Dallas Colleges: Stedman Bailey

Best WR tandems in Big 12 history

November, 4, 2013
11/04/13
1:35
PM CT
The Big 12 has featured some prolific wide receiver tandems over the years.

Baylor’s Tevin Reese and Antwan Goodley, however, have a chance to top that list.

[+] EnlargeAntwan Goodley, Tevin Reese
Jerome Miron/USA TODAY SportsAntwan Goodley and Tevin Reese rank 1-2 in the Big 12 in receiving yards per game.
This season, Reese is second in the Big 12 with 118 yards receiving a game. He trails only Goodley, who leads the league with an average of 128 yards receiving. They are a big reason why the Bears are on pace to break the FBS records for points (56.0) and yards (624.9) per game that were set by Army in 1944 and Houston in 1989.

But Reese and Goodley aren’t the only big-time duos in the Big 12 this year.

Kansas State’s Tramaine Thompson and Tyler Lockett have been lighting it up since returning from injury. The last two weeks the two have totaled five touchdown catches.

Jalen Saunders and Sterling Shepard lead the Sooners with five touchdowns apiece. Texas Tech’s Eric Ward and Jakeem Grant are fifth and sixth in the league in receiving. Oklahoma State’s Josh Stewart and Tracy Moore are beginning to warm up with Clint Chelf at QB. And Jaxon Shipley and Mike Davis have been stalwarts in this league for years.

But who are the best tandems ever to play Big 12? We lay it out below.

Tight ends were not included (sorry Jermaine Gresham and Chase Coffman). The tandems were evaluated on what they accomplished together, not on whether their careers simply overlapped (eliminating Jeremy Maclin and Danario Alexander, for example); and, this is a list for duos, not singles, trios or quartets (apologies to Rashaun Woods, and the 2008 Oklahoma and 2010 Baylor receiving corps).

To the list:

1. Stedman Bailey and Tavon Austin, West Virginia (2012): In their only year in the league, this tandem was one-two in the Big 12 in receiving, combining for 224 receptions and 2,914 receiving yards. Bailey himself had 25 receiving touchdowns; nobody else in the league had more than 13. Austin, meanwhile, also rushed for 344 yards in one game at running back. As Bailey tweeted out earlier Monday morning on this topic, “case closed.”

2. Michael Crabtree and Danny Amendola, Texas Tech (2007): Crabtree got all the headlines in 2007 on his way to winning his first of two Biletnikoff awards. But out of the slot, Amendola quietly put up 109 receptions for 1,245 yards, as Tech went 9-4.

3. Jordan Shipley and Quan Cosby, Texas (2008): Shipley and Cosby starred on one of the three best Big 12 teams that didn’t win a conference title. The two each had 1,000 receiving yards and double-digit TDs from QB Colt McCoy, as the Longhorns finished the year 12-1, their only loss coming on Crabtree’s game-winning touchdown in the final seconds in Lubbock. The two were also prolific on special teams, with Shipley’s kick return touchdown sparking Texas’ 45-35 comeback win over Oklahoma.

4. Justin Blackmon and Josh Cooper, Oklahoma State (2011): As with Crabtree-Amendola, Blackmon got all the attention on his way to a second Biletnikoff award. But Cooper was a pivotal piece in OSU’s first Big 12 title team, as he racked up 71 receptions out of the slot. Blackmon, of course, had a monster year with 121 catches and 18 touchdowns.

5. Kendall Wright and Terrance Williams, Baylor (2011): Reese was actually the third wheel to this duo, which shined with RGIII at quarterback. Wright was an All-American with 108 catches, 1,663 yard and 14 touchdowns. Williams was big time, too, finishing fifth in the Big 12 in receiving before taking over the No. 1 role in 2012.

6. Ryan Broyles and Kenny Stills, Oklahoma (2010): Broyles led college football with 131 receptions on his way to becoming the all-time FBS leader in career catches. Stills broke OU’s freshman single-season receiving record, as the Sooners stormed back to capture the Big 12 crown after a pair of midseason losses.

7. Kerry Meier and Dezmon Briscoe, Kansas (2008): It might be difficult to remember now, but the Jayhawks used to play some ball. Meier tied Crabtree for second in the league with 97 receptions. Briscoe trailed only Dez Bryant with 1,402 receiving yards. This was an underrated duo.

8. Quincy Morgan and Aaron Lockett, Kansas State (1999): On one of the first passing teams in the Big 12, Morgan and Lockett shined. Morgan had 42 receptions for 1,007 yards and nine touchdowns and was a first-team all-conference selection. Lockett, Tyler Lockett's uncle, was a second-team all-league pick for the Wildcats, who went 11-1 and finished the year ranked sixth in the polls.

9. Jarrett Hicks and Joel Filani, Texas Tech (2005): Neither might be a household name around the Big 12 anymore, but these two were both first-team All-Big 12 selections in ’05 along with Iowa State WR Todd Blythe.

10. Mark Clayton and Travis Wilson, Oklahoma (2004): Clayton carried the moniker of best receiver in OU history until Broyles came around. Because of Adrian Peterson, Clayton’s numbers dipped in ’04, but he was still an All-American with 66 catches. Wilson led the Sooners with 11 TD grabs, as OU advanced to a second consecutive national championship game.

Five games nobody saw coming in 2012

June, 28, 2013
6/28/13
3:45
PM CT
So much of the offseason is spent projecting what's going to happen in the fall, but it's easy to forget just how unpredictable every season inevitably becomes. Some of that is based on miscalculated preseason expectations, but many times, it's simply a head-scratching result that the numbers simply did not point to.

Here are the five games from 2012 that nobody saw coming.

1. Baylor 52, Kansas State 24: No result was more head-scratching than this one, and it completely turned the Big 12 season upside down, ending K-State's bid for an undefeated season and making the Wildcats' stop at No. 1 in the BCS standings last exactly one week. Baylor entered this game just 1-5 in Big 12 play, not long removed from a two-touchdown loss to an average Iowa State team in which the Bears scored just 21 points in doing so. This Nov. 17 upset kicked off a stretch that ended with Baylor as the hottest team in the Big 12. Lache Seastrunk also broke out with a career-high 185 rushing yards and a touchdown.

