Big 12: Rashaun Woods
Fellow expert Todd McShay has the same two as Kiper and also is optimistic about the chances of West Virginia’s Geno Smith and Tavon Austin.
So let’s split the difference and label the potential Big 12 first-round picks as an optimistic three, with Johnson being the only absolute first-round lock.
Those three would represent the fewest Big 12 players taken in the first round of the NFL draft since 2008. Even if four went, the Big 12 still would have the fewest since 2008.
That year, only Kansas -- yep, the Jayhawks -- managed a first-rounder, Aqib Talib to Tampa Bay with the 20th pick. In the four drafts that followed, the Big 12 has always put at least five players into the first round, including the first four overall picks in 2010.
How well this year’s group of first-round picks will fare might not be known for years. What is known, though, is how well Big 12 players have done when they are selected in the first round. With that in mind, here is a ranking -- from worst to best -- of the Big 12’s best first-round draft classes over the past 10 years.
2008: It’s all about quantity, and a little bit of quality. In 2008, the Big 12 only produced one first-round pick, Talib. He has not produced dramatic returns in the NFL. In the past two years, he has only started nine games. He was somewhat productive for Tampa Bay in the previous three seasons, starting 41 games and playing in 53. But, again, he was the only Big 12 player taken in the first round in 2008.
2006: Vince Young is working out at Texas’ pro day at the end of March. Enough said. Davin Joseph and Michael Huff have been solid producers. But when the No. 3 overall pick is out of the league and having to work out at his alma mater's pro day, it means it was a bad year for the Big 12 in the first round of the NFL draft.
2004: Tommie Harris and Marcus Tubbs, the two defensive tackles taken in the first round, were productive for a few years, with Harris selected to Pro Bowls in 2005, '06 and ’07 before he was beset by injuries. Tubbs lasted four seasons in the NFL. Roy Williams had 5,715 receiving yards but never lived up to the hype he generated coming out of Texas. Rashaun Woods played only two years and had seven career catches.
2005: The lack of numbers might be what hurts this group the most. Cedric Benson, Jammal Brown, Derrick Johnson, Mark Clayton and Fabian Washington all proved they could play at the NFL level. Benson has had three 1,000-yard-plus seasons. Johnson is one of the top linebackers in the game. Brown remains a solid option on the offensive line. Clayton played seven NFL seasons; Washington played six. But there were only five guys selected and that isn't enough to push 2005 to the top of the list.
2007: It wasn’t the biggest group, but it did include Adrian Peterson, so there could be some quibbling that maybe 2007 should be higher in the rankings. Throw in Aaron Ross and Michael Griffin and the debate could get even more heated. Adam Carriker was also taken this year. He started his career strong but suffered an injury and only played in two games last season.
2003: Kevin Williams has been the standout of this group. The defensive tackle has started every game but four in his 10-year career. Terence Newman has been effective as a defensive back, first in Dallas and last season in Cincinnati. Tyler Brayton played at least 15 games on the defensive line in a nine-year career. Ty Warren played eight solid seasons for New England but tailed off last season with Denver. Andre Woolfolk lasted four seasons, mostly as a reserve.
2011: Von Miller, who was the highest pick among Big 12 players this year, has proved to be the top player so far. Aldon Smith is not far behind. Add in Prince Amukamara, Phillip Taylor, who when healthy is a starter at defensive tackle, a somewhat productive Blaine Gabbert and Nate Solder as well as reliable backups Danny Watkins and Jimmy Smith and this proved to be a successful year for Big 12 first-round selections.
2012: Three quarterbacks, and all were not only starters as rookies but also made huge differences for their respective squads. Clearly, Robert Griffin III made the most dramatic impact, but Ryan Tannehill, with the Dolphins, and Brandon Weeden, with Cleveland, were both solid. Kendall Wright and Justin Blackmon each had 64 catches, for Tennessee and Jacksonville, respectively. Blackmon was targeted more (133 to 104) and had 200 more receiving yards.
2010: This list maybe doesn’t have the star power and is not littered with offensive playmakers, but six of the nine players picked were selected for the 2013 NFL Pro Bowl: Gerald McCoy, Trent Williams, Ndamukong Suh, Earl Thomas, Russell Okung and Jermaine Gresham. And the other three players -- Dez Bryant, Sam Bradford and Sean Weatherspoon -- were vital pieces for their respective teams.
- Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby says the Big 12 "could be proactive" in expansion soon, reports Jimmy Burch of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
- The biggest reason why I don't believe it'll happen? The Big 12 is poised to cash the biggest checks per school of any conference in college football, reports Blair Kerkhoff of the Kansas City Star.
- Former Oklahoma State star Rashaun Woods is trying his hand at high school coaching now, reports Scott Wright of The Oklahoman.
- Everybody deserves a second chance, and Casey Pachall is no different, writes Randy Galloway of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
- Chip Kelly is gone from Oregon. Could Oklahoma and Oklahoma State benefit on the recruiting trail? Anthony Slater of The Oklahoman checks on the possibility.
- Get to know Texas Tech's new running backs coach a little better. He's making the jump from high school to college.
- Tavon Austin won yet another award for being a good return man.
- The nation's No. 1 receiver is announcing his destination today at 5 p.m. and could be headed to Oklahoma State, writes Gina Mizell of The Oklahoman.
- KU football's team GPA last fall was the highest since they started tracking it in 1986.
Dennis McElroy in Lamoni, Iowa, wrote: How quickly you forget Troy Davis. First back to have back to back 2000 yard seasons while playing on horrible Iowa State teams. If he had the benefit of the talent of an Oklahoma, there is no telling what he might have accomplished.
Ray Cobra in Los Angeles wrote: 1997, Michael Bishop led K-State to an 11-1 record and a Fiesta Bowl blow-out win while outplaying a guy named Donovan McNabb before a national audience. Bishop became a star that season and set K-State up as a national title contender for the next. How is that not one of the best Big 12 seasons by a player or at least on the just-missed list? Hard to argue that 11-1 and a Fiesta Bowl win in your first year out of juco as the starting QB for a Bill Snyder offense is better than losing the Big 12 title game and then failing to show-up for the Alamo Bowl as in Bishop's 98, which did make your 'just missed' list (and was indeed a fine season). Despite KSU's one loss to the eventual national champion in Lincoln and despite the fact that he was a basically a rookie, Bishop had a dream season in 97. Don't you agree?
Chris in Lindsberg, Kan., wrote: Big 12 Best Individual Seasons- Terence Newman, CB, Kansas State, 2002. In 2002, Terence Newman was a consensus First Team All-American, won the Jim Thorpe award, and was a finalist for the Bronko Nagurski award.It is easy to forget just how dominant Newman was during his senior season. Newman was constantly locked up with top receivers (Keary Colbert, Mike Williams, Shaun McDonald, Roy Williams), but he only surrendered one receiving touchdown all year (Rashaun Woods, Oklahoma State). In addition to eviscerating the other team's best receiver every week, Newman also contributed offensively and in the return game. He scored in four different ways (reception, punt return, kickoff return, defensive PAT), gave the Wildcats punt return touchdowns of 71 and 40 yards and a kickoff return touchdown of 95 yards. Newman's most memorable play of the season occurred during a 27-20 home win against #11 USC in September. With less than a minute before halftime and K-State holding a 10-0 lead, the Trojans recovered a fumble for a momentum-shifting touchdown. But the extra point attempt was blocked. Newman picked up the ball and raced 90 yards for a defensive two-point conversion.
