NCF Nation: Kansas State Wildcats

Big 12 bowl predictions

December, 19, 2014
Dec 19
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AutoZone Liberty Bowl

Why West Virginia will win: Quarterback Clint Trickett has been cleared for the bowl. Trickett struggled a bit late in the season but was a still a major factor in the Mountaineers' midseason run. He and Kevin White should have their way against an Aggies defense that got lit multiple times this season. West Virginia 38, Texas A&M 29 -- Trotter

Why Texas A&M will win: The Aggies will get their house in order after shaking up their coaching staff and give West Virginia all it can handle. Clint Trickett's status can swing this game, of course, but doesn't a showdown between Kevin Sumlin and Dana Holgorsen have to be decided by who scores last? Texas A&M 35, West Virginia 28 Olson

Russell Athletic Bowl

Why Oklahoma will win: While Clemson will be without dynamic freshman quarterback Deshaun Watson for the game, OU welcomes Trevor Knight back under center. Combined with Samaje Perine in the backfield, that should be enough for OU to eke out a win. Oklahoma 28, Clemson 21 -- Chatmon

Why Clemson will win: The Oklahoma passing game was a mess the last month of the season. Trevor Knight returning will help, but even when Knight was healthy, the passing attack was uneven. Former Sooners coordinator Brent Venables directs Clemson's pass defense, which is No. 3 nationally. That means the pressure will be on Samaje Perine (coming off an ankle injury) to shoulder the offensive load. Clemson is not great offensively, but I'm not confident the Sooners will be able to score enough in this one. Clemson 21, Oklahoma 17 -- Trotter

AdvoCare V100 Texas Bowl

Why Texas will win: The Longhorns' defensive line is full of talent and will be ready and well-equipped to handle the physical nature of the Razorbacks' offense. Texas 27, Arkansas 17 -- Chatmon

Why Arkansas will win: Strength on strength will be on display in this matchup, with the big boys on the Arkansas offensive line squaring off against Malcom Brown and Texas' menacing front. But I have a little more confidence in the Hogs to score points than the Longhorns, who were wildly inconsistent at times with young Tyrone Swoopes at QB. Arkansas 20, Texas 14 -- Trotter

Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl

Why TCU will win: You don't get the sense there will be a letdown factor with this team after it missed the College Football Playoff. Gary Patterson has worked too hard on building TCU's mentality to allow a slipup now. The Horned Frogs swing this with a fourth-quarter turnover from Bo Wallace. TCU 35, Ole Miss 31 -- Olson

Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic

Why Baylor will win: The Bears are bummed they didn't make the playoff, but they also realize this is an opportunity to atone for last season's Fiesta Bowl fiasco. Michigan State has a great defense with a good quarterback. But the Spartans couldn't hang against all of Oregon's offensive firepower early in the season and will succumb to Bryce Petty & Co., too. Baylor 42, Michigan State 34 -- Trotter

Valero Alamo Bowl

Why Kansas State will win: This is a sneaky great matchup, though I still can't figure out why Stanford made it look so easy against the Bruins in the regular-season finale. The last hurrah for Jake Waters, and Tyler Lockett will be as deadly efficient and effective as usual. Kansas State 31, UCLA 27 -- Olson

Why UCLA will win: Bruins quarterback Brett Hundley entered the season as a Heisman candidate but stumbled in UCLA’s final game. He should rebound and cause all kinds of problems for K-State’s defense with his feet and his arm. UCLA 31, Kansas State 27 -- Chatmon

TicketCity Cactus Bowl

Why Oklahoma State will win: There was no reason to believe the Cowboys could win Bedlam, yet they did and became bowl eligible. Mason Rudolph looks like the real deal, and this young Cowboys team has plenty of momentum. Oklahoma State 31, Washington 30Chatmon

Why Washington will win: The Huskies lost to every ranked team they faced in Pac-12 play. Until Bedlam, the same was true of OSU in the Big 12. I'm a Mason Rudolph believer, but I like the UW defense a bit more. Washington 28, Oklahoma State 17 -- Olson

Season records: Trotter 67-8, Chatmon 66-9, Olson 64-11.
Art Briles, Gary PattersonUSA TODAY SportsBaylor's Art Briles, left, and TCU's Gary Patterson can give the Big 12 a lift this bowl season.
When the inaugural College Football Playoff begins on New Year’s Day, the Big 12 will be the only Power 5 conference watching from home.

