On to the 'bag:
Trotter: The K-State game should make Oklahoma fans a little queasy. The week before meeting the Wildcats on Oct. 18, the Sooners play Texas. The same weekend, the Wildcats will be off. We saw Thursday night how good Bill Snyder is at drawing up a game plan with an extra week to prepare. And this time, his opponent won't have the extra week as well.
@Jake_Trotter what are the chances kansas state beats one of baylor or Oklahoma? Or somehow both of them?— Seth Meadows (@meadows1115) September 19, 2014
Trotter: The good news for Tech is that Oklahoma State's offensive line hasn't exactly dominated, either. But the Cowboys have good backs and they create creases by spreading the field. Though Daxx Garman can't run like J.W. Walsh, he can stretch the field to open up the running game with his arm. That said, if Tech gets steamrolled up front by an Oklahoma State offensive line that even Mike Gundy has termed as "very below average," the Red Raiders might very well get steamrolled by all comers the rest of the way.
@Jake_Trotter If Tech doesn't get it's run defense together, how do you think they'll do against Oklahoma State?— James Alexander (@KingJamesofMars) September 19, 2014
Trotter: You're not going to like this answer, but I think it comes down to recruiting better players more than anything else, especially along the defensive line. There isn't a scheme out there that can account for a team's defensive front getting blown off the ball the way Tech's did against Arkansas. The Red Raiders can be better defensively than they were against the Hogs. But ultimately, you either have the horses or you don't.
@Jake_Trotter exact same question as last week, any solution in sight for Tech's porous defense?— Andy Dobbins (@adobbins29) September 19, 2014
Trotter: Brandon got the plum assignment of covering the stadium unveiling against SMU. At the moment, I'm not sure yet when exactly I'll be assigned to go down to Waco. But when I do, I'm going to see if I can find a spot in the Baylor Armada.
@Jake_Trotter when are you coming down to McLane to join us for some sailgating?— Baylor Bearmada (@BaylorBearmada) September 19, 2014
Trotter: It's a big loss, no doubt. Ford has been OU's best all-around back. But the Sooners are better equipped to deal with the loss of Ford than West Virginia is the loss of standout cornerback Daryl Worley.
@Jake_Trotter what's your prediction for the OU WV game? I think fans are taking this game lightly. Keith Ford bigger loss than we thought?— Ben Luton (@Lutotime) September 19, 2014
Trotter: The fact that Kansas State, Oklahoma State and West Virginia hung tough against Auburn, Florida State and Alabama will do nothing but strengthen the perception of the Big 12 in the eyes of the playoff selection committee. I don't think the committee will get overly focused on scoring differentials. But Oklahoma (or Baylor) beating the Wildcats, Cowboys and Mountaineers would be viewed as quality wins, based on how those three opponents performed in their nonconference schedules.
@Jake_Trotter say Ou beats KSU and WVU by more than Bama and Auburn did. How much will the committee look into scoring differentials?— Travis Guidry (@TGuidry25) September 19, 2014
Trotter: Did you not see the Duke score? I guess anything is possible. But there's reason why Kansas is 1-29 in its last 30 Big 12 games.
@Jake_Trotter what do you think are texas' chances of losing to Kansas before the red river game?— Matt Peacock (@Mpeacock5) September 19, 2014
Trotter: Why would I trade away the league's best basketball program? And why would you want to trade away an automatic win for whatever team you pull for?
@Jake_Trotter if you could trade Kansas for a fellow bottom dweller in a P5 conference, who would it be and why?— Brad Gibson (@BradWGibson) September 19, 2014
Matt H. writes:Is there a chance for Clint Trickett or Kevin White to be mentioned in the Heisman race if they keep performing at the high level they are playing at right now?
Trotter: White has no shot, if only because receivers don't win Heisman Trophies. But if Trickett lights up a really good Oklahoma defense Saturday, he might begin to generate a little buzz as a possible darkhorse contender.
