Dallas Colleges: best/worst 2013
Oklahoma will have one of the least-hyped preseasons in recent Sooners history, but still have a deeper talent pool than most of the Big 12. Let's have a closer look.
Other best- and worst-case scenarios.
NORMAN, Okla. -- Make it nine.
Bob Stoops' 15th season wasn't easy, but it ended with a ninth Big 12 title and another trip to the BCS.
A trio of home games to open the season provided little resistance for the red-hot Sooners, who rolled over Louisiana-Monroe, West Virginia and Tulsa before taking a week off to prep for Notre Dame.
It worked. Oklahoma picked off Tommy Rees three times -- twice in the red zone -- and left South Bend 4-0 after a 21-17 win.
Wins over TCU and Texas sent the Sooners to 6-0 and a top-5 ranking, impressing voters with a three-touchdown beating of the Longhorns in Dallas. National title talk naturally surfaced with major speed bumps out of the way and four of Oklahoma's wins falling in the "quality" category. The Sooners survived a scare against Texas Tech at home with a late touchdown pass from Blake Bell, who rushed for 704 yards and threw for 3,200 yards, accounting for 37 touchdowns on the season.
Oklahoma got another week off, but traveled to Waco as the nation's No. 2 team for a hyped Thursday night game. Oops, the Bears did it again. Another national audience, another monumental upset, popping the Sooners' national title balloon but still allowing them to control their destiny on the way to the Big 12 title and a BCS bid. OU bounced back with a 30-point home win against Iowa State and survived a scare against a relentless Kansas State team, whose game-winning touchdown run was erased by a holding penalty.
Thanksgiving Week off served the Sooners well, who looked fresh in Stillwater on Championship Week, once again meeting with the Big 12 title on the line. Just like 2010, an offensive shootout went the way of the Sooners with two fourth-quarter touchdown passes longer than 40 yards from Bell, who earned a spot in Sooner lore with the legendary performance with another title on the line. There's no national title appearance in the cards for OU, but it beat both of its chief rivals for the second consecutive season, earning one final trip to the Fiesta Bowl in the Big 12's last year of affiliation with the game.
Final record: 11-1
NORMAN, Okla. -- The warning signs were there when Oklahoma needed some fourth-quarter heroics to beat West Virginia and trailed in the second half of games against Tulsa and Louisiana-Monroe before securing double-digit victories in both.
Notre Dame finally exposed Oklahoma's offense and defense with a dominant 34-13 win in South Bend. Blake Bell struggled with decision-making and accuracy all season long, and TCU's defense exploited both in a 27-17 win. Losing to Texas in any way is bad enough, but doing so while the Longhorns throw eight passes is even worse. Texas' offensive line dominated the Sooners' young front four in a Red River the Sooners would love to forget, sending them to 3-3 at the season's midpoint.
Oklahoma bounced back with a 34-21 win over Kansas the next week and played its best game of the year in a win over Texas Tech a week later, but the same issues stopping the run were too much for the Sooners in an ugly road loss to Baylor. The offense clearly showed progress in that game and it was enough to earn them wins over Iowa State and Kansas State, but Oklahoma State brought the Sooners' regular season to a merciful end. At no point did they look like a Big 12 contender, middling for most of the season and equaling Bob Stoops' worst two in Norman -- 1999 and 2009. That buys Oklahoma a ticket to the Holiday Bowl.
Final record: 7-5
The Cowboys are my pick to win the Big 12 in 2013, but here's how high they could fly, and how low they could fall.
Other best- and worst-case scenarios.
STILLWATER, Okla. -- The Cowboys began their season with a victory against an SEC team, and ended it with a loss to one.
The Cowboys rolled through their nonconference slate with three wins all by at least 20 points, including a rout of Mississippi State. Early struggles in their Big 12 opener at West Virginia gave way to 21 consecutive second-half points and a 17-point victory. OSU took a top-10 ranking back home and made it look easy against Kansas State before TCU brought the first real fight to the Cowboys. Both defenses starred, and Clint Chelf was able to come back from a sack/fumble courtesy of Devonte Fields that gave TCU a fourth-quarter lead. Josh Stewart's four catches on the eventual game-winning drive pushed OSU to a 24-20 win in Stillwater.
