Dallas Colleges: Brodrick Brown

Big 12 media days live: Day 2

July, 22, 2014
Jul 22
The Big 12 media days continue on Tuesday in Dallas, as Oklahoma's Bob Stoops and new Texas coach Charlie Strong each take the stage. Keep this page open throughout the day's proceedings as we bring you the latest from our reporters, who will cover all 10 teams at the event.

Oklahoma State Cowboys spring wrap

May, 1, 2013
2012 record: 8-5
2012 Big 12 record: 5-4
Returning starters: Offense: 7; defense: 7; kicker/punter: 0

Top returners: QB Clint Chelf, WR Josh Stewart, CB Justin Gilbert, LB Shaun Lewis, LB Caleb Lavey, WR Blake Jackson, DT Calvin Barnett, S Daytawion Lowe, DE Tyler Johnson

Key losses: RB Joseph Randle, LB Alex Elkins, K/P/KOS Quinn Sharp, CB Brodrick Brown, DE Nigel Nicholas, WR Isaiah Anderson

2012 statistical leaders (*returners)

Passing: Clint Chelf* (1,588 yards)
Rushing: Joseph Randle (1,417 yards)
Receiving: Josh Stewart* (1,210 yards)
Tackles: Alex Elkins, Daytawion Lowe* (75)
Sacks: Tyler Johnson* (4)
Interceptions: Lyndell Johnson*, Daytawion Lowe*, Shamiel Gary* (2)

Spring answers

1. The defense's intentions are clear. Bill Young is out. Glenn Spencer is in, and he's all about playing aggressive. Tight coverage and blitzes are the name of the game, and we'll see if it pays off in a Big 12 lacking in quarterback experience. Last season, OSU's parade of turnovers came to an end, but Spencer seems intent on bringing it back. Nobody's stopping Big 12 offenses, but forcing turnover and holding teams to three in the red zone are how you succeed on defense in this league.

2. The offensive line is set ... for now. Center Evan Epstein and guard Lane Taylor are gone, but the Pokes are going with youth at left tackle in sophomore Devin Davis, moving last year's left tackle, Parker Graham, to left guard. Meanwhile, junior Jake Jenkins is sliding up to take Epstein's spot at center. That's how it ended in the spring, but OL coach Joe Wickline is kind of unpredictable, so those guys better continue to bring it in fall camp.

3. Athletic director Mike Holder is still running the show. Gundy and Holder had a disagreement on scheduling that nearly ended with Gundy packing his bags to succeed Derek Dooley in Knoxville. But Gundy's displeasure with Holder helping schedule Mississippi State this year and Florida State next year -- both on neutral fields -- hasn't changed much. OSU just announced a future home-and-home with Boise State. Who knows what Boise will look like then, but the intent is clear: Holder wants attention-grabbing, money-making games to start the season, not home games against patsies to help OSU run up an easy 3-0 mark before conference play begins.

Fall questions

1. Seriously, what's the deal at quarterback? Chelf is the safe bet at quarterback, but Gundy reneged on a statement midway through spring that he would hold onto his starting spot in Week 1 ahead of J.W. Walsh and Wes Lunt. Now, Gundy says the starter for Game 1 hasn't been decided, and quarterbacks are off limits to the media with no updates being given until after the season opener. We'll see if Gundy sticks to it, and if Chelf hangs onto the starting job he earned with strong play to close 2012.

2. Is Oklahoma State a new Big 12 power? The Pokes broke through and won a title in 2011, but one title doesn't mean anything in the big picture. OSU is in position to win another and just may be the league favorite to start the season. They are in my book for sure. Two Big 12 titles in three seasons? That's serious, and the Pokes have a chance to do some special things this season.

3. Is Mike Yurcich the next super coordinator at OSU? Mike Gundy's been a head coach less than a decade, but his coaching tree is already way underrated. He's churning out head coaches year after year, highlighted by guys like Dana Holgorsen at West Virginia, Larry Fedora at North Carolina and Tim Beckman at Illinois. Todd Monken just left for Southern Miss, and if Yurcich, who stepped into the new role from a Division II school, keeps the pace for this offense, I'm betting he may attract interest before too long, too. Watching how he handles Year 1 will be interesting. Monken came from being an NFL position coach and made parlaying that into a head coaching job look easy.

Season report card: Oklahoma State

January, 16, 2013
We're grading each Big 12 team's season right now, and we'll move on to the next team on the list: The Oklahoma State Cowboys.