1. K.D. Cannon, WR, Baylor (previous rank: 2): Cannon has been nothing short of spectacular while temporarily taking over the role as Baylor’s No. 1 receiver with Levi Norwood, Clay Fuller, Corey Coleman and Antwan Goodley all out with injuries. In three games, Cannon leads the nation with 471 receiving yards, while averaging 33.6 yards per catch. No other Big 12 receiver is averaging more than 25 yards per catch. This is a future star in the making.
2. Samaje Perine, RB, Oklahoma (3): Perine has been stout as Oklahoma’s power back, but will only see his role expand after the leg injury to Keith Ford. While splitting carries with Ford and Alex Ross, Perine has still rushed for 177 yards while averaging 5.5 yards a carry. Ross is expected to get the start at West Virginia, but don’t be surprised if Perine gets the most work.
3. Dravon Henry, FS, West Virginia (1): Henry has kept his starting job, though has been rather quiet since shining in West Virginia’s opener against Alabama. He’ll face another huge challenge this weekend against the balanced Sooners.
4. Dimitri Flowers, FB, Oklahoma (5): Flowers continues to be an instrumental part of Oklahoma’s powerful rushing attack. He hasn’t seen the ball much. But he has paved the way with his lead blocks for Ford, Perine and Ross and an Oklahoma ground game that averaging 5.6 yards per rushing attempt.
5. Allen Lazard, WR, Iowa State (7): Lazard led the Cyclones in receiving in their 20-17 victory over the Hawkeyes. He also hauled in a key pass on Iowa State’s game-winning drive late in the fourth quarter. With Quenton Bundrage out for the season, Lazard has taken over as Iowa State’s go-to receiver on the outside.
6. Davion Hall, WR, Baylor (4): Like Cannon, Hall has made the most of his opportunities as the rest of the Baylor receiving corps recovers from injuries. He’s currently 10th in the league with 192 receiving yards.
7. Elijah Lee, LB, Kansas State (9): Lee didn't have much of an impact Thursday night against Auburn, but he still ranks fifth in the league with 2.5 sacks. Bill Snyder leans against playing true freshmen, but Lee has earned his trust.
8. Justin Stockton, RB, Texas Tech (10): Along with the rest of the Red Raiders, Stockton struggled against Arkansas with only seven yards rushing on six carries. But the week before against UTEP, he was outstanding with 135 yards rushing, including a 75-yard touchdown dash.
9. Corey Avery, RB, Kansas (8): While the rest of the Kansas offense did little, Avery was the lone bright spot in the loss at Duke. He led the Jayhawks with 87 yards rushing, after rushing for 91 the week before in his debut.
10. Jason Hall, S, Texas (NR): Hall had a sack and a couple of big hits against UCLA after entering the game in the second quarter. His aggression figures to warrant him more playing time after Texas returns from the open weekend.
On the radar: Tevin Madison, CB, Texas Tech; Colin Downing, P, Iowa State; Cameron Batson, PR/WR, Texas Tech; Matthew Boateng, CB, Kansas; Steven Parker II, Oklahoma
Former Texas standout and current Oklahoma City Thunder star Kevin Durant, who won the 2013-14 NBA MVP award, took to Twitter to express his appreciation for Ash's contribution to the Longhorns.
Thank you David Ash, you gave your all to the University of Texas. I respect your decision and good luck in the future my brother— Kevin Durant (@KDTrey5) September 17, 2014
Ash responded with a thank you of his own for his fellow Longhorn.
@KDTrey5 I really appreciate it. We're all thankful for the way you've represented UT your family and your faith. Keep it up— David Ash (@david_ash14) September 18, 2014
AUSTIN, Texas -- A complicated career ended with an easy decision.
David Ash is giving up football, a choice far wiser than he probably appreciates, but one that is no doubt gut-wrenching. Texas' quarterback was right to hang it up after his bout with concussions over the past year. There should be no debate about that.
