Baylor offense has Charlie Strong's respect

September, 29, 2014
Sep 29
6:15
PM CT
AUSTIN, Texas -- Charlie Strong knew his Texas team would be an underdog against No. 7 Baylor. He hadn't heard how badly Vegas is doubting his team this week.

"They're really good," Strong said of Baylor on Monday. "I don't know, what's the spread? How big is it?"

A couple touchdowns, he was told. In fact, the line has already moved from 13.5 to 16.

Strong looked down and raised his eyebrows. Then he had to grin and laugh.

"Wow, there's something," he said. "They deserve every bit of it!"

[+] EnlargeBryce Petty
AP Photo/Bill WippertBryce Petty and the unbeaten Baylor Bears will play at Texas in a marquee Week 6 matchup.
If Baylor was looking for more good bulletin-board material, Strong did indeed disappoint on Monday. The Longhorns' first-year coach had nothing but praise for Baylor's No. 1-ranked offense during his weekly news conference. If anything, he offered admiration as a veteran defensive guru for what this prolific offense has put on tape.

"It's almost like watching a video game," Strong said.

Strong isn't one to cling to the underdog mentality -- he was a double-digit dog just four times as head coach at Louisville -- but he'll take anything he can get this week as he prepares his defense for the Bears' onslaught.

"We're going to have to play really well," he said. "We will have to play really well to be in the ballgame."

He's seen the numbers -- Baylor's nation-leading 56.8 points and 641 yards per game -- and he's seen the film. Texas has a top-20 defense thus far, both in scoring and yardage, but Strong admitted coming up with ways to slow down this particular offense is "going to keep us up at night." Especially when it comes to disrupting Bryce Petty.

"He's the leader of that team, he releases the ball and hasn't taken any sacks," Strong said. "He's just so heady and he knows exactly where to put it."

Strong said he's reminded of former Heisman Trophy winner Danny Weurffel when he watches Petty run the show, citing "just how smart he is and where he places the ball. He doesn't make mistakes with the football."

As for the loaded group of Baylor receivers, what impresses Strong isn't just their explosiveness and big-play capability. He's noticed strategies on tape that he'd never seen before.

"It's amazing to watch them," Strong said. "You can watch one side (of the field) and the receivers do nothing, they don't run off the ball and they stop. They'll work you to the front side. It's almost like, ‘Stop us. The ball is coming over here and we're just seeing if you're good enough to go cover us and stop us.'"

Though Strong has never faced Art Briles in his career, he's quick to recognize the system's intent: Exploit mismatches, cause confusion, blend inside power and outside speed and do it all as fast as possible.

And few defenses handled that attack in 2013 as well as Texas did, at least in the first half.

Baylor finished with 3 points through two quarters despite 232 total yards. The Longhorns forced three punts. The Bears had two missed field goals. They had a tied ballgame at the half. But Texas couldn't finish, and didn't have the firepower on offense to keep up despite holding Baylor to 30 points that night.

Strong doesn't know how many points it'll take to beat Baylor this time. He just knows his offense, averaging 21.3 points per game, isn't ready for a high-scoring affair.

"We can't get into a track meet, and we know that as a staff," Strong said. "There's no way. We can't generate the points to get into a track meet."

Big 12 recruiting scoreboard

September, 29, 2014
Sep 29
1:30
PM CT
Below is our weekly update on the Big 12 recruiting trail:

BAYLOR

Total commits: 12
ESPN 300 commits: 3
The latest: The Bears didn't land a recruit this past week, but plenty of Lone Star State prospects will be paying attention to Baylor’s trip to Austin. The Bears have been winning recruiting battles for the state top’s talent, and they have a chance to make another statement on the field.

IOWA STATE

Total commits: 11
ESPN 300 commits: 0
The latest: The Cyclones landed a commitment for the first time in more than a month in Kissimmee, Florida, cornerback Stephon Brown, who had offers from NC State, Hawaii, Marshall, South Florida and Southern Miss.

KANSAS

Total commits: 13
ESPN 300 commits: 0
The latest: The first order of business for interim coach Clint Bowen was calling all of Kansas’ commitments Sunday and telling them they are still wanted in Lawrence. Despite his troubles on the field, Charlie Weis had put together another decent recruiting class that Bowen needs to hold together.

KANSAS STATE

Total commits: 10
ESPN 300 commits: 0
The latest: The Wildcats have been quiet on the trail lately, after landing seven commitments from June to August. More will be on the way once Bill Snyder figures out which junior-college players he wants to target in this class.

