/09
1:00
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

Back from vacation with some Big 12 links for your lunchtime edification.

Five games to fear in the Big 12

July, 13, 2009
7/13/09
9:00
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

There are several obvious games that are already noticeable that should carry an extra bit of trepidation for Big 12 teams as they prepare for the upcoming season. Even with Big 12 teams likely to be solidly favored in these games, here are five games that should come with a warning label considering the opponent and the circumstances of the game.

North Dakota State at Iowa State, Sept. 3: Craig Bohl will have the Bison fired up for their game in Ames. And he knows a little bit about beating the Cyclones, considering his history as a defensive coordinator at Nebraska.

This game has all the marking of one to worry about for the Cyclones. It's Paul Rhoads' first game as a head coach. The Bison have been tough in other road games at FCS teams in recent seasons, losing by three points at Wyoming last season, beating Minnesota and Central Michigan on the road in 2007 and losing by one point at Minnesota and beating Ball State on the road in 2006. Even with the talent disparity, this game might be closer than expected.

Rhoads should ask Colorado coach Dan Hawkins how much losing to an FCS team in your first game at a Big 12 school can ruin your first season. That 2006 opening-game loss to Montana State was a particularly bad start for Hawkins' coaching tenure there.

Houston at Oklahoma State, Sept. 12: This game is coming at a tricky time for Oklahoma State, which will be coming back for a second game after a huge emotional opener against Georgia the week before. The Cougars will have 5,000-yard passer Case Keenum along with 1,000-yard rusher Bryce Beall and 1,000-yard receiver Tyron Carrier among a group of 15 returning starters.

And not only do the Cougars return a lot of experience, but they also have a modicum of confidence against OSU. Houston led the Cowboys last season, 16-7, late in the first half before the Cowboys' offense blitzed them for four touchdowns in a span of barely 7½ minutes. If Houston can do a better job defensively this season, it could make Mike Gundy sweat against the preseason Conference USA West Division's favorites.

Kansas at UTEP, Sept. 12: The trip to the Sun Bowl might be a little more harrowing than expected for the Jayhawks.

UTEP quarterback Trevor Vittatoe threw for 33 touchdown passes and 3,274 yards last season. The Miners also surround him with 14 other returning starters. If Vittatoe can stay protected, he might be able to singe the Jayhawks' questionable linebacking corps and perhaps win a shootout. Stranger things have happened -- particularly playing in front of what should be a sellout crowd at the Sun Bowl.

And here's a statistic to keep in mind before the game: The Jayhawks have lost their last three true nonconference road games and haven't claimed a nonconference road game since winning at Wyoming in 2003. Their trip to El Paso won't be a picnic.

Wyoming at Colorado, Sept. 19: On paper, this looks like a game the Buffaloes should easily win. But a couple of trends might prove to benefit new Wyoming coach Dave Christensen, who will be playing his first road game.

Christensen was the offensive coordinator of a Missouri team that beat Colorado by a combined margin of 113-10 over the past two seasons, including a 58-0 victory last season. He won't have Chase Daniel, Jeremy Maclin or Chase Coffman in this game, but he still has confidence of being successful against Colorado's defense.

The Cowboys won at Tennessee last season so they aren't intimidated by hostile road environments. They have 17 starters back, including eight defensive players who will be facing Colorado's defense with some confidence after strong play late last season.

Colorado has a history of struggling as a big favorite in previous nonconference home games, winning by seven against Eastern Washington last season and losing at home to Montana State in Hawkins' first game in 2006. The signs point to this being a game where the Buffaloes potentially could struggle.

Missouri at Nevada, Sept. 25: This Friday night game will set up nicely for veteran Nevada coach Chris Ault and the Wolf Pack, who will showcase their program on national television in this game.

Nevada has the explosive Pistol offense keyed by quarterback Colin Kaepernick, the returning Western Athletic Conference player of the year who will be looking to make a national name for himself with a big performance. Also back are 2008 WAC leading rusher Vai Taua and 2007 leading rusher Luke Lippincott, who sustained a season-ending knee injury in the second game last year. And they'll be facing a retooled Missouri defense.

The Wolf Pack still remember a gadget pass for a touchdown by Missouri wide receiver Tommy Saunders when they were behind 45-17 midway through the third quarter of a game they eventually lost 69-17 in Columbia last season. Could revenge spur a better effort at home? It will be interesting to see if the Wolf Pack can similarly make the Tigers sweat in a game played at high altitude at Reno.

