Big 12: Tyler Wilson

Big 12 stock report: Week 5

September, 26, 2012
Acid tests! Balance sheets! Gross profits! Share capital!

Oh, that's right, I found a financial glossary and hit the motherload of terms I can throw around with little context or meaning. Which I just did.

Now, it's time to provide a few things across the Big 12 with context and meaning, but also with wildly fluctuating stock prices.

Rising: Bryce Hager

[+] EnlargeBryce Hager
Jerome Miron/US PresswireKeep an eye on Baylor LB Bryce Hager, as he's been a star through four weeks this season.
Baylor's new middle linebacker has quietly been one of the Big 12's breakout stars through nonconference play. The sophomore Austin, Texas native leads the Big 12 with 39 tackles in just three games, including 15 in last week's win over Louisiana-Monroe and a game-high 14 in the Bears' season-opening win over SMU. Hager, a 6-foot-1, 235-pound first-year starter has slid into a big role in the middle of the Bears' defense replacing stalwart Elliot Coffey.

Falling: Oklahoma's home prowess

You saw the history-making win on Saturday night when Kansas State became the first ranked team to beat Oklahoma in Norman under Bob Stoops. But could we be seeing the official end of a trend? Oklahoma lost two games in Stoops' first 75 games at Owen Field. After last week, the Sooners have lost two of their last five games at home, and one of those wins came over FCS Florida A&M. Oklahoma needs to flex a little at home late this season, or else that Owen Field mystique will officially be gone.

Rising: Kansas' strength of schedule

Jeff Sagarin's ratings are one of a handful of computer rankings that factor into the BCS rankings, and schedule strength is a big part of his rating. So far, Kansas has played the toughest schedule in the entire Big 12 by a long, long way. The Jayhawks, despite playing FCS South Dakota State, have the nation's No. 51 schedule. TCU has been the Jayhawks' toughest opponent to date, but KU also lined up against Rice and Northern Illinois, losing both games. The Big 12's next-toughest schedule? Kansas State, at No. 81. Those numbers will be rising soon as Big 12 play hits its full stride, but the numbers tell us what we already know: The Big 12's nonconference schedule is all kinds of sorry.

Falling: Texas Tech's strength of schedule

The worst offender for that schedule? Texas Tech. The Red Raiders travel to Iowa State this weekend after taking care of a rather scrumptious platter of nonconference cupcakes. Tech easily dispatched Northwestern State, Texas State and New Mexico before last week's bye, and Sagarin's ratings say that's the nation's 164th-toughest schedule. That's especially eyepopping considering there are only 124 FBS teams. Still, Tech's apparently been impressive enough in those games to be sitting at 18th in Sagarin's ratings, one spot ahead of West Virginia. That's what happens when you lead the nation in total defense and sit at No. 2 overall in total offense.

Rising: Nick Florence

Had enough of Florence's big plays yet? Get used to it. Florence has 11 completions longer than 30 yards this season, and he's done it in just three games. Only Arkansas' Tyler Wilson has thrown more, and Florence has two more than the next-best in the Big 12: West Virginia's Geno Smith.

Falling: The Big 12's 'No Interception' pool

There are officially only two quarterbacks left in the Big 12 pool: West Virginia's Geno Smith and Texas' David Ash. TCU's Casey Pachall threw his first interception of the season against Virginia last week, but get this stat: Smith, Ash and Pachall are the nation's three leaders in passer rating. The Big 12 continues to be the place where quarterbacks come to play. The Big 12 has two quarterbacks left in the pool, but there are only 14 starting quarterbacks left in college football who haven't thrown an interception. Outside the Big 12, only four of those are from BCS conference teams (Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M; Kain Colter, Northwestern; Cameron Coffman, Indiana; AJ McCarron, Alabama)

Big 12 game predictions: Week 4

September, 20, 2012
Last week was a good one, my second week this season without a missed pick. That wasn't too difficult, though. This week, it gets harder.

No big surprises in my Saturday location: I'm heading to Norman to see the Sooners and Wildcats tangle in a Saturday night prime-time showdown.

Here's who I've got in this weekend's games:

Last week: 8-0

Season record: 22-3 (.880)

Texas, Iowa State, Oklahoma State and Texas Tech are off this week.

Baylor 41, Louisiana-Monroe 28: I don't buy the upset potential here. Tyler Wilson looked fine against the Warhawks before he got hurt. Nick Florence should do the same. Terrance Williams and Tevin Reese give Louisiana-Monroe fits. The Bears will take care of business and have too much offense, though Kolton Browning will make plenty of plays to make Baylor's defense sweat.

No. 8 West Virginia 55, Maryland 17: Maryland is better this year under Randy Edsall, but not good enough to make this a game. West Virginia is playing like a top-10 team and will keep it going to close out nonconference play. Stedman Bailey will grab two more touchdowns and Tavon Austin will hit double digits in receptions once again. Business as usual for the 'Eers.

