Dallas Colleges: Jarell Childs
Here's what we've covered so far:
2. A.J. Klein, Iowa State: Klein didn't repeat as the Big 12's Defensive Player of the Year, but he finished third in the league with 117 tackles. The 248-pounder plays physically and has been one of the Big 12's best linebackers for three seasons. He picked off one pass this season and returned it 87 yards for a touchdown against Texas Tech.
3. Jake Knott, Iowa State: Knott and Klein have been the Big 12's best linebacker duo in each of the past two seasons, though Knott missed the last five games of the season. He had double-digit stops in each of his last four games and closed with a win over Baylor. He finished with 79 tackles, despite missing the end of the year after undergoing shoulder surgery.
4. Kenny Cain, TCU: Cain helped TCU put together the Big 12's best defense and made 86 tackles with 5.5 tackles for loss and a pair of picks. TCU's linebacking corps was depleted by off-the-field issues before the season, but Cain was a constant for the Frogs.
5. Bryce Hager, Baylor: Hager made a big debut with 14 tackles in a blowout win over SMU. He rallied with a strong finish and played his best ball throughout Baylor's four-game winning streak to close the season. He was all over the place and made 10 stops in the upset win over Kansas State. He finished the year with 124 tackles to lead the Big 12.
6. Shaun Lewis, Oklahoma State: Lewis hasn't quite ascended to stardom like it seemed he would after winning Big 12 Freshman of the Year honors in 2010, but he's been solid for the Cowboys. He made 58 tackles and 7.5 tackles for loss with four pass breakups and a forced fumble.
7. Ben Heeney, Kansas: Heeney was a bright spot for KU's struggling defense in 2012, making 112 tackles and 12 tackles for loss for the Jayhawks, who had just 50 in all of 2013. He's has a ton of speed and could blossom under Dave Campo's leadership next season.
8. Eddie Lackey, Baylor: Lackey made waves by winning Big 12 Defensive Player of the Week in the final two weeks of the regular season, thanks to returning a pair of picks for touchdowns. He finished with four on the year, but he was fifth in the league with 104 tackles and made a big impact after transferring from junior college.
9. Jarell Childs, Kansas State: Childs had to play a bigger role for the Wildcats after Tre Walker went down with a knee injury, and he impressed his teammates with the additional responsibility. The Kansas City native and converted running back made 66 tackles and returned a fumble for a touchdown, adding 4.5 tackles for loss.
10. Terence Garvin, West Virginia: Garvin, who missed the spring with a knee injury, played well for the Big 12's worst defense out in Morgantown. He bounced back and made 83 tackles with 11.5 tackles for loss in his third year as a starter.
DL: Jake McDonough, Iowa State
McDonough quietly put together a season that was definitely an All-Big 12 first-team type of year. His numbers aren't eye-popping (31 tackles, 5.5 TFL, two sacks), but you can't often grade nose guards on their statistics. The 280-pounder was a force in the middle of the line for the Cyclones.
DL: Kerry Hyder, Texas Tech
Hyder was a big piece of Texas Tech's defensive resurgence under Art Kaufman this year. The defensive tackle bulled his way to 13.5 tackles for loss, the same number as Big 12 Defensive Lineman of the Year Meshak Williams. Tech needed help rushing the passer and slowing the run. Hyder did both.
DL: Adam Davis, Kansas State
Meshak Williams and Arthur Brown get all the press on K-State's defense, but Davis was a huge force, too. He had two sacks in the win over Miami, 1.5 sacks in the win over West Virginia and finished sixth in the league with 11.5 tackles for loss. He was fourth in the league with six sacks.
DL: Toben Opurum, Kansas
Opurum's got a well-chronicled road to his current spot on the D-line, leading KU in rushing in 2009 before switching postitions under Turner Gill. KU's defense was better this year, and so was Opurum. It's tough to put up big numbers when KU was getting beaten, but he made six tackles for loss and forced two fumbles.
LB: Bryce Hager, Baylor
Yes, when your offense is on the field, you get more opportunities to make tackles, but ask K-State what it thinks of Hager. He was a cruise missile against the Cats and seemed to be in Collin Klein's face all night. He led the league with 115 tackles and added eight tackles for loss and three sacks. He also forced two fumbles and had six games with double-digit tackles.