To let Ash, a 22-year-old with a long life ahead of him, continue to play would've been irresponsible. Texas has known that since Aug. 31, when he revealed to team doctors he was once again dealing with headaches and dizziness.
"There was no way we'd let him back out on the field," Texas coach Charlie Strong said, "because we were going to be concerned about his health."
They knew he was done, so Wednesday's announcement was not unexpected. What we don't know, unfortunately, is something Texas fans have pondered for years.
We'll never know how good Ash could've been. His career seemed forever on the cusp, a few great games away from something bigger. But he gave as much as he could.
When concussions derailed his junior season last year, he wasn't ready to walk away. Last month, Ash was asked about the people who told him to stop playing. He understood why they asked their questions.
No, he needed another chance. One more game, one more season. He'd fought hard for 12 months to get back, and even harder to become the quarterback he knew he could be.
Ash fit the prototype at 6-foot-3 and 220 pounds with a strong arm and quick feet. He threw as pretty a ball as any Texas QB since Chris Simms, especially when you watched him practice. He was a deceptive runner, with dashes of 55, 49 and 47 yards on his résumé.
There were a few nights when he put it all together. He did it in Stillwater in 2012, leading Texas on a 75-yard, game-winning drive for a 41-36 win over Oklahoma State. Looking back, that was probably the finest game of his career.
He was exceptional against Texas Tech later that season, one week after being benched at Kansas, and his second-half performance in the Alamo Bowl to beat Oregon State inspired real hope about 2013. He threw, he scrambled, he yelled, he led. He was getting closer.
But there were struggles he couldn't overcome along the way. He never beat Oklahoma in two tries, both embarrassing losses. He was pulled in that near-loss at KU in 2012. He shouldn't have tried to play with broken ribs in a Thanksgiving loss to TCU.
But if the sum total of your evaluation of Ash is, "He stunk against OU,” you missed out on a lot. He went 15-7 as Texas' starter. For some reason, he was judged far more by the seven than by the 15.
But Mack Brown believed in Ash. He believed Texas could be great in 2013 if Ash was great. He thought Texas could win any game on its schedule if his quarterback played at the level he expected.
Ash's rocky career will, in some ways, be forever tied to the end of Brown's. While Robert Griffin III, Johnny Manziel and so many other fine quarterbacks from Texas thrived elsewhere, Ash was the guy Brown hitched his wagon to after the implosion of the Garrett Gilbert era. Had Ash not been lost for the season last year, perhaps Texas might not have a new head coach.
The public expectations, for that reason, were never going to be fair for Ash. Brown and Strong repeatedly asked him just to be a good quarterback, a distributor and manager, and not fret about being great.
His week-to-week demeanor as the leader of the Longhorns' offense, the focal point of this great fishbowl, rarely changed. He was quiet, unassuming country boy from Belton, Texas, early on, but always came off as calm and rather determined. He speaks frequently about his life being grounded in his faith.
"In my mind, I always knew I was going to play again,” Ash said in August. "I feel like this is where God has placed me, this is the talent he has given me, and whenever I work hard and I play hard, it pleases Him and gives Him glory.”
The year off from football humbled him in new ways. He came back from his concussion and foot injury with conviction. He'd never considered quitting, he said, and he wasn't going to look back.
Strong lauded his fall practices as "outstanding.” Ash knew he was still getting closer. When asked about being so close to that breakthrough in 2013 and then having it taken away, having to wait patiently for another season, he offered genuine perspective.
"I think you just be thankful for what you get," Ash said, "and this goes for any person in any situation. You look at situations and say, 'I'm a victim. Why me?' Or you can look at situations and say, 'Wow, I'm so thankful that I even got to do this much.' So attitude is everything in those kinds of situations.
"So right now, wow, I get another opportunity. That's amazing. That's awesome. Thank God for that. I didn't necessarily deserve that, to get another opportunity. Just got to make the most of it.”
