Big 12: Texas A&M Aggies
Longtime instate rivals Texas and Texas A&M haven't faced each other on the football field since the Aggies bolted for the SEC in 2012. That, however, hasn't stopped the two sides from trading barbs on Twitter.
With the NFL draft coming up, new Texas defensive coordinator Vance Bedford riled up Texas A&M fans with his Twitter views on the pro prospects of former Aggies quarterback Johnny Manziel.
Bedford started out general then he got specific:
How many spread Qbs have success in the NFL. You must play under center— Vance Bedford (@CoachBedfordUT) May 4, 2014
Problem players in college become rich problems in the NFL— Vance Bedford (@CoachBedfordUT) May 4, 2014
Manziel is a top 10 pick by the scouts. I wish him the best. He played backyard ball for 3 years. Now he will have to learn how to be a Qb— Vance Bedford (@CoachBedfordUT) May 5, 2014
@1C_Easyy no. I wish him the best. Maybe he will be different— Vance Bedford (@CoachBedfordUT) May 5, 2014
Someone said should I be more concerned about BYU. Spring recruiting is the season of the day— Vance Bedford (@CoachBedfordUT) May 5, 2014
@BrandonLeone wow— Vance Bedford (@CoachBedfordUT) May 5, 2014
Twitter is great.— Vance Bedford (@CoachBedfordUT) May 5, 2014
@BeerGuyTX lol— Vance Bedford (@CoachBedfordUT) May 5, 2014
Seriously, what do we do to get the Longhorns and the Aggies on the same field again?
2. LB: Dat Nguyen, Texas A&M (1998) – Nguyen was a tremendous player, but he was hurt by the fact he only played one year in the BCS era. Still, Nguyen was very deserving based on that one season. He was a unanimous All-American, and won the Bednarik (defensive player of the year) and Lombardi (best lineman or linebacker) awards.
3. PR: Antonio Perkins, Oklahoma (2001-04) – I had actually had Welker ranked slightly ahead of Perkins as a returner, so it wouldn’t have mattered if I had created three WR spots. Still, Perkins was a consensus All-American returner and set a record for punt return touchdowns in a game with three, and for that, he was in the conversation.
4. OG: Davin Joseph, Oklahoma (2002-05) – One area in which the Big 12 lacked quality options was at offensive guard. Texas’ Justin Blalock made the team as a guard, even though he was largely a tackle in college. Joseph, however, was a quality player for the Sooners, making 40 career starts while blocking for Adrian Peterson.
5. S: Earl Thomas, Texas (2008-09) – Thomas was the top safety left off the team. He was only at Texas for two seasons, but was a consensus All-American while leading Texas’ defense when it made the national championship game after the 2009 season. He was second in college football in 2009 with eight interceptions before leaving early for the NFL Draft.
With the BCS done, we've come up with our Big 12 all-BCS era team (1998-2013) below:
RB: Ricky Williams, Texas (1998) -- Williams was part of the BCS era for only one season, but what a season it was. He rushed for 2,327 yards and won the Heisman Trophy going away. Only Wisconsin’s Ron Dayne has more career rushing yards than Williams (6,279).
RB: Adrian Peterson, Oklahoma (2004-06) -- Despite battling injuries throughout his career, Peterson still was a beast in college. After rushing for 1,925 yards while leading the Sooners to the national title game, he finished second in the ’04 Heisman voting, even though there was still a stigma then in voting for a freshman.
WR: Michael Crabtree, Texas Tech (2007-08) -- Crabtree became the first two-time winner of the Biletnikoff Award, given to the nation’s top receiver. In '08, he and QB Graham Harrell led the Red Raiders to an upset of Texas and a No. 2 ranking in the polls.
WR: Justin Blackmon, Oklahoma State (2009-11) -- Blackmon became the second and only other two-time winner of the Biletnikoff. In his final two seasons, he finished with 233 receptions, 3,304 receiving yards and 38 touchdowns, and he helped propel the Cowboys to their first Big 12 title in '11.
TE: Chase Coffman, Missouri (2005-08) -- Coffman had a monster statistical college career for a tight end with 247 catches for 2,659 receiving yards and 30 touchdowns. He won the ’08 Mackey Award, given to the nation’s top tight end. Missouri won 37 games during the four years Coffman was in the lineup.
