Big 12: Quentin Chaney

Oklahoma's Miller can beat defenses with size, speed

November, 4, 2009
11/04/09
4:34
PM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

There’s a natural tendency to overlook Dejuan Miller when considering Oklahoma’s speediest wide receivers.

 
 Peter G. Aiken/Getty Images
 Oklahoma receiver Dejuan Miller scored his first touchdown against Kansas State.
After all, a 6-foot-4, 224-pound pass-catcher typically would be noticed for his size rather than his quickness.

That is, until Miller lines up and actually runs a few routes.

“When people look at me, they automatically think I’m some kind of possession receiver,” Miller said. “But I ran track in high school. I can get out and run when I have to.”

That speed might be a stunner to some defenders. But it’s a natural advantage that Miller likes to spring on unsuspecting opponents.

“It’s fun and I love it,” Miller said. “When they see somebody 6-4 and 224 pounds they think I can just catch the ball. But it’s nice to surprise and shock them sometimes when I run.”

Earlier this season, teammates were mesmerized by his combination of size and speed. Several Oklahoma defensive backs compared him to NFL superstar Larry Fitzgerald because of his bountiful natural gifts.

But despite those tools and a strong effort in fall camp, Miller has had to wait his turn to work his way into Oklahoma’s receiving rotation.

“There was a frustrating point,” Miller said. “It was kind of like climbing a mountain and trying to stay positive every day and have positive outlook. I knew things would fall into place. I just needed my chance to shine and get a chance to play.”

That opportunity finally arrived last week when he produced a career-best nine receptions for 93 yards to help spark the Sooners’ victory over Kansas State.

His first catch was a 23-yard touchdown grab in which he broke several tackles. It was the first touchdown of his career.

Miller also produced three key third-down receptions on drives that led to Oklahoma touchdowns against the Wildcats.

“I feel like this was kind of my coming-out party, a chance to show what I could do,” Miller said. "It was huge because I’ve been waiting for a breakout game like that. I just wanted to showcase what I could do and be a playmaker for us.”

That development provides a capable No. 2 threat behind the speedy Ryan Broyles, who leads the nation with 10 touchdown receptions. The sophomore duo has Oklahoma fans excited about the future.

“Me and Ryan bring something different to the table,” Miller said. “He’s a natural playmaker and I think I bring more of a physical standpoint. I bring the physical and he brings flair and finesse. We kind of feed off each other.”

Oklahoma quarterback Landry Jones' connection with Miller in Oklahoma’s offense also appears to have grown in the last several weeks. Miller is listed as a first-string receiver on the Sooners' depth chart heading into Saturday's game at Nebraska.

"I always had confidence in him," Jones told the Tulsa World. "I've seen what he does in practice and what he's done since spring. He's a hard-working kid. He's going to make every play for you."

Miller was one of the three top wide receivers who chose the Sooners in the 2008 recruiting class along with Josh Jarboe and Jameel Owens. But Jarboe was dismissed from the Oklahoma squad two days before practice began last season when an expletive-laced rap video he had crafted ended up on the Internet.

And neither Miller nor Owens got much playing time last season as the Sooners preferred to use senior receivers like Manny Johnson, Juaquin Iglesias and Quentin Chaney.

“I was in kind of a rough situation last year because there were a lot of older guys in front of me,” Miller said. “I had to wait on my turn and be patient. I learned patience is a virtue.”

Family members in the Oklahoma City area were the major reason why Miller chose to leave his hometown of Metuchen, N.J., for the Oklahoma program. Among the other schools he considered included Penn State, Florida, Michigan, Boston College and Cincinnati.

But after the first big game of his career, Miller is happy he chose to come to Oklahoma -- even if he had to wait for his chance to play.

"I knew things eventually would get better,” Miller said. “It might be a rocky road, but I wanted to stick with it. I always had a good attitude because I knew it was just a matter of time before my chance would come along.”

Stoops says Bradford is playing better than before

August, 14, 2009
8/14/09
4:31
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

NORMAN, Okla. -- Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops thinks that Heisman Trophy winner Sam Bradford has come back noticeably improved for his junior season.

Bradford broke Oklahoma single-season records with 50 touchdown passes and 4,720 passing yards last season, but he appears to have more confidence and a better deep arm after the first week of Oklahoma's practices.

 
  AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki
  Sam Bradford has added 10 pounds on his frame since last season.

"He's strong, he's quicker and the ball comes out that much faster," Stoops said. "With another year of experience out on the field, he'll think much quicker, too."

Bradford appears noticeably bigger after adding 10 pounds of muscle since the end of last year.

"Sam is getting better each and every day," senior wide receiver Adron Tennell said. "Throwing the ball, rolling out of the pocket, he's done it all. You can tell he's better than before."

Stoops said there's little separation between his backups who are playing behind Bradford at quarterback.

Redshirt freshman Landry Jones was presumed to have the edge, but redshirt freshman Ben Sherrard, junior John Nimmo and freshman Drew Allen all are in the mix for playing time.

"Those guys are still splitting their reps," Stoops said. "We keep snapping the ball and giving them experience. They are working well together and doing a nice job."

  • Sophomore defensive back Jamell Fleming has been hobbled by a back injury and sophomore defensive back Desmond Jackson "has an issue with academic misconduct" that he's working through, Stoops said.
  • Oklahoma's special teams have looked strong in recent practices. Kicker Jimmy Stevens showed improved range at Thursday's open practice with field goals of 50 and 53 yards.

Stevens' length is a big development for the Sooners. His longest kick last season was 42 yards and he shanked five extra points.

Stoops playfully chided about 300 fans who attended the Sooners' open workout Thursday night that they weren't cheering loud enough for Stevens' big kicks.

"They only cheer when there's an offensive play," Stoops said. "When the defense intercepts the ball they are quiet over there or when the kicker gets a nice 53-yard field goal."

  • One of the early revelations of fall practice has been wide receiver/punter Cameron Kenney, a transfer from Garden City Community College.

Kenney has jumped into the mix at wide receiver and also is challenging for the punting position against Tress Way. It's a weird combination of a speedy wide receiver who also is a strong punter.

"He's pretty good," Stoops said. "He's shows a lot of signs (as a receiver), but he needs to be more consistent, but he's doing a lot of good things.

"He's punted well, too. It's very rare because you don't see a lot of wide receivers who can punt the ball 40 yards like he can."

