NCF Nation: Justin Gilbert

NFL draft breakdown: Big 12

May, 12, 2014
May 12
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Several former Big 12 stars watched their dreams come true with their selection in the NFL draft over the weekend.

None of those players went to Texas.

The Longhorns did not have a player drafted for the first time since 1937, leaving a lasting memory that could remain in Austin, Texas, until the 2015 draft.

Baylor led the league with five players selected, followed by Oklahoma with four. Oklahoma State cornerback Justin Gilbert and TCU cornerback Jason Verrett were the only Big 12 players selected in the first round.

Here's a closer look at some of the Big 12's draftees and storylines from the draft over the weekend.

[+] EnlargeCyril Richardson
Tim Heitman/USA TODAY SportsGuard Cyril Richardson was the first of five Baylor players who were selected in the draft. The Bears had five of the league's 17 draft picks.
Interesting storyline: In addition to the Longhorns going without a player drafted, it was a lackluster weekend for the rest of Big 12 with a total of 17 draftees, including five on the first two days of the draft (Rounds 1-3). Five Big 12 players were selected in the seventh round, helping to increase what was looking like a ugly and disappointing number midway through the draft’s final day. The Big 12 had 22 players selected in 2013, with eight in the first three rounds and 17 in the first five rounds.

Strong statement: While his current team did not get any players drafted, Texas coach Charlie Strong watched his former school, Louisville, get more players drafted in the first round than the entire Big 12. Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, safety Calvin Pryor and linebacker Marcus Smith each were selected in the first round after being recruited by and playing for Strong at Louisville. Linebacker Preston Brown was selected by the Bills in the third round, giving Louisville four players selected in the first three rounds. No Big 12 team matched that feat.

Best fit: It’s probably hard to find a rookie in a better situation than former Oklahoma State cornerback Gilbert, who was selected No. 8 overall by the Cleveland Browns. First, Cleveland clearly valued him, taking him in the top 10 after moving down, and he should slide right into the starting lineup for the Browns. Second, he will be the most overlooked top-10 pick in recent memory as all the attention during his rookie season is likely to be focused on former Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel, the Browns’ second pick of the first round. Third, he will get the opportunity to be mentored by Pro Bowl cornerback Joe Haden in a system that will allow his physical gifts to shine.

Immediate impact rookie: Former Texas Tech tight end Jace Amaro could be the poised to have the biggest impact as a rookie. Amaro, the New York Jets' second-round pick, could become a big target who is a quarterback’s best friend, as Amaro proved to be during his standout 2013 season with the Red Raiders. If Amaro can hold his own as a blocker, he could develop into a lethal weapon on play action for Rex Ryan’s Jets.

Long-term impact: Former Oklahoma cornerback Aaron Colvin won’t be earning Rookie of the Year honors. Selected in the fourth round by the Jacksonville Jaguars, Colvin is recovering from an torn ACL in January and could miss the entire 2014 season as he recovers from the injury. When he does get healthy, Colvin has the ability to be a starting NFL cornerback and could become a mainstay in the Jaguars secondary.

Potential steal: It's hard to understand why former Baylor running back Lache Seastrunk dropped all the way into the sixth round, where Washington drafted him to rejoin former teammate Robert Griffin III in the offensive backfield. He might not arrive in Washington and lock up a starting role, but it would be a surprise if Seastrunk, who averaged 7.4 yards per carry in 2013, doesn't makes an impact with his new squad.

Big 12's best of 2013

January, 14, 2014
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The college football season is over, and what a season it was. Picked fifth in the preseason, Baylor won its first Big 12 championship. Oklahoma, left for dead in early November, rose out of the ashes to win 11 games. Oklahoma State had some of the most puzzling losses and most dominant wins, as well. And Texas, well, the soap opera is finally over.

Here’s a look back at the 2013 season with our Best of the Big 12:

[+] EnlargeBob Stoops
Chuck Cook/USA TODAY SportsBob Stoops and Trevor Knight delivered the Big 12 a signature BCS win in 2013.
Best coach: Art Briles, Baylor. Bob Stoops deserves a bunch of credit for how his Sooners surged late in the season, but Briles' leading Baylor to its first Big 12 championship was no small feat. The Bears led the nation in scoring, and beat Oklahoma and Texas convincingly. The bowl game was disappointing. The season overall was not.

Best player, offense: Even though he cooled off later in the year, Baylor’s Bryce Petty still finished fifth nationally in QBR in his first season as a starting quarterback. He threw 32 touchdown passes and did a masterful job taking care of the ball, tossing only three interceptions.