OT: Jammal Brown, Oklahoma (2001-04) -- Brown was a unanimous All-American and a three-time All-Big 12 selection. He became the fifth Sooner to win the Outland Trophy, awarded to the nation’s top interior lineman.
OT: Russell Okung, Oklahoma State (2007-09) -- In Okung’s final two seasons, Oklahoma State led the Big 12 in rushing yards. The Cowboys were also third in the country in ’07 in fewest sacks allowed with Okung at left tackle. He was a unanimous All-American and Outland finalist in ’09 and became the sixth overall pick in the ’10 NFL draft.
OG: Cyril Richardson, Baylor (2010-13) -- Richardson became Baylor’s seventh all-time unanimous All-American. The Outland finalist was also a key piece on the nation’s highest-scoring offense this season.
OG: Justin Blalock, Texas (2003-06) -- Though a guard in the NFL, Blalock actually started 50 games for Texas, most coming at right tackle. He was a three-time, first-team All-Big 12 selection and a consensus All-American in 2006.
C: Dominic Raiola, Nebraska (1998-2000) -- Raiola was the inaugural winner of the Rimington Award, named after former Nebraska center Dave Rimington, which recognizes the best center in college football. He was an Outland finalist and a consensus All-American.
APB: Darren Sproles, Kansas State (2001-04) -- One of the most prolific all-purpose performers in college football history, Sproles finished his career with 6,812 all-purpose yards. Among his 39 consecutive starts, his most memorable performance came in the ’03 Big 12 championship, when he had 235 yards rushing and 88 receiving, as K-State upset top-ranked Oklahoma 35-7.
DE: Brian Orakpo, Texas (2005-08) -- Orakpo captured the ’08 Nagurski Award as the most outstanding defensive player in the country, and the Lombardi Award, given to the best college lineman or linebacker. He also was the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year and a consensus All-American while piling up 11 sacks his senior year.
DE: Von Miller, Texas A&M (2007-10) -- Out of a hybrid defensive end/linebacker role, Miller led the nation with 17 sacks in ’09. He was a two-time All-American and won the Butkus Award in ’10 as the nation’s top linebacker.
DT: Ndamukong Suh, Nebraska (2005-09) -- There was no more dominant defensive player in college football during the BCS era. Suh finished fourth in the Heisman voting in ’09 and won several national awards, including the Outland, Lombardi, Nagurski (most outstanding defensive player)and Bednarik (defensive player of the year). He was also a unanimous All-American and the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year.
DT: Tommie Harris, Oklahoma (2001-03) -- Harris was a force from the beginning as a freshman on the OU defensive line. He won the Lombardi his junior year, and he was a two-time consensus All-American, garnering unanimous honors in ’03.
LB: Derrick Johnson, Texas (2001-04) -- Johnson was a menacing linebacker for the Longhorns, earning consensus All-American honors in ’03 and unanimous honors in ’04. He was also a three-time, first-team All-Big 12 selection, and won the Butkus (best linebacker) and Nagurski awards as a senior. Johnson finished his career with 458 tackles.
LB: Rocky Calmus, Oklahoma (1998-2001) -- Calmus played a major role in OU’s resurgence under Bob Stoops. He won the Butkus in ’01 and was a finalist for the Nagurski and Bednarik. A three-time All-Big 12 pick, Calmus led the Sooners in tackles in all three of those seasons.
LB: Teddy Lehman, Oklahoma (2000-03) -- Lehman too won the Butkus, beating out Johnson for the award in ’03. He also was Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year, captured the Bednarik, was a unanimous All-American and played in two national championship games.
CB: Derrick Strait, Oklahoma (2000-03) -- A four-year starter, Strait finished with a school-record 52 career pass breakups. He also won the Thorpe, and was a unanimous All-American.
S: Roy Williams, Oklahoma (1999-2001) -- Nicknamed “Superman,” Williams was the Big 12’s most dominating defensive player until Suh came along. He won the Thorpe and Nagurski in ’01, and was the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year and a unanimous All-American the same season. He also famously skied over the Texas offensive line to force the game-clinching interception to earn his moniker.
S: Michael Huff, Texas (2002-05) -- Huff became the first Longhorn to win the Thorpe, and was the leader of the ’05 national championship defense. He was also a unanimous All-American that season.
