NCF Nation: Dan Bailey

It's a different year this time around. Most of the guys on this list would already be signed to a team -- albeit with brief contracts -- and ready to work toward a future in the NFL.

But this year, if you're not already aware, NFL teams had to turn out the lights after the draft reached its completion on Saturday evening. Players drafted can't have contact with their new teams, and teams aren't allowed to make offseason moves.

That means no signing of undrafted rookies, creating uncertain futures for these guys. Undrafted guys have plenty of value -- for example, last year's leading rusher among rookies, LeGarrette Blount of Oregon, went undrafted -- and here are a few guys looking for their shot in the future once the lockout ends. (It'll end eventually, right?)

Here are the Big 12 players that were productive in college and would be in camps, but thanks to the lockout, now have their futures on hold.

Tim Barnes, C, Missouri

Barnes was the first-team All-Big 12 center in 2010, but extended a streak of four consecutive Missouri centers to earn that honor and go undrafted. Barnes had more athleticism than his predecessors, but it wasn't enough to get drafted. You won't find a much more knowledgeable center, but a lot of that knowledge might not transfer well to the next level.

Kevin Rutland, CB, Missouri

Rutland was one of the Tigers' team captains last season, but his overall position skills weren't on the level of the cornerbacks drafted ahead of him.

David Sims, S, Iowa State

Sims has great speed at 204 pounds, but his 5-foot-9 frame isn't ideal for a safety. His past didn't help him, either. He enrolled at Oklahoma originally, but didn't qualify and went to junior college. After winning Big 12 Newcomer of the Year in 2009, he was suspended for the season opener in 2010 and stripped of team captain status after racking up charges on a Des Moines woman's debit card.

Orie Lemon, LB, Oklahoma State

Lemon was what you'd want in a linebacker mentally and physically when he was healthy, but his torn ACL last season hurt his draft stock. He's a big hitter, too, but at 242 pounds, NFL teams didn't love his speed.

Dan Bailey, K, Oklahoma State

Simply put, kickers don't get drafted too often. Bailey, who won the Lou Groza Award last season as the nation's best kicker, should get his shot at some point.

Colby Whitlock, DT, Texas Tech

Whitlock has great size at more than 300 pounds, but his lack of speed concerned NFL teams, who also weren't in love with his pass-rushing ability or overall athletic ability. I've been a fan of Whitlock's technique during his time in Lubbock, but measurables are more apt to get you selected.

Jerrod Johnson, QB, Texas A&M

Not a snub, per se, as it was pretty obvious that Johnson struggled in the events leading up to the draft, especially at the Senior Bowl. But Johnson likely would find a shot somewhere, and it's still shocking to see a player with Johnson's resume go undrafted. Coach Mike Sherman knows the kind of football mind Johnson has, though, and can sell his NFL connections on it. There's no question he'll end up in a camp once the option is available.
Here's what you missed over the weekend:

Sooners down another DB

Oklahoma announced safety Marcus Trice would be transferring, which usually wouldn't cause much of a ripple considering Trice played primarily special teams and didn't crack the depth chart last season, eventually being moved to receiver.

But as a freshman, Trice worked as a backup safety and looked ready to become a major contributor again as a sophomore. He didn't, and rumors swirled that he turned in defensive backs coach Willie Martinez for asking in a voicemail for an explanation of why Trice missed a voluntary workout, which is a secondary violation of NCAA rules. The violation forced Oklahoma to sit out a week during this offseason.

Reached by the Tulsa World, however, Trice denied the rumors.

"It wasn't me," Trice told the paper, "but I don't and won't throw anyone else under the bus."

He cited a desire for playing time, something that didn't look like it was coming any time soon at Oklahoma, a school Trice said he grew up dreaming of playing for.