OFFENSE: You have to grade this unit on a curve. No other team in the Big 12 had to deal with this kind of injuries to the most important position on the field, quarterback. Wes Lunt was hurt twice (head, knee) and J.W. Walsh magically returned from a season-ending knee injury after missing a handful of games. Ultimately, the man who began the season as the third-stringer, Clint Chelf, was probably the most consistent quarterback on the roster, and mixing in Walsh's short-yardage package was fantastic. Running back Joseph Randle led the Big 12 in rushing by 300 yards, which is a testament to him and the offensive line, which was great again. Josh Stewart proved to be the team's No. 1 receiver, though Blake Jackson and Tracy Moore were a bit underwhelming. Dealing with those quarterback issues and finishing fourth nationally in total offense is pretty amazing. GRADE: A+

DEFENSE: Oklahoma State forced more than three turnovers in a game six times in 2011. This year, the Pokes did it just once, in the bowl game against Purdue. That was kind of the story for this defense, which will be coached by Glenn Spencer next year after Mike Gundy let veteran coach Bill Young go at the end of his contract. Giving up 59 points in a penalty-filled loss on the road to Arizona gave reason to believe this might be a long year for this unit, but Oklahoma State actually gave up fewer yards per play this season than it did in last year's Big 12 campaign. The cornerbacks were a huge disappointment this year relative to expectations following 2011's huge year, and there wasn't a huge standout on defense in Stillwater this year. Calvin Barnett and Daytawion Lowe had good years, and Alex Elkins and Shaun Lewis were solid at linebacker, but didn't get much notice in a super deep position across the Big 12. Oklahoma State dominated the Big 12's lower-tier offenses like TCU, Iowa State and Kansas, and played well against Texas Tech, but it did little to slow the elite offenses in the Big 12. GRADE: B-

OVERALL: You knew the expectations would be lower for this team after losing Brandon Weeden and Justin Blackmon alone, despite all the returning talent on defense. Winning five of six Big 12 games in the middle of the season with the lone loss coming to K-State set this team apart and made it clear they would again be an upper-tier Big 12 team, but the losses to Oklahoma and Baylor down the stretch kept them from truly exceeding the reasonable expectations. Oklahoma State can feel happy about a solid year that will build toward a big opportunity in 2013, and Gundy gets a pass for making 2012 the first season in his eight years in Stillwater that he didn't equal or surpass his win total from the previous year. That's what happens when you win 12 games and then lose the best parts of your offense. Kidding aside, kudos to the Cowboys. GRADE: A-

More Big 12 report cards:

Preseason All-Big 12 checkup: Defense

December, 28, 2012
It's always fun looking back on what we thought in the preseason, and today, we'll take another look.

Here's who made the postseason team.

How did our All-Big 12 preseason team stack up at season's end? Here's how the preseason All-Big 12 offense ended up. Now, let's look at the defense.

DL: Jackson Jeffcoat, Texas

Jeffcoat was off to a solid start with 9.5 tackles for loss and four sacks with a pair of forced fumbles in his first six games, but a torn pectoral muscle ended his season early and he didn't make the postseason team.

DL: Stansly Maponga, TCU

Maponga was TCU's lone representative on the preseason team, but he didn't quite live up to expectations, and was overshadowed by teammate Devonte Fields. Maponga made just six tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks, neither of which ranked in the top 10 of the Big 12. He did force two fumbles but didn't make the postseason team.

DL: Alex Okafor, Texas

Okafor was solid this season, and wasn't far off from being the Big 12's Defensive Player of the Year. He was third in the league with eight sacks and sixth in the league with 11.5 tackles for loss. He also forced two fumbles and made the postseason team.

DL: Meshak Williams, Kansas State

I took some flack for including Williams on my preseason team, but I'll have the last laugh here. I loved his relentless motor and underrated technique and use of hands in 2011. This year, it paid off with a Big 12 Defensive Lineman of the Year trophy after leading the league with 9.5 sacks and finishing third with 13.5 tackles for loss. He obviously made the postseason team.

LB: A.J. Klein, Iowa State

Klein returned as the league's Defensive Player of the Year and had a really solid year with 98 tackles and an interception returned 87 yards for a score. He also had 2.5 tackles for loss and made the postseason team.

LB: Arthur Brown, Kansas State

Brown didn't have a huge statistical year but he held together a solid K-State defense and flew around all season, even playing through a painful ankle injury. He won Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year honors for his efforts and made 91 tackles, six tackles for loss and intercepted two passes, returning one for a score. He obviously made the postseason team.

