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Recruiting reporter Damon Sayles discusses the top storyline to watch in 2015 college football recruiting within the Big 12. Oklahoma continues to hang around top upper echelon of the conference.
The new ESPN 300 features 22 players currently committed to Big 12 programs. Texas leads the conference race with seven commits, while Oklahoma is next with five. Texas Tech has the conference’s highest-ranked ESPN 300 player in quarterback Jarrett Stidham, who is ranked No. 38 and is the No. 3 dual-threat quarterback in the country.

Here are five things to know in the Big 12:

Oklahoma and Houston will open the 2016 college football season in the Advocare Texas Kickoff at Houston's NRG Stadium, a source told ESPN.com.

This will be the third meeting between the schools. Oklahoma won the previous two matchups, 63-14 in 2004 and 40-14 in the 1981 Sun Bowl.


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Defensive end Keisean Lucier-South planned to trim his considerable list of scholarship offers to a final five schools in early August, but just like he is on the field, the nation's No. 28 prospect was quick off the line, announcing his top five on Monday.


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During the summer, ESPN.com is taking a closer look at each scholarship player on the Oklahoma Sooners' roster in our Crimson Countdown series. Each day, we analyze each player’s impact on the program since arriving on campus, his potential impact this fall, and his long-term projection. Starting with No. 1 Dominique Alexander, the series follows the roster numerically through No. 98 Chuka Ndulue.

No. 75 Tyler Evans, guard, 6-foot-5, 339 pounds, senior

Impact thus far: Even if Evans never plays another down in crimson and cream, he’s had a solid career for the Sooners. He’s started 29 games during his career and has been a solid performer when healthy. He never reached all-conference status but he’s been a productive contributor.

Impact in 2014: Evans’ potential impact is a definite wait-and-see scenario. He hasn’t played a full season since 2011, suffering an ACL injury in 2012 and a setback with his knee in 2013. If healthy, he will bring added depth and a boatload of experience to an already-experienced offensive line.

Long term upside: Even if healthy, he will have to fight to earn a role along the offensive line. His experience should help.

Evaluation grade for Evans: A. He’s a guy who started four games as a true freshman and locked down a starting spot as a sophomore and junior. Only injury kept him from becoming a four-year starter. A superb evaluation by the Sooners.

Development grade for Evans: A. The Sooners recognized his ability to contribute as a true freshman immediately and didn’t hesitate to throw him into the mix as he played in 11 games as a true freshman. It's rare that offensive linemen play early but Evans forced himself into the lineup and the Sooners gave him the opportunity to earn a spot.

Video: 3 questions around the Big 12

July, 28, 2014
Jul 28
10:30
AM ET
video
Brandon Chatmon discusses three burning questions around the Big 12 as players are set to report for preseason camp.
The College Football Playoff selection committee has the unenviable task of choosing the four best teams in the country -- a difficult job, but not inconceivable.

Choosing the best 100 players in the country?

Impossible.

Yet here we are with a No. 1 just for you.

This summer, 32 writers and editors from ESPN.com narrowed down a field of 460 players representing every conference to create #CFBrank -- a list of the top 100 players based upon their expected contributions for this season. It was a dizzying assignment, one with no right answer or formula. There is no simple way to compare kickers and quarterbacks, or linebackers and linemen -- yet that’s exactly what we did. Each player was ranked using a scale of 0 to 10 with 10 being the most valuable to his team.

Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston would have been a 10 last season. It's a no-brainer: Heisman Trophy winner. National title. Undefeated.

A lot of talent from his supporting cast is gone this season. Still a perfect 10?

What about Auburn center Reese Dismukes? A Rimington Trophy finalist who helped his team to the national title game. Do you rank him a nine? Eight?

The exercise is subjective: Which positions do you value more? The linemen who are the lead blockers or Todd Gurley, a Heisman hopeful who's had 12 career 100-yard-rushing games? Do you give more credit to the quarterbacks or the defensive ends who smother them? Incoming freshmen like LSU running back Leonard Fournette, and Michigan cornerback Jabrill Peppers -- the top two players, respectively, in the 2014 recruiting class -- were also considered. Neither of them has done diddly squat at the collegiate level, but both are oozing potential and are worthy of at least a ... five? Six?

(Don’t forget that the last defensive player to win the Heisman Trophy was a Michigan cornerback, too.)

Go ahead, argue among yourselves. Think you can do it better? You’ll be arguing with yourself.

Oregon's Ifo Ekpre-Olomu is an All-American cornerback whose three interceptions last season all came in the end zone. He plays for a national title contender. Is he more valuable than Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller? Michigan State Spartans defensive end Shilique Calhoun?

