Instant Analysis: TCU 48, Texas 10

November, 27, 2014
Nov 27
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AUSTIN, Texas -- Fifth-ranked TCU took care of business Thanksgiving night, knocking off Texas 48-10 at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium to improve to 10-1 on the year. Here's how the game was won:

How the game was won: TCU smothered Texas' offense from the start, shutting down its running backs (29 yards on 21 carries) and pressuring Tyrone Swoopes into committing five of the Longhorns' six turnovers, two of which were returned for touchdowns. The Horned Frogs' offense finally got rolling in the second half against a typically stout Texas defense.

Game ball goes to: Josh Doctson and Paul Dawson. Two of TCU's best stepped up in a big way. Dawson racked up 10 tackles and an interception, and was all over the place. Doctson had two of the game's biggest catches, a 38-yarder to set up TCU's first offensive score and a 22-yard TD. He finished with 115 yards on seven catches.

What it means: TCU, now 2-0 in Thanksgiving games at Texas since joining the Big 12, got some good revenge for its 23-point loss to the Horns last year and got a chance to make a statement in front of a national TV audience. Quarterback Trevone Boykin (283 total yards, three TDs) was challenged by this Texas defense but had some nice moments that will help his Heisman hopes.

Playoff implication: There will be a lot of folks comparing Baylor's 28-7 win over Texas on Oct. 4 to this game. Both teams did shut down Texas' offense from start to finish. TCU's showing felt a bit more dominant -- Texas trailed 13-0 after one quarter and never really stood a chance after that -- and a 38-point road win over a team that had won three in a row definitely will look good on the résumé.

What's next: Texas finishes its regular season 6-6. Facing an SEC team in the AdvoCare Texas Bowl or the AutoZone Liberty Bowl, both on Jan. 29, appears to be the Longhorns' most likely destination. TCU has one game left, a home finale against Iowa State on Dec. 6 that could feel a lot like a victory lap for at least a share of the Big 12 title.

TCU at Texas primer

November, 26, 2014
Nov 26
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Turkey, Texas and TCU make for a big-time Thanksgiving night in Austin.

The No. 5 Horned Frogs will put their College Football Playoff hopes on the line against a surging Texas team that enters its senior night on a three-game win streak. TCU, fresh off a bye, can move to 10-1 and exact a little revenge after losing to the Longhorns 30-7 last year

Below, Max Olson and I break down this critical Big 12 matchup:

How TCU can control the game: Get off to a quick start. An early lead would not only give TCU immediate control, it would put pressure on Texas to throw the ball more than it would like. The Horned Frogs lead the Big 12 in forced turnovers by a wide margin. If they can force Texas into obvious passing downs, opportunistic playmakers like linebacker Paul Dawson and safety Chris Hackett will have their chances to produce game-changing plays defensively, as they have all season. -- Trotter

How Texas can control the game: Charlie Strong will always answer this question with defense, and his has been responsible for allowing just 16.1 points per game in Big 12 play. The bye week gave his staff more time to find ways to confuse and pressure Trevone Boykin. Takeaways and responsible run defense are a must this week. On offense, a patchwork line has to continue progressing and find a way to win more battles than it loses up front. -- Olson

TCU's X factor: The interior offensive line trio of center Joey Hunt and guards Brady Foltz and Jamelle Naff. They will be facing off against one of the top defensive tackles in the country in Malcom Brown, who has the talent to blow up the middle of opposing lines. The Horned Frogs need to keep Brown at bay so the rest of the offense can function on schedule. That tall task will fall on Hunt, Foltz and Naff, who will have their biggest challenge of the season on Thursday. -- Trotter

Texas' X factor: Tyrone Swoopes, of course. Texas has a few speedsters up its sleeve in Daje Johnson and Armanti Foreman, who change the game in an instant. Keep an eye on them. But ultimately, Texas' hopes of pulling the upset will hinge on Swoopes stepping up in big moments and avoiding costly mistakes and turnovers. It might take an A-game from him to beat these Frogs. -- Olson

What a win would mean for TCU: This will be the final chance for TCU to impress the playoff selection committee. A win, especially a dominant one, would leave a lasting impression in the minds of those 12 committee members. A win would also put TCU a home win over Iowa State away from gaining at least a share of the Big 12 title. -- Trotter

What a win would mean for Texas: A home win over one of the nation's best probably wouldn't greatly alter the Longhorns' bowl destination, but it could be a total game-changer for Strong and his rebuilding efforts. In terms of recruiting, fan support and offseason morale, beating TCU to finish the Big 12 season on a four-game win streak would be monumental and set Texas up to take the next big step in 2015. -- Olson

Big 12 players in the Week 14 spotlight

November, 26, 2014
Nov 26
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Our weekly look ahead at six Big 12 players who are poised to surprise or might be due for a big performance.