LB: Ben Heeney, Kansas
Heeney's another playmaker all over the field for a defense that struggled at times. He's a speedy, versatile playmaker for the Jayhawks, who made 112 tackles and 12 tackles for loss.
LB: Jarell Childs, Kansas State
Childs' biggest play of the season was the scoop and score against Oklahoma, but he was solid for the Wildcats all year, and filled in admirably after Tre Walker's knee injury forced him into more playing time. He recovered two fumbles and finished with 64 tackles and 4.5 tackles for loss.
DB: Karl Joseph, West Virginia
Joseph broke out as a true freshman and was basically the lone bright spot on a deservedly maligned West Virginia defense this season. He forced three fumbles, intercepted two passes, made seven tackles for loss and racked up 95 tackles. There's a big career ahead of him.
DB: Bradley McDougald, Kansas
McDougald was the Jayhawks' best defender this season and one of the big reasons for KU's big improvement on that side of the ball. He picked off three passes, forced two fumbles, had four tackles for loss and made 92 stops at safety.
DB: Durrell Givens, Iowa State
Givens was a turnover machine this season. He forced four fumbles, picked off three passes and made 77 tackles. His money stat, though? He recovered a nation-high six fumbles for the Cyclones. That's just ridiculous and is good enough on its own to land him on this list.
DB: Cody Davis, Texas Tech
The Red Raiders' leader doesn't get the press of the league's elite safeties like Kenny Vaccaro, Tony Jefferson or even Ty Zimmerman, but he's solid, even if he doesn't have the physical skills of Vaccaro or Jefferson. He's still one of the league's brightest players. That shows up in his decision making and on-field discipline that kept Tech from giving up the bushels of big plays it did a year ago.
1. Remember all the little people. K-State has dealt with the distraction and hype really well this season. The Wildcats have been consistent and solid every week. This week, though, the pressure is at a whole new level. They're the nation's No. 1 team. Collin Klein's presence will test the Sports Illustrated cover jinx. Oklahoma State lost in its 11th game last season. K-State should roll Baylor on paper, but can it keep its focus in uncharted territory?
2. To care or not to care, that is the question. West Virginia was hyped all offseason for this game. Carrying a four-game losing streak into the Oklahoma game was not part of the plan, though. It's asking a lot for fans to come in droves and provide a big-time atmosphere. Will the Mountaineers fans do it and try to help their team reach bowl eligibility? Tough test for a fan base that has had a pretty terrible month or so and hasn't seen a win since Oct. 6 or a win in its home stadium since Sept. 29.
4. Just do it. If Kansas is going to beat Iowa State, it will do so on the backs of its, uh, backs. Tony Pierson and James Sims are fantastic. Charlie Weis talked about needing to do creative things to run the ball when everybody knows the Jayhawks are going to run the ball. Well, everybody knows KU is going to run the ball. What does Weis have prepared this week for KU's best chance to crack its 19-game Big 12 losing streak?
5. Get a medical team on it, stat. Klein's injury saga is over, but K-State has more injury issues this week to keep an eye on. Starting safety Ty Zimmerman left the stadium in a boot last week, and Tyler Lockett suffered an ankle injury late against TCU. Both are key pieces to the nation's No. 1 team. Will they play, and will they do so effectively? All bets are off in this one.
6. At what point does someone start swiping chairs? Oklahoma State has played musical chairs at quarterback, and it shocked a lot of folks when Mike Gundy confirmed J.W. Walsh was available last week but didn't play. He is not on the depth chart this week, instead with an "or" between Clint Chelf and Wes Lunt. The good news: All three can play, and OSU can win with all of them. The bad news: This is turning into a bit of a circus. At least it's unpredictable for opponents, so that plays to OSU's advantage while the competition has to prepare for all three.
7. If you're so inKleined. A.J. Klein has had a quiet couple of games since Jake Knott's injury, making just 11 tackles total in the past two games after tallying at least 11 in three of the past five before Klein left the field. Klein has moved to weakside linebacker and wants more production out of the position. Iowa State needs that while Jeremiah George replaces Knott and the duo teams up to slow KU's running game.
