Dallas Colleges: Texas Longhorns
WACO, Texas -- For the second year in a row, Texas players watched and walked away. Another team celebrated a Big 12 championship after beating the Longhorns. Another team got to party at home.
Last year, Kansas State. This time, Baylor. Both headed off to the Fiesta Bowl while Texas is left to wonder where this is all going.
This time, coach Mack Brown had to address and assess the future. He didn't convey much worry about where he fit into the Longhorns' future.
"Just got to keep playing, keep winning," Brown said. "We had our chance to get in the Big 12 championship this year. Guys will go out recruiting tomorrow. Go back to work, try to win the bowl game, get your ninth win and go back to spring practice. We've got spring practice in February, so it happens fast."
The game, the day, the season -- all opportunities missed. And Brown acknowledged that, to some extent. He opened his postgame press conference by running through the laundry list of costly mistakes.
What he didn't want to speak to, though, was whether he has decided if he wants to come back and give it another go in 2014.
"I'm not talking about any of that tonight," Brown said. "I'm in the same position I was when I've been asked the other 15 times. We'll talk about the team tonight."
The hard, complicated question isn't whether Mack Brown should come back. It's this: Why would he want to?
That Texas got this far was admirable, considering all the injuries and hurdles. It was truly a crazy, unpredictable season, all the way down to the final quarter of this game.
But does Brown want to do this all over again? Why would he sign up for another season of this?
If Texas president Bill Powers and athletic director Steve Patterson give Brown another season, it's hard to envision a 2014 campaign that won't be just as rough and challenging as this one, if not more so.
The schedule next season is awfully similar, with the marquee non-conference game a showdown with UCLA at AT&T Stadium next September. Lose that game -- to a Bruins program that went 9-3 this season, has serious momentum and began Mack's misery in 2010 -- or stumble against BYU, and we'll go right back down this road again.
Week after week of scrutiny and distractions and fires to put out. A fan base growing more discontent and apathetic each Saturday. Who wants to coach in that culture?
Brown already will be tagged and tarred as the coach on the hottest hot seat this offseason if he returns. The national chatter that he's running out of time will undermine his efforts in recruiting. The doubters can cause the same kind of prove-yourself mentality that doomed former defensive coordinator Manny Diaz.
That's not to say he can't win next year. That's not to say that, if Texas struggles early, Brown can't unleash another masterful performance of crisis management and coax his players to go on another run.
But he has coached 50 games since the BCS championship game against Alabama. Texas is now 30-20 in the last four years and one game above .500 (18-17) in Big 12 games. Brown restructured after 2010 around two coordinators who now are gone. If things go downhill from here, is he really interested in rebuilding his rebuild?
Texas lineman Trey Hopkins said Brown still has the full support of the locker room. His players aren't bailing on him. But 10 senior starters will graduate. David Ash will have to lead the offense after missing 10½ games this season with a concussion.
And if you want to go deeper, recognize the hole Texas could be in if Ash has issues. Case McCoy is gone. Tyrone Swoopes wasn't entrusted to contribute much as a freshman. ESPN 300 commit Jerrod Heard can't enroll early for spring ball. Jalen Overstreet moved to running back. Bringing in an experienced transfer quarterback seems like a must now.
Brown will do this kind of math, calculating whether Texas can win with what returns. He wants to win and win big.
He thought the Longhorns could do that this year, and in all fairness, it has been a hell of a season. If Brown had been on this job only a few years, he'd get the injury mulligan that Will Muschamp received at Florida. Heck, he still might. Brown's team fought and overcame and came up short.
Just as important, though, the guy wants some respect. Brown put up with an awful lot this season. He put his pride on the line and tried to shoot down all the speculation as best he could. But at a certain point, when is it no longer worthwhile?
Forget legacy and statues and ego for a moment. Signing up for another year of this carnival would make any coach miserable over time.
Brown will travel to New York this week with Powers and Patterson for the College Football Hall of Fame inductions. At some point, there will be a discussion about the future.
But Brown has a decision of his own to make. He has to search his feelings. Even if he's given the choice, does he really want to do this again?
AUSTIN, Texas -- The great unknown of Texas’ future remains unsolved two days after Texas’ loss to Baylor. But the imminent future was at least settled Sunday: Texas is returning to the Valero Alamo Bowl, this time to take on No. 10 Oregon.
And that proposition looks about as scary as anything Mack Brown and his loyalists might see in the next few weeks.
We don’t know what’s next for Brown. He traveled to New York on Sunday with UT president Bill Powers and athletic director Steve Patterson for the College Football Hall of Fame induction ceremonies. He’s supposed to hit the road this week for in-home visits with recruits.
The response from fans and pundits on Sunday night was relatively consistent: Texas (8-4) is going to get smoked by Oregon (10-2). It won’t be pretty.
Oddsmakers have made the Ducks a two-touchdown favorite, which is familiar territory for the Longhorns by now. This team liked playing the underdog role in 2013, so perhaps there’s no better way to end the year than with Texas’ most difficult matchup yet.