Matt in Kansas City wrote: What about K-State Linebackers....Josh Buhl (undersized LB) had 184 tackles in 2003 which #2 all-time in college football....Mark Simoneau - 1999 consensus 1st team All American and Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year...if you look at best defensive careers he has to be up there....400 career tackles and 251 unassisted stops...also Big 12 1st-team 3 times
Kyle in Houston wrote: Best Individual Season: Dat Nguyen - 1998 -> Unanimous All-American -> Chuck Bednarik Award -> Lombardi Award -> Jack Lambert Award -> Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year -> First-Team All-Big 12
OU woofer in Houston wrote: Quentin Griffin - as a senior totaled 287 carries for 1,884 yards with 15 scores,and also caught 35 passes for 264 yards with 3 Tds, (single game for the season was 248 yrds/32 carries/1 td vs UT). The three-year starter helped OUwin a national championship in 2000 and he finished fourth in school history in career rushing yards (3,756), third in touchdowns (44) and finished second in all-purpose yards (4,973). He is 4 on OU's all time rushing leaders behind, Billy Sims, Joe Washinton, Adrian Peterson and Steve Owens. ...
Kenton in OKC wrote: Justin Blackmon's 2010 campaign deserves to be among the top 5 Big 12 seasons of all-time. He is the ONLY RECEIVER IN FBS HISTORY TO DO WHAT HE DID! 100 yds and a TD in every game played, come on. He torched OU's secondary on a bum ankle. I'm just appalled you left him out of the top 5. ONLY PLAYER IN HISTORY!
John Galt in New York wrote: Got to say Dubs. A little shocked not to see RGIII not make the list. I wouldn't consider him number 1 but I would say its hard to deny him the 3-5 spot. It appears you went pretty team-centric in your choosing. 2 Texas, 2 OK, and a corn husker. All teams with loads of talent and not just at the dynamic positions. Looking at the title "Best Individual Big 12 Seasons Ever", emphasis should be on the individual and to say that RGIII wasn't in the top five is a little disappointing. Not too many people would be surprised to hear Texas, Oklahoma, or Nebraska have a Heisman talent player or that player be on a National Championship team...but Baylor? Not sure any other offensive player on your list could win 10 games with the same Baylor team.
Kevin in Ardmore, Okla., wrote: Went to OSU and was wondering why you skipped over Brandon Weedon this last year. Lets see his stats. 2011 OKST 408 Comp 564 Att 72.3 Ptc 4727 Yds 8.4 Avg 37 TD 67 Lng 13 Int 159.8 Rat. Who he beat, Nick Foles, Ryan Tannehill, David Ash, Collin Klein, RGIII, Landry Jones and Andrew Luck. How many of those are now or will be NFL QBs. Know tell me how he isn't good enough not only to make the list, but not to make Just missed.
Jeff in Manhattan, Kan., wrote: Jordy Nelson, Kansas State, 2007. While not Justin Blackmon or Michael Crabtree, he still deserves a "near miss" mention as he was a consensus All-American with 122 catches for 1606 yds and 11 TDs, also threw for 2 touchdowns and returned 2 more punts to round out the stat sheet. Also, this. Thanks, Ubbs.
Jay Adams in Ames, Iowa, wrote: How can you leave out Seneca Wallace? Not only did he have the most prolific career for an Iowa State quarterback, but he led Iowa State to an unprecedented, and since unmatched, 11th rank in the nation.
Just the facts, ma'am.
- Oklahoma State has appeared in 27 consecutive BCS standings, tied for second in the FBS.
- The Cowboys have forced three more turnovers (29) than any team in college football, with the most interceptions (17) and the second most fumbles recovered (12).
- Kansas State and Oklahoma State met 57 times. Until Saturday, they've never met while both were ranked teams.
- Oklahoma State receiver Justin Blackmon is only the third OSU receiver to ever surpass 200 catches.
- Blackmon is averaging 4.8 fewer yards per reception this season.
- His only touchdown catch of longer than 20 yards this year came on a screen pass in which he gained all 24 yards after the catch.
- Texas Tech, Kansas and Missouri are the only Big 12 teams to never beat Mack Brown in Austin.
- Texas A&M has won its past five road games.
- The Aggies have led by double digits in every game this season.
- Quarterback Brandon Weeden is completing 77 percent of his passes to Blackmon in the red zone since the start of 2010.
- Oklahoma State hasn't been 8-0 since 1945. That season, Missouri Valley conference member "Oklahoma A&M" finished its season with a win over St. Mary's in the Sugar Bowl to finish 9-0.
- Texas Tech has scored a touchdown on 78.1 percent of its red zone trips, the highest percentage in the Big 12.
- Texas has scored a touchdown on 47.1 percent of its red zone trips, the lowest percentage in the Big 12.
- Texas A&M receiver Jeff Fuller has a catch in 41 consecutive games.
- Kansas State has scored a touchdown on 19-of-20 (95 percent) goal-to-go situations, the highest percentage in the FBS.
- In 10 goal-to-go situations, Oklahoma State has given up five touchdowns. That's the lowest percentage in the Big 12 and sixth-best nationally, tied with ... Alabama.
- Landry Jones has targeted Ryan Broyles at least 10 times in each of the past four games.
- When targeting Broyles this year, Jones hasn't thrown an interception. All nine of his interceptions this season have come when targeting other OU receivers.
- Broyles needs 20 yards to move into second place in NCAA history for career receiving yards.
- Since 2007, five Big 12 teams (Texas, Oklahoma, Texas Tech, Missouri, Kansas) have reached Nos. 1 or 2 in the BCS standings on seven occasions. Oklahoma State would likely become the sixth with a win on Saturday, after No. 1 LSU and No. 2 Alabama play.
- In 412 targets over the past three seasons, Broyles has one dropped pass with 301 catches, 3,812 yards and 39 touchdowns.
- Facing four or fewer rushers in the first half, Texas A&M quarterback Ryan Tannehill has completed 69.9 percent of his passes for nine touchdowns and one interception.
- Facing four or fewer rushers in the second half, Tannehill has completed 60.2 percent of his passes for two touchdowns and three interceptions.
- Before last week's win over Texas Tech, Iowa State QB Jared Barnett had never scored a touchdown, rushing or passing.
- The Cyclones 368 rushing yards were the most in a conference game since 1996.
- The 41-7 win for ISU was its largest margin of victory in a conference game since a 45-3 win over Kansas in 2002.
- Baylor has forced a turnover in all seven games this season.
- The last time Kansas State played top 11 opponents in consecutive weeks: 1995.
- Kansas linebacker Steven Johnson made 18 tackles against Texas last week to move into fifth nationally (89 tackles) and 19 more than any player in the Big 12. It was the highest single-game total for a Jayhawk since 2003.
