Big 12 bowl projections: Week 8

October, 19, 2014
Oct 19
8:00
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It's moving day!

Chaos reigns as West Virginia's and Kansas State's wins join TCU's domination to result in the Horned Frogs sitting atop the queue. West Virginia could be the sleeper pick to win the conference, while K-State still faces a difficult road to its second Big 12 title in three years with road trips to TCU, West Virginia and Baylor left on the schedule.

The conference landscape is full of teams that could stake their claim in the Big 12 title race.

Allstate Sugar Bowl: TCU
Cotton Bowl: Kansas State
Valero Alamo Bowl: West Virginia
Russell Athletic Bowl: Baylor
AdvoCare V100 Texas Bowl: Oklahoma
AutoZone Liberty Bowl: Oklahoma State
Cactus Bowl: Texas

Best of the visits: Big 12

October, 19, 2014
Oct 19
6:55
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How unpredictable is the Big 12? Baylor is no longer undefeated, Kansas State topped Oklahoma in Norman, and TCU dominated Oklahoma State.

Perhaps "unpredictable" isn't the operative word. "Competitive" may be a better fit.

The Big 12 on Saturday made it a priority to expect the unexpected. West Virginia bested a Baylor team in contention for the College Football Playoff. The 41-27 West Virginia win was even sweeter when the Mountaineers picked up commitment No. 21 on Sunday in rising Florida DE Adam Shuler.



West Virginia pulled the big upset Saturday, but from a recruiting perspective, the big story of the day was ESPN 300 QB and Texas A&M commit Kyler Murray taking an official visit to Norman to take in the Oklahoma experience. Murray, the nation's top-ranked dual-threat quarterback, was seen hanging out with Steele Walker, an Oklahoma baseball commit, during the Kansas State-Sooners football game.

The big question: Is the visit just another opportunity to check out a different school and see how another program functions, or does it give the Aggies legitimate reason to believe Murray is weighing all of his options? Texas A&M has lost three in a row, including Saturday's 59-0 loss to Alabama.



TCU cruised to an easy win against Oklahoma State, and several 2016 athletes were in attendance. The Horned Frogs love their defensive commits, and a couple of players -- such as DE Demerick Gary and OLB/DE Sidney Murray left the game asking the same question: Is Fort Worth in the future?




Texas ended a two-game losing skid with a home win against Iowa State. The Longhorns had a pleasant surprise, as WR commit John Burt was in Austin on an unofficial visit. That's big news, considering Burt lives in Florida and still has an official visit option to Texas available.

One big visitor in attendance was ESPN Junior 300 DB Brandon Jones. Ranked the nation's No. 2 safety in the 2016 class, Jones enjoyed his time in Austin and is considering the Longhorns.



And after Texas' Week 8 win -- a game decided by a 21-yard field goal with time running out -- ESPN 300 WR Ryan Newsome, who is considering the Longhorns in his recruiting, had some fun with the Heisman voters.

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With Big 12 favorites Oklahoma and Baylor coming off possibly insurmountable losses, ESPN college football insider Brad Edwards says the best chance for conference representation in the College Football Playoff will be the Kansas State-TCU winner.
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Three top-15 programs climb four positions in the ESPN College Football Power Rankings, and Florida State flips places with Ole Miss. College football reporter Adam Rittenberg joins Cary Chow to break down notable movers.

Big 12 Power Rankings: Week 8

October, 19, 2014
Oct 19
2:00
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Drawing conclusions from Week 8

October, 19, 2014
Oct 19
10:38
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Notre Dame vs. Florida State Chris Morris for ESPN

Each Sunday during the season, ESPN.com will highlight four storylines that had an impact on the College Football Playoff race.

No. 2 Florida State 31, No. 5 Notre Dame 27

The Seminoles strong-armed the Fighting Irish, wrestling back from a 17-10 halftime deficit to win their 23rd consecutive game and overcome perhaps their toughest remaining test. FSU has five unranked opponents left, beginning with a road trip to Louisville on Oct. 30, followed by Virginia.


Big 12 balance of power shifting

No. 4 Baylor's playoff hopes took a massive hit in a 41-27 loss to unranked West Virginia. No. 14 Kansas State is rising by virtue of a 31-30 win over No. 11 Oklahoma, which suffered its second loss. Meanwhile, No. 12 TCU rebounded strongly after a wrenching loss to Baylor by pummelling No. 15 Oklahoma State 42-9.


No. 7 Alabama 59, No. 21 Texas A&M 0

The Crimson Tide stomped the Aggies, notching their most lopsided SEC victory since beating Vanderbilt 66-3 in 1979 and blanking Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin for the first time in his 86 games as a head coach.


(Read full post)


Playoff picture: Week 8

October, 19, 2014
Oct 19
10:07
AM ET
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It’s time to assess the damage.