No. 17 TCU 44, Virginia 20: Gary Patterson is not sweating the turnovers from last week because the fumbles were so out of character for his team. The Horned Frogs will prove it this week, dominating the line of scrimmage against the Cavaliers. Matthew Tucker will clear 100 yards easily, and Skye Dawson will finally get in the mix after a Week 1 suspension and quiet game at KU last week.

Kansas 28, Northern Illinois 27: This was by far the toughest pick of the week. Ultimately, I think NIU is a bit overrated based on its reputation this season and won't be able to stop Kansas' running game. Tony Pierson and James Sims are quite the duo in the backfield, and Sims will be fired up after returning from suspension. He's ready, and KU will get a big win on the road against the Huskies. Dayne Crist should learn from his mistakes and make a couple of big throws late, instead of interceptions.

No. 6 Oklahoma 37, No. 15 Kansas State 31: This is (obviously) my game of the week. Come back later today for a video explaining why I picked the game to play out like this.
Kevin SumlinCal Sport Media/AP ImagesBetween a young team and a tough new conference, coach Kevin Sumlin has his work cut out for him.
It's Moving Day No. 2 on the blog network today, and the Aggies are following Missouri out the door into the SEC blog today. We introduced the Aggies to the SEC earlier, but now it's time to debate.

The Aggies' move to the SEC was more about having the program grow in brand-new soil, whereas Missouri's move was more about conference stability.

Will the Aggies thrive? SEC blogger Chris Low and Big 12 blogger David Ubben go head to head to find out.

Chris Low: OK, David, let's not tiptoe around. This is a big-boy conference in the SEC with big-boy stakes. I know everything is supposedly bigger in the state of Texas, but do the Aggies really know what they're getting themselves into? For one, they tend to play all four quarters in the SEC. Judging by what I saw from the Aggies last season, somebody might want to remind them that there is a second half. Come to think of it, that's not very hospitable of me. I take that back. But, honestly, how do you think the Aggies will handle the grind of this league?

David Ubben: Now, now, Chris, that's not very nice. The Aggies are ...

As one final tribute to Texas A&M, I elected to forfeit the second half of that sentence.

In the early running, Texas A&M's going to have a lot of issues. Losing the volume and quality of talent they did in 2011 will hurt, especially on offense, as the program moves into a league -- and, particularly, a division -- known for defense. Ryan Tannehill wasn't great last year, but his experience helped, and Jeff Fuller and Cyrus Gray are a pair of NFL players that don't roll around every year.

I like the talent on campus at A&M a lot, though. They're just going to be young for now. With what they have now, they'll get better and better, as long as Kevin Sumlin does well. Based on what we've seen from his career, I think he will.

[+] EnlargeSean Porter
Troy Taormina/US PresswireLinebacker Sean Porter tallied 9 sacks for A&M last season, but the Aggies will need more from their defensive line.
Beyond these first three to four years, how well they progress will depend on recruiting. The Aggies think the SEC will be a big draw for Texas recruits who want to play in the best conference in college football. Being able to offer that could help them surpass Texas on the recruiting trail and on the field.

Are you buying that? I strongly lean toward no, but I could see it happening. What do you think? Is playing in the SEC going to be a draw for Texas kids? Why or why not?

CL: I absolutely think the SEC will be a draw for some Texas recruits who see it as a chance to stay in the state and still play their college football and also be able to do it against SEC competition. That's a pretty sweet proposition: Stay close to home in the football-crazed state of Texas and compete in the football-crazed SEC, which has a standing order with the sculptor who designs that crystal trophy every year for the BCS national champion.

There's also another side to this story. The boys in the SEC think their chances of going deep into the heart of Texas and landing elite prospects are better than ever with Texas A&M joining the league. Rival coaches can tell mamas and daddies (that's the way the Bear used to say it) that they'll be able to keep up with their sons just like they were in the Big 12 with the Aggies now part of the SEC family, although the recruiting atmosphere in this league isn't very family-oriented. Just ask Urban Meyer. He got so tired of the recruiting shenanigans in the SEC that he's now pulling his own in the Big Ten, according to some of his new brethren there.

That leads me to my next question: Has anybody informed the Aggies that the rules are a little different in the SEC? Unlike the Big 12, it's not the first team to 40 points that wins.

DU: For the record, the league changed those rules for Baylor-Washington in the Alamo Bowl. First to 60 wins now, but that's irrelevant news for the Aggies.

A&M's front seven's actually been really good these past two years, but this year, it was the secondary that let the team down. The Aggies led the nation with 51 sacks, but the team wasn't happy that it took a lot of risky blitzes to get those sacks. The defensive line wasn't the unit applying the pressure most often — it was linebackers and defensive backs. That meant a lot of big plays in the passing game; the Aggies ranked 109th nationally in pass defense, giving up more than 275 yards a game. Now, they won't see the same caliber of quarterbacks in the SEC, but we will see if the front seven can handle the power of teams in the SEC West, which, to their credit, do have a handful of quarterbacks with a lot of potential. Tyler Wilson's great now. AJ McCarron and Kiehl Frazier could be elite soon.

