Big 12: Raphael Guidry
1. Absolutely slow the big plays. K-State's been blown out once all season. Oklahoma did it with touchdowns of 61, 31, 29 and 18 yards in a 58-17 win. Arkansas has the capability to blow Kansas State's doors off, but the Wildcats have proven mostly capable of at least slowing or keeping up with high-octane offenses like Baylor and Oklahoma State. Arkansas' not quite on that level, but the Razorbacks are really potent. The biggest way to let this get out of hand is pretty simple: Quick scores and yardage coming in chunks.
2. Grind, grind, grind. We all know there ain't nothin' wrong with that. Even in the Big 12. Kansas State's a unique team, but it may finish this game with two 1,000-yard rushers. Collin Klein's already there, but running back John Hubert -- far underrated in his own right -- needs just 67 more yards to cross that mark. He's averaging nearly 5 yards a carry. This running attack can wear down Arkansas' defense, but the less the Hogs have the ball in their hands, the better for K-State. The Wildcats are fourth nationally in time of possession for a reason. They run the ball, and they've turned the ball over just 13 times in 12 games. Five teams have fewer turnovers.
3. Snyderball, baby. This is what K-State does. Chances are high it gets outgained in this game. That's nothing new. Earlier this season, it won four consecutive games in which it was both an underdog and outgained. This will almost certainly be another one. It wins by making defensive stops and forcing turnovers, and capitalizing on special teams play. Kick returner Tyler Lockett, who took two kicks back for scores, is the only piece missing. He's out with a kidney injury. Raphael Guidry loves to block kicks (he's got four this year) and Anthony Cantele's been solid in the placekicking game. K-State knows to win where it counts most. This team, especially.
Kansas State and Iowa State are letting it fly early on. Iowa State scored on a 30-yard pass from Jared Barnett to Darius Darks after Jeff Woody flipped it back to Barnett on a flea flicker.
K-State's Collin Klein answered on the first play of the next drive, hitting Tramaine Thompson over the top of the defense for a perfect 68-yard score, coincidentally his first completion of the day.
Iowa State only needed five plays to score again before K-State blocked the extra point to keep the lead at 13-7 with seconds to play in the first quarter.
Raphael Guidry, who blocked two kicks against Texas Tech earlier this season, broke through to get another after the score.
For the majority of the first quarter, this game was exactly what we expected: Two physical teams running the ball and not offering up opportunities to make mistakes.
In two plays, that's all changed. It's been pretty fun to watch. That 68-yard score was the longest play of K-State's season, too.
Here's hoping both teams keep the playbooks open for the rest of this one, even as the rain continues to fall.
Best defensive player: A.J. Klein, LB, Iowa State. Klein made 12 tackles, including seven in the first quarter, and returned an interception 78 yards for a touchdown in a loss to Missouri. Honorable mention: Jamie Blatnick, DE, Oklahoma State; Nigel Malone, CB, Kansas State; Steven Johnson, LB, Kansas.
Best quarter: Texas A&M’s fourth-quarter defense. With the win against Baylor still in doubt, the Aggies posted a welcome "0" on the scoreboard. The quarter began with a goal-line stand against the Bears. The first play of the next possession resulted in an interception, which was Texas A&M's first turnover in 22 quarters and Robert Griffin's second pick of the season. A&M gave up just one first down in the quarter and earned a sack on Baylor's final possession while the offense put the game out of reach.
Biggest heart: Jake Knott, LB, Iowa State. The Cyclones linebacker hasn't practiced in two weeks and dislocated his shoulder twice in last week's game, popping it back in himself both times and returning to the game. His shoulder was in a sling all week, but he played on Saturday against Missouri and made four tackles with an interception and a forced fumble.
Testiest exchange: Baylor coach Art Briles and the Bryan-College Station Eagle. A reporter, who later identified himself as an Eagle reporter, asked about what Mike Sherman had said to Robert Griffin III after the game. "Is that an A&M question? He doesn't need to answer that," Briles said, asking if the reporter was from A&M. After he identified himself, Briles said, "OK, he doesn't need to answer that," and ignored questions about what was wrong with the inquiry. Not a fan of the oversensitive, unnecessary reaction to a harmless question. No love lost in this now-defunct rivalry. Here's the full video of the exchange.
Best game: Kansas State 41, Texas Tech 34. A second-half comeback, uncharacteristic interceptions, and a late rally complete with a successful onside kick. It also featured two blocked kicks and an interception for a touchdown. The Wildcats got the dramatic come-from-behind win and moved to 6-0, perhaps setting up one of the biggest games of the year next Saturday when it hosts Oklahoma.
Best play: Ryan Broyles, WR, Oklahoma. Broyles sprinted into the record books the way every player hopes to. His NCAA record-breaking 317th career reception went for a 57-yard touchdown against Kansas to make an historic night even more memorable.
Best team performance: Texas A&M. Facing a top 25 opponent, Texas A&M finally put two big-time halves together, outscoring the Bears 31-14 in the second half to earn an impressive 55-28 win.
Best losing effort: Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor. Griffin didn't make enough plays in the fourth quarter, but he was still outstanding with a career-high 430 yards and three touchdowns on 28-of-40 passing.
Best brick wall impression: Raphael Guidry, DT, Kansas State. No man kicks a field goal with Raphael roaming the line of scrimmage. The 6-foot-4, 290-pound senior blocked two kicks in the win against Texas Tech.
Most efficient effort: Jeremy Smith, RB, Oklahoma State. Who needs volume touches? Smith had just seven carries, but turned them into a game-high 140 yards with touchdown runs of 74 and 30 yards.