Best player, defense: There wasn’t really anyone who clearly stood out here. TCU cornerback Jason Verrett, Oklahoma State cornerback Justin Gilbert, Oklahoma State linebacker Caleb Lavey, Kansas State defensive end Ryan Mueller and Baylor linebacker Eddie Lackey all had their moments. Texas defensive end Jackson Jeffcoat, however, was the only defensive player from the league to win a national award. He was given the Ted Hendricks Award, which goes to the defensive end of the year in college football. Jeffcoat tied for third nationally with 13 sacks.

Best moment: The league has been waiting for a signature victory to hang its hat on. Oklahoma finally gave the Big 12 that victory in the Allstate Sugar Bowl with a stunning 45-31 win over Alabama. Behind freshman quarterback Trevor Knight, the Sooners controlled the game from the second quarter on. Defensively, linebacker Eric Striker and end Geneo Grissom were unblockable, combining for five sacks of Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron. Offensively, Knight carved up the Crimson Tide for 348 passing yards and four touchdowns. It wasn’t even that Alabama played poorly. It was that Oklahoma played terrifically.

Best rivalry game: Maybe new Texas coach Charlie Strong will bring some more juice to the Red River Rivalry. Lately, it’s been second fiddle to Bedlam. In quality. In drama. In impact. Once again, Bedlam carried major Big 12 title implications, and once again, the game delivered a thrilling ending. Backup quarterback Blake Bell found Jalen Saunders in the corner of the end zone with 19 seconds remaining for the Sooners’ first offensive touchdown of the game, lifting Oklahoma to a win and spoiling Oklahoma State’s shot at a Big 12 title.

Best play: Late in the third quarter of Kansas State’s game against Baylor, Mueller stripped Petty while simultaneously recovering the fumble near the sideline. The acrobatic play gave K-State good field position in Baylor territory, and the Wildcats would go on to take a 25-21 lead. Baylor ultimately outlasted the Wildcats, but Mueller, who also had two sacks in the game, was a big reason why the Bears' high-powered offense was held in check most of the afternoon.

[+] EnlargeTyler Lockett
Jasen VinloveUSA TODAY SportsKansas State's Tyler Lockett had seven 100-yard receiving games this season, including two games with more than 200 yards receiving.
Best performance in a loss: The Wildcats eventually lost, but K-State receiver Tyler Lockett could not be covered by the Sooners in their game in late November. Lockett kept the Wildcats in the game, reeling in 12 catches for 278 yards and three touchdowns, prompting Oklahoma defensive coordinator Mike Stoops to go ballistic on the sideline multiple times. Lockett was also a monster against Texas and Michigan. All told, he totaled 35 catches, 631 yards and six touchdowns against those three programs alone.

Best individual defensive performance: Mueller against Baylor, Verrett shutting down Baylor wideout Antwan Goodley, and Gilbert picking off Texas twice all deserve honorable mention. But Striker gets the nod for wreaking havoc on the two-time defending national champ in New Orleans. Striker had three sacks and forced a fumble after barreling around the edge to slam into McCarron’s blind side. The ball popped loose and Grissom returned the fumble for the game-winning touchdown.

Best true freshman: Texas Tech quarterback Davis Webb had to split time with fellow true freshman Baker Mayfield for most of the season. When Mayfield left unexpectedly in December, the job was finally Webb’s to run with. And run he did. Actually, he threw. Against No. 14 Arizona State in the National University Holiday Bowl, Webb completed 28 of 41 passes for 403 yards and four touchdowns with no interceptions in one of this year’s best bowl performances from a quarterback. Webb had a solid freshman season, leading the Red Raiders to fourth-quarter wins over TCU and West Virginia. But if the bowl was any indication, the best is yet to come.

Best quote: “So much for the big bad wolf, huh?” -- Bob Stoops, after the Sooners defeated Alabama.

AT&T Cotton Bowl preview

January, 3, 2014
Jan 3
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Oklahoma State will want to strike another blow for the Big 12, Missouri will want to defend the SEC’s reputation. It should be a good one.

OSU and Missouri battle in the AT&T Cotton Bowl (7:30 pm ET, FOX) on Friday night at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. Here’s a preview of one of the most evenly matched games of this bowl season.

Who to Watch: Missouri defensive end Michael Sam. Look out Clint Chelf, Sam is coming for you and he’s been a terror for opposing offenses throughout the year. He led the SEC with 10.5 sacks and 18.5 tackles for loss. The senior brings a combination of acceleration and athleticism to the table that is very difficult for offenses to stop. If OSU has any hope to win, it can’t let Sam spend his holiday season in the backfield in hot pursuit of Chelf, the Cowboys quarterback, and OSU's running backs.

