NCF Nation: Carson Coffman

Kansas State-Texas: More Cats dominance?

November, 17, 2011
11/17/11
3:00
PM ET
Which Big 12 team has the best record against Texas since the league formed? It's not Oklahoma. It's not the angry Aggies. It's not the pesky Red Raiders, either.

In all of their five-star recruitiness, the Longhorns have had infamous struggles against Kansas State, which comes to Austin this week with a 5-2 record against the Longhorns since the Big 12's inception in 1996. The Wildcats have won past three meetings.

"Good fortune, I think, probably as much as anything," coach Bill Snyder says of K-State's recent dominance over Texas.

Former K-State coach Ron Prince never beat Kansas or Mizzou in his three seasons in Manhattan, but he was 2-0 against Texas. Snyder continued the tradition with an epic 39-14 beatdown a season ago in Manhattan.

I don't know about "good fortune."

"They’ve outcoached us and outplayed us. It’s pretty simple," Texas coach Mack Brown said.

[+] EnlargeCollin Klein
AP Photo/Charlie RiedelIn last season's Kansas State-Texas matchup, Collin Klein ran wild, rushing 25 times for 127 yards and two touchdowns.
That's more like it. Last year, K-State quarterback Collin Klein found out he'd be making his first start an hour before kickoff.

He carried the ball 25 times for 127 yards and two scores, and K-State needed only four pass attempts before jumping out to a 39-0 lead after three quarters.

"In that particular game, the good fortune was the fact we ended up playing a different style of quarterback, and one that they had probably not prepared for," Snyder said. "Collin was in the ballgame because Carson Coffman was injured. We were more geared toward quarterback run game, and I’m sure they probably hadn’t prepared well for that, so that’s my guess."

The defense, though, picked off Garrett Gilbert five times. Only three teams beat Texas by double digits in last year's 5-7 campaign. K-State's 25-point margin of victory was the season's most lopsided loss for the Longhorns.

"We were running the ball so well, with turnovers and good field position, the way we were controlling the ball, why throw it? Shoot," Klein said. "We played so well across the board as a team, it really took a lot of pressure off me. We executed so well up front that I had a lot of big holes to run through. Daniel was running well, they opened up some big holes for me, and when you take the turnovers and field position into effect, it equals a big victory."

Despite getting a longer look at Klein than most other teams in the Big 12 entering this season, that experience hardly provides an advantage for the Longhorns.

"He ran up and down the field last year and didn’t throw any passes and we didn’t stop him," Brown said. "He whipped us really good."

Despite entering this weekend 10 spots higher in the BCS standings, K-State is a nine-point underdog, a familiar spot for a team that's won five games as an underdog already this season.

If Texas can't get healthy, though, that status could change quickly on Saturday. If Malcolm Brown and Joe Bergeron aren't able to return, the Longhorns will be without their top three running backs. (Fozzy Whittaker injured his knee last week.) A knee injury has hounded top receiver Jaxon Shipley as well, and the offense sputtered in a 17-5 loss to Mizzou a week ago, failing to score a touchdown for the first time since 2004.

"Everybody’s got to play better. And we didn’t. We’ve got to coach better, we’ve got to play better, and we didn’t do either one," Brown said.

Texas, Brown says, just needs a win, however it happens.

"Even if it was a pee wee team," he said.

Beating No. 13 K-State would be a big one, and the Wildcats are no pee wee team, especially against the Longhorns. What bearing will history have, though?

"Every year is different. Every team of ours is different. Every team of theirs is different," Klein said.

The results when K-State and Texas get together, though, have been the same.

The Big 12's three dark horses

May, 25, 2011
5/25/11
9:00
AM ET
A little more than three months before we kick off the 2011 season, one thing is clear: Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Texas A&M are the Big 12 favorites.

Of course, last season, Texas and Oklahoma were the favorites and Oklahoma State came out of nowhere to contend.

So, who could be this season's Cowboys? Here are three teams with the most upside that could contend for a Big 12 title.

Missouri

Last season: 10-3

Big 12 Power Rankings: 4th

Why the Tigers aren't a contender: Simply put, Blaine Gabbert is gone. If the Tigers still had their first-round pick, they'd likely be a borderline top-10 team entering the season.

Why they can contend: Missouri's defense should be great once again after taking big strides in 2010 under coordinator Dave Steckel. The Tigers have lots of confidence in corners Kip Edwards and E.J. Gaines, and even list Edwards as a returning starter since he was in the rotation alongside Carl Gettis and Kevin Rutland last season. They'll get a lot of help up front from an offensive line that should be the Big 12's best, and perhaps one of the best in college football.

Offensively, James Franklin replaces Gabbert, but has lots of talent around him, including four returning running backs with experience and every single receiver on the team returns, including four with at least 39 catches a season ago. That's rare, and the experience gained will pay off next fall.

Texas

Last season: 5-7

Big 12 Power Rankings: 7th

Why the Longhorns aren't a contender: The offense crashed and burned in 2010 and the reigning Big 12 champs and national runner-up endured its worst season since 1997.

Why they can contend: Mock recruiting rankings all you'd like, but it's still hard to shake the feeling that Texas is a sleeping giant in 2011. The offensive talent didn't look like it was there last season, but can new coordinator Bryan Harsin change that? The Big 12 won't have a truly elite defense this season, so it's possible.

Texas also should have one of the Big 12's best defenses, as long as it can overcome some inexperience in the secondary. The front seven has loads of experience and potential, and if the turnovers, which coach Mack Brown has harped on all offseason, swing in the Longhorns favor, Texas could become a factor once again. That 5-7 record last season wasn't far from 9-3. Texas lost four games by eight points or fewer.

Kansas State

Last season: 7-6

Big 12 Power Rankings: 8th

Why the Wildcats aren't a contender: The Wildcats rode Daniel Thomas for two seasons, and lose him, as well as starting quarterback Carson Coffman. Combine that with a defense that struggled for most of last season, and it's not an attractive résumé.