A source at Oklahoma also told the paper that Trice wasn't in bad graces with the coaches. Oklahoma won't be hurt much by his departure, with Javon Harris, Sam Proctor or perhaps nickel back Tony Jefferson looking well prepared to take over for the Sooners' departed safeties, Quinton Carter and Jonathan Nelson. But it's certainly an interesting case, more so than a routine transfer.

The Sooners did get some good news, however.

Receiver Dejuan Miller's career picked up steam with strong outings in wins over Cincinnati (3 rec., 66 yards) and Texas (5 rec., 61 yards) before a knee injury ended his season. He's been cleared for action this spring, but won't compete in contact drills or play full speed.

Oklahoma's receiving corps already has two outstanding options in Biletnikoff Award finalist Ryan Broyles and sophomore Kenny Stills, who broke Broyles' freshman receiving record with 786 yards last year. Trey Franks came on late, as did tight end James Hanna and the Sooners signed a top receiver in Trey Metoyer in their 2011 class, but Miller returning to form could make them even deeper.

Two Cyclones arrested

Iowa State defensive end Jacob Lattimer and reserve tight end Ricky Howard were arrested over the weekend and suspended indefinitely.

Lattimer, 22, faces charges of assault on a peace officer and interference with official acts. Howard, 20, is suspected of operating a vehicle while intoxicated.

Lattimer moved from linebacker to defensive end last season and appeared in all 12 games, making 6.5 tackles for loss and four sacks. He also forced two fumbles.

Howard did not play last season.

Cowboys get punter back

Oklahoma State had to play without Ray Guy semifinalist and All-Big 12 punter Quinn Sharp in the Alamo Bowl. The game carried on without incident thanks to a solid performance from Lou Groza Award winner Dan Bailey's fill-in duties as kickoff specialist and punter, but the Cowboys won't have to worry about any hiccups in 2011.

The academic issues surrounding Sharp have been cleared up, and he's been reinstated to the team, taking part in offseason conditioning and preparing for spring practice, which begins today in Stillwater.

Barring any further changes, he should be ready to go for the season this fall. That's great news for a team with legitimate Big 12 title aspirations. You never miss specialists like Sharp until something goes horribly wrong. The Cowboys won't have to worry about that moving forward.
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.


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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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?

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.

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.

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

C'mon, man: Big 12's most bizarre plays

January, 25, 2011
We saw plenty of great moments and great games across the Big 12 in 2010.

We also saw a lot of weird moments.

So with a nod to the guys at Monday Night Football, here are the five biggest plays of 2010 that made everybody give a hearty, "C'mon, man!"

1. Needed: Onside kick practice. Texas Tech's players were standing and staring, which is rarely a good idea on the football field, but usually acceptable in kick coverage. Not this time. The Red Raiders tried an onside kick, but it didn't travel the necessary 10 yards for a Texas Tech recovery. So, while three Red Raiders hovered over the ball, Baylor's Terrance Ganaway picked it up and outran the Red Raiders for a 38-yard touchdown. That was bad (and rare) enough, but Texas Tech gave up a touchdown on a desperation onside kick against Iowa State a week earlier, too. Jeremy Reeves caught it and returned it 42 yards to ice the 52-38 win. Here's hoping Tech puts in a few more onside kick reps this spring, and a YouTube video titled "Texas Tech onside kick goes horribly wrong" doesn't rack up almost 4.5 million views again in 2011.

2. Victory formation isn't supposed to go like that. Oklahoma State looked ready to trot off the field as 41-38 winners over Troy in their second game of the year. Cowboys quarterback Brandon Weeden lined up in the victory formation, but fumbled the snap, unbelievably giving the ball back to Troy on their 34-yard line with just under a minute to play. Lucky for Weeden, his teammate, Justin Gent, sacked quarterback Corey Robinson on the next play, and Orie Lemon recovered Robinson's fumble to end any notion of what could have been one of the most embarrassing losses in recent history. In Weeden's defense, he was playing with a ruptured tendon in his thumb, which meant pain during any snap under center, but it'd be tough to find a worse time to fumble a snap than in that situation.