LB: Jake Knott, Iowa State

Knott was having a great year with 79 tackles and two interceptions through eight games, as well as five pass breakups and two forced fumbles. He suffered a shoulder injury that required surgery, though, and played one last game, going out on top with a win over Baylor. Despite the injury, I still placed him on the postseason team.

CB: Carrington Byndom, Texas

Byndom was my pick as the league's top corner this year, but he was part of Texas' defensive struggles and got surpassed by some better players. The Longhorns pass D ranked third in the league, but Byndom was 21st in pass breakups, though he did have three interceptions and two blocked kicks.

CB: Brodrick Brown, Oklahoma State

Brown and teammate Justin Gilbert were two of the bigger disappointments across the league this year. The duo combined for 10 picks a year ago. Neither had one this year, and OSU ranked seventh in the league in pass defense. He was surpassed by better performances on this year's team by Aaron Colvin and Jason Verrett.

S: Kenny Vaccaro, Texas

Vaccaro had a solid year with 93 tackles, two interceptions 3.5 TFLs and two forced fumbles, but I gave the narrow nod to K-State's Ty Zimmerman for the second safety spot on the postseason team.

S: Tony Jefferson, Oklahoma

Jefferson was one of the league's best defenders this year and finished second in the league with 113 stops. He picked off two passes and broke up three more. He made the postseason team.

Big 12 Upset Alert: Week 13

November, 21, 2012

Every week, we take a look at the game most likely to go the way experts don't expect.

Here's my pick this week: Oklahoma State at Oklahoma

The Cowboys opened as a near double-digit underdog. Now, that line's shrunk to a touchdown or less in many places. That's no surprise. Oklahoma State has been kicking all kinds of butt in Big 12 play after an uneven 3-2 start and a narrow victory over cellar-dwelling Kansas.

OSU is 4-1 in the Big 12 since, with its only loss coming on the road to No. 6 Kansas State. All four victories, though, have come by at least 21 points, for an average of 25.5. The most recent was a 38-point shellacking of Texas Tech.

It's worth noting that all four of those whippings came at home and the lone loss came on the road, but this is an Oklahoma State that's found its stride and knows what it wants to do at quarterback, mixing in third-stringer-turned-starter Clint Chelf and dual threat J.W. Walsh and getting Joseph Randle plenty of touches. Randle's production has slowed in recent weeks, but Oklahoma gave up 344 rushing yards to West Virginia's Tavon Austin last week. Randle's not Austin, but he's still one of the Big 12's most talented backs and more than capable of racking up major yardage.

Cornerbacks Brodrick Brown and Justin Gilbert are capable of slowing the Sooners' passing attack, and as always, a strong pass rush may yield results against the always-streaky Landry Jones.

Chelf will face a tough test against the Sooners' secondary that feels like it has plenty to prove struggling in last week's 50-49 win over West Virginia, and it's been a decade since Oklahoma State has won in Norman.

Still, this year's team is different and the results very well may be, too.

Big 12 Upset Alert: Week 11

November, 7, 2012

Each week, we pick the Big 12 game most likely to go the opposite way experts believe.

Upset is a relative term in Big 12 play, but I've narrowed it down to one game:

My pick: West Virginia at Oklahoma State

West Virginia's slide can't last forever, can it? Well, maybe it can, but I can't shake the feeling that West Virginia's waiting to flip the switch back on and look like the top-five team it was after the first five games of the season.

The Cowboys are eight-point favorites in Stillwater, but -- and stop me if you've heard this before -- they're dealing with quarterback health issues. Wes Lunt and Clint Chelf will split reps in practice this week after Lunt suffered an undisclosed injury last week on the road against Kansas State.

Chelf played well in his absence, but if Lunt returns, it's time to address his turnover issues as a real problem. He's clearly got a huge arm and a promising future, but Lunt has basically only played three games and has seven interceptions, more than seven Big 12 quarterbacks.

West Virginia's defense looked markedly better last week against TCU before it gave up a game-changing 94-yard touchdown pass, but the Mountaineers have forced 19 sacks this year, one off the Big 12 lead. They're pressuring the quarterbacks, and with Chelf and Lunt's inexperience in game situations, we could see the Mountaineers get their interception game on.

The offense took a step in the right direction last week, too. Stedman Bailey and Tavon Austin versus Justin Gilbert and Brodrick Brown should be a really, really fun matchup, but West Virginia's got the clear edge at quarterback with Geno Smith, a huge talent who's had a tough last month.

