Dallas Colleges: Baylor Bears
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
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.
In fact, since exploding for six touchdowns in just over 23 minutes in a 63-34 rout of Texas Tech last month, the Bears almost seem to be running on fumes.
At Oklahoma State, Baylor trailed 35-3 in the fourth quarter before finishing with a season-low 17 points.
At TCU, the Bears mustered a season-low 370 yards of offense while Spencer Roth punted a season-high eight times, as Baylor survived only after two defensive touchdowns and the fumble at the TCU 1.
"I feel like we may be looking around for too much and trying to see too many things,” said Baylor guard Cyril Richardson. “We just need to go out there and play. We need to go back to hard-nosed football, and that's basically it."
That will be easier with running backs Lache Seastrunk and Glasco Martin back in the lineup.
Neither was available for the 32-point loss at Stillwater. And at TCU, both were easing their way back in after injuries.
“Those guys are warriors,” said coach Art Briles. “I don’t think either guy was 100 percent. They’ll both be a lot closer to 100 percent his week. But from a confidence standpoint, it made a big difference.”
Even at less than 100 percent, Seastrunk dashed his way to 94 yards on 24 carries. Martin was the closer, pounding out 69 yards on 17 carries, most coming in the fourth quarter when Baylor was attempting to move the chains and grind out the clock.
"I think it showed those guys provide a spark that not a lot of guys can,” said quarterback Bryce Petty. “Lache is that spark. Lache is that guy that can take a carry that shouldn't get anything and make yards out of it, which you've got to love. Glasco's the veteran guy. He's been there. He's done that. He's that thunder part of it so it's always fun to have him as far as closing out games. The guy that can make those tough yards for you so it's always fun watching him play."
Baylor, however, will continue to be without two key players to its passing game, left tackle Spencer Drango (back) and wideout Tevin Reese (wrist).
Through the first nine games with Drango protecting Petty’s blindside, the Bears gave up just 13 sacks. The last two games, they have given up five.
The loss of Reese and his downfield speed has been even more critical. One of the most lethal deep threats in college football, Reese was averaging 25 yards per catch, and 54 yards on his eight touchdown catches.
The Bears didn’t miss him at Tech. But they missed him dearly against Oklahoma State and TCU.
With TCU All-American cornerback Jason Verrett locking up leading receiver Antwan Goodley, Baylor’s patented vertical passing attack was almost non-existent. The Bears, which still lead the country in pass plays over 30 yards, had only one such completion against the Horned Frogs, while Goodley finished with just one reception for 12 yards.
“We’ve had to change a little bit to the personnel we’ve had or haven’t had on the field the last couple weeks,” Briles said.
The good news for the Bears is they’ll finally be back at Floyd Casey, for the stadium’s swan song. And even with the injuries, America’s Top Offense still has the personnel to put up big points.
“We didn’t have a lot going on offense,” Seastrunk said. “Missing key players hurts a lot.
“But we’ve got to get back to doing what Baylor does.”
Matt (Stillwater): Has Bedlam taken over as the Big 12's top rivalry?
Jake Trotter: Bedlam is a long way from overtaking the Red River Rivalry. However, there's no doubt that Bedlam has had more riding on it in terms of Big 12 titles the last five seasons. After the Iron Bowl, Army-Navy, Ohio State-Michigan and the Red River Rivalry, Bedlam has been right there with any rivalry in college football the last five years. It has a chance to only get better, if Oklahoma State can start winning on consistent basis.
Dustin (Tulsa): Is this Trevor Knight's breakout game or is the OSU D too strong?
Jake Trotter: It's a tough matchup for Knight. For one, Oklahoma State has the CBs to lock up OU's WRs on the outside one-on-one. That will allow OSU to add another body to the box, like it did against Baylor. Knight was terrific against K-State, but OSU's front seven is the best in the league. It will not be easy for the Sooners to move the ball.
Harry (Miami): I thought Iowa State was on an upswing. What happened this season? Too many young players? Lack of talent? Poor coaching? All of the above? Thanks.
Jake Trotter: All of the above.
BOXMAN (Everywhere): Assuming OSU and Baylor win, what bowl game do you see Baylor playing in?
Jake Trotter: Cotton Bowl.
Mike (Lenexa, Kan.): Who are your offense/defense players of the year?
Jake Trotter: At the moment, Bryce Petty and Caleb Lavey.
Steven (Atlanta): I'm a Texas fan, but I'm also a realist. Do you think our best defensive ends (Jackson Jeffcoat, Cedric Reed) will be able to apply enough pressure on Bryce Petty to give us a chance this weekend?
Jake Trotter: No question. Watch the TCU game. The Frogs got pressure all game.
Patrick (Waco): Who gets the edge in the trenches between Texas and Baylor?
Jake Trotter: Interesting question. Up the middle, Baylor has the advantage on offense. But can its tackles block Reed and Jeffcoat? On the other side of the ball, I think Texas could have success pounding the ball inside.
