Dallas Colleges: Tyler Lockett

Earlier today, we looked back on the most memorable Big 12 games of 2014.

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Who had the most memorable individual Big 12 offensive performance of 2014?

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    23%
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    17%
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    16%
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    16%
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    28%

Discuss (Total votes: 4,229)

 Now, in our weekly Big 12 poll, we're looking back at the most memorable individual offensive performances of the season.

Samaje Perine's record-breaking performance against Kansas has to top the list. After all, the Oklahoma true freshman set an FBS game rushing record with 427 yards.

But what about some of the other memorable performances of 2014?

Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty had some terrific showings in his final college season. But his magical comeback against TCU on Oct. 11 was something special. Petty threw for 510 yards and six touchdowns, while leading the Bears to 24 unanswered fourth-quarter points, catapulting Baylor to an improbable 61-58 win.

Petty, however, wasn't the only quarterback to deliver a notable performance.

On Oct. 25, TCU's Trevone Boykin threw for 433 yards and a school-record seven touchdown passes against Texas Tech. Behind Boykin, the Horned Frogs also scored a Big 12 conference-game-record 82 points in their 55-point annihilation of the Red Raiders.

While the showing against TCU was one they'd just as soon forget, the Red Raiders also had a memorable performance of their own in a valiant defeat. In Texas Tech's regular-season finale on Nov. 29 vs. Baylor, quarterback Patrick Mahomes set a Big 12 freshman record with 598 yards on 30 of 56 passing. He also tossed six touchdowns, including a 40-yarder to Bradley Marquez with 1:42 left that erased a 25-point second half deficit and handed Tech a chance to tie the game with a two-point conversion. The try failed, but Mahomes was still magnificent.

West Virginia wideout Kevin White was magnificent all year, as he opened the season with seven straight 100-yard receiving games. But the highlight of that impressive run came when he torched Baylor for 132 receiving yards and a pair of touchdowns in the Mountaineers' 41-27 upset victory over the then-fourth-ranked Bears.

Like White, Kansas State's Tyler Lockett put up monster receiving numbers. Like White, it wasn't easy to single out one game. But Lockett's second half in the Valero Alamo Bowl against UCLA was downright dominant. In the second half alone, Lockett had 10 receptions for 116 yards and two touchdowns, as K-State almost came all the way back from a 31-6 halftime deficit before losing 40-35. It was a memorable performance for a memorable career.

Now we put the question to you: Of these five, who had the most memorable performance of 2014? Let us know by voting in this week's Big 12 poll.

Big 12 all-bowl team

January, 16, 2015
Jan 16
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Below, we recognize the best individual performances of the 2014-15 bowl season with our Big 12 all-bowl team:

OFFENSE

[+] EnlargeBryce Petty
AP Photo/LM OteroBryce Petty had a huge game in his college finale.
QB: Bryce Petty, Baylor. Petty didn’t go out with a win, but he did go out with a monster performance, as he threw for a Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic-record 550 yards and three touchdowns. He also ran for another score.

RB: Desmond Roland, Oklahoma State. Roland ran for more than 100 yards for the first time all season and finished with 123 yards on 32 carries in Oklahoma State’s TicketCity Cactus Bowl win.

RB: Samaje Perine, Oklahoma. Perine was about the Sooners’ only positive in the Russell Athletic Bowl. Playing on a bum ankle, he ran for 134 yards to finish his true freshman season with a Big 12-best 1,713 rushing yards.

WR: Tyler Lockett, Kansas State. Lockett fueled a furious second-half comeback in the Valero Alamo Bowl with 164 receiving yards and two touchdowns. The rally came up short, but Lockett was fabulous in his final game at K-State.

WR: Kevin White, West Virginia. White was unstoppable yet again in his last college game. He finished with 129 yards receiving and a touchdown in West Virginia’s loss to Texas A&M in the AutoZone Liberty Bowl.

WR: K.D. Cannon, Baylor. By hauling in eight caches for 197 yards and two touchdowns, Cannon became just the seventh receiver and first underclassman in Baylor history to finish with more than 1,000 yards receiving.

AP: Aaron Green, TCU. Green ignited a 42-3 onslaught of Ole Miss in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl by hauling in a 31-yard pass on a trick play for TCU's first touchdown. He scored the Horned Frogs’ second touchdown too and finished with 114 yards rushing and receiving.

OT: Halapoulivaati Vaitai, TCU: With “Big V” locking up one of the edges, the Horned Frogs dominated the line of scrimmage and finished with 177 yards on the ground.

OG: LaQuan McGowan, Baylor. The 400-pound backup guard delivered one of the most unforgettable plays of the bowl season, when he lined up as an eligible receiver then snagged an 18-yard touchdown pass to give Baylor a 20-point lead.

C: B.J. Finney, Kansas State. With K-State struggling to protect quarterback Jake Waters through the first half, Finney swung from center to right tackle after halftime. The Wildcats had no trouble moving the ball the rest of the way.

OG: Brady Foltz, TCU: Foltz had one of the best games of his TCU career as the Horned Frogs rolled up 423 total yards against Ole Miss’ talented defense.

OT: Zach Crabtree, Oklahoma State. Crabtree’s return to the lineup late in the year helped stabilize the line. With Crabtree, the Cowboys controlled a Washington front seven that featured three All-Americans.

DEFENSE

DE: Ryan Mueller, Kansas State. Mueller finished with seven tackles and produced a huge forced fumble of the Bruins in the third quarter that sparked K-State’s rally.

DT: James Castleman, Oklahoma State. Castleman’s biggest contributions actually came on offense. In Oklahoma State’s heavy set, Castleman rushed for a 1-yard touchdown, then late in the game hauled in a 48-yard yard reception off play-action that helped propel the Cowboys to victory.

DT: Malcom Brown, Texas. Brown did what he could in a 31-7 loss to Arkansas in the Advocare V100 Texas Bowl by leading Texas with eight tackles, a tackle for loss and a pair of QB hurries.

DE: James McFarland, TCU. McFarland essentially ended the game when he came up with an acrobatic, diving interception of Bo Wallace in the Ole Miss end zone that put the Frogs ahead 28-0 just before halftime.

LB: K.J. Dillon, West Virginia. Dillon had a 35-yard interception return for a touchdown that gave West Virginia a 10-point lead over the Aggies and early command of the game. Neither the lead nor the command lasted, however.

LB: Marcus Mallet, TCU. The Horned Frogs brutalized Ole Miss’ offense, and Mallet was a big reason for that. He put up a game-high 10 tackles and forced and recovered a fumble, as the Rebels finished with just 9 yards rushing.