3. Creative losing will key a coaching search. Listen, I respect my man Herm Edwards when he rather emphatically states that coaches and players should "Play to win the game." But when you're up 45-17 in the fourth quarter and you've got a running back in Rodney Stewart who ended up with 175 yards on the day, there's no other way to put it: Run. The. Ball. Dan Hawkins' puzzling refusal kept the clock stopped more than it should have been, and the Buffaloes did plenty more turning it over late in the game than moving the ball. Somehow, Colorado turned that 28-point lead into a seven-point deficit with less than a minute to play. "We just didn't want to be one-dimensional," Hawkins said. What? His explanation didn't cut it, and because of the meltdown, Hawkins never coached another game for the Buffs.

4. Throw it to Mom in the stands, man. Missouri quarterback Blaine Gabbert shredded a soft Iowa zone defense for 434 yards in the Insight Bowl, and the Tigers looked in complete control with a 24-20 lead and a drive that had reached Iowa territory. With less than six minutes to play, Gabbert was flushed to his left and tried to throw across his body to receiver Wes Kemp. Iowa's Micah Hyde picked off the ill-advised pass, reversed field and returned it 72 yards for a game-winning pick six. Gabbert admitted after the game that he got "greedy," but the probable first-round pick would probably throw that ball away 90-plus times out of 100 if he had it to do over again.

5. Filling up the stat sheet: Not always good. Texas A&M quarterback Jerrod Johnson rallied his team from a 35-21 fourth-quarter deficit on the road against Oklahoma State, and got the ball back on his own 29-yard line for a possible game-winning drive with just more than a minute to play. He'd already thrown three interceptions -- along with 400 yards and five touchdowns -- but his fourth pick of the game cost the Aggies. He overthrew a well-covered receiver, and Cowboys linebacker Shaun Lewis made an easy interception, returning the ball 28 yards back to the Aggies' 40-yard line. Oklahoma State won the game shortly after on a 40-yard field goal from Dan Bailey. If Texas A&M wins that game, they also win the Big 12 South outright.

Honorable mention: Iowa State reserve punter Daniel Kuehl's attempted pass against Nebraska on the Cyclones' fake extra point in overtime for the win.

To those five, I think we can all say: C'mon, man.

2010 Big 12 All-Bowl team

January, 14, 2011
We've spent the week wrapping up the bowls, and now that it's Friday, here's our Big 12 bowl team comprised of players who got it done individually in their bowl games.

Plenty of guys got snubbed, particularly at receiver (Sorry, Lyle Leong, Cameron Kenney and Kendall Wright!), but without further ado, here it is.


QB: Landry Jones, Oklahoma
RB: Daniel Thomas, Kansas State
RB: Eric Stephens, Texas Tech
WR: Ryan Broyles, Oklahoma
WR: Justin Blackmon, Oklahoma State
WR: T.J. Moe, Missouri
OL: Zach Kendall, Kansas State
OL: Tim Barnes, Missouri
OL: Eric Mensik, Oklahoma
OL: Lonnie Edwards, Texas Tech
OL: Elvis Fisher, Missouri


DL: Phil Taylor, Baylor
DL: Jeremy Beal, Oklahoma
DL: Jared Crick, Nebraska
DL: Richetti Jones, Oklahoma State
LB: Von Miller, Texas A&M
LB: Travis Lewis, Oklahoma
LB: Orie Lemon, Oklahoma State
CB: Jamell Fleming, Oklahoma
CB: Kevin Rutland, Missouri
S: Byron Landor, Baylor
S: Tysyn Hartman, Kansas State


P: Matt Grabner, Missouri
K: Dan Bailey, Oklahoma State
KR: Coryell Judie, Texas A&M
PR: Ryan Broyles, Oklahoma
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.

Dan Bailey wins the Lou Groza Award

December, 9, 2010
Oklahoma State kicker Dan Bailey has won the Lou Groza Award as the nation's top kicker.

