This week’s recruiting storylines focuses on some of the Under Armour All-Americans being recruited by Big 12 programs.
Big 12 representation -- or lack thereof -- at the UA game. The Big 12 currently has four representatives who will compete in the Under Armour All-America Game -- Texas defensive end commit Derick Roberson (San Antonio/Brennan) and cornerback commit Jermaine Roberts (New Orleans/St. Augustine), Oklahoma quarterback pledge Justice Hansen (Edmond, Okla./Santa Fe) and Kansas offensive lineman pledge Jacob Bragg (Nacogdoches, Texas/Nacogdoches).
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- Here's an excellent story from Jenni Carlson about where Oklahoma State WR Tracy Moore finds his inspiration. Efficiency ratings suggest Oklahoma State's offense is better than its defense. DT Calvin Barnett is looking forward to a trench battle.
- Oklahoma will be prepped for cold weather on Saturday. A win over OSU would help ease Charles Tapper's pain of losing his dreadlocks.
- Baylor has dedicated its full attention to Texas, not its bowl future. Can the Bears survive the first-half suspension of "nice guy" Ahmad Dixon?
- The Washington Post profiles Art Briles' career.
- Mack Brown says his coaching future should be "unimportant" to his players entering the finale. New AD Steve Patterson says he's "working on" resuming the Texas A&M rivalry.
- Iowa State needs to find a "quarterback whisperer" in its next OC, writes Bobby La Gessa of the Ames Tribune. ISU landed another junior college safety, Qujuan Floyd.
- Kansas State is in for a big-time matchup against a Pac-12 power in the Holiday Bowl. K-State makes some schedule changes for 2014.
- Texas Tech quarterback Baker Mayfield had the most memorable debut of this Big 12 season. Could the Red Raiders face Minnesota in a bowl again?
- Reviewing West Virginia's troubles on the road two years into joining the Big 12. A WVU cornerback was charged with DUI.
- What's in store for Charlie Weis' coaching staff during Kansas' offseason?
- A closer look at new TCU offensive coordinator Doug Meacham's resume.
Clint Chelf has stepped in for Walsh and played as well as any quarterback in the nation in the last four games. Trevor Knight is coming off back-to-back games in which he has given OU fans a glimpse of the talents that helped him earn the starting quarterback role to start the season. Both quarterbacks began the season as the opening day starter then were replaced for a stretch during the middle of the season before regaining their starting spot.
Their road has been similar but their journey has been much different.
Chelf had plenty of success in 2012, starting the final six games and throwing 14 touchdown passes. He appeared poised to be the man in the Pokes backfield heading into the season. But he lost his starting job within minutes of the opening kickoff against Mississippi State and was left wondering what happened as Walsh started the next five games. Even as OSU played its worst game of the season in a 30-21 loss to West Virginia, Chelf remained on the sidelines helplessly watching. The time on the bench, however, did not change Chelf’s approach.
“He was the same Clint from when he was starting to when he wasn’t starting.” OSU safety Daytawion Lowe said. “Same Clint. Practiced hard, kept the same work ethic. Didn’t slack off any.”
Chelf’s second chance came against TCU, but he was very average while leading OSU to wins over the Horned Frogs and Iowa State. But he’s been a different quarterback in November, leading OSU to wins over Texas Tech, Kansas, Texas and Baylor.
“Whether playing or not, he was always the same,” OSU receiver Charlie Moore said. “Same as he was when he wasn't playing. Now he's making huge plays. That's just who he is. It's been cool to see him persevere, get his shot and do well at it.”
Chelf’s 94.4 adjusted QBR (on a scale of 0-100 with 50 being average) was the best in the nation in the month of November. The senior has proven he can play his best in the Cowboys’ biggest games while helping the offense become more explosive and balanced.
“He kept a positive mindset, and it all worked out for him,” OSU running back Desmond Roland said. “He's been a great role model and leader for our team. And he's taken the offense to another level.”