Though the Big 12 fell short in this season’s battle for the playoff, there will be another one to wage in 2015. The conference can take steps to ensure it doesn’t get left out again next season, notably by crafting a way to finally crown only One True Champion. But the Big 12 can also send a 2015 message to the playoff selection committee through a triumphant 2014 bowl season.

Though out of the playoff, the Big 12 is hardly devoid of high-profile matchups against name teams this bowl season. And a successful bowl record would cement national perception of the strength and depth of the Big 12 while setting the conference up for a run at the playoff next season.

"It won’t help us this year," said Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy. "But it would help for next year."

That starts with conference co-champs Baylor and TCU, which play in the prestigious New Year’s Six bowls against opponents that were ranked in the top 10 for most of the season.

The Bears will face Michigan State in the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic. The defensive-minded Spartans went 10-2, with their only two losses coming against playoff teams Oregon and Ohio State. Michigan State won the Big Ten last season, and boasts the nation’s seventh-ranked defense.

"There's a statement to be made just for us nationwide," said Baylor safety Orion Stewart. "To show (the nation) that we really have one of the best programs in the country."

The same way the Bears’ loss to Central Florida in the Fiesta Bowl last season hurt Baylor’s standing, a win against Michigan State would solidify the Bears as a title contender again in 2015, even without quarterback Bryce Petty. Especially if the Bears can light up the scoreboard against Michigan State, which surrendered more than 31 points just twice all season (to the Ducks and Buckeyes).

"We're playing one of the greatest teams in America, Michigan State," said Baylor coach Art Briles. "There have been four football programs that have played in back-to-back BCS (level) games; you're talking to one of them (Baylor) and Michigan State is one of them, (along with) Florida State and Alabama. That's pretty good company in my book."

TCU will also be in good company in the Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl. The playoff committee had Ole Miss in the top four in its first two playoff rankings before the Rebels stumbled against LSU and Auburn in back-to-back weeks. Still, Ole Miss bounced back to hammer fourth-ranked Mississippi State in the Egg Bowl to claim a spot in a New Year’s Six bowl. Like Michigan State, Ole Miss features one of the best defenses in the country, with a unit that leads the nation in scoring defense with an average allowance of just 13.8 points per game. The Rebels flashed how dynamic they can be when they downed Alabama early in the season.

"(Our team) wanted to play somebody that was a caliber of a top-five team," said TCU coach Patterson, "and we feel like Ole Miss is that team."

In 2015, TCU will bring back quarterback Trevone Boykin and nine other offensive starters, meaning the Horned Frogs could be primed for another run at the playoff next season. A victory against a quality SEC West opponent would position TCU well for the start of 2015. And a Big 12 sweep in the Cotton and Peach bowls against top-10 competition would reaffirm that the best of the Big 12 can play with anyone in the country.

"Ole Miss is a team that was as high as third in the nation, that played at a very high level, that could have been in the playoffs, lost a couple heartbreakers," Patterson said. "We feel like this is a playoff game."

The two New Year's Six bowls, however, aren’t the only opportunities for the Big 12 to deliver statements.

In the Valero Alamo Bowl, Kansas State meets UCLA, a team that was in playoff contention until late in the season. Oklahoma takes on ACC power Clemson and college football's No. 1-ranked total defense in the Russell Athletic Bowl.

In the Autozone Liberty Bowl and Advocare V100 Texas Bowl, West Virginia and Texas have a chance to land wins against SEC West opponents Texas A&M and Arkansas, respectively.

Even Oklahoma State takes on a talented Washington team in the TicketCity Cactus Bowl.

Sure, there are no easy bowl games for the Big 12. But every win will count toward forging the league’s reputation for 2015.

"I was shocked (the Big 12 was left out of the playoff) based on the strength of this league from top to bottom," Gundy said. "We can’t have this many good football teams in this league and not get one in the top four. We can’t allow that to happen again."

The Big 12 can take steps off the field to ensure it doesn’t happen.

But in the meantime, the Big 12 can take some big steps on the field this bowl season, too.

Early Offer: Hokies score super sleeper 

December, 16, 2014
Dec 16
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Once again, Frank Beamer has landed an under-recruited prospect with “unlimited potential.” Plus, how much progress has been made by the committee looking into whether or not there should be an early-signing period?