If West Virginia can turn it around and get back to playing like it did in September and early October, this one's got upset written all over it. In fact, don't be all that surprised if West Virginia rolls.

Midseason report: Oklahoma State

October, 16, 2012

Record: 3-2, 1-1 Big 12

The Cowboys' first season as defending league champs hasn't quite gone according to plan. It's never a good sign when the most memorable moment of the first half of your season is your starting quarterback clutching his knee in pain. Wes Lunt turned heads when he enrolled early at Oklahoma State and beat out two older players to win the starting job as a true freshman. But he suffered a knee injury before conference play even began.

His return is still up in the air, but J.W. Walsh has filled in admirably. Both quarterbacks have a loss on their records -- a three-touchdown loss to Arizona for Lunt and a five-point heartbreaker at home to Texas for Walsh.

Oklahoma State has the weakest set of wins of any team in the Big 12, with an 84-point romp against Savannah State, a blowout against Louisiana and a six-point win against the Big 12's worst team, Kansas. The Cowboys still have a lot to prove, and the second half of the season to do it.

The defense has been a bit disappointing to this point, and the grabby hands have been a lot less grabby. A whole lot less grabby. Oklahoma State has forced just four turnovers through five games (120th nationally) after forcing 44 last season to lead the nation by five. Hyped corners Justin Gilbert and Brodrick Brown have still been shut out after picking off five a piece last season. Not what the Pokes had envisioned, but there will be plenty of opportunities to crack the polls and earn some respect in the second half.

Offensive MVP: Joseph Randle, RB. Randle's been as good as Oklahoma State needed him to be so far this season, leading the Big 12 with 614 yards. He had his best performance against Texas with 199 yards and a pair of touchdowns, but inexplicably was held to 80 yards on 29 carries against Kansas. Expect a big second half from the junior.

Defensive MVP: Shaun Lewis, LB. No one on Oklahoma State's defense has stood out on a conference level so far, but I give the nod to the Pokes' impact player at linebacker. He's made 3.5 tackles for loss to tie for the team lead and has 1.5 sacks.

Big 12 stock report: Week 6

October, 3, 2012
Acquisitions! Turnover! Capital markets! GDP! RG3!

Oh, that's right, I've found more terms in my financial glossary and sprinkled them on top of my weekly stock report. Here's a few things with wildly fluctuating prices in the Big 12 market.

Rising: Big 12 receivers

Those 70-63 games have a way of helping guys ascend the national offensive rankings. After Saturday's games, the Big 12 has the three leaders in receiving yards per game. Baylor's Terrance Williams, like he did on Saturday, leads the way with 166.8 yards a game. He has at least 130 yards in three of four games this year, and had 314 against West Virginia. Before Saturday, he had 17 catches on the year. He had 17 catches on Saturday. Ridiculous.

Meanwhile, West Virginia's Stedman Bailey and Tavon Austin are No. 2 and No. 3, both topping 140 yards a game. Austin leads the nation at 12 receptions a game.

Falling: Oklahoma State defense

This wasn't supposed to be how this went for a more experienced defense that didn't need to rely on turnovers as much anymore. Outside of a shutout in an exhibition game vs. Savannah State, the Cowboys are giving up 41 points a game. Through four games, the Cowboys have forced just four turnovers, too, ranking 106th nationally in the stat. That's a far cry from the nation-leading 44 a year ago. The star duo of cornerbacks Justin Gilbert and Brodrick Brown both picked off five passes a year ago, tying for second in the Big 12. This year? Neither Gilbert nor Brown have done an ounce of thieving on opposing quarterbacks.

Rising: Kickoff returns

The new kickoff rules have stymied the league's speedsters, but Big 12 return men are making plays when they get the ball in their hands. D.J. Monroe was named the National Returner of the Week after taking a kick 100 yards for a go-ahead touchdown in the win over Oklahoma State. That was the second time Monroe had returned a kick all season, so he's batting a clean .500 on taking kicks to the house. Meanwhile, Kansas State's Tyler Lockett's only gotten to return five this year. He's averaging 39 yards a touch, ranking second nationally. He also logged a touchdown in the win over North Texas. Oklahoma State's Justin Gilbert hasn't housed one yet, but he ranks 13th nationally, returning his 10 kicks for an average of better than 30 yards.