Oklahoma receivers coach Jay Norvell said that Kenney reminds him of former Oklahoma wide receiver Juaquin Iglesias because of his combination of size and strength.

"It's because of his quickness, his way of getting in and out of plays and the fact he's very strong to the ball," Norvell said. "Cameron can also run well after the catch. He's a hard worker and the guys who work the hardest get better faster."

  • Despite the loss of key playmakers like Iglesias, Manny Johnson and Quentin Chaney from last season, Norvell thinks his current group has the chance to be better than last year's productive group.

The emergence of Kenney, Tennell, Ryan Broyles, Jameel Owens, Brandon Caleb, Dejuan Miller and Mossis Madu has provided the Sooners with a deep cast of productive receivers.

"I think we're more athletic and explosive than we were last year," Norvell said. "Whether that will correlate into productiveness, I'm not sure. But we have athletes and in that respect we probably have more deep threats than we did last year."

OU receivers anxious to disprove doubters

March, 12, 2009
3/12/09
9:15
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

NORMAN, Okla. -- Considering all of the key receivers that left Oklahoma's team after last season, it's understandable why some aren't sold on the Sooners' returning talent at the position.

Leading returning receiver Ryan Broyles doesn't mind that at all. In fact, Broyles actually likes that many are considering his receiving corps as one of the Sooners' biggest positional question marks.

 
  Stephen Brashear/Icon SMI
  Ryan Broyles will be one of quarterback Sam Bradford's go-to guys in 2009.

"We've all been doubted around here before," Broyles said. "We just want to rise to the occasion and show what we can do when we get the chance."

The Sooners must replace playmakers Manuel Johnson, Juaquin Iglesias and Quentin Chaney from last season. That trio combined to produce 145 receptions, 2,368 yards and 21 touchdowns to spark an explosive passing game that catapulted Sam Bradford to the Heisman Trophy.

Their departure is expected to hamstring the Sooners' vertical passing game in Bradford's third season as a starter. But it's also bolstered the confidence of several players who are figuring that it's now their time to shine.

No player has been more vociferous this spring as 6-foot-4 senior wide receiver Adron Tennell, a senior who is poised to emerge as one of the Sooners' likely deep threats.

"I feel like I'm back in high school. I'm unstoppable and nobody can touch me," said Tennell, who has produced only 16 catches in the first three seasons at Oklahoma after struggling with a knee injury and talented teammates in front of him.

Tennell, known as "Pooh" by his relatives since childhood, arrived at Oklahoma as the most-heralded receiving recruit in recent history. One scouting service had him ranked as the third-highest recruit in the 2006 recruiting class, behind only Florida's Percy Harvin and USC's Vidal Hazelton.

But Tennell's development was stunted after he injured his knee on special teams late in his sophomore season against Texas Tech. The injury caused him to miss all of winter conditioning and spring practice before last season.

As the other players developed, Tennell's playing time diminished. He produced only nine catches for 68 yards last season.

"Being behind all of those guys who were here before me, I was hoping I'd get to play," Tennell said. "But when I didn't, I got anxious about having to sit and watch. Now, I'm trying to shine when I get my chance."

(Read full post)

Sooners' pro day features prospective NFL players

March, 10, 2009
3/10/09
7:56
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

NORMAN, Okla. -- Former Oklahoma center Jon Cooper joked that he's been eating like Olympic gold-medal swimmer Michael Phelps the last few weeks as he tries to bulk up for the NFL draft.

Cooper was among 19 former Sooners who showed their stuff for NFL scouts as they gauged their pro potential.

His recent calorie binge is understandable, considering that Cooper was stricken with strep throat late in the season, diminishing his weight to 255 before the Texas A&M game on Nov. 8.

"I had to push the calories quite a bit because the combine was only a few weeks after the Shrine Game," said Cooper, who is now back at his regular playing weight of 290. "I worried about it a little bit, but I ran at that weight for two years. I think I felt pretty good at it."

It helped Cooper to clock a 5.1 and 5.09 in two 40-yard dashes, giving him presentable times for prospective centers.

The fastest Sooner was wide receiver Quentin Chaney, who clocked a 4.59 and a 4.62 in the 40-yard dash times. Defensive back Brett Bowers ran a 4.62 and 4.63. Lendy Holmes ran a pair of 4.65s and former Oklahoma running back Jacob Gutierrez ran a 4.69. No other player who was tested ran faster than a 4.7.

Safety Nic Harris, who was measured at a shade over 6-2 and 232 pounds, was clocked at 4.84 on both of his 40-yard dashes. Those times and his side are making scouts consider him universally as a linebacker after a one-game stint at the position in college.

"I'm always up for a challenge and I'm trying to learn extremely quick," Harris said. "I think I'm doing well."

Harris said he doesn't make much of those who discount him because of his perceived lack of speed for those at his position.

"At the end of a day, I'm a football player," Harris said. "Last I checked I've never seen a guy with a stop watch on Sundays trying to see how fast a guy can get to the ball."

Wilson's injury adds to OU's receiving woes

February, 28, 2009
2/28/09
5:02
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

Oklahoma wide receiver Corey Wilson is in critical condition at OU Medical Center in Oklahoma City after being involved in a car accident Friday afternoon on Interstate 35 near Paul's Valley, Okla., about 35 miles southwest of Norman.

The Oklahoman reported that Wilson sustained head and neck injuries in the accident, which came only four days before the Sooners start spring practice on Tuesday.

Oklahoma already will be without leading receiver Juaquin Iglesias, Manny Johnson and Quentin Chaney among its key producers from last season's receiving rotation.

Wilson, a redshirt freshman, looked strong in practices with the team last fall. He was expected to challenge for playing time at what appears to be one of the Sooners' most glaring weaknesses heading into spring practice.

He is the younger brother of former Sooners wide receiver Travis Wilson.

The accident marks the second time that an Oklahoma player has been seriously injured in an automobile accident in Bob Stoops' coaching tenure. Defensive back Michael Thompson was hurt in a May 2001 crash, only a few months after he was a starter and key producer on the Sooners' national championship team. Thompson returned to the Sooners' roster, but never regained his earlier form after the injury.

What to watch at Big 12 spring practices

February, 13, 2009
2/13/09
10:00
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

The Big 12 should again be loaded in 2009. And the spring will feature several key positional battles and holes to fill that will go a long way in determining whether Oklahoma can make history and claim a fourth-straight championship this season.