Bailey made 24 of 28 kicks and 65-of-66 extra points. He's the only player in Oklahoma State history to win the award, but the second national award winner for the Cowboys at Thursday night's Home Depot College Football Awards show.

Oklahoma State receiver Justin Blackmon won the Biletnikoff Award earlier in the evening.

Kansas State kicker Martin Gramatica, the Big 12's only other Groza Award winner, presented Bailey with the honor. Gramatica won the award in 1997.
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Nebraska kicker Alex Henery was voted first-team All-Big 12 for the first time this week, but only by the media.

The league's 12 coaches pegged Oklahoma State kicker Dan Bailey for the first team, a move that Huskers coach Bo Pelini called "crazy."

Henery showed everyone watching why with a perfect 54-yard kick that put Nebraska up 10-0 in the first quarter.

It would have been good from well over 60 yards, too.

Henery's only miss in 18 kicks this year was a 50-yarder that was blocked, and it's the biggest advantage for the Huskers in this game.

Bedlam: Three keys for Cowboys, Sooners

November, 26, 2010
Three things Oklahoma must do to win:

[+] EnlargeBrandon Weeden
AP Photo/Eric GayGetting pressure on Oklahoma State's Brandon Weeden will be crucial for the Sooners.
1. Stop the "other" guys. Running back Kendall Hunter and receiver Justin Blackmon are going to get theirs. They always do. Hunter has been held under 100 yards just twice this year, and Blackmon has at least 125 yards and a touchdown in all 10 of his starts. But Oklahoma State's offense really gets humming when players like receivers Bo Bowling and Josh Cooper and running back Joseph Randle get involved. Oklahoma can win if Blackmon and Hunter both have big days, but if quarterback Brandon Weeden clears 400 yards through the air thanks to 75 yards from Bowling and Cooper and another 75 or so from Randle, it's not going to happen for the Sooners.

2. Protect the passer. Oklahoma will lessen the pressure on Landry Jones with plenty of screens and swing passes, but when the Sooners do go downfield, they have to keep Jones off his back. Like most quarterbacks, a pressured Jones is a much more mistake-prone Jones.

3. Bring an aggressive defensive gameplan. The Big 12 team with the most success slowing Oklahoma State's offense was Texas A&M, which led 21-7 at halftime in Stillwater this year. The Aggies did it by bringing a wide variance of blitzes and making plays in the backfield. Oklahoma State's offense is capable of making big plays over the top, but that's what makes the Cowboys so good offensively. They're just as capable of dinking-and-dunking their way up the field. It's an efficient, precise offense. Force Weeden to make the difficult plays down the field to Blackmon. He'll probably still make a couple, but nobody's held Oklahoma State's full-strength offense to fewer than 33 points. Don't expect Oklahoma to be the first.

Three things Oklahoma State must to do win

1. Minimize the damage on the edge. Oklahoma is going to look for Ryan Broyles and DeMarco Murray on plenty of swing passes. If Oklahoma State's defenders on the edge tackle well and make those plays a consistent 1-2 yards instead of a consistent 5-8, it'll give the Cowboys a leg up and force Oklahoma to look for more difficult sources of offense.

2. Get the crowd involved. Baylor isn't known for its intimidating home-field advantage. Texas A&M is, and Missouri's fans were more riled up for their date with the Sooners than they've been for any other game in a long time. Oklahoma beat the Bears, and lost by 14 to the Aggies and by nine to the Tigers. The empirical data supports the notion that Oklahoma plays poorly on the road, and the Cowboys fans have to make sure Boone Pickens Stadium is more like Faurot and Kyle Field than Floyd Casey Stadium. Paddle people, your time is now. That said, the team has to give them something to cheer about. Missouri returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown. Texas A&M shut Oklahoma out in the first half and ran the opening kick of the second half back for a touchdown. A snap over Jones' head into the end zone for a safety on the first play against Texas A&M helped, too. The Cowboys would get a big boost from a big play or two early in each half to inject some energy into the building.