Falling: Field goal kicking

Saturday was not a banner day for Big 12 kickers. The 70-63 game was fun, but Baylor and West Virginia combined to go 0-3 on field goals. Texas refused to even try to kick a field goal on Saturday, but the Longhorns were perfect on fourth-down conversions.

Overall, the Big 12 was 5-of-10 on field goals on Saturday, and every single kicker who attempted a field goal missed at least one. For West Virginia, that was only their second field goal attempt of the season. Nobody in college football has attempted fewer.

Rising: Texas in the red zone

One of the Longhorns' biggest problems a year ago was red zone offense. Texas reached the red zone 53 times and walked away with a touchdown on just 27 of those trips, settling for field goals 11 times and walking away with no points 15 times. That TD percentage of 50.94 ranked 104th nationally.

This year, Texas is converting in a big way. It has reached the red zone 22 times and walked away with points 20 times. Of those 20, 18 have been touchdowns. That touchdown percentage (81.82 percent) is the second highest in the Big 12 (West Virginia, of course). That came into play big-time in a five-point win over Oklahoma State. Texas reached the red zone four times. It scored touchdowns on all four trips.

Falling: Texas turnovers

So, you think K-State takes care of the ball, giving up just three giveaways in four games? Uh, what about Texas? The Longhorns turned the ball over 26 times a year ago, ranking 86th nationally in the stat. So far this year, the Longhorns have a whopping two giveaways. Only three teams (coincidentally, West Virginia and Texas A&M are among them) have fewer.

Texas is a lot better this year, and though the QB play is a big reason why, a lot of the other reasons are the small big things. Texas is scoring TDs when it gets chances, and it's not giving the ball to the other guys. Not difficult stuff to understand.

What to watch in the Big 12: Week 5

September, 27, 2012
Here's what I'm keeping an eye on in this week's four games across the Big 12:

Texas Tech head coach Tommy Tuberville talks about being undefeated through the first three weeks, this weekend's game against Iowa State, starting conference play and more.

Listen Listen
1. Who's the man? I'm skeptical of Wes Lunt's supernatural healing powers. So, considering his knee was immobilized until Monday, and he wasn't expected to practice until today, I'm also skeptical that he'll play a down Saturday against Texas, the roughest and best defense in the Big 12 with the biggest and fastest defensive line. Call me crazy, but that doesn't sound like the best idea for your true freshman's long-term health. Still, Lunt was listed as a co-starter alongside J.W. Walsh on this week's depth chart. Will he play? We may find out Friday when OSU releases its injury report. Walsh will get a much tougher test, but he looked pretty solid against Louisiana-Lafayette.

2. Are we done yet? I agree with coach Gary Patterson -- the red zone turnovers are out of character for the Frogs. Still, they've turned potential blowout wins into just OK wins in two consecutive weeks. The Frogs turned it over four times in the red zone against Kansas and twice against Virginia. How much longer can they get away with that? SMU would love to take advantage, so TCU had better fix it.

3. Feeling the need for speed: Tevin Reese and Tavon Austin are on the short list of the Big 12's fastest players. They've both had huge games early on this season, but which speedster outraces the other in Morgantown? It may ultimately decide the game. They both have a teammate who can go up and grab jump balls, but with two questionable defenses, these two may have the day's biggest highlights.

4. Is it real? Is it spectacular? Texas Tech leads the nation in total defense, which is unlikely to last but impressive nonetheless. Just how good is this defense? The first three games told us pretty much nothing, except that the Red Raiders are better than last year and won't be giving up chunks of yardage to bad teams. Iowa State is not a bad team and has plenty of playmakers. What can Tech prove as its schedule toughens up?

[+] EnlargeCalvin Barnett
Richard Rowe/US PresswireCan Calvin Barnett and the Cowboys' D slow down the Texas rushing attack?
5. Calvin's last stand: Heading into this weekend, it feels like Texas' running game versus Oklahoma State's defensive line is one of the biggest mismatches on the Week 5 slate. Will that be the case? The Longhorns have looked efficient and physical running both inside and outside the tackles, and Arizona worked over OSU's defense with a zone read. If anybody's going to slow down Texas, it's Calvin Barnett getting a push up front and mucking up the Longhorns' schemes.

6. All Tuckered out. Matthew Tucker was pretty average against Virginia, gaining 52 yards on 15 carries. He's the one back Patterson says he trusts, but what will he look like on the road against SMU? TCU needs him to play big this year, and he needs to show something before Big 12 play really hits its stride. Can he top 100 yards?