Ames and Lubbock have been difficult places for the Cowboys to win at times, but OSU proved the better team in both trips, which were largely incident-free and pushed OSU to 8-0; a KU rout a week later meant 9-0.
The pressure was officially built for the home stretch. The trip to Texas to face a top-10 Longhorns squad had plenty of hype, but OSU's turnover-free performance helped it hold off a late Texas rally for a 31-27 win. Baylor brought its big guns the next week and embarrassed the OSU defense, but Blake Jackson, Tracy Moore and Stewart answered, helping Chelf rack up 400 yards and five scores in a 47-44 win, giving OSU a spotless 11-0 record heading into Bedlam. No surprise here: Another classic for bragging rights in the Sooner State, which won't be a Sooner State for the next year after the Pokes' overtime victory. Last year, Blake Bell broke the Cowboys' hearts. This year, it's Jeremy Smith's turn, breaking two tackles for the game-winning score, setting off another field-storming and a trip to the national title game. A loss to Alabama at the Rose Bowl tasted bitter, but nobody's forgetting these Cowboys anytime soon.
FINAL RECORD: 12-1
STILLWATER, Okla. -- You know how you can predict whether or not a season's going to be a disappointment? Losing as a two-touchdown favorite in the season opener is a great start, and that's what OSU fans who traveled to Houston got. The Cowboys survived their first two conference games against West Virginia and Kansas State, but an ugly loss to TCU had fans wondering whether or not it was still possible to bring Wes Lunt back.
Chelf won back some doubters with a fourth-quarter comeback in Ames against Iowa State the next week, but a trip to Lubbock sent the Pokes to a disappointing 5-3 mark with the toughest stretch of the schedule to come. Just like last season, Oklahoma State narrowly avoided an embarrassing loss by holding off KU late, but Stillwater braced itself to face three of the Big 12's best teams in a big finish to 2013.
Predictably, all three sent Oklahoma State home disappointed and ended a hyped season with a modest 6-6 mark. The Pokes got tangled up in the Big 12's depth and proved that, just like West Virginia in 2012 and Texas A&M in 2011, if you don't turn in a high-quality performance for 60 minutes every week, there are many teams in the Big 12 who can beat even the league's most talented squads. Welcome back to the Heart of Dallas Bowl, Oklahoma State.
FINAL RECORD: 6-6
This should be the most anticipated season in a long time for TCU football, but it's got a wide variance of possible results. Let's take a closer look.
Other best and worst-case scenarios.
FORT WORTH, Texas -- TCU found out the fun way that it doesn't take an undefeated season to reach the BCS anymore.
The Frogs earned a huge win without Devonte Fields against LSU, but nobody questioned whether or not Casey Pachall would be back to his old self after shredding the Tigers for 280 yards and a pair of scores through the air, completing 24 of 30 passes along the way. Aaron Green and Waymon James sealed that game late and looked unstoppable, propelling TCU to a win.
Two weeks later, the Frogs rolled over a Texas Tech team in a Thursday night game that looked overmatched. By the end of the season, we knew that game told us more about the Frogs than it did Tech. SMU didn't have much of a chance a week later, but TCU partied like it was 2005 a week later when it beat Oklahoma in Norman. Pachall's 4-yard, go-ahead touchdown with 20 seconds to go can be thanked for that, capping an 85-yard drive that proved to be the game-winner.
All of a sudden, the Frogs were 5-0 with three quality wins on the schedule. Kansas was a speed bump, unlike last year's ugly affair, but TCU couldn't get revenge for Oklahoma State's blowout win last season. A second consecutive trip to Stillwater meant another loss, but a game-winning drive stalled on fourth down near midfield in the 31-27 loss.
The memory of that game was pretty hazy after a second consecutive win over Texas, this one in Fort Worth. The Big 12's top two defenses went head to head, but Jason Verrett's pick-six early in the second half energized the crowd and sideline for the Frogs, who pitched a second-half shutout in the 31-13 win. West Virginia and Iowa State didn't prove much of a fight, but TCU fans took notice when Oklahoma State fell to the Longhorns in Austin while TCU knocked off Kansas State.
The Frogs capped their season with a shootout win over Baylor but gathered as a team to watch Bedlam, which would decide their Big 12 title fate. The Sooners beat Oklahoma State in Stillwater to give the Frogs their first Big 12 title in just their second season in the league. Big 12 titles in half of their seasons as a league member? Who does this TCU team think it is? Oklahoma?