Oregon has a two-time All-Pac-12 quarterback in Marcus Mariota. He ranked No. 2 in the nation in QBR this season behind Florida State's Jameis Winston. If not for an MCL sprain that limited his game late in the season, Mariota would likely be New York-bound as well this week. The way this Heisman field fell apart, he still might.
The Ducks' famously fast tempo won’t be what causes this Texas defense trouble. The Longhorns have seen faster this season, and Oregon’s plays-per-game-average of 75 is down from a year ago.
The problem will be the option. Among spread offenses, nobody does that better in college football than the Ducks. It’s a big reason they’re 56-9 since 2009, the year former coach Chip Kelly took over.
Mariota rushed for 695 yards excluding sacks this season, his second as the starter. He says the knee injury that prevented him from running effectively should be 100 percent healed by the Dec. 30 bowl game.
And he’s surrounded by options: Three running backs surpassed 500 yards this season, led by second-year back Byron Marshall’s 995 yards. He has an ankle injury, but also plenty of time to recover.
And don’t forget De’Anthony Thomas, as explosive a player as there is in college football. He’s healthy again after missing four games with an ankle injury. Miss him once in space and he’ll hit the home run. And when you sell out to stop the run, Josh Huff (1,036 receiving yards, 11 TDs) can sneak behind the defense and make you pay.
“These guys are like Baylor," Brown said. "They can score fast and they do a tremendous job."
Read option, speed option, triple option, veer, packaged plays – the Ducks do it all. No other bowl team has more 20-yard runs this season than Oregon.
And few bowl teams struggled more to stop the option and the quarterback run than Texas. For all the progress Greg Robinson and the defensive staff made in the past 10 games, this remains the team's Achilles’ heel.
The Longhorns gave up the ninth-most rushing yards to quarterbacks in the bowl subdivision. As Brown joked midway through the season: If Texas’ opponents don’t run the option, they’ll put it in the playbook.
It was just too easy, even against a defense with a pair of All-Big 12-caliber ends. Injuries have rendered this unit thin at linebacker and defensive tackle. Robinson, his coaches and his defenders will need these 15 bowl practices to find answers.
Oregon’s defense is far from flawless, but it did hold foes to 19 points per game in its wins. It’s a top-three scoring defense in the Pac-12 and No. 4 in total defense. At the moment, though, the attention of Texas’ offense will be on fixing itself.
Case McCoy is coming off the worst start of his career. The Longhorns gained 59 yards in the second half Saturday at Baylor. Their only touchdown drive began at Baylor’s 11-yard line, and they still needed seven plays to score.
They’ll need every practice and film session afforded to them this month. Stanford beat Oregon with pure power. Arizona blew out the Ducks with an elite running back. What’s it going to take for Texas to pull this one off?
The Longhorns have their own problems to solve first, and plenty of preparation ahead. If you think the next three weeks will be rough and messy off the field, it can get a lot worse if Texas doesn’t stay focused on its toughest test yet.
Team of the week: Baylor was unranked to begin the season and picked to finish fifth in the Big 12. Instead, with a convincing 30-10 victory over Texas, the Bears won 11 games for the first time in school history to capture the program’s first outright conference title in 33 years. Baylor will cap its magical season against Central Florida in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl.
Disappointment of the week: Oklahoma State had a chance at a second Big 12 title and BCS bowl berth in three years. And all the Cowboys had to do was beat Oklahoma in Stillwater as 10-point favorites. Instead, despite shuffling through three quarterbacks and not scoring an offensive touchdown until 19 seconds left in the game, the Sooners knocked off their instate rival yet again. The Cowboys have lost 10 of 11 to Oklahoma, but given the circumstance and the ending, this one hurt worst of all.
Big (defensive) man on campus: Cornerback K.J. Morton returned from an abdominal strain to deliver the exclamation point to Baylor’s season. Morton picked off Texas quarterback Case McCoy twice, returning the second 57 yards in the fourth quarter for an apparent touchdown. The score was nullified on his celebration penalty. But by then, the party had already begun in Waco.
Special teams players of the week: The field goal tandem of Grant Bothun and Michael Hunnicutt converted Bob Stoops’ first successful fake field goal attempt in 11 years. After their drive stalled at the Oklahoma State 8-yard line, the Sooners lined up for a field goal. Instead, Bothun, the holder, took off running with the ball left and threw the ball to Hunnicutt, the kicker. Hunnicutt backed into the end zone before getting belted by two Cowboys, tying the score 17-17.
Play of the week: Cornerback Justin Gilbert appeared to have ended Bedlam with an Oklahoma State victory, as he came down with an apparent interception on a jump ball to Lacoltan Bester. But instead of landing on the turf, Gilbert landed on Bester, who tapped the ball out of Gilbert’s hands at the last moment. Officials ruled it an incompletion, and Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy inexplicably didn’t challenge the call. Five plays later, Bell hit Saunders for the game-winning score.