7. Throw it to the guys in white. Nick Florence has put up big numbers. But when I saw the Bears play SMU, he tested fate pretty often, throwing the ball into coverage a handful of times but getting away with it. He wasn't picked off all night. He did it again last week against Louisiana-Monroe, with one really bad interception and another that came on a ball thrown while he was being hit. Simply put: He can't throw interceptions this week. More than one will all but eliminate Baylor's opportunity to win this game. He has to make better decisions.

8. They just keep coming, Clones. Texas Tech has about 74 receivers on its team who can be productive in this offense, and Seth Doege finds them all. Still, Tech might have the league's deepest receiving corps and Doege spreads it out really well. It'll be a tough test for the Cyclones. Texas Tech has already had 13 players catch at least four passes through just three games. ISU's defense showed up big time against OSU last year, and it may need a similar effort to win this one.

9. Can you say Heisman? What's the deal with David Ash? Did we see a flash on the road against Ole Miss a couple of weeks ago? Or was this the beginning of a special season for Ash in Austin? We'll get a pretty good idea in Stillwater on Saturday. OSU's corners, Brodrick Brown and Justin Gilbert, are as good as any in the Big 12.

10. Big test for a big D. Texas' defense, unlike Texas Tech's, has not been overly strong through its first three games. Saturday could be a good opportunity for the Longhorns' D to prove what it can do long-term. The Longhorns have the horses to be elite, but giving up 31 points to Ole Miss won't impress anybody. Tackling issues were pervasive in that win. Linebacker Jordan Hicks isn't healthy, and his status is up in the air, but I'd expect him to play, despite an injured hip.

ESPN.com's preseason All-Big 12 team

August, 29, 2012
The season is only a few days away, and it's time to unveil our official All-Big 12 team.

The criteria for this is pretty simple: I picked the best players at every position in the game, but made room for deserving players. For this league, that meant eliminating the tight end spot and sliding a more deserving Collin Klein onto the team via an all-purpose position.

The quarterbacks are solid in this league, but I'd call the cornerbacks the best and deepest position in the league. The worst? Defensive tackle. I didn't put a single one on the All-Big 12 team, electing to name four defensive ends along the defensive line. I hate doing that, but this year, it's necessary.

Without further ado, here's our team:


QB: Geno Smith, West Virginia
RB: Joseph Randle, Oklahoma State
RB: Waymon James, TCU
All-Purpose: Collin Klein, QB, Kansas State
WR: Stedman Bailey, West Virginia
WR: Kenny Stills, Oklahoma
WR: Tavon Austin, West Virginia
C: Joe Madsen, West Virginia
OL: Gabe Ikard, Oklahoma
OL: Lane Taylor, Oklahoma State
OL: Cyril Richardson, Baylor
OL: Mason Walters, Texas


DL: Jackson Jeffcoat, Texas
DL: Stansly Maponga, TCU
DL: Alex Okafor, Texas
DL: Meshak Williams, Kansas State
LB: A.J. Klein, Iowa State
LB: Arthur Brown, Kansas State
LB: Jake Knott, Iowa State
CB: Carrington Byndom, Texas
CB: Brodrick Brown, Oklahoma State
S: Kenny Vaccaro, Texas
S: Tony Jefferson, Oklahoma


K: Quinn Sharp, Oklahoma State
P: Quinn Sharp, Oklahoma State
KR: Justin Gilbert, Oklahoma State
PR: Tavon Austin, West Virginia

Honorable mention/regrettable snubs: Landry Jones, QB, Oklahoma; Malcolm Brown, RB, Texas; Ivory Wade, C, Baylor; LaAdrian Waddle, OL, Texas Tech; Blaize Foltz, OL, TCU; Kenny Cain, LB, TCU; Shaun Lewis, LB, Oklahoma State; Jamarkus McFarland, DL, Oklahoma; Quandre Diggs, CB, Texas; Nigel Malone, CB, Kansas State; Demontre Hurst, CB, Oklahoma; Tyler Lockett, KR, Kansas State

Assessing the contenders: Oklahoma State

August, 13, 2012
To begin the season, I see six teams with a legitimate chance to win the Big 12. Today we'll continue our series looking at why each team will or will not win the league. Next up: The defending champs -- Oklahoma State.