3. Take advantage of the kicking game. Tress Way and Quinn Sharp are close to a push as punters, but Oklahoma State has a huge advantage in the field goal-kicking department. Oklahoma's Jimmy Stevens is 10-of-13 on the year, but the reason for his lack of attempts is a lack of confidence from coach Bob Stoops. The Sooners rarely attempt kicks longer than 45 yards. Oklahoma State's Dan Bailey is 22-of-26, but all four misses have come in his past three games after a perfect start. Stevens, meanwhile, made three kicks last week against Baylor, even though the longest was a 33-yarder. Bailey missed against Kansas from 46 and 50 yards, but he was 8-of-8 on kicks longer than 40 yards before last week's game. His other two misses came from 39 yards against Texas and 31 at the end of the first half against Baylor. The return of early season Dan Bailey would be a welcome sight for the Cowboys, and one that could decide the game.

Special teams breaks it open for Cowboys

November, 20, 2010
Michael Harrison seems to have a knack for making his biggest plays when Oklahoma State needs them most.

The freshman receiver blocked a Kansas punt and scooped it up to score from 20 yards out, giving Oklahoma State a 34-14 lead that looks insurmountable for a Kansas offense that's been held scoreless in the third quarter.

Playing without Justin Blackmon at Kansas State earlier this season, Harrison hauled in a 13-yard touchdown on a third-down jump ball, filling Blackmon's void in the secondary to make the biggest play of the Cowboys 24-14 road win.

Making Harrison's play this week even bigger for the Cowboys was its timing. Oklahoma State's previous drive ended with a missed 50-yard field goal from Dan Bailey that did nothing to amp up what looks like a low energy level from the Cowboys in the second half.

Somebody needed to make a play on what hasn't been a very good day for Oklahoma State. Once again, it was Harrison.

Rough second-half start for Cowboys

November, 20, 2010
That wasn't the start to the second half that Oklahoma State needed.

Oklahoma State got stopped on a fourth down on its first drive, but made a big stop by blocking a field-goal attempt on Kansas' first drive.

On Oklahoma State's next drive, a deep ball to Justin Blackmon was erased by a holding penalty, and Blackmon had to leave the game with an ankle injury on the play, which would have put the ball inside the Kansas 5-yard line. Trainers re-taped the ankle after Blackmon left under his own power, and was expected to return.

The drive ended with a rare miss from Oklahoma State kicker Dan Bailey, and the Cowboys still lead, 20-14, early in the third quarter.

Oklahoma State looks pretty lethargic, but the best way to get upset on the road is to let teams hang around late until they get an opportunity to make a game-changing play.

Thanks to mistakes like that, Kansas still has that opportunity. The Cowboys need to make a few plays to take away any opportunities the Jayhawks will get the rest of the game.

Halftime analysis: OSU 24, Baylor 0

November, 6, 2010
STILLWATER, Okla. -- The score's a pretty good reflection of this one. Baylor got deep into Oklahoma State territory once and turned it over, but Oklahoma State dropped what should have been an easy touchdown pass. This is a pretty clear-cut, 24-point game that Oklahoma State has dominated from the start. If not for a late missed field goal by Lou Groza Award candidate Dan Bailey -- his first of the season -- it could be 27-0.

Turning point: On Baylor's second drive of the game, Oklahoma State cornerback Brodrick Brown stripped Baylor receiver Josh Gordon and recovered the fumble to set up Oklahoma State's first touchdown. That drive put the Cowboys up 10-0 and on their way to a great first-half performance on both sides of the ball.

Turning point II: Baylor had a wide-open Krys Buerck in the end zone, but Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III underestimated the speed of Oklahoma State safety Johnny Thomas, who came from the opposite side of the field to intercept the pass and keep Baylor off the scoreboard with just minutes remaining in the first half.