Ash got another shot against North Texas on Aug. 30. He played as long as he could. When it was over, when the symptoms came back, he knew he could walk away without regret.
When he sat down with Strong on Wednesday to make his retirement official, he did so voluntarily. Ash is ready to move on, unburdened by expectation, off to find a new way to give glory. Soon enough, he'll realize playing quarterback has nothing to do with how good he can be.
- Texas quarterback David Ash elected to give up football after struggling with concussion-related symptoms for the past year. Given the seriousness of head injuries, this was not a surprising decision. Max will have more on this later in the morning, but the move makes you wonder what could have been with Ash. He had moments of brilliance, notably in the 2012 Alamo Bowl win over Oregon State. That game seemed to be the turning point in Ash's career. As it turned out, Ash's career would basically be over not long into the following season.
- Ash's retirement wasn't the only major Big 12 story of the day. West Virginia cornerback Daryl Worley turned himself into police after a warrant was issued for his arrest on a misdemeanor battery charge. Worley is accused of choking a woman and shoving her to the floor during a nightclub altercation hours after West Virginia's win over Maryland last weekend. This is a huge blow for the Mountaineers on and off the field. Worley was arguably West Virginia's best defensive player, and would have been matched up against Oklahoma WR Sterling Shepard this weekend. But Worley, who was one of the three players coach Dana Holgorsen took to Big 12 media days, was also viewed as one of the leaders of the team. Whenever a player of that stature is suspended indefinitely, the ripple effect in the locker room can be significant.
- In case you forgot, there's also a pretty big game being played tonight. Auburn will be the highest-ranked nonconference team to visit Manhattan since second-ranked Penn State came to town 45 years ago. There are a bunch of good reads setting up this showdown. Coach Bill Snyder has a message for his fans, according to the Kansas City Star's Kellis Robinett. AL.com's Brandon Marcello has the scoop on Auburn QB Nick Marshall reuniting with Snyder. And the Chicago Sun-Times' Steve Greenberg has more on the intriguing coaching matchup between Gus Malzahn and Snyder. I arrived in Manhattan last night for this one, and can't wait for kickoff.
- Oklahoma will debut its alternate uniforms this weekend at West Virginia, Bob Stoops revealed. As I detailed in this Take Two over the summer, I wasn't a fan of the Sooners going in this direction. It was my opinion that Oklahoma's iconic brand was above the uniform craze. But I have to admit, I'm curious to see what they'll look like in an actual game.
- TCU coach Gary Patterson is doing everything he can to get his team's attention in an open week before the Horned Frogs play winless SMU next weekend. According to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram's Carlos Mendez, Patterson demoted both of his starting cornerbacks, senior Kevin White and redshirt freshman Ranthony Texada, for not playing up to Patterson's standard. It's understandable why Patterson is getting after his team. It's also understandable, with the open week and hapless SMU up next, why the Horned Frogs might be a bit sluggish in practice this week.
Sept. 7, 2013: Ash exits a 40-21 loss to BYU late in the fourth quarter after suffering a concussion. He does not play against Ole Miss the following week.
Sept. 20: Texas announces Ash has been cleared by UT medical staff to start against Kansas State. He'd participated in his first practice since the concussion two days earlier after being symptom-free for at least 48 hours.
Sept. 21: Ash passes for 166 yards and guides Texas to a 17-7 halftime lead over K-State, then is held out for the second half. Team trainers evaluate him for concussion symptoms.
Nov. 25: Texas officially announces Ash is out for the season and will seek a medical redshirt. "Though he's made a lot of progress, we have not been able to clear him to return to competition," Texas trainer Kenny Boyd says in a statement. "Due to the duration of symptoms, we are now at a point that we all believe the best approach for him is to not return this season."
Jan. 18, 2014: Ash is cleared for offseason workouts and is expected to be a full participant in spring practice.
March 18: First day of spring practice. Ash returns to the practice field for the first time since September.
