Dallas Colleges: Jeremy Smith

Big 12 undrafted free-agent signings

May, 12, 2014
May 12
4:30
PM CT
Seventeen Big 12 players heard their names called during the 2014 NFL draft. Many other Big 12 alums will have a chance at the next level as undrafted free agents.

Below is a list of undrafted players who reportedly have agreed to free agent deals. This is not a final list, as teams are still working to sign undrafted free agents. But these are the players we know of so far.

Baylor
Iowa State
Kansas
Kansas State
Oklahoma
Oklahoma State
TCU
Texas
Texas Tech
West Virginia

New backfield shines as Cowboys roll Tech

November, 3, 2013
11/03/13
2:45
PM CT

LUBBOCK, Texas -- Back in July, Oklahoma State was the preseason pick to win the Big 12.

Saturday night, the Cowboys finally showed why.

And why they might be contenders after all.

Behind its new-look backfield, Oklahoma State unleashed the most impressive performance yet in the Big 12 season, overpowering Texas Tech 52-34 before a record Jones AT&T Stadium crowd.

"We've got a chance," answered Cowboys coach Mike Gundy, when asked if this team could win the Big 12. "We're not good enough to look past the next game. But we're improving."

Rapidly.

Roughly a month ago, the Pokes hardly looked the part of contender in a 30-21 loss as a 19-point favorite at West Virginia. Nor did the Cowboys look it in sluggish home victories over Kansas State and TCU.

This, however, is a different team.

More specifically, a different offense.

A week ago, the Cowboys overhauled their entire backfield, replacing quarterback J.W. Walsh with Clint Chelf and running back Jeremy Smith with Desmond Roland and Rennie Childs.

They haven't stopped scoring since.

[+] EnlargeJosh Stewart
Michael C. Johnson/USA TODAY SportsJosh Stewart caught six passes and set up a third-quarter touchdown with a long punt return.
In Lubbock, Oklahoma State rolled up another 281 yards on the ground and controlled the game from beginning to end.

"We're coming together as an offense," said Roland, who plugged away between the tackles for 96 yards and his fifth, sixth and seventh touchdowns since getting the starting nod. All three touchdowns came from inside the Tech 3-yard line, as Oklahoma State scored touchdowns on all six of its red-zone possessions.

As a change of pace, Childs scooted for 70 yards on nine carries.

Even Smith contributed to the effort with a 17-yard catch and 23-yard run on the Cowboys' first scoring drive.

"We're running more physical; that's what you have to do," Gundy said. "We made a strong commitment to it three weeks ago. We've really improved in that area."

The biggest difference Saturday, though, was Chelf, whose mistakes kept the Red Raiders in the game, but whose playmaking turned them back and ultimately put them away.

Chelf lost the starting job to Walsh two ineffective series into the opener against Mississippi State. But Walsh's inability to get the ball down the field prompted the Cowboys to turn back to Chelf and his stronger arm midway through the TCU game.

Since, the Oklahoma State offense has gradually improved.

Saturday, it took off.

All told, Chelf threw for 211 yards, ran for another 88 and accounted for four touchdowns. He also connected on a 44-yard flea-flicker to Jhajuan Seales to the Tech 1 to set up Roland's first touchdown and put the Cowboys up 14-0.

"He made some big plays," Gundy said. "Some big throws."

Chelf also made one really bad play on one bad throw.

Up 28-10 in the second quarter, the Cowboys were on the verge of putting the Red Raiders away after linebacker Shaun Lewis' interception. But two plays later, Chelf tried to drop off a pass into the flat. Instead, Tech's Pete Robertson stepped in front of the throw and took the interception 21 yards for a touchdown to wake up the crowd.

The Red Raiders scored again on their following drive to cut Oklahoma State's lead 28-24 and nullify all momentum the Cowboys had built.

"There's no question they had the momentum," Gundy said.

But Chelf would help Oklahoma State regain it.

A Josh Stewart punt return led to another Roland touchdown.

Then on the ensuing drive, Chelf broke through the middle of the Tech defense on a quarterback draw for a 67-yard touchdown run -- Oklahoma State's longest run of the season.

Chelf scored again on an eight-yard keeper late in the third quarter, giving the Cowboys a 49-31 lead and all but putting Tech away.

"It's a glaring mistake when you throw it to the other team," Gundy said. "But if it's not for that, everybody's saying, 'Hey, (Chelf) played a great game.' "

Since Oklahoma State's loss at West Virginia, Baylor has assumed the role of Big 12 favorite. Texas and Oklahoma have surged into the conference-title conversation, too.

But the preseason favorite showed it should not be overlooked, either. Not with this new backfield, which has the Cowboys offense finally humming.

Player of the week: Big 12

October, 28, 2013
10/28/13
4:00
PM CT
The preseason buzz in Stillwater, Okla., said Desmond Roland could be a guy to keep an eye on for Oklahoma State this season.

The running back showed why with a 219-yard, four-touchdown performance against Iowa State on Saturday. The junior averaged 8.4 yards on his 26 carries as he put the Cowboys offense on his shoulders and set career highs in carries, yards and touchdown runs. For his efforts, Roland earned ESPN.com Big 12 player of the week honors.

Playing behind season-opening starter Jeremy Smith, Roland had shown signs he could be a bigger part of OSU’s offensive attack earlier this season with solid performances against Mississippi State and West Virginia, but he never got the opportunity to be the man in OSU’s backfield until Saturday.

“I have been waiting on this opportunity for a long time now,” he said. “Once coach told me I would be starting, I was thankful and took advantage of it.”

Roland was particularly lethal on first down with 17 first-down carries for 106 yards and one touchdown to help kick-start OSU’s running game. He's a strong, slashing runner who made the Cyclones defense look silly on a 58-yard touchdown run.

“We felt he deserved the start this week and when he got rolling and playing well, there was no reason to take him out,” Cowboys coach Mike Gundy said. “I was interested in watching to see about how his durability held up. He had 26 carries today and we haven’t had guys get that many carries in quite a while."

Gundy is hoping Roland can become the type of workhorse the Cowboys offense has been searching for all season long.