[+] EnlargeBaylor's Lache Seastrunk
Tim Heitman/US PRESSWIREAfter rushing for 185 yards in an upset of K-State, Lache Seastrunk and had plenty to celebrate.
2. Texas Tech 49, West Virginia 14: West Virginia was coming off an emotional victory at Texas and wondering about a Big 12 title (or more) with a 5-0 record and a top-five ranking. Geno Smith might have unanimously won the Heisman Trophy if voting had taken place before this game, but the Red Raiders got off to a hot start and the Mountaineers never answered. They trailed 35-7 at halftime and an ugly game for Smith and the WVU offense kicked off what would become a five-game losing streak that officially branded their first season in the Big 12 as a disappointment.

3. Rice 25, Kansas 24: Everybody knew life would get rough for a Kansas team low on talent once conference play arrived, but even a two-win team from 2011 could expect to beat Rice ... right? The former Southwest Conference program had never beaten a member of the Big 12 since their old league broke up, but embarrassed the Jayhawks with a game-winning field goal as time expired. More embarrassing? The Jayhawks led by eight with just under five minutes to play, and Dayne Crist inexplicably tossed an interception with 3:47 to play that setup the winner.

4. Kansas State 24, Oklahoma 19: Oklahoma had never lost to a ranked team at home under Bob Stoops, and only one team had ever come within single digits while the Sooners racked up a 14-0 record. Oklahoma won those games by an average of 28.2 points, but a costly fumble by Blake Bell on one goal line cost OU a touchdown. Landry Jones' fumble on the other goal line gave K-State a first-quarter lead it never relinquished. K-State was picked to finish sixth in the Big 12, but this game made it clear that the Wildcats were to be taken seriously in the league title race it eventually won.

5. Texas 21, Kansas 17: The Jayhawks lost to Texas 43-0 in 2011 and nobody gave the 1-6 Jayhawks a chance in 2012, but David Ash played his worst game of the season and got benched with the Longhorns firmly on the ropes. The Jayhawks led 14-7 going into the fourth quarter, and answered a Longhorns TD with a field goal to go up 17-14 with just 2:28 to play. Case McCoy completed five consecutive passes for 68 yards off the bench, including an 18-yarder to Jaxon Shipley on fourth down to extend the game-winning drive and help Texas survive what could have been its most embarrassing loss in a long, long time.

What other games from 2012 surprised you?

Looking ahead to Big 12 pro day schedule

February, 28, 2013
2/28/13
9:47
AM CT
The NFL scouting combine has come and gone, but there are still plenty of workouts left on the table and guys who can make a name for themselves in the next month and end up getting drafted.

PODCAST
UT safety Kenny Vaccaro joins Fitzsimmons & Durrett to discuss reports that he wants to be a Cowboy, the emergence of A&M as the class of college football in Texas, what he brings to an NFL team and his friendship with TCU quarterback Casey Pachall.

Listen Listen
Campus pro days will kick off in March, and here's when the Big 12's teams will be holding theirs, according to NFL.com.

Baylor - March 20

Iowa State - March 26
  • You'll be able to get a look at A.J. Klein and Jake Knott here for sure. Klein missed a few workouts this week after suffering a knee injury, and Knott is still waiting for his shoulder to heal up from surgery. Both should be on display at this workout.
Kansas - March 15

Kansas State - March 12
  • An injury kept Arthur Brown from recording a 40 time and doing a handful of other workouts, so expect a whole lot of NFL teams to show up in Manhattan for this one. We'll see if Collin Klein sticks with his plan to stay at quarterback or does some other position work at pro day, too. I'm betting on the former, but you never know. This is probably the most interesting pro day of any in the Big 12.
Oklahoma - March 13
  • Kenny Stills was blazing and did a nice job on the bench press at the combine, so expect him to take a seat for much of Oklahoma's pro day, but we'll see what Landry Jones has to offer, too.
Oklahoma State - March 12
  • Not a ton of intrigue in Stillwater, but I'm interested in seeing if Joseph Randle can improve on a poor 40 time at the combine. He tallied a 4.63 40 time in Indianapolis. He doesn't have breakneck speed, but that seems about a tenth of a second slow for him. Something in the 4.55 range would help him out. He can get there. Randle should also do some position work and the bench press after sitting out following thumb surgery at the end of the season.
Texas - March 26
  • Marquise Goodwin did some major damage at the combine with the fastest 40 time of anyone in attendance, but his position-specific work could talk more scouts into him and improve his stock. He's got to show a better ability to track the ball and haul it in.
TCU - March 8

Texas Tech - March 6

West Virginia - March 14
  • Not a ton to see here. Geno Smith sounds like he was the best of the QBs at the combine, but USC's pro day when Matt Barkley throws may have more impact on Smith's stock. Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey are who we thought they were after a strong combine.

Catching up on Big 12 and NFL combine

February, 25, 2013
2/25/13
1:13
PM CT

Two Big 12 receivers were the biggest head-turners on Sunday as the skill position players went through their workouts in Indianapolis at the NFL scouting combine.

Texas' Marquise Goodwin is hoping his 4.27 40 time -- the fastest of any player at the combine -- is enough to outweigh his lack of production throughout his career and convince an NFL team to see his potential. He was well ahead of a trio tied for second at 4.34, a group that included West Virginia's Tavon Austin. The two earned a whole lot of buzz early in the morning when they tied for 4.25 unofficial 40 times, just one-hundredth of a second slower than Chris Johnson's 4.24 time in 2008, the fastest of any player in combine history.

Goodwin caught just 26 passes for 340 yards and three scores last year, which certainly makes one wonder about how well he was used in Texas' offense. The Olympic long jumper was way out in front of the pack in the 40, though, and his time is the second fastest in combine history.

TCU receiver Josh Boyce and Oklahoma receiver Kenny Stills tied with the sixth-fastest time at 4.38. Those are two really strong times, and Stills definitely turned heads.

Baylor's Lanear Sampson was 13th overall with a 40 time of 4.46. Here are some other top performers at the combine from the Big 12, according to NFL.com. You can see the full results here on the NFL's very cool searchable database.