- Baylor QB Robert Griffin III is now the school's single-season touchdown pass record-holder, with 24 touchdown passes this season.
- At 69.8 percent, Griffin has the highest career completion percentage of any active Big 12 quarterback.
- Kansas was shutout last week for the first time since 2002.
- Kansas State kicker Anthony Cantele's 54-yard field goal last week was the longest for a Wildcat since Jeff Snodgrass' 57-yarder in 2005.
- Missouri has played more overtime games (14) than any team in NCAA history.
- Oklahoma receiver Ryan Broyles broke OSU receiver Rashaun Woods' Big 12 career record for receiving last week. Broyles now has 4,499 receiving yards.
This year, the Big 12 could have as many as five first-round picks, and five players from the league are in New York for the draft.
So, let's take a look back. Since the first NFL draft of the Big 12 era, who has the most first-rounders?
- 2010: S Earl Thomas, 14th overall, Seattle Seahawks
- 2009: DE Brian Orakpo, 13th overall, Washington Redskins
- 2007: S Michael Griffin, 19th overall, Tennessee Titans
- 2007: CB Aaron Ross, 20th overall, New York Giants
- 2006: QB Vince Young, third overall, Tennessee Titans
- 2006: CB Michael Huff, seventh overall, Oakland Raiders
- 2005: RB Cedric Benson, fourth overall, Chicago Bears
- 2005: LB Derrick Johnson, 15th overall, Kansas City Chiefs
- 2004: WR Roy Williams, seventh overall, Detroit Lions
- 2004: DT Marcus Tubbs, 23rd overall, Seattle Seahawks
- 2002: OL Mike Williams, fourth overall, Buffalo Bills
- 2002: CB Quentin Jammer, fifth overall, San Diego Chargers
- 2001: OL Leonard Davis, second overall, Arizona Cardinals
- 2001: DT Casey Hampton, 19th overall, Pittsburgh Steelers
- 1999: RB Ricky Williams, fifth overall, New Orleans Saints
- 1997: CB Bryant Westbrook, fifth overall, Detroit Lions
- 2010: QB Sam Bradford, first overall, St. Louis Rams
- 2010: DT Gerald McCoy, third overall, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- 2010: OT Trent Williams, fourth overall, Washington Redskins
- 2010: TE Jermaine Gresham, 21st overall, Cincinnati Bengals
- 2007: RB Adrian Peterson, seventh overall, Minnesota Vikings
- 2006: OL Davin Joseph, 23rd overall, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- 2005: OL Jammal Brown, 13th overall, New Orleans Saints
- 2005: WR Mark Clayton, 22nd overall, Baltimore Ravens
- 2004: DT Tommie Harris, 14th overall, Chicago Bears
- 2003: CB Andre Woolfolk, 28th overall, Tennessee Titans
- 2002: S Roy Williams, eighth overall, Dallas Cowboys
- 2001: Stockar McDougle, 20th overall, Detroit Lions
- 2010: OL Russell Okung, sixth overall, Seattle Seahawks
- 2010: WR Dez Bryant, 24th overall, Dallas Cowboys
- 2009: TE Brandon Pettigrew, 20th overall, Detroit Lions
- 2004: WR Rashaun Woods, 31st overall, San Francisco 49ers
- 2003: DE Kevin Williams, ninth overall, Minnesota Vikings
- 1998: CB R.W. McQuarters, 28th overall, San Francisco 49ers
- 2010: LB Sean Weatherspoon, 19th overall, Atlanta Falcons
- 2009: WR Jeremy Maclin, 19th overall, Philadelphia Eagles
- 2009: DT Ziggy Hood, 32nd overall, Pittsburgh Steelers
- 2001: DE Justin Smith, fourth overall, Cincinnati Bengals
- 2009: QB Josh Freeman, 17th overall, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- 2003: CB Terence Newman, fifth overall, Dallas Cowboys
- 1997: DB Chris Canty, 29th overall, New England Patriots
- 2003: DT Ty Warren, 13th overall, New England Patriots
- 2003: DB Sammy Davis, 30th overall, San Diego Chargers
- 2009: WR Michael Crabtree, 10th overall, San Francisco 49ers
- 2008: CB Aqib Talib, 20th overall, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- 2009: OL Jason Smith, 2nd overall, St. Louis Rams
A few thoughts and observations:
- I doubt many would be surprised that this list is also a reasonably accurate reflection of overall success since the Big 12's inception in 1996. Obviously, Texas and Oklahoma have dominated. Since 2000, Texas has the nation's fourth-most first-rounders. Oklahoma is No. 6. Their success has paralleled that, along with recruiting rankings.
- In that same breath, it's impossible to look at this list and not once again be impressed with what Mike Leach did. He obviously has the reputation as an overachiever, but looking big picture, he was able to do it with one first-round pick. Nobody beat Texas and Oklahoma more and Leach helped put together what is still the Big 12's longest bowl streak.
- Texas' consistency sticks out, too. Since just 2001, Texas has had two first-rounders in six different seasons. If you've got two first-rounders on your team, you're probably going to be pretty good. The Longhorns, if you haven't noticed, have been. Those two first-rounders in six seasons are more or as many as half the league has in the history of the Big 12. What else you should note? Texas is unlikely to have a first rounder this year, and after Aaron Williams is drafted, Sam Acho probably will be the next to go, which won't be until the third or fourth round.
- Oklahoma State and Missouri's rise over the past three seasons has paid off in the NFL draft. Missouri had three first-rounders in the last two seasons and figures to add two more this year after having just one in the 12-year history of the league before 2009. That's quite a streak, and even more proof of what Gary Pinkel has built at Missouri. One more piece of evidence? Despite losing those two first-rounders, Missouri should be back in the preseason polls next year after losing two of its top players. That's definitely something new in Columbia. The Cowboys figure to add more soon with Justin Blackmon at least. As long as Pinkel and Gundy are at the helm for their respective programs, expect them to continue to rise.
- Don't be surprised by Texas A&M's swoon following R.C. Slocum's departure. From 1990-1998, the Aggies won nine games every season but one. From 1990-96, the Aggies had eight first-round picks. Since 1998? Two seasons with at least nine wins and just two first-round picks.
- More evidence you can't underestimate the importance of having first-round picks? None for Baylor in the history of the Big 12 before Art Briles. In just three years, Briles may have three if the Bears add two more this year with Phil Taylor and Danny Watkins. Taylor and Watkins both came from unlikely sources. Taylor was a Penn State transfer and Watkins a juco transfer that formerly worked as a fireman in Canada.
The university announced that coach Mike Gundy will hand his offense to Todd Monken, who spent the past four years in the NFL as a receivers coach for the Jacksonville Jaguars. He previously coached quarterbacks for the Jaguars.
Before leaving for Jacksonville, he coached receivers at Oklahoma State from 2002-04, including Cowboys greats Rashaun and D'Juan Woods.
"Todd is a really good fit for what we need," Gundy said in a release. "He's been in the Big 12 and SEC, and he's coached at places that have won at a high level. He's an experienced, intelligent coach who will be able to come in and help us pick up where we left off. We're excited to have him join our staff."