“Sometimes after 15-17 carries, guys have a tendency to fade off,” Gundy said. “[Former OSU all-Big 12 running back] Keith Toston used to get better as the game went on. I’m hoping Roland can do that and get stronger throughout the game.”

If he does the overall outlook could be on the rise, for Roland and the entire OSU offense.

What we learned in the Big 12: Week 8

October, 20, 2013
10/20/13
1:00
PM CT
What we learned about the Big 12 from Week 8:

1. TCU's offense is hopeless: Once again, the TCU defense kept the Horned Frogs in the game. Once again, it didn't matter. TCU's inept offensive attack reached a new level in Stillwater. QB Trevone Boykin delivered a Total QBR of 5.9 (scale of 0-100) and was benched in the second quarter. Except his backup, freshman Tyler Matthews, fumbled the ball away on his first snap. This was the third Big 12 game the Horned Frogs were held scoreless in a first half. Coach Gary Patterson became so frustrated he made co-offensive coordinator Rusty Burns the primary playcaller for the second half and brought the other offensive coordinator, Jarrett Anderson, to the sideline from the booth. The Horned Frogs moved the ball better, but not better enough. As a result, TCU is now 1-3 in the league and has become the Big 12's biggest disappointment. That's even with its defense playing big-time football. No defense, however, can overcome this drive chart: punt, punt, punt, punt, punt, interception, interception, fumble, turnover on downs, punt, field goal, interception, rushing touchdown, turnover on downs. The Horned Frogs could get QB Casey Pachall back from a broken forearm soon. That's really their only chance to prevent this season from turning into an all-out dumpster fire.

[+] EnlargeClint Chelf
Peter G. Aiken/USA TODAY Sports Clint Chelf's numbers weren't great Saturday, but he provided a deep threat that opened up the offense.
2. Oklahoma State is better off with its backup backfield: The Cowboys started the game with J.W. Walsh and Jeremy Smith in their backfield. They ended it with Clint Chelf and Rennie Childs. And there's no doubt which duo was more effective in the Pokes' 24-10 win over TCU. Walsh opened the game with two interceptions and finally was benched in favor of Chelf after three consecutive subpar outings. Chelf didn't exactly light TCU's secondary on fire. In fact, his Total QBR was poorer than Walsh's (28.0 versus 56.4). But the threat to throw the ball downfield opened up the offense a bit and allowed the Cowboys to finally get something going, thanks in part to Childs. Smith delivered another clunker of a game, rushing for just 14 yards on 12 carries before fumbling away possession to TCU in the third quarter. The Cowboys rode Childs at running back the rest of the way, and the true freshman ran hard. He finished with 45 rushing yards on nine carries, a 34-yard reception and a tough, 7-yard touchdown run that sealed the win in the fourth quarter. Even with Chelf and Childs, Oklahoma State has a long way to go offensively. But playing those two over Walsh and Smith seemed to be a step in the right direction.

3. Oklahoma's issues weren't a one-game thing: The Sooners still can't pass. And they still can't stop the run. The two areas that doomed the Sooners in last week's loss to Texas resurfaced at Kansas. With the Sooners missing LB Corey Nelson and DT Jordan Phillips, the Jayhawks took a cue from the Longhorns and ran the ball right down Oklahoma's throat to take a 13-0 lead in the first half. Coach Bob Stoops took blame off the defensive line and said afterward that the linebackers and defensive backs were out of position. But cameras briefly caught defensive coordinator Mike Stoops laying into defensive line coach Jerry Montgomery. On the other side of the ball, the Sooners continued to struggle passing. In fact, the prettiest throw of the afternoon came from wide receiver Lacoltan Bester, who hit Sterling Shepard on a reverse pass that finally gave the Sooners a lead in the second quarter. Blake Bell played much better than last week but still threw for only 131 yards with a Total QBR of 67.3, which surely will drop once the strength of the Kansas defense is factored into the equation. Think about this: The Sooners scored a touchdown off a trick play, blocked an extra point and returned it for a two-pointer, blocked a punt for a safety and held the Jayhawks to 16 yards passing -- and Kansas still was down only one score well into the fourth quarter. The same Kansas team fell to Texas Tech on the same field two weeks ago, 54-16. That same Texas Tech team travels to Norman next weekend.

4. Baylor's defense has a chance to be special, too: In 2011, Oklahoma State captured its first Big 12 title with one of the best offenses in conference history. That '11 Cowboys defense, however, was sneaky good, as well, and led college football with 44 forced turnovers. This Baylor defense has a chance to be sneaky good, too. The Bears' offense got back on track with a 71-point deluge against Iowa State. But Baylor's defense was almost as impressive. The Bears held Iowa State to just 174 yards of offense and only 41 yards on the ground. Baylor had a shutout going, too, until the Cyclones scored on a 27-yard touchdown pass with 47 seconds remaining. Iowa State isn't exactly Oregon (or Baylor), but the Cyclones had scored 30 or more points in three straight games. Baylor's offense alone makes the Bears the Big 12 favorite, but a sneaky good defense could elevate them into a dark-horse national title contender.

5. Kingsbury believes in his quarterbacks: As coordinators around the Big 12 call plays reflecting a lack of confidence in their quarterbacks, Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury has done the complete opposite. And when the game was on the line in Morgantown, he put the game -- and Texas Tech's season -- on the arm of true freshman Davis Webb, who came up with two huge throws on the final drive of the game. With Tech coddling a 30-27 lead in the final two minutes, Kingsbury called a pass on third-and-6. Three plays later, with Tech facing third-and-goal, Kingsbury called another pass. Both times, Webb delivered completions -- the latter a game-clinching touchdown strike to tight end Jace Amaro. Many coaches would have sat on the ball that drive. Even more would have done so with a true freshman quarterback making his first career road start. But by calling those passes, Kingsbury proved he believes in his quarterback. Quite a bit.

Big 12 predictions: Week 8

October, 17, 2013
10/17/13
9:00
AM CT
Last week, Tyler, the K-State fan from California who is getting married this weekend, flaked out on being the guest picker.

Or so I thought.

I assumed Tyler’s bride-to-be was getting on his case about focusing on his picks instead of his wedding. Sure, getting married is a big deal. But being the guest picker? Way bigger deal.