Ranking the best and worst of Big 12 nonconference schedules

June, 10, 2009
6/10/09
12:01
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

Big 12 teams should be seldom tested before conference play begins as most teams again are opting to compete with a pillow-soft slate of opponents.

Here's the toughest and weakest of the Big 12 nonconference schedules:

1. Oklahoma: BYU (at Arlington, Texas), Idaho State, Tulsa, at Miami

The Sooners deserve props for adding the BYU game late. The nationally televised game should showcase Oklahoma's defense as it thwarts Max Hall and Harvey Unga for the Cougars. Idaho State is a bad Division I-AA team that went 1-11 last season. Tulsa and Miami both went to bowl games last season. The Golden Hurricane will be breaking in a new quarterback and a new coordinator -- not a good recipe for success for a road team at Owen Field. And although the game against Miami brings back memories of Jimmy Johnson vs. Barry Switzer, the fact is that the Hurricanes could be worn out by the time Oklahoma visits. Miami starts the season with a meat-grinder schedule of Florida State, Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech before the Sooners visit.

2. Colorado: Colorado State, at Toledo, Wyoming, at West Virginia

Coach Dan Hawkins has this team pegged for good things in the conference. The Buffaloes will be tested by four FBS opponents, including two on the road. The rivalry game against Colorado State should be decided in the trenches and the Buffaloes' offensive line will be a load for the Rams. The Toledo game might be trickier than expected considering the Buffaloes will be playing this one only five days after the Colorado State game. But Colorado still should have the talent to prevail. Something tells me that Hawkins will remember that new Wyoming coach Dave Christensen's offense hung 113 points against his defense the last two seasons when he was at Missouri. And the West Virginia trip will be a challenge, although new Mountaineers quarterback Jarrett Brown is largely untested.

3. Missouri: Illinois (at St. Louis), Bowling Green, Furman, at Nevada

The Tigers' inexperienced defense will get a huge challenge in the opener against Illinois' pass-and-catch tandem of Juice Williams and Arrelious Benn. They'll be facing another experienced quarterback in three-year Bowling Green starter Tyler Sheehan, but the Falcons' defense will be breaking in two new cornerbacks. Furman has a talented quarterback in Jordan Sorrells, but the Paladin's defense shouldn't be able to match Missouri. The trip to Nevada might be a hornet's nest. The Wolf Pack have made four straight bowl trips, multi-purpose quarterback Colin Kaepernick and the Western Athletic Conference's last two leading rushers. And, oh, yeah, the Wolf Pack probably still remember that 69-17 beatdown to the Tigers last season in Columbia.

4. Nebraska: Florida Atlantic, Arkansas State, at Virginia Tech, Louisiana-Lafayette

No truth to the rumor that the Cornhuskers are gunning for the September version of the Sun Belt championship. Their road game at Virginia Tech is the toughest game that any Big 12 team will play this season. But Bo Pelini will have two games to get his defense ready for Tyrod Taylor and Co. Florida Atlantic coach Howard Schnellenberger made his career name by beating the Cornhuskers in the 1984 Orange Bowl while at Miami. He won't be nearly as successful this time around. Arkansas State stunned Texas A&M last season, but the Red Wolves will be utilizing a new offensive line this season. And Louisiana-Lafayette's offense is very young and the Cornhuskers will be catching them the week after they have met up with LSU.

5. Oklahoma State: Georgia, Houston, Rice, Grambling

Four home games make for an ideal schedule for the Cowboys to make some national noise. The Georgia game will be arguably the biggest home nonconference game in school history. But the Cowboys grab a break as the Bulldogs try to break in new quarterback Joe Cox. Houston will have Case Keenum and a high-powered offensive attack, but the Cowboys blistered the Cougars for 56 points last year and could score more this season. Rice won't be as good this season after losing most of its offensive firepower. And Grambling has a great football history and an even better band.

