NCF Nation: Big 12 football

Big 12 recruiting primer

February, 6, 2013
2/06/13
7:00
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ESPN RecruitingNation has signing day covered. Follow ESPNU’s coverage, chat with analysts and get breaking news on our Signing Day Live page beginning at 7:30 a.m. ET through 7 p.m. ET. For more on what to expect on signing day, check out the Big 12 conference breakdown Insider.

Bold Prediction for the Big 12: Kliff Kingsbury saw a lot of success as offensive coordinator at Texas A&M. He’ll see similar success as head coach at Texas Tech.

Baylor
Biggest Need: Offensive linemen to protect the talented skill-position players.
Biggest Recruit: ESPN 150 receiver Robbie Rhodes (Fort Worth, Texas/Southwest) has the tools to be not only a starter but also an all-conference player as a freshman.

Iowa State
Biggest Need: With only one commit at the position, the Cyclones need linebackers.
Biggest Recruit: Four-star offensive tackle Shawn Curtis (Orlando, Fla./Olympia), at 6-foot-6 and 270 pounds, should be a future leader for the Cyclones’ offensive line.

Kansas
Biggest Need: The Jayhawks need a running back or two.
Biggest Recruit: Juco defensive tackle Marquel Combs (Memphis, Tenn./Pierce College) is the No. 3 junior college prospect in the country for a reason. He’s a run-stopper.

Kansas State
Biggest Need: Running back, just like its Sunflower State counterpart.
Biggest Recruit: Linebacker Nick Ramirez (Lee’s Summit, Mo./Lee’s Summit West) is the only four-star commit, but three-star junior college quarterback Jake Waters (Council Bluffs, Iowa/Iowa Western Community College) might be the sleeper of the class.

Oklahoma
Biggest Need: Linebacker is a huge necessity.
Biggest Recruit: If ESPN 150 running back Keith Ford (Cypress, Texas/Cypress Ranch) stays healthy, he could have a promising college career -- which could lead to an NFL opportunity.

Oklahoma State
Biggest Need: The Cowboys need help at quarterback and linebacker.
Biggest Recruit: ESPN 300 receivers Ra'Shaad Samples (Dallas/Skyline) and Marcell Ateman (Wylie, Texas/Wylie East) bring different dynamics but similar results to the football field.

TCU
Biggest Need: Playmaking wide receivers.
Biggest Recruit: ESPN 300 running back Kyle Hicks (Arlington, Texas/Martin) has the potential to be outstanding, but three-star athlete Ty Slanina (East Bernard, Texas/East Bernard) could be stellar at several spots.

Texas
Biggest Need: While Texas is strong on the offensive line, it needs defensive linemen.
Biggest Recruit: ESPN 150 center Darius James (Killeen, Texas/Harker Heights) leads a very talented class of Longhorns offensive linemen.

Texas Tech
Biggest Need: The Red Raiders could use more defensive tackles.
Biggest Recruit: Quarterback Davis Webb (Prosper, Texas/Prosper), an Elite 11 finalist last summer, could be special under the wing of Kliff Kingsbury.

West Virginia
Biggest Need: Players in the secondary.
Biggest Recruit: ESPN 300 inside linebacker Darrien Howard (Dayton, Ohio/Chaminade-Julienne) has the tools to shut down a lot of plays before they even get started.


Fifth-ranked Notre Dame sent a message to the rest of college football with a 30-13 win over No. 8 Oklahoma at Oklahoma Memorial Stadium on Saturday night. Here's a closer look at what happened and what it means for both teams.

How the game was won: In the trenches. Notre Dame shut down OU’s run game while rushing for 215 yards of its own. The Fighting Irish offensive and defensive lines manhandled the Sooners as Notre Dame improved to 8-0.

The game was over when: Irish kicker Kyle Brindza hit a 46-yard field goal to give Notre Dame a 23-13 lead with 3:22 remaining. The Irish tacked on a late touchdown to win by 17 points.

Turning point: After OU tied the game at 13 midway through the fourth quarter, the Irish stormed back on their next possession, sparked by a 50-yard reception from Chris Brown. It was a remarkable response to the Sooners. Everett Golson’s 1-yard touchdown run capped the drive and secured the win.