Turned out, my correspondence kept getting dumped into his spam folder. And once this was cleared up, Tyler pleaded for another early wedding present. What can I say? I’m a romantic.

From Tyler:

So I missed out on my chance to be the guest picker last week, and Trotter let me have it in the Week 7 predictions. You'll have to excuse me for making my wedding a bigger priority than being the guest picker. As they say, a happy wife is a happy life, and as a K-State fan, I need all the happiness I can get. Fortunately, Jake gave me a second chance to get my priorities straight before I tie the knot.

When I thought Tyler was blowing off the blog, Curtis from Washington D.C., stepped in as the guest picker. It was a rough week for Curtis, whose Sooners took it on the chin in a Red River wipeout. I just hope he was stuck in that military office with no TVs so he didn’t have to witness it.

This weekend, the Big 12 team will be canvassing the conference landscape. Brandon will be in Stillwater for TCU-Oklahoma State; Max will head to Waco for Iowa State-Baylor; and I will be reunited with my favorite league mascot -- “The Mountaineer” -- in Morgantown for Texas Tech-West Virginia. Have the deer jerky ready, Jon.

Congratulations, too, to Tyler and his bride, who will be honeymooning in France.

To the Week 8 picks:

SEASON RECORD

Trotter last week: 3-1 (.750)

Guest picker (Curtis in Washington D.C.) last week: 2-2 (.500)

Trotter overall: 33-11 (.750)

Guest picker overall: 19-8 (.704)

SATURDAY

Texas Tech 21, West Virginia 20: Last season, the Mountaineers were in a spot similar to where Tech is now. And the Red Raiders thrashed West Virginia in Lubbock, sending the Mountaineers into a tailspin that lasted the rest of the season. As a result, the Red Raiders are very aware just how precarious this 1,500-mile road trip back is. Tech, however, appears to have more staying power than last season's Mountaineers, who were really just a three-man show. These Red Raiders have more defense and more depth, and sneak out of Morgantown with their biggest win of the season yet.

Tyler’s pick: Eventually, Kliff Kingsbury is going to turn Tech into a team that can consistently compete for a Big 12 championship. His youth and coaching style will be a magnet for blue-chip recruits. Unfortunately, inexperience trumps hype here. West Virginia, 34-31

Oklahoma State 16, TCU 13: If the Cowboys couldn’t move the ball against West Virginia or Kansas State, why would anyone have confidence they’ll be able to against the best defense in the Big 12? Cornerback Jason Verrett and Co. will have Oklahoma State’s receivers on lockdown, not that QB J.W. Walsh has been able to get them the ball anyway lately. The problem is, TCU can’t score, either.

Tyler’s pick: TCU fans can't wait to have QB Casey Pachall back, as the offense continues to struggle without him. TCU's defense keeps the first half close, but Oklahoma State pulls ahead with Jeremy Smith rushing for 100 yards and a score. OSU, 24-17

Oklahoma 30, Kansas 17: Bob Stoops is 14-0 the week after Texas with an average margin of victory of 27 points. Stoops, however, doesn’t have Josh Heupel, Jason White, Sam Bradford or Landry Jones at quarterback this time. And Texas showed this Oklahoma defense isn’t anything special without linebacker Corey Nelson or tackle Jordan Phillips, who are both out for the season. The Sooners win. But their problems on either side of the ball remain very evident as Kansas keeps this one relatively close.

Tyler’s pick: After Oklahoma takes out its frustrations, Charlie Weis calls the Jacksonville Jaguars to see if they'll be needing a new offensive coordinator. OU, 54-3

Baylor 66, Iowa State 28: The scariest part for the rest of the Big 12 about Baylor’s win over K-State last week? The Bears were sluggish offensively -- and they still scored 35 points. Who knows if this is the best offense in Big 12 history? But it certainly is the fastest scoring. Iowa State is one of 11 teams in college football that has yet to allow a touchdown in three plays or fewer. That changes Saturday.

Tyler’s pick: As a K-State fan, I am required to comment about how amazing Bill Snyder is. Since K-State is off this week, we will add the Snyder love here. Last week, he showed the country how to beat Baylor. Unfortunately for Iowa State, Snyder doesn't coach the Cyclones. If Snyder coached the talent Texas and OU had, he’d have five national championships. Baylor, 58-35

Big 12 predictions: Week 6

October, 3, 2013
10/03/13
8:00
AM CT
Like the Steelers and Vikings, I crossed the pond to find this week’s guest picker, David in England.

David’s submission:

Hi there guys! I'm an avid follower of college football, which is rather rare in this country! I'd love to be your guest picker and give you some good ol' English dry wit to add to your insight!

David, after last week’s disaster picking games, we could use some insight. And since you’ll be picking games from our version of football, I’ll be picking one from yours. David is a Tottenham bloke, so we’re going to pick Sunday’s West Ham at Tottenham match.

If you want to be next week’s guest picker, contact me here, and tell me why. And, as always, creativity counts.

By the way, the Big 12 blog team will be out and about this weekend. Max Olson will be in Waco for West Virginia-Baylor, Brandon Chatmon will be in Stillwater for Kansas State-Oklahoma State, and yours truly will be in Norman for TCU-Oklahoma.

To the Week 6 picks:

SEASON RECORD

Trotter last week: 1-3 (.250)

Guest picker last week: 2-2 (.500)

Trotter overall: 26-8 (.765)

Guest picker overall: 12-5 (.706)

THURSDAY

Iowa State 27, Texas 25: The Longhorns revealed Wednesday that QB David Ash would not travel to Ames due to lingering issues from a head injury. Backup Case McCoy has actually filled in well for Ash this season. However, the offense is limited with McCoy, and I’m not sure that changes if the redshirt is pulled off freshman Tyrone Swoopes, either. The Cyclones, meanwhile, found their offensive footing last week with the healthy return of center Tom Farniok and emergence of speedy running back Aaron Wimberly. Ames will be rocking. Iowa State is tenacious on weekday games. I smell upset here.