Handel (Canton): The 2014 Big 12 MVP will be?
Jake Trotter: Petty would have to be the early favorite, right?
Justin (Stillwater): With the season nearing completion, who's your Big 12 head coach, offensive coordinator and defensive coordinator of the year?
Jake Trotter: As of today, Art Briles, Philip Montgomery and Glenn Spencer.
KD (Houston): I might have missed it but what's your take on Gary Patterson's rant?
Jake Trotter: I get what Patterson was trying to do, but the timing of it was poor, with Briles having suddenly lost his brother just a couple days before.
Shawn (OK): With the addition of TCU and WV are you surprised that those teams are struggling, even in these last two years the Big 12 has been down?
Jake Trotter: To this degree, yes. There was always going to be an adjustment. But I never expected either team to miss out on bowls in their second seasons in the league.
Larry (Arvada): How much do you HATE WVU... and feel that WVU does not deserve to be in the Big 12... your columns and writings seem to point that out.
Jake Trotter: Why, because I put West Virginia last in the power rankings? That's what happens when you lose to Kansas and Iowa State to finish out the season. Just calling it like I see it.
Monday, I spent the afternoon on the phone trying to find out how bowls with Big 12 tie-ins might react to the final two regular-season games, and the different bowl scenarios that might ensue.
Here’s what that reporting revealed:
Tostitos Fiesta Bowl (Jan. 1)
The Fiesta is pretty obvious and clear-cut. Oklahoma State goes if it wins Bedlam. If it doesn’t, the winner of Baylor-Texas goes.
Because the Fiesta has the last at-large selection this year, the Big 12 opponent would be Northern Illinois. However, if the Huskies were upset in the MAC title game, the opponent would then be AAC champ Central Florida, assuming the Knights take care of SMU this weekend.
Allstate Sugar Bowl (Jan. 2)
Assuming there were no upsets in the ACC or Big Ten title games, an 11-1 Baylor would be the highest-ranked at-large available.
Waiting there would be Alabama or the winner of the SEC championship game, if Missouri or Auburn doesn't make it into the national title game.
AT&T Cotton Bowl (Jan. 3)
This is where things get interesting.
If Oklahoma State and Northern Illinois win this weekend, the Cotton would take the winner of Baylor-Texas.
But if Oklahoma State lost Bedlam? The Cotton could actually lean toward the Cowboys. This might irk Sooners fans, but remember, bowls prefer not taking repeat teams, and Oklahoma played in the Cotton last year.
As for the SEC opponent, while most prognosticators are predicting LSU here, the Cotton could actually end up with Missouri or even South Carolina.
If Auburn wins the SEC (and South Carolina ends up in the Capital One Bowl) the Cotton would be inclined to take Missouri. But if Missouri wins the SEC (and Auburn went to the Capital One) the Cotton could jump at the chance of snagging the Gamecocks, who have never been to the Cotton.
One speculative footnote: would the possibility of pairing Bob Stoops against one of his mentors (Steve Spurrier) prompt the Cotton to revisit Oklahoma?
Valero Alamo Bowl (Dec. 30)
Win or lose Bedlam, all signs point toward the Sooners heading to San Antonio. Oklahoma has never been to the Alamo before, and the belief is that the bowl would not pass on the Sooners – especially considering the Alamo has had Texas, Baylor and Oklahoma State the last three years.
The only scenario where the Alamo might not take Oklahoma? The Bears lose a nail biter to Texas after the Sooners get blasted in Bedlam, like 2011. Maybe then the Alamo would think twice about taking Baylor.
The pairing most likely would be Oregon, which would constitute one of the more compelling bowl matchups either way.
Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl (Dec. 28)
The Buffalo Wild Wings is in a prime spot, because it’s likely to get one of the four teams in the top tier of the league.
The bowl will have to see what the Cotton does, but there’s a good chance the Buffalo Wild Wings ends up with Texas, which has only been to Phoenix for a bowl twice (the Fiesta in the 1996 and 2008 seasons).
This potentially would comprise another big-name matchup, with the Buffalo Wild Wings to decide between Michigan or Nebraska on the other side. If it’s Nebraska-Texas, the stadium could probably make a killing selling hate at the concession stands.
National University Holiday Bowl (Dec. 30)
The pick here will be Kansas State, provided the Big 12 doesn’t get two BCS bowl teams.
It is expected that the Holiday would pair the Wildcats with the loser of Stanford-Arizona State, unless for some reason the Alamo passed on Oregon, in which case the Holiday would grab the Ducks.
Texas Bowl (Dec. 27)
The Red Raiders are headed back to the Texas, assuming there's only one BCS berth for the league.
The Big Ten’s final bowl qualifier, Minnesota, would be the opponent, unless the TaxSlayer.com Gator Bowl loses its mind and passes on Michigan or Nebraska.
