Dallas Colleges: Kliff Kingsbury

MEMPHIS, Tennessee -- The fun began with a phone call and a Twitter battle.

Laughs and jokes were exchanged upon the announcement that Texas A&M and West Virginia would meet in the AutoZone Liberty Bowl. Head coaches Kevin Sumlin and Dana Holgorsen and Aggies offensive coordinator Jake Spavital are among those involved who once shared time on the same coaching staff -- relationships that provide an intriguing backdrop for the reunion.

[+] EnlargeKenny Hill, Jake Spavital
Scott Halleran/Getty ImagesTexas A&M offensive coordinator Jake Spavital (right) learned under West Virginia head coach Dana Holgorsen at Houston.
"He taught me everything about this offense and he knows how I signal the game and I know how he signals the game," Spavital said of Holgorsen. "It'll keep the game interesting, and it'll keep us on our toes."

They're part of a group that shared time together five years ago, interestingly, while trying to get to a Liberty Bowl. During the 2009 season at Houston, Sumlin was head coach and Holgorsen was offensive coordinator. Clarence McKinney, Texas A&M's current running backs coach, held the same position with the Cougars at the time. Spavital was a graduate assistant and current Texas Tech head coach Kliff Kingsbury was the offensive quality control coach.

Making it more interesting was the fact that, at one time, Holgorsen, Kingsbury and Spavital all lived together in an apartment in Houston's Midtown district, a trendy neighborhood with a thriving business scene and nightlife. What could happen with three young, single coaches in close proximity to such an area?

"I'd better not say anything about that," Sumlin said, with laughter. "I didn't go over there at all. Anybody who knows Houston knows that Midtown has a lot of nice restaurants that stay open late at night, I'll just put it that way."

When he took over at Houston in 2008, Sumlin made Holgorsen -- who he describes as "brilliant" -- one of his first hires to install an innovative up-tempo offensive attack.

Holgorsen called Kingsbury, who was still pursuing a pro playing career, that summer. Sumlin agreed to add Kingsbury to the staff while also allowing him time to try out for the NFL.

"He spent more time out there throwing the football and practicing with guys than he did coaching," Sumlin joked. "Over time, thank God he got cut."

In 2009, Spavital's older brother, Houston defensive backs coach Zac Spavital, encouraged Jake to join the Cougars staff. Zac saw promise in Sumlin and Holgorsen and thought Jake could benefit from working with them. After interviewing with Holgorsen, Jake was hired on the spot.

"I loved him," Spavital said of Holgorsen. "He was great to me. He coaches his ass off. He's hard on the kids, he was hard on me. But he would separate work on and off the field. He was hard on me about things and he wanted me to grow as a coach, but then afterwards he was one of my buddies and he treated me that way."

Kingsbury was already living with Holgorsen in that two-bedroom apartment. Spavital would go from couch to couch, from his brother's to Holgorsen's.

"I wanted to be around Dana the whole time, so I'd sleep on his couch a lot," Spavital said. "I'd sleep at the offices, depending on whether Dana had his kids in or anything. I'd just move around because it's a two-bedroom apartment."

The bachelor pad was pretty bare in terms of furnishings.

"We were very minimalist in that household," Kingsbury said. "There wasn't anything to get in your way. ... You know, in Houston there's a lot to do. We would be there to sleep and that was about it."

Added Spavital: "There was no silverware and plates and stuff like that. It was two rooms, two bathrooms and a couch and a TV. We never were there."

McKinney, who joined the staff in 2008, recalls some of the late-night meetings the offensive staff had.

"We spent a lot of time together in meetings after practice," McKinney said. "We'd go from the office to somewhere down the street to grab something to eat, grab some drinks and the meetings would still be going until 2 in the morning."

Certainly it wasn't only football, though, right? When Holgorsen, Spavital and Kingsbury hit the town, there have to be some entertaining stories.

"You can't put that in the paper," Kingsbury said coyly. "It was fun."

Each of them have distinct traits. There's Holgorsen, the casual dresser ("I don't even think Dana owned a suit until he got to Oklahoma State," Spavital said. "He would always say, 'How many games has that suit won?'") and Red Bull devotee ("It's amazing that he's still functioning," Kingsbury said. "I guess his kidneys are pretty strong. He gets after those.").

There's well-dressed Kingsbury, who might still be holding on to NFL dreams. ("If Kliff could play right now, he'd play," Spavital said. "That's why Kliff works out all the time, because I know he believes that he can still do it.")

And there's Spavital, the youngest who deferred to his elders. ("He listens a lot," Kingsbury said. "He's not just going to talk a lot, he likes to listen and soak things up.")

It wasn't just tomfoolery; they had significant success. The 2009 Houston team ranked No. 1 nationally in offense (563.4 yards per game; 42.2 points per game), upset Oklahoma State in Stillwater and triumphed over Texas Tech. The 10-4 Cougars came within an incomplete pass of a Conference USA championship and a Liberty Bowl berth.

As each moved on, they kept in touch daily. They've traded game film, though that practice stopped between Holgorsen and Kingsbury once they became opposing Big 12 head coaches. They still talk, but the relationship dynamic is different now.

It didn't change for Spavital and Holgorsen until this year's Liberty Bowl announcement. They still communicate daily, but they obviously weren't trading tape or exchanging ideas in preparation for Monday's game (2 p.m. ET, ESPN).

"He gave us all his offensive stuff and we didn't give him any of our offensive stuff; I pulled the wool over his eyes in the last couple of weeks," Holgorsen joked. "When it gets competitive and you've got to play a game, you're going to have a good time talking about anything than actual football."
Texas Tech quarterback Davis Webb entered the season as the Big 12’s second-best signal-caller.

Now, there’s no guarantee he’s the future behind center for the Red Raiders.

That is partially because true freshman Patrick Mahomes is making his case to become the man under center for Tech. With Webb ailing with an ankle injury, Mahomes could be staking his claim as the man to run Kliff Kingsbury’s offense in 2015 and beyond after delivering a solid performance in a loss to Oklahoma on Saturday.

Placed alongside the numbers put up by Tech quarterbacks in recent history, Mahomes' statistics don’t stand out. He finished 27 of 50 for 393 yards and four touchdowns in a 42-30 loss to the Sooners. But it was one number in particular, his zero interceptions, that did stand out.