40-yard dash
  • West Virginia QB Geno Smith: 4.59 seconds, fastest among quarterbacks.
  • Kansas State QB Collin Klein: 4.78 seconds, fifth among quarterbacks
  • Oklahoma QB Landry Jones: 5.11 seconds, 13th among quarterbacks
Broad jump
  • Texas WR Marquise Goodwin: 11 feet, second overall
  • TCU WR Josh Boyce: 10 feet, 11 inches, fourth overall
  • Oklahoma WR Kenny Stills: 10 feet, four inches, 13th overall
  • West Virginia QB Geno Smith: 10 feet, four inches, 13th overall
Three-cone drill
  • Boyce: 6.68 seconds, third-fastest
  • West Virginia WR Stedman Bailey: 6.81 seconds, 12th fastest
20-yard shuttle
  • Austin: 4.01 seconds, third overall
  • Bailey: 4.09 seconds, 10th overall
  • Boyce: 4.1 seconds, 12th overall
60-yard shuttle
  • Boyce: 11.26 seconds, third overall
  • Baylor WR Terrance Williams, 11.5 seconds, 12th overall

You can see top performers in every event by position at that database, too, so check it out.

Ranking the Big 12's top 25 players: No. 3

February, 22, 2013
2/22/13
10:00
AM CT
We’re continuing our countdown of the Big 12's top 25 players from the 2012 season. Here's more on my criteria for the list. You can take a peek at how the preseason list looked here.

We're in the top 10 now, so it's about to get heated, I'm sure. If you've got complaints, I've got a mailbag. Let's hear it.

The official list is locked away in a vault in an undisclosed location, but we'll be revealing one player a day moving forward.

On with the show ...

No. 3: Terrance Williams, WR, Baylor

2012 numbers: Caught 97 passes for 1,832 yards and 12 touchdowns.

Most recent ranking: Williams was ranked No. 23 in our preseason list of the Big 12's top 25 players.

Making the case for Williams: It's really just this simple: Hundreds of receivers played college football this season. Absolutely zero had more receiving yards than Williams. He grew up fast with Kendall Wright gone to the NFL and helped Nick Florence finish second nationally in total offense by constantly stretching the field and being the nation's pre-eminent deep threat all season long. He caught 32 balls longer than 20 yards, which was eight more than Stedman Bailey, the nation's No. 2 in the stat. He had 22 catches longer than 30 yards, six more than No. 2 Bailey. He topped USC's Marqise Lee by three with 14 catches longer than 40 yards. Nobody seemed to be able to stop him over the top all season long and the 6-foot-2, 205-pound pass-catcher made it clear that he's worth spending a first-round pick on with a season-long exhibition that was better than any receiver in the Big 12, and in the country. He earned my vote for the Biletnikoff Award and earns my vote for the Big 12's best pure receiver.

The rest of the list:

Big 12 combine storylines to watch

February, 22, 2013
2/22/13
8:53
AM CT
The NFL scouting combine is underway, with the first set of physical workouts to begin today. You can see the full schedule here.

A few things you can watch for from the Big 12's talents this week:

Who's the No. 1 quarterback? USC's Matt Barkley isn't throwing at the combine workouts, but West Virginia's Geno Smith surprised some by announcing that he planned to give it a try. If he performs well, he could definitely ascend to the No. 1 spot. He's already close behind Barkley, but his combine performance will have an impact. But in the new NFL where mobile quarterbacks are en vogue, Smith's versatility that WVU didn't use could come into play. He'll put up some very interesting measurables, and his accuracy will show up if he calms his nerves. If not, NC State's Mike Glennon or Arkansas' Tyler Wilson could jump over him in the pecking order.

What about the No. 1 receiver? Baylor's Terrance Williams will be in the house and so will West Virginia's Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey. Tennessee's Cordarrelle Patterson is widely accepted as the top prospect, but could any of the Big 12's heavyweights make some noise with solid workouts and fight their way into first-round status?

Fixed up, but not quite ready to go. Jake Knott is still healing from his shoulder surgery this fall, but TCU's Stansly Maponga and Matthew Tucker should be all healed up from nagging ankle injuries. Knott won't be able to fully work out, but he'll do well in the interview process and was one of the most respected players in the league. It'll be interesting to see what NFL folk have to say about him after this week, despite not being able to see him work out.

Klein catching anyone's eyes (or their passes)? Collin Klein's Senior Bowl snub had fans around the Big 12 fired up and wondering how the Heisman third-place finisher could be left out of the premier postseason exhibition for scouts, but he doesn't quite fit the NFL mold. He's been working with former Denver Bronco Jake Plummer over the past few weeks, though he struggled in his one postseason all-star game experience. Could he build some buzz this week, either at quarterback or another position (receiver, tight end?) and convince an NFL team to fall for him? He'll knock his interviews out of the park.

Fastest man in the building. Could Austin take home the title? What about Marquise Goodwin? We may finally get some answers about who truly is the fastest man in the Big 12, and perhaps all of college football. The combine tells all, and the 40 times are always reliable. Seeing what those two put on the board will be interesting. How close to 4.3 could we see?

Time is money. Tony Jefferson has big-time instincts and plays physically, but he could help himself out in a big way by posting a great 40 time. His straight-line speed is his biggest knock, but he's spent the last month or so working out, and we'll see how much his work has paid off. Some of that speed work is so specifically tailored to 40 times that sometimes it doesn't show up on the field, but silliness aside, Jefferson has a ton to gain in that workout.

Big moving day? Every year somebody wows at the combine and ascends from out of nowhere to becoming a consensus first-round pick. Call it silly if you'd like, but that's the truth. Could any Big 12 talents be that guy this year? Keep an eye out. The Big 12 is likely to be shut out of the top 10 and may only have two to four first-round picks. That could change this week. Here's a few guys who might make that happen.

Thirty Big 12 players off to NFL combine

February, 7, 2013
2/07/13
2:00
PM CT
The NFL scouting combine is the biggest annual showcase of future football stars before the NFL draft, where players who have entered the draft get measured, run through drills and show scouts and coaches what they can do without any pads on.

This year, a record 333 players have been invited, and the Big 12 landed 30 invitations.