6. Baylor: at Wake Forest, Connecticut, Northwestern State, Kent State

The nonconference schedule could determine whether the Bears can snap that long bowl drought. And it won't be an easy one considering that Baylor is the only Big 12 team with two opponents from "Big Six" conferences. The Wake Forest opener will be a huge test, but Robert Griffin might be able to feast on a depleted Demon Deacon defense that lost four starters to the NFL draft. The Bears nearly beat Connecticut last season on the road and the Huskies lose their starting quarterback and top rusher from that team. New coach Bradley Dale Peveto will bring new ideas for Northwestern State, but the Bears have a big edge. And Kent State will be breaking in a new quarterback for a team that has won only 19 games in the last five seasons under Doug Martin.

7. Kansas: Northern Colorado, at UTEP, Duke, Southern Mississippi

The Jayhawks should be able to name their margin against Northern Colorado in the opener. The trip to the Sun Bowl against UTEP the following week might be a different matter. UTEP quarterback Trevor Vittatoe could be a challenge, although the Jayhawks should have enough firepower to outscore them. A Kansas-Duke game would be a made-for-national television delight in basketball. Football, however, is a different story. And Southern Mississippi might be poised to challenge for the Conference USA title and might be a chore with leading conference rusher Damion Fletcher and all of its starting secondary back to challenge Todd Reesing and Dezmon Briscoe.

8. Texas A&M: New Mexico, Utah State, UAB, Arkansas (at Arlington, Texas)

The Aggies desperately need to build confidence and collect a few victories before the South Division gauntlet begins. After last season's opening-game loss against Arkansas State, expect coach Mike Sherman to have the Aggies focused for all of the games. They catch new New Mexico coach Mike Locksley with an uncertain quarterback in the Lobos' opener. Utah State is universally picked to finish last in the Western Athletic Conference. UAB will be rebuilding its defense and likely won't pose many problems for Jerrod Johnson. But the game against Arkansas at
the new Dallas Cowboys' stadium will be a challenge for A&M's defense. The Razorbacks should be much improved in Bobby Petrino's second season. Fans are paying premium prices and expect big things from both teams. The Aggies may catch a break considering the Razorbacks will play SEC contenders Georgia and Alabama in their previous two weeks.

9. Texas Tech: North Dakota, Rice, at Houston, New Mexico

Mike Leach's nonconference schedule won't be as bad as last season's trip to the pastry wagon, but not by much. North Dakota is transitioning into FCS status this season after ranking 137th among the 148 Division II passing teams last season. Sounds like target practice for Taylor Potts, doesn't it? Rice won't be nearly as tough as last season without James Casey, Jarrett Dillard and Chase Clement gone. The trip to Houston will be Tech's biggest challenge and Case Keenum will test Tech's rebuilt secondary in the first battle between the old Southwest Conference rivals since 1995. And New Mexico will have had several weeks to work under Locksley's system, making them a tougher challenge for the Red Raiders in early October.

10. Texas: Louisiana-Monroe, at Wyoming, UTEP, Central Florida

The Longhorns had a couple of game against Utah and Arkansas fall through in their planning. But don't expect the Longhorns to get that much sympathy for a group of opponents that won't give them much BCS bounce. Louisiana-Monroe will be breaking in a retooled offense with a new quarterback. The road trip to Wyoming doesn't resonate like some the Longhorns have made to places like Ohio State and Arkansas in recent seasons. The Cowboys will be breaking in a new quarterback, too. UTEP could contend for the Conference USA West title, but the Miners are a different team on the road. And the Nov. 7 game against Central Florida will bring the nation's worst offensive team from last season into Austin.

11. Iowa State: North Dakota State, Iowa, at Kent State, Army

Paul Rhoads doesn't want any surprises early in his first season and his nonconference schedule. North Dakota State has posed problems to FBS teams like Minnesota in the past. Iowa doesn't have Shonn Greene back, but has almost everybody else back on a stout defense that will challenge the Cyclones. Mighty mite 5-foot-5, 170-pound tailback Eugene Jarvis will test ISU's defense and the trip to Kent State won't be a gimme. And new Army coach Rich Ellerson will bring 6-10, 283-pound wide receiver Ali Villanueva along with starting quarterback Chip Bowden from a team that won three games last season.

12. Kansas State: Massachusetts, at Louisiana-Lafayette, at UCLA, Tennessee Tech

The schedule doesn't provide as many gooey treats as some that Bill Snyder's teams have feasted on in the past, but it's still nothing to write home about. Massachusetts is a contender in the CAA, which is the toughest top-to-bottom FCS conference in the nation. Louisiana-Lafayette will have to replace a lot of offensive talent, but can be troublesome at Cajun Field. UCLA struggled offensively last year and will be breaking in a new quarterback with four new offensive linemen. KSU might be able to compete in that one better than most might think. And Tennessee Tech coach Watson Brown, older brother of Texas coach Mack Brown, returns a talented pass-and-catch combination of Lee Sweeney and Tim Benford. KSU still should roll, however.