Here a look at each team and three major items to watch in spring practice.

NORTH DIVISION

Colorado Buffaloes

Spring practice begins: March 31

Spring game: April 25

What to watch:

  • The health of the team: The Buffaloes' players lost a combined total of 121 games to due to illness or injury last season. Some players like tight end Riar Geer, guards Devin Head, Maxwell Tuioti-Mariner and Mike Iltis, linebacker Jon Major and cornerback Jalil Brown will be limited during the spring because of past injuries. But others like tackle Ryan Miller, tailback Rodney Stewart and cornerback Benjamin Burney should be good to go throughout the spring. Coach Dan Hawkins won't push things, but it will be good to have as many regulars as possible practicing again.
  • The return of Darrell Scott: The conference's most publicized running back recruit of 2008 never could get untracked, rushing for disappointing totals of 343 yards and 3.9 yards per carry last season. The spring will give him a chance to show why he was one of the nation's top recruits in the Class of 2008.
  • Settle the kicking game: After Colorado kickers combined to shank 11 of 17 attempts last season, it might be the last chance for Aric Goodman or Jameson Davis to show what they can do after their struggles last season and the arrival of heralded recruit Zach Grossnickle in the fall.

Iowa State Cyclones

Spring practice begins: March 24

Spring game: April 18

What to watch:

  • Paul Rhoads' early assimilation: After his hiring last Dec. 23, Rhoads has concentrated on recruiting and building a coaching staff. Being able to work on the field with his team will likely be a relief for him after such a hectic start.
  • Help in the secondary: The Cyclones lose starters Chris Singleton and Brandon Hunley from a unit that ranked in the bottom 10 nationally in pass efficiency defense and pass defense. Rhoads' specialty is defense, but he'll have his work cut out with his new unit.
  • Finding another starter at wide receiver: Darius Darks is back after an impressive freshman season, but Rhoads needs to find a replacement for 2008 leading receiver R.J. Sumrall. Look for Sedrick Johnson, Marquis Hamilton and Houston Jones all to have their chances at the starting unit during the spring.

Kansas Jayhawks

Spring practice begins: March 9

Spring game: April 11

What to watch:

  • Finding starters at linebackers: The Jayhawks must completely rebuild their linebacking corps as James Holt, Mike Rivera and Joe Mortensen all are gone from last season. Arist Wright and Dakota Lewis are in the mix because of their experience. A bigger wild card could be converted running back Angus Quigley, who turned heads with his defensive instincts and tackling in work before the Jayhawks' bowl game last season.
  • Get a consistent kick returner: The mystifying struggles of Marcus Herford last season resulted in a drop of more than 8 yards per kick return as the Jayhawks fell from seventh in 2007 to 118th nationally last season. Dezmon Briscoe showed flashes of being a productive returner late in the season, but more work from different players will be needed in the spring to shore up the area.
  • Rebuild the center of the offensive line: Losing starting guards Chet Hartley and Adrian Mayes along with center Ryan Cantrell will be the biggest offensive concern this spring for the Jayhawks. Carl Wilson and Sal Kapra should get a long look at guard and Brad Thorson will given the first shot at center.

Kansas State Wildcats:

Spring practice begins: April 6

Spring game: May 2

What to watch:

  • Bill Snyder's return to coaching: The wily Snyder will be facing the biggest challenge of his professional career after returning after a three-year coaching sabbatical. The Wildcats aren't as bad as they were in 1989 when Snyder originally took over, but the Big 12 is a much tougher than the Big Eight was in those days. And it will test the patience and legendary work ethic of Snyder to get the Wildcats back into Big 12 title contention in the immediate future.
  • The quarterback battle: New offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig is one of the conference's most notable hirings after his strong recent work at Utah. Ludwig will be challenged as he looks at Carson Coffman or junior-college transfer Daniel Thomas to replace Josh Freeman as his starting quarterback.
  • Looking for a defensive turnaround: The Wildcats were woeful last season, ranking among the bottom 10 teams nationally in rushing defense, scoring defense and total defense and 106th nationally in pass defense. It will likely try the patience of new coordinator Chris Cosh, who will be looking for replacements along the defensive front for Brandon Balkcom and Ian Campbell. One potential playmaker could be Jeff Fitzgerald, who started 13 games for Virginia in 2007.

Missouri Tigers

Spring practice begins: March 10

Spring game: April 18

What to watch:

  • The changing of the guard on offense -- and then some: Gone are all-time greats like Chase Daniel, Jeremy Maclin and Chase Coffman, along with productive receivers Tommy Saunders and Earl Goldsmith. Offensive coordinator Dave Christensen has left for the Wyoming coaching job, meaning that Dave Yost takes over as the coordinator along with Blaine Gabbert at quarterback, Andrew Jones at tight end and Jerrell Jackson as the featured receiver. Collectively, it will be the largest transformation in Gary Pinkel's coaching tenure at Missouri.
  • Finding a pass rush: Three starters are gone along the defensive front as productive starters Stryker Sulak, Tommy Chavis and Ziggy Hood all are gone from last year. Look for redshirt defensive end Aldon Smith to get in the fight for playing time immediately, along with holdover Brian Coulter at defensive end if he can recover quickly from labrum surgery. Terrell Resonno and Dominique Hamilton will get a long look at defensive tackle before the arrival of heralded "tight end" Sheldon Richardson in the summer.
  • Secondary assistance: The Tigers need help after losing starting safeties Justin Garrett and William Moore and cornerback Tru Vaughns from last year's team. Considering all of the prolific offenses in the Big 12, this will capture much of defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus' attention as newcomers like safety Jarrell Harrison and cornerback Robert Steeples will show what they can do.

Nebraska Cornhuskers

Spring practice begins: March 21

Spring game: April 18

What to watch:

  • The battle for quarterback: One of the nation's most intriguing quarterback battles will play out during the spring. Incoming freshman Cody Green arrived in college early intent to battle for the starting job and become the first four-year starting quarterback for the Cornhuskers since Eric Crouch. Holdovers Patrick Witt, Zac Lee and redshirt freshman Kody Spanos all are in the hunt to replace Joe Ganz. Witt has more experience, but it's not much more than any other contender. It should be interesting to see how offensive coordinator Shawn Watson handles the competition.
  • Find starters at wide receiver: The Cornhuskers lose starters Nate Swift and Todd Peterson who combined for 125 receptions last season as the team's two major receiving threats. Menelik Holt has more experience than any other returner, although coaches are salivating about the chance to work with Antonio Bell, a 2008 recruit who wasn't on the team last season while he got his grades in order.
  • Rebuild the right side of the offensive line: Powerful blockers Matt Slauson at guard and tackle Lydon Murtha both are gone from last season, leaving a huge void for offensive line coach Barney Cotton to fill. Marcel Jones and D.J. Jones should get the first crack at the starting jobs during the spring.