Why they can contend: It all comes down to how good the new faces will be. Bryce Brown and Arthur Brown have gotten plenty of press this spring, but Arthur and quarterback Collin Klein will likely have the most to do with the Wildcats exceeding expectations. Klein will have receiver Brodrick Smith back, a transfer who started the season hot before breaking his leg against Nebraska.

The Wildcats are by far the darkest of these horses, but it could be one of Bill Snyder's best coaching jobs if this team contends or finishes in the top 25.

Who's set and who's not at quarterback?

February, 17, 2011
2/17/11
9:00
AM ET
We took a look at the Big 12's spring storylines yesterday, and for several teams, that involves the quarterback. For others, it doesn't. But heading into the spring, which starts as early as Friday at Texas Tech, here's how the Big 12's teams rank in terms of certainty at quarterback.

LOCKED AND LOADED

Baylor: Baylor's offense runs entirely through the Bears' Robert Griffin III. He rebounded well last season from the knee injury that made him miss most of the 2009 season, and became a much, much better passer. We'll see if that continues in 2011, but it would take a serious injury to knock him off his starting spot.

[+] EnlargeBrandon Weeden
John Rieger/US PresswireBrandon Weeden enters next season as Oklahoma State's starting quarterback.
Oklahoma State: Brandon Weeden started every game for the Cowboys last season and earned All-Big 12 first-team honors. He's back. Look elsewhere for quarterback controversy. The backup race between Clint Chelf, Johnny Deaton and early enrolling freshman J.W. Walsh could be interesting, though.

Oklahoma: Landry Jones will effectively be a third-year starter for the Sooners next season, and a strong contender for All-Big 12 honors and possibly the Heisman. It's his offense for sure in 2011.

Texas A&M: Ryan Tannehill would be the easy front-runner even if he hadn't started the second half of the 2010 season. But he did, went 5-1 in his starts, and has the Aggies sniffing the top 10 in the preseason.

BETTER LOCK IT DOWN, KID

Texas: Garrett Gilbert had a horrible first year as starter in 2010, but he'll need to show his coaches -- new and old -- he'll be better in 2011. Grasping new coordinator Bryan Harsin's system will be key in keeping the junior ahead of his competition, Case McCoy and Connor Wood. Coach Mack Brown said last month that the job was open.

Missouri: James Franklin is the likely lead dog in the race, but only because he got more time and experience playing the game and adjusting to the speed of the game. He'll need to clearly be the best quarterback Missouri has to leave the spring as the projected starter. Tyler Gabbert and Ashton Glaser might steal the title with standout springs, but if all three aren't getting it done, incoming freshman Corbin Berkstresser could theoretically crash the party in preseason camp.

Iowa State: Jerome Tiller has five starts in two seasons because of injuries to Austen Arnaud, including an historic, albeit ugly, 9-7 win at Nebraska in 2009. But Paul Rhoads signed juco transfer Steele Jantz, and he'll have a great chance to win the job, too. James Capello and Jared Barnett will try to make splashes in the spring.

WHICH END IS UP?

Texas Tech: Tech, as usual, is likely to get good play out of whoever wins the job, but it's a near guessing game at this point. Seth Doege and Jacob Karam impressed coach Tommy Tuberville last spring working with the first team after Steven Sheffield and Taylor Potts were hurt, but Doege and Karam will have to hold off younger talents Scotty Young and Michael Brewer to win the job.

Kansas: The Jayhawks never settled on a quarterback, and battled injuries at the position last year. Kale Pick was moved to receiver during the 2010 season, and Jordan Webb and Quinn Mecham will be the main competition this year, despite a lack of truly inspired play for much of 2010. If incoming freshman Brock Berglund, who enrolled early, can show flashes of potential and outplay Webb and Mecham, he might be the guy best suited to help Kansas win right now and in the future.

Kansas State: The Wildcats' presumptive starter might not even be playing the position in 2011, and we've seen very, very little of the three quarterbacks hoping to replace the departed Carson Coffman. Justin Tuggle, a juco transfer, started three games at Boston College and has a good shot to win the job. Newcomer Daniel Sams could win the gig eventually, or it could be the returning Sammuel Lamur, who threw all of three passes last season (completing all three!) as the third-stringer.
Springtime is almost here. And here's a look at what to expect across the Big 12 when it gets into full swing here in the next couple weeks.

BAYLOR BEARS

Spring practice starts: February 28

Spring game: April 2

What to watch:
  • Big changes on defense. Baylor brought in Phil Bennett as its new defensive coordinator, and he says his scheme will be multiple, built to fit the Bears' personnel. Considering the Bears' recent recruiting successes in the secondary, look for a 4-2-5 type of look.
  • Recruiting stars: time to shine. Both safeties, Tim Atchison and Byron Landor, are gone. Baylor, though, has two former ESPNU 150 recruits at safety who would be well served to start filling their potential. Prince Kent was a reserve last season and at one time, the nation's No. 51 overall recruit who originally signed with Miami. Ahmad Dixon, meanwhile, was the No. 15 overall prospect in the 2010 class. The opportunity is there. Baylor needs big talent at the position. Briles has recruited it. Can they develop into players who make Baylor a contender?
  • Running back competition. Jay Finley topped 1,200 yards in 2010, but he's gone. Who steps into his void? Terrance Ganaway is a bowling ball at 5-foot-11, 235 pounds, but the shifty Jarred Salubi could get a good amount of carries, too. They could begin to share carries this spring.
IOWA STATE CYCLONES

Spring practice starts: March 22

Spring game: April 16

What to watch:
  • Quarterback competition. It should be a good one in Ames this spring. Jerome Tiller is the name most recognize after getting lots of meaningful time and starts because of injuries to Austen Arnaud over the past two seasons. But juco transfer Steele Jantz sounds confident he can win the job. Rising sophomore James Capello and redshirt freshman Jared Barnett will compete, too.
  • Paging Cyclone receivers. Iowa State had one of the most underwhelming receiving corps in the league during the past season, and three of its top five pass-catchers won't return in 2011. Of those three, however, one is a tight end (Collin Franklin) and another is a running back (Alexander Robinson). The new quarterback will need some help, and Darius Darks and Darius Reynolds will need to provide it as seniors.
  • Shontrelle's time or not? Freshman Shontrelle Johnson looked like the running back with the most pop behind Robinson for most of 2010, but two other freshmen running backs jockeyed for carries, too. Paul Rhoads is hardly handing the job over to Johnson, but spring could be the time when he really separates himself from the pack.
KANSAS JAYHAWKS