Tags:

Barry Switzer, Nevada Wolf Pack, New Mexico Lobos, Minnesota Golden Gophers, Mike Locksley, Miami Hurricanes, Illinois Fighting Illini, Jarrett Brown, BYU Cougars, Toledo Rockets, Harvey Unga, Colorado State Rams, Iowa Hawkeyes, Arrelious Benn, James Casey, Nebraska Cornhuskers, Arkansas State Red Wolves, Tim Benford, Bill Snyder, Jordan Sorrells, Kent State Golden Flashes, Bradley Dale Peveto, Ali Villanueva, Baylor Bears, Wyoming Cowboys, Massachusetts Minutemen, Texas Longhorns, Doug Martin, Oklahoma State Cowboys, Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles, Connecticut Huskies, Juice Williams, Central Florida Knights, Texas Tech Red Raiders, Wake Forest Demon Deacons, Missouri Tigers, Rich Ellerson, Colorado Buffaloes, Bowling Green Falcons, Todd Reesing, Dave Christensen, Oklahoma Sooners, Georgia Bulldogs, Utah State Aggies, Chip Bowden, Dan Hawkins, Mike Leach, Robert Griffin, Duke Blue Demons, Kansas State Wildcats, Grambling Tigers, Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, Florida State Seminoles, Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin Cajuns, Furman Paladins, Northwestern State Demons, LSU Tigers, Watson Brown, Colin Kaepernick, Paul Rhoads, Kansas Jayhawks, Damion Fletcher, Idaho State Vandals, Florida Atlantic Owls, Tulsa Golden Hurricane, West Virginia Mountaineers, Tyrod Taylor, Army Black Knights, North Dakota State Bison, Jerrod Johnson, Shonn Greene, Case Keenum, Lee Sweeney, Alabama Crimson Tide, Taylor Potts, Iowa State Cyclones, Trevor Vittatoe, Mack Brown, Schedule rank 061009, UCLA Bruins, Dezmon Briscoe, UTEP Miners, Bobby Petrino, Northern Colorado Bears, Tennessee Tech Golden Eagles, Houston Cougars, Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks, Jimmy Johnson, Eugene Jarvis, Virginia Tech Hokies, North Dakota Fighting Sioux, Ohio State Buckeyes, Jarrett Dillard, Tyler Sheehan, UAB Blazers, Arkansas Razorbacks, Howard Schnellenberger, Chase Clement, Mike Sherman, Texas A&M Aggies

KSU-UCLA game set for national TV broadcast

June, 3, 2009
6/03/09
10:55
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

Kansas State's Sept. 19 game at UCLA will be broadcast nationally as part of the Pac-10's television package.

Kickoff has been set for 10:15 p.m. ET from the Rose Bowl. The game will be broadcast by Fox Sports Net.

It is the 21st Big 12 game set for a national television broadcast that has been announced so far.

Here is the Big 12's current television schedule to this point.

All times Eastern

Saturday, September 5

  • Georgia at Oklahoma State, ABC, 3:30 p.m.
  • Missouri vs. Illinois (St. Louis) ESPN, 3:40 p.m.
  • BYU vs. Oklahoma (Arlington, Texas), ESPN, 7 p.m.

Sunday, September 6

  • Colorado State at Colorado, FSN, 7 p.m.

Friday, September 11

  • Colorado at Toledo, ESPN, 9 p.m.

Saturday, September 12

  • Iowa at Iowa State, FSN, noon.
  • Houston at Oklahoma State, FSN, 3:30 p.m.
  • Kansas at UTEP, CBS College Sports, 7:30 p.m.

Saturday, September 19

  • Duke at Kansas, Versus, noon.
  • Tulsa at Oklahoma, FSN, 3:30 p.m.
  • Texas Tech at Texas, ABC, 8 p.m.
  • Kansas State at UCLA, FSN, 10:15 p.m.

Friday, September 25

  • Missouri at Nevada, ESPN, 9 p.m.