“It is tough preparing and knowing that you’re not going to, for sure, be in,” Knight said. “But you gotta have that strong mindset, that thick skin because you never know when your opportunity is going to arise. You have to find stuff to be competitive in when you do get those few reps in practice.”
Thus, the Sooners young quarterback was ready when Bell was knocked out of the game against ISU, stepping in and looking like a completely different player against the Cyclones and looking even better in his first road start, a 41-31 win over Kansas State in OU’s last game.
“You can tell when a player starts to see things clearer,” OU co-offensive coordinator Jay Norvell said. “When you first get to play, you’re excited and everything goes so fast. I think we saw that slow down [against K-State], he was really focused, I think he saw the plays that were coming and had a good idea what he wanted to do against the defense he saw.”
Knight has played his best football in OU’s last two games, with an 86.4 adjusted QBR in wins over ISU and KSU. His QBR ranks second only to Chelf among Big 12 quarterbacks during that span.
Now the two quarterbacks meet in Bedlam playing their best football.
“I think all players, it’s just about getting into a groove,” OU defensive coordinator Mike Stoops said. “Once they are more comfortable in who they are, and you can tell by the way they play, they just seem to be more in a rhythm and very comfortable and seeing things very well.”
Charles Thompson remains relieved he wasn’t the Sooners quarterback who let the streak end.
And virtually everyone who saw Oklahoma survive Oklahoma State 31-28 in 1988 still marvels at Barry Sanders' Heisman-clinching performance 25 years later.
While overwhelmingly lopsided in favor of the Sooners, the Bedlam Rivalry, which will stage meeting No. 108 Saturday in Stillwater, has never been short on drama.
Just last season, Oklahoma mounted a thrilling fourth-quarter comeback before prevailing over the Pokes in overtime, 51-48. In the last 12 years, the series has been decided on the final possession five times.
“A heck of a ballgame,” said then Oklahoma State coach Pat Jones.
Going into the early-November showdown, Barry Switzer’s Sooners were ranked in the top 10 again.
But the No. 12-ranked Cowboys had their best offense in school history, led by All-American wideout Hart Lee Dykes, a quarterback named Mike Gundy who would become Oklahoma State’s head coach and a 5-foot-8 tailback who had begun to generate Heisman buzz.
Oklahoma State hadn’t defeated the Sooners in 11 years. But the Cowboys had never had a player like Sanders, either.
His first two seasons, Sanders backed up another future Pro Football Hall of Fame running back, Thurman Thomas. Switzer, however, was always more concerned about Sanders.
In 1986, Switzer and defensive coordinator Gary Gibbs were scouting the Cowboys on film. When Sanders subbed in for Thomas, each time the freshman carried the ball, Switzer asked Gibbs to run the play back.
“That guy is something special,” Switzer declared.
“We better hope Thurman doesn’t get hurt,” Gibbs replied.
Two years later, Sanders was still a relative unknown. But soon, the rest of the country would see what Switzer saw.
That edition of Bedlam was Oklahoma State’s first national telecast, with ESPN’s Lee Corso providing the color commentary.
Sanders entered the game with 1,141 rushing yards over his previous five games -- an NCAA record. Early on, though, it was another running back who stole the show.
On the first play from scrimmage, Oklahoma freshman Mike Gaddis reeled off a 50-yard run to set up the Sooners’ first score. Then, after the Cowboys were stuffed on fourth-and-short, Gaddis exploded up the middle untouched on the next play for a high-stepping, 44-yard touchdown. Less than five minutes into the game, the Sooners led 14-0. And Gaddis had 110 yards rushing.
“He was obviously a good player,” Jones said of Gaddis. “But the other guy, best to ever play the game.”
In the second quarter, that other guy delivered his Heisman moment to put the Cowboys back in the game.