More contenders:
Why Oklahoma State will win the Big 12

1. The Cowboys offense is set up for Wes Lunt to succeed. Most importantly, the bulk of the Cowboys offensive line returns, as does coach Joe Wickline. Never underestimate the power of an extra second in the pocket. Those add up over time. He's got arguably the league's best 1-2 punch at running back in Joseph Randle and Jeremy Smith, and though his receivers aren't the most experienced, they're hardly green, and he's got lots of targets who will be productive, starting with Josh Stewart, Tracy Moore and Isaiah Anderson. There's no Justin Blackmon or Brandon Weeden in this offense, but Lunt should do well, and he'll have loads of help.

[+] EnlargeBrodrick Brown
AP Photo/Sue OgrockiBrodrick Brown made five interceptions last season, including this one against Oklahoma.
2. This is becoming a theme: The defense is a lot better than most everyone realizes. Everyone wants to pretend they can write off Oklahoma State without Weeden and Blackmon, while conveniently overlooking that just about everyone else on the team comes back, especially on defense. Defensive linemen Jamie Blatnick and Richetti Jones are gone, leaving a pretty big hole on the defensive line, but the Cowboys have one of the Big 12's best secondaries, and colleague KC Joyner says the cornerback duo of Justin Gilbert and Brodrick Brown is the nation's second best, behind only Texas. Add in a great set of linebackers in Shaun Lewis, Alex Elkins and Caleb Lavey, and you've got a unit that's due a lot of respect. Too many people forget that this unit is the same one that led the Big 12 in scoring defense in conference play last year. Yes, it even gave up fewer points than Texas.

3. The Cowboys know what it takes to win a Big 12 title. Never underestimate the ability of a team that knows what it's like to reach the summit. No, Oklahoma State is not the best team in the Big 12 to begin the season, but it's stocked full of players who know what it takes to be that team. My guess is they're willing to push the rest of the team to that level if the players who need to step up are able to match that effort. You can't duplicate experience, but last year OSU broke the Oklahoma-Texas duopoly that dominated this league. The pieces are in place for the Cowboys to have a reasonable shot to do it again.

Why Oklahoma State won't win the Big 12

1. They're starting a true freshman at quarterback. The offense that Dana Holgorsen brought to Stillwater in 2010 is much simpler than what it ran when Mike Gundy was in charge of the offense piloted by Zac Robinson, but Lunt is still a true freshman. He'll make plays, and he'll make mistakes -- probably too many to ultimately win a title. History is absolutely against him. Only two first-year starting quarterbacks have won Big 12 titles, to say nothing of true freshmen, which has never been done, even if there have only been a handful of true freshmen to start in this league.

2. The turnover avalanche won't be quite as plentiful. Oklahoma State forces turnovers. Period. That's what the defense does. Last season, when the Cowboys forced an FBS-best 44 turnovers, was not a complete aberration. That said, it was still somewhat of an outlier, and in a few of those games, OSU needed every one of the turnovers it forced. OSU forced 34 turnovers in 2010 (fifth nationally) and 30 in 2009 (11th nationally). That's a pretty clear trend since the arrival of defensive coordinator Bill Young. OSU's defense should be very, very good, but it's a little silly to expect another 44 turnovers to roll in this season. No other team in college football had more than 39 last year.

3. The rest of the contenders are more talented. Oklahoma State has a ton of talent, but do the Cowboys have as much as the teams ahead of them in the conference poll? Certainly not Oklahoma. Depending on where you want to see talent, it's close between the Cowboys and West Virginia or Texas when you assess the depth chart from top to bottom. I'd probably lean toward West Virginia and Texas in both of those cases. Last year, OSU had as much talent as any team in the league, if not more. This year, the Cowboys have enough talent to win the league, but they don't have as much as other teams in the Big 12.

Ranking the Big 12's top 25 players: No. 17

August, 9, 2012
Our official list of the Big 12's top 25 players entering the 2012 season marches on. Here's more on my criteria for who makes it, who doesn't and who lands where.

The official list is locked away in a vault in an undisclosed location, but we'll be revealing one player a day leading up to the season.

Next up on the list:

No. 17: Brodrick Brown, CB, Oklahoma State

2011 numbers: Made 68 tackles (59 solo), intercepted five passes and made four tackles for loss. Broke up 15 passes, recovered two fumbles against Baylor and returned them for a total of 47 yards.

Most recent ranking: Brown was unranked in our postseason list of the Big 12's top 25 players.

Making the case for Brown: It's a fairly heated debate, but I put Brodrick Brown a little higher on this list than his teammate, Justin Gilbert. Gilbert has the more eye-popping physical attributes and the bigger upside. But for now, I'll take Brown's cover skills and toughness ahead of Gilbert's raw speed.