Stat of the week: As Oklahoma State’s head coach, Gundy’s record against Oklahoma is 1-8. Gundy’s record against the rest of the Big 12: 44-22
Quote of the week: “A defining moment for our program and one I think we'll be able to repeat many times." -- Baylor coach Art Briles, after the school’s first Big 12 championship
Oregon Ducks (10-2) vs. Texas Longhorns (8-4)
Dec. 30, 6:45 p.m. ET, San Antonio (ESPN)
OREGON DUCKS BREAKDOWN
During an 8-0 start, Oregon fans had only one thought in coach Mark Helfrich's first season: We want Bama. During a 2-2 finish, they started missing Chip Kelly.
Not only were the Ducks again in the thick of the national title hunt, but QB Marcus Mariota was also the nation's leading Heisman Trophy candidate.
But in that win over the Bruins, Mariota sprained his knee. While the injury didn't force him to miss a game, it severely limited his ability to run either on designed plays or scrambles. That put a major part of the Ducks’ offense on ice.
Stanford dominated the Ducks on both sides of the ball in a 26-20 win on Nov. 7, the Pac-12's marquee date of the year. Mariota struggled mightily, but the real issue was the line of scrimmage. The Cardinal owned it.
The low point, however, was a 42-16 defeat at Arizona that proved the death knell of the Ducks' BCS bowl hopes. It was Oregon's first loss to an unranked team since 2009. The 26-point margin of defeat was their biggest since losing 44-10 to USC in 2008.
The Ducks bounced back with a victory in the Civil War, but that 36-35 nail-biter at home over a reeling Beavers team was hardly suggestive of the team that dominated foes through the first eight games. It will be interesting to see how the Ducks respond in the postseason. It should help that Mariota should be close to full health. -- Ted Miller
TEXAS LONGHORNS BREAKDOWN
The Longhorns had everything on the line against Baylor, including a Big 12 title and a trip to the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl. They couldn’t get the job done. The bowl matchup that the 30-10 loss leads to is immaterial to Texas fans now. All they want to know is whether the Mack Brown era is over.
Despite losing five starters to season-ending injuries, the Longhorns turned around a rough start with a 7-2 record in Big 12 play. They made that run with a potent power run game, now led by Malcolm Brown (774 yards, nine touchdowns). Whether or not Mack Brown is done, this is the final game for nine senior starters and an opportunity for Case McCoy to end his up-and-down career on a high note.
Texas’ defense underwent a revival in 10 games under Greg Robinson and did hold Baylor’s top-ranked scoring offense to three points in the first half. Jackson Jeffcoat finished with a Big 12-leading 12 sacks in his senior season and anchors a unit that has plenty of experience defending high-tempo spread offenses. -- Max Olson
Here are our Week 15 bowl projections for the Big 12:
Tostitos Fiesta Bowl (Jan. 1): Baylor vs. BCS at-large
Allstate Sugar Bowl (Jan. 2): Oklahoma vs. SEC champion (or replacement)
AT&T Cotton Bowl (Jan. 3): Oklahoma State vs. SEC No. 3/4
Valero Alamo Bowl (Dec. 30): Texas vs. Pac-12 No. 2
Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl (Dec. 28): Kansas State vs. Big Ten No. 4/5
National University Holiday Bowl (Dec. 30): Texas Tech vs. Pac-12 No. 3
Texas Bowl (Dec. 27): None available vs. Big Ten No. 6
New Era Pinstripe Bowl (Dec. 28): None available vs. American No. 4
Heart of Dallas Bowl (Jan. 1): None available vs. Big Ten No. 7
1. Baylor is the one and only champ: The last time Baylor won an outright conference championship, Mike Singletary was its middle linebacker. Until Saturday. With a little help from their friends from Norman, the Bears captured their first Big 12 title, and won’t have to share it with anybody. Baylor faces some adversity with the loss at Oklahoma State, but Art Briles’ bunch showed some gumption, bouncing back for a hard-fought win at TCU before closing out Floyd Casey Stadium in style.
3. The Mack Brown speculation is about to ramp up: It has been a storyline all season. Now it’s about to reach a fevered pitch. It would have been interesting to see what Texas would have done had the Longhorns upset Baylor, captured the outright Big 12 title and gone to the Fiesta Bowl. Instead, Texas finished with less than nine regular-season wins for the fourth straight season, which requires a thorough internal review from the burnt orange brass. Will Brown be forced to resign before the bowl game? Let the speculation commence.
4. Oklahoma owns Bedlam: The Cowboys have made great strides with their program under Mike Gundy. But one fact remains: They cannot beat the Sooners in the fourth quarter. Oklahoma really had no business winning this one. Oklahoma State was the heavy favorite. At home. With the superior quarterback. And a senior-laded defense. The Sooners didn’t even score an offensive touchdown through the first 59 minutes, 41 seconds of the game. But Oklahoma's defense hung tough, and the Sooners reeled off a pair of remarkable special teams plays to keep the score close. Then, like so many times before in this game, Oklahoma broke Oklahoma State’s back in the final two minutes. Even with all their recent success, the Cowboys have now lost 10 of 11 in Bedlam. And the Sooners still own their instate rivals.