We'll see what new defensive coordinator Mark Snyder can fix.

On the flip side of the recruiting debate, how much do you think SEC teams will try and slide into Texas? Could we see some collateral damage in the Big 12? Will the SEC one day take over the world? I heard Nicolas Sarkozy already has a special security detail in place in case Mike Slive comes after him.

CL: I'm not sure about taking over the world. It's just college football that the SEC one day would like to own. Some might suggest it already does.

Arkansas and LSU will probably be helped the most in terms of going into Texas and getting players. Other schools in the SEC might be more apt to target players in the state of Texas and make a push for those select players, but I don't think you're going to suddenly see a mass of teams in the SEC setting up camp in Texas on the recruiting trail. There's no need to when you look at how bountiful the states of Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Louisiana and South Carolina are in most years.

You mention some of the quarterbacks in the Western Division. It's fair to say that this wasn't a quarterback's league this season, and I also realize that the Big 12 has produced some quarterbacks over the last few years who've put up Xbox-type numbers.

[+] EnlargeTexas A&M
Thomas Campbell/US PresswireThere's little doubt that the state of Texas and the SEC share a deep passion for football.
But my question for you: Is Texas A&M capable of playing the kind of defense it takes to win big in the SEC?

DU: I think so, eventually. They know they have to, which is huge. They've seen how teams succeed in the SEC, and it's with defense.

If you invest in something, especially with the resources A&M has, good things will happen. Don't forget, the Aggies defense was really, really good last year. The athletes are there. For A&M, it's about putting it together.

CL: With all due respect, "really, really good" on defense in the Big 12 is entirely different than being "really, really good" in the SEC on defense. The more I watch this conference, the more it's ingrained in me that you're never going to win at a high level unless you can run the ball, stop the run and consistently win the turnover battle. Everything else is window dressing. I understand that's not exactly rocket science, but being able to run the ball creates a mindset that positively impacts your entire team. The same goes for playing good run defense.

So if I were offering any advice to the Aggies as they make the big jump, it would be to fortify their offensive backfield and recruit like crazy in the offensive and defensive lines. There's no such thing as too much depth in the SEC.

Having a little Texas flavor in the SEC is exciting. I know you're on record as saying the Aggies might struggle next season. But over time, I think they have what it takes to be an upper-echelon team in the SEC. Of course, that's the beauty of the SEC. So does everybody else in the league.

DU: Oh, there's no respect due when we're talking Big 12 defenses. The best in the SEC are on another stratosphere from the best in the Big 12.

Your game plan sounds like what I'd recommend, but it's easier said than done. Like Mizzou, A&M will have to start mining some of those junior colleges down south like the rest of the SEC West.

Generally, I'd agree with you on A&M's long-term prospects. The Aggies will win less than they did in the Big 12 ... which is to say not much. But they could put it together and have a huge year every now and then. I don't see them surpassing Texas as a program, but they're on their own now.

For some Aggies, that's enough. Next year, the Aggies will struggle, but watching them grow and try to build a new program will be fascinating.

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Arkansas proved it was the better team on Friday night with a performance solid enough to keep Kansas State at an arm's length for most of the night.

Time for some analysis. Plenty more on the way tonight.

How the game was won: Neither team brought its A game, but Arkansas' defense played one of its best games of the season and the Kansas State offense didn't do enough to chase down the Hogs, who jumped out to a 19-0 second-quarter lead, and a late third-quarter score helped put the game out of reach before Kansas State's Anthony Cantele missed a 43-yard kick with 6:36 to play.

Turning point: Kansas State took the momentum with 16 consecutive points to get within 19-16 less than four minutes into the second half, but the Hogs' Tyler Wilson put together a huge drive, going 58 yards in 11 plays to put the lead back to 26-16. He capped it with a 9-yard touchdown pass to Cobi Hamilton and completed 5 of 7 passes for 60 yards on the drive, thanks to penalties.

Stat of the game: Kansas State rushed 40 times for 86 yards. That average of just over 2 yards per carry isn't good enough for K-State's run-oriented offense to have a chance. Credit Arkansas' defense on that one.

Second-guessing: Kansas State's decision to punt to Joe Adams. He was dangerous more in the first half, but he broke a 51-yard return for a score to put Arkansas up 10-0. Kansas State should have known better or avoided him more deliberately. You don't need to look far to see why.

What it means: Arkansas becomes the fourth consecutive SEC team to win the Cotton Bowl and grabs the third 11-win season in school history and first since 1977, a year after making the school's first BCS bowl. Coach Bobby Petrino has the Hogs rolling. They'll come back in 2012 with plenty of potential to chase after an SEC title. Wilson loses three of his top four receivers, but he proved his worth as a quarterback this season.