April 11: Ash is shut down for the final week of spring practice after suffering a "Jones fracture" in his left foot which requires surgery. Texas also announces Ash officially received a medical redshirt for missing 2013, giving him two remaining seasons of eligibility.
July 21: Texas announces Ash is fully cleared to participate in fall practice. A day later, Strong says at Big 12 media days Ash is his starting quarterback.
Aug. 4: First day of fall practice. Ash speaks to media for the first time since BYU. "A lot of people told me, 'You need to give it up, you need to quit.' Honestly, I never really thought about it," he says. "In my mind, I always knew I was going to play." He declines to discuss specifics about his concussion. When asked if he's ready to take his first hit, he declares: "Oh yeah, bring it on."
Aug. 25: During his Monday news conference, Strong refers to Ash as an "unbelievable quarterback who's had an unbelievable preseason camp." When asked again about taking his first hit in the season opener, Ash says, "I'm going to be OK. If I get hit, I'll be fine. I will be sliding a lot more this season, so you can count on that, and I'll be trying to protect myself and doing what's best for the team and taking care of my health during games so that I can last the whole season."
Aug. 30: Ash's first hit comes on the first play of Texas' second offensive drive. As he bends down to scoop up a fumbled snap, North Texas defensive end Jarrian Roberts hits Ash and his shoulder collides with the crown of Ash's helmet. Ash is slow to get up but does not report an injury to UT trainers. He takes at least five more hard hits during the 38-7 win, including three to his head or neck area.
Ash does not report any injuries or symptoms to team trainers during the game. A UT spokesperson says Ash spoke with trainers immediately after he came off the field from each drive.
After the game, Ash does not speak to reporters. OC Shawn Watson describes his performance as "sporadic" with some good moments. Strong is asked about the hits Ash took. "It's all within the flow of the game," he says. "I think the officials did a great job and the thing we have to do is just do a better job protecting. ... Sometimes we see it coming and you have to remember, you're going to get hit in this game."
Around 1:30 a.m. Sunday, after leaving the stadium, Ash informs the Texas staff he's experiencing headaches and dizziness and is brought in for further evaluation. He tells Strong he thinks the first hit, by Roberts, caused his symptoms.
Sept. 1: Strong announces Ash will not play against BYU and offers no timetable for his return. He's concerned about Ash's concussion history but insists the coaching staff was unaware of any in-game symptoms. "I'm not ever going to jeopardize injury," he says. "You can never, ever in this program jeopardize a young man's health to compete in a football game."
Sept. 6: Ash is able to attend Texas' home loss against BYU and watches from the sideline in a jersey and khaki shorts. He also travels for Texas' loss to UCLA at AT&T Stadium but did not suit up.
Sept. 17: Ash meets with Strong and decides to end his playing career. Strong says there is "no way" Texas coaches or trainers would've let Ash take the field again, but the quarterback made the call on retiring and will remain involved with the team this season.
Coach Charlie Strong announced the junior quarterback's decision after practice Wednesday. Ash had started 22 games in his career with the Longhorns but was shut down on Sept. 1 after experiencing more symptoms.
"We just decided, because of his health -- that's the No. 1 concern for all of us -- that he's no longer going to play football," Strong said. "But he is going to be part of the team, because I told him I wanted him around the team, and that's what he deserves."
Ash suffered a concussion at BYU in September 2013 and played in just two games since then. He met with Strong on Wednesday and agreed it was in his best long-term interest to stop playing.
"The trainers and doctors had been working with him and, like I said, his health is our major concern," Strong said. "We sat down to talk and he said, 'Coach, this is what I'd like to do.'"
Strong said there was "no way" Texas coaches and trainers could allow Ash to continue playing considering his concussion history. But it was Ash's decision to officially end his playing career.
"It was a very tough call for him," Strong said. "He's very emotional. He's done a lot for this program, been a major part of this university."