[+] EnlargePatrick Mahomes
John Weast/Getty ImagesFreshman quarterback Patrick Mahomes played a turnover-free game against Oklahoma.
“That was huge,” coach Kliff Kingsbury said. “That’s what we’ve been missing, really the entire year. We haven’t been good enough offensively to turn it over then make up for it. I think that was the key stat that jumped out to me.”

It was the Red Raiders' first game without an interception since their Sept. 6 win over UTEP. The Red Raiders’ 16 interceptions are tied for 119th among FBS teams, and their 3.4-percent interception percentage is tied for 85th.

“He protected the football,” Kingsbury said. “I asked him to do that and he did a great job of it against a very good defense. He was under duress most of the evening but continued to make great plays with his feet and threw some balls away, had a couple big plays called back.”

Mahomes' poise under duress really stood out against the Sooners, as the true freshman showed unusual calm amidst the chaos of the pocket and repeatedly turned Sooners pressure into Red Raiders opportunities.

“He was throwing on the run, escaping rushers and still delivering the ball with great accuracy and touch on the ball,” receiver Bradley Marquez said.

Mahomes, who spurned the opportunity to play professional baseball to play at Tech, also showed a toughness and willingness to stand in the pocket and take a hit to deliver the ball.

“The maturity to stand in there, know you’re going to get hit and still deliver the ball was awesome to see,” Marquez said. “It’s kind of the composure you have to have.”

It’s a maturity that Marquez, who also has a baseball background as a former outfielder in the New York Mets organization, thinks might have been honed on the diamond. While Marquez is a outfielder and Mahomes a prized pitcher, both have been toughened up by their baseball backgrounds. Mahomes made an adult decision in turning down the money that professional baseball could have provided him and exposing himself to physical punishment on the football field. It's likely made him mentally tougher and more mature than the average true freshman quarterback.

“That’s exactly what I think has helped him,” Marquez said. “I’ve gone through the same process as him so I know first hand the maturity it takes to do those things. I think it’s definitely something that benefited him and his game.

“In baseball, you’re going to fail more times than you’re going to succeed, so you have to have the maturity to move on when you do something bad so it doesn’t disrupt you later on in the game. It’s helped me be mentally strong, and I think Pat would agree it’s helped him as well.”

The maturity, poise and ball protection by Mahomes has put him in the position to continue to run the Red Raiders attack, even with Webb inching closer to full health. On Monday, Kingsbury said he would name his starter “at kickoff” when Tech faces Iowa State on Saturday, a thought would have been unthinkable before the season. And no matter who starts the final two games of Tech’s season, Kingsbury says all bets are off heading into the spring.

“Going into the spring, it will be an open competition,” Kingsbury said. “Anytime you have a record of 3-7, you have to re-evaluate some things.”

And what a competition it could be with the rapidly improving Mahomes, the experienced Webb, and ESPN 300 quarterback Jarrett Stidham among several quarterbacks ready to battle it out in the spring.

But, make no mistake, Mahomes has taken a step toward convincing Kingsbury he can be the answer at a position that has been unstable since he took over. Mahomes' development and ability to excel while protecting the ball in a game against a defensive front full of athletes will be remembered once the competition begins.

“He’s just a gamer,” Kingsbury said. “There’s something you can’t really see until he plays a game. I see how hard he plays and how hard he works, he’s going to be a great player for years to come.”

Reality of rebuild hitting Texas, Texas Tech

October, 29, 2014
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Kliff Kingsbury, Charlie StrongIcon Sportswire, AP PhotoKliff Kingsbury and Charlie Strong both lead 3-5 teams in the midst of a rebuilding process.
AUSTIN, Texas -- Vance Bedford was describing with admiration what Bob Stoops built at Oklahoma when, as the loquacious Texas defensive coordinator is prone to do, he swerved off course. A children’s fable had come to mind.

“We are not where we need to be, but it's going in the right direction. It's just one brick at a time. One step at a time,” Bedford said earlier this month. “I know people now say Texas is this and Texas is that. Stay right here. Just like the three little pigs.

“We aren't building a straw house here, guys. We're building a brick house that is going to withstand a whole lot of things in time. A straw house is built real fast. When a strong wind comes by, it's gone real fast. A brick house will withstand a hurricane, a tornado. It's going to stand tall. It's going to stand a long time.”

There’s no one wolf to blame for the mighty winds that have blown through Austin and Lubbock this fall. For Texas and Texas Tech, both 3-5 and clinging to the faint hope of a bowl game, a frustrating season has offered humbling reminders about the reality of a true rebuild. They’ll meet on Saturday night amid different phases of the same difficult construction.

What Tech built up last season under Kliff Kingsbury was a house with more sticks than bricks. A 7-0 start beget irrational expectations. You can’t reasonably expect Big 12 titles right away from a first-time head coach, or at least you shouldn’t. The bar of public perception was raised too high, too fast.

And then the Red Raiders lost five in a row. They saved face in their bowl game, but the damage was done. They’ve spent 2014 in a frustratingly fruitless chase to get back what they briefly had a year ago.

“It's in there,” Kingsbury said earlier this season. “We’ve just got to get it out and find a way to get that type of composure, that confidence back.”

The road back has offered disaster at nearly every turn: the beatdown from Arkansas, defensive coordinator Matt Wallerstedt’s dismissal, a four-game slide, innumerable injuries and penalties and now the 82-27 loss to TCU. Tech, losers of nine of its last 10 conference games, is just trying to get through this now.

“Where we're at, any win would be good,” Kingsbury said. “It's just -- it's been one of those years where any win is good. We're not a good enough team to look past anybody or not play well against anybody to get a win at this point.”

Through it all, the brick-by-brick building doesn't stop. Tech players haven't given up. Running back DeAndre Washington remembers what happened after the 5-7 season of 2011. He calls it the longest offseason in all his years playing football.

“I definitely don't want to have to endure that feeling again,” Washington said. “We're trying to do everything we can to make sure that doesn't happen again.”

At Texas, the bricklaying is off to a slower start. Charlie Strong promised a culture change for the program, and that foundation has shown progress. He never promised a Big 12 title in Year 1. But unexpected roster upheaval has created real obstacles to reaching six wins.

It’s not just the nine Longhorns dismissed from the program and the one still suspended. Losing senior starters Dominic Espinosa and Desmond Jackson for the season and junior quarterback David Ash for his career, all before Big 12 play began, required a shift in both plans and expectations.