OKLAHOMA

Total commits: 14
ESPN 300 commits: 6
The latest: The Sooners landed their third commitment in the month of September in McAlester, Oklahoma, tight end Dalton Wood, who jones Midwest City safety Will Sunderland and Jenks defensive tackle Marquise Overton as Oklahoma's three in-state commitments.

OKLAHOMA STATE

Total commits: 13
ESPN 300 commits: 4
The latest: The Pokes pulled off one of the better recruiting steals of the year last week in convincing ESPN 300 safety Kevin Henry to flip from LSU to OSU. Henry had been committed to the Tigers, where he projected as a safety/linebacker since January but started reconsidering his other options in July. Henry joins WR Jalen McCleskey as the second Louisiana recruit in OSU's class.

TCU

Total commits: 16
ESPN 300 commits: 0
The latest: No new pledges for the Horned Frogs this week, but they get a chance to impress visitors this Saturday when Oklahoma comes to Fort Worth. One TCU commit worth keeping an eye on is WR J.F. Thomas, the Frogs' highest-rated pledge. He received an offer from Texas recently, and two of his Dallas South Oak Cliff teammates -- Jamile Johnson and Jordan Stevenson -- are already committed to UT.

TEXAS

Total commits: 17
ESPN 300 commits: 8
The latest: Texas picked up a pledge from Austin Westlake LB Breckyn Hager, a three-star recruit who was committed to Baylor. The previous staff passed on Baylor's Bryce Hager in 2010, even though he's the son of Texas all-time leading tackler Britt Hager. Stevenson, who committed nearly a year ago, took an official visit to Wisconsin this weekend but remains solid with Texas.

TEXAS TECH

Total commits: 10
ESPN 300 commits: 3
The latest: The Red Raiders' staff made an intriguing find in East Texas last week. Longview's Broderick Washington committed soon after he received his Texas Tech offer. He's playing offensive tackle right now for Longview, but Tech loves his toughness and mean style of play and plans to develop him as a nose guard at the next level.

WEST VIRGINIA

Total commits: 19
ESPN 300 commits: 3
The latest: West Virginia locked up a huge commitment last Monday when ESPN 300 CB Tyrek Cole flipped from Florida State. You don't see that too often. WVU defensive line coach Damon Cogdell coached Cole at Miramar High School in Florida last year. The Mountaineers also received a commitment from three-star ILB David Long on Sunday. This 2015 class is in terrific shape so far.

Aggies' run D shows signs of progress

September, 29, 2014
Sep 29
8:00
AM CT
ARLINGTON, Texas — It was far from perfect, but Texas A&M’s run defense passed its first real test of the season on Saturday.

Arkansas, the SEC’s No. 1 rushing team, was every bit the challenge the Aggies – an improved bunch but still working to shake the reputation as the SEC’s worst rush defense last year – expected and then some. But when it was all said and done, it was the Aggies’ front that made the biggest play of the game, a fourth-and-1 stuff of running back Alex Collins to secure a 35-28 overtime victory, a moment that served as a microcosm of the progress the Aggies’ defense is experiencing.

[+] EnlargeJulien Obioha
Matthew Emmons/USA TODAY SportsGetting critical stops against Arkansas was a reason to celebrate for Julien Obioha, No. 95, and Texas A&M.
Texas A&M’s defense did a little growing up Saturday.

“There's a lot of things from this game that we can learn from,” coach Kevin Sumlin said Saturday. “But there's also … some confidence that we can draw from it, because that team's good at what they do running the football.”

The raw numbers read as such: Arkansas finished with 285 rushing yards on 47 carries, eye-popping by any measure. But take away 51 yards from that total, because those belong to the special teams after the Razorbacks converted an incredible fake punt that resulted in a touchdown run by Sam Irwin-Hill.

So that leaves the Aggies’ defense allowing 234 rushing yards on 46 carries, an average of 5.08 yards per carry. Ideal? Not at all. But it’s an improvement from last season’s mark (5.38 yards per carry) and significantly better than what the Aggies allowed against Arkansas last season (6.7 yards per carry, though the Hogs ran just 30 times in last year’s meeting).

This year’s Arkansas team is better and more experienced. And in the first half, things didn’t look terribly different for the Aggies, who yielded 143 non-fake punt rushing yards on 21 totes, an average of 6.8 yards per carry. That total included a 50-yard touchdown run by Collins.