TCU QB Trevone Boykin: He's had a terrific season. He's made big plays and won big games. He's had a couple Heisman moments along the way. On Thursday night, the spotlight shines bright on Boykin in front of a national TV audience and against the Big 12's No. 1 scoring defense. A huge game just might secure Boykin's ticket to New York. Oh, and TCU also needs to win to keep it College Football Playoff hopes alive.

Texas Tech CB Tevin Madison: The true freshman has quietly had a really solid debut season (six pass breakups, 49 tackles, one INT) and will be put to the test by Baylor in a week when top corner Justis Nelson (concussion) is questionable and might also have to play some safety. No matter which Bears receivers he gets matched up against, Madison and fellow rookie Nigel Bethel II have to hold their own. No question Bryce Petty will try to pick on them.

Texas WR/RB Daje Johnson: When will the Texas speedster finally get unleashed? Since returning from suspension and a subsequent injury, Johnson has been used almost exclusively on sweep plays. He's averaging 12.5 yards per rush. Against No. 5 TCU, the program he decommitted from to become a Longhorn, Texas will need all the offensive firepower it can muster. So now might be a good time to let Johnson loose and see what he can do in the pass game and in the open field.

Kansas State RB Charles Jones: Last week, I put K-State running back DeMarcus Robinson on this spotlight list. That did not go well. His six rushes against West Virginia netted minus-7 yards, and the Wildcats had a grand total of 1 rushing yard on the night. So how about you, Charles Jones? What do you have to offer this week against the Kansas defense that just gave up the best rushing performance in FBS history?

Baylor CB Ryan Reid: Give the Bears credit: Entering their final two games of Big 12 play, they have few lingering injury issues. They've replaced their losses on the right side of the offensive line and at defensive end. Tion Wright did a solid job of replacing Reid last week, but Art Briles says the starting corner's hip injury won't hold him out this week. He's a critical piece for the finale against Kansas State and especially if the Bears make it into the playoff.

Iowa State RB DeVondrick Nealy: What is it going to take to win a conference game? The Cyclones came close against Texas Tech and might be able to surprise a slipping West Virginia team. You have to like what Nealy provided last week with 109 total yards of offense, his best performance since the last time ISU won a game (Oct. 11 vs. Toledo). Get the ball in this dude's hands and see if the Mountaineers can catch him.

Big 12 Week 14 predictions

November, 26, 2014
Nov 26
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Why TCU will win: This is going to be a back-and-forth, physical fight in which Texas will throw everything it's got at TCU. All the pressure is on the Frogs -- not that they can't handle it. If Charlie Strong's D can slow down Trevone Boykin, it's anyone's ballgame. A difference that might matter: the kicking game. TCU's Jaden Oberkrom can be trusted with a game-winning kick. Can Texas' Nick Rose? TCU 20, Texas 17 Olson

Why Texas will keep it close: Defense. The Longhorns have the Big 12’s best unit, and their disruptive front will make life hard for Trevone Boykin. UT just won’t score enough points to cement its upset bid. TCU 28, Texas 27 — Chatmon

Other unanimous selections

Baylor over Texas Tech: The Bears won't aim for 82, but they know they need to score a bunch of points. In addition to having a brutal run defense, Texas Tech's secondary is also banged up this week. So, you know, moving the ball should not be terribly difficult for Bryce Petty and his many weapons. Tech can keep up early, but for how long? Baylor 52, Texas Tech 24 Olson

Kansas State over Kansas: The Wildcats have focused on resuscitating their running game, and their instate rival might provide the perfect tonic. The Jayhawks are still reeling from giving up an FBS record 427 rushing yards to Samaje Perine last week. K-State won't get that many on the ground. But the Wildcats will have a big day offensively to prime their trip to Waco in the season finale. Kansas State 38, Kansas 13 Trotter

West Virginia over Iowa State: The Mountaineers will get the losing taste out of their mouths because of their superior offensive firepower, no matter whether Clint Trickett or Skyler Howard is behind center. West Virginia 42, Iowa State 28 Chatmon

Season records:
  • Trotter: 61-7
  • Chatmon: 60-8
  • Olson: 58-10

Big 12 playoff tracker: Nov. 26

November, 26, 2014
Nov 26
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The fifth edition of the College Football Playoff rankings were released Tuesday night, and both TCU and Baylor remained on the outside looking in on the top four. The Horned Frogs and Bears stayed in the same positions as last week, at No. 5 and No. 7, respectively.