Team of the week: After trailing by three scores for most of the game, Iowa State came roaring back with 17 straight points in the fourth quarter and ultimately prevailed 52-44 in a stunning, triple-overtime comeback. Freshman QB Grant Rohach was terrific in his second career road start, accounting for five touchdowns, including the winning toss on the first play of the third overtime. The defense forced four turnovers to help spearhead the rally. And punter Kirby Van Der Kamp converted a fake punt into a huge first down, igniting the comeback early in the fourth quarter. As a result, Iowa State finished off an otherwise disappointing season with a thrilling road victory and a two-game winning streak to build on for 2014.
Big (offensive) men on campus: Kansas State running back John Hubert and Iowa State wide receivers Quenton Bundrage and Justin Coleman.
Hubert unleashed a monster performance in his final Sunflower Showdown. The senior rushed for a career-high 220 yards and a touchdown on 30 carries, as K-State defeated Kansas 31-10 for a fifth consecutive victory in the series.
Together with Rohach, Bundrage and Coleman fueled Iowa State's comeback with huge catches down the stretch. After Van Der Kamp's fake punt conversion, Bundrage hauled in a 62-yard touchdown grab to cut West Virginia's lead to 10. Later, Coleman's 19-yard scoring reception tied the game with a minute left in regulation. And on the first play of the third overtime, Coleman reeled in another touchdown, which proved to be the game winner.
All told, Bundrage and Coleman combined for 12 receptions, 184 receiving yards and four touchdowns.
Big (defensive) men on campus: Baylor linebacker Eddie Lackey, TCU cornerback Jason Verrett and Texas defensive end Jackson Jeffcoat.
Lackey played a hand in two turnovers that ultimately led to defensive touchdowns. With the Horned Frogs driving at the end of the second quarter with a chance to take the lead before halftime, Lackey charged up the middle and tagged TCU QB Casey Pachall's legs. The hit forced Pachall's pass to be behind his intended receiver, and Orion Stewart intercepted it and raced 82 yards for a touchdown. Then on TCU's first possession of the third quarter, Lackey picked off Pachall and dashed 54 yards for another score, putting the Bears up 34-17. Lackey added six tackles and a sack in Baylor's 41-38 win.
As good as Lackey was, no player was more dominant than Verrett. Matched up one-on-one with Baylor's Antwan Goodley the entire game, Verrett checked the Big 12's leading receiver to just one reception for 12 yards. As a result, Baylor finished with a season-low 206 passing yards.
Jeffcoat also flourished in his final home game, recording a game-high three sacks as Texas shut down Texas Tech's passing game. Jeffcoat also had seven tackles and a quarterback hurry, solidifying his candidacy as an All-Big 12 defensive end.
Special-teams player of the week: Tech punter Ryan Erxleben produced one of the special-teams plays of the year in the Big 12 in Austin. On Tech's second possession, Erxleben took off on a fake punt and raced 51 yards down the sideline for a touchdown, giving the Red Raiders an early 7-0 lead. After the game, coach Kliff Kingsbury confirmed Erxleben called the fake on his own. It proved to be Tech's longest rush of the season, but pretty much its only highlight in the lackluster loss to the Longhorns.
Play of the week: After falling behind 34-17 on two Baylor defensive touchdowns, TCU made a furious rally and drove into field goal range with a chance to either win or send the game to overtime. Instead, with 18 seconds to go, quarterback Pachall's pass to Brandon Carter was tipped away by Baylor nickelback Sam Holl and into the arms of Terrell Burt for the game-clinching interception to seal Baylor's victory.
Stat of the week: By holding Baylor to 370 yards of offense, TCU snapped the Bears' 37-game streak of at least 400 yards of offense. Ball State now holds the longest FBS streak at 12 games.
Quote of the week: "Gary Patterson lives in Fort Worth. If he's got a problem with me, that's where I live."
-- TCU coach Gary Patterson, after a pair of heated exchanges with Baylor coach Art Briles
1. Patterson has no love for Baylor: While the Baylor players were talking about getting an emotional win for coach Art Briles, who lost his brother earlier in the week, TCU coach Gary Patterson was railing on Baylor; specifically, Briles and Bears safety Ahmad Dixon, who was ejected after targeting TCU's Trevone Boykin. Said Patterson, among many other things, referring to Briles and Dixon: "If that's what class is, I don't want to be it." This old Southwest Conference rivalry just got kicked up another notch.
3. Baylor only barely still alive for a BCS at-large bowl: With Wisconsin falling to Penn State and Clemson losing at South Carolina, the door cracked a little wider for Baylor to sneak into a BCS bowl game, even if Oklahoma State wins next weekend. But only just a little. Assuming the Orange Bowl sticks with its ACC ties and takes Clemson, as expected, there's really only one scenario that gets Baylor an at-large. That would entail Bowling Green knocking off Northern Illinois in the MAC championship game. If that happened, AAC champion Central Florida likely would end up in the Fiesta, freeing up the Sugar to take Baylor.