“Nobody could’ve predicted this,” receiver John Harris said. “We figured we’d be a way better team than we were. If you go back and don’t lose any of those people, maybe it’s a different story. But this is the hand we’ve been dealt.”

The Texas team that’s left might best be described as unpredictable. Close calls against ranked UCLA, Baylor and Oklahoma teams are defensible. A couple fewer mistakes here and there and the narrative changes. But losses are losses.

“That's not the standard,” Strong said. “I still believe this. I always will believe this. I told our team this: We are a better football team than a 3-5 record. The record doesn't show it, but we're a better team.”

Strong and Kingsbury are in this for the long haul -- Strong has a five-year deal, Kingsbury’s was extended to 2020 -- and have time to assemble something that will endure. It’s about the next four years, not just these next four games. But both could use something good on Saturday night.

Their fans are disappointed. Their players are hurting. Their coaches are digging deep. Their reputations are taking hits. This is the rough battle of rebuilding. But neither coach should lose sight of the little pigs’ lesson: How you build your house matters far more than how quickly.

Texas Tech at TCU primer

October, 24, 2014
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A week after knocking off a top-15 Oklahoma State team at home, TCU welcomes another dangerous foe to Fort Worth.

The No. 10-ranked Horned Frogs look to improve 6-1 and boost their rising College Football Playoff hopes with a win over Texas Tech on Saturday afternoon. Brandon Chatmon and Max Olson break down the matchup.

How Texas Tech can earn the upset: Davis Webb needs to outplay Trevone Boykin, and the Red Raider defense needs to force some turnovers if Kliff Kingsbury’s squad hopes to knock off the nation’s 10th-ranked team. Webb has done a better job of taking care of the football in recent weeks (six touchdowns, two interceptions), but it will be critical for him and the Red Raiders to limit their mistakes while putting together some big plays of their own. -- Chatmon

How TCU can control the game: This might be a survive-and-advance kind of game for TCU. You know the Red Raiders are going to take lots of shots in the pass game. They want a shootout, and they really have nothing to lose. TCU's 42-9 rout of Oklahoma State was a perfect blueprint for controlling a game from start to finish, so we know the Frogs are more than capable of that. Another strong first-half start -- stops, takeaways, red-zone TDs -- would go a long way this week against this inconsistent TTU defense. -- Olson

Texas Tech’s X factor: Running back Justin Stockton has been a big play waiting to happen with five touchdowns in seven games thus far in his career. The true freshman has scored a touchdown in all three Red Raider wins this season and has the ability to make game-changing plays as the second running option in Tech’s attack. He’s averaging 9.6 yards per carry and could be just what the Red Raiders need to pull the upset. -- Chatmon

TCU's X factor: Its diversity of skill talent production. Nine different players recorded rushes or receptions of 10-plus yards against Oklahoma State last week, including Josh Doctson. Anybody else could do it this week. The Horned Frogs' ability to move the ball without relying heavily on any one player can be an asset at this phase of the season and in the playoff chase. -- Olson

What a win would mean for Texas Tech: A win would be huge for Kingsbury’s squad, which has suffered some ups-and-downs during his second season in charge. It would be an unexpected step towards a second straight bowl game and a sign the Red Raiders have shaken off their four-game losing streak with back-to-back wins heading into a showdown with Texas. -- Chatmon

What a win would mean for TCU: Another step toward proving the Horned Frogs are the team to beat in the conference. They had one heck of an October schedule and finishing that stretch with a 3-1 record would be an impressive feat that keeps them right in the middle of the Big 12 title hunt. TCU needs to maintain its momentum, too, because the next two games are a doozy: a trip to West Virginia and a home game against Kansas State. -- Olson

Big 12 morning links

September, 25, 2014
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I must admit, as a Nuggets fan, my reaction was more like ... "YES!!!!!"
  • How do you stop Baylor? Bobby La Gesse of the Ames Tribune takes a closer look at how Iowa State will try to stop the Bears. Among the priorities is stopping the running game. Baylor is thought of as a high-flying attack but the Bears lead the Big 12 in rushing yards per game (207.5) since 2009. Art Briles has always built his offense around the running game so the Cyclones focus on stopping that ground attack is a great place to start.
  • Oklahoma's offensive line is big and physical, writes Jason Kersey of The Oklahoman. OU offensive line coach Bill Bedenbaugh has been one of the best hires in the Big 12 in recent years. The Sooners have averaged a Big 12-best 5.35 yards per carry since Bedenbaugh was hired before the 2013 season. OU averaged 4.15 yards per carry in the three seasons before Bedenbaugh's arrival.
  • An excellent piece by SI.com's Lindsay Schnell on Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury gives you a glimpse at his extremely competitive nature among other things. It should be no surprise that Kingsbury's competitive drive is strong. It's hard to rise so quickly from quality control assistant to head coach at your alma mater without unique traits like Kingsbury's competitiveness.
  • TCU running backs are sharing the ball-carrying load reports Carlos Mendez of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. The Horned Frogs running backs might be splitting carries but I was expecting TCU's new offense to bring a little more commitment to the running game than we've seen in the first two games. TCU is averaging 36.3 rushes per game after averaging 33.58 rushes per game a year ago. It will be interesting to see if that number increases in Big 12 play or remains between 35-40 rushes per game for the duration of the year.
  • His Kansas State teammates weren't surprised to see linebacker Dakorey Johnson make a big impact against Auburn last Thursday, writes Joshua Tinder of the Manhattan Mercury. Johnson earned Big 12 defensive player of the week honors with six tackles including two tackles for loss and one interception in the loss to the Tigers. Johnson brings increased athleticism to K-State's defense so it will be interesting to see if he can consistently play at a high level for Bill Snyder's squad. If he can, the Wildcats defense could end up among the Big 12's best units.

New Texas Tech DC must fix run defense

September, 19, 2014
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Fourth-and-1 at Texas Tech's 39. Time for the Red Raiders, down seven points in the third quarter, to get a stop.

Arkansas lined up exactly how you would expect: A three-tight-end power set with a fullback. Nine blockers, one running back. No pass, no fakes, no funny stuff. Just a power run off right tackle. And Texas Tech played it right.

Safety J.J. Gaines met Arkansas back Jonathan Williams near the line of scrimmage. Collins juked left. Gaines whiffed. Then the Arkansas sophomore threw two stiff-arms at linebacker Sam Eguaoven and picked up 21 yards. Six plays later, the Hogs were back in the end zone.