Here's a deeper look at what those rankings mean for the Big 12's remaining two playoff contenders:

TCU Horned Frogs
Record: 9-1 (6-1 Big 12)
Playoff committee rank: No. 5
Next big obstacle: Thursday at Texas
Reason for optimism: The Horned Frogs stayed where they were despite having the week off. Minnesota also jumped seven spots all the way to No. 18, giving TCU one of the best nonconference wins in the country. The Horned Frogs now have three top-25 wins, which compares favorably against fourth-ranked Mississippi State, which has only one. TCU also kept its distance from Baylor, preventing the Bears' head-to-head advantage from coming into play.
Cause for concern: The Horned Frogs only have one last real chance to impress the selection committee, Thursday night at Texas. Will that be enough to vault them ahead of Mississippi State and stave off Ohio State and Baylor? TCU can't afford another lackluster performance like the one two weeks ago at Kansas.
Whom they'll be rooting for this week: Go, Gophers, go! Minnesota coach Jerry Kill is one of Gary Patterson's best friends off the field, and the Gophers are TCU's best friend on the field. If Minnesota can beat No. 14 Wisconsin this weekend, it will give TCU a victory over the Big Ten West champ. An Ole Miss win over Mississippi State in the Egg Bowl, an Auburn win over Alabama in the Iron Bowl and/or a Florida win over Florida State wouldn't hurt, either.

Baylor Bears
Record: 9-1 (6-1)
Playoff committee rank: No. 7
Next big obstacle: Dec. 6 vs. Kansas State
Reason for optimism: Committee chairman Jeff Long reiterated the difference between No. 4 Mississippi State and No. 7 Baylor was small. The Bears also remain one spot away from the head-to-head advantage with TCU likely kicking in. Baylor also has the chance to land a third top-25 win in a week when No. 12 Kansas State comes to Waco.
Cause for concern: The Bears are still behind Ohio State, even though the Buckeyes struggled at home vs. Indiana. Long curiously also said the committee didn't view Ohio State's early-season defeat to 5-6 Virginia Tech as a bad loss. If that's the case, Baylor might have a tough time jumping the Buckeyes, who still have the Big Ten championship game ahead.
Whom they'll be rooting for this week: Wisconsin to thump Minnesota. That would damage the profile of TCU and Ohio State, the two teams ranked immediately ahead of Baylor. The Bears will also be pulling for Auburn, Oregon State, Florida, Ole Miss, Texas and Michigan. If any of those six could pull an upset, it would push Baylor one step closer to playoff inclusion.

Big 12 morning links

November, 26, 2014
Nov 26
7:00
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Awesome, simply awesome.
  • It's looking more and more like the Big 12 could be on the outside looking in when the College Football Playoff committee releases the final rankings on Dec. 7, writes Berry Tramel of The Oklahoman. I had previously believed Baylor or TCU would be in if they won out and finished 11-1. Not anymore. There's a real chance that both teams finish 11-1 and neither makes the College Football Playoff based off the committee's current rankings. Ohio State is looming and Mississippi State remains in the top four. It looks like the Big 12 will definitely need help if it hopes to cement a spot in the top four.
  • West Virginia's starting quarterback against Iowa State remains unknown, reports Bob Cohn of the Pittsburgh Tribune. Starter Clint Trickett didn't practice on Tuesday but is expected to return to practice on Wednesday after suffering a concussion against Kansas State last weekend. Skyler Howard impressed while replacing Trickett against the Wildcats but Holgorsen maintains Trickett will start if healthy. As good as Howard was against KSU, I agree with Holgorsen's commitment to Trickett. The senior is a big part of WVU's return to a bowl game this season and should be rewarded by remaining the starter (if healthy) despite his recent struggles (5 interceptions during WVU's three-game losing streak).
  • It's been a tough season at Iowa State but Sam B. Richardson could set a school record for touchdown passes in a season in the Cyclones' final two games, writes Tommy Birch of the Des Moines Register. The record is 20 and Todd Bandhauer, the current record holder, didn't even realize he still holds the record. It's shocking to think 20 touchdown passes is a season record for a Big 12 school considering 34 FBS quarterbacks passed for more than 20 touchdowns in 2013. Richardson has 16 through 10 games and would need to average more than two touchdown passes per game in ISU's final two contests to secure the record.
  • Kansas coach Clint Bowen is making a point to educate his players about the Sunflower Showdown rivalry with Kansas State, reports Jeff Deters of the Topeka Capital-Journal. The Jayhawks interim coach has set aside some time this week to make sure his players understand why the rivalry matters in the state of Kansas. I don't know that it will help KU's motivation when they take on K-State, but it couldn't hurt.
  • Texas defensive tackle Malcom Brown was named a finalist for the Outland Trophy Award (nation's top interior lineman) on Tuesday. There's no doubt in my mind Brown should be the clear favorite for the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year. He's been disruptive in the middle of Charlie Strong's defense and is one reason I wouldn't be surprised to see the Longhorns upset TCU. And in case you missed it on the Big 12 blog on Tuesday, Max Olson had a terrific read on why football is not Brown's No. 1 priority.

Big 12 bowl projections: Week 13

November, 25, 2014
Nov 25
8:00
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The fourth College Football Playoff rankings were revealed Tuesday night, and the Big 12 was left outside the top four for the second consecutive week.