5. Bob Stoops can still win big games: People often needle Stoops’ “Big-Game Bob” moniker. But Saturday, Stoops proved again he can still win the big games. Even the ones nobody expects him to win. Despite rotating three different quarterbacks and playing without the starting left side of his offensive line, Stoops manufactured a win in Stillwater with bold special teams calls and a defense that gave up yards but never broke. The Cowboys had the advantage over the Sooners in many different ways -- quarterback, experience, defense and home field -- but Stoops outcoached his Oklahoma State counterpart. And somehow, someway, added another big-game win to his resume.
1. Not ready for a championships: Texas really did do everything it wanted to in the first half, at least when it comes to stopping Baylor, and yet this was a 3-3 score at halftime. The game was there for the taking, and the Longhorns missed their shot. They couldn't sustain drives, Case McCoy couldn't pass (12-34, 54 yards, 1 TD, 2 INTs), and they paid for it once the Baylor offense got going. Their only touchdown drive began at Baylor's 11-yard line, and they still needed seven plays and a miraculous throw from McCoy to get the score. You can't go 2-for-17 on third downs and expect to beat anybody, especially a top-10 team on the road.
2. Defining success: Some Texas players admitted on Monday that they wouldn't consider the 2013 season a success until Texas won at least a share of the Big 12 title. They got their chance and couldn't get the job done, but most players who met with reporters after the loss -- all of them juniors and seniors -- believed this was still a successful season regardless. Or at least that's what they said, citing adversity and injuries and rallying from a 1-2 start. Still, it's a tough ending for a senior class that, for the first time in Mack Brown's tenure, never won a division or conference title in their four years on campus.
3. Buckle up: All four of Texas' losses this season have come by 20-plus points. They weren't close. While this blowout doesn't officially doom Brown's hopes of returning for 2014, it's not going to help. These next few weeks in Austin could get messy depending on what direction this program is going when it moves forward. UT president Bill Powers and new AD Steve Patterson -- who's only been on the job for two weeks -- face an uncomfortable decision, but it's one they'll have to make soon. The Texas standard is not eight wins, but for the second season in a row that's the result in the regular season.
RB Malcolm Brown: He’s rushed for more yards before -- against Oklahoma State in 2011 -- but against Baylor, especially in the first half, might’ve been the best Brown has run in his whole career. The junior rushed for 131 yards on 25 carries and also caught Case McCoy’s lone touchdown pass in the loss. He was an absolute workhorse in the first two quarters, racking up 118 yards and repeatedly finding cutbacks up the middle for big gains. One of the unsung heroes of this offense, Brown finishes the regular season with 774 yards and nine touchdowns.
LB Peter Jinkens: Where’d this performance come from? Texas was essentially down to two linebackers this week and that meant lots of snaps for Jinkens, the athletic sophomore whose season has been a bit disappointing. But on this night, he was all over the place. Jinkens finished with 12 tackles and was spotted throwing guys around a few times. He’s coming on strong late, just as he did in 2012.
DE Jackson Jeffcoat: The stat book says Jeffcoat had a solid night on Saturday, with 11 tackles and two sacks. As a senior, though, all he cared about was the win. Jeffcoat did surpass Kansas State’s Ryan Mueller to finish with a Big 12-leading 12 sacks in 2013. He was the only Texas player to sack Bryce Petty, though, and Texas logged just three QB pressures. Jeffcoat was good; he just needed more help.
Five things: No. 25 Texas Longhorns
1. Be the more physical team: This was the most important reason why Texas upset Oklahoma. It wasn’t scheme, it was attitude. That’s applicable to both sides of the ball, but it’s especially important up front with an offensive line that must get rolling to power Texas’ essential run game. As Major Applewhite put it after OU, the key was “playing you’re a** off.” The Longhorns did that against Texas Tech and need more of the same on Saturday.
2. Limit big plays: In the blowout loss at Oklahoma State, Baylor put up 453 yards on 83 plays. Half of those yards came on seven plays. The Bears gained 30-plus on just two. That’s about as good as you could’ve asked for, defensively, if you’re the Pokes. A strong defensive showing can fall apart with just a few busts, like permitting an easy 50-yarder for Antwan Goodley or joining the many who have let Lache Seastrunk dash 80 yards. Weather permitting, Texas must get a few big plays of its own from speedsters Mike Davis, Marcus Johnson and/or Daje Johnson.
3. Turnover battle: Texas is 96-6 in the Mack Brown era when it wins the turnover battle, including 5-1 this season. TCU could’ve pulled off a huge upset in Fort Worth last week if not for the fact that Baylor’s defense created three touchdowns, two on pick-sixes. The Bears were minus-3 against Oklahoma State. Considering the weather expected for this game, there’s a good chance turnovers decide this game.