[+] EnlargeOklahoma State, Deric Robertson, Kevin Peterson
AP Photo/Rick ScuteriKevin Peterson (1) and the Oklahoma State defense made plenty of stops against Washington.
LB: Taylor Young, Baylor. Young had a game-high 15 tackles and very nearly produced the game-clinching play. His 84-yard fourth-quarter interception return, however, was called back by a penalty.

CB: Kevin Peterson, Oklahoma State. In addition to providing solid coverage all night, Peterson came up with the game-clinching interception of Washington in the final seconds.

CB: Ramon Richards, Oklahoma State. The sure-tackling true freshman had perhaps the best performance in his young career and finished with six tackles, a tackle for loss and two pass breakups.

S: Karl Joseph, West Virginia. Joseph led the Mountaineers with 10 tackles and delivered yet another devastating hit that resulted in a forced fumble.

S: Derrick Kindred, TCU. Kindred picked off the Rebels in the first quarter and finished with five tackles and a tackle for loss as the TCU secondary swarmed Ole Miss' receivers all game.

SPECIAL TEAMS

K: Matthew McCrane, Kansas State. McCrane nailed 47-yard and 29-yard field goals and nearly pulled off a remarkable onside kick using the “Rabona” soccer technique. Honorable mention honors here go to West Virginia’s Josh Lambert, who broke the FBS season record with 39 made field goals.

P: Kip Smith, Oklahoma State. Smith placed all four of his punts inside the Washington 20 to help the Cowboys control the field-position battle.

Returner: Mario Alford, West Virginia: The electric Alford had two big kick returns, as well as a 45-yard touchdown reception off a quick pass in his final game as a Mountaineer.

Best and worst of the Big 12 bowls

January, 5, 2015
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Below, we break down the best and worst of the Big 12’s bowl season:

Best win: TCU proved it was in fact deserving of one of the four playoff spots, clobbering ninth-ranked Ole Miss in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl, 42-3. The Horned Frogs led 28-0 by halftime and 42-0 in the third quarter. No team was more impressive in its bowl game than TCU, which will return 10 offensive starters in 2015.

Worst loss: Oklahoma's nightmare season ended appropriately, with a 40-6 loss to Clemson in the Russell Athletic Bowl. The 34-point margin tied for the second-worst defeat of the Bob Stoops era. It got so bad that ESPN announcer Ed Cunningham called for a running clock in the second half. Oklahoma's season began with national championship aspirations. It ended in embarrassment.

[+] EnlargeTyler Lockett
Soobum Im/USA TODAY SportsKansas State's Tyler Lockett shined in the Valero Alamo Bowl with a 13-catch performance.
Best offensive performance: In a 40-35 loss to UCLA in the Valero Alamo Bowl, Kansas State wideout Tyler Lockett tied a bow on one of the finest careers in Big 12 history. He hauled in 13 catches for 163 yards and two touchdowns, as K-State nearly came all the way back from a 31-6 halftime deficit. Lockett also had a 41-yard punt return, as well as another touchdown return that was called back on a penalty. Like virtually everyone else he faced this year, the Bruins had no answer for Lockett.

Best defensive performance: TCU obliterated the Ole Miss offense, and senior linebacker Marcus Mallet headed the effort with 10 tackles, a sack and a forced fumble and recovery. The Rebels were held to 9 yards rushing in the biggest margin of victory in Peach Bowl history. Mallet and the Horned Frogs were dominant.

Best special-teams performance: K-State kicker Matthew McCrane capped off a fabulous freshman year by nailing both of his field goal attempts against UCLA, including a 47-yarder. He also very nearly pulled off a dazzling onside kick, using the Rabona technique to throw off the UCLA hands team. The Wildcats couldn't recover. But McCrane finished the season converting 18 of 19 field goal attempts.

Worst play: Baylor's fourth quarter in the 42-41 Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic loss to Michigan State was full of bad plays. But the worst came near the end when Baylor lined up for a 43-yard field goal attempt that would have clinched the game. Instead, the Spartans blocked the kick, R.J. Williamson scooped up the loose ball and Tony Lippett annihilated kicker Chris Callahan to clear a path, all of which set up Michigan State's game-winning touchdown drive.

Best plays: The Big 12 struggled to win bowl games this year, but excelled at getting big men the ball in space. On its opening possession in the TicketCity Catcus Bowl, Oklahoma State lined up 300-pound defensive tackle James Castleman in the backfield. Castleman took the direct snap and rumbled 1 yard for a touchdown. That, though, was just a precursor. Late in the fourth quarter, the Cowboys needed a third-down conversion to keep the clock running. They put Castleman at fullback and ran him into the flat off play-action. Castleman hauled in the pass, turned up field, smashed his way through a pair of Washington defenders, then dragged another for a 48-yard gain. Castleman's performance overshadowed 400-pound Baylor offensive guard LaQuan McGowan, who hauled in an 18-yard touchdown reception to give the Bears a 20-point leading heading into the fourth quarter.

Best catch: True freshman wideout James Washington helped ignite Oklahoma State's fast start in Tempe with a one-handed, 28-yard touchdown stab off a post route. Washington had a terrific debut season for the Pokes with 46 receptions and six touchdowns. Expect to hear (Mason) Rudolph-to-Washington plenty in the coming years.

Worst performance on a sideline: This ignominious honor goes to Texas A&M student assistant coach Michael Richardson, who struck a pair of West Virginia players on the Aggies' sideline. Richardson punched West Virginia cornerback Daryl Worley in the back of the head, then elbowed running back Andrew Buie in another incident. He was fired after the game.

Best bounce-back performance: K-State played its worst ball of the season in the first half in San Antonio, allowing UCLA to jump to a commanding 31-6 lead. But the Wildcats didn't quit, and fought their way back into the game with four touchdowns on five second-half possessions. It wasn't quite enough. But K-State turned what could have been a humiliating defeat into a thrilling finish.

Worst disappearing act: The Oklahoma and Texas offenses completely no-showed in their bowl games. In the AdvoCare V100 Texas Bowl, the Longhorns gained just 59 total yards in a 31-7 loss to Arkansas. The Sooners didn't fare much better. Oklahoma turned the ball over five times and failed to convert a third down until the fourth quarter, when it trailed 40-0.

Best quote: "I don't think I have to say anything." -- TCU coach Gary Patterson, when asked if the Horned Frogs' 42-3 win over Ole Miss was a statement to the College Football Playoff selection committee.

Worst example of class: UCLA coach Jim Mora Jr., who brushed aside K-State coach Bill Snyder as the two went to shake hands at midfield. Mora, who was upset about a K-State defender trying to crash through UCLA's victory formation, found out the hard way Snyder is the wrong person to snub. He tried to defend his actions on Twitter, but after a monsoon filled his mentions, Mora deleted his account.

Best example of class: TCU safety Sam Carter donated his entire Peach Bowl gift stash to the kids admitted at Atlanta's Egleston Children's Hospital.