On an option pitch from Gundy, Sanders finally found a seam. After juking Oklahoma safety Kevin Thompson, who crashed right past him, Sanders dashed 67 yards to set up a touchdown just before the half. Suddenly, the Sooners were in a dogfight.
In the fourth quarter, the Cowboys trailed just 24-21 on third-and-goal. Gundy pitched again to Sanders again, who slid his way in for another touchdown.
“We were a little bit in awe of him,” Charles Thompson said.
But while the Cowboys had Sanders, Oklahoma had Sooner Magic.
After driving inside the Oklahoma State 35-yard line, Thompson pitched to halfback Anthony Stafford, who wasn’t looking. The ball bounced off Stafford’s chest but then right back into his hands.
The next play, Thompson floated a swing pass to Gaddis, who while charging upfield had the ball popped out. But with seven Cowboys surrounding the fumble, Oklahoma lineman Mark Van Keirsbilck slid through all of them to recover it, giving the Sooners a fourth-and-1.
“Looked like we were playing basketball,” Switzer said.
The next play, Thompson stepped back to hand off to Gaddis. Instead, he crashed into Stafford, yet somehow fell forward to just barely get the first down. Three plays later, Thompson swerved around the edge 18 yards on an option keeper for Oklahoma’s go-ahead touchdown with just 2:33 to go.
And the Sooner Magic wasn’t done.
With Gundy, Sanders and Dykes clicking away, Oklahoma State drove right back down the field. Switzer became so stressed he lit up a cigarette.
But at the Oklahoma 19, Cowboys fullback Garrett Limbrick was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct after getting tangled up with Sooners linebacker Richard Dillon. Instead of fourth-and-1, the Cowboys faced fourth-and-16.
“A Barry Switzer call,” Dykes said.
Corso questioned the penalty, too.
“The official that made the call was a very good official,” Jones said. “But I thought you might not make that call.”
Jones could have sent Cary Blanchard out for a 51-yard field goal try. But the Cowboys needed the win to stay in the Big Eight title race.
On a rollout, Dykes was double covered. So Gundy heaved the ball downfield to Parker, who had snuck past the Oklahoma secondary into the end zone.
“I wouldn’t have thrown it if I didn’t think he could catch it,” Gundy said.
But as the ball sailed over Kevin Thompson’s hands, it bounced off Parker’s left bicep and to the turf.
“Mike made a great throw,” Parker said. “The safety from OU (Thompson) says he tipped it. I don’t know if he did. But nine times out of 10, I would have caught that ball.”
Instead, Oklahoma prevailed, extending its Bedlam winning streak to 12.
But Oklahoma State didn’t come away empty-handed, as Sanders’ 215 rushing yards captivated the nation.
“The game was still a giant step for us,” Jones said. “When you win the Heisman, that’s something that never goes away.”
Memories of Bedlam at its best don’t either.
1. Crowning a champion: The Big 12 didn’t need a big prime-time showdown at AT&T Stadium to end up with a marquee final weekend of conference play. The league’s schedule makers should get holiday bonuses for their work this year, pitting the Big 12’s four best teams against each other on championship weekend with a conference title on the line. Odds are Oklahoma State wraps it all up with a victory over Oklahoma, but if the Sooners pull the upset all eyes will be on Texas-Baylor to decide who gets the trophy.
3. Day of the underdog: Texas fans will be unabashedly rooting for Oklahoma on Saturday. Yep, seriously. They have to. Even Case McCoy admitted he’s pulling for a Sooners victory, even if it makes him “sick to my stomach.” The Sooners have a chance to play spoiler and knock OSU from atop the Big 12 standings. If they pull that off, can Texas notch an even more surprising victory in Waco? The Longhorns have embraced the underdog role ever since starting 1-2.
4. Finishing Baylor’s dream season: The loss to OSU knocked Baylor out of the national title hunt, damaged its hopes of playing in a BCS bowl and might’ve killed Bryce Petty’s chances of winning the Heisman. Yet the Bears still have a ton to play for this weekend. This can still go down as the best season in school history, especially if Baylor wins a share of the Big 12 title.