[+] EnlargeAlex Collins
Michael C. Johnson/USA TODAY SportsOver the past nine games, this has been a familiar view of running backs for Texas Tech defenders.
This wasn't the turning-point play in Texas Tech's 49-28 loss. Just another landed punch in an eventual beatdown.

Williams ran for 80 yards in the second half, teammate Alex Collins added 167 yards, and Arkansas averaged a ridiculous 7.15 yards per carry and attempted just two passes. No need. Everything was working against a Red Raiders defense whose biggest flaw of 2013 re-emerged.

"You've got to give them credit," Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury said after the loss. "They lined up and pounded us, and we just didn't have an answer today."

Fixing a Texas Tech run defense that has been a sieve in its past nine games is Challenge No. 1 for newly elevated defensive coordinator Mike Smith. Though Matt Wallerstedt exited Thursday because of off-field issues, he leaves behind one real on-field problem that Big 12 foes will try to exploit.

Since Oct. 26, 2013, Tech's first loss of last season at Oklahoma, the Red Raiders have the second-worst run defense in the FBS at 293.4 rushing yards allowed per game.

During that nine-game stretch, of which Tech has lost six, no defense in the country has given up more first downs on rushes (142). Only Southern Miss has allowed more touchdowns and more rushes of 10-plus yards.

In fact, Tech gave up 36 rushing touchdowns during that period, eight more than any other FBS team.

Though Arkansas has one of the best run games in the country, a power-heavy attack the likes of which Tech probably will not face again in Big 12 play, the fact is no FBS defense has faced more rushing plays in those nine games than Tech. Opponents know they must hit this weak spot hard. The Red Raiders know it's coming. They can't stop it.

In the third quarter against Arkansas, the Collins fourth-down dash was deadly because it was another play that kept Texas Tech’s defense on the field. The Hogs ran 23 plays in the quarter and kept the ball for a total of 12:45. That is an easy way to get your opponent gassed.

Linebacker V.J. Fehoko said he saw too many communication issues, too many times when defenders tried to do too much and didn't stick to their assignment.

"In this conference," Fehoko said Saturday, "the smallest mistakes go the longest ways."

Though this is a generally young defense, the starters in the front seven are all juniors and seniors. How are they going to react to another letdown against the run?

"You know, it's tough. It's tough when the ball's not going your way and the momentum's not going your way," Fehoko said. "But I think we've got to just persevere and fight through it. As a team we've got a lot of young guys, but that's no excuse. I think energy and fire comes from within."

So does Texas Tech's new leadership on defense. Smith was already the co-coordinator, so it's not a drastic change. He is expected to bring more of an NFL mindset to assignment and alignment than Wallerstedt. And no doubt he's already hard at work to address his defense's most obvious defect.

It's not that complicated. Next up is Oklahoma State. They and every other opponent are going to pound the rock. They will keep doing it, and the reputation will continue, until Texas Tech starts finding answers to stop it.

What we learned in the Big 12: Week 3

September, 14, 2014
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Here's what we learned about the Big 12 in Week 3:

1. TCU and West Virginia might finally be finding their stride in the Big 12: Being in the Big 12 has been rough on the Horned Frogs and Mountaineers. In their first two years in the league, each went 11-14 overall. But with impressive performances Saturday, both are showing signs they are finally turning the corner. The Mountaineers racked up 33 first downs and almost 700 yards in a 40-37 win over Maryland, which was able to stay in the game only through the grace of West Virginia's three turnovers in the red zone. TCU completely manhandled Minnesota and picked off Gophers quarterback Mitch Leidner three times on the way to an easy 30-7 victory. The Horned Frogs appear to be formidable on defense again, and TCU’s new offensive scheme has been generating more points. Meanwhile, West Virginia might have the two most improved players in the entire conference in quarterback Clint Trickett, who is completing 75 percent of his passes, and wideout Kevin White, who already has 460 yards receiving. The Mountaineers and Horned Frogs still have to prove themselves in league play. But their performances through the nonconference suggest they'll give Big 12 foes a run for their money.

[+] EnlargeJulian Wilson
AP Photo/Sue OgrockiJulian Wilson returned an interception 100 yards in Oklahoma's win over Tennessee.
 2. Oklahoma’s secondary is no joke: Everyone knew how deep and talented the Sooners’ front seven was coming into this season. The secondary, however, seemed to be a question mark. But in a 34-10 win over the Volunteers, Oklahoma’s defensive backs were dominant, delivering three game-changing plays among them. In the first quarter, Quentin Hayes came on a safety blitz and forced and recovered a fumble. In the third quarter, cornerback Zack Sanchez came up with an acrobatic interception in the end zone (his fifth pick in six games). And in the fourth quarter, cornerback Julian Wilson delivered the exclamation point, hauling in a tipped interception and returning it 100 yards for a game-clinching touchdown. After the game, coach Bob Stoops lauded this group. “They’re playing really well,” he said. “They’re not making mistakes. They’re challenging, competing for balls. They’re making big plays. Maybe as good a three-game stretch we may have had.” That’s high praise for this Oklahoma secondary. But the way it's playing, it's well deserved.

3. The league has some unshakable kickers: Two Big 12 kickers had the chance to produce winning field goals in the final seconds of their games. And both kickers delivered. First, Josh Lambert drilled a 47-yarder as time expired to give West Virginia a monumental victory over regional rival Maryland. Then, Iowa State’s Cole Netten connected on a 42-yard attempt with two seconds remaining to lift Iowa State to a 20-17 win over in-state rival Iowa. Netten actually misfired on his first try at the game-winner, but the Hawkeyes had called timeout first. Netten shook off that miss and came back and delivered in a moment he’ll remember awhile. Field goal kicking in the college game has become a lost art. But from Oklahoma’s Michael Hunnicutt to TCU’s Jaden Oberkrom, the Big 12 is loaded with talented place-kickers. In Lambert and Netten, the league has a couple of clutch ones, too.