Stat of the half: Baylor turnovers: 3. Oklahoma State: 0. The Cowboys defense has played great, but all three of the turnovers have been because of plays the defense made, and without them, this could be a two-touchdown or 10-point lead.

Best player in the half: Oklahoma State quarterback Brandon Weeden. He's had all day in the pocket, been able to hit receivers for short passes and been accurate when he's looked downfield. He's completed 20-of-25 passes for 244 yards to seven different receivers.

Best player in the half II: Oklahoma State's secondary. Brown's fumble and Thomas' interception have the Cowboys on top.

Best call: Mike Gundy elected to try and convert a 4th-and-2 near midfield, and Baylor's defense lost Justin Blackmon over the top. Blackmon dropped the pass, but the defense kept Baylor off the board on the ensuing possession. Obviously, the execution wasn't there, but from a decision-making standpoint, Gundy's call and Weeden's decision to go deep should have paid off.

What Oklahoma State needs to do: Everything it's been doing. Don't take chances on defense, prevent the big play, and hand the ball to Kendall Hunter in the second half. He'll take the Cowboys home.

What Baylor needs to do: Keep trying to stretch the field. Oklahoma State has reined in Griffin's legs, but they've had plenty of opportunities for long plays down the field through the air. Griffin hasn't been accurate with those passes, but you have to keep forcing the issue. There still has to be some patience in the offense, but Baylor's going to need at least five second-half touchdowns to win this game.

Redemption is everywhere for Huskers

October, 23, 2010
Brandon Kinnie opened the game's scoring with a receiving touchdown.

Niles Paul just added another score on a kick return to put Nebraska up 14-6.

This week, Paul shut down his Facebook account and faced harassment from Nebraska fans after several drops last week, including one that would have been a touchdown.

"It hurts that people were yelling stuff at me. It's disrespectful," Paul said Tuesday. "As an athlete I have to keep my cool and stay focused, because I don't want to do something to put my situation in jeopardy."

Kinnie dropped a late pass last week that would have gone for a touchdown to bring Nebraska within seven points late in the game if he'd been able to haul it in.

After Paul's touchdown, Nebraska fans are likely changing their tune.

Taylor Martinez threw a pretty pass to Kinnie to set up the first score, but protected the ball poorly on a run that resulted in a fumble to set up Oklahoma State's second field goal.

Big 12 weekend rewind: Week 5

October, 4, 2010
Best offensive player: Robert Griffin, QB, Baylor. His 444 yards of total offense were a school record and he was responsible for four touchdowns. It was evident early that Kansas couldn't handle him, and the Bears poured it on for 55 points, their highest total ever in Big 12 play.

Best defensive player: Ugo Chinasa, DE, Oklahoma State. Chinasa was everywhere against Texas A&M on Saturday, and had one of the most skilled plays of the season, tipping a Jerrod Johnson pass to himself for an interception. He also had two sacks, and three tackles for loss among his six total tackles.

Best team performance: Baylor. The Bears set all kinds of records against Kansas, and the 55-7 win was the largest margin of victory in any conference game in school history.

[+] EnlargeShontrelle Johnson
AP Photo/Steve PopeShontrelle Johnson put up big numbers while filling in for an injured Alexander Robinson.
Best offensive freshman: Shontrelle Johnson, RB, Iowa State. Yeah, 61 of his 102 yards came on one carry, but it was a big one. Playing for an injured Alexander Robinson, Johnson's long touchdown run gave the Cyclones a 38-24 fourth-quarter lead.

Best defensive freshman: Tom Wort, LB, Oklahoma. The big stage of his first Red River Rivalry didn't intimidate the freshman. He sacked Garrett Gilbert once, made 10 tackles and had two tackles for loss.

Best play: Dan Bailey, K, Oklahoma State. Football doesn't get any better. Bailey made the most of his opportunity and kept Oklahoma State undefeated with a 40-yard, game-winning field goal as time expired against Texas A&M on Thursday.

