Dallas Colleges: TCU Horned Frogs
Baylor’s Bryce Petty has carried last season’s excellence into this season while West Virginia’s Clint Trickett and Oklahoma’s Trevor Knight are among the conference’s most improved players. With the help of ESPN Stats & Information, here’s a closer look at the Adjusted QBR (0-100, with 50 being average) rankings for each starting quarterback in the league as conference play starts to heat up heading into October.
2. Clint Trickett, West Virginia: 82.5. The surprise of the early season, Trickett has held up his end of the bargain against the best competition any Big 12 quarterback has faced through four games. He leads the Big 12 in passing yards (1,600, 4th in FBS) and completion percentage (72 percent, 5th in FBS).
3. Trevor Knight, Oklahoma: 76.4. The sophomore has built upon his Allstate Sugar Bowl performance with the most consistent stretch of his young career. His 86.7 raw QBR on play-action plays is a terrific fit with the Sooners’ ground-and-pound approach.
4. Daxx Garman, Oklahoma State: 75.7. He’s not playing like a guy who seeing his first consistent action since 2009. Garman leads the Big 12 in raw QBR on third down plays (93.8) and against the blitz (99.3). His 18.96 yards per completion shows his willingness to look deep and trust the Cowboys’ receivers in one-on-one situations downfield.
5. Davis Webb, Texas Tech: 71.7. One of Webb’s strengths is his movement in the pocket. His 0.5 sack percentage ranks second in the Big 12 behind Petty as he’s been sacked once in 182 pass attempts. If he's unable to play against Kansas State, it will be interesting to see if freshman Patrick Mahomes can mimic his low sack total.
6. Trevone Boykin, TCU: 71.3. The Horned Frogs quarterback is third in the Big 12 in total offense at 347 yards per game. Boykin’s 0.8 interceptions per attempt is easily the most encouraging stat for TCU. He has one interception in 123 attempts through three games.
7. Jake Waters, Kansas State: 63.2. The senior has been solid in all areas while excelling with the ball tucked under his arm. He leads Big 12 quarterbacks with 215 rushing yards and five touchdowns.
8. Sam B. Richardson, Iowa State: 53.2. The Cyclones have had their problems this season but Richardson has been solid through four games. His completion percentage (68 percent) ranks second in the conference behind Trickett but there are plenty of areas for improvement for the Cyclones' signal-caller.
9. Tyrone Swoopes, Texas: 46.3. The sophomore is growing as a quarterback but still has a long way to go. His 33.2 raw QBR on third down is the worst in the Big 12 as UT has converted just 25 percent of his third-down throws into first downs, ranking last in the conference.
10. Montell Cozart, Kansas: 27.4. It feels like now or never for the sophomore who is talented but simply hasn’t gotten the job done. He’s the only quarterback in the conference who has thrown more interceptions (7) than touchdowns (5) and his 50.4 completion percentage is the Big 12’s worst.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
On to the 'bag:
@Jake_Trotter if Texas Tech can get rid of all the flags and turnovers do you think they can win enough games to make a bowl game?— Brad Sullivan (@B_Sullivan944) September 26, 2014
@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 with it being such a deep position, who all would you say have been some of the best defensive linemen in the league so far?— Zach Evans (@ZEvans_7) September 26, 2014
@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.
Will you shave Cy into your head if ISU wins tomorrow? RT @Jake_Trotter: Still taking Twitter questions for today's Big 12 mailbag.— Austin Narber (@austinnarber) September 26, 2014
@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..
Oklahoma State QB Daxx Garman: The junior is playing on a national stage tonight, and I can't wait to see how he handles the pressure. Texas Tech DC Mike Smith has a rep for loving to blitz, and he's going to find ways to get after a quarterback making his second career start. The OSU run game can set him up to succeed against Texas Tech.
Texas Tech CB Nigel Bethel II: His three-game suspension is over. Now it's time to find out if the freshman from Miami was worth the hype and the second chance. The Red Raiders have found some promising young DBs in Bethel's absence, but let's see what he can do with a few snaps in Stillwater.
Kansas State WR Curry Sexton: Really like how Sexton showed up against Auburn, with 11 receptions for 121 yards. He's just what K-State needs in terms of a go-to No. 2 when Tyler Lockett draws double coverage and has developed a nice rapport with Jake Waters. Watch him score his first touchdown since 2012 this week.