Stat of the game: 0.6. That’s the yards-per-carry average for Oklahoma. The Irish run defense was highly regarded when they arrived in Norman. And they didn’t disappoint, holding OU to 15 yards on 24 carries.

Player of the game: Manti Te’o. The Notre Dame linebacker was all over the field for the Irish. He sealed the victory with his fourth-quarter interception and finished the game with 11 tackles, one sack and one interception. He played like a Heisman candidate, leaving his mark on the game with his aggression and hustle.

Unsung hero of the game: Golson. The redshirt freshman quarterback showed exceptional maturity and savvy. He made plays when they were there, tossed the ball out of bounds when they weren't. He finished 13-of-25 for 177 yards with zero turnovers and added 11 rushes for 64 yards and one touchdown. He didn't play like a first-year player.

What Notre Dame learned: Brian Kelly’s rebuilding job appears to be nearing completion. Programs are built on wins like this. With a road win against the Sooners, Kelly’s team made its case earn a spot in the BCS title game. And, at the very least, Irish fans must be thrilled with the progress of Kelly’s program during his third season in South Bend.

What Oklahoma learned: Winning home games against top-25 opponents isn’t as easy as it seemed under Bob Stoops. After heading into the season undefeated against top-25 teams at Oklahoma Memorial Stadium under Stoops, the Sooners suffered their second loss to a Top-25 opponent this year. No. 3 Kansas State knocked off the Sooners on Sept. 22.

What it means: The Irish are for real. Notre Dame is making a strong case to rise to No. 2 in the BCS standings. With wins over Stanford, Michigan, Michigan State and OU, the Irish have a solid résumé and can make a case for a spot in the BCS title game.
TCU won the first quarter, Oklahoma State won the game.

As a result, the Cowboys control their own destiny in the Big 12 title race.

OSU defeated TCU, 36-14, at Boone Pickens Stadium on Saturday, scoring 36 unanswered points after facing a two-touchdown deficit in the first quarter. At 3-1 in Big 12 play, OSU joins in-state rival Oklahoma as the lone Big 12 squads with one loss and fingers crossed hoping for a Kansas State loss. The Cowboys will play both teams in their final five games and would take the Big title if they win out.

OSU’s win sets up a key Big 12 matchup between the Cowboys and Wildcats in Manhattan, Kan., next Saturday. Unlike the Sooners, OSU doesn’t have to hope for a K-State loss -- it can knock the Cats from the ranks of the unbeaten in their head-to-head matchup. OSU also travels to Norman, Okla., for Bedlam on Nov. 24. Thus, Saturday's victory combines with Texas Tech's 55-24 loss to KSU to put OSU in position to control its fate.

Cowboys quarterback Wes Lunt was shaky early in his return from injury, throwing a interception for a touchdown to TCU safety Elisha Olabode on OSU’s second possession. Lunt, a true freshman, played in his first game since injuring his knee against Louisiana-Lafayette on Sept. 15.

When Lunt finally found his groove in the second half, the Cowboys began to pull away. Lunt seemed to regain confidence after sitting out for over a month -- an encouraging development for coach Mike Gundy's team.

In the first half, OSU had three red zone opportunities and settled for three field goals as Lunt searched for his rhythm. In the second half, the Cowboys scored on five of their six possessions, including three touchdowns before running the clock out on their final drive.

The OSU defense was stellar in the victory, allowing one touchdown to a TCU squad that had scored 53 points in a triple-overtime loss to Texas Tech last weekend. The Cowboys allowed 344 total yards -- 4.8 yards per play -- and were particularly stout on third down, allowing the Horned Frogs to convert just 2 of 14. The Cowboys will need to continue to play defense at that level if they hope to win their second consecutive Big 12 championship.

The loss dropped TCU below .500 in the Big 12 (2-3) with West Virginia, Kansas State, Texas and Oklahoma remaining on its schedule.

Yikes.

To make matters worse for the Horned Frogs, quarterback Trevone Boykin went down with 1:26 left in the game with an left knee injury and was replaced by Matt Brown on their final drive. So TCU could be looking at the roughest stretch of its conference schedule with its third different starting quarterback.

Welcome to the Big 12.

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