Saturday, September 26

  • Texas Tech at Houston ESPN2, 9:15 p.m.

Thursday, October 1

  • Colorado at West Virginia, ESPN, 7:30 p.m.

Thursday, October 8

  • Nebraska at Missouri, ESPN, 9 p.m.

Saturday, October 17

  • Oklahoma vs. Texas (Dallas), ABC, noon.

Thursday, November 19

  • Colorado at Oklahoma State, ESPN, 7:30 p.m.

Thursday, November 26

Texas at Texas A&M, ESPN, 8 p.m.

Friday, November 27

  • Nebraska at Colorado, ABC, 3:30 p.m.

Saturday, December 5

  • Dr Pepper Big 12 Championship (Arlington, Texas), ABC, 8 p.m.

Big 12 announces early television schedule

June, 1, 2009
6/01/09
1:09
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

The Big 12 has announced the first set of games for its 2009 season with television partners ABC, ESPN, Fox Sports Net and Versus.

Fourteen contests have currently been chosen by ABC and ESPN, nine of those as part of the Big 12's television package along with five nonconference road games. FSN has announced four of its initial selections and one game that will be televised by VERSUS.

ABC and FSN will select additional games throughout the season. The majority of the televised games will be announced on a 12-day notice. ABC has rights to exercise a six-day option three times during the season.

The Big 12 will begin its 14th year with ABC as its national network television partner and with FSN for its cable rights.

Here's a list of the games that have been chosen so far and the network that will carry them.

All times Eastern

Saturday, September 5

Georgia at Oklahoma State, ABC, 3:30 p.m.

Missouri vs. Illinois (St. Louis) ESPN, 3:40 p.m.

BYU vs. Oklahoma (Arlington, Texas), ESPN, 7 p.m.

Sunday, September 6

Colorado State at Colorado, FSN 7 p.m.

Friday, September 11

Colorado at Toledo, ESPN, 9 p.m.

Saturday, September 12

Iowa at Iowa State, FSN, noon.

Houston at Oklahoma State, FSN, 3:30 p.m.

Saturday, September 19

Duke at Kansas, Versus, noon.

Tulsa at Oklahoma, FSN, 3:30 p.m.

Texas Tech at Texas, ABC, 8 p.m.

Friday, September 25

Missouri at Nevada, ESPN, 9 p.m.

Saturday, September 26

Texas Tech at Houston ESPN2, 9:15 p.m.

Thursday, October 1

Colorado at West Virginia, ESPN, 7:30 p.m.

Thursday, October 8

Nebraska at Missouri, ESPN 9 p.m.

Saturday, October 17

Oklahoma vs. Texas (Dallas), ABC, noon.

Thursday, November 19

Colorado at Oklahoma State, ESPN, 7:30 p.m.

Thursday, November 26

Texas at Texas A&M, ESPN, 8 p.m.

Friday, November 27

Nebraska at Colorado, ABC, 3:30 p.m.

Saturday, December 5

Dr Pepper Big 12 Championship (Arlington, Texas), ABC, 8 p.m.

Big 12 lunch links: Stoops still steamed about lagging o-line

May, 27, 2009
5/27/09
2:01
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops didn't hesitate to call out his offensive line even before spring practice started. And he's not stopping now, either.

Stoops told the Tulsa World that he isn't budging from the hard line he's taken with the revamped offensive line that will feature four new starters.

"If they will come on and be what they need to be, we have a chance to have a really good team," Stoops told the World. "If they don't, we'll just have an OK team. That's the bottom line."

If Stoops' stinging words during his vacation are any indication of what he's thinking, we can only wait to see what he has to say once preseason workouts begin.  

Until then, here are a few other links from around the conference.

My Big 12 dream schedule for 2009

May, 8, 2009
5/08/09
2:43
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

It's never too early to start thinking about the upcoming season and the games that the Big 12 will provide.

During a flight of fancy last night, I sat down and plotted my ultimate dream schedule if I could watch what I now consider the best game every week.

Here's my list, including a running total of the miles I would travel from my San Antonio home:

Week 1: Georgia at Oklahoma State, Sept. 5 -- This might be the best nonconference game of the season for a Big 12 team as Mike Gundy's Cowboys face the Bulldogs. It should be a clash of two top 20 teams in the season opener. We'll get an early opportunity to see whether the Cowboys are as legitimate as their preseason publicity might suggest.