“I thought [Arkansas offensive coordinator] Jim Chaney had an excellent plan,” Sumlin said. “They formationed and got us in some different situations to create some real problems, some gaps. And then they went unbalanced a lot.

“It's a nightmare for what they do. They don't just line up and run over you. They formation you, unbalance, tight ends, motion. And all that time, when you're doing that, you know, you have to fit the gaps properly. And all it takes is one guy to be out of one gap, and -- those backs are good.”

As the game progressed, so did the Aggies’ run defense. It allowed only 30 yards on nine carries in the third quarter and in the fourth quarter and overtime it kept the Razorbacks to 71 yards on 16 carries, a much more reasonable 4.43 average. Of those 71 yards, 46 came on a three-play sequence on an Arkansas drive midway through the fourth. But the Aggies cleaned things up after that.

They began to react better to everything the Razorbacks threw at them.

“It was by eye control,” junior defensive end Julien Obioha said. “Coach talks about eye control. Keep your eye on the key. There are a couple times when you saw in the big plays where nobody was covering a guy. Somebody took their eyes off their key. Once we fixed that problem, everybody was on the same page. Everybody was doing their job.”

The final possession of the game was a snapshot of that. A year ago, when the Aggies' defenders were less experienced, it would be hard to believe that they could turn a team over on downs in a critical situation with as talented a backfield as the Hogs have with Collins and Jonathan Williams and as big an offensive line as they have.

But on its final possession, Arkansas ran the ball three times: a gain of 2 for Williams, then a loss of 1 for him before the final play, when Obioha met Collins and stopped him for no gain to secure victory. That stop was aided by the entire line holding up at the point of attack when the ball was snapped, a moment that surely made defensive coordinator Mark Snyder and defensive line coach Terry Price proud.

“The running back bounced to my side,” Obioha said. “I did what my coaches taught me to do. I cross-face and made a play. It was a play that ended the game and gave us a W. It was just a great play.”

It wasn’t their first taste of success this year -- the Aggies held South Carolina to only 67 yards on 22 carries on Aug. 28. But the Aggies raced out to a lead and made the Gamecocks play catch up, plus star running back Mike Davis wasn’t at full strength.

Arkansas wasn’t about to abandon the run and provided two healthy, gifted backs and a large offensive line to challenge Texas A&M up front in a way that hadn’t been this year. The Aggies showed they still have plenty of room for improvement, but their timely play Saturday give them reason for optimism as the SEC schedule stiffens.

“You saw what we can do out there,” Obioha said. “We could stop one of the best rushing attacks in the country when we're all on the same page.”