SOUTH DIVISION

Baylor Bears

Spring practice begins: March 3

Spring game: April 4

What to watch:

  • Competition at offensive tackle: The Bears will be looking for two new starting tackles to replace Don Gay and Jason Smith along the offensive line. Sophomore Joe Korbel figures to get a look at one of the positions, but beyond him it's anybody's guess who will replace the talented pair that combined for 73 career starts.
  • New starters on the left side of the defensive line: Starting defensive end Leon Freeman and defensive tackle Vincent Rhodes both will be gone after their eligibility expired. The only holes in Baylor's front seven will be found there as Jameon Hardeman and Zac Scotton will challenge at defensive end and Sam Sledge at defensive tackle.
  • Better production in their pass defense: The Bears struggled mightily last season and could never seem to produce big plays when they needed them, ranking 103rd in pass defense, 84th in sacks and 109th in tackles for losses. Another spring learning the concepts of defensive coordinator Brian Norwood should benefit them and perhaps serve as a catalyst for a bowl berth with significant improvement.

Oklahoma Sooners

Spring practice begins: March 3

Spring game: April 11

What to watch:

  • Help at wide receiver: After losing Juaquin Iglesias, Quentin Chaney and Manuel Johnson from last season's BCS title-game runner-up, the Sooners desperately need some players to emerge this spring. Ryan Broyles assumes the No. 1 position, although junior college receiver Cameron Kenney will help, along with Brandon Caleb from last season's two-deep roster. It will also be noteworthy to watch the work of running back Mossis Madu, who will receive some work at slot receiver.
  • Competition in the offensive line: Trent Williams is the only returning starter from last season for a talented veteran group that will lose four starters who combined for 149 starts during their college career. The Sooners aren't devoid of talent, but it's just untested. It means they need a big lift this spring from players like tackle Cory Brandon, guards Brian Simmons and Alex Williams and center Jason Hannan.
  • New look at safety: Nic Harris and Lendy Holmes seemingly had been at Oklahoma since
    the days of Brian Bosworth. That's a little bit of an exaggeration, but the Sooner duo combined for 83 starts and provided steady, efficient defense throughout their careers. Quinton Carter and Desmond Jackson appear poised to take over for them, although it will be impossible for the Sooners to match their experience.

Oklahoma State Cowboys

Spring practice begins: March 9

Spring game: April 18

What to watch:

  • Bill Young's work: Oklahoma State has the offense to challenge for the Big 12 championship. But the success of the season ultimately will be determined by the defense generated by new defensive coordinator Bill Young. The Cowboys return six starters but must improve drastically after last season's late collapse that saw them blistered for 56, 61 and 42 points among their final three games of the season.
  • Help at safety and defensive tackle: The Cowboys lose starters Tonga Tea and Jeray Chatham at tackle and starting safeties Quinton Moore and Ricky Price. Those key positions in the heart of Oklahoma State's defense will command much of Young's attention. He's particularly excited about the play of Swanson Miller and Shane Jarka and Johnny Thomas at safety. But other players need to step up when they get their chance.
  • Develop depth at wide receiver: Dez Bryant accounted for a larger percentage of completions than any other wide receiver in the Big 12. His absence this spring as he recovers from knee surgery will enable others to have a chance to play and become acclimated with the first-string offense. The Cowboys' depth at the position is aggravated after Bo Bowling was suspended after his arrest earlier this week. It will provide players like Hubert AnyiamJosh Cooper and DeMarcus Conner an opportunity to work with Zac Robinson while Bryant and Bowling are gone.

Texas Longhorns

Spring practice begins: Feb. 27

Spring game: April 5

What to watch:

  • Build consistency in the running game: The Longhorns ranked 41st nationally in rushing last season -- their worst national ranking since 2002 -- and relied on Colt McCoy as their primary running threat. That dangerous strategy has to change this season if the Longhorns have any legitimate national title contenders. Key tasks during the spring will be to build cohesion in an offensive line that loses only starter Cedric Dockery from last season and additional work for Fozzy Whittaker, who struggled with injuries most of his freshman season last year.
  • Rebuild the defensive front: The Longhorns had the nation's most productive pass rush, leading the country with an average of 3.62 sacks per game last season. It will be a challenge to replace key players like Brian Orakpo, Roy Miller and Henry Melton. But defensive coordinator Will Muschamp liked what he saw in limited playing time for players like Sam Acho, Russell Carter, Ben Alexander, Michael Wilcoxson, Kheeston Randall and Eddie Jones. Those players, along with possibly Sergio Kindle getting more playing time at defensive end, will be key to Texas' defensive hopes this season. And incoming freshmen Dominique Jones, Alex Okafor and Kyle Kriegel all arrived at college early to challenge for immediate playing time.
  • Build confidence with young receivers: Leading receiver Quan Cosby graduated and Jordan Shipley will miss spring work after recovering from shoulder surgery. It will give McCoy a chance to build confidence in some of the younger members of his receiving corps, most notably Brandon Collins, Dan Buckner, Malcolm Williams and James Kirkendoll.

Texas A&M

Spring practice begins: March 26

Spring game: April 18

Spring practice ends: April 24

What to watch:

  • Additional development of young talent: The Aggies were one of the nation's youngest teams last season as 10 true freshmen combined to see action in 90 games and start in 41 of them. The spring will provide an additional opportunity for those young players and others on the roster to gain much-needed experience.
  • Improvement of the pass rush: The biggest hole on defense for the Aggies will be at defensive end where Michael Bennett, Amos Gbunblee and Cyril Obiozor accounted for most of the playing time last season from a group that ranked 11th in the Big 12 and 100th nationally in sacks. Paul Freeney is poised to assume one of the starting positions there. The other side looks like a wide-open battle that will play out throughout the spring and into summer camp.
  • Find a running back: Coach Mike Sherman will be looking at Keondra Smith, Cyrus Gray and Bradley Stephens for the role as the Aggies' featured running back -- for a few weeks anyway. Whoever wins that battle may celebrate a kind of pyrrhic victory as heralded running back Christine Michael arrives for fall camp as the Aggies' likely featured back. But Sherman likely will be working on building depth in the spring.