Ash finished his career with 4,728 passing yards and 36 total touchdowns.
Sophomore Tyrone Swoopes has started Texas' past two games and will remain the starting quarterback. Strong said Ash will continue to work with Texas' quarterbacks this season.
Strong also announced Wednesday that starting defensive tackle Desmond Jackson
Next game: Sept. 27 at Iowa State
What's working: Pretty much everything. Baylor's offense kept rolling even when Bryce Petty was sidelined, the run game broke in new toys in Johnny Jefferson and Silas Nacita, KD Cannon became a national phenom in three weeks and the defense ranks top five nationally in scoring, total defense, yards per play and run defense to go along with an FBS-high 15 sacks.
What needs work: This is welcomed recovery time for a team that got the injury bug in fall camp. Petty is 100 percent now and excited to get go-to target Antwan Goodley (quad) and receivers Corey Coleman (hamstring) and Clay Fuller (collar bone) back on the field. The Bears will likely get running back Devin Chafin (high ankle sprain) back in time to travel to Ames, too. With the exception of Levi Norwood, they'll have the full arsenal back in time for Big 12 play.
Next game: Sept. 27 vs. Baylor
What's working: The Cyclones go into the week off riding an emotional high they aim to turn into momentum. Their 20-17 upset of Iowa provided so many encouraging signs. Quarterback Sam B. Richardson had arguably the best game of his career, the defense came up with its first takeaway in a big moment and we saw another impressive performance from Cory Morrissey. Paul Rhoads is a happy camper after the rivalry win, and ISU avoided an 0-3 start in dramatic fashion.
What needs work: A game plan for slowing down Baylor will be the main focus this week. ISU has a few injury issues of its own, but the good news is Jarvis West should be OK. Rhoads is focusing in on a four-week, four-game stretch in which the Clones take on Baylor, Oklahoma State, Toledo and Texas. After a win this good, there's always another upset to chase.
Next game: Sept. 25 vs. Texas Tech
What's working: The youth and inexperience Oklahoma State has on paper is not showing on the field. The Pokes haven't slipped since losing J.W. Walsh, they gave Florida State a tough four-quarter ballgame, they won with relative ease after that and they have entered the Top 25. Thsi is not a perfect team yet but is a rising one that's going to scare a lot of teams in conference play.
What needs work: Facing Tech will give OSU a much better sense of how good its defense can be in 2014 after a nice showing in nonconference play. Gundy wants to see more depth develop in the back seven, and on offense he's expressed concerns about blocking the run game.
Next game: Sept. 27 at SMU
What's working: The offensive transition has been smooth and effective. TCU has averaged 39 points and 491 yards per game with its new Air Raid, and Trevone Boykin has been everything the coaches hoped for -- and maybe a little more. The defense hasn't taken a step back without Devonte Fields and has seen several players step up their games up front. Smooth sailing so far for a team that definitely looks bowl-bound again.
What needs work: TCU's pass defense ranks No. 6 in FBS, but Gary Patterson has said he still wants to make some fixes in pass coverage. They'll devote the required amount of time on SMU, a struggling team led by an interim coach and a third-string quarterback, but the Frogs know they need to work ahead a little on Oklahoma and Baylor, including preparing for the 3-4 fronts of the Sooners' defense.
Next game: Sept. 27 at Kansas
What's working: Despite taking two losses, this defense is playing at a high level with a top-20 yards-per-play rate, a top-15 pass defense and 13 sacks. Defensive tackle Malcom Brown looks like a potential All-American so far. Tyrone Swoopes is taking steps in the right direction and shined at times against UCLA, while John Harris has finally emerged as a go-to receiver.
What needs work: Where to begin? Texas' patchwork offensive line hasn't gelled and desperately needs these two weeks. The Longhorns need suspended WR/RB Daje Johnson back and need a healthy Desmond Jackson (ankle). Cedric Reed was better against UCLA but hasn't broken out yet. And Charlie Strong needs to start coming up with plans for stopping Baylor and Oklahoma or else this team could start 2-4.