Draft stock can swing wildly during the week, with the main event -- the 40 time -- often serving as the catalyst for that stock. Call it silly, and in some ways it is, but it's the reality of the process. Here's who's headed to Indianapolis from the Big 12:
Pretty good set of players there. You can see them when the combine kicks off Feb. 20.

Postseason position rankings: WRs

February, 1, 2013
2/01/13
9:07
AM CT
I'd peg receiver as the Big 12's strongest position in 2012, with lots of elite talent and a whole lot of depth, too. We'll continue our postseason position rankings with the guys who catch it.

Here's what you've missed so far: 1. Terrance Williams, Baylor: Williams led the nation in receiving yards, with 1,832 yards and 12 touchdowns on 97 catches. He can do whatever you want him to do. He's big enough to box out defenders and be a possession receiver who fights for the ball, but he's speedy enough to stretch the field and break the big play. NFL first-round talent.

[+] EnlargeMike Davis
Cal Sport Media via AP ImagesMike Davis is poised for a great senior season after averaging 16.5 yards per catch in 2012.
2. Stedman Bailey, West Virginia: Bailey was a touchdown machine who racked up 25 scores this season, more than Justin Blackmon or Michael Crabtree did in any of the four Biletnikoff Award-winning seasons between them. He caught a league-high 114 balls for 1,622 yards and played through a painful ankle injury in the middle of the season.

3. Tavon Austin, West Virginia: Let me be clear about this: I think you could arrange the top three on this list in any order and have a really, really compelling case. Don't let me stop you. I think Austin is a better overall player than anybody on this list, but this is a ranking of guys as receivers. When we're talking pure receiving talent, I've got to go with Austin at No. 3. That's nothing to be ashamed of. The guys ahead of him were Biletnikoff finalists. He also caught 114 passes, for 1,289 yards and 12 scores.

4. Josh Stewart, Oklahoma State: I've written a lot about Stewart this offseason, but he was probably the most improved and underrated player in the league. OSU needed a No. 1 target, and that was Stewart last season. He finished with 101 catches for 1,210 yards and seven scores.

5. Darrin Moore, Texas Tech: Moore's probably the most physical guy on this list. The 6-foot-4, 216-pounder hauled in 13 touchdown catches and caught 92 balls for 1,032 yards to become the first Tech receiver to surpass 1,000 yards since Crabtree back in 2008.

6. Eric Ward, Texas Tech: Granted, Ward did that whole 1,000-yard thing in Lubbock, too. He caught 82 balls for 1,053 yards and 12 touchdowns. He's not quite as physically gifted as Moore, but he's been Tech's most consistent receiver throughout his career there.

7. Kenny Stills, Oklahoma: Stills was disappointed with his season -- and it was a touch underwhelming -- but he still had a solid showing in a receiving unit that lacked a truly elite target but had a handful of very good receivers for Landry Jones. Stills caught 82 balls for 959 yards and 11 scores before electing to leave for the NFL early. He had a good career at OU, but never cracked the 1,000-yard threshold.

8. Chris Harper, Kansas State: Harper's numbers don't tell you the full story. He's one of the best route-runners in the entire league and might have the best hands, too. K-State's offense limits his targets, but he still caught 58 balls for 857 yards and three touchdowns.

9. Tevin Reese, Baylor: Reese was the most dangerous deep threat in the league outside of teammate Williams. Austin did his damage after catching the ball, but Reese caught eight passes longer than 40 yards this season. That was third in the league, and he finished with 58 catches for 857 yards and three touchdowns.

10. Mike Davis, Texas: Davis broke out in his junior season and could be due for a big senior year after catching 57 balls for 939 yards and seven scores. His 16.5 yards per catch were third among receivers with at least 30 catches, and Davis clearly helped (and benefited from) David Ash's growth as a passer and confidence to stretch the field.

Honorable mention: Jalen Saunders, Oklahoma; Josh Boyce, TCU; Tramaine Thompson, Kansas State; Jaxon Shipley, Texas; Justin Brown, Oklahoma; Tyler Lockett, Kansas State.

Grading the Big 12's 1,000-yard receivers

January, 17, 2013
1/17/13
10:01
AM CT
Before the season began, I released my picks for the Big 12's 1,000-yard receivers in 2012. The Big 12 had four 1,000-yard rushers in 2011, but I picked the league to have five in 2012.

There were 35 1,000-yard receivers this season across college football, but six came from the Big 12. Here's how I picked them from the Big 12 this year.

1. Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia: Austin did what we all thought he would do: Had a huge senior season. He validated his status as one of the Big 12's most dangerous players and was third in the league with 1,289 yards and 12 scores.

2. Stedman Bailey, WR, West Virginia: Bailey was a touchdown machine this year, hauling in 25 touchdowns, seven more than any other player in the country. He was a nominee for the Biletnikoff Award and racked up 1,622 yards on his league-high 114 catches. Both WVU receivers were anything but overrated this year. Studs, the both of them.

3. Terrance Williams, WR, Baylor: I said there was a good shot Williams could crack 1,000 yards easily, but I never thought he'd make it look this easy. I had high hopes for Williams, but he far exceeded them, leading the nation with 1,832 yards on 97 catches with 12 scores. What a year.

4. Kenny Stills, WR, Oklahoma: I picked Stills to crack his first-ever 1,000-yard season, but he came up short in a year he even admitted was a bit disappointing. He finished seventh in the league with 959 yards, just 41 short of a 1,000-yard season. He'd have cleared 1,000 yards if he had 50 yards receiving against TCU's stingy defense. He did have 11 scores, including four against West Virginia.

5. Josh Boyce, WR, TCU: Boyce likely would have cleared 1,000 yards if Casey Pachall stayed on the team. He took a bit of a step back this year, though, with only two 100-yard games this season and finishing with 891 yards and seven touchdowns. He had 998 yards and nine scores last season in the MWC.

Sadly, though, I missed three of the Big 12's 1,000-yard receivers this season. I did give Darrin Moore and Josh Stewart my apologies in the preseason post, but I predicted the touches would be too spread out for either player to top 1,000 yards. Shows what I know.