Roundtable: Big 12 team with most to gain in bowl

December, 16, 2014
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In this week's Big 12 roundtable, we examine the most intriguing bowls, which team has the most to gain in the bowl season and the players we'll be focused on the most during the bowls:

[+] EnlargeKevin White
Scott Clarke/ESPN ImagesMountaineers receiver Kevin White finished his senior regular season with 1,318 yards and nine TDs.
Other than the Goodyear Cotton and Chick-Fil-A Peach bowls, which Big 12 bowl are you most intrigued by?

Chatmon: It has to be the AutoZone Liberty Bowl, when West Virginia and Texas A&M battle on Dec. 29. Lots of points, lots of fun, lots of Red Bull. Mentor Dana Holgorsen against understudy Jake Spavital in a battle of offensive gurus. And considering this is a meaningless bowl game, I'm not interested in seeing much defense. I'm also looking forward to seeing what Kevin White has in store for his final game in a West Virginia uniform, after his breakout senior season.

Olson: There will be points in the Liberty Bowl, and I'm excited to see what a healthier West Virginia team is capable of against Texas A&M. But for me, the choice is the Valero Alamo Bowl. The Big 12 vs. Pac-12 matchup is typically a nice one in terms of style, and K-State taking on a UCLA team that Texas almost defeated in September, in the final starts for both Brett Hundley and Jake Waters, will be a lot of fun to watch.

Trotter: I'm intrigued by the Russell Athletic Bowl, and the matchup of Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables going up against his former boss at Oklahoma in Bob Stoops. Remember, Stoops brought in his brother to coach the defense in 2011, which ultimately prompted Venables to leave Oklahoma for Clemson. If Venables' Tigers shut down the Sooners, and Clemson runs the score up on Mike Stoops, it will serve as an indictment of where Oklahoma is as a program three years after that move was made.

With no one playing for a national championship, which Big 12 team has the most to gain in bowl season?

Chatmon: It has to be Baylor against Michigan State in the Goodyear Cotton Bowl. As good as the Bears have been during the past two seasons, some people still point to their Fiesta Bowl loss to Central Florida as a reason to doubt what Art Briles has built in Waco. Add the intrigue of proving the committee wrong and BU has plenty of motivation. It's also a chance for an impressive win against a quality Big Ten team in the race for conference bragging rights.

Olson: I agree with Brandon here. Some Baylor coaches I talked to before the season say their Fiesta Bowl loss to UCF was arguably the most frustrating of their time in Waco. A 12th win and ending a dream season with a BCS bowl win would've meant an awful lot to this program. They get a meaningful chance for a redo against a much better opponent in Michigan State.

Trotter: Baylor and TCU have the most to gain, because they have the chance to show they deserved to be in the playoff. But I'll throw another team into the discussion here in Texas. After finishing the season with a 48-10 home loss to TCU on Thanksgiving night, the Longhorns really need to bounce back against Arkansas in the Advocare V100 Texas Bowl to set the tone for 2015. Next season is going to be a critical one for Charlie Strong and the Texas program. A win over a former rival like Arkansas would give the Longhorns the momentum they'll need heading into next season.

Who is the one Big 12 player you'll be focused during the bowls?

Chatmon: I can't wait to see what Trevone Boykin has in store for an Ole Miss defense full of playmakers in the Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl. Boykin creates all kinds of problems for every defense with his ability to slither through open lanes like a running back yet frustrate defensive backs with his deep throws. The Rebels have held opposing quarterbacks to a 17.3 Adjusted QBR, ranking No. 2 among FBS teams behind Louisville, making this the best matchup of individual brilliance against team strength during the bowl season.

Olson: Giving Mason Rudolph a month of extra practice and all that post-Bedlam momentum is going to make for a fascinating performance in the TicketCity Cactus Bowl. Oklahoma State's rookie quarterback takes on Washington and a pass defense that ranked last in the Pac-12. I'll be a little surprised if he doesn't pick apart the Huskies on Jan. 2 and continue to build up hype for 2015. The confidence boost this team got from beating Oklahoma can't get squandered.

Trotter: Boykin and Rudolph are definitely players to watch. But I think I'll be most focused on Bryce Petty in his Baylor swan song facing one of the best defenses in the country in Michigan State. Quarterbacks the caliber of Petty -- on and off the field -- don't come along very often. I'll be curious to see how he goes out in a tough matchup in his final college game for the Bears.

Early Offer: The dead period is here 

December, 14, 2014
Dec 14
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video
What is the dead period and why is it an important time in football recruiting? Plus, Texas Tech’s loss at quarterback could be Baylor’s gain.