Kansas State finished with 10 victories, its first double-digit win season since winning the Big 12 in 2003. The Wildcats' pluckiness ran out in this one, and they couldn't earn a seventh win as an underdog this season.

Record performance: Collin Klein became the Big 12's single-season leader for rushing touchdowns with a 6-yard run in the third quarter for his 27th of the season, tying Texas' Ricky Williams.

Record performance II: Adams' first-half punt return was his fourth on the season, giving him the SEC single-season for punt return touchdowns. He has five for his career.
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Kansas State defensive end Meshak Williams was injured late in the first half of the AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic after helmet-to-helmet contact with a teammate while trying to make a tackle.

Williams remained on his back after the play in the closing seconds of the second quarter.

Medical personnel tended to Williams on the field for several minutes before putting him on a stretcher, then on a cart. Williams gave a thumbs-up signal while being placed on the cart, then extended his right arm high and flashed a Wildcats sign.

Williams was pursuing Arkansas quarterback Tyler Wilson, who ducked to avoid being hit. Williams then made contact with linebacker Emmanuel Lamur, who was coming from the other side.

There was no immediate word of Williams' specific injury or condition.
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Is this the same K-State team? Are we sure?

The Wildcats' play all season has been marked by precision and a lack of mistakes. The result was 10 wins. In the first half, they've been penalized four times and have turned the ball over. They're getting beat in the special teams, too, giving up a huge play on a punt return.

Arkansas has to be feeling good about that half, with the exception of a late fumble.

K-State also had a scary situation late in the half. Defensive end Meshak Williams took a helmet-to-helmet hit from teammate Emmanuel Lamur and had to be carted off. Medical personnel removed his face mask and were stabilizing his neck, according to sideline reports.

Time for some further analysis.

Turning point: Joe Adams' punt return. He's the most electrifying player in this game by a long shot, and he showed why with a shifty 51-yard punt return. His fourth return for a touchdown in 2011, and fifth in his career, tied the single-season SEC record and totally turned the first half. Arkansas' offense hasn't been great, but Adams got the crowd going. Yeah, he got some help from a block in the back (or two), but nobody was catching him on that play. It was the first punt return for a touchdown in the Cotton Bowl since 1961.

Turning point II: Tyler Wilson's fumble in the final minute of the half. It gave Kansas State some hope heading into the locker room in what was otherwise an ugly, ugly first half. Kansas State took advantage, hooking up for a 3-yard touchdown pass on a pretty rollout throwback play to Andre McDonald to cut the lead to 10 heading into halftime.

Best player (s) in the half: Arkansas defensive end Jake Bequette and Joe Adams. Sometimes, all it takes is two big plays. The first half's been pretty ugly, but Bequette forced a sack/fumble in the K-State red zone, and Adams swung the game on the aforementioned punt return. Adams has almost broken a couple, and Bequette's been consistently disruptive, too.

What Kansas State needs to do: Collin Klein, for whatever reason, has been tentative to take off in the pocket, and he's already thrown too many passes without a ton of effectiveness. He's relied on his arm perhaps a bit too much tonight when he's had opportunities to run. That has to change, especially in a half when they're likely to be dropping back to throw quite a bit.

What Arkansas needs to do: Keep testing K-State's defense deep. It hit Wright for a 45-yard score and nearly had Joe Adams for one from 70-plus yards. The Hogs opened a window for K-State with the late fumble, and the Wildcats climbed through it. Arkansas can slam the door shut with a couple big plays in the second half.
K-State and Arkansas will get it started tonight in Cowboys Stadium at 8 p.m. ET on FOX, and here's three keys for Kansas State to grab a win.

1. Absolutely slow the big plays. K-State's been blown out once all season. Oklahoma did it with touchdowns of 61, 31, 29 and 18 yards in a 58-17 win. Arkansas has the capability to blow Kansas State's doors off, but the Wildcats have proven mostly capable of at least slowing or keeping up with high-octane offenses like Baylor and Oklahoma State. Arkansas' not quite on that level, but the Razorbacks are really potent. The biggest way to let this get out of hand is pretty simple: Quick scores and yardage coming in chunks.

2. Grind, grind, grind. We all know there ain't nothin' wrong with that. Even in the Big 12. Kansas State's a unique team, but it may finish this game with two 1,000-yard rushers. Collin Klein's already there, but running back John Hubert -- far underrated in his own right -- needs just 67 more yards to cross that mark. He's averaging nearly 5 yards a carry. This running attack can wear down Arkansas' defense, but the less the Hogs have the ball in their hands, the better for K-State. The Wildcats are fourth nationally in time of possession for a reason. They run the ball, and they've turned the ball over just 13 times in 12 games. Five teams have fewer turnovers.