TCU RB B.J. Catalon: Well, SMU does have one of the worst run defenses in FBS. These TCU running backs haven't shown all they can do yet -- they recorded just 13 carries against Minnesota -- but it's an intriguing stable led by Catalon, who has just 58 rushing yards through two games. He should more than double that number this week.
Texas DE Cedric Reed: The preseason All-Big 12 lineman is off to a quiet start statistically (16 tackles, one TFL, 0.5 sacks) but did a solid job of getting pressure against UCLA. With defensive tackle Desmond Jackson out for the season, Texas needs Reed to get back to getting in the backfield. He'll get some takedowns this weekend.
Kansas RB Corey Avery: The freshman running back from Dallas is going to be motivated to shine against Texas, a program that recruited him on and off throughout 2013 and did bring him in for a January official visit. KU will try to pound the middle of Texas' defense, but Avery has the burst to pick up some big gains outside or inside.
Baylor DE Javonte Magee: The breakthrough is coming soon for Magee, the nasty 6-foot-5, 275-pound lineman who rejoined the program this offseason and racked up three TFLs and a sack in nonconference play. With all the attention Shawn Oakman will get from Big 12 foes, Magee has the potential to catch people by surprise.
Iowa State RB Aaron Wimberly: The Cyclones don't stand a chance if they can't keep Baylor's offense off the field as much as possible. They don't want a shootout. Mark Mangino needs his running backs to step up and pick up the tough conversions if they hope to achieve the kind of ball-control offense required to make Baylor uncomfortable. Wimberly hasn't surpassed 40 rushing yards in a game this season, but he needs a big night.
Clint Trickett and wideout Kevin White have been phenomenal, and West Virginia could be geared for a run with the scheduling easing up a bit. If the Mountaineers can knock off Baylor at home on Oct. 18, then they could definitely emerge as a contender, despite the loss to Oklahoma.
While Max and I like what we’ve seen from West Virginia, we both went with Kansas State. The Wildcats won the Big 12 title just two years ago and appear to have a team with similar strengths. The front seven appears to be formidable, after snapping Auburn’s 13-game streak of at least 200 rushing yards last week. Bill Snyder remains one of the best coaches in the country. And Tyler Lockett is as big of a playmaker as anyone player in the league. The Wildcats to do have to travel to Norman and Waco. But K-State won its last trip to Oklahoma, and will have an extra week to prepare for the Sooners. And the Wildcats played Baylor tough last year, even without Lockett.
Of course, West Virginia and Kansas State aren’t the only possible teams that could emerge as Big 12 contenders.
TCU is 2-0, and appears to have another top-flight defense. The Horned Frogs have a huge game with Oklahoma in two weeks, which could dictate whether they can finally challenge for the conference title in their third year in the Big 12.
Oklahoma State, meanwhile, looks better than its preseason prognostication. The Cowboys played No. 1 Florida State tough in the opener and have cruised in their last two games. Coordinator Glenn Spencer’s defense has been stout so far despite inexperience at several positions. The key will be whether backup quarterback Daxx Garman can get the Oklahoma State offensive attack humming to the level of previous seasons.
We’ve given you our thoughts. Now we put the question to you in our weekly Big 12 poll. Who is the biggest threat to Oklahoma and Baylor in the Big 12 race?
Is it West Virginia or Kansas State? TCU or Oklahoma State?
Or maybe even somebody else.
Let us know what you think by voting in our poll.