Spring practice starts: April 1

Spring game: April 30

What to watch:
  • What are they doing behind center? Kansas never got much consistent play out of the quarterback position last year, but freshman Brock Berglund is one of the 2011 class' top recruits, and enrolled early to compete in the spring with Jordan Webb and Quinn Mecham. With a building program like Kansas, there's perhaps some value in handing the program to a younger player like Webb or Berglund, but they'll have to earn it. Doing so will start in the spring, but don't expect the Jayhawks to have a set-in-stone starter by spring's end.
  • Top linebacker back on the field. Huldon Tharp missed all of 2010 with a foot injury, but he says he's 100 percent and ready to get back on the field. As a freshman in 2009, he was fifth on the team in tackles, with 59, and looked like one of the league's possible budding stars. Now, he'll get his chance to join fellow linebacker Steven Johnson as one of the team's top tacklers, and he'll do it as a sophomore after redshirting in 2010.
  • Toben rising? Turner Gill raised plenty of eyebrows when he moved his team's leading rusher in 2009, Toben Opurum, to linebacker in fall camp, and eventually slid him up to defensive end. But toward the end of 2010, Opurum started showing some major signs of growth at the position. We'll get a better idea this spring if he's one of the league's most unlikely new stars at defensive end.
KANSAS STATE WILDCATS

Spring practice starts: April 6

Spring game: April 30

What to watch:
  • Prodigal Kansan sons come home. There's no doubt that the Wichita native Brown brothers are the main attraction at Kansas State this spring, a season after transferring back home. Bryce Brown, the running back, was the nation's No. 8 prospect in the 2009 class. Arthur Brown, the linebacker, was the nation's No. 6 prospect in the 2008 class. Bryce transferred from Tennessee and Arthur from Miami. The Wildcats are pinning much of their hopes on the duo, and we'll get a good sense of what they can provide soon.
  • Quarterback competition. Carson Coffman is gone, and two new faces will challenge for the job: juco transfer Justin Tuggle and Daniel Sams. Sammuel Lamur is also up for the gig. Collin Klein may or may not be; Bill Snyder hasn't explicitly confirmed a past comment from Sams saying Klein had moved to receiver. Don't expect a starter to be named by spring's end, but a general order could start to form.
  • Can the defense show improvement? Kansas State had the Big 12's worst overall defense last year, and the worst rushing defense in college football, giving up 3,008 yards on the ground. Coordinator Chris Cosh looks like he'll still be around in 2011, and defensive backs David Garrett and Tysyn Hartman are solid pieces to try and build around. But this young maturing defense must get better to make a bowl game again with so many questions on offense. That starts in the spring.
MISSOURI TIGERS

Spring practice starts: March 8

Spring game: April 16

What to watch:
  • Franklin comes alive! Blaine Gabbert bolted to the NFL early, and Missouri has a gaping hole a quarterback. The position, however, is surrounded by a lot of quality talent that likely makes the Tigers a Top 25 team. There's no understating the importance of the position for the Tigers, and that will begin to be decided in the spring. James Franklin, a rising sophomore, saw spot duty in 2010 as more of a runner, and may have the inside track on the job, but Tyler Gabbert, Blaine's younger brother, and Ashton Glaser should make it an interesting competition in the spring. If neither of them impress early, don't count out incoming freshman Corbin Berkstresser.
  • Here is the new secondary. Same as the old secondary? After years of pass defense being one of the Tigers' biggest weaknesses, it became a strength in 2010 behind the leadership of senior corners Kevin Rutland and Carl Gettis. But the Tigers lose them and safety Jarrell Harrison. Rutland emerged as one of the team's most impressive players last spring, but was Missouri's success in the secondary a one-time thing or the beginning of a welcome trend?
  • Time to dominate the trenches? Missouri played without likely first-round pick Aldon Smith for much of the previous season, but the defensive and offensive lines for the Tigers were as good as ever in 2010. How will they look in 2011? Impact juco transfer Sheldon Richardson won't be enrolled by the spring, but the four returning starters on the offensive line should get some solid work against Brad Madison, Jacquies Smith and Terrell Resonno.
OKLAHOMA SOONERS

Spring practice starts: March 21

Spring game: April 16

What to watch:
  • Freshmen on display. Coach Bob Stoops hasn't been shy about saying his 2010 recruiting class was his best ever, but it could look even better after this spring. Two of his best emerging recruits, Justin McCay and Geneo Grissom, didn't even play in 2010, and could start to make an impact. The same goes for Corey Nelson, who will try to earn some more time somewhere backing up star Travis Lewis.
  • Is there a golden boot in Norman? Jimmy Stevens was much more accurate in 2010, finishing 19-for-23, but his attempts outside 45 yards were sparse. The good news is he missed none of his 53 extra points. Field goals have been a bit of an adventure for the past couple years, but continuing in the spring what he started last year would be a good sign for Oklahoma. The Sooners are strong everywhere and need good special teams play to reach their lofty title goals.
  • Are the Sooners' backs back? Roy Finch missed the Fiesta Bowl with a stress fracture, and his durability is certainly questionable entering 2011. When he's healthy, he looks like the next star in the Sooners' backfield, but they'll need some depth behind the 5-foot-8, 173-pounder. Jermie Calhoun, Jonathan Miller and Brennan Clay have all looked good at times, but there should be some good competition from newcomers Brandon Wegher, an Iowa transfer who'll be in camp this spring and eligible next season, and blue-chip recruit Brandon Williams, who enrolled early.
OKLAHOMA STATE COWBOYS