Don’t look for Oklahoma transfer receiver Dorial Green-Beckham -- Bob Stoops can’t find him yet, either. Because the former Missouri star's eligibility is still uncertain, he wasn't included in the voting. These 100 spots were reserved for the players who have all but guaranteed playing time. They’re for game-changers at every position -- or players we think will be.

Beauty, they say, is in the eye of the beholder. So are the top 100 players in the country. Here are the first two parts -- 100-91 and 90-81 -- of #CFBrank. We will unveil the rankings in descending order every day this week.

Video: Sooners pledge hits 66-yard FG

July, 26, 2014
Jul 26
6:21
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Oklahoma Sooners commit Austin Seibert made a 66-yard field goal to win a competition at the Kohl’s 2014 Kicking Camp.
Friday, Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin fired back at Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops, who mocked the Aggies’ nonconference schedule while at the ESPN car wash this past week.

"They have Lamar, Rice, SMU and Louisiana-Monroe," Stoops said. "Boy, those are all a bunch of toughies, right?”

According to AggieSports.com, Sumlin was asked about Stoops’ comments at a fan event in Houston:

Behind Heisman winner Johnny Manziel, the Aggies hammered the Sooners in the 2012 Cotton Bowl 41-13. Sumlin actually coached under Stoops at Oklahoma until 2008.

During his Houston appearance, Sumlin also had this to say:

It’s unclear if that was a veiled jab at the Longhorns. But this week, Texas coach Charlie Strong did dismiss six players from his team. Of course, Sumlin could have been exclusively referencing his own program. Seven Aggies players have been arrested since December.
Our series of preseason picks for every single Big 12 game of 2014 concludes today with Week 15. The past two Big 12 champions face off, and Bedlam is always fun.

More Big 12 predictions for 2014.

at Baylor 41, Kansas State 24: With the final weekend mirroring 2013, the Bears know this game could gain added importance if the Sooners slip up in Bedlam. Taking the field with that mindset, Baylor takes a two-touchdown lead in the first quarter and never really looks back. Bryce Petty is efficient and effective, and Baylor's defense uses the experience gained in the first 11 games to help slow Bill Snyder’s Wildcats in a comfortable win to end Year 1 at McLane Stadium.

at Oklahoma 38, Oklahoma State 35: Another Bedlam, another close game, another late-game win for the Sooners. This time it’s true freshman running back Joe Mixon who turns a swing pass into a late fourth-quarter touchdown, giving the Sooners a late lead and, for the second straight Bedlam game, Oklahoma linebacker Eric Striker seals the win with a big play on the Cowboys’ final drive. The Sooners win the Big 12, and their campaign to be included in the College Football Playoff begins immediately with Bob Stoops saying the Sooners “absolutely” deserve to be one of the four teams included during his postgame comments.

at TCU 42, Iowa State 20: The Horned Frogs end a solid eight-win season in style with a blowout win against the Cyclones. TCU’s offense gives Horned Frogs fans plenty of hope with a six-touchdown performance to end the season, including a touchdown pass and touchdown reception from “Mr. Versatility” Trevone Boykin.

Final Big 12 standings

1. Oklahoma -- 11-1, 8-1
2. Baylor -- 10-2, 7-2
3. Kansas State -- 9-3, 7-2
4. Texas -- 8-4, 6-3
5. TCU -- 8-4, 5-4
6. Texas Tech -- 7-5, 4-5
7. West Virginia -- 5-7, 4-5
8. Oklahoma State -- 5-7, 3-6
9. Kansas -- 3-9, 1-8
10. Iowa State -- 2-10, 0-9

Big 12 lunchtime links

July, 25, 2014
Jul 25
12:00
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It's been a busy week at ESPN but Big 12 coaches aren't the only ones who made a visit to Bristol.
During the summer, ESPN.com is taking a closer look at each scholarship player on the Oklahoma Sooners' roster in our Crimson Countdown series. Each day, we analyze each player’s impact on the program since arriving on campus, his potential impact this fall, and his long-term projection. Starting with No. 1 Dominique Alexander, the series follows the roster numerically through No. 98 Chuka Ndulue.

No. 74 Adam Shead, guard, 6-foot-4, 339 pounds, senior

Impact thus far: Injuries have handcuffed a promising career yet Shead enters his senior season as one of the Sooners’ most experienced offensive linemen. He’s started 28 games in his career despite nagging injuries. As a redshirt freshman in 2011, he forced his way into the starting lineup as the season progressed, starting five games and playing in nine contests. He started all 13 games as a sophomore then started 10 games in 2013. All the while Shead has dealt with shoulder, knee and back injuries at various points during his career.

Impact in 2014: If healthy, Shead should be a key contributor along the Sooners' offensive front. His health could be a big "if" however, as a back injury forced him to miss the spring game.