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ESPN.com All-Big 12 team

December, 12, 2014
Dec 12
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We had some debates along the way, but this year's all-conference team seemed easier to assemble than in most years.

There are still a ton of deserving players who did not crack the first team (our second-team choices come later today), but all in all this is a loaded squad of standouts, and nearly every Big 12 team had at least two players make the cut.

Here's the 2014 ESPN.com All-Big 12 Team:

Offense

QB Trevone Boykin, TCU: Boykin emerged as one of the nation's best and led TCU to a Big 12 co-title with 3,714 passing yards and FBS-high 39 total TDs.

RB Samaje Perine, Oklahoma: The true freshman rumbled for 1,579 yards and 21 TDs, including the best rushing game (427 yards) in FBS history.

RB Shock Linwood, Baylor: The power back behind Baylor's speed attack, Linwood surpassed 1,200 yards in his first season as a starter.

WR Kevin White, West Virginia: The Biletnikoff Award finalist was a breakout star, racking up 102 catches for 1,318 yards and nine TDs.

WR Corey Coleman, Baylor: Led the Bears with 969 receiving yards, 17 yards per catch and 10 scores despite missing the first three games of the season.

WR Sterling Shepard, Oklahoma: Injuries derailed his last five games, but Shepard still put up 957 yards as the Sooners' go-to guy.

TE E.J. Bibbs, Iowa State: Bibbs led all tight ends nationally with eight TDs and was a matchup nightmare in Mark Mangino's offense.

OL Spencer Drango, Baylor: The All-American was dominant again after recovering from back injury with 30-plus knockdown blocks.

OL Quinton Spain, West Virginia: The mammoth guard was impressive again despite playing through injuries throughout the season.

OL B.J. Finney, Kansas State: The Rimington Trophy finalist wrapped up his career as a 51-game starter with another terrific season.

OL Tyrus Thompson, Oklahoma: Oklahoma's left tackle elevated his game during his senior year and brings exceptional size and strength.

OL Le'Raven Clark, Texas Tech: All-Big 12 for the second year in a row after he anchored a Tech offensive line that gave up just 13 sacks.

AP Tyler Lockett, Kansas State: Lockett broke dad Kevin Lockett's records while finishing No. 4 nationally in receiving and adding two punt-return TDs.

K Josh Lambert, West Virginia: The Groza Award finalist led the FBS with 27 made field goals, including two game winners.

KR Alex Ross, Oklahoma: Ross went for 30-plus yards on 9 of 22 returns, including scores of 91 and 100 yards.

Defense

DE Shawn Oakman, Baylor: A 6-foot-8 beast, Oakman created problems (10 sacks, 18.5 TFLs) with his length and aggression.

DE Emmanuel Ogbah, Oklahoma State: Ogbah broke out big with 11 sacks, including two-sack performances versus Florida State and TCU.

DT Malcom Brown, Texas: He was a disruptive force in the middle who produced 6.5 sacks and 14 tackles for loss.

DT Andrew Billings, Baylor: The sophomore helped Oakman upgrade BU’s defensive line while finishing with 11.5 TFLs.

LB Paul Dawson, TCU: Dawson made big play after big play for the Frogs, logging at least one TFL in TCU’s final eight games.

LB Ben Heeney, Kansas: The sideline-to-sideline stud capped off his KU career with 127 tackles, including 88 solo stops.

LB Eric Striker, Oklahoma: Striker created problems off the edge in one-on-one battles and finished with 7.5 sacks.

DB Quandre Diggs, Texas: Diggs did it all. He hit, covered and tackled while playing a key role as the heart of UT's defense.

DB Chris Hackett, TCU: The junior showed up big in big games, grabbing six interceptions and 73 stops.

DB Karl Joseph, West Virginia: Joseph blossomed into a complete safety while remaining among the conference’s most physical defenders.

DB Dante Barnett, Kansas State: Sliding right into the void left by Ty Zimmerman, Barnett became a playmaker on the back end for KSU.

P Trevor Pardula, Kansas: Yes, Pardula had plenty of chances, but 44.25 yards/punt average and 38.9 punting average are nothing to sneeze at.

PR Tyreek Hill, Oklahoma State: The Cowboys don’t go bowling without Hill, whose blazing speed helped beat KU, ISU and OU.
Wisconsin landed a four-star running back on Thursday despite not having a head coach. Plus, Nebraska is already impressing rival recruiters with its effort on trail.