Here are the guys I didn't get:

Josh Stewart, WR, Oklahoma State: Stewart was the biggest breakout star in the Big 12 this year and will be the Big 12's leading returning receiver in 2012. He caught 101 passes for 1,210 yards this season, with seven touchdowns. Heck of a year, and high hopes for his junior campaign, especially considering he racked up those numbers with three different quarterbacks playing about a third of the season each.

Darrin Moore, WR, Texas Tech: Tech hadn't had a 1,000-yard receiver since Michael Crabtree won his second Biletnikoff Award back in 2008. The Red Raiders had two this year, and Moore led the team in receptions (92) and touchdowns (13).

Eric Ward, WR, Texas Tech: Ward took home the Red Raiders' receiving title and elected to stay in Lubbock for his senior season, too. He caught 82 balls for 12 touchdowns and 1,053 yards. Great season, and he'll be a huge help for Michael Brewer next year.

Best and worst of the Big 12 bowl season

January, 10, 2013
1/10/13
3:00
PM CT
The Big 12 bowl season is over, but just as we did for the weekend rewind all season long, it's time to look back on the best and worst of the bowl season.

Best offensive performance: Stedman Bailey, WR, West Virginia. West Virginia got stuck in a snowstorm in New York City, and producing offense in that wasn't easy. Still, Bailey put together the best performance, grabbing seven passes for 126 yards and two touchdowns in the Mountaineers' loss to Syracuse.

[+] EnlargeAlex Okafor
Brendan Maloney/USA TODAY SportsDefensive end Alex Okafor set the Alamo Bowl record with 4.5 sacks against Oregon State.
Best defensive performance: Alex Okafor, DE, Texas. This was the best performance of any player in the Big 12 the whole bowl season. Okafor was unblockable in the second half, racking up 4.5 sacks and five tackles for loss in the Longhorns' comeback win against Oregon State. He made eight tackles and forced a fumble.

Best play: David Ash, QB, Texas. Ash was nearly dragged down in the backfield, but somehow slipped out of a sack and rolled to his left to extend the play. Running back Johnathan Gray leaked out of the backfield, and Ash threw a perfect strike across his body and hit Gray in the hands for a 15-yard touchdown pass to get the Longhorns to within three points midway through the fourth quarter. Honorable mention: Ash's 36-yard bomb to Marquise Goodwin to take the lead with 36 seconds to play.

Biggest impact play: D.J. Johnson, S, Texas Tech. The Red Raiders hadn't forced a turnover since Oct. 20, but Johnson intercepted a pass in the final minute, returning it 39 yards to set up a game-winning field goal. Minnesota was driving in a tie game, but the Red Raiders' late flurry produced an unlikely comeback win.

Best catch: Isaiah Anderson, WR, Oklahoma State. Anderson caught five balls for 78 yards, but his crazy, spinning, aerial catch in the back of the end zone for a 37-yard touchdown put OSU up 45-0 and provided the best highlight of the Big 12 bowl season.

Worst play: Cornelius Lucas, OL, Kansas State. Kansas State faced a fourth-and-1 at Oregon's 18, but tried to draw Oregon offside and probably planned to go for it anyway after taking a timeout. The Wildcats trailed 15-10, but Lucas inexplicably moved early on a play that probably never would have happened. It backed up Kansas State five yards, and the powerful short-yardage offense couldn't go for it. Anthony Cantele missed the 40-yard kick that ensued, and Oregon answered with a quick touchdown before half to go up 12.

Most boneheaded play: Jace Amaro, TE, Texas Tech. Amaro, who might be Tech's most talented player, missed half the season with a rib injury. He finally got to return, but he didn't seem to take that privilege very seriously. Right in front of an official, he pinned a Minnesota defender and threw a punch. He drew a flag and was ejected, but that flag backed up Texas Tech from the Golden Gophers' 1-yard line to the 16. The ensuing field goal was blocked, and Tech needed a late-game rally to win.

Craziest reaction to a boneheaded play: Texas Tech. According to a report from Don Williams of the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, Texas Tech officials had to relay a message to Amaro telling him not to tweet about his ejection. Hours later, he tweeted a weak apology: "I want to apologize for being ejected. As bad as it seems, which it does, I had no intention of a punch. But the idea to get off of him," he wrote.

Best moment: Ash gets the win. It was an emotional bowl week full of distractions for Texas' team as two players were sent home after a police investigation into an alleged sexual assault. Texas' offense struggled for much of the first half, but Ash got hot late and capped the game with a 36-yard touchdown pass over the top to the speedy Goodwin. It gave Texas a huge win, the Big 12's best win of the entire season.

Worst moment: Michigan State takes the game back. TCU inexplicably blew a 13-0 lead when Michigan State's offense came alive, but Jaden Oberkrom gave the Frogs hope with a 53-yard kick to get the lead back, 16-14. It didn't last long. Michigan State strung together a drive and with 61 seconds to play, Dan Conroy boomed a 47-yard kick to take the wind out of TCU's sails after a difficult, emotional season.

The All-Big 12 Bowl Team

January, 10, 2013
1/10/13
11:00
AM CT
The Big 12 had nine teams in bowl games this season, and here is the best of the best in the Big 12's postseason. Let's get to it.

[+] EnlargeDavid Ash
Brendan Maloney/USA TODAY SportsDavid Ash's big plays fueled Texas' comeback against Oregon State.
QB: David Ash, Texas: He edges out Clint Chelf because of his game-changing plays in the Longhorns' win against Oregon State. Ash had the best play of the entire bowl season with a crazy escape and acrobatic touchdown pass to Johnathan Gray, and he hit Marquise Goodwin on a 36-yard bomb to put the Longhorns ahead in the final minutes. He finished 21-of-33 with 241 yards and two touchdowns and ran for 22 yards and a score.

RB: Lache Seastrunk, Baylor: Seastrunk helped Baylor rout UCLA with 138 yards and a score on 16 carries in the Bears' Holiday Bowl win.

RB: Glasco Martin IV, Baylor: How many rushers did the Big 12 have this bowl season who had at least 95 yards? Two, and both played for Baylor. Martin scored three touchdowns in the Holiday Bowl and carried the ball 21 times for 98 yards. Heck of a night for the Bears backs.