Spring practice starts: March 7

Spring game: April 16

What to watch:
  • Every piece of the offense. The spring in Stillwater is all about keeping or improving upon the status quo. Had it kept Dana Holgorsen, there'd be little doubt that would happen, but Oklahoma State must make the most of its five returning offensive linemen, quarterback Brandon Weeden and receiver Justin Blackmon. The opportunity for a historic season is there, but they'll have to pick up the nuances of the new offense quickly in the spring like they did last year.
  • What about the kicker? Dan Bailey won the Lou Groza Award as the nation's top kicker in 2010, but he's gone. Oklahoma State needs to fill that role quickly, and we'll likely know who will get the nod after the spring.
  • Who steps up on the defensive line? The Cowboys lose three starters up front on defense, including All-Big 12 performer Ugo Chinasa and tackles Chris Donaldson and Shane Jarka. Can senior Richetti Jones become a star in the Big 12? We'll have a good idea if he, or any of the Cowboys' other defensive linemen, can by the end of April.
TEXAS LONGHORNS

Spring practice starts: February 24

Spring game: April 3

What to watch:
  • New coaches and their students/players. Texas has five new coaches. Although it's hard to get a good read early on, how they relate with the players on the field, in the film room and around the facilities will have a big impact on how the 2011 season plays out in Austin. The young-blooded coordinators could serve themselves well by relating to players and the players will need to spend plenty of extra time learning new schemes and plays.
  • Quarterback competition ... or not? Mack Brown says the gig is open and it is, for now. Garrett Gilbert can close it with a strong spring. If Garrett struggles on the field or has difficulty grasping the new system, the door will be wide open for Connor Wood or Case McCoy to step in and close it. Gilbert didn't get much help, but he did very little in 2010 to inspire a lot of breathing room with McCoy and Wood clamoring for playing time.
  • And you've got to defend the pass, too. Texas loses its top three cornerbacks to the NFL, and only Carrington Byndom and A.J. White got much meaningful playing time last season. Younger players can earn some rare early playing time with a strong spring. Will anyone step up?
TEXAS A&M AGGIES

Spring practice starts: March 22

Spring game: April 16

What to watch:
  • New linebackers in the running. Spring isn't so scary when you bring back nine defensive starters, but the two Texas A&M lost were the heart of its defense. Linebackers Michael Hodges and Von Miller are gone. Kyle Mangan didn't look fantastic when forced into action during the Cotton Bowl, but the time is now for Damontre Moore and Dominique Patterson, a pair of sophomores, to make their impact.
  • Tannehill's tuning things up. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill played about as well as anyone could have hoped late last season, but he'll need it to continue his performance with a solid spring nailing down the timing with his receivers, who all return. He's already got a leg up on last year's quarterback, Jerrod Johnson, who was held out of team drills last spring after shoulder surgery that eventually derailed his senior season.
  • Christine's back. Christine Michael missed the second half of the season with a broken leg, giving way to Cyrus Gray's rise among Big 12 backs. It should make Texas A&M's depth at the position even more impressive, but we'll see how Michael looks coming back from the injury.
TEXAS TECH RED RAIDERS

Spring practice starts: February 19

Spring game: March 26

What to watch:
  • Past defending that pass defense. Texas Tech had the Big 12's worst pass defense last season, but has a pair of big potential players at cornerback in rising sophomores Tre Porter and Jarvis Phillips. Starters LaRon Moore and Franklin Mitchem are gone, but if returning starters Cody Davis and Will Ford can continue to mature, the defense should improve in the area most important for success in the Big 12.
  • And they're off! There's a four-man quarterback derby set in Lubbock this spring between Seth Doege, Jacob Karam, Michael Brewer and Scotty Young. I don't expect it to be settled until midway through fall camp, similar to last season, but there should be a solid front-runner and more clarity after spring. Coach Tommy Tuberville was extremely impressed with Doege and Karam last spring after Taylor Potts and Steven Sheffield went down with injuries.
  • Time to find new stars. Most of the big names on Texas Tech's defense are gone. Colby Whitlock, Bront Bird, Brian Duncan will all continue their careers elsewhere. The leaders on the defense will have to begin to emerge in the spring. Is it Scott Smith? Cody Davis? A younger, unexpected player? We'll find out. Sometimes these types of situations aren't as easy to predict as they might seem, like Missouri's strength in 2010 emerging in the secondary.
Tags:

Baylor Bears, Iowa State Cyclones, Kansas State Wildcats, Missouri Tigers, Oklahoma Sooners, Oklahoma State Cowboys, Texas Longhorns, Texas A&M Aggies, Colby Whitlock, Brennan Clay, Christine Michael, Von Miller, Alexander Robinson, Chris Cosh, Steven Sheffield, Brandon Wegher, Turner Gill, James Franklin, Tysyn Hartman, Bill Snyder, Bront Bird, Case McCoy, Brandon Williams, Dan Bailey, Justin Blackmon, Franklin Mitchem, Richetti Jones, Connor Wood, Ryan Tannehill, Terrance Ganaway, Cody Davis, Travis Lewis, Cyrus Gray, Scotty Young, Chris Donaldson, Bryce Brown, Jerome Tiller, Brian Duncan, LaRon Moore, Justin Tuggle, Darius Darks, Paul Rhoads, Brad Madison, Art Briles, Sheldon Richardson, Bob Stoops, Jerrod Johnson, Blaine Gabbert, Jay Finley, Jared Barnett, Taylor Potts, Jimmy Stevens, Arthur Brown, Mack Brown, Garrett Gilbert, Jermie Calhoun, Collin Franklin, Phil Bennett, Jacquies Smith, Jarred Salubi, Collin Klein, Carl Gettis, Seth Doege, Scott Smith, Terrell Resonno, Carson Coffman, Aldon Smith, Brandon Weeden, Toben Opurum, Shane Jarka, Tyler Gabbert, Ahmad Dixon, Corey Nelson, Prince Kent, Shontrelle Johnson, Geneo Grissom, Quinn Mecham, Damontre Moore, Byron Landor, Darius Reynolds, Ugo Chinasa, Kevin Rutland, Jacob Karam, Michael Brewer, Jordan Webb, A.J. White, Huldon Tharp, Ashton Glaser, Jarvis Phillips, Tim Atchison, Michael Hodges, Tre Porter, Kyle Mangan, Brock Berglund, David Garrett, Carrington Byndom, Justin McCay, Corbin Berkstresser, Daniel Sams, Dominique Patterson, James Capello, Jonathan Miller, Steele Jantz

Top 10 moments of 2010 in the Big 12

January, 18, 2011
1/18/11
11:46
AM ET
It's a difficult task to narrow down a season into 10 moments. My definition of the "top" 10 is the 10 moments that we'll look back on from this season and remember them, good or bad. So, here goes.