TCU remained at No. 5; Baylor stayed at No. 7.

As a result, nothing changed from last week's bowl picture.

Oklahoma State is the only Big 12 team that can still play its way to bowl eligibility. But the Cowboys will have to upset Oklahoma in Bedlam on Dec. 6 to get to six wins.

Goodyear Cotton Bowl: TCU
VIZIO Fiesta Bowl: Baylor
Valero Alamo Bowl: Kansas State
Russell Athletic Bowl: Oklahoma
AdvoCare V100 Texas Bowl: Texas
AutoZone Liberty Bowl: West Virginia
Cactus Bowl: None eligible

Weekend recruiting wrap: Big 12 

November, 25, 2014
Nov 25
10:00
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While Oklahoma picked up a junior college commit, Texas had a commit give his fans reassurance. TCU offered one of the fastest risers in recruiting, and Iowa State hosted several athletes, including one juco player who may now have the Cyclones atop his list of schools.

Here’s an in-depth look on Big 12 recruiting and how the weekend fared:

Big 12 morning links

November, 25, 2014
Nov 25
7:00
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My three fantasy teams all made the playoffs. Tell me all about yours in the comments section.
  • Baylor is heading back to AT&T Stadium for the fifth time in six years this weekend. They've got some pretty good digs in Waco now, but the Bears still appreciate playing on that big stage. Art Briles knows Texas Tech will give his team their best shot, just like everyone else has. I like this Briles-ism: "If you don't take care of this week, next week's not going to exist." Plus, it can't hurt to get a little extra experience playing at the site of this year's College Football Playoff title game, right?
  • Cool to hear Andy Dalton chime in on how much he's enjoyed watching TCU make a run at the College Football Playoff. The Cincinnati Bengals quarterback told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram this season feels a lot like the ones from the Frogs' three-year run that ended with a 2011 Rose Bowl victory. Gary Patterson said the same thing. He believes this team is playing and winning as a group like those teams that combined to go 26-3.
  • Dana Holgorsen is wisely treading lightly when it comes to his quarterback situation this week in preparation for Iowa State. He says he's going to judge the "body of work" of both Clint Trickett and Skyler Howard as he decides who starts for West Virginia this week. That probably bodes well for Trickett, who struggled against Kansas State but has still thrown nearly 400 more passes than Howard this season. If WVU take control against the Cyclones early, perhaps we end up seeing both QBs this weekend.
  • Now is not a good week for Texas Tech to have question marks in its secondary. Per Don Williams of the Lubbock Avalance-Journal, five DBs have gone down in the past two weeks and there's uncertainty about which ones will return in time to face Baylor. At least cornerbacks Tevin Madison and Nigel Bethel II (both true freshmen) are good to go against the nation's No. 4 passing offense. It's too bad linebacker Mike Mitchell isn't available to help this defense, because the Ohio State transfer has been wowing in practice.
  • There seems to be lots of love and respect between rival coaches Bill Snyder and Clint Bowen this week. In fact, Matt Tait of the Lawrence Journal-World reports Snyder talked to Bowen about an opening at Kansas State when he returned to coaching in 2009. Snyder had nothing but praise for the interim coach going into his final audition for the head coaching gig. He's seeing more motivation and enthusiasm out of KU since Bowen took charge. If Bowen does keep the job, it's clear they won't exactly be hated rivals.

Big 12 recruiting scorecard

November, 24, 2014
Nov 24
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Here’s what's been cooking on the recruiting trail in the last week around the Big 12:

BAYLOR
Total commits: 13
ESPN 300 commits: 3
The latest: Baylor had a big weekend, hosting a pair of its 2016 commits in four-star running back Kameron Martin and four-star receiver Tren'Davian Dickson. 2015 ESPN 300 wideout Devontre Stricklin was in McLane Stadium for the Oklahoma State game as well. The Bears also bolstered their trenches for 2015 by snagging a commitment from 6-foot-7, 300-pound City College of San Francisco offensive tackle Dominic Desouza, who had offers from Big 12 foes Oklahoma State, TCU and Kansas.

IOWA STATE
Total commits: 11
ESPN 300 commits: 0
The latest: Copiah-Lincoln (Miss.) Community College defensive tackle Demond Tucker visited Iowa State over the weekend. Tucker holds offers from Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Texas A&M, Arizona State and Big 12 rival Kansas State. He would be a huge pickup for the Cyclones, who badly need to fortify their defensive line.

KANSAS
Total commits: 13
ESPN 300 commits: 0
The latest: The Jayhawks are in a battle with Minnesota for three-star Kansas City, Kansas, inside linebacker Colton Beebe. Two weekends ago, Beebe visited Minnesota, and though he’s visited Kansas unofficially several times, Beebe has indicated he will set an official visit with the Jayhawks after they name a head coach.