WR: Darrin Moore, Texas Tech: Moore was the most consistent receiver in the bowl season with 11 catches for 84 yards, keeping the chains moving for the Red Raiders in their Meineke Car Care Bowl win against Minnesota.

WR: Stedman Bailey, West Virginia: Despite playing in a snowstorm, Bailey had the best performance of any Big 12 receiver. He caught eight balls for 121 yards and a pair of touchdowns. It wasn't enough to get the Pinstripe Bowl win, but no other Mountaineer scored a touchdown.

WR: Marquise Goodwin, Texas: The track star's touches were limited, but he had a huge impact. His 36-yard grab with 2:24 to play proved to be the game winner, and he finished with four catches for 68 yards. He also had one carry -- which he turned into a 64-yard touchdown, looking as fast as any player in college football while streaking to the end zone.

TE: Ernst Brun Jr., Iowa State: Brun caught four passes for 102 yards, including a 69-yard touchdown, to get the first-quarter party started for the Cyclones, which scored 17 points in the quarter. The rest of the game was forgettable, but Brun had one of the longest plays of Iowa State's season.

OL: Cyril Richardson, Baylor: The Bears' left guard was a big reason why Baylor had so much success running the ball. Baylor racked up 306 yards on the ground against UCLA.

OL: Lane Taylor, Oklahoma State: Purdue's Kawann Short is a stud and arguably the team's best player, but Taylor helped Oklahoma State rack up 58 points and helped hold the Boilermakers defensive tackle to just one tackle and one sack. Short had minimal impact throughout the game.

OL: LaAdrian Waddle, Texas Tech: The Red Raiders ran the ball well -- on the few occasions they did -- and Seth Doege had plenty of time. Waddle was a big reason why for both.

OL: Lane Johnson, Oklahoma: Texas A&M wrecking ball Damontre Moore declared for the NFL draft before the Cotton Bowl, but credit Johnson at tackle, who helped hold him to five tackles, one tackle for loss and zero sacks, despite Landry Jones throwing 48 passes.

OL: Ivory Wade, Baylor: Those 306 yards rushing for the Bears didn't come easy. Most of them came on the interior, and Wade was a solid presence in the middle of the line.

DEFENSE

DL: Chris McAllister, Baylor: He was one of a handful of guys to hold UCLA's Johnathan Franklin to 34 yards on 14 carries, had five tackles, including two sacks, and batted down a pass to help keep UCLA's passing game grounded.

DL: Alex Okafor, Texas: Okafor is my defensive MVP of the Big 12 bowl season. He gave Oregon State's offensive line nightmares and helped the Longhorns stage a late comeback with 4.5 sacks, five tackles for loss and eight stops. He also forced a fumble.

DL: Meshak Williams, Kansas State: The Wildcats had a rough night against Oregon, but Williams played pretty well with nine tackles, two tackles for loss and a sack.

DL: Terrance Lloyd, Baylor: Lloyd was part of the Baylor gang who helped UCLA have its worst running game of the season. He had four tackles, three tackles for loss and a sack. No zone read for you.

LB: Terence Garvin, West Virginia: Garvin was everywhere for the West Virginia defense, which largely struggled in a blowout loss to Syracuse. He forced a fumble, recovered a fumble, broke up a pass, had two sacks, made three tackles for loss and had 15 tackles.

LB: Tyler Johnson, Oklahoma State: Johnson blew up what Purdue likes to refer to as its "passing game." He made six tackles, had two sacks and forced two fumbles, including a huge hit on Purdue quarterback Robert Marve.

LB: Eddie Lackey, Baylor: Lackey was another part of Baylor's defense that put together one of its best games of the season. He made 2.5 tackles for loss, a sack and five tackles.

DB: Jason Verrett, TCU: Most of Michigan State's night was frustrating in the passing game before some late success, and Verrett was a big reason for those struggles. He broke up two passes, made a tackle for loss and had 12 tackles.

DB: D.J. Johnson, Texas Tech: Johnson made 14 tackles and is on this team for one of the biggest plays of Texas Tech's season. The defense hadn't forced a turnover since Oct. 20, but Johnson picked off a Gophers pass in the final minute with Minnesota driving and the game tied. He returned it 39 yards, helping to set up the winning field goal as time expired.

DB: Jeremy Reeves, Iowa State: Reeves returned a Cody Green interception 31 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter of the Liberty Bowl loss. He had six tackles with a tackle for loss and a pass breakup.

DB: Daytawion Lowe, Oklahoma State: No second-half comebacks for Purdue. Lowe opened the half with a 37-yard fumble return for a score and made seven tackles with half a tackle for loss.

SPECIALISTS

KR: Jakeem Grant, Texas Tech: This one is pretty simple. Grant returned a kickoff 99 yards for a score, giving Texas Tech a 7-3 lead early in the first quarter of its Meineke Car Care Bowl win.

PR: Josh Stewart, Oklahoma State: Purdue faked a punt to keep its opening drive alive but punted on its next set of downs. The always-shifty Stewart delivered a 64-yard punt return, giving Oklahoma State the ball on the Purdue 19-yard line. The Cowboys scored for a 7-0 lead to kick off the Heart of Dallas Bowl rout.

K: Jaden Oberkrom, TCU: He edges out Texas Tech's Ryan Bustin, who kicked a 28-yard winner, for making all three of his attempts, including a crazy 53-yarder for a 16-14 lead with 2:42 to play. He also made kicks of 47 and 31 yards.

P: Quinn Sharp, Oklahoma State: He narrowly edges out Oklahoma's Tress Way (five punts, three inside 20, long of 58 yards, average 49.4 yards) for this award after pinning Purdue inside its 20-yard line on two of his three punts. He boomed a 65-yarder and averaged nearly 53 yards on his three punts. He was more valuable for Oklahoma State because field position mattered to Purdue. It didn't to Texas A&M.

What we learned in the Big 12 bowls

January, 9, 2013
1/09/13
11:24
AM CT
The Big 12 bowls are over, and here's what we learned over the past couple of weeks.

The top of the Big 12 is weak. Oregon and Texas A&M are bona fide top 5 teams in my book this year, and Oklahoma and Kansas State showed quite obviously that neither was in the same league. The Sooners and Wildcats suffered lopsided losses and didn't even look like top 10 teams, which the final polls confirmed. K-State was in position to play for the national title, but how many believe it would have done all that much better vs. Alabama last night? I buy Oklahoma State last year, but for the second time in three years, the Big 12 didn't have a team that belonged in the national title picture at the end of the season.