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David Cutcliffe of Duke said young coaches should turn to Kenny Rogers for advice on how to get ahead on the recruiting trail. Plus, Florida's Jim McElwain has been busy since he was hired.

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KANSAS STATE WILDCATS (9-3) VS. UCLA BRUINS (9-3)
JAN. 2, 6:45 P.M. ET, ALAMODOME, SAN ANTONIO (ESPN)


KANSAS STATE BREAKDOWN

Season highlights: On Oct. 18, the Wildcats won a second consecutive game at Oklahoma to solidify their status as a Big 12 title contender. K-State surrendered 533 yards of offense but bowed up with a critical goal-line stand at the end of the game to force Oklahoma into a field goal. The Sooners missed the chip shot, and K-State ran out the clock with a couple of first downs to preserve a 31-30 victory. K-State quarterback Jake Waters had one of the finest games of his career, with 225 yards passing, a 53-yard run and three touchdowns.

Season lowlights: The Wildcats had every opportunity to land the marquee win of the nonconference season. But ultimately, too many uncharacteristic mistakes cost K-State in a 20-14 loss to then-No. 5 Auburn on Sept. 18. Waters fumbled deep in K-State territory, which led to an Auburn field goal, Tyler Lockett allowed a pass to bounce off his chest into the hands of an Auburn defender in the end zone to negate a touchdown, and veteran kicker Jack Cantele missed three field goals. The Wildcats still had a chance to get the ball back in the final minute, but the Tigers converted a third-and-9 to seal the game.

Player to watch: Lockett has been one of the preeminent all-around playmakers in college football the past three years. Late this season, he passed his father Kevin to become the all-time leading receiver in K-State history. He has produced back-to-back 1,000-yard receiving seasons, and going into the final week of 2014, he led the country in average yards per punt return.

Motivation: The Wildcats don’t want their regular-season-ending loss to Baylor in the pseudo-Big 12 title game to linger by dropping the Alamo Bowl, thus heading into the offseason with two straight defeats. More importantly, K-State will want to send Lockett, Waters, productive defensive end Ryan Mueller and the rest of the senior class out with a win. And the Wildcats can defend the Big 12’s reputation with a win over the Pac-12’s Bruins, adding to the intrigue and motivation for Bill Snyder’s team.
-- Jake Trotter

vs.
UCLA BREAKDOWN

Season highlights: After back-to-back losses seemingly took UCLA out of the Pac-12 South race three games into the conference season, the Bruins roared back. During its five-game winning streak to improve to 9-2, UCLA showed several flashes of the type of team many thought it would be when it began the season ranked No. 7 in the Associated Press poll. The capper was a 38-20 win over USC that made an emphatic statement as to which school “owned” Los Angeles.

Season lowlights: Going into the final game of the regular season, UCLA just needed a win against Stanford to secure the Pac-12 South title and remain in contention for the College Football Playoff. Just a win against an underperforming 6-5 team at home. That’s all. But the Cardinal dominated UCLA in a 31-10 win, preventing the Bruins from obtaining any of their tangible goals.

Player to watch: Quarterback Brett Hundley could have been a first-round NFL draft pick if he left after the 2013 season, but he decided to come back for what he made clear would be a final season at UCLA. He spent the beginning of the season trying to be more comfortable in the pocket, but once the Bruins started losing, he started to rely more on his feet to make plays. The bowl game is a final opportunity to play within his own offense as he tries to impress NFL scouts.

Motivation factor: If the Bruins win their bowl, they would secure the ninth 10-win season in school history. It would also be just the third time in school history that they have notched back-to-back 10-win years. UCLA has never had an 11-win season. With only six scholarship seniors this year, the Bruins are still a young team and any opportunity to develop is of value.
-- Kyle Bonagura

Big 12 Power Rankings: Week 15

December, 7, 2014
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Welcome Oklahoma State to the party!

The Cowboys earned bowl eligibility with an improbable 38-35 overtime win over Oklahoma on Saturday to give the Big 12 seven bowl-eligible squads.

There’s not much movement in the rest of our projections, as nobody really knows what the College Football Playoff committee will do when the top four teams are announced Sunday.