5. Who’s the DPOY? Good luck finding a consensus about who should win the Big 12’s Defensive Player of the Year honor this season, and this weekend might not change that much. Still, several candidates have a chance to make a strong final impression, including Oklahoma State linebacker Caleb Lavey and cornerback Justin Gilbert as well as Texas defensive end Jackson Jeffcoat.
6. Oklahoma’s next BMOC: Trevor Knight is another guy who could definitely use a strong finale to help his reputation not only for 2013 but, more importantly, for the offseason and beyond. Knight is coming off nice performances against Iowa State and Kansas State. An upset win over OSU could do wonders for proving he is Oklahoma’s quarterback of the future.
7. Mack Brown: What’s on the line? Who knows what this Baylor game means for Brown’s future at Texas, other than this: If Texas wins, good luck firing a coach who brings a Big 12 trophy home after leading his team from 1-2 to 9-3. And if the Bears win a blowout, well, buckle up for another rumor-filled week in Austin.
8. December weather: Introducing the X factor in both of this weekend’s Big 12 games: Winter Storm Cleon. The high and low for Stillwater on Saturday are 28 and 17. Waco is expecting freezing rain and temperatures in the high 20s. We could be in for some very messy, conservative football.
9. Closing out The Case: It’s a historic weekend for Baylor, which plays its final home game at 63-year-old Floyd Casey Stadium on Saturday. The last time a current Big 12 school opened a brand-new stadium was 1980, when West Virginia built Milan Puskar Stadium. The Bears are breaking out retro uniforms and expect the largest crowd ever in stadium history.
10. The Sunday bowl shakeout: The bowl projections for the Big 12’s six bowl-eligible teams are somewhat obvious at this point but could be in for a big shakeup depending on how these final two games play out. You know the committees of the AT&T Cotton, Valero Alamo and Buffalo Wild Wings Bowls will be watching closely and could face difficult decisions if we see some upsets.
With 10 minutes to go in Morgantown, W.Va., I was sitting pretty for an undefeated week. Then Grant Rohach turned into Dan Marino, and the Cyclones rallied from 17 points down before eventually beating the Mountaineers in a third overtime.
Like Oliver Luck with Dana Holgorsen, ESPN management had to issue a vote-of-confidence statement on my behalf. But I’m feeling the heat. And time is running out.
This week’s guest picker is Jason Hanzel, a student at Oklahoma State. I actually selected Jason a couple of weeks ago. But when he didn’t respond immediately, I went with another picker. Turned out, Jason was in class all day. Because I respect education, I gave him another chance.
To the Week 15 picks:
Trotter last week: 2-1 (.667)
Guest picker (Red Raider Shelley) last week: 2-1 (.667)
Trotter overall: 54-19 (.740)
Guest picker overall: 42-14 (.750)
Baylor 35, Texas 31: The overwhelming consensus seems to be that Texas has no shot in this game. I disagree. If the Longhorns can do anything, it’s rush the passer, and since losing left tackle Spencer Drango, the Bears have not protected quarterback Bryce Petty all that well. Without Drango and speedy wideout Tevin Reese, "America's Top Offense" hasn't quite been the same. And if Texas can have success controlling the clock with Malcolm Brown and Joe Bergeron between the tackles, as I expect it will, the Longhorns are capable of making this a fourth-quarter game. That said, Baylor has Lache Seastrunk and its fourth-quarter closer, Glasco Martin, back at running back. As a result, the Bears are able to grind out enough first downs late to hold off Texas and send Floyd Casey Stadium out in style.