[+] EnlargeLache Seastrunk
Kirby Lee/Image of Sport/USA TODAY SportsLache Seastrunk and Baylor arguably played better than any other Big 12 team late in the season.
The middle of the Big 12 is anything but weak. You saw it on display big time. Oklahoma State flexed, and so did Baylor, though the Bears were probably the most impressive of the bunch. Baylor was the Big 12's hottest team to close the season, but Oklahoma State was probably better than its record and lost a couple of heartbreakers to close the year. Both were solid teams that probably deserved nods in the top 25 to close the season. Texas has its issues, but the Longhorns successfully grabbed the Big 12's best nonconference win of the entire season, coming back to knock off then-No. 13 Oregon State in the Alamo Bowl.

The Big 12 can stop the run, sort of. You have to be amazed at what TCU and Baylor did to two really good backs in Le'Veon Bell at Michigan State and Johnathan Franklin at UCLA. Kenjon Barner of Oregon got the best of K-State in the second half and Oregon State's Storm Woods gave Texas trouble, but Franklin managed just 34 yards on 14 carries. Bell managed 145 yards on 32 carries, but it was below his season average for the season. Point is, this wasn't the running game nightmare from a few years ago, when the Big 12 racked up losses because of its inability to slow down average backs.

The league has a flare for the dramatic. We saw some great games down the stretch this season like Texas Tech and Baylor, Oklahoma and West Virginia/Oklahoma State/TCU and more. That didn't stop in the bowl season. The Red Raiders rallied in the final two minutes to beat Minnesota on a last-second field goal and Texas knocked off Oregon State with a late bomb from David Ash to Marquise Goodwin to erase a double-digit deficit in the game's last nine minutes. TCU also lost on a late field goal, just a minute after going ahead with a crazy 53-yard field goal from Jaden Oberkrom.

The bottom of the Big 12? Questionable at best. West Virginia's got all the flash with quarterback Geno Smith and receivers Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey, and Iowa State stays in games (and eventually wins them) with its defense. Both units had disastrous bowl games against average teams in Syracuse and Tulsa. The snow is a legit excuse for West Virginia's high-flying passing game, but Tulsa completely dominated the line of scrimmage against Iowa State's defense and brought the league's bottom two bowl teams down a peg. Even Texas Tech struggled with a mediocre Minnesota team, though to its credit, rallied for an emotional win.

Early Big 12/SEC power rankings for 2013

January, 8, 2013
1/08/13
11:00
AM CT
The season is done, but ask any coach and he'll tell you the 2013 season already has begun. That's true on this blog, too. So, how would I slot the Big 12 heading into the fall? With a month before national signing day and a couple of months before spring football kicks into high gear, here's my first crack at slotting the conference.

To me, it looks as if we have four legitimate contenders for the conference title and three possible dark horses. We'll see how the latter three develop, but I'm sold on the top four as teams that could realistically win the league next season.

1. Oklahoma State: The Cowboys will be loaded, and that's especially true if running back Joseph Randle comes back. Cornerback Justin Gilbert is returning, but we saw this season that they can win with any one of their three quarterbacks. That's a recipe for success in this league. The defense was a bit streaky; this season was the first under defensive coordinator Bill Young that the Cowboys didn't finish in the top 15 in turnovers forced. If they can get back to forcing turnovers in bunches next season, another Big 12 title could be headed to Stillwater.

2. TCU: The Frogs are growing up fast, but their spot here is assuming that quarterback Casey Pachall will be back on the field this spring to reclaim his job. The defense looks likely to be the best in the Big 12, and as much offense as this league has, you can't win it without a solid defense. TCU's offense will win it some games; its defense might win it a Big 12 title. Look out for Devonte Fields' encore.

3. Oklahoma: The Sooners look like they may lack a true star on next season's team, but they are still solid across the two-deep and will be good enough to be in the mix for a title even without quarterback Landry Jones. A wealth of losses on the defensive end is a bigger concern, but receivers Jalen Saunders and Sterling Shepard also will have to navigate a transition to a new QB after three-plus years with Jones. The Sooners ought to feature fullback Trey Millard a bit more in the offense next year.

4. Texas: Believe it or not, but David Ash is the Big 12's most experienced passer. Can he look the part on the field? We'll see, but the biggest problem for Texas is continuing its defensive improvements. Jackson Jeffcoat could be back, and Jordan Hicks will be one of the league's biggest talents if he is able to recover from a hip injury. The time is now if the Longhorns' trio of backs are going to mature into true impact players.

5. Baylor: I'm a believer in the late-season run for these guys translating to 2013. The defense made big strides, and we'll see if those continue, but the offense will be fine. I buy Bryce Petty as a big talent and the next in the long line of Art Briles' quarterback disciples. Lache Seastrunk will help him out early, too. Don't be surprised if he surpasses Randle next year as the Big 12's best back.

6. Texas Tech: The Red Raiders are a huge wild card and might have the biggest upside of any team in the bottom half of these rankings. Michael Brewer is a promising QB, and he now has Kliff Kingsbury -- the former Texas A&M offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach who helped the Aggies far surpass expectations -- as his new head coach. Could Tech do the same? The Red Raiders have tons of talent on both sides of the ball, thanks to a couple of great recruiting classes from Tommy Tuberville (who left to become the coach at Cincinnati).

7. Kansas State: No Collin Klein and Arthur Brown? You know about that, but there's no Chris Harper, Travis Tannahill, Braden Wilson, and the entire defensive line is gone, including star DE Meshak Williams. Both starting cornerbacks are gone, too. Point is, K-State's probably a bowl team next season, but to come back from that mountain of losses and be in the top half of the Big 12 is going to be a tall, tall task.

8. West Virginia: The Mountaineers' trio of wide receivers Stedman Bailey and Tavon Austin and quarterback Geno Smith was outstanding this year. Not much else in Morgantown was. All three are gone, and that team only went 7-5. Coordinator Keith Patterson has got to fix this defense in the spring and apply some lessons learned in a disappointing Year 1 in the Big 12. The QB derby between Paul Millard and Ford Childress should be interesting.