Why Oklahoma State will win: The Cowboys' offensive line has struggled, bogging down its rushing attack. What better tonic than the Texas Tech defense, which has been dismal this season. Quarterback Daxx Garman's arm will stretch the field, which will create plenty of creases for running backs Tyreek Hill, Desmond Roland and Rennie Childs in the running game. Oklahoma State 42, Texas Tech 28 -- Jake Trotter
Why Texas Tech will keep it close: The Red Raiders still have the ability to make defenses pay with a terrific passing game, and Oklahoma State's safeties will be tested in ways they haven't seen thus far. Add the Cowboys' subpar running game into the equation, and the result will be Tech putting up a much better fight than it did against Arkansas. Oklahoma State 49, Texas Tech 45 -- Brandon Chatmon
Why Baylor will win: Too many points, too quickly. The return of Antwan Goodley and several Baylor playmakers from injury spells trouble for ISU. The Bears will continue to do what made them so tough to beat in 2013: score 21-plus in the first quarter and put all the pressure on the Cyclones. Baylor 56, Iowa State 21 -- Max Olson
Why Iowa State will keep it close: The first time Baylor went on the road in the Big 12 last season, its offense sputtered, at least by Art Briles' lofty standards. The last time the Bears traveled to Iowa State, they lost by two touchdowns. The Cyclones won't pull off another gigantic upset. But behind a hard-nosed effort from Wally Burnham's defense, they will play Baylor much tougher than last season's 71-7 pasting in Waco. Baylor 39, Iowa State 22 -- Trotter
Why Texas will win: The Longhorns have the benefit of a bye week and two invaluable weeks of prep time for Tyrone Swoopes. Even if it's inconsistent, this seems like the breakout game for the Malcolm Brown-Johnathan Gray duo. Montell Cozart is in for a frustrating day if Texas can force him to pass. Texas 27, Kansas 10 -- Olson
Why Kansas will keep it close: The Jayhawks almost beat the Longhorns the last time Texas traveled to Lawrence, and there's no reason to think they can't do it again. Kansas' defense is better than people think. If Cozart and the Jayhawks' offense can hold up its end of the bargain and put up points, all bets are off. Texas 24, Kansas 20 -- Chatmon
OTHER UNANIMOUS PICKS
TCU over SMU 40-2: SMU is expected to start its third different QB already this season in walk-on Garrett Krstich, who opened the season fourth on the depth chart. That's not exactly the recipe to success against a Gary Patterson-coached TCU defense. -- Trotter
Kansas State over UTEP 31-14: This is the perfect game for K-State's running attack to find its rhythm, against a UTEP defense that is allowing 242 rushing yards per game. -- Chatmon
Brandon Chatmon: 26-3
Max Olson: 26-3
Jake Trotter: 26-3
- How do you stop Baylor? Bobby La Gesse of the Ames Tribune takes a closer look at how Iowa State will try to stop the Bears. Among the priorities is stopping the running game. Baylor is thought of as a high-flying attack but the Bears lead the Big 12 in rushing yards per game (207.5) since 2009. Art Briles has always built his offense around the running game so the Cyclones focus on stopping that ground attack is a great place to start.
- Oklahoma's offensive line is big and physical, writes Jason Kersey of The Oklahoman. OU offensive line coach Bill Bedenbaugh has been one of the best hires in the Big 12 in recent years. The Sooners have averaged a Big 12-best 5.35 yards per carry since Bedenbaugh was hired before the 2013 season. OU averaged 4.15 yards per carry in the three seasons before Bedenbaugh's arrival.
- An excellent piece by SI.com's Lindsay Schnell on Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury gives you a glimpse at his extremely competitive nature among other things. It should be no surprise that Kingsbury's competitive drive is strong. It's hard to rise so quickly from quality control assistant to head coach at your alma mater without unique traits like Kingsbury's competitiveness.
- TCU running backs are sharing the ball-carrying load reports Carlos Mendez of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. The Horned Frogs running backs might be splitting carries but I was expecting TCU's new offense to bring a little more commitment to the running game than we've seen in the first two games. TCU is averaging 36.3 rushes per game after averaging 33.58 rushes per game a year ago. It will be interesting to see if that number increases in Big 12 play or remains between 35-40 rushes per game for the duration of the year.
- His Kansas State teammates weren't surprised to see linebacker Dakorey Johnson make a big impact against Auburn last Thursday, writes Joshua Tinder of the Manhattan Mercury. Johnson earned Big 12 defensive player of the week honors with six tackles including two tackles for loss and one interception in the loss to the Tigers. Johnson brings increased athleticism to K-State's defense so it will be interesting to see if he can consistently play at a high level for Bill Snyder's squad. If he can, the Wildcats defense could end up among the Big 12's best units.