His hiring ends a long wait for the Cowboys, who have been without an offensive coordinator since after their bowl game on Dec. 29. On Dec. 14, Holgorsen announced he would leave Oklahoma State to become the offensive coordinator at West Virginia, and take over as head coach for Bill Stewart in 2012. Holgorsen stayed on staff through the bowl game before leaving.
Monken won't bring the name recognition that Holgorsen did a year ago, but he's a coach that Gundy knows and clearly trusts. With the amount of talent Monken will have to work with, including five returning offensive linemen, All-Big 12 quarterback Brandon Weeden and Biletnikoff Award-winning receiver Justin Blackmon, he'll have the tools to make Oklahoma State a high-powered offense like it was in 2010.
All-time Top Offensive Player: Vince Young, QB, Texas
All-time Top Defensive Player: Ndamukong Suh, DT, Nebraska
All-time Coach: Bob Stoops, Oklahoma
QB: Vince Young, Texas
RB: Ricky Williams, Texas and Adrian Peterson, Oklahoma
WR: Michael Crabtree, Texas Tech and Rashaun Woods, Oklahoma State
TE: Chase Coffman, Missouri
OL: Dominic Raiola, Nebraska; Jammal Brown, Oklahoma; Aaron Taylor, Nebraska; Justin Blalock, Texas; Russell Okung, Oklahoma State
DL: Ndamukong Suh, Nebraska; Tommie Harris, Oklahoma; Grant Wistrom, Nebraska; Brian Orakpo, Texas
LB: Derrick Johnson, Texas; Dat Nguyen, Texas A&M; Rocky Calmus, Oklahoma; Teddy Lehman, Oklahoma
DB: Roy Williams, Oklahoma; Terence Newman, Kansas State; Derrick Strait, Oklahoma; Michael Huff, Texas
All-purpose: Darren Sproles, Kansas State
K: Mason Crosby, Colorado
P: Daniel Sepulveda, Baylor
Here's how it breaks down by team:
1. Oklahoma: 7
2. Texas: 6
3. Nebraska: 4
4. Kansas State: 2
4. Oklahoma State: 2
6. Baylor: 1
6. Colorado: 1
6. Texas A&M: 1
6. Texas Tech: 1
11. Iowa State: 0
11. Kansas: 0
Who got snubbed? Who doesn't belong?
Best of all, they'd be operating behind an experienced offensive line headlined by a four-year starter protecting Robinson's blind side, Russell Okung, who eventually was selected sixth in the NFL Draft.
The next in a line of triplets at Oklahoma State that have included greats like Barry Sanders, Rashaun Woods and Mike Gundy looked ready to compete for a Big 12 title -- maybe more.
But Hunter suffered an ankle injury early on and didn't look like the same back until the season's final game. Bryant was suspended for the season after the third game for lying to NCAA officials about a visit with Deion Sanders. Robinson suffered a shoulder injury and wasn't himself in a shutout loss to Oklahoma to close the regular season, when a win would have sent the Cowboys to a BCS bowl.
They settled for 2nd in the South, the highest finish ever for the program, and an appearance in the Cotton Bowl.
Brandon Weeden, a 27-year-old first-time starter, leads the Big 12 in passing yards, completion percentage, touchdowns (his 26 are tied for No. 1 nationally) and passer rating. Hunter is better than ever as a senior, leading the Big 12 in rushing and ranking third nationally.
And Justin Blackmon, a sophomore with 20 career catches that no one outside the Big 12 had ever heard of before the season, has emerged as the favorite for the Biletnikoff Award and a possible Heisman finalist. He leads the nation in receiving yards per game by a wide margin, and is tied for the most touchdowns with 15.
Together, they have the No. 10 Cowboys (8-1) on top of the Big 12 South and in position to reach the Big 12 title game for the first time ever. With a win at Texas on Saturday, Oklahoma State would come home from Austin as winners for the first time in 11 tries since 1944.
"This is what you play for. Every game gets bigger as you go and this one is a big one," Weeden said.
Even an offensive line with four new starters has become a strength.
"I thought we had a pretty good product to work with," said new offensive coordinator Dana Holgorsen. "You never know how kids are going to develop, but that’s why you get out there and practice every day and put guys in a position to improve."
The hype surrounding the team wasn't there when the season began, but attention on the Cowboys -- picked fifth in the Big 12 South in the preseason -- has grown as the wins have piled up.
"It’s only a factor if you start to listen to it," Gundy said. "I’ve said this for four or five weeks now. If you start to think you’re a pretty good player and that your team is better than they really are, you just need to look around the country every Saturday and you will see teams get knocked off. I’m a firm believer in that. We have some good players who have made a lot of good plays this year. And we have a good football team. But we’re not beyond practicing well and keeping the right frame of mind in order to win our football game."
It was a tough choice at several positions, but here's my all-decade team.
Please feel free to provide any changes you would make, and explain why you would make them.
Believe me, it's a hard choice. I spent more than an hour trying to choose between Darren Sproles and Cedric Benson and Jermaine Gresham and Chase Coffman.
QB: Vince Young, Texas
RB: Adrian Peterson, Oklahoma
RB: Cedric Benson, Texas
WR: Michael Crabtree, Texas Tech
WR: Rashaun Woods, Oklahoma State
TE: Chase Coffman, Missouri
T: Russell Okung, Oklahoma State
T: Jammal Brown, Oklahoma
G: Duke Robinson, Oklahoma
G: Derrick Dockery, Texas
C: Andre Gurode, Colorado
DE: Brian Orakpo, Texas
DT: Ndamukong Suh, Nebraska
DT: Tommie Harris, Oklahoma
DE: Dan Cody, Oklahoma
LB: Derrick Johnson, Texas
LB: Rocky Calmus, Oklahoma
LB: Teddy Lehman, Oklahoma
CB: Terence Newman, Kansas State
CB: Derrick Strait, Oklahoma
S: Roy Williams, Oklahoma
S: Michael Huff, Texas
K: Mason Crosby, Colorado
P: Daniel Sepulveda, Baylor
Ret: Wes Welker, Texas Tech
The Cowboys have done it with a star-studded array of top players who have dotted their rosters over the last few years, most notably at wide receiver and running back. I was left with a tough choice between Adarius Bowman or Dez Bryant as the second wide receiver behind Rashaun Woods. And at running back, I went over and over as I tried to decide between Kendall Hunter, Keith Toston or Vernand Morency to go along with Tatum Bell.
After some careful deliberation, here are my choices for the Cowboys' top players of the last decade.