Big 12 morning links

September, 29, 2014
Sep 29
8:00
AM CT
Jerry Jones apparently has plans of taking over the world.
  • After winning just one Big 12 game as coach of the Jayhawks, Charlie Weis was fired over the weekend on the heels of a 23-0 loss to Texas. Kansas athletic director Sheahon Zenger told the Lawrence Journal-World's Matt Tait that the "program had lost support at all levels." Though it was a tad surprising that Zenger pulled the trigger after just one Big 12 game, you can hardly blame him. Kansas had showed no signs of improvement this season, scoring a combined three points in losses to Duke and Texas. Attendance was plummeting again this season, even after an 8 percent drop the year before. Under Weis, there was just no excitement surrounding Kansas football whatsoever.
  • After two disastrous hires, the pressure is on Zenger and the Jayhawks to get this next hire right. Zenger, remember, fired Turner Gill after just two seasons; Weis, the man Zenger hired to clean up Gill's mess, lasted 33 months. CBSSports.com's Dennis Dodds throws out some possible candidates that Zenger might look at, including Oklahoma offensive coordinator Josh Heupel. The Jayhawks had success previously hiring an Oklahoma offensive coordinator, as Mark Mangino took Kansas to the 2007 Orange Bowl. The Lawrence Journal-World's Tom Keegan, meanwhile, writes that interim coach and Kansas alum Clint Bowen brings some much-needed passion to the program. The Jayhawks are in some definite need of that.
  • Embattled NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and NFL executive vice president Troy Vincent interestingly met with Texas coach Charlie Strong on Sunday to discuss the coach’s five core values and his approach to building the Longhorns. Vincent was very complimentary of Strong's disciplinary stances following their meeting, telling Yahoo Sports' Eric Adelson that "this is a model that should be emulated across the country in both amateur and professional football." Vincent gave Strong and his staff plenty of ammo to use when meeting with parents on the recruiting trail. If opposing coaches try to negatively recruit against Texas because of its suspensions and dismissals, the Longhorns will be able to counter with the ultimate trump card, as defensive coordinator Vance Bedford points out.
  • There were some actual games over the weekend, too, and Baylor got a huge boost from the returns of wideouts Antwan Goodley and Corey Coleman from injuries, as the Waco Tribune-Herald's John Werner details. Back from a hamstring injury he suffered in preseason camp, Coleman caught a career-high 12 passes for 154 yards and a touchdown in the 49-28 win at Iowa State. Goodley returned from a quadriceps injury suffered in the early minutes of the season opener against SMU to catch six passes for 114 yards. Clay Fuller also came back from a preseason collarbone injury and made two fourth-quarter catches. Levi Norwood could be back as soon as this weekend from a fractured wrist. After an injury plagued non-conference, the Baylor offense is operating at full strength again. Just in time for Texas, too.
  • The next two weeks will provide an opportunity for Oklahoma State to grow, writes The Oklahoman's John Helsley. The Cowboys get Iowa State at home this weekend, then travel to Kansas. In other words, Oklahoma State has a great chance to get off to a 5-1 start to the season after dispatching of Texas Tech last week. With so much inexperience coming into the season, coach Mike Gundy has to be pleased with the way the 2014 season has begun. At one point, Oklahoma State had five true freshmen on the field at once defensively in the Tech game. Those young players have a chance to develop even more over the next two weeks before the Cowboys hit the heart of their Big 12 schedule with an Oct. 18 road trip to TCU.

SEC morning links

September, 29, 2014
Sep 29
8:00
AM CT
1. Fresh off its win over Memphis on Saturday, Ole Miss was already taking shots at Alabama. Safety Cody Prewitt said he doesn’t believe the Crimson Tide are as good as they have been in recent years. It might be a little early to say that; after all, just last year, Prewitt’s Rebels were shut out in Tuscaloosa, 25-0. A lot has changed since that game, though. The Ole Miss defense, which has allowed just two touchdowns through the first four games, is much improved, and quarterback Bo Wallace is a year older. At Alabama, the offense looks more balanced under new coordinator Lane Kiffin, and they’re even using their own version of the no-huddle offense. It’s one of many intriguing matchups in the SEC this weekend.

[+] EnlargeBrandon Harris
AP Photo/Gerald HerbertWill LSU turn to Brandon Harris in hostile territory at Auburn?
2. Speaking of intriguing matchups, how about LSU traveling to Auburn on Saturday? Les Miles' team has won six of the last seven against Auburn, but his Tigers opened up as 7.5-point underdogs on the road. A big reason for that is the uncertainty at quarterback. Miles has yet to name a starter, but after Saturday’s victory over New Mexico State, it was pretty clear who played better. The question will be whether Miles wants to give freshman Brandon Harris his first start on the road, in a hostile environment. The Auburn defense isn’t worried as much about the opposing quarterback; it’s worried about getting healthy after three starters were banged up in a 45-17 victory over Louisiana Tech on Saturday.

3. What happened to South Carolina on Saturday? It looked like the Gamecocks were well on their way to beating Missouri and grabbing hold of the SEC East. Then, all of a sudden, it all slipped away. A day later, Steve Spurrier saw his team’s streak of 69 consecutive weeks in the AP Top 25 come to an end. The good news is that despite the loss to Missouri and despite dropping out of the polls, South Carolina is still not out of the SEC race. The bad news is that they have to travel to Lexington this weekend to face much-improved Kentucky team, and the local beat writers are already saying that Spurrier’s team looks beatable again this week. We’ll know a lot more about both teams following Saturday’s game.

Around the SEC
Tweet of the Weekend

Big 12 bowl projections: Week 5

September, 28, 2014
Sep 28
8:00
PM CT
Baylor, Texas and Oklahoma State got their Big 12 Conference schedules off to a good start while TCU and Kansas State cruised to easy wins.

This week provides TCU and Texas the opportunity to stake their claim in the conference race with games against Big 12 favorites OU and Baylor. If the Horned Frogs knock off the Sooners or the Longhorns shock the Bears, either team would skyrocket up our projections.