K: Mason Crosby, Colorado (2003-06) -- Crosby was three-time, first-team All-Big 12 selection, and twice was a consensus All-American even though he never won the Lou Groza Award, given to the nation's top kicker. He was also the Big 12 Special Teams Player of the Year as a junior, and converted 66 field goals in his career.
P: Quinn Sharp, Oklahoma State (2009-12) -- Sharp became the first three-time All-American in Oklahoma State history, and he earned All-American honors both as a punter and a kicker. He was twice named the Big 12 Special Teams Player of the Year. In his career, he made 50 of 59 field goals, averaged 45.9 yards per punt and missed only one extra point.
KR: Tavon Austin, West Virginia (2012) -- Austin was in the Big 12 only one season, but he was unstoppable that one season. On top of being one of the most dangerous kick returners in the country, Austin had 1,289 yards receiving and 643 rushing, and finished second in the country in all-purpose yards.
PR: Ryan Broyles Oklahoma (2008-11) -- On top of being a prolific punt returner, Broyles was one of the most efficient receivers in college football history. He finished his career with an FBS-record 349 receptions, and was a two-time consensus All-American before a knee injury cut his senior season short.
- Johnny Manziel finished the regular season with 3,419 pass yards and 1,181 rush yards. His 4,600 yards of total offense broke the SEC single-season record set by Cam Newton during his 2010 Heisman Trophy season. When Newton broke the record, he supplanted Tim Tebow’s Heisman Trophy season of 2007.
- Manziel has been responsible for 43 touchdowns this season, tied with Tajh Boyd and Jordan Lynch for the most in FBS. He had six games with at least two touchdowns passing and rushing. That's tied with Tebow in 2007 for the most such games in a season since 2000. Collin Klein is tied for second in FBS this season with three such games.
- Manziel had 70 plays that gained 20 yards or more this season, 10 more than any other FBS player. He was tied for the eighth-most passes (52) and the second-most rushes (18) of 20-plus yards.
- Manziel gained 784 rush yards on scrambles, the most in the SEC. He had 13 scrambles that gained at least 20 yards, including seven touchdowns. No SEC player had more total rushes or touchdowns of 20-plus yards, let alone scrambles.
- Klein has scored a rushing touchdown in 11 straight games, the longest active streak in FBS. The only game that he did not have a rushing touchdown was against Missouri State, an FCS opponent. Since the start of last season, Klein has scored a rush TD in 23 straight games against FBS opponents. That is the longest such streak for any player in the last nine seasons.
- Since the start of last season, Klein has an FBS-best 37 rushing touchdowns in goal-to-go situations. Klein has had at least one such touchdown in 22 of 25 games during that time period, including in his last 10 games in which he has at least one such attempt.
- Klein has accounted for 69 percent of Kansas State’s yards and 66 percent of its offensive touchdowns this season. Klein’s percentages are slightly better than those of Robert Griffin III from his 2011 Heisman season at Baylor. Griffin accounted for 66 percent of Baylor’s total and 61 percent of its touchdowns.
- Manti Te'o has seven interceptions this season, tied for second-most in FBS and three more than any other linebacker. Te’o also has two fumble recoveries. His nine total takeaways are tied for the most in nation.
- Te’o has 103 tackles this season, 42 more than any other player on Notre Dame. He has just two missed tackles all season. As a team, the Irish have missed 61 tackles this season, the third-fewest among AQ schools.
- Notre Dame leads the nation in scoring defense (10.3 PPG) and is the only team that has not given up a touchdown drive longer than 75 yards this season. Every other FBS team has allowed at least three.
Jan. 4, 8 p.m. ET, Arlington, Texas (Fox)
Texas A&M take by GigEmNation's Sam Khan Jr.: The Aggies are one of the surprise stories nationally in college football this season, exceeding preseason expectations by going 10-2 in their first Southeastern Conference campaign.
New coach Kevin Sumlin has injected energy into the program and helped reverse the narrative of 2011, when the preseason-top-10 Aggies couldn't hold on to a second-half lead. Now, Texas A&M closes games out as good as any team.