Next game: Sept. 25 at Oklahoma State
What's working: Tech is getting nice production in the run game from DeAndre Washington and Justin Stockton and in the pass game from Bradley Marquez and Jakeem Grant. Offensive line play has improved and Tech hasn't given up a sack. Its pass defense ranks 11th nationally, which is probably misleading.
What needs work: Run defense, penalties, tackling, Davis Webb's consistency -- lots of fundamental issues here that are starting to cause concern. Webb seemed to be forcing throws against Arkansas and will need to put in some time this week to clean up concerns about his footwork and decision-making. And that porous run defense has to get cleaned up quick because opponents will keep attacking it hard over the next month.
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- With the matchup between college football's top two all-time wins leaders on hold for the foreseeable future, the Michigan Wolverines have moved on to the next-closest option.
The Wolverines and the Texas Longhorns, who are No. 3 in all-time wins, announced plans Wednesday for a future home-and-home series. The Longhorns will visit Ann Arbor in 2024, and Michigan will reciprocate with a trip to Austin in '27.
"A matchup of this magnitude doesn't come along all that often, and when it does, it's special for both programs and the great fans that support each institution," Michigan coach Brady Hoke said in a statement. "This also is a special series for all fans of college football, and I anticipate great games just like the first contest played between the two programs."
In their only previous meeting, Texas beat Michigan on a last-second field goal to win the 2005 Rose Bowl.
The scheduled matchups are for Aug. 31, 2024, and Sept. 4, 2027.
Michigan and Notre Dame, which ranks No. 2 in all-time wins, decided to end their annual rivalry after this season.
Since Michigan and Notre Dame decided to end their rivalry, the Wolverines have scheduled several home-and-home matchups, including Arkansas (2018-19), Washington (2020-21), Virginia Tech (2020-21), UCLA (2022-23) and Oklahoma (2025-26).
Here are a handful of more than 15 to watch in the coming weeks and months:
No. 238 Pat Allen, OT
The Bulldogs verbal made an official visit to Oklahoma last weekend and came away impressed as expected. The offensive tackle with a 6-foot-10 wingspan will visit Michigan Sept. 26 followed by trips to Tennessee Oct. 3 and Arkansas Oct. 10 before concluding his visits with a trip to Athens Nov. 14 when the Bulldogs play host to Auburn. While I still like Georgia’s chances, I wouldn’t characterize this as a solid commitment at this point.
Flip percentage: 40 percent
On to the mailbag:
Greg writes: OK, I know this is a crazy question but it crossed my mind. Say at the end of the regular season you have a one-loss West Virginia team (I know, I know, just humor me). Do you believe they would have a shot at the playoff?
Brandon Chatmon: Why not? That would mean wins over Oklahoma and Baylor, a pair of Top 10 teams currently, along with a sole loss to Alabama. The key would be a strong season from the Crimson Tide to reaffirm the Mountaineers’ effort in the season opener. If the Crimson Tide somehow tumble down the SEC standings, that would hurt a one-loss WVU’s chances, no doubt about it. A solid season from Maryland would help the cause as well. After all, it’s not like all of the other Power 5 conferences have been dominating the competition, so any one-loss Big 12 champion could have a strong case.
Singletary in Austin writes: I recognize it's faced subpar competition, but how would you rate Baylor's defense and defensive depth against the last couple years? To my eyes they look bigger, faster and deeper.
Chatmon: I’d agree. Even though the Bears haven’t been tested, the talent upgrade is obvious. I really like what I’ve seen from Shawn Oakman, Jamal Palmer and Xavien Howard thus far, but those three are just a few of the athletes on Baylor’s defense that I would consider an upgrade over previous years. It’s becoming really clear how well Art Briles and company have done on the recruiting trail lately.