It's close between the two, and don't be surprised if Gilbert surpasses his teammate by season's end, but Brown's proved his ability to go up against much bigger receivers at just 5-foot-8 and 185 pounds, earning him his "Bulldog" nickname. He's tough and a big hitter for his size, earning him All-Big 12 honors last season. It's going to be a tough battle at the top to win those honors in 2012 with great talent in Stillwater, Austin and Norman, but Brown will be among a handful of cornerbacks contending to be the league's best.

The rest of the list:
The Nagurski Trophy, given annually to college football's best defender, has released its 84-man, preseason watch list. From the Big 12:
That's a hefty list. My only possible additions? Quandre Diggs of Texas and maybe Shaun Lewis of Oklahoma State. Other than that, it's basically a who's who of the best defenders in the Big 12.

The league's 13 candidates are third-most among conferences, behind only the SEC (19) and the Big Ten (14).

Texas and Oklahoma are tied for the nation's most Nagurski Trophies, with two. Brian Orakpo in 2008 and Ndamukong Suh in 2009 are the last Big 12 talents to take home the hardware.

Luke Kuechly of Boston College won the award last season.

More awards watch lists:

Bednarik Award tabs 11 from Big 12

July, 10, 2012
The Bednarik Award, given annually to the nation's top defensive player, has released its preseason watch list complete with 11 Big 12 players up for the award. Here's the list, in alphabetical order:
That's a pretty good list. The biggest snubs in my book are all cornerbacks. Where is Texas' duo of Carrington Byndom and Quandre Diggs? And what about Oklahoma State's Justin Gilbert. All deserving.

Last season, Tyrann Mathieu became the second consecutive LSU player to win the award, following up Patrick Peterson in 2010.

Ndamukong Suh (2009) was the last Big 12 player to win the award. Teddy Lehman of Oklahoma (2003) was the last player among current Big 12 teams to take home the trophy.

Oklahoma State ready to join nation's elite

June, 15, 2012
If we're going to be technical about this, Oklahoma State broke through last season, winning its first Big 12 title and a bushel of respect in the process.

Just a few months later, the questions are out. The doubts are fresh.

"Losing Brandon Weeden and Justin Blackmon was too much."

"Welcome back to Earth, Cowboys."

"Their new quarterback is how old?"

[+] EnlargeOklahoma State's Joseph Randle
AP Photo/Brody SchmidtStar RB Joseph Randle has helped Oklahoma State earn national respect in recent seasons.
We've heard all three of those before and will again in 2012. The age jokes are back, but replace jokes about Weeden's AARP status with ones about 18-year-old Wes Lunt's acne and prom date. Then replace "Brandon Weeden and Justin Blackmon" with "Zac Robinson and Dez Bryant."

The 2011 team was better. It won more and went further, twice setting the school record for wins, racking up 23 in two seasons and bringing some new hardware to Stillwater that had never found a home at Boone Pickens Stadium.

That's just one breakthrough season. Oklahoma State, though? It's about to prove it's a breakthrough program ready to take its place among college football's elite.

The Cowboys have sustained success, winning at least nine games in four consecutive seasons. They'll do it again in 2012, because that's what elite teams do after they win a title. They keep winning, and Oklahoma State has stockpiled plenty of talent outside of Weeden and Blackmon, talent that's ready to shoulder the load and carry the Pokes to a solid season.

They're not built for a title in 2012, but they're built for a solid season. Expect 8-9 wins. Don't be surprised if a bowl win gives the Pokes their third consecutive 10-win season.

That's not a breakout season in the traditional sense, but its further validation that the Cowboys' arrival on the big stage last season didn't precede a humbling rebuilding season in 2012.

Jeremy Smith and Joseph Randle will make life easier for Lunt. A solid, underrated receiving corps is ready to make a name for itself, highlighted by Tracy Moore, Josh Stewart and newcomer Blake Jackson filling in for Blackmon, Josh Cooper and Michael Harrison.

The defense led the nation in turnovers last season -- a third consecutive season in the national top 11 -- and will be more experienced and talented in 2012. Linebackers Alex Elkins and Shaun Lewis hold down the middle, while cornerbacks Justin Gilbert and Brodrick Brown stake a claim as one of the Big 12's best duos on the outside.

Oklahoma State made a name for itself in the 2011 season, but the national audience is fickle. It may have forgotten.

The Cowboys will remind them this year.

And just wait until next year.