A lot of that credit can go to its Heisman Trophy candidate at quarterback, redshirt freshman Johnny Manziel. Nicknamed "Johnny Football," Manziel took the college football world by storm with his playmaking ability, producing an eye-popping statistical season by breaking Cam Newton's single-season SEC total yardage record. Manziel compiled 4,600 offensive yards this season, throwing for 3,419 and rushing for 1,181. He was responsible for 43 touchdowns.
But the Aggies have been far from a one-man show.
Questions about the defense -- and the defensive line in particular -- were answered emphatically. Junior Damontre Moore spent most of the season at or near the top spot in the country in tackles for loss (20) and sacks (12.5), where he's tied for fifth and third, respectively.
Perhaps the team's best unit has been its offensive line, which has two future NFL draft picks at the tackle spots (juniors Luke Joeckel and Jake Matthews), and a senior center (Patrick Lewis) who has been a catalyst to the team's success.
The Aggies have displayed a high-powered, quick-strike offense under Sumlin and offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury, and an aggressive defense under coordinator Mark Snyder.
Oklahoma take from SoonerNation's Jake Trotter: From Lee Roy Selmon to Brian Bosworth, Oklahoma has a long, strong defensive tradition. But like almost everyone else in the Big 12, these Sooners win with their high-flying pass offense. Senior quarterback Landry Jones finished off the regular season on fire, throwing for more than 500 yards twice in November while leading the Sooners to a pair of come-from-behind, fourth-quarter wins. Jones, who has a chance to go 4-0 as a bowl-game starter, benefits from one of the most explosive wide receiving corps in the country.
Four different receivers boast more than 500 yards receiving, including Kenny Stills, who leads the Sooners with 75 receptions and 11 touchdowns. All three of OU’s running backs are dangerous in the passing game, too, especially fullback Trey Millard, who had a 73-yard reception against Texas earlier this season.
Opposing offenses have gashed Bob Stoops’ defense on the ground, but the Sooners are not easy to thrown on. Free safety Tony Jefferson is a ferocious tackler, and cornerback Aaron Colvin is a ball hawk.
As co-Big 12 champs, the Sooners had a season worthy of a BCS bowl. But Northern Illinois' sudden ascendance knocked them out of the BCS and the Sugar Bowl. The Sooners did not have a win over a team currently ranked in the AP Top 25. But their two losses came at the hands of top-ranked Notre Dame and Kansas State, which was No. 1 before the Irish. OU was in both games until falling apart in the fourth quarter. The Sooners, however, have owned the fourth quarter down the stretch, coming back in the final seconds to knock off West Virginia and Oklahoma State, then holding off TCU in the last minute.
Here's the best of the bunch this week.
Jason in Owasso, Okla., writes: Hey! I'm submitting this early so I hope you get it! Who do you think deserves the Heisman more? Collin Klein or Johnny Manziel? I think Manziel is more important to his team [Texas A&M] because K-State is a better team all-around and Klein gets more help than Manziel. Manziel has 2780 passing yards and 18 TDs with 6 INTs while Klein only has 2020 passing yards with 12 TDs and 3 INTs! Manziel also has more rushing yards! 1014 to 748 with only 2 more carries!!! To me it is no question who is having a better season and is more important to his team. Also, Manziel has been playing against WAY better defenses! With less experience also! What do you think?
Mike in Texas asked: Why is everything you stated about RGIII and his Heisman chances now invalid for Johnny Manziel, especially the W-L records you defended for Baylor?
David Ubben: If you want to talk simple yardage numbers, then fine. Manziel's advantage might have something to do with the fact that he's had the ball in his hands for almost 130 more plays than Klein, whose yards per pass attempt are significantly higher. Klein leads the nation with 9.7 yards an attempt, and led the nation in passer rating, too, until last week's rough outing against TCU that, unfortunately for Klein, came right after Manziel's big coming-out party versus Alabama.
You could argue importance any way you want, but I'd say that's mostly a push.
As for the wins argument, if you can't see the difference between RG3 and Manziel when it comes to winning the Heisman with losses, I can't help you. Winning 10 games at Baylor is really, really hard. Look at the Bears this season.
A&M has two nine-win seasons since 2006. Yes, this year's SEC is tougher than the Big 12, but outside of last week's victory over Alabama, where's the proof that A&M is blowing up in the SEC this year, winning games it couldn't win in the Big 12?