FINAL RECORD: 11-1
FORT WORTH, Texas -- Gary Patterson insisted he had two quarterbacks he felt he could win with and his decision to start Trevone Boykin against LSU proved him a truth-teller.
By the time both quarterbacks had played (and floundered), TCU was down 17 to LSU in the fourth quarter and it was clear TCU had zero quarterbacks capable of winning a Big 12 title. Boykin beat out Pachall in fall camp, but the LSU game was the beginning of a season-long carousel at the spot. The Frogs survived a home date against SMU, but lost a heartbreaker at Texas Tech the following week to fall to 2-2.
That began a season-long dance with bowl eligibility and the .500 mark, too.
Road losses to Oklahoma and Oklahoma State sandwiched an ugly win over Kansas that required some late heroics, but the Longhorns walked into Amon G. Carter Stadium and sent TCU to 3-5 with a power running game the Frogs had no answer for.
TCU bounced back with solid wins over West Virginia and Iowa State to rebound to 5-5, but two difficult games proved too difficult to close the season. The Frogs' season began with high hopes but ended with them challenging Texas A&M's 2010 team as one of the Big 12's biggest disappointments in recent history. It doesn't take much to fall from the top 15 to being home for the holidays.
FINAL RECORD: 5-7
Just like most years, Texas' ceiling is sky-high. This year, though, with experience and a solid depth chart, that's especially true.
Other best and worst-case scenarios.
AUSTIN, Texas -- Is Texas back?
I'm not sure. Ask Alabama. The Crimson Tide got a front-row seat to the Longhorns' last truly great team, but only for a few minutes before Colt McCoy trotted off the field at the Rose Bowl for good, holding his throwing shoulder.
Four years later, on the same field, Texas finally ended the SEC's streak of 19 consecutive national titles. ... Or maybe it just felt like 19. Either way, it's over. Safe to say you'll get no argument from Alabama about whether or not Texas is "back."
The Longhorns rolled over New Mexico State and BYU to start the season and made Ole Miss look very average in a 24-point win in Austin to start the season. Still, we'd seen this before, and skepticism abounded. Beating Kansas State a week later was a small step toward respect, but the Wildcats are rebuilding. So was Iowa State, which fell victim in Ames a week later by 17 points in a nationally televised Thursday night game with a hyped crowd hoping for an upset.
Still, nobody was taking Texas truly serious until it beat the team that tormented it the last two seasons. You want revenge? Joe Bergeron got it on a short swing pass. He took it upfield, hurdled one Oklahoma cornerback and stiff-armed a Sooners safety on the way to a 64-yard score in the first quarter. The undefeated Sooners rallied to take a 10-point lead in the second half, but a late charge led by David Ash and Johnathan Gray put the Longhorns over the top. Ash's 40-yard touchdown bomb to Mike Davis with just over a minute to play proved to be the game winner and the play that made the country finally sit up and pay attention to the Longhorns.
Two weeks later, the Longhorns found themselves in a fistfight with TCU, but earned a 21-13 win in Fort Worth with a late defensive stop. Kansas and West Virginia did little to slow the Longhorns' run, but a one-loss Oklahoma State team didn't come close, either. The Longhorns sacked Clint Chelf four times and picked him off twice in a 14-point win.
Wins over in-state rivals Texas Tech and Baylor iced the cake and sent them to Pasadena once again for a shot at the title they never truly got to chase without McCoy for most of the game at the end of the 2009 season.
This time, though, they took advantage, and the crystal football is headed back to Austin for the first time since 2005 -- coincidentally, the last time a team from outside the SEC won the national championship.
FINAL RECORD: 13-0
AUSTIN, Texas -- Trade any discussion about "Is Texas back?" for talk about if it's time to make a change in leadership.
The cracks in the foundation were obvious in a home loss to Ole Miss, and the wound felt a little fresher when Texas A&M thrashed the Rebels by 30 a month later, reminding the Longhorns of the on-field gap between them and their former rival.
A week later, Kansas State did it again, throwing seven passes in a win over the Longhorns to move to 8-2 overall against Texas in Big 12 play.
At 2-2, Texas' Big 12 title hopes weren't dead just yet, but the season was more about keeping the wheels from falling off than capturing any trophies. The Longhorns barely survived a road date against Iowa State, but the next Saturday was a familiar scene at the State Fair of Texas.