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

SEC Power Rankings: Week 5

September, 28, 2014
Sep 28
2:00
PM CT
There's a new No. 1 this week following Texas A&M's struggles to get by a rapidly improving Arkansas team. But considering Auburn took down those same Razorbacks 45-21 earlier this season, the Aggies' overtime victory wasn't enough to keep them on top. Beyond that, South Carolina keeps sliding, while the conference gets ready for a trio of huge games Saturday in Ole Miss-Alabama, Mississippi State-Texas A&M and Auburn-LSU.

Edward Aschoff, Jeff Barlis, David Ching, Sam Khan Jr., Chris Low, Greg Ostendorf and Alex Scarborough contributed to these rankings.

Big 12 Power Rankings: Week 5

September, 28, 2014
Sep 28
2:00
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Big 12 helmet stickers: Week 5

September, 28, 2014
Sep 28
8:00
AM CT
Below is a look at the best performances from the Big 12 in Week 5:

DE James McFarland, TCU: McFarland led the nine-sack TCU barrage against SMU with three himself, as the Horned Frogs rolled 56-0. It was a career-high for McFarland, and the most sacks for TCU in a game since 2002. McFarland also had two forced fumbles, and his pass breakup on a fourth-and-1 at the TCU 1-yard line in the second quarter helped preserve the 11th shutout of the Gary Patterson era.

WR Corey Coleman, Baylor: Coleman had a monster outing in his first appearance of the season, hauling in 12 passes for 154 yards and a touchdown in the Bears 49-28 win at Iowa State. Coleman had missed the first three games of the season with a hamstring injury. He showed no signs of being slowed down in Ames.

CB Duke Thomas, Texas: After getting burned for the game-deciding touchdown against UCLA, Thomas bounced back with a monster performance in a 23-0 win over Kansas. Thomas grabbed two of Texas’ four interception, and could have had a third had it not been for penalty. Thomas also broke up a fade attempt on fourth-and-goal in the third quarter. The Jayhawks never came close to scoring a touchdown again.

LB Ben Heeney, Kansas: Don't blame Heeney or the Kansas defense for the Jayhawks' loss to Texas. Heeney had 10 tackles, two tackles for loss, a sack and a fumble recovery at the Kansas 2-yard line that thwarted a Texas scoring opportunity. It was actually the All-Big 12 performer's first career fumble recovery. Behind Heeney, the Jayhawks also limited Texas to just 111 yards rushing.

RB Charles Jones, Kansas State: Jones scored three of the Wildcats’ first five touchdowns, as K-State demolished UTEP, 58-28. Jones finished with 76 yards on just 12 carries, as K-State held a 45-point lead over the Miners heading into the fourth quarter.

WR Tyler Lockett, Kansas State: In another tantalizing performance, Lockett put up 143 punt return yards, the second-most in school history and 29 yards short of tying the school record of 172 set by David Allen in 1998. Lockett also hauled in four passes for 84 yards.

WR James Washington, Oklahoma State: The Cowboys’ true freshman wideout torched Texas Tech in Oklahoma State’s 45-35 win Thursday. Washington reeled in a 33-yard touchdown in the first quarter, then a 39-yard score in the second. Three of Washington’s five catches this season have resulted in touchdowns.

What we learned in the Big 12: Week 5

September, 28, 2014
Sep 28
1:27
AM CT
Here’s what we learned about the Big 12 in Week 5:

[+] EnlargeAntwan Goodley
David Purdy/Getty ImagesAntwan Goodley made a triumphant return for Baylor after missing the previous two games due to injury.
1. Petty's toys are back in business: No video-game-crazy numbers for Baylor's offense in a 49-28 victory at Iowa State, just the usual display that makes it tough for Big 12 defensive coordinators to sleep at night. Bryce Petty sure had some catching up to do with his favorite injured wideouts, and Corey Coleman (12 catches, 154 yards, 1 TD) and Antwan Goodley (6 catches, 114 yards) both made it count. The Bears weren't up to their optimal speed -- there were five three-and-outs, a Petty interception and a failed fourth-down conversion -- but Shock Linwood (three TDs) makes them so difficult to stop when they hit the red zone, and the starters got to sit out the final quarter. Business as usual for Baylor.