4. Challenge Petty: Baylor QB Bryce Petty has been sacked 10 times in his last four games. Texas notched nine sacks in its last game. But it’s not just about takedowns. When a defense gets physical with Baylor’s receivers, Petty’s timing in the pocket can get thrown off and he starts overthrowing. If Jackson Jeffcoat plays his “spinner” role again, can he and the Texas defensive line cause problems for the All-Big 12 quarterback?
Five things: No. 9 Baylor Bears
1. Establish run game: Baylor leaned heavily on a now-healthy Seastrunk early last week, giving him 19 first-half carries and a career-high 24. Seastrunk, Glasco Martin and Shock Linwood need to pound the middle of a Texas front that, from an experience standpoint, is basically down to two linebackers and two defensive tackles. Keep an eye on the QB run game, too. It remains Texas’ greatest weakness as a defense, and Petty has rushed for 161 yards (excluding sacks) in his last four games.
2. Scoring explosion: In six games this season, the Bears scored at least 21 points in the first quarter. This Texas offense needs to control the tempo and would have a hard time keeping up if Baylor comes out firing and lights up the scoreboard early. But remember: Against Kansas State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and TCU, Baylor scored a combined 20 first-quarter points. The good defenses haven’t made it easy.
3. Make McCoy beat you: It’s a phrase that has probably been uttered by every Big 12 defensive coordinator Texas has faced. And yet, the Longhorns are 7-1 in the league. McCoy has a 10-9 TD-INT ratio, which hasn’t burned him much, with the exception of a three-interception day against OSU. McCoy has had some big moments in 2013 and vows he’s a different quarterback than the gunslinger that threw four picks in Waco two years ago. Still, if Baylor can stop the run consistently and force McCoy to win the game with his arm, the Bears will like their chances.
4. Second-and-long, 3-and-out: No Big 12 team has forced more 3-and-outs than Baylor this season. Texas’ offense has the second-fewest in Big 12 play. Something’s got to give. With how heavily Texas relies on the run, getting into second-and-long and third-and-long will mean lots of advantageous situations for a banged-up Bear defense.
5. Depth needed: We talked the depth up plenty when Baylor was rolling. The injuries that have piled up and finally took a toll against Oklahoma State. The Bears gritted out a close one with TCU despite missing several starters, but once again, the second-stringers will need to step up big when called upon.
- Oklahoma State quarterback Clint Chelf has sparked the Cowboys offense. In Chelf’s last five starts, the Cowboys have averaged 47.8 points per game and have outscored opponents by 28.4 points per game.
- Chelf completed 9-of-13 passes thrown 15 yards or longer against Baylor. His nine completions and 278 yards on such passes were the most by a Big 12 player this season.
- Chelf has had an FBS-high 94.4 opponent-adjusted QBR since Nov. 1. During that time, Oklahoma State defeated three opponents ranked in the top 25 of the BCS standings and Chelf has been responsible for 15 touchdowns and 305.8 total yards per game.
- Oklahoma State has scored a touchdown on 92 percent of its red-zone drives in the last five games, third best in the FBS since the start of Week 9. From Weeks 1-8, the Cowboys scored a touchdown on 64.5 percent of their red-zone opportunities, 51st among FBS teams.
- Oklahoma State has nine interceptions on passes thrown 15 yards or longer, tied with Kansas State for most in the Big 12.
- On Saturday, Oklahoma State is looking to win its 51st game in five years.
- OSU can finish undefeated at home for just the 12th time in school history and improve to 18-1 in its last 19 games at Boone Pickens Stadium.
- OSU has scored 20 or more points in 50 straight games, a streak that started at the beginning of the 2010 season. It’s the longest active streak in the country.
- OSU has won or tied the turnover battle in 19 of its last 22 games and has forced at least one turnover in its last 19 contests.
- OSU’s undefeated November was its first since 1945 when the Cowboys went 9-0 and won the Sugar Bowl.
- OSU outscored opponents 181-70 in November, earning wins over three ranked teams in the process (Texas Tech, Texas, Baylor).
- Oklahoma has a Big 12-low 60 missed tackles this season, 11 fewer than any other Big 12 team.
- Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops is 7-1 in head-to-head meetings with Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy.
- OU is looking to score 40 points for three straight games for the first time this season. The Sooners averaging 31.7 points per game after averaging 38.2 points per game in 2012.
- OU’s defense has allowed 10 points and 33 rushing yards in its last two games combined (wins over Iowa State and Kansas State).
- OU is 4-0 when senior running back Brennan Clay rushes for 100 yards or more.
- With a win the Sooners would join Alabama, Oregon and Stanford as teams from BCS conferences with four straight seasons with at least 10 wins.
- OU is 11-3 in December under Stoops.
- The Sooners are 12-8 on the road against ranked opponents under Stoops.
- OU is 38-7-5 all-time against OSU in Stillwater.
- OU and OSU are the Big 12’s winningest teams in conference play since 2008. OU is 38-12 while OSU is 37-13.
- The Texas-Baylor series dates back to 1901 and Saturday’s meeting will be the 103rd battle between the two teams.
- Texas coach Mack Brown is 13-2 against Baylor.