Not again. Oklahoma 41, Texas 17.
The Sooners scored a couple of late touchdowns to make the score worse than it really was, but that's a score folks in Austin and around the Big 12 won't forget the rest of the season.
A narrow loss the next week dropped Texas to 3-4 and officially cast the "failure" label over one of the most hyped seasons at Texas in some time.
The Longhorns beat Kansas and West Virginia to get back on the right side of .500, but then Oklahoma State humbled Texas for the third time in four seasons in Austin, knocking them back to 5-5 with games against Texas Tech and Baylor left to play. The Longhorns managed to hold serve in Austin against Texas Tech and became bowl eligible, but the final game at Floyd Casey Stadium was unfriendly for Texas, which watched the Bears charge past them by double digits for another 10-win season, sending Texas to the Pinstripe Bowl in NYC for the first time.
FINAL RECORD: 6-6
With a good amount of returning talent but a new coaching staff, Texas Tech will be tough to project. I've got them seventh in my power rankings right now, but here's how I project the Red Raiders' floor and ceiling.
Other best- and worst-case scenarios.
LUBBOCK, Texas -- The immediate takeaway from the 2013 season in Raiderland?
Far more butt slapping this time around than headset slapping.
Kliff Kingsbury's offense looked the part of what we were used to seeing under Mike Leach out in West Texas, with a little bit of Michael Brewer's legs mixed in. Texas Tech announced its offense's arrival rather loudly in Dallas with a 40-point blowout win against SMU on Friday night, the first night of the season.
Two weeks later, it turned heads with a strong showing on Thursday night, knocking off TCU by double digits and looking the part of a Big 12 title contender. A pair of no-doubt wins against Texas State and KU preceded more solid wins against Iowa State and on the road at West Virginia, and all of a sudden, Texas Tech is floating near the top five and loving life at 7-0.
Not a bad debut for The King in Lubbock.
It's about to get tougher, though. A road trip to Oklahoma ruined Tech's perfect record, after the Sooners forced Brewer into a couple late interceptions to seal the game. A week later, Oklahoma State rolled into Lubbock and sent the Red Raiders stumbling to 7-2 in another frustrating loss, despite 350 yards through the air and 70 yards rushing from Brewer. Tech bounced back with a pair of home wins against Baylor and Kansas State, but a Thanksgiving night game against Texas to close the season ends the season on a rough note. Even when Texas went 5-7, they beat the Red Raiders. Tech has beaten Texas just once since 2002, and the Longhorns get the best of them again, eliminating Tech from the Big 12 title race and pushing them into the Alamo Bowl.
FINAL RECORD: 9-3
LUBBOCK, Texas -- Michael Brewer not distancing himself from true freshman Davis Webb was an ominous sign to start the season, but all was forgiven when the Red Raiders rallied late to erase a double-digit, fourth-quarter deficit and beat their former Southwest Conference rivals in Dallas.
That was just first-game jitters, getting some kinks out with a new staff, right?
A 20-point beatdown at home on national television two weeks later from TCU would certainly disagree with that assessment. The Red Raiders ripped off three consecutive wins to reach 4-1 and inspire some optimism, but got outgunned in Morgantown in a close loss to the Mountaineers. A week later, the wheels started to rattle. Early struggles in Norman forced Kingsbury to look to Webb for answers at quarterback, and he had a bit of success, but the Sooners earned some revenge for their 2011 loss at Owen Field.
Webb earned his first career start a week later at home against Oklahoma State, but Kingsbury went right back to Brewer after the Red Raiders failed to cross midfield in the first quarter, and Kansas transfer Tyler Patmon picked off Webb to officially end his day.
I won't talk about the other three quarters. It wasn't 66-6, but it wasn't pretty. This guy didn't seem to mind, though. He rushed the field in the third quarter hoping to inspire his team, but even the most glorious of jorts couldn't rescue the Red Raiders from this beating and a season turned south.
Kansas State and Baylor added a pair of other losses, and Texas piled on the final indignity, making 2013 feel a lot like 2011. Seven consecutive losses is never a good way to end a year, but there's a lot of work to do for Year 2 for Kingsbury, who now has to wonder if Brewer really is the quarterback of the future.
FINAL RECORD: 4-8
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