2. Pokes can beat you deep: Oklahoma State won the Big 12's first primetime fight because it wasn't afraid to take big shots. Daxx Garman connected on eight passes of 20-plus yards, and even better, they were hauled in by six different receivers over the course of the 45-35 victory on Thursday. It's time to stop underestimating Marcell Ateman and James Washington after the underclassmen combined for 217 yards and two TDs, and OSU put something plenty scary on tape when Tyreek Hill beat his defender by a good 7 yards for a 50-yard scoring bomb. It wasn't easy, and it sure wasn't pretty -- 287 combined penalty yards on 26 flags -- but OSU found out Garman can handle the bright lights just fine.

3. K-State defense rallies in big way: Kansas State was missing two starters on defense but had no trouble taking out its Auburn-inspired anger on UTEP, a team that proved against Texas Tech it's no pushover. In the 58-28 win, KSU held the nation's No. 2 rusher, Aaron Jones, to nine yards in the first half and 47 on the day. The Miners couldn't get anything going for the three quarters KSU's starters played -- it was 52-7 when Bill Snyder sent in the backups -- and UTEP ended the first half down 31 points with just 23 total yards and one first down. KSU got right back on track and still looks like a legit contender for the Big 12 crown.

4. TCU's Air Raid keeps making it look ... too easy? The Horned Frogs are 3-0 with wins over Samford, Minnesota and now SMU, a team that’s been outscored 202-12 through four games. If there's an FBS team playing worse football than the Mustangs, I would not like to see it. So it’s tough to confidently make conclusions about TCU after this 56-0 victory. But Trevone Boykin (six total TDs) still looks incalculably more polished than a year ago. He has a diverse array of receivers and backs at his disposal, and the Frogs' 614 total yards were their most since 2011. To TCU's credit, Minnesota was solid in a 30-14 win against the dumpster fire in Ann Arbor. The Horned Frogs' offense couldn't have asked for a better start to 2014. It's time to find out what they're made of against the Sooners.

5. Texas still has issues: If Texas plays against Baylor next Saturday the way it did in Lawrence, Kansas, it probably doesn't stand much of a chance. Charlie Strong won't get too mad about a 23-0 victory that snaps a two-game slide, but he won't spend much time celebrating it, either. Texas never had to sweat too much, thanks to Montell Cozart's four interceptions, but its patchwork offensive line remains a work in progress (Malcolm Brown and Johnathan Gray combined for 73 rushing yards), and scoring points is still a struggle. Still, Texas did at least do what it needed to and gave Strong his first Big 12 win. KU showed some nice things in the run game and has a better defense than you think, but its offensive execution in many trips into Texas territory was fruitless.

No. 7 Baylor 49, Iowa State 28

September, 28, 2014
Sep 28
12:16
AM CT
video

No. 7 Baylor improved to 4-0 on the season with a 49-28 victory over Iowa State.
ARLINGTON, Texas -- In a thrilling finish, No. 6 Texas A&M rallied to claim a 35-28 overtime win over Arkansas on Saturday at AT&T Stadium, a win that came after the Aggies were down by as many as 14 points in the fourth quarter. Let’s take a look at how it went down:

How the game was won: The Aggies stopped Arkansas running back Alex Collins on a fourth-and-1 in the first overtime, getting a stop when they had to have it. Texas A&M had to scratch and claw after being harassed by Arkansas’ defense all day, but it was able to escape by the skin of its teeth thanks to huge fourth-quarter touchdown passes by Kenny Hill (an 86-yarder to Edward Pope and a 59-yarder to Joshua Reynolds) that turned a 14-point deficit to a tie ballgame and eventually set up overtime. Hill threw a 25-yard strike to Malcome Kennedy to start overtime, and the defense did the rest to secure the win in OT, piggybacking a strong fourth-quarter effort the Aggies gave to keep the Razorbacks from extending the lead.

Gameball goes to: Hill. He had his struggles, from errant throws, including an interception and had to weather the storm as the Aggies looked out of sorts offensively for much of the day. But he made the big throws when the Aggies had to have them late in the game and led the come-from-behind victory. He finished with 386 passing yards and four touchdowns on 21-of-41 passing.

What it means: Texas A&M’s playoff hopes and high ranking are safe for now, but it has a lot of work to do. Arkansas exploited many of the Aggies’ flaws today. The Razorbacks (3-2, 0-2 SEC), meanwhile, are as improved as advertised. Bret Bielema’s bunch has to feel sick after this one, leading by two scores (and having a chance to go up three when a penalty nullified the score). They had control of the game but let it slip away. The SEC West is on alert though, as Arkansas is a pushover no longer.