Baylor: Don't forget about Antwan Goodley. The potential All-America receiver went down with an injury in the season opener and enters Big 12 play with zero receptions. While KD Cannon and the rest of Baylor's wideouts feasted in his absence, Goodley is back this week, and he and Bryce Petty have some catching up to do. No Big 12 player matched his 598 yards after the catch last season.
Iowa State: Well, the Cyclones are 2-0 in home games against Baylor under coach Paul Rhoads. During the Art Briles era, Baylor has averaged 33.2 points per game on the road against the rest of the Big 12. In their losses in Ames in 2009 and 2012, Baylor's offense put up a combined 31 points. But ever since that 35-21 loss at ISU in 2012, the Bears are 19-3.
Kansas: Tony Pierson has recorded 280 touches on offense in his career at Kansas. He's gained 10 or more yards on 25 percent of his touches and picked up 20-plus yards on 26 of those 70 plays. The majority of his big plays have come on rushes, but Pierson is also averaging 12.7 yards per reception in his four seasons. He's instant offense, plain and simple.
Kansas State: ESPN Stats & Info analyzed the Auburn-Kansas State game tape and determined Jake Waters was pressured on nine plays. He completed three passes, threw two incompletions and an interception and took three sacks. K-State's net yardage when the Tigers got pressure on Waters? Just 15 yards. Waters and his linemen will have to handle the heat a bit better in Big 12 play.
Oklahoma: How will freshman Samaje Perine follow up his 242-yard night at West Virginia? In the past decade, 19 FBS running backs have surpassed 240 rushing yards multiple times in a season. If Perine does it again this year, he'll join some elite company that includes Reggie Bush, Matt Forte, Le'Veon Bell, Ray Rice, Jonathan Stewart, DeAngelo Williams, Andre Williams and, yes, Adrian Peterson.
Oklahoma State: The Cowboys rank No. 2 nationally in a statistic that's pretty darn important: red zone efficiency defense. OSU's defense has entered the red zone 10 times this season and permitted just two touchdowns. Opposing offenses have had to settle for field goals seven times (one was blocked) and Jameis Winston threw a red zone interception. Getting stingy under pressure like that will pay off big in Big 12 play.
TCU: The Horned Frogs are one of only two teams in FBS that have played just two games entering Week 5. (Cincinnati started the season bizarrely with back-to-back byes.) This isn't just some silly observation. The fact is, starting this week against SMU, Gary Patterson's team must play eight games in eight consecutive weeks before getting a pre-Thanksgiving reprieve. They face a brutal run in October (OU, at Baylor, OSU, Texas Tech) and need some gas in the tank if they hope to make a run in November.
Texas: It's hard to believe that, with Malcolm Brown and Johnathan Gray both healthy and splitting time, Texas ranks No. 9 in the Big 12 in rushing right now at 123.7 yards per game. That's 99 fewer yards per game than Oklahoma is averaging and almost 115 fewer than Baylor. The culprit here is a shoddy offensive line, but the downhill run game was supposed to be the strength of the Longhorns' offense and they've struggled without one.
Texas Tech: One not-unreasonable excuse for Texas Tech's problems on defense: According to its sports information office, 17 of 27 Red Raiders who've recorded tackles this season are freshmen, sophomores or newcomers. That number does include Kenny Williams, who moved from running back to linebacker this spring. The rest are young guys who better catch up quickly.
West Virginia: Clint Trickett ranks No. 3 nationally now with 1600 passing yards, a feat through four games that most WVU fans probably wouldn't have predicted back in the spring. He leads all Big 12 passers with 20 completions of 20-plus yards (nine to Kevin White), but then again, Trickett also has 43 more completions than any other quarterback in the conference. Let's wait a few more weeks before assessing where he fits in the Big 12 QB hierarchy, but this is a heck of a start.
Brandon Chatmon: Even with Perine’s explosion against West Virginia over the weekend, KD Cannon remains the Big 12’s most impressive freshman. The Baylor receiver is a playmaker who makes the game look easy with his smooth strides and silky hands. Both players will be a handful for Big 12 defenses, but I have a feeling Cannon is the man to be for Big 12 freshman-of-the-year honors.