Big 12 morning links

December, 1, 2014
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It's probably not a good sign Nebraska fans are more upset with @FauxPelini being gone than @RealPelini.
  • Baylor defensive end Shawn Oakman said he wasn't "trying to hurt nobody" when he kneed Texas Tech quarterback Patrick Mahomes in the face while getting up after sacking him. "You don’t go out there trying to hunt for nobody," Oakman said. "You play your game." Oakman also knocked Oklahoma QB Trevor Knight out indefinitely with a hit that could have been termed as "unnecessary." Oakman wasn't flagged for the knee to Mahomes, though the Big 12 could still take action on Oakman. Based on the league's past responses to such like offenses, it's likely Oakman wouldn't face anything more than a public reprimand.
  • This should put a smile on the faces of TCU and Baylor fans alike. The Fort Worth Star-Telegram's Travis L. Brown conducted a survey with 41 North Texas high school football recruits, and 71 percent said TCU and Baylor have become the class of the state of Texas. Check out the rest of the survey to see some of the other interesting questions Brown asked.
  • Strained relationships seem to be the norm for Oklahoma State Mike Gundy these days, in the opinion of The Oklahoman's Berry Tramel. At the top of that list is mega-donor Boone Pickens, who hasn't made his disdain for Gundy much of a secret lately. All of this has led to speculation Gundy will leave Oklahoma State when another viable job becomes available. All in all, this feud comes off to me as a bit childish. The Cowboys could not have reached the level of success they've enjoyed over the past 10 years without Pickens, who has bankrolled the athletic department. But they could not have reached it without Gundy, either. Assuming Gundy doesn't bolt, somebody at Oklahoma State (AD Mike Holder? President Burns Hargis?) needs to get Gundy and Pickens in the same room this offseason so the two can talk their differences out. There's no reason this situation can't be still be salvaged.
  • Texas Tech QB Davis Webb will have surgery on his left, non-throwing shoulder this week, though is expected to be ready to take part in spring ball. Next year's QB competition in Lubbock will be fascinating. True freshman Patrick Mahomes, who threw for almost 600 yards and six touchdowns Saturday in Tech's narrow 48-46 loss to Baylor, has been terrific since replacing Webb. Blue-chip recruit Jarrett Stidham is also expected to enroll early and join the competition in the spring. "It's going to be a really good one," coach Kliff Kingsbury said Saturday of the battle. "Get Jarrett in there and have three really good players going at it." The Red Raiders have some major holes to fill before next season. But they could be in really good shape again at the most critical position.
  • Tyler Lockett bumped his father, Kevin, into second place on K-State's all-time receptions list. After a brief ceremonial stoppage in play, Lockett went back to work on Kansas, and hauled in his second touchdown of the day a few plays later. This weekend at Baylor, Lockett has the chance to tie a bow on one of the most impressive careers in Big 12 history.

Big 12 helmet stickers: Week 14

November, 30, 2014
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Tyler Lockett added more accolades to his record-breaking résumé, TCU's defense dominated and Skyler Howard led West Virginia to victory in his first start.

Here's a look at the Big 12's top performers in Week 14:

Kansas State WR Tyler Lockett: It should be no surprise that the Wildcats' career leader in receptions and receiving yards had a big final game at Bill Snyder Family Stadium on senior day. Lockett had nine receptions for 119 yards and two touchdowns while finishing with 198 all-purpose yards in a 51-13 win over Kansas. He has 222 career receptions and 3,388 receiving yards, both No. 1 all time at KSU, and is tied with his father, Kevin, with 26 career touchdown receptions.

TCU LB Paul Dawson: Every defender deserves consideration to get a helmet sticker anytime a defense forces six turnovers and scores twice on defense. But Dawson gets the nod. He made another strong case to be considered the Big 12 defensive player of the year in TCU's 48-10 win over Texas on Thanksgiving night. He had a team-high 10 tackles (nine solo), including two tackles for loss and one interception. The senior made plays all over the field for Gary Patterson's defense.

TCU WR Josh Doctson: The Horned Frogs playmaker was open even when he wasn't open. Quarterback Trevone Boykin simply threw the ball high, allowing a well-covered Doctson to soar over UT defenders to make the catch on multiple occasions. Doctson finished with seven receptions for 115 yards and one touchdown in the win.

West Virginia QB Skyler Howard: Making his first Big 12 start, Howard subbed in admirably for starter Clint Trickett, who missed WVU's 37-24 win over Iowa State with concussion symptoms. Howard was 21-of-40 for 285 yards and three touchdowns while adding seven carries for 69 yards. Most importantly, Howard didn’t throw an interception, although he did have one lost fumble, as he protected the ball better than Trickett had during the past few weeks.

Baylor RB Shock Linwood: Whenever the Bears call upon the sophomore, he responds. Linwood had 24 carries for 156 yards and two touchdowns (6.6 yards per carry) in Baylor's 48-46 win over Texas Tech . Linwood passed the 1,000-yard mark for the season with 1,133 rushing yards in 11 games this season.

Texas Tech QB Patrick Mahomes: The true freshman makes a stronger case to be the Red Raiders' future behind center with each passing week. Mahomes was superb in Tech's 48-46 loss to Baylor. He finished 30-of-56 for 598 yards, six touchdowns and one interception. He also added nine carries for 27 yards while quarterbacking his team to a late, but ultimately unsuccessful, rally against the nation's No. 7 team.

Big 12 weekend rewind: Week 13

November, 24, 2014
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Taking stock of Week 13 in the Big 12:

Team of the week: K-State kept its Big 12 title hopes alive by winning at West Virginia on Thursday, 26-20. The Wildcats hardly played a perfect game. They frustrated Bill Snyder by committing a season-high 102 penalty yards. They also rushed for just a single yard on 29 carries offensively. But the defense harassed the Mountaineers into four turnovers, while K-State quarterback Jake Waters was on point with a career-high 400 yards passing. As a result, the Wildcats left Morgantown two wins away from earning at least a share of the Big 12 title and playing itself into a New Year's Six bowl.

Disappointment of the week: Not since Gene Chizik's final season in Ames in 2008 has Iowa State gone winless in Big 12 play. But after falling 34-31 at home to Texas Tech, Iowa State is on the cusp of finishing without a victory in the conference for the first time in the Paul Rhoads era. The Cyclones had the lead in the fourth quarter, and a chance to at least send the game to overtime late. But when the game was on the line, Iowa State couldn't come up with the critical play. The Cyclones will have two more chances to avoid the ignominy of going winless. But after losing to Kansas and Texas Tech the last two weeks, it's difficult to envision that happening.