QB: Zac Robinson
RB: Kendall Hunter
RB: Tatum Bell
WR: Rashaun Woods
WR: Dez Bryant
TE: Brandon Pettigrew
OL: Russell Okung
OL: Corey Hilliard
OL: Sam Mayes
OL: Charlie Johnson
C: David Washington
DL: Kevin Williams
DL: LaWaylon Brown
DL: Juqua Thomas
DL: Greg Richmond
LB: Terrence Robinson
LB: Dwayne Levels
LB: Patrick Lavine
DB: Perrish Cox
DB: Vernon Grant
DB: Elbert Craig
DB: Darrent Williams
K: Luke Phillips
P: Matt Fodge
Ret: Perrish Cox
Offensive player of the decade: WR Rashaun Woods. His emergence in the early part of the decade foreshadowed the Big 12’s development into the most pass-happy conference in the nation. Despite facing constant double-coverage, he produced 293 catches and was the first receiver in Big 12 history to reach 4,000 career receiving yards.
Defensive player of the decade: DT Kevin Williams. Excelled as a mainstay in the Cowboys’ defensive front, making 42 starts in his career. He helped transform the Cowboys’ defense into a tough run-stuffing unit, making 160 tackles and 18.5 sacks over his career.
Coach of the decade: Mike Gundy. His coaching career is no longer dominated by sound bites of eruptions at press conferences. Gundy has directed the Cowboys to four straight bowl trips and back-to-back nine-win seasons for the first time in 21 seasons.
Moment of the decade: Josh Fields directs 2001 comeback victory at Oklahoma. Fields came off the bench to rifle a 14-yard touchdown pass to Rashaun Woods with 1:36 left, and the Cowboys held on for a 16-13 victory. The Oklahoma State defense notched three interceptions and seven sacks of Nate Hybl and gave Bob Stoops his first home loss.
Texas coach Mack Brown has beaten Oklahoma State 11 straight times, often thanks to late comebacks that enabled the Longhorns to claim improbable victories over the Cowboys.
As Brown prepared his Longhorns to play the Cowboys Saturday night in Stillwater, he reflected about the reasons his team often needed those dramatic comebacks to win.
“I wondered about the slow starts, like a lot of our fans have, up in Stillwater over the last couple of years,” Brown said. “I think that their coaches just probably did a better job than I did of getting them ready to play.”
Brown might deflect some of the blame from his players, but he knows that his No. 3 Longhorns must be ready Saturday night -- even with the long winning streak over OSU.
“They are very talented and they are very well coached,” Brown said. “This is a national game with national implications and it has our full attention and full respect.”
Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy has been a part of the last four losses, including dramatic collapses the last two times the Longhorns have visited Stillwater. The Cowboys squandered a 19-point lead at home in 2005 and a 21-point lead at the start of the fourth quarter in 2007.
Despite the Longhorns’ repeated success, Gundy said he doesn’t consider the Cowboys as “snake bit” in their recent games against Texas.
“That question comes up every year,” Gundy said. “I’m not so sure it’s snake bit, but the fact that when we played Texas, they have had some good football teams. If you look back over the last four years and see what their record is, it’s probably good.”
Texas’ traditional success will make the Cowboys especially attentive of factors that have led to their collapses over the years.
“When you are competing in a team sport against teams that are really good, you have to be sound in all areas,” Gundy said. “You have to have a good plan and your players tuned in to what you have to do to win. There’s some credit for putting players in position to win and then, you’d like to find a way to get it done.”
Oklahoma State has never done that when Brown was coaching the Longhorns. Here are some of his most memorable victories that he’s engineered over the years.
1998: Texas 37, Oklahoma State 34 -- Texas won the game only when Kris Stockton’s 29-yard field goal glanced off the left upright before sliding through the goal posts with three seconds left. “Shoot,” Brown said after the game. “This is a hell of a way to make a living.”
2002: Texas 17, Oklahoma State 15 -- The Longhorns jumped to a 17-3 lead before Oklahoma State charged back with 4:04 left on a 33-yard TD pass from Josh Fields to John Lewis. But their two-point conversion play was denied when Rod Babers tackled Rashaun Woods at the 1-yard line. Babers provided the clincher moments later with an interception that killed the Cowboys’ final drive.
2003: Texas 55, Oklahoma State 16 -- After trailing 16-7 late in the first half, the Longhorns blew the game open by running off 48 straight points. Cedric Benson rushed for 180 yards and Roy Williams snagged six receptions for 162 yards to key the comeback. Earlier, Oklahoma State took the lead after three field goals by Luke Phillips, including kicks of 52 and 53 yards.
2004: Texas 56, Oklahoma State 35 -- The Cowboys jumped to a 35-7 lead in the second quarter, only to have the Longhorns charge back for the biggest comeback in school history. Cedric Benson rushed for 141 yards and five touchdowns. The Longhorns blew the game open by scoring on six straight possessions as they limited the Cowboys to only 105 yards in the second half.
2005: Texas 47, Oklahoma State 28 -- The Longhorns’ national championship season was marked by this game, where they charged back from a 19-point second-quarter deficit against the Cowboys. Oklahoma State had lost four conference games in a row before this game, but jumped on the Longhorns fast after two long TD passes from Al Pena to D’Juan Woods. But Vince Young engineered the comeback rushing for a career-high 267 yards and two TDs and passing for two more scores.
2007: Texas 38, Oklahoma State 35 -- Ryan Bailey kicked a 40-yard field goal as time expired to give the Longhorns a victory to cap a comeback from a 21-point fourth-quarter deficit. Jamaal Charles rushed for 180 yards and provided two of his three rushing touchdowns in the fourth quarter. And Oklahoma State kicker Jason Ricks misfired on a 34-yard field goal attempt with 1:13 left for the Cowboys that would have given them the lead. “The mind is a powerful, powerful thing, especially in sports,” Brown said after the game. “When we put pressure back on them, I think that question arises again, ‘Uh, oh. Here we go again.’”
2008: Texas 28, Oklahoma State 24 -- Colt McCoy passed for 391 yards and two touchdowns, but the Longhorns’ defense paved the way for the victory with two huge stands late in the game. Jordan Shipley provided 15 receptions for 168 yards to spark Texas’ offensive attack. But the game wasn’t preserved until Curtis Brown swatted away a desperation heave from Oklahoma State quarterback Zac Robinson on the final play of the game near the Texas end zone.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
Big 12 most memorable moments
Late OSU rally ruins OU's 2001 Big 12 South hopes
Date: Nov. 24, 2001
Place: Owen Field, Norman, Okla.
Score: Oklahoma State 16, Oklahoma 13
Defending national champion Oklahoma was a heavy favorite heading into its regular-season finale, needing only to beat struggling Oklahoma State to wrap up its second-straight Big 12 South title under Bob Stoops.
The Sooners' hopes looked that much brighter after OSU starter Aso Pogi struggled in the first quarter, throwing two interceptions that sparked the insertion of freshman quarterback Josh Fields into the game.
One of the stories of the game was the transformation of the Cowboy defense, only a week after it was gashed for 517 yards by Baylor. But OSU repeatedly tormented Oklahoma quarterback Nate Hybl, who threw three interceptions and was sacked seven times.
Still, the Sooners led for much of the game. Quentin Griffin gave the Sooners an early lead in the second quarter on an 8-yard TD run. The Sooners held a 10-6 halftime lead after Tim Duncan added a 23-yard field goal sandwiched around a pair of field goals by Oklahoma State kicker Luke Phillips.