Texas Tech Red Raiders

Spring practice begins: March 25

Spring game: April 18

Spring practice ends: April 20

What to watch:

  • Any passing game regression?: Graham Harrell and Michael Crabtree rewrote the national record book as one of the most prolific pass-and-catch
    combinations in NCAA history. But yet, the Red Raiders always have always had a potent passing attack with Mike Leach in charge. It will be interesting to see Taylor Potts' development at quarterback and the growth of wide receivers like Detron Lewis, Lyle Leong, Edward Britton, Rashad Hawk and Tramain Swindall as they try to fill those big shoes for the Red Raiders.
  • Find a pass-rushing threat: Defensive end Brandon Williams is turning pro after leading the Big 12 with a school-record 12 sacks last season. McKinner Dixon was a big performer in spot duty last season and could be ready to emerge, as is junior-college transfer Daniel Howard.
  • Rebuild the left side of the offensive line: Rylan Reed and Louis Vasquez were the two most decorated linemen in Texas Tech history during their careers. The productive duo will be missed, along with starting center Stephen Hamby. Chris Olson at left tackle and Lonnie Edwards at left guard aren't nearly as big or experienced as Reed and Vasquez. Growth during the spring for the unit will be important as the Red Raiders prepare for a difficult September schedule.
Tags:

Quentin Chaney, Houston Jones, Ian Campbell, Sergio Kindle, Lydon Murtha, Jerrell Jackson, Menelik Holt, Cyril Obiozor, Will Muschamp, Brad Thorson, Ziggy Hood, Nate Swift, Rodney Stewart, Mike Iltis, Brandon Balkcom, Lonnie Edwards, Barney Cotton, Brian Norwood, Christine Michael, Justin Garrett, Joe Korbel, Ryan Cantrell, Andy Ludwig, Josh Cooper, Aric Goodman, James Kirkendoll, Trent Williams, Chris Cosh, Quan Cosby, Tru Vaughns, Nebraska Cornhuskers, Jameon Hardeman, Mike Rivera, Sam Sledge, Ryan Broyles, Roy Miller, Cameron Kenney, Bill Snyder, Kyle Kriegel, Eddie Jones, Sedrick Johnson, Baylor Bears, Chase Coffman, Brandon Williams, Ben Alexander, Leon Freeman, Texas Longhorns, Jeff Fitzgerald, Marcus Herford, Vincent Rhodes, Mossis Madu, Malcolm Williams, Dez Bryant, Oklahoma State Cowboys, Kody Spanos, Jason Smith, Colt McCoy, William Moore, Stryker Sulak, Brandon Caleb, Johnny Thomas, Ryan Miller, Texas Tech Red Raiders, Michael Bennett, Tommy Saunders, Louis Vasquez, Quinton Moore, Cory Brandon, Adrian Mayes, Missouri Tigers, Darrell Scott, Colorado Buffaloes, R.J. Sumrall, Patrick Witt, Jason Hannan, Shane Jarka, Maxwell Tuiot-Mariner, Matt Slauson, Tommy Chavis, Chase Daniel, Cyrus Gray, McKinner Dixon, Zac Scotton, Chet Hartley, Eric Crouch, Devin Head, Dakota Lewis, Robert Steeples, James Holt, Cody Green, Matt Eberflus, Chris Singleton, Dave Christensen, Oklahoma Sooners, Spring what to watch, Andrew Jones, Michael Wilcoxson, Manuel Johnson, Dan Hawkins, Todd Peterson, Mike Leach, Kansas State Wildcats, Russell Carter, Edward Britton, Dan Buckner, Darius Darks, Alex Williams, Michael Crabtree, Juaquin Iglesias, Angus Quigley, Shawn Watson, Marquis Hamilton, Carl Wilson, Paul Freeney, Paul Rhoads, Bradley Stephens, Kansas Jayhawks, Joe Mortensen, Stephen Hamby, Brian Coulter, Sheldon Richardson, Detron Lewis, Bo Bowling, Lendy Holmes, Bill Young, Zac Robinson, Hubert Anyiam, Blaine Gabbert, Brandon Collins, Jameson Davis, Antonio Bell, Taylor Potts, Daniel Thomas, Iowa State Cyclones, Alex Okafor, Desmond Jackson, Graham Harrell, Benjamin Burney, Keondra Smith, Brian Bosworth, Lyle Leong, Cedric Dockery, Dezmon Briscoe, Earl Goldsmith, Fozzy Whittaker, Nic Harris, Henry Melton, Brian Simmons, Amos Gbunblee, Daniel Howard, Dominique Jones, Jordan Shipley, Chris Olson, Rashad Hawk, Jarrell Harrison, D.J. Jones, Brian Orakpo, Ricky Price, Jeray Chatham, Swanson Miller, Brandon Hunley, Jeremy Maclin, Terrell Resonno, Tremain Swindall, Josh Freeman, Carson Coffman, Gary Pinkel, Zach Grossnickle, DeMarcus Conner, Kheeston Randall, Aldon Smith, Marcel Jones, Dominique Hamilton, Arist Wright, Rylan Reed, Jalil Brown, Quinton Carter, Mike Sherman, Texas A&M Aggies

Oklahoma recruiting capsule

February, 6, 2009
2/06/09
12:23
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

Oklahoma

The Sooners' signing class can be found here.

Recruits: 23

Breakdown: 20 high school, three junior college.

Positions: 5 DB, 4 LB, 4 OL, 3 DE, 2 WR, 1 ATH, 1 QB, 1 TE, 1 RB, 1 DT.

Where they came from: Texas 11, Oklahoma 5, Kansas 2, Missouri 1, Tennessee 1, Georgia 1, Pennsylvania 1, Nevada 1.

The stud: DT Jamarkus McFarland (Lufkin, Texas). The nation's No. 54 prospect on the ESPNU 150. He's a prototypical run-stuffer who projects to be a big contributor at a position where the Sooners are already among the nation's strongest with the return of Gerald McCoy and DeMarcus Granger. He should learn from some of the nation's best.