It lost to Florida and LSU and doesn't really have another strong win on the resume. At Alabama is obviously a better win than Oklahoma, but it's still only one game. The rest of the wins for both K-State and Texas A&M aren't all that different. Manziel failed to throw a touchdown pass in both of Texas A&M's losses and threw three picks (including one to seal the game) against LSU. Football's a team game, yes, but Manziel didn't make plays late to win those games.
He turned the ball the same number of times against LSU that Klein has all year. If Klein turns the ball over, K-State loses that Oklahoma game. He didn't. The Cats won. Manziel's got eight turnovers this year. Klein's got three. That's a big gap, especially when the competition is as close as it is.
When you look at the loss column, how do you not take that into account? Griffin lost games, yes, but winning 10 games at Baylor is a monumentally more difficult task than winning 10 games at Texas A&M in the SEC. The Aggies can talk about "that tough SEC schedule" all they want, but they're not racking up wins to make those 10 wins truly impressive. You can't take anything away from that Alabama win. It was amazing stuff. Manziel's a fantastic player. He's one of the best in the country.
He's just not better than Klein.
Hutch in Lubbock, Texas, writes: Your thoughts on Kliff Kingsbury's success leading him back to TTU eventually as perhaps one of the few people who could reunite a still-fractured fan base?
DU: It's a little early in his career, and I think he definitely needs more experience, but I could definitely see Kingsbury -- in his first season as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Texas A&M -- taking that job at some point. This is only his fifth season coaching, but if he keeps it going, I'm sure he'll get his alma mater's attention whenever Tommy Tuberville's time is done there. Of course, he'd be well-served by grabbing a head-coaching job at a smaller program before then. If I'm Texas Tech, I'd probably want to see him run an entire program before I hand him the keys to Jones AT&T Stadium.
Still, what a promising start. I'd be surprised if we didn't see him back in the Big 12 before too long.
Rob in Orlando, Fla., writes: Dave, What's the deal with WVU they confuse me the most of any FBS team. They seem to have the same offense from the recent Orange Bowl pounding they did on Clemson and started off as if they never lost track ... then the walls just hit or someone flipped off the switch. Clemson is still pretty decent this year so that leaves me with the question is this an internal issue? Are the Mountaineers self-destructing because of the coaching? All problems seem to be leading that way with the talent at hand.
DU: I mentioned this in the chat last week, but I think I'm subscribing more to the theory that West Virginia was overrated from the start. The offensive production has slowed, yes, but the Mountaineers showed plenty of inconsistency last year and that's continued this week. Geno Smith's first five games were as good as any Big 12 quarterback we've ever seen, but the defensive deficiencies were obvious. Texas was also playing pretty sorry defense at the time but has grown up a bit in the past few weeks. Baylor was ranked when WVU beat it 70-63, but the Bears are a four-win team now with just one Big 12 victory ... against winless Kansas. So, clearly, that win was overinflated in retrospect.
I was admittedly on board with WVU after that Texas game, but looking back, it's easy to see the possibility that this is more than just some head-scratching dip in performance. Those early performances weren't quite as impressive in hindsight.
Chuck Roberts in Dallas writes: David; When you were ranking the best defensive players in the Big 12 I couldn't figure out why you had Devonte Fields ahead of Arthur Brown. Truth is, I'd never seen Fields play. Well, after Saturday's game it's very apparent to me now that you are right, so I just wanted to acknowledge that.
DU: That tends to happen. Sadly, I'm afraid you're not the only one who hasn't paid attention to Fields. TCU's a newcomer to the league this year, but Fields is just tearing it up, whether folks are watching or not. He's only going to get better. Gary Patterson talked a little bit about that this week, mentioning that Fields' strength needed a lot of improvement. For his positon, he's still a little undersized, and as he gets used to the strength and conditioning program at TCU, he'll fill out quite a bit.
That's a far cry from last year, when four Big 12 teams finished in the top 25.
The two teams who made the rankings? Sit down and try to contain your shock ...
It's the Sooners and Longhorns.
Both checked in inside the top 15, starting with Texas at No. 4.
The Longhorns took a huge punch to the gut on Tuesday with the unexpected decommitment of Ricky Seals-Jones, a five-star recruit ranked as the No. 1 wide receiver in the country. But they still have a class to feel good about.