David’s pick: Texas is coming off a bye week and a standout game against K-State. Iowa State is coming off losses to two other Iowa teams (neither of them particularly impressive games anyway) and could barely handle Tulsa. Watch for Johnathan Gray to have a standout game against a particularly poor rush defense. Texas 35-14

SATURDAY

No. 20 Texas Tech 28, Kansas 7: Long known for its high-powered offense, Tech has actually jumped to 4-0 with defense this season. Despite having talent on offense, the Jayhawks have struggled to score points. That continues, as the Red Raiders win another ugly game to remain undefeated.

David’s pick: Kansas welcomes a Texas Tech team that is achieving over 400 yards passing per game. The Jayhawks capitulate, as the combination of Baker Mayfield and Jace Amaro tears through them. Texas Tech 42-7

No. 21 Oklahoma State 29, Kansas State 17: For the first time in seemingly forever, Oklahoma State is without much of an offensive identity. The offense’s best asset is receiver, but J.W. Walsh is a running quarterback without the arm strength to get the ball downfield. So far, Jeremy Smith has also proven to be a major downgrade from Joseph Randle at running back, which has limited the effectiveness of the running game. Bill Snyder is one of the best, and off an open week, he’ll have a strong defensive gameplan that attacks Walsh’s weaknesses. OSU wins, but Walsh continues to sputter passing, raising questions about whether the Cowboys should turn back to Clint Chelf at QB.

David’s pick: OSU's BCS title dreams are in tatters thanks to a woeful showing against at West Virginia. Kansas State faces an angry team and one that's ready to let it rip. OSU 32-17

No. 11 Oklahoma 28, TCU 16: This is the ultimate trap game for the Sooners, who get TCU sandwiched between the big win at Notre Dame and the Texas game next weekend. The Sooners, however, know better than to overlook TCU, which has played OU tough over the years, winning in Norman in 2005. These Horned Frogs don’t have enough offense to pull off the upset, but the TCU defense keeps the Horned Frogs in the game until the fourth quarter.

David’s pick: A once-ranked TCU finally found some offense against SMU. If Oklahoma had lost to Notre Dame, this would have been a blowout. Instead, it’s a nail-biter. OU 28-27

No. 17 Baylor 49, West Virginia 21: Neither of these teams played defense last season. This season, both units have made major improvements. The difference is that Baylor’s offense is better than last year. West Virginia’s is much worse. Even though the Mountaineers toppled then-No. 11 Oklahoma State last weekend, they are four-touchdown underdogs in Waco. Vegas is giving Baylor major respect for a reason. This offense appears to have no weakness. The Bears continue to roll.

David’s pick: Being an Oregon fan at heart, Baylor's impression of the Ducks’ high-speed offense has paid off. But I must give credit to that Baylor defense. West Virginia's shocking win against OSU will give it the confidence, but only scoring just over 20 points per game is not going to give you a win against Baylor. Baylor, 52-10

Tottenham Hotspur 5, West Ham United 0: I wanted to pick West Ham to troll David. But then I found out Tottenham is third in the Premier League standings; West Ham is 17th out of 20 and has failed to score away from home. This is like when Louisiana-Monroe traveled to Baylor, and we all know how that turned out.

David’s pick: Tottenham is flying high to start this season. Only one loss (to top of the table Arsenal) is the blip in an otherwise comfortable start to life without Gareth Bale. Gylfi Siggurdson has had a tremendous start to the campaign, bank on him to get one or two against a frail West Ham side. West Ham, typically, doesn't travel well in the BPL. Their key to victory will be to play Tottenham at its game: slick passing counter attack. Fail to do so, and we could be looking at a blowout in the first half. Tottenham 3-0

Big 12 weekend rewind: Week 5

September, 30, 2013
9/30/13
11:00
AM CT
Taking stock of Week 5 in the Big 12:

Team of the week: Oklahoma. With their victory over Oklahoma State, the Mountaineers deserved strong consideration here. But by winning in South Bend, the Sooners delivered the Big 12 its best win of the year while vanquishing past demons. OU, which fell to 1-9 all-time against Notre Dame last season, controlled this game wire-to-wire in a 35-21 win. QB Blake Bell operated the Sooners' offense like a veteran in just his second career start. And the OU defense took it to QB Tommy Rees to force three first-half interceptions that allowed the Sooners to pad their lead. OU might have been one of the most overlooked teams during the preseason. After Saturday, the Sooners won’t be overlooked anymore.

Disappointment of the week: Oklahoma State. The Cowboys fell in Morgantown 31-21, despite being 18-point favorites. OSU sputtered all day offensively across the board. J.W. Walsh had a QBR of just 38.1 (scale of 0 to 100) and the Cowboys averaged just 2.8 yards per carry. The defense didn’t fare much better, allowing a West Virginia offense that had been completely inept to rack up 21 first downs. Dating to last year, the Cowboys have now lost three consecutive Big 12 games.

Big (offensive) men on campus: Sterling Shepard and Aaron Wimberly. Both the Oklahoma receiver and Iowa State running back sparked their offenses to big wins on the road. Shepard had five catches for 83 yards, and delivered the nail in the coffin to Notre Dame with a 54-yard touchdown reception to put OU back up by two scores in the fourth quarter.

In a 38-21 win at Tulsa, Wimberly produced Iowa State’s first 100-yard rushing game in more than a year with 137 yards on 19 carries. He added a 31-yard reception as the Cyclones came alive in their first win of the season.

Big (defensive) men on campus: The Oklahoma linebackers, and Sam Carter. Corey Nelson, Frank Shannon and Eric Striker came up with huge plays in the first quarter to set the tone for the OU defense the rest of the way against the Irish. On Notre Dame’s first series, Striker blindsided Rees from behind, popping the ball loose into the arms of Nelson, who returned it 24 yards for a TD. On Notre Dame's next play from scrimmage, Shannon caught a tipped pass and returned the interception 17 yards to the Notre Dame 32. The Sooners scored again four plays later on an 11-yard run by Damien Williams. OU rode the defensive flurry all the way to the win.

Carter, TCU’s junior safety, had a huge day against SMU. Carter had two interceptions, forced a fumble and recorded a sack in the Horned Frogs’ 48-17 victory over the Mustangs. For his efforts, Carter was named the Walter Camp national defensive player of the week. With cornerback Jason Verrett ailing with a shoulder injury, Carter might have to take an even bigger leadership role in the TCU secondary moving forward.