Long term upside: Shead had the ability to set the tone with his aggressive nature early in his OU career. Unfortunately for him, an injury-free season has been difficult to achieve. If he somehow returned to his pre-injury form, he has all-conference potential.

Evaluation grade for Shead: A. If he starts a game this fall Shead will be a three-star recruit who started at least one game for four straight seasons at OU. Productive and trustworthy, Shead was a stellar evaluation, the type of recruit the Sooners should strive to secure every single time.

Development grade for Shead: A. Without a redshirt season, Shead would not be around to add to his 28 career starts this fall. Injury or not, it’s unlikely Shead would have made a bigger impact as a true freshman than he can in 2014.
In today's Big 12 blog, we discuss Trevor Knight, Devonte Fields and Iowa State Cyclones scheduling.

Click here to submit an entry for a future mailbag.

Now, on to the 'bag:

Will in Houston: Do ya'll think defensive coaches can succeed in the Big 12? Gary Patterson so far has not, which makes me a little nervous about Charlie Strong.

Trotter: Bob Stoops is a defensive coach, and he's done just fine in the Big 12.

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Alex in Searcy, Arkansas writes: How well do you think Oklahoma would do if Trevor Knight went down with an injury for any length of time? Who do you think could step up and replace him in a leadership role if this were to happen?

Trotter: With Blake Bell having moved to tight end full time, this scenario would present a huge dilemma for the Oklahoma Sooners. That is, assuming Baker Mayfield's petition for eligibility with the NCAA falls through. Mayfield, the reigning Big 12 Offensive Freshman of the Year, would be an excellent backup option for the Sooners. But if he's out until 2015, Oklahoma would have to roll the dice with either Cody Thomas or Justice Hansen, neither one of which looked ready yet for the big time during the spring. That's why Stoops said this week Knight had better be sliding a bunch this season. Right now, they can't afford to lose him.

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Ryan in Crystal Lake, Illinois writes: I realize every year they play Iowa. But I was wondering why Iowa State does not also schedule non-conference opponents from the SEC or Pac-12.

Trotter: The baseline goal for Iowa State every year is to get bowl eligible. That goal would be that much more difficult with an SEC or Pac-12 team on the schedule. The Cyclones already play the Iowa Hawkeyes, which went 8-5 last year. That's plenty. Nobody in the Big 12 has more than one Power Five conference opponent on its non-conference slate, except for the West Virginia Mountaineers.

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Christopher Edwards in North Carolina writes: What are the chances that Joe Mixon jumps Alex Ross for the No. 2 spot on Oklahoma's running back depth chart?

Trotter: Based on what I've heard, I don't think it's unthinkable that Mixon eventually jumps everyone into the starting lineup.

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Harry in Austin, Texas, writes: Is TCU on a string of bad setbacks or does Gary Patterson have a discipline problem? First the drug busts, then Casey Pachall, now Devonte Fields. These offseasons have not been good to the Frogs.

Trotter: The TCU Horned Frogs certainly have had some discipline issues since joining the Big 12. But the Horned Frogs are hardly alone. Several other schools in the Big 12 have been in the news for ugly off-the-field incidents. Too many to even list here. It really hasn't been a great offseason overall for the league. And, it's been another bad one for TCU.

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Bob Budiselic in Carlsbad, California writes: I was really hoping that Texas and Oklahoma were going to move to the Pac-12. Do you think that this might happen in the future, and bring Tech and OSU?

Trotter: When it comes to conference realignment, never say never. But that ship has sailed for the foreseeable future.

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Nicholas in Houston writes: Say Tech or TCU wins the conference this season. That would be four straight championships by teams not considered traditional powerhouses. What would that mean for the Big 12's national perception? Would it be a positive because it would show the league is deep? Or, would it be a negative because it would appear that the major powers are on the decline?

Trotter: Tech or TCU winning the Big 12 in a vacuum wouldn't be a negative for the league. But the Big 12 is always going to be perceived as being stronger when Texas and Oklahoma are strong, too. The same goes for Ohio State and Michigan in the Big Ten, USC and Oregon in the Pac-12, Florida State, Miami and Clemson in the ACC and Alabama, Florida and LSU in the SEC. Right or wrong, perception is reality in college football, and conferences are perceived to be better when their traditional powers are winning.

Big 12 lunchtime links

July, 24, 2014
Jul 24
12:00
PM ET
Texas coach Charlie Strong spent some time with the Numbers Never Lie crew on Wednesday.

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One Thing To Know: Big 12 Recruiting
Recruiting reporter Damon Sayles discusses the top storyline to watch in 2015 college football recruiting within the Big 12. Oklahoma continues to hang around top upper echelon of the conference.
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