3. Snyderball, baby. This is what K-State does. Chances are high it gets outgained in this game. That's nothing new. Earlier this season, it won four consecutive games in which it was both an underdog and outgained. This will almost certainly be another one. It wins by making defensive stops and forcing turnovers, and capitalizing on special teams play. Kick returner Tyler Lockett, who took two kicks back for scores, is the only piece missing. He's out with a kidney injury. Raphael Guidry loves to block kicks (he's got four this year) and Anthony Cantele's been solid in the placekicking game. K-State knows to win where it counts most. This team, especially.
We're ready to go for the final Big 12 game and the last big bowl before The Big Bowl on Monday night, the AllState BCS National Championship Game.

But for now, it's time to preview tonight's game between No. 8 Kansas State and No. 6 Arkansas. They'll get started at 8 p.m. ET at Cowboys Stadium on FOX.

WHO TO WATCH: Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein. He's the guy that makes everything run for Kansas State's offense. The Wildcats go as he goes. He's improved as a passer throughout the season, and with his legs as the offense's primary threat, it opens up easier throws down the field. Arkansas' defense has to make sure he's contained at all times, and make sure it tackles well. He's proved how tough he is to bring down all season, and Arkansas will find out just how difficult it can be tonight.

WHAT TO WATCH: Tyler Wilson vs. Kansas State's secondary. This has the potential to be explosive, either way. The last time Wilson faced a Big 12 secondary, he threw for 510 yards. Granted, Kansas State's defense is a lot better than Texas A&M's, especially at defending the pass. It also possesses the Big 12's interception leader, Nigel Malone, with seven. Linebacker Arthur Brown is fast enough to drop into coverage and be effective. This one is a must watch and, combined with Klein's production, will decide the game.

WHY TO WATCH: Let me count the ways. Two top 10 teams, and arguably the second or third-best matchup of all the bowl games. It's the only matchup between the Big 12 and the SEC. It's two very different styles. How many more reasons do you need? This will be a fun one. Kansas State is a touchdown underdog, but the Wildcats were already an underdog in eight games this season. Of those eight games, it won six and finished 10-2. This is nothing new for Kansas State.

PREDICTION: Kansas State 34, Arkansas 31. I'll take the upset in this one. I've had a bead on the Wildcats all season, and I think Kansas State gets enough stops and the grinding running game frustrates an Arkansas defense that isn't strong enough to stop it. Since picking the Wildcats to lose by 14 to Baylor all the way back on Oct. 1, I've picked every Kansas State game correctly, including correctly picking them to win as an underdog four times. Let's make it five. College football's other Honey Badger at LSU gave Arkansas fits. Tonight will make it two.
DALLAS — Arkansas and Kansas State will play on Friday night in a game that's got every bit the worth of a BCS game. Along with Monday night's Fiesta Bowl and the Allstate BCS Championship Game, it's the only matchup with two teams ranked in the single digits.

It'll be played in primetime, on national television, inside America's greatest football palace, Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

You can't ask for much more. Kansas State and Arkansas have a combined four losses, and both of K-State's came via top 10 teams. The two teams that beat the Hogs are playing for the national title.

Best of all, it matches up what's clearly college football's two best conferences: The Big 12 and the SEC.

Unfortunately for fans of the game and both leagues, it's only the second time all season that teams from those leagues will play.

And this game, despite looking like one of high quality, won't settle anything between the Big 12 and SEC.

The battle for the nation's top conference is owned by the SEC at the top. LSU and Alabama stated strong cases as the nation's two best teams. The Big 12, though, is a deeper league with higher quality teams in the bottom two thirds.

The league rivalry isn't just about who's best. It's about styles.

To oversimplify: The Big 12 is offense. The SEC is defense.

So when Kansas State and Arkansas are the representatives of the two leagues, we have a problem.

In this game, the rivalry's root is irrelevant.

Kansas State ranks ninth (!) in the Big 12 in total offense. They rely on a grinding offense that focuses on possession and minimizing mistakes, not a high-flying passing game like Oklahoma State, Oklahoma or Baylor. It's meant success this year on the back of Collin Klein, who rushed for 26 touchdowns and carried the Wildcats to 10 wins and a second-place finish in the Big 12. It worked. It meant wins.

But it wasn't what you normally see out of the Big 12.

Arkansas, meanwhile? The Hogs rank ninth in the SEC in total defense, but lead the league in total offense behind Tyler Wilson and one of the nation's best corps of receivers.

Maybe these two should have switched leagues for 2011.

Arkansas racked up 2,000 more passing yards than rushing yards, compared to Kansas State, whose rushing attack outpaced the passing game by over 500 yards.

These are two very good teams.

They are not two teams that personify what the Big 12 and SEC rivalry is about.

Arkansas took part in the only other Big 12-SEC matchup this season, beating Texas A&M in Cowboys Stadium, 42-38, and erasing a 35-17 halftime deficit to do so.

That's a conference game next year when Texas A&M joins the SEC.