Special-teams player of the week: Jaden Oberkrom. In a complete downpour, TCU’s place-kicker nailed two field goals to help the Horned Frogs pull away from SMU in the second half. As the rain began to fall in droves early in the third quarter, TCU had the ball on the SMU 5-yard line trailing 10-7. Because of the rain, a botched shotgun snap resulted in a loss of 20. But Oberkrom made sure the Frogs came away with points with the 35-yard field goal conversion. Had Oberkrom missed, who knows how the game would have gone for TCU? Instead, buoyed in part by getting points off the drive, the Frogs dominated the rest of the way.

[+] EnlargeIshmael Banks
AP Photo/Tyler EvertWVU's Ishmael Banks' interception return for a TD was one of many big plays that cost OSU in a game that changed everything for the Cowboys.
Play of the week: After Josh Stewart took a screen pass 73 yards for the touchdown and Justin Gilbert intercepted Clint Trickett three plays later at midfield, the Cowboys seemed to be on the verge of blowing the game away in the first quarter. Instead, West Virginia cornerback Ishmael Banks read Walsh’s eyes off a rollout, stepped in front of the pass for the pick, then returned it 58 yards for a touchdown. The Cowboys never found their footing again offensively, as West Virginia held them to just two scores the rest of the game.

Stat of the week: Oklahoma State running back Jeremy Smith rushed for just 1 yard on 15 carries at West Virginia. According to ESPN Stats & Info, Smith’s rushing total was the second worst by an FBS running back with that many carries in any game in the past 10 years.

Quote of the week: "No doubt in my mind that we're a national championship-type of team." – OU running back Brennan Clay, after the Notre Dame win

What we learned in the Big 12: Week 5

September, 29, 2013
9/29/13
10:00
AM CT
The Sooners notched a big nonconference road win for the Big 12, West Virginia’s defense came up big in an upset of Oklahoma State, and TCU finally found some offense against SMU.

What we learned about the Big 12 from Week 5:

[+] EnlargeBlake Bell
AP Photo/Darron CummingsQuarterback Blake Bell, making his second career start, was 22-of-30 passing for 232 yards and two touchdowns in leading Oklahoma past Notre Dame.
The Sooners are a different team with Bell: This question has to be asked: How did Blake Bell not win the starting quarterback job during the preseason? Since taking over for Trevor Knight, Bell has been superb, leading the Sooners to a big 35-21 victory Saturday at Notre Dame. Bell completed 22 of 30 passes for 232 yards and two touchdowns for a Total QBR of 79.1 (scale of 0 to 100), which almost certainly will go up once the strength of Notre Dame’s defense is factored into the equation. Bell also didn’t turn the ball over, as OU controlled the game from beginning to end. Save for a Nov. 7 showdown in Waco, the Sooners’ remaining slate doesn’t look nearly as daunting as it did a month ago. With Bell running the show at this level, OU is very capable of winning every game left on its schedule.

The West Virginia defense appears legit: The performance against Oklahoma State was the best by a West Virginia defense since joining the Big 12. The Mountaineers controlled the line of scrimmage to shut down OSU’s vaunted running game, and the secondary laid the lumber, knocking receivers Josh Stewart and Jhajuan Seales out of the game with big hits. The 21 points, in fact, were the fewest scored by a Cowboys offense in a loss since the 2009 Cotton Bowl. West Virginia did give up 37 to Maryland a week ago, but the six turnovers from the West Virginia offense had a lot to with that. In holding the Bedlam schools to a combined 37 points, Keith Patterson’s unit has now locked up, perennially, two of the Big 12’s highest-scoring offenses. The Mountaineers will get their shot at another on Saturday in Waco, and Baylor’s high-flying attack will provide the toughest test to date. But the West Virginia defense will give Baylor its toughest challenge yet as well.

Oklahoma State not the same offensively: The Cowboys have basically played two teams with a pulse and scored only 21 points both times. The Pokes seems to really be missing former coordinator Todd Monken and running back Joseph Randle, maybe even more than anybody thought they would. The Cowboys never found a flow offensively in Morgantown with Mike Yurcich’s play-calling, and Randle’s successor, Jeremy Smith, finished with just 1 yard on 15 carries. Given J.W. Walsh’s limitations throwing the ball downfield, it’s been awhile since an Oklahoma State offense had this many vulnerabilities.

TCU offense gains confidence with new faces: The Horned Frogs offense finally came alive late in the third quarter of a 48-17 win against SMU. And it came alive via plays from some new faces. True freshman Ty Slanina hauled in a 20-yard touchdown with four minutes left in the third quarter to break a 10-10 tie. On TCU’s next possession, former Florida transfer Ja'Juan Story took a 56-yard pass to the house to ignite the rout. Then freshman Cameron Echols-Luper returned a punt 51 yards to set up another touchdown. Going into the SMU game, Slanina, Story and Echols-Luper had a combined five touches through three games. The trio, however, figures to be a big part of the Horned Frogs' attack going forward, including next weekend in Norman.

OU at Baylor looking like the Big 12’s biggest game: With the Cowboys’ loss in Morgantown, OU-Baylor in Waco on Nov. 7 is looking more and more like the game of the year in the Big 12. Several other pivotal matchups remain (TCU-OU, the Red River Rivalry, Tech-OU, Baylor-OSU, Baylor-Tech, Bedlam). And there are still other teams (Tech, TCU, OSU, even Texas) that could play their way to the top of the conference title race. But as of today, OU-Baylor is looking like the game that will have more conference title implications than any other.