1. A&M makes the switch. College football can be a cruel game. Texas A&M entered the season with the Big 12's Preseason Offensive Player of the Year, Jerrod Johnson, hoping to lead the Aggies to their first Big 12 title since 1998. But offseason surgery sapped the zip from his throwing shoulder and produced an ugly start to his season, leading the Aggies to switch to Ryan Tannehill. Tannehill set the school record for passing yards in his first start, a win over Texas Tech, and helped the Aggies finish the regular season with six consecutive wins and a berth in the Cotton Bowl.

2. Texas' loss to UCLA. The red flags were there. Texas looked uninspired in wins over Wyoming and Rice, but looked dominant on defense in a road win over Texas Tech. Then the cellar-dwelling Bruins and their Pistol offense came to town. The Longhorns got rolled 34-12 in their own stadium. The loss shocked just about everyone, but it was a sign of what was to come: a 5-7 season the Texas faithful would rather forget.

3. Don't call it a comeback. Actually, you could probably call it a comeback. It was no Cam Newton in the Iron Bowl, but Landry Jones helped rally Oklahoma from a 17-0 deficit to Nebraska in the Big 12 Championship to knock off the Huskers, 23-20. The win gave Oklahoma its seventh Big 12 title of the decade.

[+] EnlargeTaylor Martinez
AP Photo/Charlie RiedelTaylor Martinez's career night included 241 rushing yards and five touchdowns.
4. T-Magic runs wild. Kansas State packed Bill Snyder Family Stadium for a Thursday night game with its eyes on an upset of the undefeated Huskers. Taylor Martinez had other ideas. The Nebraska quarterback ran for 241 yards and five touchdowns, injecting himself into the Heisman race and making people think very seriously about Nebraska as a national title contender. Who would have thought Martinez would go the season's final nine games without a rushing touchdown after scoring 10 in the first four? Yes, K-State ended up finishing the season as the Big 12's worst defense, but Martinez put on a show and previewed what Nebraska fans hope is to come in the future.

5. We got a tip drill. Oklahoma quarterback Landry Jones thought he'd thrown it away cleanly. Not so, said Brodrick Brown. The Oklahoma State corner skied for Jones' pass headed for the sideline, tipped it back inbounds to his teammate, linebacker Shaun Lewis, who caught it as one of Jones' three interceptions in the first half of the Big 12 South's deciding game.

6. Taylor Martinez's injury. Nebraska already had a loss on its record, but one harmless-looking hit late in the first half of a big win changed Nebraska's season. Martinez was running laterally looking for a crease in the defense when Missouri safety Kenji Jackson flew in from the secondary and laid a hit on his lower body. Martinez sat the entire second half, and later revealed he had a sprained ankle. The freshman quarterback was never the same, and aggravated the injury again in a loss to Texas A&M.

7. Saluting your fans is bad, mmmmk. Adrian Hilburn made one of the biggest plays of Kansas State's season, catching a short pass and taking it 30 yards for a possible game-tying score with his team down eight. But after scoring, he saluted a group of Kansas State fans in the stands, and the official tossed a flag for excessive celebration after telling Hilburn he'd made the "wrong choice, buddy." The 15-yard penalty moved the Wildcats back, and Carson Coffman's pass on the conversion fell incomplete. Kansas State lost by two.

8. Moe's miracle. Missouri's season already looked off the rails. Blaine Gabbert threw a pair of fourth-quarter interceptions. The Tigers trailed San Diego State 24-20 with a minute to play and 68 yards between them and the end zone. Don't worry about it, said T.J. Moe. The sophomore receiver caught a short pass, made two defenders slam into each other and sprinted for the game-winning score that helped Missouri jump out to a 7-0 start to its season. Teammate Carl Gettis told Moe in the end zone, "Thank you for saving our season."

9. Last five minutes of Bedlam. Bedlam lived up to its moniker with a crazy finish that ended with the Sooners on top. Four touchdowns were scored within 92 seconds in the game's final five minutes. Oklahoma State scored to get within two points with just over four minutes to play, but on 3rd-and-long, Landry Jones found Cameron Kenney over the middle for an 86-yard touchdown pass. The ensuing kickoff? Oklahoma State's Justin Gilbert took it 89 yards to get back within two. But 17 seconds later, Jones found tight end James Hanna down the left sideline for a 76-yard touchdown that all but sealed the Sooners' win.

10. The Jayhawks win one for the ages. Kansas and Colorado were the Big 12's only teams still without a win in conference play. Something had to give. Few figured the Buffaloes 28-point lead would be what buckled. Colorado led 45-17 with just over 11 minutes to play, but the Jayhawks scored a frenzied 35 points to finish with a 52-45 win, their only conference win of the season. Buffaloes coach Dan Hawkins never got to coach another game for Colorado after being fired following the loss.
The Big 12 bowl season is over, and we weighed in on what was an overall disappointment on Wednesday. There were plenty of good moments to come with the bad, though.