Big (offensive) man on campus: Samaje Perine made this the easiest decision of the year. The Oklahoma true freshman running back ran for an FBS record 427 rushing yards and five touchdowns in the Sooners' 44-7 win over Kansas. Just a week ago, Wisconsin's Melvin Gordon broke the FBS single-game mark held previously since 1999 by TCU's LaDainian Tomlinson. But Gordon's record lasted a mere seven days. Perine took his first carry 49 yards for a touchdown, and finished with 222 yards in the first half to draw within striking distance of the record. Then, Perine's opening touch of the third quarter went 66 yards for another score. He went on to break the record early in the fourth quarter. “He was sensational," Bob Stoops said. Sensational, indeed.

Big (defensive) man on campus: Linebacker Pete Robertson led the Texas Tech defensive effort at Ames with nine tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss, a sack and a quarterback hurry. Robertson delivered a couple of key tackles in the fourth quarter, which forced the Cyclones into a 42-yard field goal attempt they would miss. That allowed Tech to retake the lead on the ensuing drive with a game-winning touchdown.With 10 sacks on the season, Robertson has been one of the bright spots for the Tech defense.

Special-teams player of the week: Tyler Lockett, who else? Sure, his 43-yard punt return touchdown came via a West Virginia coverage bust that left a hole the size of the Monongahela River. But Lockett, who leads the country in punt returns, added 10 receptions and 196 yards receiving. K-State's all-time leading receiver is also having an All-American-caliber season as a specialist.

Play of the week: Perine made history early in the fourth quarter, when he barreled through a trio of Kansas defenders, then raced 42 yards to give him an FBS record 427 rushing yards in the game. After the play, Perine was subbed out to the rain-soaked Owen Field crowd chanting his name.

Stat of the week: According to ESPN Stats & Information, Perine had eight rushes of 20 yards or more against the Jayhawks, the most in a game by any player the last 10 seasons, and more than 19 FBS teams had entering the weekend.

Quote of the week: "It hurts, man. But records are meant to be broken. Congratulations to that guy." – Wisconsin running back Melvin Gordon, on Perine breaking his single-game FBS rushing record after just seven days. LaDainian Tomlinson's rushing record, meanwhile, lasted for 5,466 days, before Gordon broke it last week.

Big 12 helmet stickers: Week 13

November, 23, 2014
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It was a good weekend to be a running back, and a trio of signal-callers staked their claim for the future. Here are the Big 12's top performers for Week 13:

Oklahoma RB Samaje Perine: The numbers say plenty: 34 carries, 427 yards, five touchdowns, 12.6 yards per carry. But it was a record-setting day for the true freshman, who broke Melvin Gordon’s week-long record for single-game rushing yardage in the FBS in OU's 44-7 win over Kansas. Perine also became the first player in FBS history to rush for at least 200 yards in both halves of a single game, according to ESPN Stats & Information. Vision, physicality, durability, speed ... Perine has it all.

Oklahoma blockers: Sure, the Sooners' offensive line deserves the bulk of the credit as Perine repeatedly cruised untouched into the Jayhawks' secondary. But the Sooners' fullbacks, tight ends and receivers deserve their share of the accolades as well because Perine doesn’t have eight carries of 20 yards or more without downfield blocking by OU’s skill players. OU’s starting line of Daryl Williams, Ty Darlington, Adam Shead, Nila Kasitati, Tyrus Thompson built the foundation and fullbacks Aaron Ripkowski and Dimitri Flowers built upon that foundation.

Texas Tech QB Patrick Mahomes: The Red Raiders might have something in the true freshman quarterback who spurned professional baseball to play in Lubbock. Making his third collegiate start, Mahomes was 23-of-35 for 325 yards and four touchdowns with one interception in Tech’s 34-31 win over Iowa State. He was clutch in the fourth quarter, leading the Red Raiders on a touchdown drive to take the lead then converting a key third down with a 9-yard run to seal the win on the next drive.

Iowa State RB Aaron Wimberly: The Cyclones running back averaged 5.4 yards per carry in the loss. He had 19 carries for 102 yards and two touchdowns. He also added three receptions for 22 yards. Wimberly was a consistent threat for ISU’s offense, helping the Cyclones finish with 569 total yards.

Texas Tech RB DeAndre Washington: A dynamic running threat for Tech all season long, Washington had 20 carries for 186 yards (9.3 yards per carry) and one touchdown. He added two receptions for 51 yards and another score. He becomes the first Red Raider to rush for 1,000 yards since 1998 (Ricky Williams) and the seventh in school history.

Baylor RBs Shock Linwood and Devin Chafin: The Bears' pair of running backs combined for 219 rushing yards in Baylor's 49-28 win over Oklahoma State. Linwood had 21 carries for 113 yards and one touchdown. Chafin had 21 carries for 106 yards and three touchdowns. On a rainy night at McLane Stadium, Art Briles' squad turned to the running game and the Bears' running back duo didn’t disappoint.

Oklahoma State QB Mason Rudolph: The Cowboys may have found themselves an answer at quarterback for the final game against Oklahoma and beyond. The true freshman finished 13-of-25 for 281 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions in his first collegiate game. OSU’s 28 points was its most since a 37-20 win over Iowa State on Oct. 4.

Kansas State WR Tyler Lockett: The Wildcats' dynamic playmaker had 321 all-purpose yards in K-State's 26-20 win over West Virginia on Thursday night. Lockett had 10 receptions for 196 yards and added a 43-yard punt return for a touchdown. Week in and week out, Lockett makes a strong case to be known as the Big 12's toughest player to stop.

West Virginia QB Skyler Howard: The junior college transfer came off the bench to pass for 198 yards and two touchdowns. He completed 15 of 23 passes to spark a late rally by the Mountaineers and could get the opportunity to see more time behind center in WVU's final regular-season game against Iowa State next Saturday.

Big 12 helmet stickers: Week 11

November, 9, 2014
11/09/14
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Big names stepped up in big games, as TCU's Trevone Boykin and Baylor's Bryce Hager sparked their teams in impressive blowout wins over Kansas State and Oklahoma. They were joined by other big playmakers, which included a stellar performance from a true freshman, a veteran playmaker re-emerging in Austin and one Lockett replacing another in K-State's record book.

Here's who starred in the Big 12 in Week 11:

TCU QB Trevone Boykin: The Heisman hopeful accounted for four touchdowns (three rushing, one passing) in No. 6 TCU’s 41-20 win over No. 7 Kansas State in a battle of top-10 teams. Boykin rushed for 123 yards and passed for 219 yards, while using his shifty open-field running and deft passing to create havoc for K-State’s defense.

TCU HB Aaron Green: The Nebraska transfer stepped right in for an injured B.J. Catalon, rushing for 171 yards and one touchdown and earned a shutout from Johnny Football after a dynamic 65-yard touchdown run. He averaged 9.5 yards per carry and was a handful in the open field for KSU defenders.