  • Other games I considered: Oklahoma vs. Brigham Young (at Arlington), Illinois-Missouri (at St. Louis), Colorado State at Colorado.
  • Round-trip mileage from San Antonio to Stillwater: 934 miles

(Read full post)

Ranking the best of the Big 12's nonconference games

March, 4, 2009
3/04/09
6:44
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

By my count, after looking at the upcoming calendar, we are now only 183 days from the start of the college football season.

I know that seems like an excruciating wait. And it is.

And there's still a lot of discussion time to go before the season starts.

Not only does it excite me about the start of the season, but it also got me looking at a calendar. Hence, the countdown.

Here is my ranking of the Big 12's best nonconference games a little less than six months out.

1. Georgia at Oklahoma State, Sept. 5: Everything could converge for Oklahoma State in the Cowboys' season opener. An experienced offensive team looking to build its defense will be meeting a Georgia team breaking in a new quarterback. This game might attract the first true sellout in the history of expanded T. Boone Pickens Stadium.

2. Nebraska at Virginia Tech, Sept. 19: The Cornhuskers' defense will be much improved than they were in the Hokies' 35-30 win in Lincoln last season. But Bo Pelini's hopes of springing an upset will depend on whoever is playing quarterback for them by that point of the season.

3. Oklahoma at Miami, Oct. 3: Dolphin Stadium has been a chamber of horrors for the Sooners in two recent BCS title game losses, but they should be ready against a Miami team that could be beat up after playing Florida State, Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech before this game.

4. BYU vs. Oklahoma (at Arlington, Texas), Sept. 5: The first college game to be played in the Dallas Cowboys' new stadium could be a big test for Oklahoma's rebuilt offensive line. This should be an entertaining game between two of the nation's top 20 teams in passing offense, total offense and scoring last season.

5. Illinois vs. Missouri (at St. Louis), Sept. 5: The Tigers won't have nearly as much firepower back as last year and Juice Williams will be primed for the Illini. It could be a rough first baptism for new Missouri coordinators Dave Yost and Dave Steckel.

6. Arkansas vs. Texas A&M (at Arlington), Oct. 3: Two old Southwest Conference rivals rekindle their storied rivalry for the 66th time -- but the first since the Razorbacks bolted the SWC for the Southeastern Conference after the 1991 season. The fact that the game will be playing out at the new Dallas Cowboys' Stadium only adds to its mystique.

7. Texas Tech at Houston, Sept. 26: This game will be coming the week after Texas Tech travels to Texas in its first road game. It could be dicey for the Red Raiders, although they won their last two games at Houston against the Cougars in the final days of the Southwest Conference. Tech averaged 45 points per game in those games -- and that was long before Mike Leach had taken over the program. I'm expecting a shootout in this one with both teams combining for more than 1,000 yards.

8. Houston at Oklahoma State, Sept. 12: First team to 50 points wins this one. And I bet Houston defensive coordinator John Skladany still remembers that Oklahoma State's Kendall Hunter, Dez Bryant and Zac Robinson pulled the 200-200-300 yardage feat in terms of rushing, receiving and passing in OSU's 56-37 victory last season.

9. Colorado at West Virginia, Sept. 26: The Mountaineers will be looking for payback after last season's overtime loss in Boulder that was settled by their kicking woes.

10. Missouri at Nevada, Sept. 26: Actually, I think this might be a better game than most. Colin Kaepernick should have the pistol firing for the Wolf Pack. It might be a tougher game than you might think for a young Missouri defense playing its first true road game.

11. Kansas State at UCLA, Sept. 19: This was the kind of game that Bill Snyder used to try to avoid back in the salad days of the Kansas State program. But a victory here could legitimize his early work as he rebuilds the program anew.

12. Kansas at UTEP, Sept. 12: This will be the biggest nonconference test for the Jayhawks and perhaps a tricky one. Todd Reesing should be able to score against the Miners, but the rebuilt Kansas defense could be in for test facing UTEP quarterback Trevor Vittatoe on his home field. The Sun Bowl ought to be rocking for this one.

A couple of factors struck me as interesting as I looked at these games.

First, the Big 12 will have only two home games in these dozen pivotal contests. Oklahoma State hosts both of them. Three more will be played at neutral sites. But the other seven games will be road contests for the Big 12 team.