- UT has allowed 3.4 yards per carry in its last eight games after allowing seven yards per carry to BYU and Ole Miss earlier this season.
- UT has 14 seasons of eight or more wins during 15 seasons under Brown. The Longhorns had six seasons of eight or more wins in the previous 15 years.
- UT has scored 30 or more points in seven of its last eight games.
- This year’s UT-BU matchup is the first time both teams are ranked since 1990.
- UT has held Baylor to 14 points or fewer in 9 of 15 meetings under Brown.
- Baylor has 26 touchdowns on drives that lasted 1 minute or less, six more than any other team. However, the Bears only have one such touchdown in their past two games.
- Even with its recent struggles, Baylor’s offense leads the nation in total offense (635.1 yards per game), scoring (55.4 points per game) and passing yards per completion (17.81).
- Baylor will wear Nike retro uniforms to honor the first team to play in Floyd Casey Stadium against Texas. It is the final game at Floyd Casey, where the Bears are 190-146-5 all-time.
- Baylor leads the FBS in plays (53) and touchdowns (28) of 30 yards or longer.
- BU running back Lache Seastrunk has made it at least 5 yards past the line of scrimmage before first contact on 36 percent of his rushes, the highest percentage among AQ running backs with at least 75 carries.
- Bryce Petty has 25 completions on passes thrown 25 yards or longer, five more than any other AQ quarterback. He also leads all AQ quarterbacks with 13 touchdowns on such passes.
- In conference play, Texas’ opponents have had a 35.9 Total QBR, tied for second best in the Big 12. In nonconference games, Texas’ opponents have had a 78.0 Total QBR, worst in the Big 12.
- BU is looking to close Floyd Casey with a 10th straight win at home, a school record.
- BU is 14-2 in November and December since 2011.
- The Bears are looking to win their third game in four seasons against UT for the first time since 1988-91.
- Baylor’s starting defense has allowed 26 touchdowns in 11 games.
- Baylor is fifth in the FBS and second in the Big 12 with 8.1 tackles for loss per game.
- BU has converted 79 of 165 third down conversion attempts (47.9 percent), ranking No. 16 nationally and No. 1 in the Big 12.
- Petty set a program record with 229 pass attempts without an interception until throwing one against TCU. Robert Griffin III was the previous record holder with 209.
- Petty needs one game of 200 passing yards or more to break Griffin’s single season record of 12 set in 2011.
- BU receiver Antawn Goodley needs one more touchdown catch to move into sole possession of second place on the single season list. He’ll tie Kendall Wright’s 14 with two more touchdown catches.
- AP Top 25 teams are 0-5 at Floyd Casey Stadium during the past three seasons.
- Baylor has the longest home win streak in the conference, having won nine straight in Waco.
- Here's an excellent story from Jenni Carlson about where Oklahoma State WR Tracy Moore finds his inspiration. Efficiency ratings suggest Oklahoma State's offense is better than its defense. DT Calvin Barnett is looking forward to a trench battle.
- Oklahoma will be prepped for cold weather on Saturday. A win over OSU would help ease Charles Tapper's pain of losing his dreadlocks.
- Baylor has dedicated its full attention to Texas, not its bowl future. Can the Bears survive the first-half suspension of "nice guy" Ahmad Dixon?
- The Washington Post profiles Art Briles' career.
- Mack Brown says his coaching future should be "unimportant" to his players entering the finale. New AD Steve Patterson says he's "working on" resuming the Texas A&M rivalry.
- Iowa State needs to find a "quarterback whisperer" in its next OC, writes Bobby La Gessa of the Ames Tribune. ISU landed another junior college safety, Qujuan Floyd.
- Kansas State is in for a big-time matchup against a Pac-12 power in the Holiday Bowl. K-State makes some schedule changes for 2014.
- Texas Tech quarterback Baker Mayfield had the most memorable debut of this Big 12 season. Could the Red Raiders face Minnesota in a bowl again?
- Reviewing West Virginia's troubles on the road two years into joining the Big 12. A WVU cornerback was charged with DUI.
- What's in store for Charlie Weis' coaching staff during Kansas' offseason?
- A closer look at new TCU offensive coordinator Doug Meacham's resume.
1. Crowning a champion: The Big 12 didn’t need a big prime-time showdown at AT&T Stadium to end up with a marquee final weekend of conference play. The league’s schedule makers should get holiday bonuses for their work this year, pitting the Big 12’s four best teams against each other on championship weekend with a conference title on the line. Odds are Oklahoma State wraps it all up with a victory over Oklahoma, but if the Sooners pull the upset all eyes will be on Texas-Baylor to decide who gets the trophy.
3. Day of the underdog: Texas fans will be unabashedly rooting for Oklahoma on Saturday. Yep, seriously. They have to. Even Case McCoy admitted he’s pulling for a Sooners victory, even if it makes him “sick to my stomach.” The Sooners have a chance to play spoiler and knock OSU from atop the Big 12 standings. If they pull that off, can Texas notch an even more surprising victory in Waco? The Longhorns have embraced the underdog role ever since starting 1-2.