Best play II: Robert Griffin, QB, Baylor. In the red zone, the snap went over Griffin's head, but he ran backward, calmly scooped it up, rolled to his left to buy time and threw across his body to Terrance Williams for an 11-yard touchdown pass. Not many quarterbacks in the Big 12 can pull that off.

Best play III: A.J. Green, WR, Georgia. He's not even in the Big 12, but this catch was disgusting. One of the best I've ever seen.

Worst play: Texas Tech's onside kick team. The Red Raiders inched to within seven points late in the fourth quarter and lined up for the onside kick. Iowa State's Jeremy Reeves came down with the ball, and maybe the coverage team thought he'd lay down. He didn't. He stayed up, emerged from a pile and raced 42 yards for a touchdown that gave the Cyclones a 52-38 lead.

Timeliest redemption: Iowa State. They let Texas Tech climb out of a 24-0 hole to tie the game and looked like they were about to get embarrassed in their own stadium. But Iowa State rebounded, slowed the Texas Tech offense and got back to scoring. Now they're 3-2 and three wins away from shocking everyone by going to a bowl game again.

Best game: Oklahoma State 38, Texas A&M 35. Ten touchdowns, eight turnovers, enough momentum swings to make any viewer car sick and it all ended with a game-winning field goal kick that was unlikely to even be kicked a minute earlier. Tremendously entertaining. Game of the year so far in the Big 12.

Worst team performance: Kansas. Once again, Jayhawks. Yuck. The bye week means they won't get a chance for another head-scratching upset, but they'll host K-State on Thursday night next week. Upset Nebraska this week, and the Wildcats will be ranked.

Cruelest trajectory: The ball near the end of the Red River Rivalry. A miscommunication left Landry Jones scrambling, and he fumbled the ball in Oklahoma's red zone while being chased to the sideline. It teetered on the white boundary after Jones haphazardly slapped at it while being tackled to the ground. One Longhorn missed a scoop and score, and the pile of players that arrived shortly after knocked it out of bounds. "I thought we were going to pick it up and run it back in for the touchdown," said Texas coach Mack Brown, whose team trailed by eight. "I was just thinking about the two-point play, very honestly."

Big 12 helmet stickers: Week 5

October, 3, 2010
Here are the five (and a few more) guys who got it done this week:

Robert Griffin, QB, Baylor: Griffin threw for a career-high 380 yards and three touchdowns. The best was his third quarter score to Terrance Williams. The ball was snapped over his head, but Griffin scooped it up, rolled to his left and threw across his body to Williams for an 11-yard touchdown that put Baylor up by 34 in the third quarter of its 55-7 win over Kansas. He also ran for 64 yards and a touchdown on eight carries.

Rodney Stewart, RB, Colorado: The 5-foot-6, 175-pound running back they call "Speedy" averaged almost eight yards on his 19 carries, running for 149 yards and a touchdown in Colorado's 29-27 win over Georgia that put the Buffaloes at 3-1 heading into its conference opener against Missouri.

Dan Bailey, K, Oklahoma State: He should probably share his sticker with receiver Justin Blackmon (10 rec., 127 yards, TD) and Shaun Lewis, who set him up with an interception in the final minute, but Bailey banged home a 40-yard field goal as time expired to beat Texas A&M 38-35 on Thursday night.

Iowa State offensive line: The big boys, headlined by center Ben Lamaak and left tackle Kelechi Osemele, paved the way for a pair of 100-yard rushers -- running backs Shontrelle Johnson and Alexander Robinson -- and gave quarterback Austen Arnaud time to throw four touchdown passes in the Cyclones' 52-38 win over Texas Tech. Arnaud was sacked just twice, on the same possession with the Cyclones up 24-7 in the second quarter.

DeMarco Murray, RB, Oklahoma: Murray ran for 115 yards and two touchdowns against rival Texas to help pace Oklahoma to a 28-20 win. Here's what I wrote about his day.