8. Gotta fix the leaks. Oklahoma dominated Baylor's passing game, but the defense was hot after the game after giving up a season-high 252 yards on the ground to the Bears. Can WVU's Shawne Alston and Andrew Buie have a little success? Dana Holgorsen wasn't happy with the Mountaineers' run game, but this matchup will have an influence on the winner in Morgantown.
9. Time for the hook ... again? Steele Jantz has gone back to struggling after tearing up Baylor. He completed just more than 50 percent of his passes in consecutive weeks -- both losses -- and hasn't topped 200 yards through the air with one touchdown to three picks. If he struggles again, does Jared Barnett get a shot against KU? I seem to remember another Big 12 team switching QBs late and having it pay off.
FORT WORTH, Texas -- Whether it was true or not, you've got to applaud the effort. Kansas State kept a straight face when it was over.
A few guys eyed the scores in pregame, they admitted, but nobody knew that a win at Amon G. Carter Stadium for Kansas State held an extra special significance only moments after the game began. Alabama's home loss to Texas A&M more than 600 miles away went final just after kickoff, and a win would likely land Kansas State the school's first No. 1 ranking in the BCS.
On the field, Kansas State looked like a team doing what it had done most every week this season: It played sound defense, grabbed a double-digit lead and coasted to a casual win. This one was a 23-10 yawner against a young, scrappy but ultimately overmatched TCU team that clawed its way to bowl eligibility with a double-overtime thriller a week ago.
Still, Bill Snyder said he didn't find out about the result that might have changed Kansas State's season until he was safely in the locker room. His reaction? Little more than a shrug.
A few more found out on the field after the game, but not many -- if any -- Wildcats were fessing up to having the results spoiled before their domination of the Frogs was complete.
"The fans were yelling at us, but they weren't yelling about the Bama game," linebacker Justin Tuggle said with a laugh.
Tuggle and the rest of the defense walked off the field to "K-S-U" chants from a sizeable purple contingent that stood out among the TCU "Blackout," an impressively loud crowd of 47,292.
Kansas State, though, turned its blinders on to outside factors that could have a profound impact on its future fortunes. Do otherwise and those same outside factors might very well be rendered irrelevant by a Kansas State loss. Either way, the first No. 1 ranking in school history seems imminent after an "any questions?" type of performance that featured a 23-0 fourth-quarter lead and a final score that might indicate the game was closer than it really was.
"There's a lot of work to be done," Tuggle said. "...Being No. 1 in the BCS doesn't mean anything. You don't get anything, any trophies for that or anything like that. There's still a lot of work to be done."
Kansas State's done that work so far this season, leaving little to no doubt about the best team on the field for 10 Saturdays running now. The Wildcats led by double digits late in a 24-19 win at Oklahoma, and didn't allow Iowa State's possible game-winning drive to cross midfield in a 27-21 win in Ames earlier this year.
The other eight wins on Kansas State's spotless résumé? Saturday's 13-point win is the closest, followed by a pair of 14-point wins over Oklahoma State last week and North Texas all the way back on Sept. 15.
"We've been going now for almost 3½ months now without any let-up," Snyder said. "The fact that you're winning, I think, keeps the mental freshness to a certain degree."
Kansas State has looked like mentally fresh every week, offering little to no evidence that a letdown like the double-overtime heartbreaker back in 1998 is coming. A 4-5 Baylor team awaits next week. Then two weeks to prepare for a hot Texas team in Manhattan. The Longhorns might just be inside the top 10 and provide a boost in the BCS rankings that K-State almost certainly doesn't need anymore. Get passed up by Oregon at some point? Who cares? Win, and Kansas State is in.
After the game, TCU coach and K-State alum Gary Patterson had a simple request for the man who built a program from nothing in The Little Apple: "Go win it," he told him.
Meanwhile, Snyder is shrugging on the doorstep of territory Kansas State has never tread upon. He's doing it with a blank look on his face, a freebie windbreaker from last year's Cotton Bowl on his back and a hot cup of coffee in his hand while tackling postgame questions and dodging those who request injury information.