Recruiting-class sleeper: WR Cameron Kenney of Dacula, Ga., and Garden City Community College. He becomes the most notable addition at wide receiver -- the Sooners' biggest need after the departure of Manuel Johnson, Juaquin Iglesias and Quentin Chaney. Kenney, a former Auburn commitment, is a legitimate deep threat. And he also comes with additional value after averaging 47 yards as a punter and converting eight of nine field goals including a 52-yarder last season at Garden City.

The one who got away: WR Rueben Randle of Bastrop, La. The Sooners were in the hunt for the nation's top receiver until the end, but he couldn't resist the urge to stay close to home by committing to LSU. Randle would have been a key addition for the Sooners where they really need some players.

Needs addressed: Defensive backs, linebackers, defensive line.

Didn't get it: A deep collection of skill-position talent.

Scouts Inc. grade: B (second in the Big 12, second in South Division).

My take: The Sooners loaded up on prime defensive players, but could have used some offensive playmakers. They whiffed late on receivers Randle and Marlon Brown and lost Eric Ward to Texas Tech, but still had an impressive, deep class stacked with top defensive talent.

Top receiver Randle chooses LSU over Oklahoma

February, 4, 2009
2/04/09
2:24
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

Rueben Randle, the nation's top wide receiver prospect, opted for LSU over offers from Oklahoma, Florida and Alabama.

Randle made the announcement during an assembly at his high school before a crowd that applauded when he made his decision.

"The most highly recruited football player we have ever had," Bastrop (La.) coach Brad Bradshaw told the Monroe News Star. "He's won every award a football player can win. But he's also academically qualified, and he has been since the ninth grade. That's a tribute to his family."

Randle would have been an ideal recruit for the Sooners, who need wide receivers after the loss of key players like Manuel Johnson, Juaquin Iglesias and Quentin Chaney from last year's team.

The Sooners top receiving recruit is Cameron Kenney, a junior-college recruit from Garden City Junior College. He should have a chance to contribute immediately.

Tim's mailbag: What would Bryce Brown mean to KSU?

January, 30, 2009
1/30/09
7:11
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

Here's a representative sample from the group of letters that came this week.

Chris from Lawrence, Kan., writes: Tim, from what I'm hearing, Kansas State actually has a good shot at landing Bryce Brown. What kind of impact would you expect him to make next year if he does suit up for Coach Bill Snyder?

Tim Griffin: Obviously, Brown immediately would immediately become Kansas State's top back if he arrived in Manhattan as well as the most publicized recruit in Snyder's coaching tenure. He would give Snyder's team the kind of rushing threat it had with Darren Sproles when it was most successful in its championship season back in 2003.

But I'm still thinking it might be tough to keep him from linking up with his brother at Miami. It will be interesting to see where the younger Brown ends up, although I'm hearing it won't be until well after National Signing Day when we find out where he will be playing.


Steve from Reston, Va., writes: Is there any chance Oklahoma will be adding another wide receiver in this year's recruiting class? I think the recent addition of the junior college of junior college wide receiver Cameron Kenney will help. What do you think?

Tim Griffin: Obviously, I believe that Bob Stoops could find room for Rueben Randle if the heralded receiver from Bastrop, La., would choose the Sooners over LSU among others. Randle is visiting Gene Chizik and Auburn this weekend. And the Sooners probably will still need to add another receiver or two to help Sam Bradford, considering the loss of key targets like Manuel Johnson, Juaquin Iglesias and Quentin Chaney from this year's team.

There figures to be a lot of passes for somebody to catch for the Sooners next season.


Ryan from Lincoln, Neb., writes: You reported earlier this year that Bo Pelini was one of the lowest-paid head coaches in the Big 12. Have you heard any rumors about when he might get offered a raise after going 9-4?

Tim Griffin: Coaches are like anybody else, with ego driving their salary demands.

But that being said, I think Pelini earned every penny of his $1.1 million salary last season, which now ranks as tied for the lowest in the league along with Paul Rhoads of Iowa State and Bill Snyder of Kansas State, according to the web site coacheshotseat.com. The league's formerly lowest paid coach, Mike Gundy of Oklahoma State, got a big raise back in December.

I'm thinking Pelini would be deserving of a renegotiation, considering the way that salaries are spiraling upwards in college football. But the decision will ultimately be made by Nebraska athletic director Tom Osborne.


David Correa from Dallas writes: Tim, Any truth to the rumors that Baylor and Wake Forest are looking to drop each other from the upcoming 2009 schedule?

Tim Griffin: I haven't heard any rumblings from either side about canceling that game. But I know after covering the game in Waco back in August that Wake Forest coach Jim Grobe saying that he wasn't looking forward to the rematch in Winston-Salem in 2009. And that was before Robert Griffin started really showing what he could do as a versatile run-pass option.

And with Baylor looking to qualify for its first bowl game since 1994, I could see why they wouldn't necessarily be looking forward to facing the Demon Deacons on their home field, either.

It will be interesting to see if the game comes together. Because there still is a contract for a return date in place, the last I checked.


Steve Johnson from Wichita, Kan., writes: Tim, how could you forget about the infamous story about how Josh Freeman got out of his Nebraska commitment and left for Kansas State on your list of memorable recruiting stories this morning.

Tim Griffin: Sorry, Steve, that one slipped my mind. It was a good one. Namely, the urban legend is that Freeman informed then-Nebraska coach Bill Callahan he wouldn't be attending Nebraska by a text message.

Understandably, the announcement didn't make Callahan very happy. He responded with the legendary line where he called out Freeman, although he didn't call him by name. Callahan said about Freeman's de-commitment: "If you're a prima donna, if you're a drama queen, there's no room for you at Nebraska. You can go to Kansas State."


Ryan Carrell of Round Rock, Texas, writes: Tim, you said that former Miami quarterback Robert Marve "blistered Texas A&M for 212 passing yards and two touchdowns to orchestrate a 41-23 victory over the Aggies in College Station last season." Would you like to take a mulligan on the word "blistered?" Especially in the context of the A&M squad. Blistered might have been 400+ yards, but a little more than 200 is barely enough to get a rug burn.

Tim Griffin: Except when it concerns Robert Marve. It was his career high, so I think the term "blistered" is used in the right context for him. And Marve could have thrown for many more yards if the game had been closer, but Miami ran the ball for much of the second half in the easy victory.