It means the conference will have an early chance to prove its mettle nationally, or fall behind.

Also, did you notice a significant team is missing from this list?

That's right. Maybe that's why Texas is ranked as the conference's top team coming into the season.

But the Longhorns assuredly won't get much BCS bounce from a quartet of nonconference games featuring Louisiana-Monroe, Wyoming, UTEP and Central Florida.

Mack Brown better hope the South Division is as tough as usual in 2009. Because he's not going to get much sympathy in a head-to-head comparison with most other national powers when nonconference schedules are compared.

Big 12 lunch links: Max Tuioti-Mariner injured again

March, 4, 2009
3/04/09
12:37
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

It's March and college football is blooming across the southern reaches of the Big 12.

The germination will eventually spread north.

Trust me.

Until then, here are a few lunchtime links to keep you stoked for the eventual blooming.

  • Hard-luck Colorado offensive lineman Max Tuioti-Mariner will miss spring practice after tearing his anterior cruciate ligament, Kyle Ringo of the Boulder Daily Camera reports. It will be require his third knee surgery in the past two years.
  • Oklahoma offensive linemen say they understand why their group received a harsh assessment from coach Bob Stoops before their first spring practice, Norman Transcript beat writer John Shinn reports.
  • Nebraska senior safety Major Culbert has been kicked off the Cornhuskers' roster, the Lincoln Journal-Star's Brian Culbertson reports. Culbert has played 29 games in his Nebraska career at linebacker, defensive back and running back.
  • Big 12 coaches can relax. South Florida coach Jim Leavitt finally filled his defensive coordinator position, hiring former Cincinnati defensive coordinator Joe Tresey, Tampa Tribune beat writer Brett McMurphy reports. Leavitt interviewed coaches from three Big 12 staffs who turned him down along the way.
  • Several Kansas coaches were in Reno Tuesday to study Nevada coach Chris Ault's Pistol offense, Dan Hinxman of the Reno Gazette-Journal reports.
  • Steve Sipple of the Lincoln Journal-Star reads the fine print to explain why Ndamukong Suh was left off the Lombardi Award's preseason watch list.

Missouri's Sept. 25 game at Nevada set for ESPN telecast

February, 24, 2009
2/24/09
4:39
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

Missouri's game at Nevada has been moved to Sept. 25, a Friday night, for a national telecast on ESPN.

The game will kick off at 9 p.m. ET.

The game originally had been scheduled for Sept. 26, but was moved a night earlier to accomodate the ESPN broadcast.

Missouri's game will mark the second Big 12 team to travel to Reno in the last two seasons to face the Wolf Pack. Texas Tech notched a 35-19 victory at Nevada last season.

Missouri claimed a 69-17 victory over Nevada last season in Columbia in the first game of the two-game series between the two teams.

Who's hot and not in the Big 12

October, 3, 2008
10/03/08
6:00
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

Here's a look at who's hot and who's not around the Big 12, as well as a few other nuggets to provide some interest heading into Saturday's games. Enjoy.


Sizzling:

Missouri's offense with Chase Daniel in charge. With Daniel running Missouri's No. 1 offensive unit, the Tigers have yet to have a single three-and-out possession.


Hot:

Oklahoma State's offense. The Cowboys have produced two of the eight best "total offense" games in school history in the last three games -- 699 yards against Houston and 612 against Troy.


Not:

Missouri's defense, which has struggled all season, mainly because senior safety William Moore has been injured much of the year. The Tigers are last in the league in total defense, allowing 378.5 yards per game.


Hot:

Oklahoma, which is one of three FBS teams not to fumble this season. The Sooners lead the nation in red-zone offense, converting 19 attempts into 18 touchdowns and a field goal.

Not:

Oklahoma's special teams. The Sooners are ranked 104th in kickoff return yardage allowed per kick, 51st in punt return yardage allowed per punt and 95th in net punting average.


Hot:

Missouri, which has trailed for 13 seconds all season.

Not:

Missouri's cornerbacks, who have produced only two interceptions in the Tigers' last 19 games.


Hot:

Freshman Kansas State defensive end Brandon Herald, who has notched three sacks and eight-and-a-half tackles for losses after only four games.

Not:

Colorado's depth in the offensive line. Since the start of fall camp, the Buffaloes have lost six offensive linemen because of injuries, academics and suspensions.