Here's the best and worst of the Big 12 bowls after the 2010 season:

[+] EnlargeRyan Broyles
Christian Petersen/Getty ImagesRyan Broyles had 170 yards on 13 catches against the Huskies in the Fiesta Bowl.
Best player: Ryan Broyles, WR, Oklahoma. Broyles caught 13 passes for the second consecutive bowl game, racked up 170 yards and scored a touchdown in Oklahoma's 48-20 win over Connecticut in the Fiesta Bowl.

Best team performance: Oklahoma. The Sooners shut down Connecticut running back Jordan Todman early in the game and poured it on with plenty of offense late in the game. With their win over Connecticut, the Sooners also ended a five-game BCS bowl game skid.

Best offensive play: Broyles. Up 34-20 and on Connecticut's six-yard line midway through the fourth quarter, Broyle's caught a high pass from Landry Jones on the right side of the end zone. He jumped out of bounds to make the catch, but unbelievably reached a foot back and tapped the red paint in Oklahoma's end zone for the score on his final catch of the night.

Best defensive play: Coryell Judie, DB, Texas A&M. On LSU's opening drive, Tigers quarterback Jordan Jefferson tried to loft a ball down the right sideline for a score, but Judie flew up from a zone underneath the receiver and snagged an interception with one hand to keep the Tigers off the board early.

Worst play: Blaine Gabbert, QB, Missouri. The Tigers looked in complete control late in the fourth quarter, driving deep in Iowa territory with a 24-20 lead. Gabbert rolled to his left, and tried to loft a pass across his body to receiver Wes Kemp. He under threw it, Iowa's Micah Hyde intercepted it and returned the pick 72 yards for the final score, 27-24.

Worst team performance: Nebraska. Few gave Washington a chance after Taylor Martinez and the Huskers stomped the Huskies in Seattle 56-21 in September. The Huskies entered as two-touchdown underdogs, and outdid the Huskers in about every way possible, running the ball well and throwing the ball efficiently with Jake Locker.

Most harmless salute: Adrian Hilburn, WR, Kansas State. With his team trailing by eight in the final minutes of the Pinstripe Bowl, Hilburn caught a short pass and took it 30 yards into the end zone, setting up a possible game-tying two-point conversion. But after the score, he flashed a salute to some Kansas State fans in the stands. An official told Hilburn "Wrong choice, buddy." and tossed a flag that cost the Wildcats 15 yards. Carson Coffman's long pass for the conversion fell incomplete and K-State lost.

Second-most harmless salute: Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State. Blackmon gave one to Philadelphia Eagles' receiver/punt returner DeSean Jackson. After toasting an Arizona defender for an easy 71-yard score, Blackmon cut across the goal line, delaying his touchdown that opened the game's scoring. He wasn't flagged, but he did catch a cheap shot from a Wildcats defender later in the game, presumably for the premature celebration.

Best unsung hero: Dan Bailey, K/P, Oklahoma State. Bailey was forced into punting duty because Quinn Sharp was academically ineligible. All five of his punts were solid, and he pinned one inside the 20-yard line. He also hit all three of his field goals, two of which came from beyond 40 yards and another that was from 50.

Best out-of-nowhere performance: Hilburn. The senior receiver had a career-high 84 yards with his 30-yard score. His five catches were the most receptions he's had in a game in all but one match during his two-year stint as a Wildcat. His salute got plenty of attention, but it overshadowed a game in which he was K-State's leading receiver and made one of the biggest plays of their season.

Biggest fade into Bolivian: Lavonte David, LB, Nebraska. David finished the Big 12 season with four double-digit tackle performances in five games to lead the league by 19 stops. But against a Washington team bent on running the ball, he made just seven stops, and one for a loss. Those seven tackles were the fewest David made since he notched five against Washington earlier this season.

Worst break: Michael Hodges, LB, Texas A&M. The Aggies senior linebacker, leader and leading tackler was playing his last game after earning his spot the previous year as a former walk-on. But with a 10-0 lead, Hodges sprained an ACL and couldn't return. After his injury, A&M was outscored 41-14.

Best atmosphere: Cotton Bowl. Two of the country's best fan bases made themselves known, packing Cowboys Stadium and staying loud for most of the game. Texas A&M and LSU sold out the game just days after the matchup was announced, and brought their excitement to JerryWorld.
What a wild game, won by Syracuse, 36-34. Great entertainment and one of the best games of the bowl season, but an ugly finish that was, in the end, decided by officials. Nobody likes to see that.

How the game was won: Kansas State's Adrian Hilburn scored a touchdown on a 30-yard pass from Carson Coffman with 1:13 to play that brought the Wildcats within two. Hilburn, however, was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct when officials ruled that his simple salute was excessive celebration. That forced Kansas State to try and tie the game with an 18-yard two-point conversion, but Coffman's pass fell incomplete and the Wildcats couldn't execute an onside kick.

Turning point: The flag after the touchdown. We might have been headed to overtime, but Kansas State had to settle for a low-percentage conversion and couldn't do it. Officials should have kept the flag in their pocket on a celebration that was hardly excessive, and especially a flag that had such a profound impact on the final score. Kansas State and its fans have a right to be angry. You feel bad for Hilburn, whose celebration (of his second career touchdown, by the way) was by no means out of line, but ended up costing the Wildcats the game. He didn't deserve that.

Player of the game: Delone Carter, RB, Syracuse. Kansas State had no answer defensively for the balanced back who ran over and around Wildcats defenders all day. He finished with 202 yards and a pair of TDs on 28 carries.

Unsung hero: Carson Coffman, QB, Kansas State. The Orange keyed in on Daniel THomas, but the maligned senior quarterback made play after play to keep the Wildcats alive, including catching a 29-yard pass from Daniel Thomas earlier in the game to set up a touchdown. He finished 17-of-23 for 229 yards and a pair of touchdowns, and ran for 26 yards on nine carries.

Best call: Trailing 33-28 in the fourth quarter after a Syracuse touchdown, Kansas State ran a flea flicker and completed an underthrown ball to Aubrey Quarles for 41 yards, setting up what they hoped was an eventual go-ahead touchdown, but the drive ended in the failed fake field goal.