The two teams exchanged field goals early in the fourth quarter, setting the stage for Fields' late heroics. Phillips nailed consecutive 52-yard field goals to keep the Cowboys close.
After forcing its third consecutive three-and-out possession, OSU got the ball on the Oklahoma 35. Fields completed only three passes on the game-winning drive but he made them all count.
Fields first connected with Rashaun Woods on a 15-yard strike. He then kept the drive alive with a clutch third-down 31-yard pass to T.D. Bryant. On the next play, Fields hooked up again with Woods on a 14-yard game-winning TD toss with 1:36 left.
Oklahoma had one more chance, but Hybl's desperation pass was intercepted by Marcus Jones.
The victory touched off a wild celebration all across Texas after the Longhorns claimed an appearance in the Big 12 championship game. And it prematurely interrupted a barbecue celebration at the home of Texas defensive coordinator Carl Reese, who immediately went to work to prepare for the Longhorns' game against Colorado the next week.
The numbers: Woods produced eight receptions for 129 yards, giving him 80 for the season and breaking the then-school record of 74 set by Hart Lee Dykes in 1988. Oklahoma was limited to zero net yards of rushing on 27 carries. And the loss snapped a 19-game home winning streak for Oklahoma, including the first 18 home games under Stoops.
They said it, part I: "They are a good football team. They finally got an opportunity to show someone else," OSU coach Les Miles, describing his team's performance to reporters after the game.
They said it, part II: "I don't think we came into this game unprepared and looking ahead to next week. The team was outplayed and I was outcoached. That's really the only excuse I have for this loss," Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops, reflecting on his first-ever home loss with the Sooners.
They said it, part III: "Our two sons and my wife were screaming and shouting like they were on the sidelines. We had some unsportsmanlike conduct there I think," Texas coach Mack Brown, who described his reaction after the OSU victory to the Associated Press.
The upshot: The loss kept Oklahoma from the Big 12 championship game. Texas went in the Sooners' place, losing a 39-37 decision to Colorado in a game that will be described in detail later in this series.
The Sooners finished the season 11-2 with a 10-3 victory over Arkansas in the Cotton Bowl, wrapping up the season at No. 6 in the final AP poll.
The upset boosted OSU to 4-7 with victories in its final two games. That fast finish help set the stage for an 8-5 record the following season and a trip to the Houston Bowl - the first post-season appearance under Miles and the Cowboys' first bowl trip since 1997.
Since then, Stoops has lost only other home game, a 17-10 season-opening loss to TCU in 2005. Stoops is 60-2 at Owen Field, including a current 24-game winning streak.
20. It's never over until it's over: Texas Tech's 2006 Insight Bowl rally vs. Minnesota
21. Reesing to Meier. Again and again: Kansas over Missouri in 2008
22. A Texas-sized comeback: Texas over Oklahoma State in 2004.
23. A Border War unlike any of the rest: Missouri over Kansas in 2007.
24. Seneca Wallace's wild TD run vs. Texas Tech in 2001.
25. Baylor's "So Much for Taking a Knee" in final-play 1999 loss to UNLV.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
Happy Friday afternoon. Here are some of the more interesting letters I received during the past week.
Adam: Would you care to make any comparisons between Oklahoma State's ultra-talented trio of Zac Robinson/Dez Bryant/Kendall Hunter to other OSU trio greats of Mike Gundy/Barry Sanders/Hart Lee Dykes and Josh Fields/Rashaun Woods/Tatum Bell?
Tim Griffin: Adam, I think it terms of total firepower, the Gundy/Sanders/Dykes grouping was the best, followed by the current group of Robinson/Bryant/Hunter with Fields/Bell/Woods ranking last.
The reason I give the 80s group the edge is because of Sanders. Earlier this week, a national web site said that Sanders was the second-greatest living Heisman winner behind only two-time winner Archie Griffin. His rushing numbers are still mind-boggling.
And it would be interesting to see how much better Hart Lee Dykes would have done if he played in today's era where passing is such an important part. Dykes was by far the second offensive option on those teams and he still had 60, 61 and 74 catches in his three seasons as a starter.
That being said, I think that Zac Robinson could go down in history as the greatest quarterback in OSU history and Dez Bryant's numbers will end up being as good as anybody. But as good as Hunter is, he's still no Sanders.
Chance from Memphis, Tenn., writes: Thanks for the heads up regarding the possible Minnesota home-and-home addition for Texas. Didn't Texas have Utah and Arkansas on the 2009 schedule at one time, and both opted out?
TG: Chance, yes they did. Texas had a planned series with Utah for 2008 and 2009 called off fby the Utes. And after beating the Razorbacks in 2008, Arkansas officials decided they didn't want to play Texas in 2009. Instead, the Razorbacks have asked that game to be pushed back until 2014 as they start a 10-year contract for games against Texas A&M at the new Dallas Cowboys' stadium in Arlington, Texas.
All of this doesn't do Mack Brown much good for this season. He might have to answer for his non-conference schedule which is packed with gooey treats like Louisiana-Monroe, Wyoming, UTEP and Central Florida.
If there's a close race in the BCS standings, something tells me that Brown will be doing a lot of spinning about his schedule during November.
Adam Nettina from Baltimore writes: Tim, Why the heck is Logan Dold moving the safety when he showed such promise as a running back? He was the second all-time leading rusher in Kansas high school history, was K-state's leading rusher in terms of yards per carry among regulars a year and runs the 100 in 10.9 seconds.
Yet, he's being replaced a senior who only ran for 3.8 yards per carry in limited duty a year ago and a redshirt freshmen with basically no on-field experience. So why make the move with Dold and not somebody else?
TG: Adam, I agree that I was a little surprised by the move of Dold, particularly considering his production last season. But I also know that Bill Snyder traditionally has favored small, quick backs like Darren Sproles. I'm wondering if he thinks that Keithen Valentine better suits his philosophy. And I also know that Jarell Childs has been a big surprise during spring practice.
Seth from New Haven, Conn., writes: Hey Tim, I'm a Yale student who just saw that Nebraska's Patrick Witt intends to transfer to New Haven. What should we expect to see from him?
TG: I get the feeling that Witt transferred to Yale more for academic reasons that for a chance to play. He had the opportunity to play at places like Duke and South Carolina and also considered UCLA. But I think his style will suit him at Yale, playing for Coach Jack Siedlecki.
Witt is a big, strong quarterback who has a strong arm for deep throws. Remember, he was the player who Bo Pelini turned to when Joe Ganz was injured for a few plays against Clemson in the Gator Bowl.
I'm not thinking that Witt will be heading to the Bulldogs with any sense of entitlement. And I'm also expecting he will be excited about continuing his career. So I wouldn't be surprised if he really thrived with his opportunity.
Preston Nix from Austin, Texas, writes: Tim, what keeps the Big 12 from trading Iowa State, Colorado, and/or Baylor for Utah, Boise State or other schools that could broaden the Big 12 market and make it a national powerhouse like the SEC seems to be?
TG: Mainly, it's tradition and the relationships that all of the schools have made with the others over the years. Iowa State was in the Big Eight with many of those other schools since 1928. Colorado was a member of the Big Eight from 1948. That's a lot of years for relationships.
