NCF Nation: Jonathan Beasley

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

It's the quiet before the storm today, still two days away from the games this weekend.

After all the excitement of last week's opening games, I'm wondering why the Big 12 doesn't have at least one Thursday night game every week during the nonconference part of the season. It would be a great opportunity for the conference to build some awareness.

The bigger Big 12 schools traditionally have not wanted to move their games around. But it would seem that a school itching to build some national notoriety -- are you listening Texas Tech, Oklahoma State and Kansas State? -- would like to jump into a programming slot where a lot of people would be watching their games.

Thursday night has emerged as the unofficial kickoff point of the week. And because of the glut of games on Saturdays, playing a game early gives a school a chance to stand out and build some national awareness. Look at what it's done for ACC and Big East schools.

But then again, considering the weak games across the conference this week, I could understand why the less national exposure might be better.

Here are some links to get you through the pregame hungries.

  • The Houston Chronicle's Joseph Duarte describes the Big 12's Krispy Kreme diet of nonconference foes this week.
  • Texas' heralded "Q Package" got off to a quiet start in its opening game.
  • Brent Zwereneman of the San Antonio Express-News profiles Texas A&M QB-turned-WR Ryan Tannehill, who led the team in receiving yards in the Aggies' season opener against Arkansas State.
  • Jimmy Burch's Big 12 notepad in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram talks about Texas Tech's early struggles, Sam Bradford's new sense as a leader and how Colt McCoy has eschewed drinking a Dr. Pepper for nine years.
  • The Fort Worth Star Telegram's Brad Gray describes Texas WR Jordan Shipley's emergence as the Longhorns' deep threat.
  • Oklahoma State's red-zone struggles appear to have returned this season after sputtering offensive performances near the goal line in the Cowboys' opener.
  • Brandon George of the Dallas Morning News has a good story on the adversity that Texas Tech T Rylan Reed has overcome to reach the Red Raiders' starting lineup.
  • The Omaha World-Herald has a strong video package to break down the Cornhuskers' upcoming game with San Jose State.
  • The Oklahoman's John Helsley writes about the evolution of Matt Clapp into Oklahoma's fullback and also lists the school's top fullbacks in history.
  • Baylor hopes to build on a paltry pass rush that notched only one sack last week -- a safety blitz by Jeremy Williams.
  • The combination of high altitude and Colorado's no-huddle offense could be a nightmare for nonfamiliar opponents.
  • Preparing for two potential Iowa State quarterbacks -- Austen Arnaud and Phillip Bates -- is much more difficult than preparing for one, according to Cyclone opponents.
  • Former top 10 national recruit Michael Keck has left the Missouri program.
  • Missouri has already sold a record number of more than 40,000 season tickets -- 5,000 more than the previous record.
  • Overlooked WR recruit Dezmon Briscoe has blossomed after arriving at Kansas, producing three TDs in the Jayhawks season opener.
  • Topeka Capital-Journal Kansas State beat writer Austin Meek consults the 8-ball to get some hot sports opinion about the Wildcats and Jayhawks.
  • Don't expect much of a challenge for Missouri against Division I-AA Southeast Missouri State, which struggled to post a 35-28 victory over Division II Southwest Baptist last week -- a team that was 0-11 last season.  
  • Former standout Kansas State QB Jonathan Beasley returns to Manhattan as an assistant coach for Montana State.
  • Iowa State must have better tackling if they hope to avenge last season's loss to Kent State on Saturday.

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

The Big 12's short history has been dotted by key performers with a knack for making the big plays. Here are 10 of the most notable. I'd be curious to know if anybody has any other thoughts as well.

* Texas QB Major Applewhite (1998-2001) His mettle was shown in his freshman season when he led a comeback at Nebraska, snapping the Cornhuskers' 47-game home winning streak. And he wrapped up his career by leading Texas back from a 19-point deficit late in the third quarter in a comeback triumph over Washington in the Holiday Bowl in his final game.

* Kansas State QB Jonathan Beasley (1996-2000) Not nearly as flashy as his predecessor, Michael Bishop, but Beasley just had a knack for producing in key situations. He became the only quarterback in school history to lead the Wildcats to back-to-back bowl victories, but he's more remembered for leading the Wildcats for a game-winning touchdown in a driving snowstorm against Nebraska to clinch the 2000 North title.

* Colorado K Mason Crosby (2003-06) The most consistent clutch kicker in Big 12 history made 12 of 13 field goals in the fourth quarter, including a perfect 10 of 10 in the final 8 1/2 minutes of a game.

* Nebraska QB Eric Crouch (1998-2001) Big 12's career rushing leader among quarterbacks wrapped up the 2001 Heisman Trophy with dramatic 63-yard throwback pass from Mike Stuntz against Oklahoma, taking the Cornhuskers to the national championship game. But his 95-yard TD run against Missouri -- longest in league history by a quarterback -- showed some moxie.

* Iowa State NT Brent Curvey (2003-2006) Massive 295-pounder was one of the best run-stuffers of his era. But he also earned the nickname of "Big Play Curvey" with three career touchdown returns, including a dramatic 66-yard interception return as a senior that wrapped up a victory over Colorado in 2005.

* Texas Tech QB Graham Harrell (2006-present) Has a knack for bowl comebacks, leading the Red Raiders back from double-digit fourth-quarter deficits in the last two seasons. Included was a 24-point fourth-quarter comeback against Minnesota in the 2006 Insight Bowl.

* Texas A&M RB Sirr Parker (1995-98) Although hampered by injuries most of his senior season, he delivered a performance for the ages in the 1998 championship, scoring on a game-winning 32-yard TD pass from Branndon Stewart in overtime after earlier scoring a TD and a two-point conversion to tie the score in regulation.

* Missouri QB Brad Smith (2002-05) Started early by leading comebacks from his freshman season. He finished with his biggest clutch performance, directing the Tigers back from an early 21-0 lead in a 38-31 victory over South Carolina in the 2005 Independence Bowl.

* Oklahoma S Roy Williams (1999-2001) His leaping blitz helped cause an interception of Chris Simms that was returned for a touchdown by Teddy Lehman, sealing a dramatic victory over Texas in 2001. But he had a repeated flair for key plays throughout his career, helping earn him the nickname "Superman" while playing for the Sooners.

* Texas QB Vince Young (2003-05) Arguably the best clutch player in recent college football history, he had a knack for making big plays at key moments. He tormented Oklahoma State with comebacks, made Mark Mangino erupt after a fourth-quarter scramble and saved his best for last with a performance for the ages beating USC for the national title.

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