Playoff implication: The Aggies’ hopes remain alive as they move to 5-0 (2-0 in the SEC).

What's next: Another huge test for Texas A&M at No. 14 Mississippi State in Starkville a week from today. Dak Prescott and Co. are coming off an open date following their landmark win at LSU on Sept. 20.
video
Baylor’s Art Briles was voted as the nation’s best offensive head coach in ESPN’s weekly college football poll of the FBS head coaches, #1QFor128.

Briles received 22 percent of the votes, edging Auburn’s Gus Malzahn (18 percent), in the poll, conducted by ESPN’s Brett McMurphy.

Texas A&M’s Kevin Sumlin was third (14 percent), followed by South Carolina’s Steve Spurrier (8 percent) and Oregon’s Mark Helfrich (6 percent). Rounding out the top 10: Duke’s David Cutcliffe, Washington State’s Mike Leach, Stanford’s David Shaw and Oregon State’s Mike Riley (each with 4 percent) and Washington’s Chris Petersen (3 percent).

In all, 22 coaches received votes.

The coaches from the Power 5 conferences (ACC, Big 12, Big Ten, SEC and Pac-12) actually voted Briles third with 13 percent. Malzahn was the top vote-getter among the Power 5 coaches who voted with 20 percent, followed by Sumlin at 18 percent. Cutcliffe, Helfrich and Spurrier (with 8 percent each) tied as the fourth-most popular pick among the Power 5 coaches.

The coaches from the Group of 5 conferences (American, Conference USA, Mid-American, Mountain West, Sun Belt) voted Briles first (28 percent), followed by Malzahn (17 percent), Sumlin (12 percent), Spurrier (9 percent) and Helfrich, Leach and Shaw (each with 5 percent).

Of the 128 FBS coaches, 98 participated in this week’s poll.

 

Who the Power 5 coaches voted for
Gus Malzahn, Auburn: 20 percent
Kevin Sumlin, Texas A&M: 18 percent
Art Briles, Baylor: 13 percent
David Cutcliffe, Duke: 8 percent
Mark Helfrich, Oregon: 8 percent
Steve Spurrier, South Carolina: 8 percent
Mike Riley, Oregon State: 5 percent

Who the Group of 5 coaches voted for
Art Briles, Baylor: 28 percent
Gus Malzahn, Auburn: 17 percent
Kevin Sumlin, Texas A&M: 12 percent
Steve Spurrier, South Carolina: 9 percent
Mark Helfrich, Oregon: 5 percent
Mike Leach, Washington State: 5 percent
David Shaw, Stanford: 5 percent
Mike Riley, Oregon State: 3 percent
Chris Petersen, Washington: 3 percent

Big 12 viewer's guide: Week 5

September, 27, 2014
Sep 27
8:00
AM CT
In Week 5 of Big 12 action, TCU will try to hand SMU another heavy defeat; Kansas State will attempt to bounce back from a disappointing loss; Texas and Kansas will meet in their conference opener; and Baylor will look to avoid getting upset by Iowa State in Ames.

Those, among others, will be the storylines to follow Saturday in the Big 12:

TCU at SMU, noon ET (CBS Sports Network): TCU coach Gary Patterson said he expects to get SMU’s best shot. That still might not amount to much. The Mustangs are a complete mess, having been outscored 146-12 in their first three games. SMU is expected to start its third different quarterback already this season, walk-on Garrett Krstich, who opened the year fourth on the depth chart. The Horned Frogs ought to be able to keep the Iron Skillet trophy in Fort Worth while keeping the game plan relatively vanilla as they gear up for next weekend’s crucial home showdown against fourth-ranked Oklahoma.

UTEP at No. 25 Kansas State, noon ET (Fox Sports Regional): It will be interesting to see how the Wildcats bounce back after their gut-wrenching loss to Auburn last week. This, however, figures to be a good matchup for K-State. UTEP running back Aaron Jones ranks second in the country with 182 rushing yards per game, but the Wildcats appear to have a formidable run defense, which snapped Auburn’s 13-game streak of producing at least 200 rushing yards. Meanwhile, K-State coach Bill Snyder has indicated that Jack Cantele will remain the Wildcats' place-kicker despite missing all three field goals against the Tigers. Getting Cantele back on track will be paramount for the Wildcats on Saturday before they resume conference play next week.