The on-field chances for these two leagues to meet have dwindled. Texas plays at Ole Miss next season, but that's hardly a battle of titans. Texas is on its way up after an eight-win season. Ole Miss will be breaking in new head coach Hugh Freeze after a two-win season in 2011.

All we have left is the Cotton Bowl.

It's a great game, but unfortunately, it's not enough this year. More regular-season matchups between the two leagues might settle this, but for now, we're left to what is essentially chance each year in Dallas, an opportunity to meet and decide annually which is better. The Big 12's been unable to crack the national title game the past two seasons while the SEC has racked up six consecutive national championships.

Two teams that have had success as the antithesis of their leagues will meet in this year's Cotton Bowl.

It could be a classic.

But it won't tell us much about which league is better.

AT&T Cotton Bowl

December, 4, 2011
Kansas State Wildcats (10-2) vs. Arkansas Razorbacks (10-2)

Jan. 6, 8 p.m. (FOX)

Kansas State take from Big 12 blogger David Ubben: Kansas State does it ugly. All the time, every time. But it does it. The Cats are college football's biggest overachievers, and they do it on the back of Collin Klein, who has dragged defenders on his 6-foot-5, 225-pound frame for 1,099 rushing yards and 26 touchdowns. By the way, he's the quarterback. Never mind his wonky delivery. He's gotten better and more accurate as the season has gone on, and somehow has stayed healthy. He just might be the toughest player in college football, and if you're watching K-State's offense, he's probably the guy with the ball in his hand.

Bill Snyder deserves the national coach of the year nod, and the Wildcats have had a defensive renaissance under coordinator Chris Cosh in 2011. This is the same team that gave up more than 3,000 rushing yards last year. Well, sort of. It's not quite the same team. Linebacker Arthur Brown doesn't miss very many tackles and he's one of the Big 12's speediest linebackers. Cornerback Nigel Malone picked off seven passes this year for an All-Big 12 caliber season.

Arkansas take from SEC blogger Edward Aschoff: Before the season, it looked as if coach Bobby Petrino was equipped with his best, most complete team since his arrival in Fayetteville. The defense was easily the best he had, and while quarterback Ryan Mallett was gone, Tyler Wilson appeared to be just as talented, and with their wealth at wide receiver, it didn’t look like the Razorbacks would miss a beat in the passing game. Not to mention Arkansas had one of the SEC’s best in running back Knile Davis.

But days before the season began, the Hogs were dealt a crushing blow when Davis went down with a season-ending ankle injury. With Davis sidelined, the Arkansas offense became more one-dimensional as it searched for a consistent running back. Injuries then took hold of the defense and the Hogs found themselves outmanned in a huge game with Alabama, losing 38-14. The Razorbacks then struggled to get going in the first half of games after that. The slow starts nearly cost them at Ole Miss and Vanderbilt, but things changed during their homecoming game with South Carolina.

The Hogs jumped out quickly against the Gamecocks and never looked back. Starting with that 44-28 win, the Razorbacks won their first three games in November by a combined score of 137-52. Arkansas had an opportunity to shake up the BCS and sneak into the national championship, but fell 41-17 to No. 1 LSU in its season finale. Still, Arkansas had another fine year under Petrino, getting to 10 wins and finishing first in the SEC in total offense (445.8 yards per game).

Big 12 Stock Watch: Week 6

October, 5, 2011
You're so money and you don't even know it ... but you do!


Texas Tech's turnover margin: The Red Raiders won the turnover battle 4-1 in their 45-34 comeback win over Kansas. That moved them to third nationally in turnover margin, forcing eight more turnovers (11) than they've committed (3). The three turnovers are third-fewest nationally, behind only Northwestern and Stanford. Clean football being played out in West Texas.


Kansas' defense: The numbers are ugly for the Jayhawks after four games and a 2-2 record. Kansas' offense is much better this season, but it hardly has a chance when the team ranks dead last nationally in scoring defense (44.25 points), 119th in total defense (545 yards/game), 118th in rush defense (252.5 yards/game) and 108th in pass defense (292.5 yards/game). That's not going to work well in the Big 12. Or any league, for that matter.


Kendall Wright: The Bears receiver is outperforming his more highly-touted competition across the Big 12, like Justin Blackmon, Ryan Broyles and Jeff Fuller. All three receivers have admittedly played tougher competition, but his numbers have risen every season, and he's on pace for a career season that's paralleling his quarterback, Robert Griffin III. Wright is tied for the national lead with seven touchdown catches, leads the Big 12, fourth nationally, with 621 receiving yards, and he leads the Big 12, sixth nationally, with 40 receptions.


Texas A&M's pass defense: The Aggies have had two rough weeks, helping Brandon Weeden set a school record with 438 yards and following it up by letting Arkansas' Tyler Wilson break Ryan Mallett's record by more than 100 yards with 510 passing yards last week. Those two performances have the Aggies in dead last nationally in pass defense, giving up an average of 336 yards a game. Kansas is the next-worst Big 12 team, with its 292 yards a game average. Making matters more difficult, the Aggies haven't forced a turnover in 15 quarters, dating back to the first quarter against SMU in its opener. A dash of good news: A&M is fifth nationally in rush defense (63 yards/game).