So putting everything into context, I think that Marve blistered the Aggies. Or at least that's what I remembered A&M defensive coordinator Joe Kines saying after the game.


Tom Krier writes: Tim, I read your comments on Nebraska winning the North if they can find a "serviceable quarterback." You might point out that Nebraska offensive coordinator Shawn Watson seems to be a master of doing just that. The success he had at Colorado with backup quarterbacks (Bobby Pesavanto, for example) was impressive.

Tim Griffin: Tom, I agree with you. The work that Watson did with Joel Klatt, Robert Hodge and Craig Ochs wasn't too shabby, either, during his time at Colorado. And I doubt many Nebraska fans could have projected Joe Ganz's record-breaking season last season if you had asked him if those numbers were possible back in August.

It's why I think that Watson is one of the most underrated offensive coordinators in the nation. I expect him to be a head coach somewhere pretty soon. While I'm writing checks for Osborne, I might considering bumping up Watson, too.

That's all for this week. Keep the letters and e-mails coming and I'll check back again next week.

Sooners land big receiving commitment

January, 26, 2009
1/26/09
6:36
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford has helped his team fill one of its biggest needs.

The Tulsa World reports that Bradford's persistence helped the Sooners land wide receiver Cameron Kenney, who produced 83 receptions in two seasons at Garden City (Kan.) Community College.

Kenney committed early to Auburn, but changed his mind after Tommy Tuberville was fired. He considered South Carolina and Georgia along with the Sooners, but apparently heard when he wanted when he met with Bradford during his recruiting trip two weeks ago. Kenney committed to the Sooners over the weekend after visiting Georgia.

His arrival is especially huge for the Sooners considering they lose senior receivers Manuel Johnson, Juaquin Iglesias and Quentin Chaney. The 6-foot-2, 195-pound Kenney will immediately challenge for playing time with Oklahoma and could help provide playmaking balance to go with top returning receivers Ryan Broyles and tight end Jermaine Gresham.

Oklahoma recruiting needs

January, 20, 2009
1/20/09
1:09
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

Oklahoma has carved out a dynasty in the Big 12 with six championships during the last nine seasons and an unprecedented three-peat of league titles from 2006-08. The backbone of that success has been tenacious recruiting over the years by Bob Stoops and his staff.

The return of quarterback Sam Bradford, tackle Trent Williams, tight end Jermaine Gresham and defensive tackle Gerald McCoy for another season after they considered an early departure for the NFL will give the Sooners a chance to compete for another title in 2009. But the Sooners still have some major holes to fill with additional personnel that can be addressed through this year's recruiting.

Williams is the only starter returning along the offensive line. The need is especially apparent at guard and center, where the Sooners are young and untested at both positions.

The Sooners also need help at wide receiver where Ryan Broyles is the only returning player in Oklahoma's four-man rotation with the loss of Juaquin Iglesias, Manuel Johnson and Quentin Chaney among their leading receivers. And tight ends Gresham and Brody Eldridge both will be seniors in 2009, meaning there's an immediate need for help there, too.

Stoops' defense is largely young with three sophomores and a freshman along the defensive front. The linebackers appear stacked with redshirt freshmen Travis Lewis and Austin Box poised to become defensive staples in upcoming seasons.

Oklahoma's major defensive positional need is is at safety where Nic Harris and Lendy Holmes both were seniors last season. The Sooners have some younger players behind them, but could an upgrade of talent for a secondary that was leaky at times last season.

Sooners make offer to top juco wide receiver

January, 15, 2009
1/15/09
9:54
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

Oklahoma's immediate needs at wide receiver have caught the attention of Cameron Kenney of Garden City (Kan.) C.C., who was offered a scholarship by the Sooners on Wednesday.

Kenney told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that Oklahoma and Georgia are at the top of his list.

"It's Oklahoma ... What else can you say? They just played for the national championship and they said they needed me," Kenney told the Journal-Constitution. "I'm trying to keep a [low profile] about this. But it's exciting."

Oklahoma will lose senior receivers Juaquin Iglesias, Manuel Johnson and Quentin Chaney from this season's roster. Iglesias led the team with 74 receptions, Johnson produced 42 catches and Chaney averaged a team-high 17.4 yards per catch on 29 grabs.

The Sooners' late offer has led to a change for Kenney, who said he will cancel a scheduled recruiting trip to South Carolina this weekend to come to Norman and visit Sooner coaches.

Kenney, an early Auburn commitment, still is considering the Tigers along with Kansas State. He plans to visit Georgia last among his finalists.

The return of Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford intrigued Kenney, but he said Bradford's decision won't factor into his final decision.

"I'm going with the place that feels like the best fit for me," he said.

Halftime: Oklahoma 38, Missouri 7

December, 6, 2008
12/06/08
10:13
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Oklahoma came into the Big 12 title game needing to make a statement to prove their legitimacy as the South Division title-game participants.

After one half, the Sooners' resounding 38-7 lead shows that they not only belong in Kansas City, but likely in Miami for the BCS title game as well.

The Sooners have scored on all but one first-half possession as they have manhandled the Tigers from the start. They've already piled up 359 yards on 54 first-half plays, averaging 6.6 yards per snap.

It's that high-powered offense that has enabled them to score 678 points for the season, setting a modern-day NCAA record.

Oklahoma's defense has been fearsome, notching two sacks and forcing two turnovers. Cornerback Brian Jackson has notched a fumble recovery and an interception that set up scoring drives.

How dominant has it been? Leading Oklahoma rusher DeMarco Murray sprained his ankle on the opening kickoff and hasn't played. And he's hardly been missed as the Sooners have piled up 119 rushing yards.

The onslaught could best be seen late in the first half. After Chase Daniel was tackled with seven seconds left, the Tigers decided to meekly let the rest of the clock tick away despite having the ball on the Sooners' side of the 50.

Oklahoma scored 28 points in the second quarter and blew the game open. The Tigers look beaten and like they want to go sit where it's warm instead of coming out for the second half.

Here are some items of interest I've noticed in watching the first half.