Baylor WR Corey Coleman: Quickly earning a spot among the Big 12’s best receivers, Coleman had 15 receptions for 224 yards and one touchdown in No. 12 BU’s 48-14 win over No. 15 Oklahoma. He added two carries for 7 yards and another score. Coleman has eight touchdowns in BU’s past five games.

Baylor LB Bryce Hager: He was all over the place, finishing with 8.5 tackles (seven solo stops), one tackle-for-loss and a game-changing interception. His 36-yard return of a Trevor Knight pass helped change the momentum and spark BU’s 45 unanswered points.

Kansas RB Corey Avery: The running back helped KU win its first Big 12 game of the year with 17 carries for 103 yards and one touchdown in the Jayhawks’ 34-14 win over Iowa State. It was the first 100-yard rushing game for the true freshman, who should be a key part of the Jayhawks' offense for years to come.

Kansas LB Victor Simmons: The senior was a disruptive force on KU’s defense with five tackles, (four solo), two sacks, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery and one pass breakup.

Texas DE Cedric Reed: Apparently Mr. Reed wanted to remind people why he was considered one of the Big 12’s top defensive linemen heading into the season. He had 12 tackles (seven solo) with four tackles-for-loss, three sacks, one forced fumble and one quarterback hurry in UT’s 33-16 win over West Virginia.

West Virginia WR Kevin White: Even in a losing effort, his production is hard to overlook. The Mountaineers suffered their second straight loss with the setback in Austin, but White finished with 16 receptions for 132 yards for WVU.

Kansas State WR Tyler Lockett: The Wildcats senior was a handful for TCU defenders, finishing with 11 receptions for 196 yards and one touchdown. Lockett became KSU’s all-time leader in receiving yards with 3,073, rising past his father Kevin’s 3,032 from 1993-96.
In this week’s Big 12 roundtable, we discuss players to watch down the stretch, and how many teams will sit atop the Big 12 standings at the end of the regular season:

Who will be the one offensive player to watch in the league down the stretch?

[+] EnlargeBryce Petty
Tommy Gilligan/USA TODAY SportsBryce Petty's completion percentage has plunged during Big 12 play.
Max Olson: To me, all eyes are on Bryce Petty. Still seems like we haven't seen him at his 2013 best yet, which makes you wonder what's coming next. He's completing 52.2 percent of his passes in Big 12 play and has to face the league's top two scoring defenses. He doesn't have to be phenomenal to beat Oklahoma and K-State, but Petty does have to be sharper, and you get the sense he recognizes that based on his post-Kansas comments. If he's locked in for this final four-game stretch and keeps the Bears' offense humming, he can decide this Big 12 race.

Brandon Chatmon: Kansas State receiver Tyler Lockett could hold the keys to a second Big 12 title in three years in his hands. The senior tends to play big in the biggest games and with TCU and Baylor left on K-State’s schedule, I think the Big 12’s top all-purpose threat will put up some numbers that will make everyone take notice. He has been a joy to watch for four seasons in Wildcat purple and he might have saved his best for last.

Jake Trotter: I agree with Max, I think it’s Petty. He has had such a weird season so far, with the back injury, then the paltry completion percentage in Big 12 play. Petty is a tremendous quarterback talent who really hasn’t found his groove yet. It will be interesting to see if he can catch fire here down the stretch and push the Bears to the top of the Big 12 standings and into the playoff conversation. He definitely has the capability to do it.

Who will be the one defensive player to watch?

Olson: So, who's our Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year at this point? You can make a decent case for Paul Dawson, Eric Striker, Shawn Oakman, Malcom Brown, Ben Heeney, maybe a few others. I'm sorry to give you five players to watch, but really, we've yet to see one of these guys take control of that race. With lots of big games left to be played, somebody is poised to steal the conference's attention. I'm tempted to guess it's Dawson or Oakman who steps up in these huge games, but we shall see.

Chatmon: Nobody has noticed because his team’s offense has been one of the storylines of conference play with its staggering struggles but Oklahoma State defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah has quietly become a monster on the Cowboys defense. The sophomore has eight sacks including six in conference play after he started the year by putting his name on the map with two sacks against Florida State. OSU’s offense might not be fun to watch, but seeing Ogbah in action is enough to make you tune in to watch the Cowboys final three games.

Trotter: I’m going with K-State defensive end Ryan Mueller, who has had a very quiet season so far. For the Wildcats to run the table, they’ll need Mueller to produce the big plays he did last season when he earned first-team All-Big 12 honors.In TCU, West Virginia and Baylor, K-State is about to face three teams that like to throw the ball. Mueller will have plenty of opportunities to get after the passer.

How many teams will be at the top of the Big 12 standings at the end of the season?

Olson: Three. I don't know if I really believe it, but let's talk about that anyway. I don't think the following chaotic scenario is impossible: Baylor loses at Oklahoma, TCU loses to Kansas State, K-State loses at West Virginia and Baylor. And we'll say OU somehow loses one more game, too. That leaves us with a trio of 7-2 teams atop the Big 12 standings. Baylor would hold a head-to-head tiebreaker over both, but would they get into the College Football Playoff in that situation? I'm really not so sure. The Big 12 would love to have "One True Champion" this year, I'm sure, in the interest of a seat in the CFP. But I think things are about to get a little messy.

Chatmon: One. I said before TCU’s trip to West Virginia that I felt like the winner of that game would win the Big 12 title. Nothing has changed after the Horned Frogs’ buzzer-beating 31-30 win. If TCU survives against K-State on Saturday, its final three opponents (Kansas, Texas, Iowa State) have combined to win eight games this season. Trevone Boykin rebounds with a big game on Saturday and the Horned Frogs carry that to a 11-1 record and College Football Playoff berth.

Trotter: I’m sort of rooting for Four True Champions, so the Big 12 will be forced to dump its stupid slogan, “One True Champion.” But when the dust settles, I think the most likely scenario will be TCU alone at the top of the Big 12 standings with the lone conference loss.

What we learned in the Big 12: Week 10

November, 2, 2014
11/02/14
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Here's what we learned about the Big 12 in Week 10:

1. TCU doesn't fold in fourth: Trailing by nine, road game, rough weather, an inconsistent Trevone Boykin, countless missed opportunities -- it was all lining up for another TCU fourth-quarter flop. But these Horned Frogs, three weeks after their debacle at Baylor, showed resolve and toughness under pressure. In a 31-30 comeback win that will boost their College Football Playoff résumé, the Frogs weren't as explosive as usual (for all those aforementioned factors) but did find a way to play clutch in all three phases late. Good timing, too, because Gary Patterson's gang might need some four-quarter heroics to survive against No. 9 Kansas State next week.