4. League in line for some intriguing bowl matchups: Even if it fails to get a second BCS bowl team, the Big 12 could be in for some compelling non-BCS bowl games. Here are some possibilities: Baylor-LSU in the AT&T Cotton; OU-Oregon in the Valero Alamo; Texas-Nebraska in the Buffalo Wild Wings; K-State-Stanford in the National University Holiday; and Tech-Michigan in the Heart of Dallas. I could get on board with all five of those matchups.
5. Big 12 newcomers end second seasons very differently: TCU and West Virginia finished their seasons with losses. But both finished in very different ways. The Horned Frogs overcame three crushing turnovers (two pick-sixes and a fumble at their own 1) to take ninth-ranked Baylor to the wire. The Mountaineers blew a 17-point, fourth-quarter lead before falling to Iowa State in triple overtime. Without West Virginia, the Cyclones would have ended their season with just one conference win, and Kansas would have ended the year without one, as the Mountaineers lost to both to close out the year. Neither TCU nor West Virginia will be going bowling in their second seasons in the Big 12. But Patterson will be feeling a lot better about the way his team finished out the season than West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen will about his.
FORT WORTH, Texas -- Before Baylor's game at TCU, Bears running back Lache Seastrunk pulled his head coach to the side.
“Coach Briles, I know you lost somebody,” Seastrunk told him. “But you’ve gained 99 of us.”
On Wednesday, Art Briles lost his brother, Eddie, who died unexpectedly from a head injury after falling in the bathroom of his home.
On Saturday, Briles’ football family gave him a win to ease the pain of that loss, if only for a little bit.
Keeping their Big 12 title and BCS bowl aspirations alive, the ninth-ranked Bears (10-1, 7-1 Big 12) held on to defeat TCU 41-38 at Amon G. Carter Stadium in a thriller that came down to the final seconds.
“That just showed we're a tough football team,” said Briles, who declined to speak directly about his brother, but spent time outside the locker room emotionally hugging players, boosters and administrators. “You want to be in a room full of fighters and believers, and that’s what we have.”
This week required some fight from the Bears.
They suffered their first loss of the season last weekend, as Oklahoma State emphatically bounced them from the national title picture with a 49-17 victory in Stillwater.
Four days later, Eddie -- a nurse in Haskell, Texas, and Briles’ only sibling -- passed away, leaving behind a wife and two children.
Eddie actually appeared in a "College GameDay" feature last weekend, and spoke to ESPN.com for a feature story on his younger brother earlier this month. Their parents, Dennis and Wanda Briles, and their aunt, Elsie "Tottie" Kittley, died in a car accident while traveling to the Cotton Bowl in Dallas to watch Art play for the University of Houston on Oct. 16, 1976.
“(Winning for Coach Briles) was the emphasis of the week for sure,” Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty said. “Every guy in that locker room loves him like their own dad. It hurts you to see him hurt. I think this win was huge for him and that’s what we wanted to do.”
The win didn’t come easily.
TCU (4-8, 2-7), without enough wins to have a chance of qualifying for a bowl, turned Baylor into its de facto bowl game.
Due to an array of injuries and suspensions, the Horned Frogs had struggled offensively all season. But with an extra week to prepare, they saved their best performance for last. The Horned Frogs outgained the nation’s top statistical offense by 40 yards. Yet, after a flurry of turnovers, they found themselves still trailing Baylor 34-17 early in the third quarter.
Over the course of four possessions, TCU fumbled at its own 1-yard line, then Pachall threw two interceptions that Orion Stewart and Eddie Lackey returned for touchdowns.
"I made quite a few mistakes that cost us the ball game,” Pachall said. “I gave them 14 points, just handed it over on a platter."
But TCU didn't go down without a fight, either.
And the turning point came on its following possession. Baylor senior captain and safety Ahmad Dixon was ejected for a targeting penalty on Horned Frogs wide receiver Trevone Boykin, seemingly igniting a heated exchange between Briles and TCU coach Gary Patterson on the field.
Briles avoided addressing the exchange after the game. But Patterson didn't.
“To come across the field to me. ... He's picking on the wrong guy,” said Patterson, who didn't refer to Briles by name. “You're not going to come across to me. You can go correct your player, not me.
"If that's what class is, then I don't want to be it."
The penalty ultimately ignited the Horned Frogs, too. TCU scored touchdowns on its next two possessions, thanks to a Pachall 4-yard touchdown scamper, then a 16-yard scoring toss to Josh Doctson at the back of the end zone.
After Petty found Levi Norwood for a touchdown, TCU came right back again with Pachall’s touchdown strike to David Porter, trimming the deficit to 41-38.