Kansas State's defensive line: The Wildcats had one of the league's worst defensive lines a season ago, but this season, have two players in the Big 12's top five in sacks. Meshak Williams and Jordan Voelker both have three sacks and linebacker Arthur Brown also has two to rank eighth in the league. Last season, Prizell Brown was the only Wildcat in the Big 12's top 30 in sacks, with five on the season. The Wildcats already have 11 sacks after notching just 20 all of last season.


Iowa State's turnover margin: The Cyclones have had turnover problems all season, but overcame them to reach 3-0 for the first time since 2005. Not anymore. Texas came to town and made ISU pay, winning the turnover battle 3-0 in a 37-14 win. Iowa State has now turned the ball over 13 times in four games, which ranks 108th nationally. They've only forced five all season, though, and rank T-116th last nationally in turnover margin, at -8. Only Notre Dame (-9) has been worse.

More context on Texas A&M's collapse

October, 1, 2011
The Big 12's evening games are a bit of a snoozer, but let's get you caught up.

Oklahoma took a 59-6 lead over Ball State after linebacker Tom Wort returned a fumble 20 yards for a touchdown. The Sooners have now forced four turnovers after three interceptions by Tony Jefferson.

Texas leads 34-0 midway through a quiet third quarter. Jaxon Shipley has three catches for 94 yards and a score.

Now, back to the Aggies.

Courtesy of ESPN Stats & Information, try these tidbits on:
  • Texas A&M is the first team since 2005 to lose consecutive games after holding at least a 17-point lead.
  • The Aggies have given up just under 600 yards and been outscored 52-12 in their past two second halves.
  • Texas A&M gave up 281 yards receiving to Jarius Wright, the second-most receiving yards in SEC history.
  • Tyler Wilson's 510 passing yards are fifth most in SEC history, and the most since 2001.

Not pretty. The Aggies have given up 948 passing yards in two weeks now. Texas A&M's 38 points were its most in a loss since a 48-47 loss in overtime back in 2002.

Texas A&M's defense obviously has to make some changes, or results like Saturday's will only continue.

ARLINGTON, Texas -- R.C. Slocum coached Texas A&M to its first and what now looks like it will be its only Big 12 title in 1998.

Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones was a co-captain of Arkansas' only national title team back in 1964. Before Saturday's game, the two shared a moment on the Texas A&M sideline.

"How 'bout those Aggies comin' to the SEC?" Jones asked. His school made the move from the Texas-based Southwest Conference to the SEC in 1991.

"Oh, man," Slocum said with a grin of anticipation as the two shook hands.

Oh man, indeed.

If Slocum had known what he was about to watch, that grin would have been a groan.

Last week, Texas A&M blew a 17-point halftime lead in a loss to Oklahoma State. A day later, it celebrated its move to the SEC.

This week? Try 18 to Arkansas, which roared back to take its first lead with 1:41 left and beat the Aggies, 42-38.

Broderick Green's 244-pound frame barreled over the goal line, and the Arkansas contingent exploded as the Aggies in attendance began wondering what the traffic on Interstate 30 would look like on the way back home.

Not the best first impression for the Texas A&M Aggies, who didn't quite fill their half of Cowboys Stadium as Hog fans showed up in force.

[+] EnlargeJerry Jones
AP Photo/Brandon WadeJerry Jones congratulates Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino after the Razorbacks beat Texas A&M.
By game's end, Jones was back on his alma mater's sideline, handing over the trophy for the Southwest Classic (a game he helped create) to Bobby Petrino's Hogs.

"It's a travesty that we didn't win this football game," Texas A&M coach Mike Sherman said.

The Aggies won this game where good SEC teams win games: at the line of scrimmage.

Texas A&M sacked Arkansas quarterback Tyler Wilson four times and harassed him on countless other occasions, assuring he wakes up Sunday morning as sore as he's been all season. Arkansas' struggling running game continued to do so, rushing for just 71 yards on 30 carries.

The Aggies, meanwhile, protected quarterback Ryan Tannehill well and ran for 376 yards on 54 carries, an average of seven yards a carry on Arkansas' defense, which played without its two best defensive linemen: Tenarius Wright and Jake Bequette.

Texas A&M, though, lost this game where the rest of college football loses games: on the scoreboard.

"The stats don't matter," Tannehill said. "The only things that matter are the W or L and we didn't get it covered in the second half."

For a day, Texas A&M looked on the field exactly what it is off the field: an odd hybrid of an SEC and Big 12 defense. For all of Texas A&M's strength up front, it lost the game the way Big 12 teams have lost games for the majority of the league's 15-year history.