Every week, upset darts continue to fly, popping playoff hopes left and right -- or at least leaving them with a slow leak. Any team that doesn’t limp across the finish line (most likely Florida State) will be the anomaly this season. There are 18 one-loss teams remaining -- quite a fine mess for the College Football Playoff’s selection committee to sort out by the time its initial rankings are released Oct. 28.

With Week 8 losses by Notre Dame and Baylor, there are only four unbeaten teams remaining: Mississippi State, Florida State, Ole Miss and Marshall. Somebody from the state of Mississippi is going down in what should be an epic Egg Bowl on Nov. 29 in Oxford -- that is, if they both can stay unscathed until then -- leaving a maximum of two undefeated teams from the Power 5 conferences.

That’s an optimistic view, considering the November lineups and how many teams are picking up the pieces after Week 8. Here’s a look at which losses caused the most damage Saturday, ranked from the least to the most damaging:

[+] EnlargeEverett Golson
Streeter Lecka/Getty ImagesEverett Golson and Notre Dame lost to FSU Saturday, but the Irish's playoff hopes are not done if they can win out.
Florida State 31, Notre Dame 27: The Irish redefined “good loss” in Tallahassee. They were on the road, against the defending national champs, and they put on a terrific show in what was arguably the best game of the weekend. Here’s the problem: Stanford also lost Saturday, and so far, Notre Dame’s win over the three-loss Cardinal is the highlight of its playoff résumé. The good news for Notre Dame is that it still has road trips to Arizona State and USC on the schedule, so if the Irish win out -- and look as good as they did Saturday in the process -- they should still be considered for the playoff. The margin for error, though, is gone.

West Virginia 41, Baylor 27: The Bears were an unconvincing playoff contender to begin with because of their weak nonconference schedule and friendly defense. While no one-loss team should be written off just yet, Baylor’s mistakes and sloppy, undisciplined performance are going to be difficult to overcome. The Bears racked up an absurd 18 penalties for a school-record 215 yards -- just 8 yards fewer than Bryce Petty threw for. The offensive line allowed 10 tackles in the backfield, and the offense was stagnant against a defense that was missing its starting cornerbacks. Baylor still has to play Oklahoma and Oklahoma State, but with both of those teams losing Saturday, it won’t do much to boost the Bears’ strength of schedule.

Kansas State 31, Oklahoma 30: The Sooners’ stock had been dropping in recent weeks, and this was the final dagger. OU couldn’t convert when it had to in the fourth quarter, couldn’t overcome its two turnovers and lost the special teams battle. With Baylor and Oklahoma State both losing, there aren’t any chances left on the schedule to impress the selection committee with a statement win and get back into the conversation. Oklahoma has now lost two of its past three games, and its best win was at West Virginia. That’s not going to be enough to get back into the top four.

Arizona State 26, Stanford 10: A three-loss team is not going to be in the inaugural College Football Playoff -- even if it wins the Pac-12 title. Just a hunch. Forget top four, Stanford doesn’t even look Top 25. With only two league losses, Stanford could run the table and play in the conference title game, but that’s now the ceiling, and odds are it won’t reach it if it continues to struggle offensively like it did Saturday. The Cardinal ran for just 76 yards and lost the turnover battle 2-0. Three of Stanford’s final four games of the regular season are on the road, including at Oregon. Stanford has lost the most meaningful games it has played, and in turn lost its shot at the playoff.

Big 12 helmet stickers: Week 8

October, 19, 2014
Oct 19
9:00
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Lots of love to go around after a wild day in the Big 12. The top performers in the conference on Saturday:

WR Josh Doctson, TCU: The game-changer in TCU's 42-9 beatdown of Oklahoma State. His 77- and 84-yard touchdown catches broke the game open, and Doctson's 225 receiving yards came 1 short of tying the Horned Frogs' single-game school record. He led all of FBS in receiving this week and only needed seven receptions to do so.

DT Travis Britz, Kansas State: Sometimes it only takes one play to earn your Helmet Sticker. Britz gets a bravo for an unexpected game-changer: He blocked Michael Hunnicutt's extra-point attempt in the fourth quarter to ensure K-State kept its 31-30 lead over Oklahoma. Thanks to another Hunnicutt miss, this time a field goal, that proved to be the final score in Norman.

LB Ben Heeney, Kansas: We hear you, Ben. You know you belong on our midseason All-Big 12 team. We should've known, too. Heeney racked up a career-high 21 tackles (his previous best was 15) and added a 37-yard interception return in KU's 34-21 loss to Texas Tech. To suggest he's not playing at an All-Big 12 level ... that's just ignorant.

QB Trevone Boykin, TCU: The nation's leading passer in Week 8, Boykin only played three quarters and finished with a career-best 410 passing yards and three scores plus 41 rushing yards. He's playing at an unreal level right now and ranks top-five nationally in total offense at nearly 370 yards per game.