KANSAS STATE
Total commits: 13
ESPN 300 commits: 0
The latest: The Wildcats have a big visit coming up this weekend in junior-college wideout DeDe Westbrook, who was at Oklahoma this past weekend and Oklahoma State the weekend before that. With Tyler Lockett and Curry Sexton both set to graduate, Westbrook would fill a big firepower void at receiver for K-State.

OKLAHOMA
Total commits: 15
ESPN 300 commits: 6
The latest: The Sooners got some much needed junior college cornerback help with William Johnson of Rochester (N.Y.) Monroe Community College committing after visiting Norman over the weekend. Oklahoma, however, missed out on one of its top targets, as 4-star defensive end Keisean Lucier-South stayed in state and committed to UCLA on Sunday.

OKLAHOMA STATE
Total commits: 13
ESPN 300 commits: 3
The latest: Oklahoma State had a tough week on the trail, as the Cowboys parted ways from ESPN 300 cornerback Jaylon Lane after he was arrested. Earlier in the week, three-star safety Kenneth McGruder decommitted from the Pokes and reopened his recruitment. Oklahoma State turned McGruder’s spot into a commitment from Kilgore Junior College safety Jordan Burton, who had previously been committed to Memphis.

TCU
Total commits: 17
ESPN 300 commits: 0
The latest: TCU remains in the mix for the top wide receiver in Texas in Cedar Hill’s DaMarkus Lodge. The former Texas A&M commit is also looking at Baylor, Ole Miss, LSU and USC and might not pick a school until signing day. The way the Horned Frogs have been throwing the ball around this season hasn’t hurt their chances with Lodge.

TEXAS
Total commits: 19
ESPN 300 commits: 9
The latest: Cistercian (Irving, Texas) quarterback Matthew Merrick committed to Texas, but will grayshirt and delay his enrollment by a year. Merrick had offers from Colorado State and Nevada. Merrick would give the Longhorns a fourth quarterback for 2016, along with starter Tyrone Swoopes, redshirting freshman Jerrod Heard and incoming freshman Zach Gentry.

TEXAS TECH
Total commits: 14
ESPN 300 commits: 5
The latest: After missing the last month with a broken hand, Texas Tech QB commitment Jarrett Stidham returned with a vengeance Saturday, throwing for 318 yards, rushing for 193 and accounting for nine touchdowns in leading Stephenville to a 69-60 win over Estacado in a playoff game.

WEST VIRGINIA
Total commits: 22
ESPN 300 commits: 3
The latest: Former Iowa State defensive end commit Larry Jefferson could be on the cusp of pledging with the Mountaineers. His Itawamba (Miss.) Community College defensive end teammate Xavier Pegues has already made that switch, and the two have indicated they want to continue playing together.

Big 12 FPI rankings: Week 13

November, 24, 2014
Nov 24
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ESPN's Football Power Index is a measure of team strength that is meant to be the best predictor of performance going forward for the rest of the season. Every week, ESPN will be updating its FPI to compile a ranking based on 10,000 simulations of the rest of the season using results to date and the remaining schedule.

This past weekend brought little change to the Big 12 FPI data.

After beating Oklahoma State 49-28, Baylor remained at No. 4. The Bears now have a 70.6 percent chance to win out, and a 72.7 chance to be the Big 12's representative champion. FPI also gives Baylor a 94 percent chance to beat Texas Tech in Arlington, Texas, on Saturday.

TCU's chance of winning out, meanwhile, stands at 64.2 percent, but FPI gives Texas a 33 percent chance of upsetting the Horned Frogs on Thanksgiving night. The Horned Frogs stayed at No. 11 in FPI rankings after having the weekend off.

Despite beating West Virginia on the road last week, Kansas State remained 18th in FPI. The Wildcats' chances of knocking off Baylor in the season finale, however, bumped up slightly to 25 percent.

Oklahoma State was better offensively at Baylor with freshman QB Mason Rudolph than it had been the previous month, making the Cowboys the Big 12's biggest riser in this week's FPI. Still, the metric only gives the Cowboys an 8.3 percent chance of upsetting Oklahoma on Dec. 6.

Iowa State tied Kansas for the Big 12's biggest FPI drop of the week. The Cyclones fell three spots after losing at home to Texas Tech. FPI only gives Iowa State an 18.7 percent chance to get off its Big 12 winless schneid this Saturday at home against West Virginia.

Big 12 weekend rewind: Week 13

November, 24, 2014
Nov 24
10:00
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Taking stock of Week 13 in the Big 12:

Team of the week: K-State kept its Big 12 title hopes alive by winning at West Virginia on Thursday, 26-20. The Wildcats hardly played a perfect game. They frustrated Bill Snyder by committing a season-high 102 penalty yards. They also rushed for just a single yard on 29 carries offensively. But the defense harassed the Mountaineers into four turnovers, while K-State quarterback Jake Waters was on point with a career-high 400 yards passing. As a result, the Wildcats left Morgantown two wins away from earning at least a share of the Big 12 title and playing itself into a New Year's Six bowl.