4. Texas Tech’s run defense seems hopeless: Coach Kliff Kingsbury signed four junior college defensive linemen during the offseason to try to shore up what was the league’s worst run defense last fall. But in a disheartening 49-28 loss to Arkansas, the Red Raiders’ run defense looked worse than ever. The Razorbacks obliterated Tech in the trenches, rolling up 438 yards and seven touchdowns on the ground while averaging 6.4 yards per carry. As a result, Arkansas dominated the time of possession, holding the ball for more than 40 of the game’s 60 minutes while keeping Tech QB Davis Webb on the sideline and out of rhythm. “They lined up and pounded us,” Kingsbury said. “We just didn’t have an answer.” The Red Raiders might not face a rushing attack like Arkansas’ until Oklahoma visits Lubbock in November. But it might not take a powerful rushing offense like Arkansas’ to exploit what has been a shaky Texas Tech defense that has yet to stop anybody through three games.

5. Texas still has some fight: There were few reasons to believe the Longhorns could hang around with UCLA after their dismal performance last week against BYU. But behind an inspired effort from sophomore quarterback Tyrone Swoopes, Texas had UCLA on the ropes until backup QB Jerry Neuheisel tossed a 33-yard go-ahead touchdown with three minutes remaining. The Longhorns lost the game 20-17 and still have various issues, such as getting the coin toss right. But this was a performance they can build off. Although he couldn’t lead them on a game-winning drive, Swoopes was solid in his second career start, completing 24 of 34 passes for 196 yards and two touchdowns. And unlike last week, the Longhorns didn’t lie down when things didn’t go their way. After a disastrous start in 2013, Texas bounced back to have a decent season. This team showed on Saturday it could do the same.

Tech hoping to channel Rivera vs. Hogs

September, 12, 2014
9/12/14
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This weekend, Texas Tech will add arguably the greatest defensive lineman in program history to its ring of honor.

Gabriel Rivera, affectionately called Seņor Sack, was a tackling machine in the middle of the early 1980s Texas Tech defense.

Saturday against an old Southwest Conference foe, the Red Raiders will need to channel the doggedness of their former Southwest Conference Player of the Year.

Tech might be the ones donning throwback uniforms, but the Razorbacks will be bringing a throwback offense with them to Lubbock. Arkansas is ranked 12th in the country averaging 324.5 yards per came. And the Hogs have made no secret they'll be going right at Tech's defensive line, which was once a strength when Rivera roamed the middle, but has been a weakness in recent years.

"Hopefully, we'll play hard, and that's all you can really answer to that," said Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury. "They've been moving bodies. You watch them up front against Auburn, against Nicholls State and they're tough. Those running backs do a great job finishing runs. So we'll have to play hard, be physical, and be very gap sound."

Kingsbury signed four junior-college defensive linemen during the offseason to try and shore up what was one of the worst run defenses in the country. But so far, it's been more of the same. Central Arkansas ground out 178 rushing yards while giving Tech a scare in its opener. Then last weekend in El Paso, UTEP running back Aaron Jones gashed the Red Raiders for 147 rushing yards and two touchdowns, as the Miners nearly pulled off the upset.

"UTEP came out -- we knew exactly what they were going to do -- it all came down to stopping the run," said linebacker Kenny Williams. "They ran the ball all game."

Arkansas will attempt to do the same.

The Razorbacks will lean on the one-two punch of sophomore Alex Collins and junior Jonathan Williams, who have combined to rush for 385 yards and five touchdowns.

"We've really got to prepare ourselves mentally to get into a dog fight," Kenny Williams said. "We know what these guys are going to do. They're going to come in and try to run the ball all game and really it comes down to man versus man."

That won't be easy for the Red Raiders, who could be down a couple of men going in, or at least will have a couple of men up front at less than 100 percent. Nose guard Rika Levi has been out with a knee injury while fellow nose guard Jackson Richards has been nursing a bum ankle.

To counter against Arkansas' size and avoid getting worn down, the Red Raiders could rotate in as many as 10 players along the defensive line. Defensive end Branden Jackson is the only one, though, that played a substantial role up front last season.

"They'll have to grow up fast." Kingsbury said of his young D-line. "This will be a big step up in competition."

The Red Raiders might not have a playmaker like Rivera up front. But they hope with him watching on, they can grow up in a big game and plug the run in Lubbock like he once did.

Big 12 has prime chance to impress

September, 9, 2014
9/09/14
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The Big 12 has proven it can hang with the best.

Now, the league has a chance to show it can beat the rest.

With seven games against the four other power conferences, this weekend offers the Big 12 another opportunity to establish credibility in the College Football Playoff era.

Oklahoma jump started the Big 12 momentum by toppling Alabama last bowl season. Oklahoma State and West Virginia kept the wave going by taking Florida State and Alabama to the wire in their openers. This Saturday, the Big 12 can begin to carve out a place at the playoff table.

"Everyone is paying attention to your strength of schedule and things like that,” Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops said. “So sure, it's always important that your league plays well.”

[+] EnlargeJordan Phillips
Kevin Jairaj/USA TODAY SportsOklahoma is off to a 2-0 start but will have a chance to make an impression against a Power 5 nonconference opponent when 2-0 Tennessee visits on Saturday.
The playoff committee will surely be paying attention to how Big 12 performs against teams from the SEC, ACC, Big Ten and Pac-12 who are a combined 13-1 two weeks into the season.

Stoops, who has been waving the Big 12 banner over the last year and a half, will attempt to move to 14-4 against Power 5 nonconference opponents in his Oklahoma career when undefeated Tennessee visits the fourth-ranked Sooners.

“We recognize it as another big challenge, an exciting challenge,” Stoops said. “I know they’ve recruited really strong in the last couple of years. When you watch them on tape, you see a lot of speed running around, you see a lot of big guys. They’ve really got a great-looking team.”

Oklahoma, however, isn’t the only Big 12 team with an SEC challenge. Texas Tech takes on old Southwest Conference rival Arkansas in a matchup that could be a potential springboard for the Red Raiders, who have gotten off to a sluggish start despite defeating Central Arkansas and UTEP.

“I think for us and our university, it's a great matchup between two teams that used to be in the same conference,” Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury said. “I think that's where all the excitement comes from. It's the most talented opponent we've played so far, and our kids will be fired up for it.”

While the Red Raiders and Sooners will be squaring off against the SEC, TCU and Iowa State will have the chance to deliver more blows to the Big Ten, which could be the one conference on the outside looking in for a playoff spot after suffering several disastrous losses last weekend.

The Horned Frogs play Minnesota, one of the few Big Ten teams that has been sharp so far this season. Iowa State has a prime opportunity to get its season back on track at instate rival Iowa, which barely survived Northern Iowa and Ball State in its first two games.