  • The South Division has dominated the Big 12 in the last several years and it's continuing tonight with Oklahoma's fast start. Including the last four years and tonight's first half, the South Division teams have outscored the North, 202-37.
  • The Sooners have taken advantage of their huge size edge on the left side, running behind clearing blocks by massive left tackle Phil Loadholt and Outland finalist Duke Robinson for success throughout the first half.
  • The Sooners became the first team in Big 12 history with a pair of 1,000-yard backs. Murray came into the game with 1,002 yards. And Brown has joined him with 83 yards and two touchdowns in the first half, giving him 1,071 for the season.
  • Missouri's secondary struggled throughout the season. And the loss of starting cornerback Castine Bridges appears to have worsened the condition. The Tigers have been susceptible to slants as they've been outclassed by Oklahoma's more physical and quicker collection of receivers. Ryan Broyles has six catches, Juaquin Iglesias has four and Quentin Chaney has two. And massive tight end Jermaine Gresham has run free through the secondary with six receptions for 59 yards.
  • The game has been chippy in the early going. Oklahoma defensive end Frank Alexander and Missouri tackle Elvis Fisher both were flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct after tangling in the first quarter.

Veteran Missouri wide receiver Tommy Saunders was flagged for taunting after the Tigers' touchdown, setting up good field position that the Sooners turned into a 53-yard touchdown drive. And Iglesias was flagged for taunting after his own touchdown later in the second quarter.

It prompted referee Randy Christal to call the teams together with about 12 minutes to go in the half, telling them to cool the extra energy.

  • Sam Bradford's Heisman candidacy has never looked stronger. Despite playing with an injured left thumb immobilized by a splint, Bradford has completed 22 of 31 yards for 240 yards and two touchdowns in the first half.

Halftime: Oklahoma 21, Oklahoma State 13

November, 29, 2008
11/29/08
10:08
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

STILLWATER, Okla. -- It took a little while for Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford to get into a groove.

But once he did, he proved why he's one of the best quarterbacks in the country.

Bradford directed a pair of 14-play scoring drives to finish the half, directing the Sooners to a 21-13 halftime advantage over Oklahoma State.

The sophomore quarterback completed 8 of 11 for 82 yards on the final drive, capping it with a 4-yard dart to tight end Jermaine Gresham with 13 seconds left in the half. Gresham made four catches on the drive, including two acrobatic ones where he tipped the ball to himself.

It capped a 171-yard first-half effort that upped Bradford's season passing total to 3,881 yards, a new Oklahoma single-season record. The previous best was Josh Heupel's 3,850 in 1999.

Earlier, Bradford had struggled through his worst beginning of the season, misfiring on his first four passes and five of his first nine attempts in the first quarter. The Cowboys were mixing pass coverages as the Sooners dropped or had a hand on Bradford's first three incompletions.

And the Sooners showed their versatility on an earlier scoring drive with a 14-play, 79-yard drive that included seven runs and seven passes. The Sooners overcame second-and-10, second-and-12 and second-and-18 plays in that scoring drive as it converted four third-down plays in a punishing performance that seemed to wear out the Oklahoma State defense.

It's enough to boost the Sooners within 30 minutes of forcing a historic three-way tie for the South Division championship. Texas Tech and Texas have already earned a share of the title with victories earlier this weekend.

Here are some other items of interest I've noticed.

  • So much for any worries about Oklahoma State tailback Kendall Hunter's injured quadricep muscle. Hunter snagged a 23-yard TD reception to account for the Cowboys' only touchdown and also added a game-high 59 rushing yards. He's running hard and has needed only one break.
  • The only injury of note in the first half was Oklahoma nose guard Adrian Taylor who was dinged after he was hit by Oklahoma middle linebacker Austin Box late in the first quarter.
  • Oklahoma has been plagued with some drops in the first half, with at least four incompletions where receivers had a hand on the ball. But Gresham's athleticism with two grabs on balls he tipped to himself made up for those struggles.
  • The crowd doesn't appear to be nearly as sparse as expected as only a few seats in the upper corners are empty. And these Oklahoma State fans became a factor early. It helped cause a false start on Oklahoma's first play from scrimmage that led to a three-and-out on Oklahoma's first possession. It was only the second time that the Sooners had failed to score on their opening possession this season.
  • Oklahoma is taking advantage of a massive size advantage by running heavily towards its left side that includes 350-pound left tackle Phil Loadholt and 330-pound Duke Robinson.
  • The Cowboys are showing a lot of new wrinkles, using Robinson more as a rushing threat than earlier in the season. His serpentine 11-yard scramble showed his athleticism as he eluded tacklers for eight seconds of game action. When he's running like that, Robinson might be the conference's most athletic quarterback.
  • Oklahoma State kicker Dan Bailey has drilled a pair of field goals, extending his streak to nine straight. Bailey's 44-yard field goal that pulled the Cowboys within 14-13 was the longest kick of his career. He previously had missed all four attempts in his career of longer than 40 yards.
  • Oklahoma's defensive front did a better job after Oklahoma State had taken the lead on the touchdown pass to Hunter. After that play, Robinson did not complete another pass in the first half.
  • The explosive Oklahoma offensive play was held in check with only two plays of 20 yards or more -- a 21-yard pass from Bradford to Quentin Chaney and DeMarco Murray's 20-yard touchdown run to cap Oklahoma's second drive.

Big 12 lunchtime links: 'Hub City' is hopping this week

October, 30, 2008
10/30/08
1:32
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

It's hard to believe the glare of the national television spotlight that will be fixed to Lubbock this weekend.

"The Hub City" has never received this much national attention -- even back in the days when Buddy Holly was streaking across the firmament during his short-lived, star-crossed career as a rock icon.

Today, it's Mike Leach and Graham Harrell, Colt McCoy and Mack Brown who are commanding most of the attention. It's continuing a season-long tradition that has enabled Texas to become even more of a national darling than before in terms of television appeal, according to the Austin American-Statesman's Suzanne Halliburton.  

Texas Tech fans are aiming to beat the record crowd to attend "College GameDay" before Saturday's game against Texas. The previous record crowd of 17,000, was set earlier at Nebraska, the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal reported.

Lack of available flights are sending some fans and reporters flying into Amarillo or Midland -- both about a two-hour drive away -- to arrive for the game. The Avalanche-Journal reported that tickets on eBay are going for as much as $1,000 apiece.

Restaurants are stocking up with extra cold beverages and trimming beef to get ready for the crowds expected to flock before and after the game. It could be the biggest single weekend of tourism-related spending in Lubbock history.

And it should be quite a sight to experience. We can only hope the game lives up to its hype.

Until then, here are some stories from across the Big 12 for your perusal this lunchtime.

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