And if Baylor hadn't come along with the other three schools from Texas when the Big 12 was formed, it's likely that none of them would because of the Bears' strong political power in the state legislature in Austin. Also, the complete sports programs of those schools - both in men's and women's sports - will be a factor in keeping them together.
I don't look for the Big 12 to break up any time soon. From everything I'm hearing, I think there's greater cohesiveness among the 12 partners who make up the league than ever before.
Joseph Hauss from College Station writes: Tim, I love your blog and read it every day. The 2009 season can't get here quickly enough. I just was wondering what your thoughts were about Mike Leach's comments about Stephen McGee? An A&M student I should be all against Tech. Unlike, many of my colleagues I find Mike Leach to be my kind of guy because he speaks his mind and isn't scared to. That being said, I believe he was actually complimenting McGee on his accomplishment but was inferring that he would have been using McGee's skills in the passing game since he stepped foot on campus in 2005.
TG: I think that Leach's compliment was a backhanded swipe at McGee's previous and current coaching staff. And I've got to think there's a tad of envy for Leach in the fact that McGee, who started two games last season, was drafted in the fourth round.
Meanwhile, Graham Harrell, the prototypical quarterback for Leach's offense went undrafted despite setting a FBS career record for most career touchdown passes.
I've got to wonder if there might be a fear for Leach and the Red Raiders that Harrell's failure to be drafted might hurt the school in returning at a later time. But it seems like top quarterbacks always end up playing for the Red Raiders. It's just that the elite ones might have been more willing to make that move if Harrell had been a higher draft selection.
R.W. Dobbins of Oklahoma City writes: Jermaine Gresham as the best tight end in Oklahoma history? Well considering Keith Jackson was the best tight end in the history of any school, you might be a little off.
TG: I appreciate your response, but remember, I said that if Gresham had a huge year he could be remembered as Oklahoma's greatest tight end. I still think that is the case.
Jackson was a great athlete who averaged 23.7 yards per reception. But he also benefited from defenses which were stacked to stop the Sooners' wishbone offense when he was playing. And also remember that Jackson had 62 catches in his career. Gresham had 66 catches and 14 touchdowns last season.
I realize that football is different today than when Jackson was playing. But Gresham can be just as valuable and could earn All-America status with a big season this year. And he probably deserved it last season.
Benson from Washington, D.C., writes: Tim, I loved following the draft and I noticed that Missouri had more players picked than any team from the Big 12. Has that ever happened before? Also, was their total the most ever picked in one draft for a Big 12 team and was it the most ever for Missouri in one draft?
TG: Benson, you're right. Missouri had the most players picked in the Big 12 with six draftees. But it wasn't the most in school history. That came in 1981 and 1943 when the Tigers had seven players selected. And both of those drafts were significantly bigger than today's current seven-round draft. The NFL went 12 rounds deep in 1981 and 32 rounds in 1943.
The Tigers' haul last weekend still didn't match Oklahoma's Big 12 record of 11 players that were picked in 2005.
Thanks again for all of the letters. Enjoy your weekend and I'll be checking back again next week.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
Here are a few tidbits, notes and quotes from around the conference that I've collected over the past week. Enjoy them.
WHO'S HOT AND NOT
Oklahoma running back Chris Brown, who is averaging 108.6 yards per game and 7.95 yards per carry in his last three games. And he's doing it while splitting time with DeMarco Murray in the Sooners' backfield platoon.
Texas wide receiver Malcolm Williams, who produced 182 yards on four receptions in his most substantial playing time last week against Texas Tech. Williams also downed a punt at the Texas Tech 1 and contributed two special-teams tackles.
Texas Tech's offensive line, which allowed only one sack combined in the first seven games of the season, but two sacks in each of its last two games.
Colorado's pass rush, which notched four sacks on 31 Texas A&M passing attempts last week. The Buffaloes had produced four sacks in their previous three games, a span of 115 passing attempts.
Colorado's sputtering offense. The Buffaloes have scored 31 points in five Big 12 games.
Nebraska linebacker Tyler Wortman, who produced 11 tackles against Oklahoma. Wortman had seven tackles combined in the first eight games of the season.
Kansas cornerback Chris Harris, a key performer last season for the Jayhawks. He's been beaten out by Justin Thornton and converted wide receiver Daymond Patterson for the starting cornerback positions. Harris is listed as a backup free safety behind starter Phillip Strozier.
Kansas State walk-on linebacker Alex Hrebec, who notched a team-high nine tackles after drawing a start against the Jayhawks.
Kansas State kick returner/wide receiver Deon Murphy, who vowed to "take one to the crib" for a touchdown against Kansas. He didn't come close, producing only 60 all-purpose yards against the Jayhawks.
Missouri DE Brian Coulter, who produced six tackles and 1 ½ sacks for theTigers vs. Baylor in his first career start.
Kansas WR Kerry Meier, who produced a season-low three receptions last week against Kansas State.
Missouri WR Tommy Saunders, who produced seven receptions for a career-best 109 yards against Baylor last week.
Texas Tech's special teams. The Red Raiders have had nine kicks blocked this season - five extra points, three field goals and a punt. That total is the most of any team in the country.
Here are a few quotes that kept reporters titillated across the Big 12 this week.
"Oklahoma State is now the biggest game in the history of this year," Texas Tech coach Mike Leach, describing his team's approach to the Cowboys after beating No. 1 Texas last week.
"I don't believe in moral victories, but we showed that we come to play every day," Baylor freshman quarterback Robert Griffin told the Waco Tribune-Herald after the Bears' near-miss against Missouri last week.
"I'm 47, I still haven't made man," Leach on Mike Gundy's infamous "I'm a man. I'm 40" tirade.
"No, I don't wish I didn't say it. I mean, I'm confident. I'm that dude. That's just me. If anybody doesn't like it . . . oh, well." Kansas State wide receiver Deon Murphy told the Topeka Capital-Journal after his pre-game comments backfired after calling out Kansas before last week's game.
"Crab made an unbelievable catch, and not only did he make an unbelievable catch, he made an unbelievable run after that and got into the zone and got us a win." Texas Tech quarterback Graham Harrell, on Michael Crabtree's game-winning catch against Texas.
"That's crazy that they would drop. It surprises me, but all they can do is take care of their business," Nebraska coach Bo Pelini, after seeing Oklahoma drop from fourth to sixth in the BCS standings despite beating his Cornhusker team by 34 points last week.
"At least when they come crying wondering why they're not playing, they'll know why. It's pretty simple to see." - Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops to the Lincoln Journal-Star after his reserve defense has allowed late touchdowns against Kansas, Kansas State and Nebraska in its last three games.
"The snowball started rolling on us, and we didn't do anything to get it stopped," Pelini, after Oklahoma jumped to an early 35-0 lead over his team last week.
"That's going to teach him as a running back, you're never, ever going to be healthy. And once he realizes that, he'll be fine. He'll realize it this weekend." Colorado assistant coach Darian Hagan, who told the Rocky Mountain News that freshman Darrell Scott will have to adjust to the physical nature of college football.