4. Finishing Baylor’s dream season: The loss to OSU knocked Baylor out of the national title hunt, damaged its hopes of playing in a BCS bowl and might’ve killed Bryce Petty’s chances of winning the Heisman. Yet the Bears still have a ton to play for this weekend. This can still go down as the best season in school history, especially if Baylor wins a share of the Big 12 title.
5. Who’s the DPOY? Good luck finding a consensus about who should win the Big 12’s Defensive Player of the Year honor this season, and this weekend might not change that much. Still, several candidates have a chance to make a strong final impression, including Oklahoma State linebacker Caleb Lavey and cornerback Justin Gilbert as well as Texas defensive end Jackson Jeffcoat.
6. Oklahoma’s next BMOC: Trevor Knight is another guy who could definitely use a strong finale to help his reputation not only for 2013 but, more importantly, for the offseason and beyond. Knight is coming off nice performances against Iowa State and Kansas State. An upset win over OSU could do wonders for proving he is Oklahoma’s quarterback of the future.
7. Mack Brown: What’s on the line? Who knows what this Baylor game means for Brown’s future at Texas, other than this: If Texas wins, good luck firing a coach who brings a Big 12 trophy home after leading his team from 1-2 to 9-3. And if the Bears win a blowout, well, buckle up for another rumor-filled week in Austin.
8. December weather: Introducing the X factor in both of this weekend’s Big 12 games: Winter Storm Cleon. The high and low for Stillwater on Saturday are 28 and 17. Waco is expecting freezing rain and temperatures in the high 20s. We could be in for some very messy, conservative football.
9. Closing out The Case: It’s a historic weekend for Baylor, which plays its final home game at 63-year-old Floyd Casey Stadium on Saturday. The last time a current Big 12 school opened a brand-new stadium was 1980, when West Virginia built Milan Puskar Stadium. The Bears are breaking out retro uniforms and expect the largest crowd ever in stadium history.
10. The Sunday bowl shakeout: The bowl projections for the Big 12’s six bowl-eligible teams are somewhat obvious at this point but could be in for a big shakeup depending on how these final two games play out. You know the committees of the AT&T Cotton, Valero Alamo and Buffalo Wild Wings Bowls will be watching closely and could face difficult decisions if we see some upsets.
With 10 minutes to go in Morgantown, W.Va., I was sitting pretty for an undefeated week. Then Grant Rohach turned into Dan Marino, and the Cyclones rallied from 17 points down before eventually beating the Mountaineers in a third overtime.
Like Oliver Luck with Dana Holgorsen, ESPN management had to issue a vote-of-confidence statement on my behalf. But I’m feeling the heat. And time is running out.
This week’s guest picker is Jason Hanzel, a student at Oklahoma State. I actually selected Jason a couple of weeks ago. But when he didn’t respond immediately, I went with another picker. Turned out, Jason was in class all day. Because I respect education, I gave him another chance.
To the Week 15 picks:
Trotter last week: 2-1 (.667)
Guest picker (Red Raider Shelley) last week: 2-1 (.667)
Trotter overall: 54-19 (.740)
Guest picker overall: 42-14 (.750)
Baylor 35, Texas 31: The overwhelming consensus seems to be that Texas has no shot in this game. I disagree. If the Longhorns can do anything, it’s rush the passer, and since losing left tackle Spencer Drango, the Bears have not protected quarterback Bryce Petty all that well. Without Drango and speedy wideout Tevin Reese, "America's Top Offense" hasn't quite been the same. And if Texas can have success controlling the clock with Malcolm Brown and Joe Bergeron between the tackles, as I expect it will, the Longhorns are capable of making this a fourth-quarter game. That said, Baylor has Lache Seastrunk and its fourth-quarter closer, Glasco Martin, back at running back. As a result, the Bears are able to grind out enough first downs late to hold off Texas and send Floyd Casey Stadium out in style.
Jason’s pick: Baylor these past two weeks has not been the same Baylor, but I do believe this team is completely different at home. Jackson Jeffcoat will get to Petty, but Case McCoy will be in the Case, meaning I've got to go with the Bears in Waco. Baylor, 38-28
Oklahoma State 40, Oklahoma 23: The Sooners are coming off their most impressive conference performance of the season in a win over Kansas State, and the best game of freshman QB Trevor Knight's young career. But on Saturday they face the top defense in the Big 12, a defense that clobbered Texas and Baylor in dominating back-to-back performances. Even though OU has won nine of the past 10 in the series, the Sooners have usually had to win shootouts against the Cowboys, as Oklahoma State has put up at least 40 points in four of the last five Bedlam meetings. This run-oriented OU offense is hardly equipped to score in the 40s, especially in the cold, on the road, against a veteran OSU defense that has proven to be one of the toughest in the country.
Jason’s pick: This game has the feel of 2011. If I was a betting man, I'd be taking my scholarship money to Vegas. Pokes in a rout! OSU, 42-20
Nick (Texas) I still don't fully understand Mack Brown's decision to burn Tyrone Swoopes redshirt. Do you know why he made that move halfway through the season then barely used him? If not do you have a guess at why?