"I apologize for being noncompliant," Snyder said before leaving the podium. Think again if you expect an update on the status of two very important ankles: those of starting safety Ty Zimmerman (five interceptions this year, including one on Saturday) and receiver/kick returner Tyler Lockett, who has returned a pair of kicks for scores this year and ranks second in return TDs in Big 12 history.
Snyder's message to the team after Saturday's win was one that couldn't help but spark his players' imaginations.
"This team has no idea what it's capable of being and where it's capable of going," linebacker Arthur Brown recalled a few minutes later. "We have to continue to focus and continue to focus in on what's gotten us this far, and the sky's the limit."
If by the sky, Snyder means hoisting a crystal football on South Beach in early January, he's got the Wildcats pointed in the right direction.
While the Kansas State linebacker took care of his business there, a "K-S-U" chant echoed through Norman after Bill Snyder's Wildcats finished making history. Walker was climbing to get off the field, but the rest of his team never wanted to leave after Kansas State's 24-19 victory over Oklahoma. Coaches and players hugged and high-fived.
Kansas State and Oklahoma players both had glassy eyes, for very different reasons.
"I mean, I was shocked," defensive end Adam Davis said.
Sure, the Kansas State faithful knew they could win. But that they would? History shot disapproving glances the way of anyone who believed otherwise.
Oklahoma was a perfect 14-0 versus ranked teams at home under Bob Stoops, dispatching opponents by an average of 28.2 points dating all the way back to 1999. The Wildcats hadn't beaten the seven-time Big 12 champs in the regular season since 1997.
Those stats, though, hadn't reached Davis. And he was still shocked. So were the raucous 85,276 Sooners fans in attendance who provided the best Big 12 atmosphere to date.
"It feels like you're on top of the world," Davis said of the postgame party on the field.
The big names on Saturday will attract plenty of attention. Landry Jones' shortcomings. Collin Klein's toughness and passing prowess, highlighted by a 12-yard completion on third-and-11 to Tramaine Thompson that all but iced the game in the final minutes.
Snyder, ever the exploiter of weaknesses, saw a big one in Jones that plenty of others saw, too.
Asked if Jones was "spooked," Davis replied: "I noticed it in the first half. When we'd get upfield, he'd start jabbing his feet real quick and moving. That let us know that he don't like nobody in his blind side, and we tried to attack it all night."
The Wildcats succeeded. They flushed Jones from the pocket in the first quarter and linebacker Justin Tuggle, playing defensive end on that particular play as part of a specialized package, caught Jones from behind and stripped the ball. Jarell Childs scooped it up just a yard in front of the goal line and scored.
Kansas State's defense believed.
"What we did all week was worked on trying to flush him out of the pocket, because we know he ain't good with pressure," Davis said. "If we get to his blind side, he's going to get jittery and try to move out the pocket and scoot up and stuff. We tried to get our D-tackles to cause pressure on the edge and try to get him."
The Wildcats notched two sacks, but the constant pressure had Jones looking mediocre for most of the night. His second turnover came when tackle Vai Lutui lunged at Jones from his knees. Jones threw off his back foot and promptly sailed a probable completion into the waiting arms of Kansas State safety Ty Zimmerman.
"It was a little bit of a struggle offensively. ... Our defense, I think, created the turnovers that took place, by and large," Snyder said. "I thought they did a heck of a job."
Snyder was a cool customer holding a hot cup of coffee with cream and sugar, taking sips while he answered questions after the victory in his Cotton Bowl windbreaker on a brisk fall night in Oklahoma. At one point during the conference, a cricket flew in and landed an inch from Snyder's left eye. He broke an answer for only a moment to swat away the pest.
Nothing could get to the unflappable SnyderCats on this night.
"When you play somebody as good as an Oklahoma team, it really does mean something special to them, and they feel good about it," Snyder said.
Snyder's demeanor wouldn't have been much different if the 14-point underdogs had gotten waxed by 30, like so many teams at Owen Field before them. Still, his message to the team remained consistent.
"He said he was very proud of us," Davis said with a grin.
Expecting maybe something a little more dramatic?
"Yes, we were, but you never really know what to expect," Davis said.
Well, that just wouldn't be very Snyder. Saturday's win, though? Doing what no team had ever done before and getting outgained in total yardage while doing it?
Could anybody else but Snyder do that?
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