Disappointment of the week: Not since Gene Chizik's final season in Ames in 2008 has Iowa State gone winless in Big 12 play. But after falling 34-31 at home to Texas Tech, Iowa State is on the cusp of finishing without a victory in the conference for the first time in the Paul Rhoads era. The Cyclones had the lead in the fourth quarter, and a chance to at least send the game to overtime late. But when the game was on the line, Iowa State couldn't come up with the critical play. The Cyclones will have two more chances to avoid the ignominy of going winless. But after losing to Kansas and Texas Tech the last two weeks, it's difficult to envision that happening.

Big (offensive) man on campus: Samaje Perine made this the easiest decision of the year. The Oklahoma true freshman running back ran for an FBS record 427 rushing yards and five touchdowns in the Sooners' 44-7 win over Kansas. Just a week ago, Wisconsin's Melvin Gordon broke the FBS single-game mark held previously since 1999 by TCU's LaDainian Tomlinson. But Gordon's record lasted a mere seven days. Perine took his first carry 49 yards for a touchdown, and finished with 222 yards in the first half to draw within striking distance of the record. Then, Perine's opening touch of the third quarter went 66 yards for another score. He went on to break the record early in the fourth quarter. “He was sensational," Bob Stoops said. Sensational, indeed.

Big (defensive) man on campus: Linebacker Pete Robertson led the Texas Tech defensive effort at Ames with nine tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss, a sack and a quarterback hurry. Robertson delivered a couple of key tackles in the fourth quarter, which forced the Cyclones into a 42-yard field goal attempt they would miss. That allowed Tech to retake the lead on the ensuing drive with a game-winning touchdown.With 10 sacks on the season, Robertson has been one of the bright spots for the Tech defense.

Special-teams player of the week: Tyler Lockett, who else? Sure, his 43-yard punt return touchdown came via a West Virginia coverage bust that left a hole the size of the Monongahela River. But Lockett, who leads the country in punt returns, added 10 receptions and 196 yards receiving. K-State's all-time leading receiver is also having an All-American-caliber season as a specialist.

Play of the week: Perine made history early in the fourth quarter, when he barreled through a trio of Kansas defenders, then raced 42 yards to give him an FBS record 427 rushing yards in the game. After the play, Perine was subbed out to the rain-soaked Owen Field crowd chanting his name.

Stat of the week: According to ESPN Stats & Information, Perine had eight rushes of 20 yards or more against the Jayhawks, the most in a game by any player the last 10 seasons, and more than 19 FBS teams had entering the weekend.

Quote of the week: "It hurts, man. But records are meant to be broken. Congratulations to that guy." – Wisconsin running back Melvin Gordon, on Perine breaking his single-game FBS rushing record after just seven days. LaDainian Tomlinson's rushing record, meanwhile, lasted for 5,466 days, before Gordon broke it last week.

Best of the visits: Big 12

November, 23, 2014
Nov 23
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Three Big 12 games took place Saturday, but there was one that caught extra national attention. Oklahoma defeated Kansas 44-7, and Sooners freshman Samaje Perine set the FBS single-game rushing record with a 427-yard performance.

It was a chance for recruits to see how good the Oklahoma offense can be when everything is clicking on all cylinders. One player who was impressed was junior college receiver Dede Westbrook, who was in Norman on an official visit. Westbrook enjoyed his third of five scheduled official visits.


Westbrook had a chance to spend time not only with coach Bob Stoops but also a future teammate in wide receiver Sterling Shepard.


Any time a running back has a rushing game like the one Perine had, the offensive line deserves recognition. Perine’s performance allowed ESPN Junior 300 OT Jean Delance to see how good the Oklahoma offensive line can be. Delance was in attendance on an unofficial visit.


One player very impressed with what he saw was 2017 ATH Quindon Lewis. Still relatively early in his recruiting process, Lewis -- at 6-foot-2 and 165 pounds -- can play either cornerback or wide receiver. While he doesn’t have an Oklahoma offer, Lewis is receiving interest from the Sooners -- and a few other schools.


While Perine was setting records in Norman, Baylor was trying to stay relevant in the College Football Playoffs race -- and also stay dry. Storms swept through the Waco area, but Baylor managed to take home a 49-28 win against Oklahoma State and earn its 15th consecutive home victory.

Texas high school playoff games on Saturday prevented some athletes from attending, and the weather may have scared off others. However, two ESPN Junior 300 athletes were on hand in RB Kameron Martin and WR Tren’Davian Dickson.


In Ames, Iowa State hosted several athletes in an effort to improve on its commitment list, which currently is at 11. The Cyclones fell 34-31 to Texas Tech, but the recruits in attendance enjoyed their stays.

