NCF Nation: West Virginia Mountaineers

Big 12 bowl predictions

December, 19, 2014
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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.

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.
The addition of No. 1 2016 TE Isaac Nauta shows that the Florida State recruiting machine shows no signs of slowing down. Plus, Tennessee continues to impress with its 2015 defensive class.

Samaje Perine ran over defenders, KD Cannon ran by them and Dravon Henry brought the savvy of a veteran to a secondary in need of depth.

Oklahoma's Perine, Baylor's Cannon and West Virginia's Henry earned ESPN.com True Freshman All-American honors on Monday as the trio secured spots among the nation's best with stellar first seasons in the Big 12. You can find the full team here.

Perine, a running back from Pflugerville, Texas, led the Big 12 with 1,579 rushing yards and 21 touchdowns, averaging 6.58 yards per carry during his freshman campaign. He averaged 7.05 yards per carry on first down and rushed for 150 yards or more in each of the Sooners' final three games.

Cannon, a receiver from Mount Pleasant, Texas, finished with 50 receptions for 833 yards and six touchdowns. He was a handful from the opening kickoff with 17 receptions for 409 yards and five touchdowns in the first quarter this season.

Henry, a safety from Aliquippa, Pennsylvania, made at least one tackle in 11 of 12 games this season and started every game of his freshman campaign.

ESPN.com All-Big 12 team

December, 12, 2014
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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.
Jake Spavital worked under Dana Holgorsen for four years, from Houston to Oklahoma State to West Virginia. So with the Texas A&M offensive coordinator set to face West Virginia and his former mentor in the AutoZone Liberty Bowl, Spavital and Holgorsen, the Mountaineers' head coach, are having some fun with this looming rendezvous.

First, Spavital delivered a quick reminder to his old boss that he should be cautious in his preparation for the Dec. 29 game. Holgorsen, who remembers Spavital from the coordinator's not-so-glamorous days as a graduate assistant with the Cougars and Cowboys, was hardly worried. Of course, Spavital was not going to let his old superior put him in his place, firing back in grand fashion, with help from Jay Gatsby. Game on, indeed. The game should be a fun one. But the lead-up will not be without its share of highlights, either.

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

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.

What we learned in the Big 12: Week 14

November, 30, 2014
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Here’s what we learned Saturday in Week 14 of the Big 12:

1. Good week to be a Frog. Can’t draw it up any better than that if you’re TCU. First, the No. 5 Horned Frogs notch a 38-point road win against Texas in front of a national TV audience. Then, down goes No. 4 Mississippi State in the Egg Bowl. Then, Baylor needs a two-point conversion stop late in the fourth to win 48-46 against Texas Tech, the same team TCU beat 82-27. An Auburn upset of No. 1 Alabama would've helped, but TCU still has a real shot at re-entering the top four, and Baylor likely didn't gain ground on it. Gary Patterson has to be pleased.

[+] EnlargeShock Linwood
AP Photo/Tim SharpShock Linwood and the Bears survived Texas Tech, but they must now deal with injuries heading into the Kansas State game next weekend.
 2. Baylor takes some hits: Will Baylor have Bryce Petty and Shawn Oakman next week for its Big 12 title fight with Kansas State? The Bears survived a scare against Texas Tech but lost Petty (concussion) and power back Devin Chafin (dislocated right elbow) in the process. Oakman got away with a play that will draw the ire of the Big 12 office when he kneed Texas Tech quarterback Patrick Mahomes in the head after a second-quarter sack and wasn't penalized. He said after the game there’s no way he'll sit against KSU, but the status of Petty -- and, if he's disciplined, Oakman -- will be the talk of the week in Waco, Texas.

3. K-State still lurking: The nonstop TCU versus Baylor playoff discussion has obscured the program that loves being underestimated. Kansas State had no trouble against Kansas on Saturday, winning 51-13 and getting Tyler Lockett his school record for career receptions. KSU still has as equal a share of first place in the Big 12 as its 10-1 peers and, with one week left, even has a shot-in-the-dark chance at an outright conference title. You won't hear Bill Snyder or his Wildcats complaining about the lack of attention. They'd rather make their statement next Saturday in Waco.

4. Mahomes is the man: This kid is a gamer. Mahomes set a Big 12 freshman record with his 598 passing yards against a Baylor pass defense that ranked No. 2 in the Big 12 entering the day. Down 45-27, he never gave up. The rookie threw for touchdowns on each of Tech's final four drives of the game and showed no fear with all the deep shots he hit. That was just the fourth start of Mahomes' young career, and he reportedly played through an injured left wrist throughout. His play is making the spring debate between Mahomes, Davis Webb (who will have shoulder surgery) and incoming freshman Jarrett Stidham all the more fascinating.

5. WVU might've found its QB, too: Skyler Howard, thrown into the fire a week ago against Kansas State, looks more than capable of being West Virginia's quarterback for the foreseeable future. The mobile junior college transfer overcame a 14-point deficit by guiding WVU on a 20-point run in the second quarter and finishing with 354 yards of total offense in a 37-24 win in Ames, Iowa, to wrap up the regular season. Imagine what that showing will do for his confidence in the practices leading up to the Mountaineers' bowl game.