“The nation’s eyes will be on these games,” Iowa State coach Paul Rhoads said.

The Cyclones, who fell to the Hawkeyes at home last season, won’t be the only team out for revenge this weekend.

West Virginia will be looking for payback against Maryland after getting destroyed by the Terrapins 37-0 last season. The Mountaineers, however, have been a different team so far this year. They made Alabama sweat, then last weekend demolished Towson, which played for the FCS national championship in 2013. A win at Maryland, which returned 17 starters from last year’s team, would be a tone-setter for the Big 12 and for the rest of West Virginia’s season.

“The majority of the people on our team right now played in that game last year and wasn't too happy with the outcome and was embarrassed with the outcome,” West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen said. “We've got a pretty motivated bunch to be able to get over there and try to obviously put a little bit of a better effort out there on the field.”

After a promising performance in its first game against Southeast Missouri State, Kansas will see how its revamped offense measures up at reigning ACC Coastal Division champion Duke. And Texas will round out the marquee weekend by attempting to bounce back against No. 12 UCLA after a disastrous 41-7 loss to BYU.

"Can we get this team and bounce them back from a humiliating, disappointing loss and get them to prevail and go play?" Longhorns coach Charlie Strong said. "It's going to be a challenge.”

Saturday will be a challenge for the entire Big 12, which will have only one more chance to make a national impression -- when Kansas State faces defending SEC champ Auburn in Manhattan next Thursday -- before conference play begins.

And the playoff committee, among others, will be watching.

Planning for success: Texas Tech

September, 2, 2014
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Texas Tech stumbled out of the blocks with a 42-35 win over Central Arkansas on Saturday.

Head coach Kliff Kingsbury wasn’t happy with the performance of the Red Raiders' offense despite a Big 12-best 636 total yards and 7.2 yards per play in the season-opening win.

DeAndre Washington
John Weast/Getty ImagesGetting production from running backs such as DeAndre Washington will be essential for the Texas Tech offense.
But one shining light for the Tech offense was the performance of its running backs. After a spring move to defense, leading returning rusher Kenny Williams now lines up at linebacker for the Red Raiders. It didn’t seem to hamper the running game on Saturday, as Kingsbury’s squad finished with 184 rushing yards, including a 104-yard, two-touchdown performance from DeAndre Washington. Fellow running backs Quinton White and Justin Stockton combined to add 83 rushing yards.

“I thought they ran tough,” Kingsbury said of his running backs. “I thought Q. White stepped in and had some good catches, and Justin Stockton ran fearless, and DeAndre picked up where he left off this spring. I think he's full speed again and has a lot of confidence right now.”

As the Red Raiders start planning for success in the future, a running game could prove helpful for quarterback Davis Webb. Improving its running game is critical for Tech after finishing No. 111 among FBS teams and last in the Big 12 with 118.2 rushing yards per game in 2013.

While Washington’s performance brings a lot of hope to the Red Raiders’ running game, Kingsbury was impressed by Stockton, a true freshman playing in his first collegiate action.

“I thought he ran the ball well, he stuck his nose in there and did good on protections,” Kingsbury said.

Stockton had six carries for 38 yards (6.3 yards per carry) and one touchdown along with two receptions for 17 yards. The four-star signee from Cibolo, Texas, created plenty of preseason buzz before fulfilling some of the hype on Saturday. He could see his role in the offense expand if he continues to make plays as a versatile threat in Tech’s offensive attack.

”He's a tough kid, heck of a player, heck of a talent,” Kingsbury said. “So, yeah, that will be a big piece of our offense moving forward.”

Kingsbury rewarded for exciting Tech

August, 29, 2014
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Athletic director Kirby Hocutt declared that there’s “never been a more exciting time” within the Texas Tech football program.

And that is precisely why the Red Raiders elected to make a huge investment in their 35-year-old head coach.

[+] EnlargeKliff Kingsbury
Tim Heitman/USA TODAY SportsKliff Kingsbury's contract extension is due in big part to the excitement that he has generated at Texas Tech.
Kliff Kingsbury agreed to a contract extension Friday that will make him the fourth-highest paid coach in the Big 12. Tech will play Kingsbury $3.1 million in 2015, with a $200,0000 raise each year to $4.1 million through 2020.

Tech isn’t necessarily rewarding Kingsbury solely for the mere eight wins he’s brought the Red Raiders last season.

Instead, the school is rewarding Kingsbury for the excitement he’s brought to the program. And the news Tech revealed earlier in the day was proof of that excitement.

Just hours before they disclosed Kingsbury’s extension, the Red Raiders held a press conference announcing the launch of a capital campaign to raise $185 million to construct an indoor practice facility and build 30 suites as part of a renovation of the Jones AT&T Stadium south end zone.

The school would not have fashioned such a project had Kingsbury not filled up the stadium last season. Nor would Tech have raised the $75 million it already has committed for the project without the buzz Kingsbury has generated for the program.

“We are very fortunate that we have 85 suites in Jones AT&T Stadium and they're all at capacity right now,” Hocutt said. “There is a wait list for folks who have requested those seats.”

Kingsbury’s return to Lubbock spearheaded the formation for that demand.

Bucking a national trend of declining student attendance, Tech actually set a student season-attendance record in Kingsbury’s first season. This summer, Tech sold out its season-ticket allotment for the first time in school history, shattering the previous record by roughly 7,000.

Hocutt attributes all of the above to a “new pride” in Tech football. And Kingsbury, who was Mike Leach’s first great quarterback for the Red Raiders when he played from 1999-2002, is the one flying the banner.

And he's the one who has unified what previously was a fractured fan base.

Sure, the Red Raiders still have a ways to go on the field. Another November swoon last season underscored that. But before that, Tech started out 7-0 and reached its first top 10 ranking in five years despite rotating through a pair of true freshman quarterbacks. And even after the late-season losing streak, the Red Raiders bounced back to throttle Arizona State in the National University Holiday Bowl.

Going into this season, Tech appears to have one of the best young quarterbacks in the country in sophomore Davis Webb. And the Red Raiders have been going toe-to-toe with prominent programs for blue-chip talent. Tech already has landed commitments from a trio of ESPN 300 recruits including Jarrett Stidham, one of the top quarterback prospects in the country.

There’s plenty of excitement for where the Tech football program is.