[+] EnlargeB.J. Catalon
Tommy Gilligan/USA TODAY SportsTCU escaped with a win in Morgantown but faces a red-hot Kansas State team next week.
2. Sugar Bowl Trevor is back: We've seen a young, developing version of Trevor Knight a few times this season. In a 59-14 win over Iowa State, we once again got to see the one who shredded Alabama in the Sugar Bowl. Knight racked up 376 yards of total offense and six touchdowns (three rushing), despite getting just one play out of Sterling Shepard. When Knight is bringing that confidence and dual-threat efficiency, this offense can do it all -- he was one of three 100-yard rushers -- and blow a game wide open. The Oklahoma offense we saw Saturday can definitely hang with and challenge Baylor next week, but Sugar Bowl Trevor has to show up again.

3. Mountaineers play not to lose and lose: West Virginia turned the ball over five times yet still had every opportunity to upset TCU. Its efforts to nurse a lead and run out the clock were totally fruitless in the fourth: Three drives, nine plays, a net gain of minus-7 yards, three punts. When West Virginia got the ball back up 30-28 with 3:46 left, a monumental win was only a couple first downs away. No dice. Why so conservative with the playcalling? Clint Trickett threw just one pass (an incompletion) in the quarter, and Dana Holgorsen admitted afterward that's because Trickett was rattled. Regaining confidence is a must this week after such a disastrous finish.

4. K-State firing on all cylinders: The Wildcats couldn't be any more ready to take on TCU and the rest of the Big 12's best. They reminded us of that again Saturday with their 48-14 destruction of Oklahoma State. KSU scored 45 straight points after falling behind 7-0. Jake Waters and his receiving duo of Tyler Lockett and Curry Sexton were masterful, as usual. The defense gave up 48 yards in the second half, even while using backups. This was start-to-finish domination for a second straight week, and three of KSU's five Big 12 wins have come by double-digit margins. You do not want to play these guys right now.

5. Texas' bowl dream isn't dead: The Longhorns overcame an ugly start and rolled in Lubbock 34-13, with 24 unanswered points, to improve to 4-5. All of those points came after Quandre Diggs knocked Texas Tech quarterback Patrick Mahomes out of the game with a vicious hit. Some reasons for encouragement? The Longhorns' run game finally got moving with 240 yards, and the starting D allowed just seven points. They have to go 2-of-3 against West Virginia, Oklahoma State and TCU to hit six wins. The odds of pulling that off aren’t great, but Texas at least took care of business on Saturday.

MANHATTAN, Kan. -- Kansas State clocked the Cowboys 48-14 on Saturday night at Bill Snyder Family Stadium to remain in the thick of the Big 12 title and College Football Playoff chases. Here’s what happened:

How the game was won: Oklahoma State scored a touchdown on its opening drive, but K-State dominated the rest of the way. The Wildcats picked off Cowboys QB Daxx Garman twice, and wideouts Curry Sexton and Tyler Lockett combined to finish with 253 yards receiving to propel the K-State offense.

Game ball goes to: K-State cornerback Morgan Burns. After the Cowboys opened with a score, Burns returned the ensuing kickoff 86 yards for a touchdown, and the Wildcats never relinquished momentum. Burns also was stout in coverage and had six tackles.

What it means: The Wildcats needed to take care of business to stick in the Big 12 title and playoff hunts, and they did just that. K-State has a brutal November schedule coming up, but the Wildcats also have plenty of momentum. Oklahoma State, which started the season 5-1, has now lost three in a row and is in danger of missing out on a bowl appearance.

Playoff implication: The Wildcats will have a prime opportunity to state their case for inclusion in the final four when they travel to TCU next weekend. The Horned Frogs’ win at West Virginia earlier Saturday set up the clash with K-State as a de facto playoff elimination game.

Best play: Curry has been a human highlight reel all year, and he added to his film collection with this acrobatic 17-yard grab to give K-State a 21-7 lead early in the second quarter.

video What's next: The Wildcats go to TCU for a showdown that will carry major Big 12 title and playoff implications. Oklahoma State will get a much-needed week off and then will host Texas. With road trips to Baylor and Oklahoma following, the Cowboys will probably have to beat the Longhorns to qualify for a bowl.

What we learned in the Big 12: Week 8

October, 19, 2014
10/19/14
12:15
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Here's what we learned about the Big 12 in a wild Week 8:

1. The league race is wide open: By taking down preseason favorites Oklahoma and Baylor, Kansas State and West Virginia completely transformed the Big 12 title race Saturday. With only one loss, the defending champion Bears could still win the Big 12. But they now have plenty of company. TCU (5-1, 2-1 Big 12) bounced back from its heartbreaking loss to Baylor last week to obliterate Oklahoma State 42-9. The Wildcats (5-1, 3-0) have also hopped firmly into the conference championship conversation after an impressive 31-30 victory in Norman. But West Virginia shouldn't be discounted, either, following its 41-27 win over Baylor. The Mountaineers have Oklahoma and Baylor behind them on the schedule, and they get TCU (Nov. 1) and Kansas State (Nov. 20) in Morgantown. The only certainty at this point is the Big 12 race down the backstretch is going to be a fun one to watch.

[+] EnlargeKevin White
AP Photo/Chris JacksonKevin White, who has eclipsed 1,000 yards receiving with five games left, and West Virginia are still very much in the Big 12 title race.
2. Oklahoma is not elite -- again: The most recent time the Sooners seriously contended for a national title past October was 2008, when Oklahoma won a loaded Big 12 and played Florida in the national championship game. After returning the bulk of a team that downed Alabama in the Sugar Bowl, the Sooners believed they had a squad that could break the dry spell and break into the inaugural College Football Playoff. They played up to that hype through the first month of the season. But yet again, Oklahoma was proven to not be elite. The past three weeks, the Sooners lost at TCU, barely escaped Texas, then fell at home to the Wildcats to get all but eliminated from the playoff picture. Quarterback Trevor Knight has been too up and down, while the defense has failed to dominate. Even the kicking game crumbled Saturday when the Sooners needed it most. Oklahoma still has a good team. But for this program, having a good team isn't good enough, especially when this was supposed to be Oklahoma's year to return to national prominence. Bob Stoops and his coaching staff have soul-searching to do. Once again, the team they fielded won't be a contender past October.

3. Oklahoma State is rebuilding after all: After graduating more starters than any other Power 5 program, the Cowboys faced the prospect of having to rebuild this year. But after they took defending national champ Florida State to the wire in the opener, then won five straight games, expectations were raised. Turns out, they shouldn't have been. Oklahoma State's 3-0 Big 12 start turned out to be fool's gold, as the Cowboys were exposed in a game they were never in against TCU. Quarterback Daxx Garman failed to complete a single pass in the second half, while Oklahoma State's beleaguered offensive line was manhandled in the trenches. Defensively, the inexperienced Cowboys surrendered 676 yards of offense, the most TCU had racked up in a game since 2007. Oklahoma State has some good young players, but facing a back-loaded schedule, the Cowboys figure to endure more growing pains -- and losses -- the second half of the season.