Big 12 viewer's guide: Week 14

November, 28, 2014
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Baylor and Kansas State each face one final hurdle before a head-to-head matchup at McLane Stadium on the final Saturday of the season that could garner plenty of headlines. Meanwhile, West Virginia and Iowa State look to snap significant losing streaks.

Here are the storylines to watch in the Big 12 during Week 14:

West Virginia at Iowa State, noon ET (Fox Sports 1): Neither team brings much momentum into this game with the Cyclones on a four-game losing streak and the Mountaineers on a three-game slide. Those downward trends won't sit well with Dana Holgorsen or Paul Rhoads. ISU watched its first Big 12 win slip out of its hands against Texas Tech a week ago, so the Cyclones could be entering this game with more momentum than previous weeks. Intrigue will join WVU on the plane to Ames, Iowa, with Skyler Howard's performance against Kansas State putting a spotlight on the quarterback spot for Holgorsen’s squad. Even if starter Clint Trickett is healthy, Holgorsen might not hesitate to turn to Howard if Trickett struggles.

No. 7 Baylor versus Texas Tech in Arlington, Texas, 3:30 pm ET (ABC): The Bears can't seem to get the traction they need to rise in the College Football Playoff rankings. But BU needs to win, and win impressively, if it hopes to keep its name in the conversation for another week. The Bears have minimal room for error. Tech enters the game after its first win since mid-October against ISU a week ago. The Red Raiders would love to play spoiler for the Bears while creating a little momentum heading into the offseason if they're able to finish the regular season with a two-game win streak which includes a win over the nation's No. 7 team.

Kansas versus No. 12 Kansas State, 4 p.m. ET (Fox Sports 1): The final home game for all-purpose threat Tyler Lockett could inspire the senior to do something special at Bill Snyder Family Stadium. The Wildcats have plenty to play for with a Big 12 title still within reach. Meanwhile, KU interim coach Clint Bowen could strengthen his résumé even further with a win over the in-state rival Wildcats. And the Jayhawks' sloppy showing at Oklahoma should give KU plenty of motivation to show they're better than they played against the Sooners a week ago.

Big 12 Week 14 predictions

November, 26, 2014
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Why TCU will win: This is going to be a back-and-forth, physical fight in which Texas will throw everything it's got at TCU. All the pressure is on the Frogs -- not that they can't handle it. If Charlie Strong's D can slow down Trevone Boykin, it's anyone's ballgame. A difference that might matter: the kicking game. TCU's Jaden Oberkrom can be trusted with a game-winning kick. Can Texas' Nick Rose? TCU 20, Texas 17 Olson

Why Texas will keep it close: Defense. The Longhorns have the Big 12’s best unit, and their disruptive front will make life hard for Trevone Boykin. UT just won’t score enough points to cement its upset bid. TCU 28, Texas 27 — Chatmon

Other unanimous selections

Baylor over Texas Tech: The Bears won't aim for 82, but they know they need to score a bunch of points. In addition to having a brutal run defense, Texas Tech's secondary is also banged up this week. So, you know, moving the ball should not be terribly difficult for Bryce Petty and his many weapons. Tech can keep up early, but for how long? Baylor 52, Texas Tech 24 Olson

Kansas State over Kansas: The Wildcats have focused on resuscitating their running game, and their instate rival might provide the perfect tonic. The Jayhawks are still reeling from giving up an FBS record 427 rushing yards to Samaje Perine last week. K-State won't get that many on the ground. But the Wildcats will have a big day offensively to prime their trip to Waco in the season finale. Kansas State 38, Kansas 13 Trotter

West Virginia over Iowa State: The Mountaineers will get the losing taste out of their mouths because of their superior offensive firepower, no matter whether Clint Trickett or Skyler Howard is behind center. West Virginia 42, Iowa State 28 Chatmon

Season records:
  • Trotter: 61-7
  • Chatmon: 60-8
  • Olson: 58-10

Big 12 bowl projections: Week 13

November, 25, 2014
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The fourth College Football Playoff rankings were revealed Tuesday night, and the Big 12 was left outside the top four for the second consecutive week.

TCU remained at No. 5; Baylor stayed at No. 7.

As a result, nothing changed from last week's bowl picture.

Oklahoma State is the only Big 12 team that can still play its way to bowl eligibility. But the Cowboys will have to upset Oklahoma in Bedlam on Dec. 6 to get to six wins.

Goodyear Cotton Bowl: TCU
VIZIO Fiesta Bowl: Baylor
Valero Alamo Bowl: Kansas State
Russell Athletic Bowl: Oklahoma
AdvoCare V100 Texas Bowl: Texas
AutoZone Liberty Bowl: West Virginia
Cactus Bowl: None eligible

Big 12 helmet stickers: Week 13

November, 23, 2014
Nov 23
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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.

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