Wilson racked up a school-record 510 yards passing, shattering Ryan Mallett's record of 409 yards against SEC doormat Vanderbilt.

Texas A&M's defense has now gone 15 quarters without forcing a turnover, with apologies to Justin Blackmon's gifted touchback at Kyle Field last week.

"This defense is structured -- we take some risks defensively," Sherman said of his defense, which ran defensive backs at Wilson from various angles throughout Saturday's loss. "There's some gain when you create turnovers, and we've not been able to do that now for three weeks. That is certainly an obvious concern."

Also of concern for the Aggies was Sherman's unwillingness to try to convert a fourth-and-2 at Arkansas' 39-yard line, nursing a 35-20 lead, and a fourth-and-1 on Texas A&M's 49-yard line with a 35-27 lead.

The Aggies punted both times -- first for 19 yards to the Arkansas 25 and second for 37 yards down to Arkansas' 14 -- and the Hogs scored touchdowns after both kicks.

"If I felt like our defense was playing a little bit better, I probably would have gone for it. I felt like I just couldn’t give them a shortened field," Sherman said. "If we were had been playing better defense--if this had been last year -- probably would have."

Said Tannehill: "That's the head coach's call. That's what he gets paid the big bucks for. Whatever he calls, we're going to go with it. ... We trust coach and you've just got to go with the call."

The game ended, and despite holding a huge lead early, Texas A&M was serenaded with an "S-E-C" chant at Cowboys Stadium for a fourth time in three seasons, dropping to 0-4 on the field in Arlington.

"It's emotionally tough," Tannehill said.

Maybe soon, the Aggies will be the chanters and not the chant's target. But for now, another painful loss.

For two consecutive weeks, Texas A&M has known well what it feels like to lose a game it should have won.

For at least another few months at the end of a 16-year and seven-game drought, the Aggies are left wondering how it feels to beat an SEC team.

Halftime: Texas A&M 35, Arkansas 17

October, 1, 2011
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Texas A&M is winning the battle at the line of scrimmage, but Arkansas is testing the Aggies deep and having success doing it. Hogs quarterback Tyler Wilson has played well, but Texas A&M leads 35-17.

Turning point: Wilson hit Jarius Wright for a 68-yard touchdown pass late in the first quarter. Arkansas looked like it might be blown out, but the big play slowed the Aggies' momentum and kept Arkansas in it early. The Hogs will need a couple more of those to stay alive in the second half.

Stat of the half: Texas A&M has 225 yards on 26 carries, an average of 8.7 yards per carry. The offensive line is getting it done, and Arkansas' defense hasn't been able to handle Texas A&M's balance. Ryan Tannehill has completed 15 of 19 passes for 179 yards.

Best player in the half: Wright, WR, Arkansas. He set the single-game school record for receiving in a single half. He beat the Aggies deep and has been getting open consistently in the middle of the field for 227 yards on nine catches. Arkansas' entire offense has 284 total yards.

Best player in the half II: Christine Michael, RB, Texas A&M. Michael is already over the 100-yard mark for the first time since breaking his leg last season. He's scored three touchdowns and has 128 yards on 14 carries for the Aggies.

Unsung hero in the half: Texas A&M's linemen. The Aggies are dominating both sides of the ball. Arkansas can't establish its running game, and Wilson is getting hit constantly. Texas A&M already has two sacks and came into today's game averaging 4.67 per game, the most in the nation. The Hogs have 13 yards on 15 carries.

What Texas A&M needs to do: This one's pretty simple. Everything Texas A&M didn't do last week when it went into halftime with a 17-point lead. Run. The. Ball. Don't turn it over. Do both and the Aggies end their six-game skid against their future conference mates.

Big plays galore in the first quarter

October, 1, 2011
ARLINGTON, Texas -- It didn't take long before Texas A&M and Arkansas started putting on a show.

The Aggies had plays of 48 and 44 yards before Arkansas got back into the game with a 68-yard touchdown.

After the first quarter, the Aggies led 14-7.

Last week, the Aggies struggled early with Oklahoma State's offensive pace. This week, Texas A&M is doing it to the Hogs. Texas A&M's pace is giving Arkansas problems, but the real problem is Texas A&M's recommitment to the running game.

A week after becoming the forgotten man in Texas A&M's running game, Christine Michael has re-emerged with a pair of touchdowns, including his 48-yard score on an awkward exchange with quarterback Ryan Tannehill and a hurdle over a few linemen into the open field.

Michael appeared to grab the ball out of Tannehill's hand as he cocked to throw. When he does that and scores from midfield, though, everybody's happy, even if it's not pretty.

Texas A&M's defense has been solid, but the 68-yard touchdown to Jarius Wright late in the quarter was a rare bust for the unit, which has been consistently pressuring Tyler Wilson and putting him on his back.

Dustin Harris gave the Aggies their only sack with a big hit on Wilson, who didn't see the unblocked corner.

With these two offenses, expect more big plays before it's over.