Jason’s pick: Baylor these past two weeks has not been the same Baylor, but I do believe this team is completely different at home. Jackson Jeffcoat will get to Petty, but Case McCoy will be in the Case, meaning I've got to go with the Bears in Waco. Baylor, 38-28
Oklahoma State 40, Oklahoma 23: The Sooners are coming off their most impressive conference performance of the season in a win over Kansas State, and the best game of freshman QB Trevor Knight's young career. But on Saturday they face the top defense in the Big 12, a defense that clobbered Texas and Baylor in dominating back-to-back performances. Even though OU has won nine of the past 10 in the series, the Sooners have usually had to win shootouts against the Cowboys, as Oklahoma State has put up at least 40 points in four of the last five Bedlam meetings. This run-oriented OU offense is hardly equipped to score in the 40s, especially in the cold, on the road, against a veteran OSU defense that has proven to be one of the toughest in the country.
Jason’s pick: This game has the feel of 2011. If I was a betting man, I'd be taking my scholarship money to Vegas. Pokes in a rout! OSU, 42-20
Neither Oklahoma or Oklahoma State will likely enter the game expecting to pull out its entire arsenal on offense. And it’s not because of anything the Sooners or Cowboys defense will bring to the Boone Pickens Stadium turf.
Not exactly the ideal conditions for two teams who have become known for their passing prowess in the past few seasons.
“Our view is that both teams have to deal with it,” OU coach Bob Stoops said. “So it isn’t like it’s bad for one and not the other, so I think things you emphasize are ball security, kicking game, being smart with your throws.”
Cold, windy weather could help things fall just right for an Oklahoma squad that has been among the nation’s top running teams throughout the season. The Sooners are averaging 242.2 yards per game and 5.4 yards per carry this season, 15th among FBS teams in both categories.
Yet, it also could set up well for an OSU defense built upon forcing turnovers and taking advantage of mistakes. During the Cowboys’ seven-game winning streak, their defense has forced 22 turnovers, an average of 3.14 turnovers per game.
The conditions won’t be ideal for either team, providing yet another test to find out just how bad the teams want to secure bragging rights for another year.
“It’s a little bit tough,” OU running back Brennan Clay said of playing in cold weather. “It’s football, though. Once you get your adrenaline going, you’re body warmth going, you’re fine out there on the field. It was cold two weeks ago against K-State and I think we handled that pretty well. I don’t think it necessarily hinders us at all on the field.”
The cold weather will make life harder on both offenses but Stoops believes the wind, if it picks up, has the potential to have a much bigger impact. A windy game would create havoc with the passing game making even the simple throws difficult.
“Mid 20s to 30 with little wind I don’t think is as big of a deal,” the Sooners veteran coach said. “The wind to me is always the biggest factor.”
Each week during the 2013 college football season I will offer up my picks and a projected score for the biggest games in addition to a handful of other key matchups.
Week 14 is in the books and my picks went 6-3. Overall, my record now stands at 95-31 this year (67-58-1 versus the spread).
After a week that saw the two-time defending champs dethroned on a miracle finish, championship week sees four of the BCS's top five playing not only for a conference championship but also for a spot in the BCS National Championship on Jan. 6 in Pasadena, Calif.
Big Ten championship
Saturday, 8:17 p.m. ET
No. 2 Ohio State Buckeyes versus No. 10 Michigan State Spartans (Indianapolis)
The Buckeyes have won eight of the past nine games in the series, including last year's 17-16 escape in East Lansing. It could be argued that this is the most important Big Ten game played since No. 1 Ohio State beat No. 2 Michigan in 2006. A win here should put the Buckeyes back in the BCS title game for the first time since 2007 while Michigan State, win or lose, looks to be in good shape for its first Rose Bowl appearance since 1987.
The Buckeyes come in winners of 24 straight games, which is the longest streak since USC won 34 straight back in 2003-2005. The Spartans, meanwhile, finished their first unbeaten Big Ten season since 1966 and also became the first Big Ten team since Michigan in 1943 to win all of their conference games by double digits. The two teams have played six common opponents and the Spartans are actually outgaining those foes by 176 yards per game while the Buckeyes are plus-130 YPG.