What we do know is TCU entered the weekend at No. 3 in the College Football Rankings and finished its season with a 55-3 win over Iowa State to secure a 11-1 regular season. No. 6 Baylor matched TCU’s 11-1 record with a 38-27 win over No. 9 Kansas State and finished the season as Big 12 co-champions tied with the Horned Frogs at 8-1 in Big 12 play. It’s possible the Big 12 is left on the outside looking in, or TCU or Baylor could find themselves with a playoff berth. There’s plenty of Big 12 intrigue (and debate sure to follow) when the committee’s final decision becomes public on Sunday.

Meanwhile, Kansas State and Oklahoma maintain their places in the pecking order, despite losses along to Texas and West Virginia, who ended their regular seasons last week. OSU sneaks in at the bottom of the projections after its Bedlam triumph.

College Football Playoff semifinal (Rose Bowl Game presented by Northwestern Mutual): TCU
Goodyear Cotton Bowl: Baylor
Valero Alamo Bowl: Kansas State
Russell Athletic Bowl: Oklahoma
AdvoCare V100 Texas Bowl: Texas
AutoZone Liberty Bowl: West Virginia
Cactus Bowl: Oklahoma State
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WACO, Texas -- No. 6 Baylor took care of business and earned its second consecutive Big 12 championship with a 38-27 win over No. 9 Kansas State. Now the Bears and conference co-champion TCU wait to learn their fates. Did Baylor do enough to make its case?

How the game was won: Baylor’s offense showed no slow-down in Bryce Petty’s comeback from a concussion, marching for five touchdown drives of 70-plus yards against one of the Big 12’s best defenses. K-State never let it become a blowout, but it also never held a lead.

Gameball goes to: Petty, who was spectacularly steady throughout. He completed 34 of 40 passes for 412 yards and one touchdown and more than made up for his lone mistake, an end-zone interception. He guided BU to a total of 34 first downs and played in huge role in Baylor controlling this game.

What it means: Let’s not lose sight of what Art Briles achieved, playoff or not: Baylor successfully defended its Big 12 title, despite the huge target on its back all season long. The Bears went 6-0 at home in McLane Stadium’s inaugural year and will be proud of this season no matter what happens Sunday. K-State finishes 9-3 with losses to three great teams.

Playoff implication: We’ll find out soon, won’t we? Florida State, Ohio State and TCU all avoiding upsets on Saturday did not help the Bears’ cause. They notch an 11-point win over a team the Horned Frogs defeated by 21. Yes, Baylor controlled this game, but it’s difficult to predict whether this result will make a huge impression on the committee.

Best play: Cornerback Xavien Howard clinched the win by picking off Jake Waters and stopping the driving Wildcats with 5:08 left. A week after the Bears’ secondary was burned badly by Texas Tech, one of their defensive backs came up big.

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What's next: Baylor nervously awaits the verdict of the committee. Kansas State seems most likely to end up in San Antonio for the Valero Alamo Bowl, especially after Oklahoma’s collapse in Bedlam.
Jonathan Truman won’t call it revenge.

Wouldn’t expect the linebacker to, really. Bill Snyder’s kids don’t talk that way.

But Truman, Tyler Lockett, Ryan Mueller and so many Kansas State seniors were there in Waco two years ago. They played minor roles back then. Mostly, they had to watch.

They watched Baylor shock the world, blowing out the Wildcats on the same week they had ascended to No. 1 in the BCS rankings.

[+] EnlargeJonathan Truman
Peter G. Aiken/Getty ImagesJonathan Truman and Kansas State are embracing the underdog role on Saturday against Baylor.
"It was a strange, strange trip," Truman said of the 52-24 loss in 2012. "Obviously the outcome wasn’t what we wanted or what we expected. Going back this time around, we’re not going to take anything for granted."

This time around, No. 9 Kansas State gets a chance for payback. This team can ruin everything for No. 6 Baylor on Saturday night and take home a Big 12 championship trophy as its reward.

With stakes this high, there is no better opportunity to make up for that last trip to Baylor, the night when Heisman favorite Collin Klein and his 10-0 Wildcats marched into Floyd Casey Stadium and were treated to a butt-kicking.

"We kind of relaxed a little bit and let the pressure get to us," Truman said.

When Baylor coach Art Briles reflects on that game, he sees a great example of why going undefeated is so difficult in college football today.

"When you ride up there at a certain level for so long and every week there’s people shooting at you, as Kansas State was that year, it’s hard to dodge for 12 weeks," Briles said. "It’s just hard to do. I think they got caught in the situation to where it’s late in the season, it’s winding down, and it’s hard to maintain that level that long."