Jake Trotter: Cannon has been unbelievable while ranking third nationally with 157 receiving yards per game. But Cannon has piled up those numbers against two of the worst FBS teams in the country in SMU and Buffalo and an FCS opponent in Northwestern State. Meanwhile, in 34 carries before a hostile crowd in Morgantown, Perine rushed for 242 yards and four touchdowns against a quality opponent in West Virginia. Cannon will have his chance to impress against tough competition. But Perine has already done it.
Max Olson: I do agree that Cannon is the Big 12's best freshman so far, but I'm a little more impressed by Perine because he's faced a much better level of competition. True, he's got it fairly easy behind that mauling OU O-line, but Perine is blasting Tennessee and West Virginia for 7.2 yards per carry makes his future look pretty scary. His 242 rushing yards vs. WVU is fifth-best in FBS this year and perhaps just the beginning.
With West Virginia out of the way, what is Oklahoma's toughest remaining game, other than the Nov. 8 clash with Baylor?
Chatmon: The Sooners trip to TCU still looms large to me. The Horned Frogs can play defense and will have confidence on the offensive side of the ball heading into the matchup between the two teams on Oct. 4. TCU will put OU quarterback Trevor Knight in uncomfortable situations and could have the defensive line depth to handle OU’s physical running game. Add better ball protection from the offense and OU’s road trip to Fort Worth, Texas could be the toughest remaining test outside of Baylor.
Trotter: We witnessed last week how brilliant a game plan Kansas State coach Bill Snyder can design with an extra week to prepare. With the week off leading into the Oklahoma game Oct. 18, Snyder will have an extra week to prepare for the Sooners, too. Only this time, Oklahoma won’t have the extra week, as well. Instead, the Sooners will be coming off the emotional Red River showdown with Texas. This is a potentially dangerous game for Oklahoma. K-State won in Norman its last trip there. And with another brilliant Snyder game plan, the Wildcats are good enough to win there again.
Olson: The TCU game is a classic trap, but I don't think the Sooners should overlook their home meeting against Kansas State on Oct. 18. That game falls one week after the Red River showdown, a high-emotion, highly physical game, and I think we're going to figure out quickly K-State is not a team to be trifled with. A lot can change between now and then, but I'd be surprised if that isn't a four-quarter brawl that should really test OU's resolve.
Based on what you've seen, who is the biggest threat to Baylor and Oklahoma for the Big 12 crown?
Chatmon: K-State immediately came to mind, but the Wildcats face the Sooners, Bears, West Virginia and TCU all on the road. TCU is another team that could be considered, but Gary Patterson’s squad is looking at a three-game stretch that features OU, BU and Oklahoma State after SMU on Saturday. So I’m going to step out on the limb and say West Virginia, despite already having a conference loss to OU, is the biggest threat. If WVU knocks off Baylor and BU beats OU, WVU is right back in the mix. And with Clint Trickett and Kevin White playing like All-Big 12 performers, every game is winnable for Dana Holgorsen’s squad.
Trotter: This is a great question, with four possible answers. West Virginia has looked really sharp so far, but the Mountaineers already have a conference loss. Oklahoma State’s schedule is brutal, with road trips to Fort Worth, Manhattan, Waco and Norman. And I want to see more from this TCU offense before I elevate it into contender status. That leaves Kansas State, which has a veteran team and a Hall of Fame coach. The Wildcats have already proven that they can play with the nation's best. I don’t know if K-State has the firepower to win the league. But I do know that with Snyder at the helm, they’ll be a tough out for everyone, including Oklahoma and Baylor.
Olson: The gap between No. 2 and No. 3 in this league remains significant, but I'm buying stock in Kansas State after that Auburn game. I have a ton of respect for that Nick Marshall-led attack, and the Tigers would probably put up 35-plus on most Big 12 contenders. We'd be talking about KSU very differently today had they not made a few fatal mistakes. Plus, I generally have more faith in Jake Waters than in most of the other conference quarterbacks (excluding Petty and Knight) at this point.
September has been an interesting month, and it’s only going to get even more intriguing in the land of recruiting. Texas flipped an ESPN 300 player, and Baylor landed another skill-position threat. Additionally, West Virginia made an impact on an ESPN 300 player, and Texas Tech looked west at a couple of big-time prospects.
Here are some of the highlights from the week of Big 12 recruiting.