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Nick (Texas) I still don't fully understand Mack Brown's decision to burn Tyrone Swoopes redshirt. Do you know why he made that move halfway through the season then barely used him? If not do you have a guess at why?
Brandon Chatmon I'm right there with you Nick, I don't get it either. It doesn't make much sense but if I had to guess it had everything to do with being prepared in case something bad happened to Case McCoy.
Jerry (Ames, Iowa) Hey Brandon, do you think Iowa State has potential with Grant Rohach next year?
Brandon Chatmon I do Jerry, I like what Rohach brought to the table at the end of the year. He just seemed to play with more confidence as his playing time increased and he finished the season extremely well. I think the Cyclones could return to a bowl in 2014.
Bob Stoops (Norman) Which top recruits do you think I have a chance at actually getting a commitment? Adoree' Jackson? Joe Mixon?
Brandon Chatmon I hate to break it to you Bob but I think the events of the past few days have made your efforts in Cali that much harder. (Meaning Sark to USC is a problem.)
Jake (Dallas) How do you think Baylor will do come next season. Will they stay productive offensively and be decent defensively? Or will they go down in production?
Brandon Chatmon I don't anticipate a big drop in production at Baylor. Why would they take a step backward? But keep in mind I'm talking in comparison to what they've done in recent years, not the crazy numbers they put up early. If you expect that, prepare yourself for disappointment.
Rob (Baltimore) Early prediction on West Virginia's record next season. Give it to me straight, what are we looking at?
Brandon Chatmon Who is the quarterback? That changes everything. WVU has some talented athletes. They find a consistent playmaking QB, everything changes.
Trevor Knight (Norman) Me, or Chelf? And why?
Brandon Chatmon Clint Chelf. Because he's playing as good as any quarterback in the nation in the past month. I love Knight's long-term upside though.
Grant Teaff (Waco, Tx) Let’s get your score prediction for both OU/OSU and BU/UT?
Brandon Chatmon OSU 31, OU 21 Baylor 34, Texas 27
Jake (Dallas) What are your thoughts on the whole ordeal with [Ahmad] Dixon? We all know the hit was targeting even I will admit that. Since it is a new rule everyone in CFB knows the rule but the details are still fresh. Should the coaches have escorted him to the locker room, or the officials since they were the ones who called the penalty.
Brandon Chatmon My biggest issue was his actions when leaving the field. But, I also always try to keep in mind these are college kids. I know we treat them like adults but they are still young adults who make mistakes, make poor choices. I think coaches should escort them, not officials.
Going into the final weekend, Oklahoma State, Baylor and Texas all remain alive for a Big 12 championship and the conference’s automatic BCS bowl berth. Oklahoma, however, was knocked out of the picture, with the Bears and Longhorns both winning last week.
Here’s a final look at the Big 12 race heading into the final weekend:
Oklahoma State (10-1, 7-1 Big 12): For the Cowboys, it’s pretty simple. Beat Oklahoma, and the Fiesta Bowl is theirs. Lose Bedlam, and the outright Big 12 title goes to the winner of Baylor-Texas.
Baylor (10-1, 7-1): The Bears could capture their first outright conference title since 1980 with a win over Texas and an Oklahoma State loss to Oklahoma. If the Cowboys win Bedlam, Baylor could still share the title with Oklahoma State. But with the head-to-head tiebreaker, the Cowboys would go to the Fiesta Bowl.
Texas (8-3, 7-1): The Longhorns are in the same situation as Baylor. They need Oklahoma State to lose to have a chance at the outright title and Fiesta Bowl. Like Baylor, Texas could still share the title with the Cowboys by winning this weekend, though like with Baylor, Oklahoma State would hold the tiebreaker for the automatic BCS bowl bid over the Longhorns.