Seven of their 14 commitments are represented in the ESPN 150, including Darius James, who checks in as the No. 17 prospect, No. 2 offensive linemen and No. 1 center overall. He figures to be a future stalwart of Texas' offensive line that will be in charge of protecting quarterback Tyrone Swoopes, the No. 22 prospect overall. The 6-foot-5, 220-pound Swoopes dipped in the latest rankings. He began as the No. 9 prospect and top-rated quarterback. He's now the No. 4 QB on the list.
Oklahoma landed at No. 12 on the list with about eight months before signing day, and the Sooners have nine commits, including four in the ESPN 150.
The patient approach was never more prevalent than at quarterback, and for OU, good things did come to those who wait. After a lengthy search, the Sooners found their future signal-caller in Cody Thomas, who debuted in the updated ESPN 150 at No. 93 after having not been ranked in the initial release.
You'll need ESPN Insider to see the full rankings, but a nice start for the Sooners and Longhorns. If you're curious, Michigan is No. 1 and those Aggies you may remember are all the way up at No. 6.
"Truth be told, the Big 12 won't miss Missouri or Texas A&M nearly as bad as it will national power Nebraska."
That's based off Nebraska's fan support, first and foremost, which I still think is unrivaled in the Big 12.
Additionally, there's the winning factor. Nebraska's 43 conference titles and five national championships dwarf Texas A&M's 18 conference titles and one national title. Missouri also has 15 conference titles. Colorado had 26 conference titles and a national title.
A few of you disagreed that Nebraska would be missed most.
So, let's get all scientific* about this. Which team will you miss most?
Maybe it's their stadium. Maybe it's their fans. Maybe its the rivalry. But if you had to pick just one, who would you miss most?
Vote in our poll.
*not actually scientific
Dec. 31, noon ET (ESPN)
Texas A&M take from Big 12 blogger David Ubben: The Aggies are in a state of turmoil. They have no coach and the players are understandably shaken up about it. Mike Sherman was loved around College Station, and his super classy exit press conference showed all the reasons why. Ultimately, Texas A&M's much-ballyhooed second-half failures ended Sherman's tenure as the head Aggie. The numbers are well-known by now, but still staggering. They tell the story of how a preseason top 10 team with as much talent as any in the Big 12 ends up at 6-6. Five halftime leads of double digits and another by nine against rival Texas. All were losses.
That doesn't change the talent on the field. Running back Cyrus Gray will likely return from injury, as will quarterback Ryan Tannehill with top targets Ryan Swope and Jeff Fuller. They'll play with an offensive line that has some legit NFL talent, a credit to Sherman's recruiting acumen as a coach with an offensive line background. Texas A&M is already assured of leaving the Big 12 with a bitter taste en route to the SEC next season, but a bowl win might help ... if only a little bit.
Northwestern take from Big Ten blogger Adam Rittenberg: Northwestern will play in a bowl for a team-record fourth consecutive year, but the Wildcats are still looking for that elusive postseason win after a disappointing 2011 campaign.
As players and coaches often are reminded, Northwestern hasn’t won a bowl game since the 1949 Rose. The Wildcats have come close the past three seasons, particularly in the 2010 Outback Bowl, but they’ve fallen short each time. While Texas A&M’s motivation might be a question mark after its recent coaching change, Northwestern will be geared up.
The good news is that unlike last year, Northwestern will have top quarterback Dan Persa on the field for its bowl. Although Persa didn’t look nearly as dominant this season as he did in 2010, he still led the Big Ten in passing (240.3 ypg) and completed 74.2 percent of his passes with 17 touchdown strikes and seven interceptions. Persa and the offense will need to put up points as Northwestern’s defense has struggled mightily this season and in the recent bowl losses. The Wildcats will be without top cornerback Jordan Mabin against Texas A&M quarterback Ryan Tannehill and his talented group of receivers.
This will be a virtual road game for Northwestern in Houston, as Texas A&M fans will pack Reliant Stadium. But Pat Fitzgerald’s teams often play better on the road than at home, as they are 14-8 on the road since the start of the 2008 season.
Jan. 7, 8 p.m. ET (FOX)
LSU take by SEC blogger Chris Low: For a team that went 10-2 in the regular season with both losses coming to top 10 opponents, LSU took its share of grief this season.