9. Iowa State: Sam Richardson was severely ill while playing in the AutoZone Liberty Bowl, but he still didn't inspire a lot of confidence in the future of the QB spot in Ames, despite a strong finish to the season. With linebacking pillars A.J. Klein and Jake Knott both headed to the NFL, the odds once again will be against Iowa State winning six games and getting to a bowl. Without consistency at the quarterback spot, it's going to be tough, especially with the defense likely to take a step back.

10. Kansas: Gotta prove something before the Jayhawks move out of the basement. Charlie Weis is bringing in tons of juco talent, but after the Dayne Crist experiment didn't work, BYU transfer Jake Heaps simply must be better for KU to begin its climb back to the postseason.

SEC

2. Texas A&M:
The Aggies might have been the hottest team in the country at the end of the 2012 season. Maybe defenses will have a little better handle on Johnny Manziel the second time around, but Johnny Football will have a little better handle on defenses, too. If offensive tackles Luke Joeckel and Jake Matthews return for their senior seasons, look out. Losing Damontre Moore on defense will hurt, but the Aggies like their young talent.

Saturday Big 12 bowl predictions

December, 28, 2012
12/28/12
1:40
PM CT
We'll be rolling out the bowl predictions piece by piece this year, so here's who I'm taking in the Big 12 tripleheader on Saturday.

Week 14 record: 3-1 (.750)
Overall: 55-20 (.733)

NEW ERA PINSTRIPE BOWL

West Virginia 41, Syracuse 38: Geno Smith finally gets the best of the Orange after going 0-2 in his career and the Big 12 finally gets a win in snowy New York City. Stedman Bailey catches a pair of touchdowns and Tavon Austin rushes for 100 yards and tops 100 yards receiving to help outpace a 350-yard passing day from Ryan Nassib. This wasn't where WVU wanted to finish its season -- in chilly NYC or against a Big East team -- but it gets a satisfying end to an unsatisfying first season in the Big 12.

VALERO ALAMO BOWL

No. 13 Oregon State 27, No. 23 Texas 23: Oregon State continues to wildly fluctuate between overrated and underrated. Texas might lean toward the latter; the Longhorns fall victim to the "Who wants to be here most?" factor. The Beavers have gone two years without a bowl game. Texas' BCS dreams crashed and burned with a Thanksgiving night loss to TCU. David Ash plays OK, but not well enough, and the Longhorns didn't have a running back go over 100 yards. Cody Vaz shrugs off the pressure to get the Beavers a big win in San Antonio.

BUFFALO WILD WINGS BOWL

TCU 21, Michigan State 17: The Frogs' defense was the Big 12's best this season and even though its strength is in the secondary, the front seven plays well. Chucky Hunter, Kenny Cain and Joel Hasley slow down Le'Veon Bell enough, who reaches 100 yards but it'll take 30 or more carries to get there. TCU's offense makes enough plays and the defense proves its opportunistic nature with a couple of forced turnovers to set up a game-deciding score.

Unsolicited advice to Big 12 early entrants

December, 26, 2012
12/26/12
4:07
PM CT
Most of them have dodged it to this point, but it'll be decision time for a few underclassmen across the Big 12 at the end of the year.

Here's what each should do.

Stedman Bailey, wide receiver, West Virginia: Bailey has already announced he's leaving, and it's the right thing to do. He's undersized, so it's hard to see him climbing higher than the second or third round. Now's the time to leave. He's not going to equal his production next year without Geno Smith tossing perfect deep balls to him. Now's the time.

What he should do: Leave for the NFL.

Joseph Randle, running back, Oklahoma State: Like a couple guys on this list, there's no bad decision. I don't know that Randle runs much risk, besides injury, of losing much stock next season. He'll have an opportunity to go out on top next year, too. He's good enough to be drafted, but he's not a first-rounder. Will the possibility of another Big 12 title be enticing enough of a carrot to bring Randle back? It would be for me. Randle doesn't have the body type to be a bellcow back, but it's not like whoever OSU hires as an OC will suddenly start handing him the ball 30 times a game and put a ton of mileage on Randle's tires before he receives his first NFL check.

What he should do: Stay at Oklahoma State

Tony Jefferson, safety, Oklahoma: Jefferson's been a playmaker for three seasons for the Sooners. He was one of the league's best defenders this year, and he's got prototypical size for an NFL safety. Once NFL scouts see him up close at the combine, it's easy to see him ascending into the first round.

What he should do: Leave for the NFL

Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State: Gilbert has prototypical size for an NFL corner (6-foot, 194 pounds) and his speed will absolutely wow scouts at the combine. There's no doubt in my mind there's a first-round talent inside of him. However, the OSU CBs as a whole were one of the more disappointing units in the league. Gilbert's cover skills regressed at times this year and I don't think the game tape he strung together this year is what he wants his lasting image to be to scouts. With that game tape, it's hard to see him earning a first-round pick. His potential to do so in 2013 is there, though.

What he should do: Stay at Oklahoma State

Jackson Jeffcoat, defensive end, Texas: Jeffcoat had a disappointing season after tearing a pectoral, the same injury he had late last season. The Texas defense was disappointing, too. Next year the pieces will be in place for a big year for the Texas defense, and Jeffcoat could help key it. He could definitely play his way into the top five next year, but this year, it's hard to see any team spending that high of a pick on him coming off an injury.

What he should do: Stay at Texas.

Kenny Stills, wide receiver, Oklahoma: Stills was disappointed with his season, and it's a really, really deep class in this draft. You could defend either decision, but even with a new quarterback coming in, it's possible for Stills to improve his stock with another year of experience and a less stacked class. The Sooners could come back and win another league title, too.

What he should do: Stay at Oklahoma

James Sims, running back, Kansas: I totally understand if Sims is tired of losing, and he's got an NFL future. Perhaps a promising one. He's got the build to be a bellcow at the next level. Still, KU is getting closer and Sims could be a part of KU climbing back into Big 12 respectability. He's already said he plans on coming back to KU, and it's the right move.

What he should do: Stay at Kansas

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