[+] EnlargeBen Heeney
John Albright/Icon SMIBen Heeney and the Kansas defense get another crack at Texas this weekend.
Texas at Kansas, 4 p.m. ET (Fox Sports 1): Texas hasn’t loss to Kansas since 1938, but there have been some close calls over the years. In their last trip to Lawrence, the Longhorns need a game-winning touchdown drive from backup quarterback Case McCoy to escape in the final seconds with a 21-17 win. There’s reason to believe this game could be tight, too. The Longhorns have completed only five passes of at least 20 yards this season, while the running game has been among the least effective in the conference. On the other side of the ball, the Jayhawks feature a veteran defense, led by linebackers Ben Heeney and Jake Love, that is coming off a solid performance in a 24-10 win over Central Michigan.

No. 7 Baylor at Iowa State, 8 p.m. ET (Fox): Baylor handed the Cyclones a 71-7 whupping last season, the worst margin of defeat in Iowa State history. The Cyclones, however, have been a much tougher team at home under Paul Rhoads. Iowa State, in fact, defeated the Bears 35-21 in their last visit to Ames two years ago. Since falling to North Dakota State in the opener, the Cyclones have played much better, but Baylor will be getting a couple of key offensive weapons back in its lineup. Starting receivers Antwan Goodley and Corey Coleman are expected to return from injuries on an offense that has led the country in every major statistical category without them.

Mailbag: Kingsbury, Big 12 defensive linemen

September, 26, 2014
Sep 26
5:00
PM CT
In today's Twitter mailbag, we discuss Thursday night's game between Oklahoma State and Texas Tech and preview the games this weekend.

On to the 'bag:

@jake_trotter: Definitely. Look at last night alone. Forget the three turnovers, the Red Raiders left 10 points off the board directly because of penalties. Jakeem Grant's kickoff return touchdown. And the delay of game that pushed Tech out of field-goal range. Add those 10 points, and the game would have been tied. Tech is explosive enough offensively for this to be a bowl team. But when you shoot all the toes off your feet, it's hard to beat anyone. And Tech is going to have a hard time beating anyone as long as they lead the nation in penalties and lose the turnover battle.

@jake_trotter: I hear Garman Airlines will be taking plenty of flights this fall.

@jake_trotter: I would be deflated too if my team led the country in penalties. That said, everyone needs to show a little patience with Kingsbury, just like they need to show a little with Charlie Strong. Kingsbury has recruited well. He needs time for more of those prospects to make an impact. It hasn't been pretty so far this season, but it's way to early to judge Kingsbury.

@jake_trotter: Iowa State still has a chance to be a good, solid team in my opinion. But we're also talking about a squad that got run out of its own stadium by North Dakota State in the opener. So no, a win in Ames won't exactly quiet the doubters. But if the Bears win the following three games at Texas, TCU and at West Virginia, you won't hear a peep from the Baylor doubters.

@jake_trotter: If anyone deserves a break, it's West Virginia. In facing Alabama, Maryland and Oklahoma, the Mountaineers have played the toughest schedule in the country so far. So the open week comes at the perfect time. West Virginia can reset, heal and gear up for the final two-thirds of the season. If the Mountaineers play like they did the first third, they will win a bunch of games the rest of this season.

@jake_trotter: The player who has really impressed me so far this is Texas defensive tackle Malcom Brown. He has been the most impressive defensive linemen in my opinion, despite the Longhorns' troubles elsewhere. Other guys who have caught my eye so far: Kansas State's Ryan Mueller and Travis Britz, Baylor's Shawn Oakman, Oklahoma State's Emmanuel Ogbah, Iowa State's Cory Morrissey, Oklahoma's Jordan Phillips and Charles Tapper, Kansas' Keon Stowers and TCU's Davion Pierson.

@jake_trotter: Well, yeah. If the Horned Frogs defeat Oklahoma, they have to be considered a legitimate Big 12 contender. That is going to be a huge game for the Frogs. Perhaps, in fact, the biggest of the TCU Big 12 era.

@jake_trotter: Anything is possible, but I have a hard time seeing K-State winning in Norman and Waco. That said, before the season, one of my bold predictions was that K-State would win one of those road games. I see no reason to back off that prediction just yet, either.

@jake_trotter: I asked my wife about this and she vetoed it. However, she said if Iowa State knocks off Baylor and Oklahoma in Ames, then I can do it. So we're on, provided you find me a barber familiar with the Cy logo..

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