4. The Big 12 has some monster WRs: Good luck finding four receivers in college football better than West Virginia's Kevin White, Oklahoma's Sterling Shepard, Kansas State's Tyler Lockett or Baylor's Antwan Goodley. That Big 12 foursome combined for 547 receiving yards Saturday. They were -- as they have been all year -- basically unstoppable. After breaking the 1,000-receiving-yard barrier with five regular-season games to go, White could begin to warrant Heisman consideration. Shepard, who tied a school record with 15 catches against K-State, should be a Biletnikoff finalist. Goodley and Lockett are All-American-caliber players, too. The Big 12 might be as deep as it's been since 2008, and the depth of its blue-chip wide receivers is a big reason for that.

5. Texas QB Tyrone Swoopes is turning the corner: Swoopes followed his breakout performance against Oklahoma last week by engineering a drive in the final seconds to set up a game-winning field goal and give Texas a dramatic 48-45 win over Iowa State. Swoopes got the ball back with 28 seconds to go on the Texas 28 and the game seemingly headed for overtime. Instead, Swoopes floated a bomb into the arms of Jaxon Shipley for 39 yards down the sideline. On the next play, Swoopes hit John Harris along the same sideline for a 29-yard gain to the Iowa State 4. Nick Rose nailed the field goal on the next play with 3 seconds left. All told, Swoopes threw for 322 yards and ran for another 95, and he gave more reason to believe he could be Texas' long-sought answer at quarterback.

ESPN.com midseason All-Big 12 team

October, 14, 2014
10/14/14
11:00
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We're halfway through the season, which means it's time for our midseason All-Big 12 team. There's plenty of football still to play. And this midseason team might be very different from the end-of-season one. But this list recognizes the players who have distinguished themselves thus far.

After careful consideration and friendly debate, our midseason All-Big 12 team:

Offense

QB: Clint Trickett, West Virginia: Baylor's Bryce Petty had the Big 12's best game last weekend, but Trickett has had the better season so far. He leads the Big 12 in QBR and completion percentage and is third nationally in passing, fueling the Mountaineers' surprising 4-2 start.

RB: Shock Linwood, Baylor: The Big 12's top rusher has 326 rushing yards over Baylor's last two games, including 104 in the fourth quarter of the Bears' monumental comeback win against TCU.

RB: Samaje Perine, Oklahoma: This true freshman is second in the league in rushing, first in rushing touchdowns and delivered an historic performance at West Virginia with 242 yards and four scores.

WR: Kevin White, West Virginia: White has been as dominant as any player in the league. He easily leads the country with an average of 148 yards receiving per game, and has come up with a hundred yards receiving in every game.

WR: Sterling Shepard, Oklahoma: It's hard to imagine where the Oklahoma passing game would be without Shepard. He has accounted for 48 percent of Trevor Knight's passing yards.

WR: K.D. Cannon, Baylor: The true freshman might already be the most dangerous big-play receiver in the league, averaging 62.5 yards per catch on his six touchdowns.

TE: E.J. Bibbs, Iowa State: The senior has been a big part of the Cyclones' offense with 22 receptions for 190 yards and four touchdowns, including a one-handed scoring grab at Oklahoma State.

OL: Spencer Drango, Baylor: The Bears' franchise left tackle is thriving again after a return from a season-ending back injury. He has graded out the highest on the offensive line of the nation's top scoring offense.

OL: Joey Hunt, TCU: Hunt is the best offensive lineman on the Big 12's most improved offense, which is second in the league in scoring with almost 46 points per game.

OL: B.J. Finney, Kansas State: Finney is well on his way to a third consecutive All-Big 12 season as the lynchpin of the K-State offensive line.

OL: Quinton Spain, West Virginia: He and Mark Glowinski form one of the top guard duos in the country for the league's second-best passing offense.

OL: Le'Raven Clark, Texas Tech: Arkansas coach Bret Bielema singled out Clark's prowess after facing him. Despite throwing the ball on almost every down, Tech leads the league in fewest sacks allowed with Clark protecting Davis Webb's blindside.

AP: Tyreek Hill, Oklahoma State: The speedy Hill has kick return touchdowns the past two weeks, and has proven to be tough and durable as well as really fast.

Defense

DE: Shawn Oakman, Baylor: The freaky 6-foot-9 end is second in the league with five sacks and fourth with eight tackles for loss.

DT: Chucky Hunter, TCU: Hunter has been the anchor of the TCU defensive line, joining Davion Pierson to give Gary Patterson's squad one disruptive duo up front.

DT: Malcom Brown, Texas: This 320-pound monster has been unblockable, and the most disruptive defensive player in the league.

DE: Emmanuel Ogbah, Oklahoma State: Ogbah has broken out with five sacks, including two on defending Heisman winner Jameis Winston in the opener. In addition to being tied for second in the Big 12 in sacks, he's also second with 9.5 tackles for loss.

LB: Eric Striker, Oklahoma: Striker has 4.5 sacks and 8.5 tackles for loss, and his relentless pass-rushing ability makes him the primary focus of opposing offensive coordinators.

LB: Jordan Hicks, Texas: The Longhorns' fifth-year senior is racking up 10 tackles per game, and is bringing leadership to the Texas defense after an injury-plagued career.

LB: Paul Dawson, TCU: The Big 12's leading tackler is on pace for the most single-season tackles in the Gary Patterson era. He also had the game-winning pick-six to upset the Sooners.

CB: Zack Sanchez, Oklahoma: Sanchez has given up some big plays, but he's countered with big plays of his own. He's second nationally with five interceptions, including a pick-six against Texas.

CB: Danzel McDaniel, Kansas State: McDaniel hits more like a linebacker than a cornerback. He's been another impressive junior-college find for Bill Snyder.

S: Sam Carter, TCU: Carter doesn't have eye-popping numbers, but he's once again been the heart of the TCU defense.

S: Karl Joseph, West Virginia: The enforcer of the West Virginia secondary is second among Big 12 defensive backs with 45 tackles.

Special teams

K: Josh Lambert, West Virginia: All he's done is nail two game-winning field goals as time has expired to beat Maryland (47 yards) and Texas Tech (55 yards) on the road.

P: Trevor Pardula, Kansas: He's gotten plenty of chances, but he's made the most of them, averaging 44.8 yards per punt, while putting 37.8 percent of them inside the opponents' 20.