Big 12 lunchtime links

September, 27, 2013
9/27/13
11:00
AM CT
There's no crying in baseball, but I guess it's OK here.
  • The Cyclones found their footing, and an offense, at Tulsa, according to the Ames Tribune's Bobby La Gesse. Tommy Birch of the Des Moines Register writes about how QB Sam Richardson overcame injuries to guide Iowa State to the 38-21 win. The paper's Bryce Miller explains how center Tom Farniok shored up the Cyclones offensive line.
  • Saturday, Clint Trickett will become West Virginia's third starting quarterback already this season. The Charleston Daily Mail's Mike Casazza breaks it down. The Mountaineers are also ready to pick up the pace, writes Dave Hickman of the Charleston Gazette. Opposing defenses, meanwhile, have the blueprint for stopping the West Virginia offense, in the opinion of Stephen J. Nesbitt of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
  • The Sooners are expecting a big-time atmosphere in South Bend. The Oklahoma players talk about playing in big-time games. The Oklahoman's Jason Kersey breaks down the OU-Notre Dame matchups. The Dallas Morning News does the same.
  • Oklahoma State offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich is getting the opportunity of a lifetime, writes The Oklahoman's Gina Mizell. Running back Jeremy Smith has been a reason for Oklahoma State's 3-0 start.
  • Baylor coach Art Briles is hoping his book, “Looking Up: My Journey from Tragedy to Triumph," inspires. The Bears expect to get back tight end Jordan Najvar and running back Glasco Martin next week in their Big 12 opener against West Virginia. The Dallas Morning News compares the Baylor and Oregon offenses side-by-side.
  • TCU is the best in the Big 12 when it comes to non-conference scheduling, according to The Oklahoman's Ryan Aber. The Horned Frogs need an offensive spark, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram's Jimmy Burch and Stefan Stevenson. E.J. Holland of the Dallas Morning News predicts the Frogs will keep the Iron Skillet in Fort Worth.
  • The Lawrence Journal-World's Matt Tait writes that the Kansas offensive line is trying to get tougher during its open week.
  • A bye week on the schedule doesn’t mean Kansas State has taken it easy, either, according to Ken Corbitt of the Topeka Capital-Journal.
  • Texas Tech is planning some reunions.
  • Could there be crimson on the burnt orange side? The AP reports that Texas students have not claimed all their tickets for the Red River Rivalry.

Big 12 unsung heroes: Week 3

September, 16, 2013
9/16/13
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Here are the Big 12's unsung heroes in Week 3.

Receiver Quenton Bundrage, Iowa State: Overshadowed by the Cyclones’ struggles against Iowa, Bundrage could be emerging as a go-to target for quarterback Sam Richardson. He finished with seven receptions for 146 yards and three touchdowns. Four of his catches resulted in first downs for the Cyclones. He could be a reassuring option for Iowa State's offense if he can be consistent for the rest of the season.

Safety Isaiah Johnson, Kansas: The junior college transfer had a strong showing against Rice. He had nine tackles, including seven solo stops, and one interception against the Owls. It was a disappointing 23-14 loss for the Jayhawks, but coach Charlie Weis praised the performance of his defense and hopes that unit will continue to play well when Big 12 play opens. Secondary play is critical in this league, and Johnson could help the Jayhawks in that regard.

Running back John Hubert, Kansas State: It’s odd to call Hubert an unsung hero, but the Wildcats’ use of their star running back should be noted. He’s gotten more opportunities to get the ball in space and has seen the ball more in the passing game since KSU's season-opening loss to North Dakota State. Hubert had 168 all-purpose yards (118 rushing, 50 receiving) and one touchdown in KSU’s 37-7 win over UMass. With KSU facing Texas this weekend, Hubert could be a key guy to watch for the Wildcats.

Cornerback Zack Sanchez, Oklahoma: Sanchez is quietly off to an outstanding start in the first three games of his college career. He had six tackles, including 0.5 tackles for loss, and one pass breakup against Tulsa. The redshirt freshman has been competitive, trustworthy and confident as the starter opposite All-Big 12 cornerback Aaron Colvin. Sanchez gone from potential weak link for the Sooners to a potential strength in the secondary.

Running back Jeremy Smith, Oklahoma State: The senior had the quietest three-touchdown performance in recent memory with 10 carries for 40 yards and three scores. Smith makes the list because he will be critical for the Cowboys offense moving forward. If he can continue to be a physical, slashing runner who takes the attention off quarterback J.W. Walsh, the entire field opens up for OSU’s offense on the ground and through the air.

[+] EnlargeJohnathan Gray
Cooper Neill/Getty ImagesTexas RB Johnathan Gray rushed for 91 yards and a TD in the Longhorns' loss to Ole Miss.
Running back Johnathan Gray, Texas: Gray had a productive day against Ole Miss despite the Longhorns’ 44-23 loss. He finished with 19 carries for 91 yards and one touchdown while adding four receptions for 12 yards. The Longhorns leaned more on Gray with Daje' Johnson out, and the sophomore responded with a solid showing. Nonetheless, UT will need even more from Gray if it hopes to get the ship turned back in the right direction.

Defensive back Derrick Kindred, TCU: The sophomore, a backup safety, was all over the field in the Horned Frogs’ 20-10 loss to Texas Tech on Thursday. He finished with five tackles, including one tackle for loss, while adding an interception and a pass breakup. Playing in a defensive backfield that features big names like cornerback Jason Verrett and safety Elisha Olabode, Kindred is looking like he can provide quality depth in TCU’s secondary.

Safety Tre' Porter, Texas Tech: The Red Raiders senior was a key reason Texas Tech was able to limit TCU to 10 points. He had a team-high nine tackles, all solo. His ability to tackle in space and limit game-changing plays by opponents could be critical for the Red Raider defense when it starts facing Big 12 offenses. He was moved to safety to provide a consistent playmaker at that position for the Red Raiders, and that's exactly what he's done.

Defensive end Kyle Rose, West Virginia: Rose had six tackles, including 1.5 tackles for loss, and one sack for WVU in the Mountaineers' 41-7 win over Georgia State. The sophomore provided quality depth last season and could become a key contributor along the defensive line if he continues to play well. He could also help lessen the burden and double-team opportunities on defensive tackle Shaq Rowell in the middle.

Note: Baylor did not play in Week 3.

Big 12 helmet stickers: Week 3

September, 15, 2013
9/15/13
5:00
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Recognizing the best and brightest from around the Big 12 in Week 3:

QB Blake Bell, Oklahoma

Turns out Bell is a better passer than anyone realized. He threw for 413 yards and four touchdowns against Tulsa, showing impressive confidence and rapport with his receivers. Bell only ran for 24 yards, too. Considering how badly the OU passing attack fared a week ago, the 400-yard showing was a real eye-opener against a Tulsa team that went 11-3 a year ago. The question marks surrounding Bell and his ability to replace Trevor Knight were answered on Saturday, at least for one week.