A few junior college prospects were in Ames, and juco DT Demond Tucker was one of the primary targets. The Cylones are looking to add to a 2015 class that doesn’t have a defensive tackle commit as of yet.


Iowa State loves to find hidden gems, and one player who could be a diamond in the rough is 2016 prospect Jeff Gurley. A defensive end who also can play tight end, Gurley had a chance to take in Saturday’s atmosphere.


Look for next week’s games in the Big 12 to have a big-named recruit or two watching. Texas will host TCU on Thanksgiving in a key matchup that should have several unofficial visitors in attendance. Also, Baylor will take on Texas Tech at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Kansas State hosts Kansas in a battle of the Sunflower State and West Virginia collides with Iowa State in Ames.

Playoff picture: Week 14

November, 23, 2014
Nov 23
10:40
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No. 1 Alabama, No. 2 Oregon and No. 3 Florida State are the closest things to locks for the inaugural College Football Playoff. Should all three of those teams win out -- which, of course, is no guarantee -- they should finish the season in the top four of the selection committee’s rankings.

It’s that coveted fourth spot that remains the greatest debate.

“It's also fair to say the differences between teams four through seven -- Mississippi State, TCU, Ohio State and Baylor -- are narrow, very narrow,” committee chair Jeff Long said Tuesday. “There are more games to play and these teams are knocking on the door, and they're not the only ones.”

Here’s a closer look at those teams still “knocking on the door” and how Week 13 affected their playoff chances:

Mississippi State

Pros: Although many other top teams struggled against lesser competition, the Bulldogs took care of business in a 51-0 dismantling of Vanderbilt. Mississippi State needed to win with style, and the game was never in doubt. “If you don't think we controlled that game,” quarterback Dak Prescott told The Associated Press, “then I don't know what you're looking for."

Cons: Ole Miss self-destructed in a 30-0 loss to Arkansas, the second straight opponent the Razorbacks have shut out. That doesn't bode well for Mississippi State, which is teetering on the edge of the bracket and has just one win over teams currently ranked in the selection committee’s top 25 (Auburn). The Bulldogs finish the season on the road against Ole Miss in the Egg Bowl and their résumé could have used another boost, but the Rebels should drop out of the top 10 after suffering a third loss.

TCU

Pros: The Horned Frogs were off to prepare for Thursday night’s Thanksgiving game at Texas, but they were still helped by K-State’s Thursday night win in Morgantown and Minnesota’s 28-24 win over Nebraska. For the fourth straight week, TCU was ranked ahead of Baylor, and Long said it was because “strength of schedule is an important factor that came into play, and [Baylor's] body of work is not quite comparable in the view of the committee.” That Minnesota win has a lot to do with it, and it keeps looking better. Until Baylor adds a convincing K-State win to its résumé, there’s no reason to think the committee will reward Baylor's head-to-head win over TCU.

Cons: Ohio State won again. The Buckeyes were pushed by an unheralded Indiana team, but they clinched the Big Ten’s East Division and earned a spot in the conference title game. Ohio State is one team both Baylor and TCU need to be worried about, as the Buckeyes jumped Baylor in the committee’s rankings last week.

Baylor

Pros: The Bears beat Oklahoma State and have now won three straight since their Oct. 18 loss at West Virginia, which is one result the committee has held against Baylor in its comparison to TCU. Baylor also benefited from K-State’s Thursday night win in Morgantown. The Bears need to punctuate their playoff résumé with a season-ending win against a highly ranked K-State team at home Dec. 6. If Baylor and TCU both win out, the Bears should wind up on top.

Cons: Ohio State, which jumped Baylor in the rankings last week, won again and clinched the Big Ten’s East Division in the process. Baylor also didn’t beat Oklahoma State as convincingly as TCU did, but that's splitting hairs: Baylor won 49-28, while TCU beat the Cowboys 42-9. The committee will compare results against common opponents. Baylor's biggest problems are its nonconference schedule and the loss at West Virginia.

Ohio State

Pros: The Buckeyes beat Indiana to clinch the Big Ten’s East Division, and Wisconsin also won at Iowa, putting the Badgers one victory from clinching the West Division. Ohio State should be able to avoid an upset against a middling Michigan team this coming week. There’s certainly no margin for error after the Week 2 home loss to Virginia Tech, but if Ohio State can pull off an impressive win against a ranked Wisconsin team to win the Big Ten title, that loss to the Hokies just might be forgiven.

Cons: It was an underwhelming first three quarters against the Hoosiers for the Buckeyes, who had three turnovers and continue to struggle with ball security. Every other bubble team the Buckeyes are up against found a way to win, too.

UCLA

Pros: After an impressive 38-20 win against USC, the No. 9-ranked Bruins are now in the driver’s seat to win the Pac-12 South Division. UCLA can clinch the division with a win against Stanford on Friday. If the Bruins lose to Stanford, Friday’s Arizona/Arizona State winner would win the division. UCLA remains the Pac-12’s best hope at getting a two-loss conference champ in the playoff. If the Bruins can beat Oregon in the conference title game, they should have at least three wins over teams still ranked in the committee’s top 25.