Second guessing: I loved the late fake field goal from Kansas State, but hated the execution. That deep, there wasn't going to be enough room to run the ball up the middle, and the Wildcats needed some misdirection or trickery in the form of a pass to the kicker or a leaking receiver to make that play a success.

What it means: The Big 12 drops to 1-3 in bowl season now, with a pair of losses to Big Ten teams and one the Big East. The late flag will overshadow a bit of the loss, but the Wildcats return to the postseason for the first time since 2006 had an ugly finish.

Record performance: With his performance, Thomas moved into second place all-time for rushing yards at Kansas State. Only Darren Sproles has more, but most impressively, Thomas did it in two years as a juco transfer.

The inaugural New Era Pinstripe Bowl will almost certainly be known for its weather. Fans and media experienced travel troubles thanks to 20 inches of snow in New York City on Sunday, which forced a Kansas State team practice to become a walk-through in the Wildcats' hotel.

There's still a game to be played, though, snow or else.

WHO TO WATCH: Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein. Wildcats running back Daniel Thomas earns the headlines, and senior quarterback Carson Coffman plays more, but when Klein's legs get churning, Kansas State's offense can look unstoppable. Against Texas, the Wildcats jumped to a 39-0 lead and threw just four passes because the duo of Klein and Thomas was gashing the Longhorns defense every time either carried the ball. Coffman said Tuesday he wasn't sure if he was going to start, but whether he does or not, Klein should get plenty of playing time, and the more effective he is, the more he'll play. For a Kansas State quarterback situation that's "complicated," it's that simple.

WHAT TO WATCH: Kansas State's defense vs. Syracuse running back Delone Carter. Earlier this week, Carter had this to say about his team: "Once we get out there and I’m healthy and my O-line is healthy and our receivers are healthy, we’re going to dominate. I know defenders don’t like to get hit when it’s cold out, and that kind of gets me excited. I won’t mind the cold. ... I’m used to it. It’s not going to bother me. I’ll go a little harder."

That may be true, and considering the way the Wildcats defense has played lately, he's got reason to believe that's what will happen. K-State gave up 270 yards on the ground to North Texas' Lance Dunbar and 195 yards to Colorado's Rodney Stewart in its final two games. Carter could be due for another big day, or the Wildcats defense could be due for a big statement. The outcome of the game depends on it.

WHY WATCH: For all the action in baseball stadiums this year, the Big 12 hasn't been affected by it yet. The allure and novelty of playing at new Yankee Stadium is a bit new for us folks in Flyover Country, and hosting a bowl is new for the folks at Yankee Stadium, who haven't done so since the 1962 Gotham Bowl.

PREDICTION: Kansas State 28, Syracuse 24. I'm going against my gut a bit here, but not much about Syracuse's offense excites me, and if it's a cold, windy day at the ballpark, I'll take the zone-read scheme with Klein and Thomas over anything Syracuse will bring.

New Era Pinstripe Bowl

December, 6, 2010
12/06/10
1:27
AM ET
Kansas State Wildcats (7-5) vs. Syracuse Orange (7-5)

Dec. 30, 3:20 p.m. ET (ESPN)

Kansas State take by Big 12 blogger David Ubben: Take me at my word, I'll spare you any sort of Apple humor for the duration of this game's coverage. That said, the two Manhattans will be linked when Kansas State heads to the Pinstripe Bowl, even though Yankee Stadium is in the Bronx.

Daniel Thomas carried the Wildcats to an early 4-0 start, but Kansas State struggled to a 1-4 finish in conference play before finishing the season with a win over North Texas to finish 7-5. Thomas, a senior, will get a chance to prove his worth to NFL scouts with a big game against Syracuse, and he'll be coming off a 269-yard performance in the win over North Texas.

Kansas State found a new offense late in the season when it leaned on quarterback Collin Klein, who played receiver last season. Carson Coffman still sees plenty of time, but the Wildcats offense, even if it's one-dimensional with Klein, can be dangerous. In a 39-14 win over Texas earlier this year, the Wildcats needed just four pass attempts to jump out to a 39-0 lead. They ran for 261 yards in that game, and Klein and Thomas both topped 100 yards.

If Syracuse doesn't see enough Cats on Broadway, its front seven will have its hands full with these 'Cats.

No promises on other New York/baseball humor.


Syracuse take by Big East blogger Brian Bennett: Syracuse won't even be leaving its own state for its bowl game, but there was a time not long ago when the postseason seemed far, far away.

Second-year coach Doug Marrone has engineered a remarkable turnaround, leading the Orange to their first bowl game since 2004. They actually were still in position to win the Big East title in their final conference game, but losing three of the past four to end the year took a little cheer out of the banner year.

Defense powered the improvement, as coordinator Scott Shafer's heavy blitz schemes caused problems for Big East teams all year. Led by tackling-machine linebackers Derrell Smith and Doug Hogue, Syracuse ranked sixth in the FBS in total defense.

This is an offensively-challenged team that sputtered to the finish line, scoring just 26 points in its final three games combined. That could spell trouble against a Kansas State team that averaged 33.5 points per game this season. The Orange are in no way built for a Big 12-style shootout.

But they should have a heavily pro-Syracuse crowd at Yankee Stadium. And after such a long absence from the postseason, the Orange are just happy to be bowling anywhere.

NU secondary ready to see Jones again

December, 1, 2010
12/01/10
1:00
PM ET
Nebraska's secondary won't see the same Landry Jones on Saturday, but Jones won't see the same Nebraska secondary, either.

"Last year when we played him, he was a young quarterback just learning the system and everything," defensive back DeJon Gomes said. "One of the biggest things we took away from that game is he’s a competitor and he’s going to do the best he can to get his team into a situation to win."

And one more thing.

[+] EnlargePrince Amukamara
Eric Francis/Getty ImagesPrince Amukamara and the Nebraska secondary have had success against Oklahoma in the past.
"He also likes throwing the ball. That’s good for our secondary," Gomes said.