WR Quenton Bundrage, Iowa State

Bundrage exploded against Iowa for seven catches, 146 yards and three touchdowns in the close 27-21 loss. His touchdowns came from 67, 26 and 17 yards out, and those final two came late in the fourth quarter as Iowa State mounted a rally.

CB Kip Daily, Kansas State

The senior cornerback nabbed an interception in the first quarter against UMass and returned it 38 yards for the first touchdown of the game. He picked off a second pass on a fourth down late in the third quarter, ensuring KSU would have no trouble in a 37-7 win over the Minutemen. Those were the first two interceptions in his career. Daily is up to 16 tackles and two pass breakups on the year after recording only one tackle in six games last season.

QB Ford Childress, West Virginia

Not bad at all, kid. In his first career start, Childress threw for 359 yards and three touchdowns in a 41-7 win over Georgia State. The redshirt freshman and former ESPN 150 recruit hit on 25 of his 41 attempts and recorded a solid QBR of 74.2. He might be just what the Mountaineers are looking for in their hopes to end their quarterback battle.

RB Jeremy Smith, Oklahoma State

Smith found the end zone three times in an easy 59-3 win over FCS Lamar. He had a modest 40 rushing yards on the day, but OSU really didn’t need much from Smith to get the victory. Smith now leads the Big 12 in rushing touchdowns with six.

Most to prove in the Big 12

August, 28, 2013
8/28/13
10:00
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At long last, we can put an end to all the offseason chatter and preseason hype. All those expectations get thrown out the window on the first weekend of college football.

Who’s going to rise to the occasion and live up to those expectations? And who already has a lot on the line entering the season opener? Here are 10 Big 12 players, coaches and positions that have plenty to prove this weekend.

1. Texas offensive coordinator Major Applewhite: The first-year playcaller worked all offseason to implement an up-tempo offense at Texas, and Mack Brown has set high goals for pace and plays per game. Will the tempo make Longhorn players more mistake-prone or wear them out faster? We’ll find out how much progress has been made Saturday when they faces New Mexico State.

2. West Virginia RB Charles Sims: Coach Dana Holgorsen likes Sims and his revamped stable of backs so much, he’s redshirting 2012 leading rusher Andrew Buie. How’s that for some pressure to perform? Sims, a Houston transfer, may have to help carry the offense while WVU’s quarterback situation remains unresolved.

[+] EnlargeJake Waters
Peter G. Aiken/Getty ImagesJake Waters won the K-State starting job, and much is expected from the junior college transfer.
3. Kansas State QB Jake Waters: Waters was named the starter Monday but will still have to split snaps with Daniel Sams to some extent. Much is expected of the junior college transfer who has been on campus for only eight months. With Sams ready to play at any moment, he’ll need to be sharp against North Dakota State.

4. Oklahoma State RB Jeremy Smith: OSU has been spoiled at the running back position with Kendall Hunter and Joseph Randle, and Smith will try to keep that trend going as the new feature back. What kind of dent can he make against a Mississippi State unit that ranked No. 11 in the SEC in run defense last season?

5. Oklahoma defensive coordinator Mike Stoops: Stoops’ first year back in Norman wasn’t exactly the smashing success most expected, and he’ll put a defense on the field against Louisiana-Monroe that features only four returning starters. With West Virginia coming to town the next week, Stoops’ rebuilt D needs to get off to a good start Saturday.

6. Oklahoma State offensive line: The Cowboys lost left tackle Devin Davis for the season to a torn ACL this week, and line coach Joe Wickline will have some interesting decisions to make as he reworks his lineup before Saturday’s game against Mississippi State. Parker Graham could slide over from guard to tackle, or a few others could fill the vacancy. Not a good problem to have when you’re prepping for an SEC foe instead of an FCS cupcake.

7. TCU linebackers: LSU’s potent power run game will give the Frogs' linebacker corps as good a test as it’ll get all season. The departure of leading tackler Joel Hasley earlier this month makes that task even tougher. Juniors Marcus Mallet, Paul Dawson and ex-safety Jonathan Anderson have to step up.

8. Baylor QB Bryce Petty: There might not be a more hyped player in the Big 12 entering the opener. Most assume the junior with only 14 career passing attempts will end up becoming the league’s best quarterback by December. He gets to prove a lot of people right -- or wrong -- Saturday versus Wofford.

9. Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury: The man who molded Johnny Manziel in 2012 now must find a way to work wonders with a true freshman quarterback on the road. How will Davis Webb or Baker Mayfield operate his offense, and how much confidence will they have? Few coaches have more to prove this season than Kingsbury, and if his team isn’t ready SMU will give Tech a battle on Friday night.

10. TCU QB Casey Pachall: Even if he does earn the start for TCU this weekend -- Gary Patterson is sticking to his strategy of not naming a starter until kickoff -- you have to imagine Trevone Boykin will enter the game if Pachall has some early struggles against an LSU defense that, despite losing so many starters to the NFL, should still have legitimate talent at all three levels. Remember, Pachall started only one Big 12 game last season before leaving the program, and it was a not-so-stellar 20-6 win over Kansas. So much is expected of him this season, and the presence of Boykin puts pressure on Pachall to be as good as advertised.

Jeremy Smith up next for Oklahoma State

August, 19, 2013
8/19/13
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STILLWATER, Okla. -- It finally hit Jeremy Smith that he would be the featured running back when one of Oklahoma State’s famed former featured runners followed him on Twitter.

It was Oklahoma State legend and Pro Football Hall of Famer Thurman Thomas.

[+] EnlargeJeremy Smith
Richard Rowe/USA TODAY SportsThe spotlight is on Cowboys running back and fifth-year senior Jeremy Smith this season.
“I pretty much smiled when he did,” Smith said. “Looking up to those guys, Thurman and Barry (Sanders) -- the thing here is 'Tailback U.'

"We've proven that. We’re going to keep that going."

The onus has now fallen on to Smith to keep the Cowboys’ venerable running back tradition going.

At long last.