QB Jake Waters, Kansas State: Got a little dinged up but just keep going. Waters threw for 225 yards on 15-of-23 passing, the best of the bunch a 62-yard TD to Glenn Gronkowski on a delayed pop pass, and he added 51 rushing yards and a key 4-yard score to retake the lead late in the third quarter. In production, versatility and leadership, Waters is right there with the Big 12's best QBs.

WR Kevin White, West Virginia: All-American all the way. White racked up 132 receiving yards and two touchdowns on eight catches in the 41-27 upset win over Baylor. He needed just seven games to surpass 1,000 receiving yards and is up to seven touchdown catches. Everyone knows the ball is going to him, and still nobody has stopped him.

QB Tyrone Swoopes, Texas: This kid is getting good. Swoopes threw for 321 yards and a touchdown and rushed for a career-best 95 yards and another score. But that's not what was impressive. His 39-yard pass to Jaxon Shipley and 29-yard pass to John Harris on back-to-back plays, both with under 30 seconds left, set Texas up for the game-winning field goal and 48-45 victory over Iowa State.

DE Shaquille Riddick, West Virginia: The Gardner-Webb transfer came to WVU to play in big games and played big Saturday: Five tackles, four tackles for loss, and three sacks. He got consistent pressure on Bryce Petty and is quite a weapon in WVU's scheme.

RB DeAndre Washington, Texas Tech: The Red Raiders' run game is enjoying a revival thanks to the steady Washington, whose 164 rushing yards in the win over Kansas were the most by a Tech running back in a game since Taurean Henderson in 2004.

WR Sterling Shepard, Oklahoma: Had to give him a shout-out for a career day in an excellent career. Shepard tied the OU school record with 15 receptions against Kansas State and took them for 197 yards, including a 47-yard score.
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Check out the top plays from Week 8 of college football.
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NORMAN, Okla. -- Michael Hunnicutt missed a 19-yard field goal late as No. 14 Kansas State held off No. 11 Oklahoma 31-30 on Saturday afternoon.

Oklahoma, trailing by a point in the fourth quarter, drove to the Kansas State 1-yard line, but couldn't punch the ball in. Hunnicutt then missed the short field goal that would have put the Sooners ahead with 3:53 remaining. Kansas State (5-1, 3-0 Big 12) took possession and ran out the clock.

Hunnicutt, touted as an All-America candidate before the season, missed a total of two short field goals and had an extra point blocked.

Jake Waters passed for 225 yards and two touchdowns for the Wildcats, who defeated the Sooners 24-19 two years ago on their previous trip to Norman.

Oklahoma's Sterling Shepard tied a school record with 15 catches for 197 yards and Trevor Knight passed for 318 yards and three touchdowns for Oklahoma (5-2, 2-2).


(Read full post)


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NORMAN, Okla. -- Kansas State stunned the Oklahoma Sooners with a 31-30 victory on the road. Here is what happened:

How the game was won: Michael Hunnicutt, Oklahoma’s all-time leading scorer, missed an extra point and two chip-shot field goal attempts, including a 19-yarder with 5:39 to go. The Sooners had first-and-goal from the K-State 2-yard line before the 19-yard miss, but running back Samaje Perine couldn’t punch it in on three straight carries.

Game ball goes to: Kansas State quarterback Jake Waters, who was sensational with 225 yards passing and 51 yards rushing. He also accounted for three touchdowns despite having to go to the locker room momentarily with an undisclosed injury.

What it means: With two losses in the past three weeks, Oklahoma is out of the playoff conversation, and maybe the Big 12 title chase, too. With its second straight win in Norman, Kansas State is right in the thick of both.

Playoff implications: The Wildcats have replaced the Sooners as a Big 12 possibility for a playoff spot. The Wildcats do have a loss, but it was to Auburn. And though K-State has a tough remaining schedule with trips to Baylor, TCU and West Virginia remaining, those games also offer the Wildcats chances to land more marquee victories.

Best play video embed: Waters got the K-State offense rolling with this 62-yard strike to fullback Glenn Gronkowski, the younger brother of NFL star Rob Gronkowski.

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What's next: The Sooners have a week off to lick their wounds before traveling to Iowa State on Nov. 1. The Wildcats face Texas in Manhattan next weekend.
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4Q KSU J. Waters pass,to C. Sexton for 6 yds for a 1ST down
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Michael Hunnicutt 19 yd FG MISSED

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Big 12 Playoff Hopes Rest On One Game
With Big 12 favorites Oklahoma and Baylor coming off possibly insurmountable losses, ESPN college football insider Brad Edwards says the best chance for conference representation in the College Football Playoff will be the Kansas State-TCU winner.
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