Hot:

Kansas State wide receiver Brandon Banks, who leads the nation in yards receiving per game (115.8 ypg) and has produced at least one touchdown in all four games.

Not:

Baylor, which has lost 39 of its last 41 games against ranked teams since joining the Big 12. The Bears have lost 13 straight games against ranked teams since beating Texas A&M 35-34 on Oct. 30, 2004.


Hot:

Kansas State running back Lamark Brown, a converted wide receiver who has emerged as the Wildcats' leading rushing threat after producing 137 yards on 29 carries last week against Louisiana-Lafayette.

Not:

Kansas State's rush defense, which has been gashed for more than 300 yards in back-to-back games by Louisville and Louisiana-Lafayette.


Hot:

Nebraska's special teams, specificially at home against Missouri. In the Cornhuskers' last six home games against the Tigers, they have produced four punt returns for touchdowns.

Not:

Preseason All-Big 12 kick returner Marcus Hereford of Kansas, who has produced an average of only 11.4 yards per kick return.


Hot:

Kansas State's offensive line, which hasn't allowed a sack in the first four games of the season.


Not:

Oklahoma's offensive line, which allowed four sacks and produced only 25 rushing yards last week against TCU. It was the lowest rushing total for the Sooners in 82 games, dating back to a 37-27 victory over Alabama on Sept. 7, 2002, where they produced minus-23 yards.



Hot:

Multi-talented Missouri wide receiver/kick returner Jeremy Maclin, who has accounted for multiple touchdowns rushing (five), receiving (13), on punt returns (two) and kickoff returns (two). The only other active players with at least career touchdowns in all of those categories are seniors Derrick Williams of Penn State and Brandon Tate of North Carolina.

Not:

Texas Tech's opponents so far this season. Of the four teams the Red Raiders have beaten, they have combined for one victory over a FBS program - Nevada's triumph over UNLV.

Frigid:

Colorado's special teams against Florida State last week. The Buffaloes had a punt blocked through the end zone for a safety and allowed a 94-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. Returner Josh Smith also fumbled a kickoff at the 4-yard line and kicker Aric Goodman misfired on a 27-yard field goal attempt.



Weird statistical trend: Missouri is 10-3 in games where Chase Daniel has attempted 40 or more passes. Before he earned the team's starting job in 2006, the Tigers were just 1-12-1 in games where a Tiger quarterback had 40 pass attempts or more.


The chart, part I

Missouri wide receiver/kick returner Jeremy Maclin is one of the most versatile players in the nation. But he's been overshadowed in most Heisman polls so far this season.
Here's how Maclin's numbers compare with those of Desmond Howard, who was the last wide receiver to claim the Heisman in 1991.

 Desmond Howard
Jeremy Maclin
Receptions per game
5.5
6.5
Rec. yards per game
86.4
97.8
All-purpose yards per game
165.8
193.5
TD average per game
2.1
1.5

Obviously, if Howard could break a couple of big plays in the next several games, it would immeasurably boost his Heisman hopes.

Source: ESPN.com research.


The chart, part II

Texas is on a remarkable recent streak, winning 34 of its last 37 road games. Here's a look at the road games that Texas has lost during that time.

Nov. 16, 2002 at Texas Tech 38-42
Nov. 11, 2006 at Kansas State 42-45
Nov. 23, 2007 at Texas A&M 30-38

Note: Texas' record in neutral-site games during that period is a more pedestrian 9-9, which includes six losses to Oklahoma in Dallas and three bowl-game losses.


Jawjacking:

Here are some of the more notable quotes around the Big 12 this week.

"I don't know how many ways you can say it creatively,but we're going through the gauntlet. If you want to spend time handing out game balls because you beat West Virginia or having funerals because you lost to Florida State, that's wrong. You just keep repooling and working it out."

Colorado coach Dan Hawkins, on his team's roller-coaster nat
ure over the last two weeks.

"This is not like the NFL, where you might go to the playoffs with a 9-7 record. You don't have that many opportunities in college football, because every game matters. It would do us a lot of good to come out and play well."

Kansas State coach Ron Prince on his team's mindset heading into its game against Texas Tech.


"I've never gone into a game making concessions. I won't start this week. We're going to play the best we possibly can and try to shut them out."

Nebraska coach Bo Pelini on trying to derail Missouri's explosive offensive attack.

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