But plenty more for where Kingsbury is taking it.

Summer work results in seasoned signees

August, 27, 2014
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At some point this weekend, Dravon Henry will trot onto the field against SEC power Alabama. It will be baptism under fire for West Virginia's true freshman safety.

He's not alone.

More and more, true freshman skill position players are stepping on campus ready to take jobs and play immediately at schools across the Big 12.

Seven of the nine Big 12 schools that play this weekend had released their depth charts by Tuesday afternoon. Twenty-two true freshman find themselves on those depth charts at skill positions around the conference with every school featuring at least one true freshman on its depth chart.

TCU and Oklahoma lead the league with five apiece while ISU receiver Allen Lazard is the lone true freshman skill position player on the Cyclones depth chart. Coaches at Kansas, Oklahoma State and Texas — the other three schools — have already said they have true freshmen are in set to play for them at the skill positions in 2014.

The growth of pass-heavy spread offenses, increased summer and offseason football -- specifically 7-on-7 competitions -- and elite camps like The Opening are at the heart of the increased readiness of true freshman. Henry and Texas Tech cornerback Tevin Madison are the lone true freshman to earn a starting spot heading into the season but that duo is could be joined by other impressive freshmen -- like Lazard, Kansas running back Corey Avery or Kansas State safety Kaleb Prewitt -- in their squad's starting lineup at some point this season.

The additional offseason work's ability to help groom quarterbacks is well-documented but those extra reps are helping receivers, running backs and defensive backs as well.

"All the skill players, receivers, quarterbacks, tight ends, they all grow up throwing the football," Oklahoma co-offensive coordinator Jay Norvell said. "So they're much more developed at an early age. We're seeing that we can do things with freshman that we could never do before because a lot of them have been doing it in high school."

Recruits step on campus having been seasoned in competitive situations like never before. Their understanding of offensive concepts gained in high school makes transitions to similar systems in college easier than before.

"As much as anything it's the offenses they're growing up in," OU offensive coordinator Josh Heupel said. "They're playing in those [offenses] 365 days of the year. You go to certain parts of the country and they're practicing every day. They're growing up in those systems."

The state of Texas is at the forefront of trend with everything from weather and strong high school coaching helping to prepare signees to play from Day 1 at Big 12 schools.

"With the 7-on-7 aspect and the level of high school coaching in the state of Texas helps us," Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury said. "They're throwing the year round, they're catching the ball year round, quarterbacks go through reads year round, so by the time they get to us, they're college ready.

"As far as throwing, catching and seeing defenses, they're more prepared than ever."

The rise of elite national and regional football camps could also be helping to increase the readiness of true freshmen. Players like OU's Michiah Quick, a 2013 participant in The Opening who is listed as a backup slot receiver and punt returner for the Sooners, are stepping on campuses across the country having been tested in ways they had not been a decade ago.

"I think anytime you get to go against competition, you're going to come out more confident if you have a good showing," Kingsbury said. "The kids we have that have attended such camps come out of it knowing they belong and they fit in."

Potential at QB provides hope for Big 12

August, 22, 2014
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He has to deal with them every Saturday, so TCU safety Sam Carter would know better than most.

"The Big 12 is a quarterback league," the Horned Frogs senior said. "When the game is on the line, the ball will be in the air."

Yet the Big 12 seemed to lose its way a year ago.

Outside of the exploits of Baylor’s Bryce Petty or Texas Tech’s true freshman duo of Davis Webb and Baker Mayfield, quarterbacking in the conference took a clear step backward.

The Bears and Red Raiders were the only Big 12 teams that finished in the top 25 in the FBS in passing yards or averaged more than 300 passing yards per game. Two seasons ago, in 2012, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and West Virginia joined Baylor and Tech in the top 10 in that category and averaged at least 330 passing yards per contest.

[+] EnlargeTrevor Knight
Chuck Cook/USA TODAY SportsTrevor Knight is one of several unproven Big 12 quarterbacks who have flashed plenty of potential.
But conference coaches don’t expect the downward trend to continue indefinitely.

"I think time will take care of that," West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen said. "There were so many years with top-notch guys that got drafted. It’s the same schools, recruiting the same kids, being coached by the same guys and playing the same type of ball in the Big 12 for the last decade and a half. Time will tell."

Petty is the unquestioned face of Big 12 quarterbacks heading into 2014, the guy every team in the conference would love to call its own. He’s an ultraproductive, experienced leader who still has room to grow as a senior. Alongside Petty, the league features young talents led by Tech’s Webb and OU’s Trevor Knight. Kansas State’s Jake Waters, Kansas’ Montell Cozart and West Virginia’s Clint Trickett are other Big 12 quarterbacks who entered preseason camp as clear starters at their respective schools and still have room to grow as quarterbacks.

"I just think they have to get older," Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury said of the Big 12’s return to prominence at quarterback. "I don’t think it’s anything other than that. You have some stars that are younger guys getting broken in in this league. They’re a year older, year wiser. You had such a good run of three or four years, now it’s these guys’ chance."

That run is well-documented. No league supplied the NFL with more first- or second-round picks in the past five NFL drafts then the Big 12. Six quarterbacks who played in the conference have been drafted in the first two rounds since 2010, including a No. 1 overall pick in Oklahoma's Sam Bradford. The SEC and Pac-12 are tied for second with three apiece during that span.

The trend slowed a bit in recent years, as former West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith is the lone quarterback who played in the Big 12 to be drafted in the first two rounds in the past two drafts. But Petty, who enters the season as Mel Kiper's top-ranked senior quarterback, could hear his name called in Round 1 or 2 of the 2015 NFL draft, while Knight or Webb could find themselves in a similar position if their development continues during the rest of their careers.

Petty's proactive nature has helped cement his reputation as the Big 12's top quarterback, as he has refused to be satisfied with the accolades he earned a year ago. The Midlothian, Texas, native spent some of his offseason with quarterback guru George Whitfield, who has played a key role in Petty’s development. Petty says he would recommend time with Whitfield to any young quarterback looking to excel in the Big 12.

"When we have breaks, I want to work," Petty said. "A lot of times, because of NCAA regulations, I can’t do that with my coach [at Baylor], so Coach Whitfield is kind of my outlet to keep working."

It’s an approach Kansas coach Charlie Weis understands. The veteran coach believes the quarterback position has been in need of better coaching, be it individual quarterbacks coaches or more detailed coaching at their school, for years.