Brandon Chatmon I'm right there with you Nick, I don't get it either. It doesn't make much sense but if I had to guess it had everything to do with being prepared in case something bad happened to Case McCoy.
Jerry (Ames, Iowa) Hey Brandon, do you think Iowa State has potential with Grant Rohach next year?
Brandon Chatmon I do Jerry, I like what Rohach brought to the table at the end of the year. He just seemed to play with more confidence as his playing time increased and he finished the season extremely well. I think the Cyclones could return to a bowl in 2014.
Bob Stoops (Norman) Which top recruits do you think I have a chance at actually getting a commitment? Adoree' Jackson? Joe Mixon?
Brandon Chatmon I hate to break it to you Bob but I think the events of the past few days have made your efforts in Cali that much harder. (Meaning Sark to USC is a problem.)
Jake (Dallas) How do you think Baylor will do come next season. Will they stay productive offensively and be decent defensively? Or will they go down in production?
Brandon Chatmon I don't anticipate a big drop in production at Baylor. Why would they take a step backward? But keep in mind I'm talking in comparison to what they've done in recent years, not the crazy numbers they put up early. If you expect that, prepare yourself for disappointment.
Rob (Baltimore) Early prediction on West Virginia's record next season. Give it to me straight, what are we looking at?
Brandon Chatmon Who is the quarterback? That changes everything. WVU has some talented athletes. They find a consistent playmaking QB, everything changes.
Trevor Knight (Norman) Me, or Chelf? And why?
Brandon Chatmon Clint Chelf. Because he's playing as good as any quarterback in the nation in the past month. I love Knight's long-term upside though.
Grant Teaff (Waco, Tx) Let’s get your score prediction for both OU/OSU and BU/UT?
Brandon Chatmon OSU 31, OU 21 Baylor 34, Texas 27
Jake (Dallas) What are your thoughts on the whole ordeal with [Ahmad] Dixon? We all know the hit was targeting even I will admit that. Since it is a new rule everyone in CFB knows the rule but the details are still fresh. Should the coaches have escorted him to the locker room, or the officials since they were the ones who called the penalty.
Brandon Chatmon My biggest issue was his actions when leaving the field. But, I also always try to keep in mind these are college kids. I know we treat them like adults but they are still young adults who make mistakes, make poor choices. I think coaches should escort them, not officials.
Going into the final weekend, Oklahoma State, Baylor and Texas all remain alive for a Big 12 championship and the conference’s automatic BCS bowl berth. Oklahoma, however, was knocked out of the picture, with the Bears and Longhorns both winning last week.
Here’s a final look at the Big 12 race heading into the final weekend:
Oklahoma State (10-1, 7-1 Big 12): For the Cowboys, it’s pretty simple. Beat Oklahoma, and the Fiesta Bowl is theirs. Lose Bedlam, and the outright Big 12 title goes to the winner of Baylor-Texas.
Baylor (10-1, 7-1): The Bears could capture their first outright conference title since 1980 with a win over Texas and an Oklahoma State loss to Oklahoma. If the Cowboys win Bedlam, Baylor could still share the title with Oklahoma State. But with the head-to-head tiebreaker, the Cowboys would go to the Fiesta Bowl.
Texas (8-3, 7-1): The Longhorns are in the same situation as Baylor. They need Oklahoma State to lose to have a chance at the outright title and Fiesta Bowl. Like Baylor, Texas could still share the title with the Cowboys by winning this weekend, though like with Baylor, Oklahoma State would hold the tiebreaker for the automatic BCS bowl bid over the Longhorns.
103.3 FM ESPN PODCASTS
Play Podcast Part 2 of the articles on OSU's involvment in academic fraud was released. Some claim the expose is unfounded. Ian and Richard warn that there are two sides to all stories.
Play Podcast Fitzsimmons and Durrett discuss Mack Brown, Manny Diaz and all the latest with the Texas Longhorns.
Play Podcast Fitzsimmons and Durrett give you the latest on the Johnny Manziel story and Charles Barkley weighs in. You won't believe who the outspoken NBA Hall of Famer is disappointed in and what he thinks about the autograph allegations.
Play Podcast Kirk Herbstreit joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett for his weekly visit to preview the 2013 college football season.
Play Podcast Former TCU and current Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett to discuss the expectations for the Bengals this season, give a prediction for the TCU-LSU game and talk about what it's like having the Hard Knocks cameras follow him.
Play Podcast Randy Galloway, Matt Mosley, and Mark Friedman react to Dez Bryant's comments regarding the NCAA's ongoing investigation of Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel.
Play Podcast Richard Durrett, Ian Fitzsimmons and Glenn "Stretch" Smith react to Dez Bryant sounding off yesterday after practice about Johnny Manziel and the shadiness of the NCAA.
Play Podcast Former NCAA investigator and Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett to weigh in on the Johnny Manziel drama and give some insight as to what goes on during an NCAA investigation.