NoZe in Austin writes: What chance do you give Bryce Petty of winning the Heisman? Do they have to run the table (which would include a first-ever win in Norman)?
Chatmon: Petty just needs to play extremely well in big games. It wasn’t numbers that kept him away from New York a year ago (4,200 passing yards and 46 total touchdowns is enough). He looked like a superhero at times but looked human against Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, TCU and Texas last season. It really doesn’t matter what he does right now, he just needs to excel against the Big 12’s best and have his Heisman moment with everyone watching. If that happens, even if BU is not undefeated he could cement his spot in the Heisman race.
Ben in Waco, Texas, writes: Why isn't Oklahoma State's defense, and particularly our D-line, getting any love? Going into the Florida State game, everyone knew our D-line was the strength of our team, yet when FSU had trouble with them, national media made no mention of OSU having anything to do with FSU's struggles. They've chalked it up to a bad game, despite OSU's defense continuing to look the part of a solid D. We heard about how good Oklahoma's defense was against Tulsa, and how good Baylor's D looked against SMU, but OSU's performance against FSU no big deal???
Chatmon: I was candid about my concerns about OSU’s defense, although not necessarily the defensive line, before the season opener and they accepted the challenge against FSU. I apologized on Twitter to the Pokes defense for questioning it, so I can’t really speak to what others are doing. If OSU’s defensive line wants more love, it can earn it with dominant performances in Big 12 play because it looks like, for the second straight season, OSU’s destiny will be decided by its defense, not its more ballyhooed offense in 2014.
Josh in Morgantown, Kentucky, writes: How do you think WVU's offense will fare against the Oklahoma defense? Do you see the WVU defense getting enough stops for a win?
Chatmon: I think it will be a great back-and-forth battle to watch between WVU’s offense and OU’s defense. The Sooners will force other playmakers to emerge, and I think WVU has some guys, like Wendell Smallwood and Daikiel Shorts, who are ready to do that. I expect both sides to win their share of battles. Ultimately I think WVU’s defensive line, which impressed me against Maryland, will decide the game. If that group plays well, WVU can upset the Sooners. If not, OU’s running game and deep passing will prove too much for the Mountaineers.
Kurt in Lubbock writes: Hey guys, love the blog. I'm going to support and back my team no matter what, but do you think Texas Tech has any chance of making a bowl game this year? And do you think our defense can ever get better? Or are we doomed to a three- to four-win season this year?
Chatmon: I’m not ready to say Tech has no chance at a bowl game, but a lot has to change if the Red Raiders even hope to go bowling. I think we will learn everything we need to know about Texas Tech when it visits Oklahoma State Sept. 25. How much pride do the Red Raiders have? Do they have the depth to make the needed changes on defense? We will find out at Boone Pickens Stadium. If those answers are negative, that’s when I’d start thinking just three or four wins is a distinct possibility.
Don in Muscatine writes: Can Iowa State win four Big 12 games (as well as Toledo) and push for a bowl game?
Chatmon: I love the fight the Cyclones have shown early, but I just don’t see where those wins would come from. The Big 12 is even deeper than I expected with West Virginia and Oklahoma State looking like they will be better than I thought. Toledo should be a win, but it’s hard for me to see them reaching four conference wins unless Sam Richardson really takes his game to another level during the rest of the season.
Aaron in Temple, Texas, writes: How scary would the Longhorns be if they had a better offense?
Chatmon: I wouldn’t call them scary, but I’d consider them Big 12 title contenders. But that’s not the scenario for Charlie Strong’s bunch. They rank eighth or lower in several major offensive categories, including points (20.7), third-down conversions (27.3 percent) and yards per play (4.6). There have been some positive signs from Tyrone Swoopes, and he’s starting to make me rethink my belief that Jerrod Heard is the future under center. Nonetheless, UT’s offense is not explosive, dynamic, powerful or efficient. Until that changes, nobody can consider the Longhorns a real threat in the Big 12.