The Horned Frogs got the ball back again with 1 minute, 23 seconds remaining and moved the ball all the way to the Bears’ 23. But two plays later, Pachall’s attempt to Brandon Carter was tipped away by Baylor nickelback Sam Holl, and into the arms of Burt in the end zone.
“This win really showed the character of this team,” Holl said. “We were all playing for Coach Briles. He’s family. He’s going through a rough time right now.
“So we really wanted to get this one for him.”
- The Dallas Morning News' Chuck Carlton cautions that seeking a replacement for Texas coach Mack Brown could be ill-advised. The Longhorns haven't given up on the Big 12 title. Texas Tech will be starting two true freshman DBs in Austin. Tech has rekindled discussions about building an indoor practice facility.
- The Topeka Capital-Journal's Ken Corbitt profiles record-setting Kansas State wide receiver Tyler Lockett, who has fulfilled his family legacy. Charlie Weis is sticking with Montell Cozart as his starting QB for the "Sunflower Showdown," the Lawrence Journal-World's Matt Tait reports.
- Oklahoma State showed TCU the way to stop Baylor's offense, in the opinion of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram's Stefan Stevenson. TCU coach Gary Patterson lauds the Baylor defense. The Dallas Morning News breaks down the past five Baylor-TCU games.
- Iowa State coach Paul Rhoads has a history with West Virginia, writes the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review's Bob Hertzel. Iowa State punter Kirby Van Der Kamp has gone from unknown to NFL prospect, according to the Des Moines Register's Tommy Birch. West Virginia QB Clint Trickett reveals he kept quiet about a concussion earlier this season against Kansas State.
- The Tulsa World's John E. Hoover explores how Oklahoma State QB Clint Chelf saved his season. The Cowboys' win over Baylor is paying off already on the recruiting trail. Oklahoma cornerback Aaron Colvin has been battling through pain, according to the Tulsa World's Eric Bailey. Most of the Sooners watched Oklahoma State's win over Baylor, and came away impressed.
Here’s how the conference chase shapes up going into the final two weeks of the season:
Oklahoma State (10-1, 7-1 Big 12): The Cowboys can secure their second Big 12 championship with a victory over Oklahoma on Dec. 7. The Pokes would also get the league’s automatic BCS bowl berth, owning the head-to-head advantage over the Baylor-Texas winner.
Baylor (9-1, 6-1): Because the Big 12 recognizes co-champions, the Bears still could claim a share of the conference title just by beating TCU and Texas. To get the automatic BCS bowl berth and win the conference outright, however, Baylor would also need the Cowboys to lose to Oklahoma.
Texas (7-3, 6-1): Like Baylor, the Longhorns could gain a share of the Big 12 title by beating Texas Tech and Baylor, though that wouldn’t give the Horns the automatic BCS bowl berth, too. To get that, Texas would also need Oklahoma State to lose Bedlam on top of the Horns winning out.
Oklahoma (9-2, 6-2): While a long shot, there is a scenario that would net the Sooners a co-championship. First, OU would need to beat Oklahoma State. Then, the Sooners would need either Baylor or Texas to lose this week. And after that, OU would need the team that lost to beat the other in their season finale. That would create a four-way tie (or three-way tie, if both Baylor and Texas lost this week) at the top, handing the Sooners a share of the crown. In this scenario, Oklahoma State would still get the BCS bowl berth because of its head-to-head tiebreaker advantages.
First, the Sooners blitzed K-State, destroying my first pick. Then Oklahoma State annihilated Baylor, annihilating my second pick. And before the end of the night, the Iowa State Cyclones made me look ridiculous for taking the Jayhawks.
As a result, I went 0-3 for the week. To add insult to injury, Wingnut Drew went 2-1. Now, I trail you guest pickers for the season. Maybe one of you should just take over the blog.
Alas, I fear you all would miss me too much. So I’m going to give it another go.
This week’s guest picker submission, Shelley from Lubbock, Texas:
I grew up watching the Dallas Cowboys, Houston Oilers (yep, I’m old) and West Texas high school football under the Friday night lights. But I love college football the most. Now, I work in the billing office at Texas Tech. After eight years of watching Tech athletes grow and succeed on and off the field, I have become a Red Raider, despite my Aggie roots. Guns Up!
To the Week 14 picks:
Trotter last week: 0-3 (.000)
Guest picker (Wingnut Drew) last week: 2-1 (.667)
Trotter overall: 52-18 (.743)
Guest picker overall: 40-13 (.754)
Texas 37, Texas Tech 31: There are only four teams in college football whose turnover differentials are negative-11 or worse: Southern Miss, California, Eastern Michigan and Texas Tech. Southern Miss, Cal and EMU have combined to win three games. So, it’s actually pretty remarkable the Red Raiders have seven wins, given how poor their ball security has been. Turnovers, however, will doom the Red Raiders in Austin, as Texas takes better care of the ball and exploits Tech’s depleted defensive front with Malcolm Brown and Joe Bergeron. Sorry, Shelley.