After backing up All-Big 12 running backs Joseph Randle, Kendall Hunter and Keith Toston the past four seasons, Smith’s turn as the bell-cow back has finally arrived.

“I’m too ready,” said Smith, a fifth-year senior. “I feel blessed to have this opportunity.

“It’s my turn now.”

Oklahoma State’s running back history is one of the richest in the country. Thomas elevated it to another level with two first-team All-American seasons in the ‘80s before going on to star with the Buffalo Bills. Then in 1988, Sanders put together one of the greatest individual seasons by any player in college football history on his way to capturing the Heisman.

Even as Oklahoma State has evolved into a spread attack under coach Mike Gundy -- Thomas and Sanders’ quarterback -- the Cowboys have continued to produce outstanding running backs. Oklahoma State has featured a 1,000-yard running back in each of the last six seasons.

Coaches and teammates believe Smith has all the tools to become the seventh.

"He's got the skills, he's got the ability, he's got the knowledge," said position coach Jemal Singleton.

“He definitely has the capability."

Smith has definitely been a capable wingman the past four seasons, averaging 6.2 yards per carry. Among Oklahoma State running backs with more than 100 career carries, Sanders owns a better average. Because of his powerful running style, Smith has been especially efficient in the red zone, underscored by his 25 career rushing touchdowns.

“Jeremy is extremely explosive,” Singleton said. “He’s got a really good burst. When he sticks his foot in the ground, he can get going.”

Really, the only knock on Smith has been durability.

After rushing for an Oklahoma State freshman-debut record 160 yards, Smith had to redshirt after suffering a shoulder injury. Nagging injuries hampered him the past two seasons, too.

Smith, however, said being on the field full-time should actually help his durability.

"I won't be trying to warm myself up all the time,” Smith said. “That won’t be a problem at all. I'll always be warm.”

Keeping Smith warm and healthy will be paramount for the Pokes, who have no other seasoned rusher on the roster. Smith, however, has inspired confidence he can handle the load with the work his teammates say he put in during the offseason. Smith’s massive biceps inspire confidence, too.

“I always tease him,” Gundy said, “if I looked like him, I’d just move to (Los Angeles) and walk around in swim trunks all day.”

Good thing for the Cowboys, Smith will be in Stillwater for one more season. With hopes of keeping Oklahoma State’s tailback tradition up and rolling.

“Be looking for a big year,” Smith said. “Not going to be any letdown -- I promise you that.”

Cowboys confident in either QB

August, 8, 2013
8/08/13
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STILLWATER, Okla. -- Last season Oklahoma State became the first FBS team since 1996 to have three 1,000-yard passers.

Two of those passers -- Clint Chelf and J.W. Walsh -- are back. But their teammates don’t seem to care which wins the starting quarterback job. They say they can put up the points with either. Or, perhaps, even both.

“Doesn’t matter to me at all,” said Josh Stewart, who led Oklahoma State in receiving last year. “They both put up big numbers without even playing the whole season.

[+] EnlargeOklahoma State's Clint Chelf
Jerome Miron/USA TODAY SportsClint Chelf passed for 1,588 yards and 15 touchdowns last season and will compete with J.W. Walsh for the starting job.
“We’re very confident in both of them.”

The Cowboys have reason to be.

After Brandon Weeden set school records during Oklahoma State’s Fiesta Bowl run in 2011, the Cowboys were left without a clear succession plan at quarterback going into 2012. Chelf and Walsh battled incoming freshman Wes Lunt for the job during spring. Then days after spring ball, coach Mike Gundy stunned everyone, even his own players, by naming Lunt the starter.

“We really had no clue what our season would look like because we didn’t have a quarterback until summertime,” Stewart said. “And it was Wes, which was a shocker to everybody because it was a freshman coming in. We had Clint, who was a veteran and J-Dub, who performed really well in the spring game. Wes was the last person we were thinking.

“It was a shocker.”

Lunt showed why Gundy picked him to start by throwing for 436 yards and four touchdowns in a shootout loss to Arizona the second game of the season. But a week later, Lunt was out of the lineup with a knee injury, and Walsh was in. And the offense kept on humming, as the Cowboys racked up 576 yards against Texas, then 625 against Iowa State.

After Walsh suffered his own knee injury -- and Lunt got knocked out again with a concussion -- Chelf was in. And the offense kept on humming. With Chelf at the helm, the Cowboys scored 55 points against West Virginia, 59 against Texas Tech and 48 at Oklahoma in a heartbreaking, overtime loss in which the Cowboys led virtually the entire game.

All told, despite shuffling through three inexperienced quarterbacks, Oklahoma State finished third in the nation in scoring, averaging almost 46 points a game.

“We were very fortunate they didn’t have any experience and still played pretty well,” Gundy said. “You feel a little better this year because they’ve been out there, they’ve played on the road, they’ve been in tough environments, they’ve executed and they certainly know the offense better than they did a year ago.”

Gundy hasn’t made either quarterback available to the media this preseason. He hasn’t indicated when he’ll name a starter, either – although he did say he would have done so already if the Cowboys weren’t facing an SEC opponent in the opener.

Because he ended last season as the starter, Chelf is the favorite to get the nod over Walsh against Mississippi State in Houston. But their teammates hinted a two-quarterback attack isn’t off the table, either.

“I’d be looking out for both of them,” said running back Jeremy Smith. “I think it’s going to be a one-two punch with those guys.”

Walsh is the better runner, and operated Oklahoma State’s goal line package late last season when he returned from injury. Chelf, meanwhile, is more comfortable throwing downfield out of the pocket.

“I think that’s got to be the scariest thing for rest of the Big 12, if we put both those guys back there at different times,” said receiver Blake Jackson. “That’s really dangerous.”

Whether they play Chelf, play Walsh or play both, the Cowboys ought to be dangerous on offense once again. Due in large part to their two quarterbacks.

“This year, we know what we have,” Stewart said. “We know what our quarterbacks can do.

“And we’re very confident, because both are great.”

Video: Oklahoma State RB Jeremy Smith

August, 5, 2013
8/05/13
4:45
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ESPN.com’s Jake Trotter talks with Oklahoma State running back Jeremy Smith about taking over as the leader in the Cowboys’ backfield and his expectations for the offense.

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