Best redemption: Texas Tech's onside kick team. You might have seen this group on YouTube racking up millions of hits for giving up a touchdown to Baylor... a week after giving one up to Iowa State to ice a loss in Ames. Last week, though, this group gave the offense one last chance by recovering an onside kick in the final minutes against Kansas State.
Ryan Broyles, WR, Oklahoma: Broyles caught touchdown passes of 57 and 43 yards in a 47-17 win against Kansas and set the NCAA record for career receptions with his 57-yard score. He finished with 13 catches for 216 yards.
Jamie Blatnick, DE, Oklahoma State: Blatnick had a Big 12 season-high four tackles for loss in a 38-26 win against Texas. He had two sacks and a career-high nine tackles. He also broke up a pass.
Raphael Guidry, DT, Kansas State: Guidry blocked two kicks in Kansas State's 41-34 win against Texas Tech. He was the first K-State player to block two kicks in a single game since 2003.
Here are the rest of the position rankings.
Now that we've finished ranking the complete units, we'll start ranking the top 10 at each position very soon leading into the 2011 season.
This is a decent position for the Big 12 this season, and the top half of the league should feel pretty good about their group. There aren't many studs in this group, but there are a whole lot of solid players.
2. Oklahoma -- Oklahoma's defensive tackles are somewhat suspect, but the defensive end combo of Ronnell Lewis (provided he is eligible come fall camp) and Frank Alexander is on par with the best in the Big 12. Both were preseason All-Big 12 selections, but Jamarkus McFarland needs to make good on his potential. Stacy McGee and Casey Walker should both get time at the other tackle spot.
3. Texas -- Defensive end Jackson Jeffcoat is loaded with potential as the nation's former No. 1 recruit. He had a big impact early last season before being slowed by an ankle injury. Alex Okafor moved outside from defensive tackle just before spring and had five sacks in the spring game. Inside, Kheeston Randall is an All-Big 12 favorite, but Ashton Dorsey had a strong spring and could help out with Reggie Wilson opposite Randall.
4. Texas A&M -- The Aggies have one of the best linemen in the league in Tony Jerod-Eddie, but Jonathan Mathis, Eddie Brown Jr. and Ben Bass have a lot to prove around him after the loss of Lucas Patterson, who was outstanding in 2010.
5. Texas Tech -- Sam Fehoko has moved to defensive end from middle linebacker, and should provide some good speed to the front line. Scott Smith looked on his way to an All-Big 12 campaign last season, but was suspended for the remainder of the season by coach Tommy Tuberville and has yet to be officially reinstated. For now, Dartwan Bush and Aundrey Barr will help out at defensive end, outside of Donald Langley, Kerry Hyder and Pearlie Graves. The Red Raiders did snatch a big pickup from departed UNC signee Delvon Simmons, a defensive tackle that could have an impact immediately.
6. Oklahoma State -- Defensive line is the biggest weak spot for the Cowboys, who have a decent set of ends in Jamie Blatnick and former heralded recruit Richetti Jones, but an even bigger question mark at defensive tackle where Christian Littlehead and Nigel Nicholas enter fall camp as starters.
7. Kansas -- Top rusher turned defensive end Toben Opurum came on strong late last season and should be one of the most exciting Jayhawks to watch in 2011, but the rest of the line leaves a bit to be desired. Keba Agostino has the other starting spot at defensive end ahead of Pat Lewandowski, who had a great spring. Patrick Dorsey and John Williams enter fall camp as starters at defensive tackles.
8. Kansas State -- K-State recruited this position hard in its 2011 class. For now, defensive end Brandon Harold will try to bounce back from a disappointing 2010 after a promising 2009. Lance Dunbar and Taylor Martinez think this group is ranked too high, but Meshak Williams could start opposite Harold, while Ray Kibble and Raphael Guidry should be the tackles inside.
9. Baylor -- Tevin Elliott was limited this spring because of offseason shoulder surgery, and Terrance Lloyd exited spring practice as the starter, but I'd expect Elliott to regain the spot by the time the season arrives. Phil Taylor, a first-round pick, is a big loss, but Gary Mason Jr. will try to fill his spot next to Nicolas Jean-Baptiste.
10. Iowa State -- Having a pair of linebackers combine for 241 tackles is a good and bad thing. They've got outstanding linebackers, but the defensive line was the Big 12's worst last season for a unit that ranked 10th in rush defense and had just 11 sacks. That was the fewest sacks in the Big 12 and more than just three teams in all of college football. The good news is all four starters return, but for now, this is where the Cyclones start. Stephen Ruempolhamer has some promise, but Cleyon Laing, Jake McDonough and ends Patrick Neal and Roosevelt Maggitt have a lot to prove. Jacob Lattimer ran into offseason trouble, but re-appeared atop the depth chart released by the Cyclones on Wednesday.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
Two potential Kansas State starters were among three players who were placed on the team's physically unable to perform list announced Monday morning by coach Ron Prince.
Senior 308-pound offensive lineman Jordan Bedore and sophomore 304-pound nose guard Xzavier Stewart failed to pass KSU's required pre-camp conditioning test that was administered to each of the team's veteran players prior to the team's first workout on Monday.
Also failing to pass the test was 276-pound redshirt freshman defensive end Raphael Guidry.
The three players will continue to work on their conditioning, but will not be allowed to practice with the team until they pass the test, Prince said.
The players will be able to retake the test each day and can return to practice as soon as they earn a passing score.