Shelley’s pick: The Red Raiders jump to a big lead, forcing Texas to play catch-up, which means playing fast, which means throwing the ball … and we all know Case McCoy’s arm can handle only so many passes in one game. Seeing the Longhorns lose on Thanksgiving is better than pecan pie. Tech, 35-17
Kansas State 44, Kansas 13: One step forward, two steps back. The Jayhawks finally looked like they were breaking out after a landmark victory over West Virginia that ended a 27-game conference losing streak. Instead, Kansas looked like the old Kansas while getting obliterated in Ames. Tyler Lockett has another huge afternoon hauling in passes downfield, Daniel Sams and John Hubert pound the Jayhawks defensive line and the Wildcats run their Sunflower State winning streak to five on their way to the National University Holiday Bowl.
Shelley’s pick: “The Sunflower Showdown” is the worst rivalry name ever. It sounds like a gardening reality show on HGTV. Sadly, the game will probably be as entertaining as a gardening show. K-State, 45-17
Baylor 41, TCU 23: The Horned Frogs aren’t going to a bowl. So they’ve turned QB Casey Pachall’s final college start into a de facto bowl game. That, combined with a slight Baylor hangover, actually keeps this game interesting in the fourth quarter.
Shelley’s pick: Baylor is going to take out its frustration on those poor Horned Frogs. It's going to be ugly in Fort Worth. Baylor, 63-17
West Virginia 27, Iowa State 21: West Virginia QB Clint Trickett called Iowa State "the greatest 2-9 football team in the history of football." After falling at Kansas, it's probably wise for West Virginia to respect any and every opponent. But the Mountaineers have been a different team in Morgantown than on the road. Just ask Mike Gundy.
Shelley’s pick: Both of these teams would really love a reset button. Iowa State gets my vote in this one purely because the Cyclones have momentum in their favor after crushing KU last week. Iowa State, 24-14
Dymar (Tallassee, Ala.): Do u think that Baylor will still get to play in a BCS bowl?
Jake Trotter: It sounds like the Orange Bowl is leaning toward Wisconsin with its BCS bowl. Remember, the Orange has an upcoming agreement with the Big Ten, so that might influence their thinking. Wisky really travels well, too. So Penn State beating Wisconsin this weekend would really help Baylor's cause to get an at-large berth. The automatic berth is still on the table, too, but the Bears would need an Oklahoma win in Bedlam.
JFB (DFW): If Johnny Manziel has another bad game and Alabama loses a game, can Bryce Petty still win the Heisman with a strong finish to the season or did that ship sail last weekend in Stillwater?
Jake Trotter: I think the ship has sailed...
Dalton (Wichita, Kan.): Love the blog, I spend way too much time on it. Anyways, what are the odds of either Corey Nelson or Jordan Phillips getting a medical redshirt? If so, when will it be announced?
Jake Trotter: Bob Stoops said early December. I had someone close to the team tell me yesterday they are actually optimistic about Nelson's chances. We'll see what happens.
Tom (Oklahoma): Over the last five years Oklahoma State has a better win percentage than OU. If they win next week and claim their second Big 12 title in three years, at what point do people start to talk seriously about Oklahoma St. surpassing OU nationally?
Jake Trotter: As the OU sports information department pointed out yesterday -- maybe feeling a little bit insecure about this very topic -- Oklahoma St. has only been winning at a high level for the last five years. The Sooners have been winning at a high level for 70 years. So Oklahoma St. is not going to surpass OU as a program, even with a win. The gap, however, has closed enormously.
Robert (Lubbock): What will it take to get the Mackey Award shut down? Their treatment of Jace Amaro, college football fans, and indeed their own award is downright wrong.
Jake Trotter: The credibility of the award comes into question with the way they've handled Amaro from the beginning. If they want to restrict the award to TEs that put their hand down every play, then why did they give it to Chase Coffman in 2008? I don't get it.
Jake (St Joseph, Mo.) Why is Tyler Lockett so underrated as a receiver? Also do you think he has a chance at All American?
Jake Trotter: No chance at All-American, but I'm stumping for him to be first-team All-Big 12 as a WR.
Raider Red (Lubbock): Who's got the best mustache in the Big 12?
Jake Trotter: Boomstache (Nick O'Toole)... who else?
In 2011, Oklahoma State entered late November undefeated with a shot at the national title. Then, the Cowboys suffered their first loss after an inexplicable performance at Iowa State, knocking them out of the national championship race.
Two years later, Baylor finds itself in similar waters after getting decimated by many of those same Cowboys over the weekend. The Bears are also hoping they can respond the very same way those Cowboys did two years ago.
“We hit a bump in the road,” Baylor coach Art Briles said. “But shoot, we’ve still got a lot of things out there.”