No kidding. Jones has racked up 527 pass attempts in 2010, in part because of Oklahoma's hurry-up offense and in part to find more success as a sophomore passer.

No quarterback in the Big 12 has more than 500, and Dominique Davis at Eastern Carolina is the only quarterback in America with more attempts than Oklahoma's Jones.

The Blackshirts picked off Jones five times in Lincoln in 2009 -- including three by departed safety Matt O'Hanlon -- though Huskers coach Bo Pelini tossed a wet blanket on talk of that game having any relevance over a year later.

"It's a different time, different place, different offense, new challenges," Pelini said. "The furthest thing from my mind is what happened in that game last year."

What does matter is what's happened this year. Nebraska has put together the No. 2 pass defense in the country, allowing just 144 yards a game. Jones averages almost 330 a game, good for No. 3 nationally.

"It’s going to be an exciting game, especially with them having one of the top offenses in the country and us priding ourself on defense," Gomes said. "It’ll be a fun one to watch."

If history repeats itself, it'll be a lot more fun for Huskers fans than Oklahoma fans when it comes to passing the ball. On the way to that No. 2 ranking, the Nebraska secondary has ruined the days of a handful of good quarterbacks. A sampling:
Only Iowa State's Austen Arnaud, Oklahoma State's Brandon Weeden and Ryan Tannehill at Texas A&M managed decent days against the secondary. Part of Weeden's success was in finding receiver Justin Blackmon, one of the nation's best, for 135 of his 283 yards and both touchdowns. Only Tannehill got a victory with his success, however moderate (19-29, 172 yards).

Jones has another of the nation's best receivers, Ryan Broyles, to throw to, but even Broyles could only manage eight catches for 74 yards in 2009, one of his lowest outputs of the season while healthy.

"They have a trigger man who can get the ball to everybody," Pelini said of Jones. "They stretch the field on you. It's a good challenge for us."

It could be an even bigger challenge for Jones.
Kansas State went with the more mobile Collin Klein over senior Carson Coffman, and it's paying off early, with a pair of running touchdowns for Klein, a former receiver.

Both touchdowns were from just a yard out, and Kansas State leads, 14-3.

Klein's first came on Kansas State's first play, thanks to a 41-yard punt return by Ty Zimmerman, but he engineered a great second drive for his second sneak.

That drive included a 40-yard completion to Travis Tannahill, a good sign for the young quarterback who beat out Coffman, known more as a pure passer versus Klein's athleticism.

He also broke a 15-yard run on the drive. Inserting Klein into the lineup meant instant offense against Texas and Missouri the past two weeks, and the same looks like it's happening today.

Kansas State patents Fumble-whoops-ki

November, 13, 2010
11/13/10
3:12
PM ET
Kansas State tried some trickery to get back into its game against Missouri, but it cost the Wildcats three more points and they now trail 31-14 late in the second quarter, a three-possession deficit.

On the first play of its drive after Missouri's scoop-and-score, with the offensive line standing up, quarterback Carson Coffman took the snap and handed it under the legs of running back John Hubert while Coffman faked a play to the opposite side of the field.

Hubert carried the ball to the left after a delay, but was stripped and Missouri cornerback Carl Gettis came up with a recovery, giving the Big 12 its early leader for "Worst play" on Monday's Weekend Rewind here on the Big 12 blog.

The Wildcats went back to regular football on the next drive, but Coffman was sacked again by Aldon Smith, forcing a three-and-out.

This one looks like it's getting out of hand, and if Missouri can hang a few more points on the board on this drive and eat up some clock, it could remove any drama from the fourth quarter.

Missouri's defense breaks the game open

November, 13, 2010
11/13/10
3:02
PM ET
The Tigers' defense got one big fumble to end the first half and keep Kansas State off the board.

In the third quarter, it forced another one in a big way to put Missouri on it.

Missouri defensive end Aldon Smith stormed through Kansas State's offensive line and got a free shot on Kansas State quarterback Carson Coffman's blind side, forcing a fumble that Missouri's other end, Jacquies Smith, scooped up and carried 53 yards for a score that put Missouri up 28-14 midway through the second quarter.

Coffman was down momentarily and had to be helped off the field after a review confirmed the fumble and return.

Smith recovered the fumble at the end of the first half, and if Kansas State loses this game, it'll head back to Manhattan with nightmares of the fumbled snap at the end of the first half and its failure to keep Aldon Smith out of the backfield.

Kansas State has already proved it's not a team built to come from behind, but the Wildcats will be forced to throw the ball down the stretch more than it wants to. If the offensive line doesn't play much better, that could mean more hits from both Smiths.

Missouri's red-zone magic continues

November, 13, 2010
11/13/10
2:17
PM ET
Missouri entered today's game giving up points on just 14 of 25 possessions by opponents, the nation's No. 2 mark at 56 percent, behind only Boise State.

The Tigers defense got -- or was given -- another big stop with just seconds left in the first half, leaving them with a 21-14 halftime lead.

Carson Coffman spent the drive slicing up the Missouri secondary for 48 yards, completing his last three passes on the drive after coming back in off the bench to run the two-minute drill in place of the running-inclined Collin Klein.

But on the goal line, Coffman fumbled the snap and Missouri's Jacquies Smith recovered it. Missouri's defense has been stout all season when backed deep into its own territory, but to have a defensive red-zone percentage as low as the Tigers do, it takes a little luck once in awhile.

For Missouri, Coffman's fumble -- lucky or not -- is a welcome end to a quarter that saw the defense otherwise struggle.
It didn't take long for Collin Klein to get his first piece of action against Missouri.

The former receiver led the Wildcats to a touchdown that tied the game early in the second quarter.

Missouri struggled to defend Klein's legs, giving up 35 yards on his first three plays, all runs. Kansas State's offense was clearly more dangerous with Klein at the helm, so don't expect starter Carson Coffman to come back in until Missouri proves it can stop Klein.

Daniel Thomas finished the drive with a pair of runs to get in the end zone.

SPONSORED HEADLINES