Part of that was another near disaster at the end of the game, this time against Tennessee. The Vols bailed Les Miles and the Tigers out by having 13 defenders on the field, though.
It looked like the clock had expired before LSU could push across that last touchdown. The Tigers got another shot thanks to the penalty on the Vols … and survived.
LSU’s defense was excellent for most of the season and carried a far heavier burden than it should have. That’s because the Tigers tried to do it without a passing game for the first two months of the season. Jordan Jefferson and Jarrett Lee split time for a while, but it's been mostly Jefferson at the end of the season.
About the time the Tigers found a passing game and beat Alabama 24-21 in their best win of the season on Nov. 6, their defense started to fade a bit.
The Tigers had trouble getting off the field defensively in both of their last two games against Ole Miss and Arkansas. They barely squeezed by Ole Miss, but were beaten by the Hogs in Little Rock -- costing the Tigers a BCS bowl.
Texas A&M take by Big 12 blogger David Ubben: There weren't many who picked the Aggies to be here back in October. Texas A&M sat at 3-3 and 0-2 in Big 12 play, fresh off a three-touchdown home loss to Missouri. Forget the Cotton Bowl, the Aggies would have been thankful for any bowl at that point.
And yet, here they are, snug in the Big 12's No. 2 bowl spot. They have a six-game winning streak to thank, one that included wins over two top 10 teams. That streak was keyed off by making a switch from Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year Jerrod Johnson at quarterback to Ryan Tannehill, who also happened to be one of Johnson's top receivers. He's not the only reason. Running back Cyrus Gray bulldozed his way onto the media's All-Big 12 team with his dominance down the season's stretch after top running back Christine Michael's season ended with a broken leg. The Aggies defense is one of the league's most improved units, too. Mike Sherman got what he expected with new coordinator Tim DeRuyter, and now, the Aggies are in the Cotton Bowl for the first time since 2004.
Expect the Aggies fans to head three hours west to Dallas in droves, eager to support their red-hot team.
The NCAA released football attendance figures today, which you can review here.
The Big 12 ranked third among BCS conferences in attendance with an average of 62,875.
The SEC was No. 1 (76,288) and the Big Ten was second (71,769).
Five Big 12 teams ranked in the top 30: No. 10 Nebraska, No. 12 Oklahoma, No. 16 Texas A&M and No. 28 Missouri.
Three Big 12 teams produced top-30 attendance increases from 2008 to 2009: Oklahoma State (up 5,458, ninth-best increase); Texas (up 3,129, 17th best); and Baylor (up 2,182, 26th best).
Here are the Big 12 figures:
Texas A&M... 76,800
Oklahoma State... 53,719
Texas Tech... 50,249
Kansas State... 46,763
Iowa State... 46,242
- Colorado has signed a safety from New Jersey, a 22nd member to its recruiting class. The best news is his name isn't "Snooki." Former running back Darrell Scott is considering a return.
- Kansas stars from different eras are teaming up.
- Missouri will open a Touchdown Terrace this fall.
- Why did Nebraska offensive coordinator Shawn Watson and coach Bo Pelini meet with athletic director Tom Osborne and former offensive line coach Milt Tenopir? And a Tom Shatel column on the matter.
- Oklahoma is hoping big things come in small packages at running back.
- What's the draft scuttlebutt on a couple of prospects late of Oklahoma State?
- Is Texas really part of the Big Ten's expansion plans? Texas athletic director DeLoss Dodds thinks the Big 12 should play nine conference games instead of eight. He's not as keen on making conference revenue sharing equal because the Longhorns get a larger slice of the pie.
- Texas A&M is hoping for its special teams to be more special.
- By the way, where the heck is Mike Leach these days? And, with him gone, what will the Red Raiders' offense look like in 2010?
BIG 12 SCOREBOARD
12:00 PM ET 4 Oklahoma Tulsa 12:00 PM ET 20 Kansas State Iowa State 3:30 PM ET Missouri State Oklahoma State 7:00 PM ET Southeast Missouri State Kansas 7:30 PM ET BYU Texas 7:30 PM ET Towson West Virginia 7:30 PM ET Northwestern State 10 Baylor 11:00 PM ET Texas Tech UTEP