Cons: Those two losses. The Oct. 4 home loss to Utah took another hit this weekend when Arizona trounced the Utes 42-10, dropping Utah to four losses and out of the division race. Utah will also likely drop out of the committee’s top 25.

Group of 5

Pros: Marshall, Memphis, Northern Illinois, Colorado State and Boise State all continued to win. Undefeated Marshall didn’t win any style points against UAB, but the Thundering Herd remain the only undefeated Group of 5 team.

Cons: The selection committee hasn’t ranked a Group of 5 team for three weeks, citing strength of schedule as the main reason. There’s nothing left on Marshall’s -- or any other Group of 5 front-runner’s -- schedule likely to change that reasoning.

“Again, Marshall's body of work, their strength of schedule, what they've done to this point in time, the committee does not feel that they warrant being ranked in the top 25,” Long said last week. “Again, they're very close. We've talked a lot about Marshall, we've talked about Boise State, Colorado State, Memphis, Northern Illinois -- all Group of 5 teams that are good teams and that we've certainly discussed.”

Big 12 helmet stickers: Week 13

November, 23, 2014
Nov 23
8:00
AM CT
It was a good weekend to be a running back, and a trio of signal-callers staked their claim for the future. Here are the Big 12's top performers for Week 13:

Oklahoma RB Samaje Perine: The numbers say plenty: 34 carries, 427 yards, five touchdowns, 12.6 yards per carry. But it was a record-setting day for the true freshman, who broke Melvin Gordon’s week-long record for single-game rushing yardage in the FBS in OU's 44-7 win over Kansas. Perine also became the first player in FBS history to rush for at least 200 yards in both halves of a single game, according to ESPN Stats & Information. Vision, physicality, durability, speed ... Perine has it all.

Oklahoma blockers: Sure, the Sooners' offensive line deserves the bulk of the credit as Perine repeatedly cruised untouched into the Jayhawks' secondary. But the Sooners' fullbacks, tight ends and receivers deserve their share of the accolades as well because Perine doesn’t have eight carries of 20 yards or more without downfield blocking by OU’s skill players. OU’s starting line of Daryl Williams, Ty Darlington, Adam Shead, Nila Kasitati, Tyrus Thompson built the foundation and fullbacks Aaron Ripkowski and Dimitri Flowers built upon that foundation.

Texas Tech QB Patrick Mahomes: The Red Raiders might have something in the true freshman quarterback who spurned professional baseball to play in Lubbock. Making his third collegiate start, Mahomes was 23-of-35 for 325 yards and four touchdowns with one interception in Tech’s 34-31 win over Iowa State. He was clutch in the fourth quarter, leading the Red Raiders on a touchdown drive to take the lead then converting a key third down with a 9-yard run to seal the win on the next drive.

Iowa State RB Aaron Wimberly: The Cyclones running back averaged 5.4 yards per carry in the loss. He had 19 carries for 102 yards and two touchdowns. He also added three receptions for 22 yards. Wimberly was a consistent threat for ISU’s offense, helping the Cyclones finish with 569 total yards.

Texas Tech RB DeAndre Washington: A dynamic running threat for Tech all season long, Washington had 20 carries for 186 yards (9.3 yards per carry) and one touchdown. He added two receptions for 51 yards and another score. He becomes the first Red Raider to rush for 1,000 yards since 1998 (Ricky Williams) and the seventh in school history.

Baylor RBs Shock Linwood and Devin Chafin: The Bears' pair of running backs combined for 219 rushing yards in Baylor's 49-28 win over Oklahoma State. Linwood had 21 carries for 113 yards and one touchdown. Chafin had 21 carries for 106 yards and three touchdowns. On a rainy night at McLane Stadium, Art Briles' squad turned to the running game and the Bears' running back duo didn’t disappoint.

Oklahoma State QB Mason Rudolph: The Cowboys may have found themselves an answer at quarterback for the final game against Oklahoma and beyond. The true freshman finished 13-of-25 for 281 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions in his first collegiate game. OSU’s 28 points was its most since a 37-20 win over Iowa State on Oct. 4.

Kansas State WR Tyler Lockett: The Wildcats' dynamic playmaker had 321 all-purpose yards in K-State's 26-20 win over West Virginia on Thursday night. Lockett had 10 receptions for 196 yards and added a 43-yard punt return for a touchdown. Week in and week out, Lockett makes a strong case to be known as the Big 12's toughest player to stop.

West Virginia QB Skyler Howard: The junior college transfer came off the bench to pass for 198 yards and two touchdowns. He completed 15 of 23 passes to spark a late rally by the Mountaineers and could get the opportunity to see more time behind center in WVU's final regular-season game against Iowa State next Saturday.

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