PR: Tyler Lockett, Kansas State: Lockett, who is second in the nation in punt returns, once again has been an electric all-around playmaker. He's also sixth in the league in receiving.

KR: Alex Ross, Oklahoma: Ross leads the nation in kickoff returns, taking two of his nine kick returns to the house for touchdowns.

Big 12 helmet stickers: Week 5

September, 28, 2014
9/28/14
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Below is a look at the best performances from the Big 12 in Week 5:

DE James McFarland, TCU: McFarland led the nine-sack TCU barrage against SMU with three himself, as the Horned Frogs rolled 56-0. It was a career-high for McFarland, and the most sacks for TCU in a game since 2002. McFarland also had two forced fumbles, and his pass breakup on a fourth-and-1 at the TCU 1-yard line in the second quarter helped preserve the 11th shutout of the Gary Patterson era.

WR Corey Coleman, Baylor: Coleman had a monster outing in his first appearance of the season, hauling in 12 passes for 154 yards and a touchdown in the Bears 49-28 win at Iowa State. Coleman had missed the first three games of the season with a hamstring injury. He showed no signs of being slowed down in Ames.

CB Duke Thomas, Texas: After getting burned for the game-deciding touchdown against UCLA, Thomas bounced back with a monster performance in a 23-0 win over Kansas. Thomas grabbed two of Texas’ four interception, and could have had a third had it not been for penalty. Thomas also broke up a fade attempt on fourth-and-goal in the third quarter. The Jayhawks never came close to scoring a touchdown again.

LB Ben Heeney, Kansas: Don't blame Heeney or the Kansas defense for the Jayhawks' loss to Texas. Heeney had 10 tackles, two tackles for loss, a sack and a fumble recovery at the Kansas 2-yard line that thwarted a Texas scoring opportunity. It was actually the All-Big 12 performer's first career fumble recovery. Behind Heeney, the Jayhawks also limited Texas to just 111 yards rushing.

RB Charles Jones, Kansas State: Jones scored three of the Wildcats’ first five touchdowns, as K-State demolished UTEP, 58-28. Jones finished with 76 yards on just 12 carries, as K-State held a 45-point lead over the Miners heading into the fourth quarter.

WR Tyler Lockett, Kansas State: In another tantalizing performance, Lockett put up 143 punt return yards, the second-most in school history and 29 yards short of tying the school record of 172 set by David Allen in 1998. Lockett also hauled in four passes for 84 yards.

WR James Washington, Oklahoma State: The Cowboys’ true freshman wideout torched Texas Tech in Oklahoma State’s 45-35 win Thursday. Washington reeled in a 33-yard touchdown in the first quarter, then a 39-yard score in the second. Three of Washington’s five catches this season have resulted in touchdowns.

What we learned in the Big 12: Week 4

September, 21, 2014
9/21/14
12:46
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Here’s what we learned about the Big 12 in Week 4:

[+] EnlargeSamaje Perine
AP Photo/Tyler EvertThere was no stopping Samaje Perine on Saturday, as the Sooners freshman ran for 242 yards and four touchdowns against West Virginia.
1. Samaje Perine is a man-child: Oklahoma true freshman running back Samaje Perine just turned 19 years old this week. But he was a grown man among boys Saturday, as he bowled over West Virginia in Oklahoma’s 45-33 win in Morgantown. Perine rushed for 242 yards and four touchdowns while averaging 7.1 yards per carry. It was the 13th best rushing total in Sooners history, which is saying something at a school that has produced Greg Pruitt, Steve Owens and Billy Sims, among countless other standout rushers. It was also the second best rushing output ever in a game by a true freshman at Oklahoma, trailing only Adrian Peterson's 249-yard performance against Oklahoma State in 2004. After the opener, Perine naively declared this could be the best running back group ever to pass through Oklahoma. That’s way too bold, but Perine and sophomores Keith Ford and Alex Ross -- who returned a critical kick for a touchdown at the end of the first half to give the Sooners momentum for good -- figure to give Oklahoma one of the nation’s most formidable one-two-three punches at running back for the foreseeable future. Perine, a tank of a rusher, is heading that charge.

2. Dana Holgorsen has West Virginia heading in the right direction: This was a disappointing loss for coach Dana Holgorsen and the Mountaineers, who moved the ball at will on Oklahoma in the first half. But after Ross’ 100-yard kickoff return at the end of the first half, West Virginia could never regain momentum nor get its offense back on track. Still, despite being 2-2, the Mountaineers have proven they have a quality squad, after hanging tough with two teams that might well end up in the inaugural College Football Playoff. Clint Trickett is the most improved quarterback in the Big 12, if not the country, and receivers Kevin White and Mario Alford are devastating weapons downfield. If the Mountaineers play the rest of the year the way they have this first month of the season, they will win a bunch of games. Meanwhile, Holgorsen, whose job status once seemed to be in jeopardy, should be firmly entrenched as the head coach of the future in Morgantown.

3. Kansas’ defense ought to keep it in games: At the beginning and the end of their 24-10 victory over Central Michigan, the Jayhawks produced some big plays offensively. But the defense was the reason Kansas ultimately prevailed, as its offense endured some shaky stretches over the second and third quarters. Led by linebackers Ben Heeney and Jake Love, the Kansas defense forced three turnovers, sacked Central Michigan QB Cooper Rush three times and limited the Chippewas to just 279 yards of offense. Wins haven’t been easy to come by at Kansas, but the defense should give the Jayhawks a chance to win again this season while the offense attempts to harness semblances of consistency.

4. Kansas State figures to be a load in the Big 12: Even in a 20-14 loss to Auburn, the Wildcats showed Thursday night that they will be a tough out for anyone they face the rest of the season. The K-State run defense was phenomenal and snapped Auburn’s 13-game streak of at least 200 yards rushing. Wideout Tyler Lockett, whom Auburn coach Gus Malzahn called “electric,” is a game-changer on offense and special teams, never mind the crucial dropped touchdown pass that turned into an interception. Bill Snyder has to figure out what to do going forward at placekicker, but the Wildcats were good enough to beat the fifth-ranked team in the country. And they’re good enough to be a force in the Big 12 the rest of the way.

5. Oklahoma and Baylor remain the co-favorites: Coming into the season, the Sooners and Bears appeared to be the clear frontrunners to win the league title. Through four weeks of the season, nothing has changed. Oklahoma has been incredibly impressive with its physical offensive line, powerful rushing attack and swarming defense. The Bears have wiped out lesser competition, though they’ve done it while missing many of their key players due to injuries. Kansas State, West Virginia, Oklahoma State and TCU have impressed, but there’s been nothing so far that suggests the Nov. 8 showdown between Oklahoma and Baylor in Norman won’t decide the Big 12 championship.

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