Baylor went into Stillwater, Okla., with a chance to climb as high as third in the BCS standings. But after quarterback Bryce Petty tripped at the Oklahoma State 1-yard line in the first quarter and running back Shock Linwood fumbled two plays later, the Bears were never the same. The Cowboys jumped to a 35-3 lead before coasting to a 49-17 victory, handing Baylor its first loss of the season in emphatic fashion.
This Saturday, the Bears travel to TCU before playing the final game at Floyd Casey Stadium on Dec. 7 against Texas. The Bears will be heavy favorites in both games. But they’ll also have to play better than they did in Stillwater.
Baylor allowed Oklahoma State’s offense to average more than eight yards per play, almost double what the Bears had surrendered in any game this season.
The Baylor offense, which entered averaging a national-best 61 points per game, couldn’t get the ground game rolling or complete passes against man coverage downfield -- its two calling cards all season. Injuries to running backs Lache Seastrunk (groin) and Glasco Martin (knee), left tackle Spencer Drango (back) and wideout Tevin Reese (wrist) finally took their toll as the Oklahoma State defense completely shut down the Bears for three quarters.
“We lost badly. Tremendously,” said guard Cyril Richardson, who was named an Outland Trophy finalist Monday. “There weren’t too many positives in that game. We just have to learn from the experience and come back stronger from it.”
Nobody knew how Oklahoma State would come back after that stunning defeat at Ames two seasons ago. But instead of allowing Iowa State to beat them twice, the Cowboys bounced back with their finest performance of the season, routing No. 14 Oklahoma 44-10 to clinch the school’s first Big 12 title and first BCS bowl berth.
Like the Cowboys did, Baylor still has a lot of things out there, as Briles put it.
“If we finish with just one loss, in three weeks no one will care about it,” Petty said. “We still have a lot to play for. That’s how we have to treat it.”
The Bears could still earn a share of their first Big 12 title, or even win it outright if the Sooners can upset Oklahoma State in two weeks. The Bears could also still advance to their first BCS bowl game.
But at the worst, Baylor could set a school record for victory in a season, go to its first Cotton Bowl in 32 years and finish in the top 10 of the polls for the first time since 1951.
“We’re fine; we really are,” Briles said. “I mean, what choice do you have? My goodness, we played a good football team, and they made the plays when they needed to make them. It’s happened to a lot of people at a lot of different times.
"To me it’s a great chance to show our resolve, our toughness and where our direction is.”
Is there anyone else who should be considered for Big 12 offensive player of the year and/or All-Big 12 quarterback, other than Baylor's Bryce Petty?
Brandon Chatmon: His strongest competition for offensive player of the year is Kansas State’s Tyler Lockett. Imagine the Wildcats' season if Lockett was healthy and available for games against Oklahoma State and Baylor. He combined for 25 receptions for 515 yards against Texas and Oklahoma, so I’m guessing he would have stepped up against the Cowboys and Bears as well.
Max Olson: A case can be made for Chelf, who ranks No. 4 nationally in adjusted QBR since becoming Oklahoma State’s starting quarterback. He might be the favorite had Mike Gundy given him the job earlier. But Petty is still No. 1 for now. If Texas Tech hadn’t fallen into its four-game slump and was just a game or two back in the Big 12 race, Jace Amaro would merit consideration.
Who at this moment is your Big 12 defensive player of the year?
Trotter: Oklahoma State middle linebacker Caleb Lavey has been the heart and soul of the top defense in the Big 12. He’s also had a fabulous season, ranking fifth in the league in tackles and tackles for loss and tied for second in interceptions. To me, he’s been the defensive player of the year in this league.
Chatmon: No player has clearly cemented himself as the favorite for this award, but I’m going with Oklahoma State cornerback Justin Gilbert. He’s taken his game to another level as a senior with six interceptions, returning two for scores against Iowa State and Texas. After a subpar junior year, he’s been all business as a senior.
Olson: There’s still time for a new favorite to rise to the top of the heap, but right now I’d go with the best player of the best defense in the Big 12. To me, that’s Gilbert. Not just because of his six interceptions, but because he’s playing at an elite level against elite competition this month. If Gilbert shuts down the Sooners, I’m fine with him winning the honor.
Who is the most underrated player in the league?
Chatmon: His team struggled, but West Virginia’s Charles Sims did not. The Houston transfer has been one of the Big 12’s toughest players to defend with his ability to gain tough yards, break the big run and catch the ball out of the backfield from his running back spot. He’s averaged 5.8 yards per touch from the line of scrimmage this season.
Olson: He’s one of the Big 12’s best, but I can’t help but think that Ryan Mueller doesn’t get enough attention. The Kansas State defensive end now has 10.5 sacks and 17 tackles for loss, and he’ll likely finish in the top 10 nationally in both categories. He’s a worthy candidate for DPOY, but because K-State fell off the national radar early on this season, he still seems a bit underappreciated.