"All we did was score too quickly. And then, two great players made a great play at the end," Texas coach Mack Brown, on Texas Tech's wild comeback last week.
254 - Yards needed by Nebraska wide receiver Nate Swift to break Johnny Rodgers' career receiving yardage record of 2,479.
THE BIG 12 - IN FACTOIDS
- Baylor has lost 17 straight games in which they trailed at the half.
- Each of Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops' four previous games against Texas A&M have been decided by seven points or less.
- Oklahoma State will become only the second team in history to face three top-three teams in true road games in one season. The Cowboys beat No. 3 Missouri and then lost to No. 1 Texas before playing No. 3 Texas Tech on Saturday. The only other team to face such a gauntlet was the 1969 TCU team, which lost games at No. 1 Ohio State, No. 3 Arkansas and No.
2 Texas.The Horned Frogs lost those games by a combined 155-13 margin.
- Robert Griffin is the first player in Baylor history to rush for 10 TDs and pass for 10 TDs in same season.
- Nebraska free safety Ricky Thenarse's interception snapped an interception drought that had stretched nearly six complete games for Nebraska. The Cornhuskers failed to produce an interception during a stretch of 142 opposing pass attempts - a period of 357 minutes, 42 seconds.
- Kansas State has allowed two of its last three opponents to post season-high rushing totals - Colorado (247) and Kansas (280). And Oklahoma's 275-yard effort missed beating the Sooners' best mark by only one yard.
- Texas Tech is off to a 5-0 start in conference play for the first time since 1953, when the Red Raiders were members of the Border Conference.
- Oklahoma State wide receiver Dez Bryant needs three more touchdown receptions to match OSU's single-season TD reception record of 17 set by Rashaun Woods in 2002.
- Baylor went 4-for-4 on fourth downs last week against Missouri. The Bears were 5-for-13 on third-down conversions.
- Kansas State has allowed at least 50 points in a game three times this season - most since 1988.
- Iowa State has forced three punts in the last two games. The Cyclones have forced four punts or fewer in four of their last five games and in six of nine games this season.
- Kansas State quarterback Josh Freeman has created 13 turnovers in his three games against Kansas.
- Missouri tailback Derrick Washington failed to score a touchdown in last week's game for the first time this season.
BY THE NUMBERS, PART I
Kansas quarterback Todd Reesing has struggled in recent games after a hot start. He's averaging only 158 yards passing in his last two games, compared to an average of 331.7 yards per game in his first seven categories.
Here's an indication of how Reesing's production has dropped during the last two games.
Att. Comp. Int. Yds TD Pass Eff. rating W-L
First seven games 280 195 5 2322 17 155.77 5-2
Last two games 49 30 4 316 3 119.27 1-1
BY THE NUMBERS, PART II
Texas Tech will be facing a huge challenge of facing a top-10 team the week after beating the No. 1 team in the country. Only once since 1965 has a team been able to beat a No. 1 team and then beat a top-10 team the following week.
That team was the 1984 Oklahoma team, which was coached by Barry Switzer and featured current Texas coach Mack Brown as its offensive coordinator.
Here's a look at how teams fared the following week against a top-10 foe after beating a No. 1 team in their previous game (since 1965).
Team No. 1 team Score Next week (opponent/rank) Score
1993 Boston College @Notre Dame 41-39 West Virginia (No. 5) L, 14-17
1990 Michigan State @Michigan 28-27 @Illinois (No. 8) L, 13-15
1984 Oklahoma @Nebraska 17-7 Oklahoma State (No. 3) W, 24-14
1982 Notre Dame @Pittsburgh 31-16 Penn State (No. 5) L, 14-24
1981 Wisconsin Michigan 21-14 UCLA (No. 9) L, 13-31
Source: ESPN Stats & Information Department
BY THE NUMBERS, PART III
Michael Crabtree's dramatic game-winning touchdown pass did more than merely keep Texas Tech's BCS national title hopes alive. It also extended Crabtree's string of consecutive games with a touchdown reception to 12 games - with barely a second to spare.
Here's a list of the top consecutive touchdown reception streaks in college football history.
Years Player School Consecutive TD catch games
2002-03 Larry Fitzgerald Pittsburgh 18
2005-06 Jarett Dillard Rice 15
2001-02 Charles Rogers Michigan State 14
1990-91 Desmond Howard Michigan 13
1997 Randy Moss Marshall 13
2007-08 Michael Crabtree Texas Tech 12
1990-91 Aaron Turner Pacific 12
Source: ESPN Stats & Information Department
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
Noah from Lawrence, Kan., writes: Hey Tim, love the blog, even though KU hasn't been covered much since the USF game. I know Oklahoma is favored this weekend and needs a win, but what does KU have to do to pull the huge upset in Norman on Saturday?
Tim Griffin: Noah, I appreciate the kind words. I just got finished talking to Jake Sharp for a post I'll have later in the week and I'm also going to be in Norman for the game, which I think will be a fascinating one. First, people don't realize that Kansas quietly has crept into first place in the North Division. But they are catching Oklahoma at a bad time, considering the Sooners' loss to Texas. Oklahoma is 9-0 in the week after the Texas game under Bob Stoops. For Kansas to escape with the upset, they'll need to do the same things that Texas successfully did -- run the ball successfully, pressure Sam Bradford and get a couple of plays on special teams. It's not impossible, but I think Mark Mangino is going to have a difficult return to Norman.
Patrick from Austin writes: Who do you think poses the biggest threat to Texas' undefeated regular season? Chase Daniel & Co? Oklahoma State? Texas Tech?
Tim Griffin: Patrick, how about all three? I've got a funny feeling about this week's game in Austin. Chase Daniel has orchestrated a big turnaround in that program. Even after the loss last week, it wouldn't surprise me if they came into Austin and gave the Longhorns a tough game and maybe even pull off the upset. I also think that Oklahoma State and Texas Tech both could give the Longhorns problems. If I was ranking them as far as likelihood of an upset today, I would list them at Missouri, Texas Tech and Oklahoma State. I expect Texas to lose one of those three games and maybe even two of them, even with the No. 1 ranking.
Moorpark writes: I can't believe that the polls have Oklahoma at fourth. This team is overrated as demonstrated by Texas' win. All they do is embarrass themselves against a mobile quarterback. It's been clearly depicted in their last two bowl games. They are just like LSU. Overrated. Maybe, some day the media will acknowledge that.
Tim Griffin: When I first learned of OU's ranking, I, too, was a tad surprised. But then I started thinking. They played Texas evenly for most of the game. They had as many yards and actually scored more offensive touchdowns. They did twice blow double-digit leads. But I think, as anybody who was there at the Cotton Bowl last week would acknowledge, that the game was closer than the 10-point final margin indicated. The Sooners still have a shot for the conference championship, a BCS bowl and maybe even the national championship. LSU accomplished that with two losses. What Oklahoma has to hope for is that they can finish out without a loss and have Texas lose twice. Because the Longhorns win any head-to-head tie with the Sooners because of their victory last week in Dallas.