"I think the quarterback position used to be the most undercoached position, of all positions, even though it's the most important," Weis said. "Usually it’s because the title of quarterbacks coach almost always went to the offensive coordinator who has to worry about every single position. I think having a quarterbacks coach helps every offensive coordinator invaluably. It’s easily the most important position on your team."

Improved coaching is just one aspect. Simple game experience is another. The value of playing games in the conference is just as invaluable. At this time a year ago, none of Big 12’s top quarterbacks in 2013 were proven commodities.

"Each and every year, there have been guys emerge that were ‘no name’ guys because of youth or inexperience. Or they just hadn’t matured or developed yet," Holgorsen said. "We have some young guys that will make a name for themselves, probably starting this year."

Petty went from unproven to Heisman Trophy candidate and Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year. Webb was a true freshman fighting for a job, and Knight was about to be named OU’s starting signal-caller. Twelve months later, that trio represents the Big 12’s biggest hope for a return to the forefront of the elite quarterback landscape in college football.

"I think our league has a reputation and commitment to throw the football," OU co-offensive coordinator Jay Norvell said. "And because of that, we develop quarterbacks in our league, and I think we’ll see a strong group this year."

Marquez hoping to leave a legacy at Tech

August, 21, 2014
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Bradley Marquez could have spent his summer chasing fly balls and trying to hit curveballs while honing his craft as a minor league baseball player in the New York Mets organization.

Instead, the receiver spent the summer alongside his teammates at Texas Tech. In doing so, he sent a clear message to those teammates, the Red Raiders coaching staff and the rest of the program about his commitment to excelling during his final season catching passes in Lubbock, Texas.

[+] EnlargeBradley Marquez
AP Photo/LM OteroTexas Tech wide receiver Bradley Marquez, a baseball player in the New York Mets organization, made 49 catches last season.
“He hasn’t hung up the baseball cleats for good, but he hung them up this summer to really work on his game with us,” coach Kliff Kingsbury said. “And that brought a lot of leadership to our program.”

Heading into the 2014 season, the Red Raiders will be counting on Marquez to be one of the guys to help replace departed tight end Jace Amaro, who was arguably the Big 12’s biggest mismatch en route to 106 receptions for 1,352 receiving yards and seven touchdowns in 2013.

“I think he’ll be a big part of it,” Kingsbury said of Marquez's role in replacing Amaro and Eric Ward. “He brings some speed, brings some toughness at that position. His toughness and desire has really helped us as a program.”

It started with his commitment to remain in Lubbock, Texas, this summer, a decision that showed the sacrifice the senior was willing to make to maximize his impact on the Red Raiders’ destiny this fall. It wasn’t about individual accolades or an increase in his total catches -- it was about becoming a guy Kingsbury and his teammates could count on.

“I just want to be a consistent player and want to do everything possible to help this team win,” Marquez said. “That’s why I stayed this summer, to better myself in the weight room, [help] the timing [with quarterback Davis Webb and be around my teammates.”

If he had decided to return to minor league baseball, it wouldn’t have been a decision that caused eyebrows to raise. Marquez finished the 2013 season with 49 receptions for 633 yards and six touchdowns, ranking fourth on the team in each category. And he did it after playing 27 games for the Kingsport Mets in 2013 before joining Tech for Kingbury’s first season.

Nonetheless, he decided to make football his top priority in 2014 immediately securing a leadership role among Tech's receivers becoming a guy whose commitment to the upcoming season could not be questioned.

“The guys believe in him,” Kingsbury said. “They know how hard he worked, they know his story and they know he sacrificed for his teammates to be here this summer, and that’s gone a long way for us.”

Now he wants to go even further and secure a lasting legacy at Texas Tech before returning to baseball in the future.

“I just want to have a great senior season and leave my lasting mark on Texas Tech,” he said.

Players tab Baylor as Big 12 team to beat

July, 23, 2014
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The media voted Oklahoma as the clear preseason favorite to win the Big 12.

But the league’s players give the slight edge to Baylor as the team to beat in the Big 12 this season.

This week, the Big 12 blog team anonymously polled 30 of the 39 players that attended Big 12 media days.

Oklahoma received 47 of 56 first-place media votes in the Big 12’s preseason poll, which was released last week. But 43 percent of the players polled said the defending Big 12 champion Bears were actually the team to beat in the league, narrowly topping the Sooners.

The players were asked several other questions about the league, including its most impressive coach, its most obnoxious team, and its most underrated player.

The results of the poll:

(Note: players were not allowed to answer their own school or any teammate in any of the questions)

Who is the team to beat this year in the Big 12?

Baylor: 43%

Oklahoma: 40%

Kansas State: 6%

Oklahoma State: 6%

Texas: 3%

Who is the league’s most impressive coach?

Kliff Kingsbury: 24%

Bill Snyder: 21%

Art Briles: 17%

Bob Stoops: 14%

If you could draft an opposing Big 12 player and put him on your team, who would it be?

Baylor QB Bryce Petty: 27%

Baylor WR Antwan Goodley: 15%

Kansas State WR Tyler Lockett: 12%

Kansas State QB Jake Waters: 12%

Who is the league’s most underrated player?

Waters: 10%

TCU DT Davion Pierson: 10%

Iowa State TE E.J. Bibbs: 10%

Other answers: Kansas State DE Ryan Mueller, Texas Tech LB Sam Eguavoen, Oklahoma WR Sterling Shepard, Oklahoma State LB Ryan Simmons, Baylor DE Shawn Oakman, Kansas State C BJ Finney, TCU CB Kevin White, Baylor RB Devin Chafin, Baylor RB Johnny Jefferson, Kansas State CB Randall Evans, Oklahoma State DT James Castleman

Who is the team you’re most fired up to play?

Texas: 24%

Kansas State: 21%

Oklahoma: 21%

Baylor: 10%

Who is the most obnoxious team in the league?

TCU: 21%

Baylor: 18%

Texas: 14%

Texas Tech: 14%

What program has the best pregame intro?

Oklahoma: 27%

Oklahoma State: 19%

Texas: 15%

Who do you predict will make the inaugural playoff?

(Note: Players were allowed to include Big 12 teams here)

Florida State: 20%

Oregon: 16%

Alabama: 15%

Other top vote-getters: Auburn, Baylor, LSU, Oklahoma, Ohio State, Stanford

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