The Bears, on the other hand, were 4-5 entering the game. They had nothing to lose. They achieved their program’s true turning point that night.

Starting with the stunner on Nov. 17, 2012, Baylor has won 25 of its past 28 games. Only Florida State and Alabama have a better record since.

Tomorrow night, Baylor has everything to lose. A Big 12 title. A potential College Football Playoff berth. The first 'L' in McLane Stadium history. National TV game. "College GameDay" in town. Now that’s some pressure.

When becomes a dangerous word this week. The word can get thrown around liberally when arguing about Baylor’s uncertain playoff hopes.

You know: When Baylor beats Kansas State, will they move up?

For weeks, this game has been circled and counted on as the one that finally pushes Briles’ squad into the final four, the only game that can fortify their profile and sway committee members.

When the Bears knock off K-State, the logic goes, they will finally be deserving of a jump ahead of TCU.

The occasional absence of if and the rest of the national discussion is perfectly OK with Snyder’s team. Rarely does a No. 9 ranked team get to rightfully adopt the under-the-radar, disrespected sleeper role.

"We don’t mind it. We’re used to it, really," Truman said. "We’re looked at a lot as the underdogs, and we embrace that. We don’t need all the attention. We do what we do on Saturdays."

The Wildcats’ leading tackler is sticking to the respectful company line this week when asked about getting retribution for losses to Baylor in 2012 and again in 2013, a 35-25 game in Manhattan. Stay with preparation, focus on execution, all that good stuff.

"It is a great challenge," Snyder said. "We’ve faced quite a few of them, but it’s a big challenge, sure."

What he is modestly hinting at: K-State should be uniquely prepared for the moment. They have already played on the road at TCU, Oklahoma and West Virginia. They held then-No. 5 Auburn’s high-flying offense to 20 points in a near-upset. They are not going to make this easy for Baylor.

The stage is bigger this time. So are the ramifications.

"It’s do or die at this point," Truman said. "It does have that sense of a true championship game."

The world will be watching Baylor closely. Better watch out for Kansas State, too.

Big 12 Week 15 predictions

December, 4, 2014
Dec 4
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Why Baylor will win: Art Briles needs a win. He needs a lot of points. His Baylor team is still being disrespected. I'm not betting against Briles in that scenario. The Bears take care of business, win by double digits and earn one of two true Big 12 championship trophies. Baylor 48, Kansas State 35 — Olson

Why Kansas State will keep it close: Everyone, including (seemingly) Baylor, are portraying this weekend's matchup in Waco, Texas, as a foregone conclusion. The pressure will be on Baylor to blow out K-State, but because they don't make mistakes, the Wildcats are a very difficult team to rout. Instead, with all the pressure on Baylor, I see the Wildcats turning this into an old-fashioned Bill Snyder dogfight. Baylor 34, Kansas State 30 — Trotter


Why TCU will win: Trevone Boykin. Josh Doctson. A opportunistic defense. Take your pick. The Horned Frogs are brimming with playmakers and plenty of motive, knowing they are one victory from a Big 12 co-championship and potentially more. Gary Patterson’s team won’t let this opportunity slip away. TCU 45, Iowa State 14 — Chatmon


Why Oklahoma will win: A bye week should be great for getting Mason Rudolph (or whoever starts for Oklahoma State) more reps and confidence. A bye week does not solve having to stop Samaje Perine and his friends Keith Ford and Alex Ross. OU controls the line of scrimmage and the game with relative ease. Oklahoma 35, Oklahoma State 17 — Olson

Why Oklahoma State will keep it close: It's weird to say, considering Mason Rudolph has only one career start, but Oklahoma State might actually have the quarterback advantage over Oklahoma's Cody Thomas, who has struggled to complete passes since taking over for Trevor Knight. The Cowboys have a pretty good run defense, too. That won't be enough to win the game, but will be enough to slow Perine to the point where Oklahoma State can keep with the Sooners. Oklahoma 29, Oklahoma State 22 — Trotter

Season records:
  • Trotter: 65-7
  • Chatmon: 64-8
  • Olson: 62-10
Jordan Howard rushed for 1,600 yards at UAB this season, and now that the program has been shuttered, recruiters are lining up to get his transfer. Plus, with the Brady Hoke news, Michigan lost four-star tight end commitment Chris Clark. So where do recruits think he’ll end up?


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