Which one injury had the biggest impact on this Big 12 season?
Trotter: I don’t think Baylor would have won at Oklahoma State with just one of its injured players, and I doubt the Bears will lose again without any of them, either. So I’ll go with Oklahoma linebacker Corey Nelson. The Sooners were playing great defense early in the season with Nelson leading the way. After he suffered the season-ending pectoral tear, they were never the same on that side of the ball, especially the following week against Texas.
Chatmon: It would have been interesting to see if Baylor could have finished off its dream season with a healthy Lache Seastrunk. I think Saturday’s result proved the Bears running back, not Petty, was the foundation that the Bears’ offense was built upon. Shock Linwood is a superb player and appears to be a future star, but he’s not Lache Seastrunk.
Olson: I agree with Brandon on Seastrunk for the same reasons he laid out. Two more worth mentioning: Losing the always reliable and speedy Tevin Reese has been a setback for Baylor. The way he can stretch a defense and stress a defense created lots of opportunities all over the field for the Bears. And we'll never know how much David Ash could have helped Texas, as he seemed poised for a big year.
Team of the week: Oklahoma State took command of the Big 12 title race with a commanding 49-17 win over No. 4 Baylor. Behind the most dominant defensive performance in the Big 12 this season, the Cowboys limited the nation’s highest-scoring offense to just three points over the first three quarters. Oklahoma State also rolled up 594 yards of offense, too. The Cowboys are now 9-3 versus AP Top 25 teams going back to 2011, and after winning just one conference title from 1953 to 2010, Oklahoma State can win a second in three seasons with a victory over Oklahoma in two weeks.
Big (offensive) men on campus: Oklahoma State quarterback Clint Chelf, Oklahoma running back Brennan Clay, Kansas State wide receiver Tyler Lockett and Iowa State quarterback Grant Rohach.
Chelf unleashed the best performance of his career, completing 19 of 25 passes for a career-high 370 yards and three touchdowns. Chelf also had a 48-yard reception on a trick play. For the second consecutive week, Chelf posted the second-highest QBR in college football, delivering a score of 97.8 (scale zero to 100) against Baylor. He is now seventh in the FBS in QBR.
Clay also had a career day, rushing for a personal-best 200 yards and two touchdowns on 31 carries, with Damien Williams suspended, to lead OU to a 41-31 win over Kansas State.
Lockett had a monster performance, too, in the game, hauling in 12 passes for 278 yards and three touchdowns. Lockett’s 440 all-purpose yards broke Darren Sproles’ school record and were the second most ever in a Big 12 game.
Rohach, who had not thrown a touchdown pass in his five previous games, finished 15-of-20 passing with scoring throws of 58 and 15 yards to lead Iowa State to a 34-0 rout of Kansas.
Big (defensive) men on campus: Oklahoma State cornerbacks Tyler Patmon and Kevin Peterson.
Baylor’s pass-catchers entered the night leading the country in 30-, 40- and 50-yard receptions. Against the Cowboys, they had just two such receptions.
Even with All-American cornerback Justin Gilbert limited to spot duty because of a shoulder injury, the Cowboys still locked up Baylor’s receivers. Why? Patmon and Peterson, who held up remarkably well in man coverage on the outside against Baylor's Antwan Goodley and Levi Norwood. With Patmon and Peterson taking away the deep ball, the Cowboys were able to commit more bodies to pressuring QB Bryce Petty and shutting down Baylor’s rushing attack.
Patmon also delivered the Oklahoma State defense’s exclamation point when he scooped up a Petty fumble in the fourth quarter and raced 78 yards for a touchdown to put the Cowboys up 42-10.
Special-teams player of the week: Oklahoma’s Jalen Saunders. For the second consecutive week, a Saunders punt return proved to be the turning point in an OU win. With the Sooners up 27-24 early in the fourth quarter, Saunders fielded a short punt on the fly and dashed 30 yards to the K-State 3-yard line. Clay scored a touchdown on the next play, and the Wildcats never recovered from the special-teams swing.
Play of the week: Midway through the first quarter in Stillwater, QB Petty pulled the ball on a read-option and appeared to be on his way to a 27-yard touchdown. Instead, Petty’s feet got tangled up and he stumbled to the turf at the OSU 1. It proved to be a critical stumble. Two plays later, Shock Linwood tried to extend the ball over the goal line, but before he could, Cowboys defensive tackle James Castleman batted the ball out of Linwood’s hands and recovered the fumble. The Cowboys countered with a 99-yard touchdown drive to take a 7-0 lead and remained in control the rest of the night.
Stat of the week: Baylor has lost 37 straight road games to ranked opponents dating all the way back to 1991.
Quote of the week: "Without question, there are rodeos, and this is not their first one."
-- Baylor coach Art Briles, on Oklahoma State after the Cowboys defeated his Bears 49-17
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