What to Watch: The interior lines. Missouri has a strong group in the trenches, and OSU’s success has mirrored its ability to control the line of scrimmage. Whoever wins the battle of the big fellas will probably win the game. Both teams have very talented skill players, like OSU receiver Josh Stewart and Missouri running back Henry Josey, who can make plays if given the chance. How do you take those explosive players out of the equation? Win the battle up front.

Why to Watch: The matchup between OSU cornerback Justin Gilbert and Mizzou receiver Dorial Green-Beckham is one reason. The battle between former Big 12 foes is another. These two teams know each other better than the normal bowl matchup, and the Cowboys will be looking to strike another blow for the Big 12 after Oklahoma’s Sugar Bowl win, while the Tigers will be looking to redeem the SEC. The Sooners’ win over Alabama could very well ramp up the intensity in this one.

Prediction: Oklahoma State 35, Missouri 34. The Cowboys prevail in one of the best games of the bowl season. Neither team dominates in the trenches, so this one is decided by turnovers and key plays on special teams. A late turnover by the Tigers helps OSU score a late touchdown to snatch the victory out of the hands of their former conference rival.
Their collegiate careers have taken similar paths.

They stepped on campus as raw athletes with unique talent, they flashed that ability as true freshmen and they began to turn their potential into production as sophomores.

[+] EnlargeJustin Gilbert
J.P. Wilson/Icon SMIAfter a down season in 2012, Justin Gilbert was a Thorpe finalist this season.
Oklahoma State cornerback Justin Gilbert and Missouri receiver Dorial Green-Beckham are two of college football’s toughest individual matchups. And they’ll battle each other on Friday in the AT&T Cotton Bowl.

Gilbert, a senior, is projected to be a first round NFL draft pick after a stellar final season for the Cowboys. Green-Beckham, a sophomore, will play on Sundays someday and ranks No. 6 on ESPN.com’s list of top 25 non-eligible NFL prospects ($) in college football.

The Cotton Bowl provides Gilbert one last opportunity against an NFL-level talent in Green-Beckham after a disappointing junior year. He was a star as a sophomore and looked like a guy who would be NFL-bound when he initially arrived at OSU but the struggles in 2012 led to his return for his final season.

“I felt I owed this team a lot more than I gave them last year,” Gilbert said. “During the season last year Coach [Mike] Gundy brought me in and had a little talk about the production I wasn’t having and how they expected more out of me and they knew what I could do.”

Gilbert took those words to heart, becoming one of the nation’s best cornerbacks and a finalist for the Thorpe Award, which is given to the nation’s top defensive back. Gilbert’s stellar play has made OSU defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer’s job easier during his first year running the Cowboys’ defense. For opposing receivers, Gilbert has been like the fly you can’t get rid, keeps showing up at the most inopportune times and making life much more unpleasant than it should be.

“I’ve asked him to do some more difficult things this year than I have in the past, played more aggressive out there on the corner, some stuff schematically we’ve never done here at Oklahoma State before,” Spencer said. “I would not have been able to do those things if it wasn’t for [Gilbert].”

Now Gilbert faces one of his most difficult tests in his final college game. Green-Beckham, also known as DGB, was the No. 3 player in the ESPN 300 for the Class of 2012. At 6-foot-6, 225 pounds, DGB combines the size of a tight end with the speed and athleticism of a man half his size. In the SEC title game against Auburn, Green-Beckham had six receptions for 144 yards and two touchdowns. He gave SEC defensive coordinators nightmares with 55 receptions for 830 yards and 12 touchdowns this year, taking a clear step forward during his second collegiate season.

“It’s just being comfortable really,” he said of his improvement. “Looking at last year’s season [I had] that freshman mind, but this year I felt like I came out here and used last year as more of an experience to come out here and play a lot harder.”

Fortunately for the Cowboys, Gilbert seems to rise to the occasion against the best. He battled NFL top-10 pick Justin Blackmon in practice during his first two years in Stillwater and won his share of those one-on-one battles. As a sophomore, he had picks against future NFL starting quarterbacks Ryan Tannehill, Robert Griffin III and Andrew Luck.

If the Cowboys hope to knock off the Tigers, Gilbert will have to play a major role in slowing DGB and the Missouri passing game.

“Justin has gotten the national accolades and well-deserved,” Spencer said. “He’s in a [high] profile position, is going to get tested many times during the bowl game.”

Big 12 bowl players to watch

December, 19, 2013
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Here are five key players to watch from the Big 12 this bowl season:

Oklahoma State cornerback Justin Gilbert

AT&T Cotton Bowl vs. Missouri

[+] EnlargeSaunders
Richard Rowe/USA TODAY SportsJalen Saunders' big-play ability will be much needed against Alabama.
The Jim Thorpe Award finalist and consensus All-American will be matched up against one of the rising pass-catching stars in college football in Dorial Green-Beckham. "DGB" finished just ninth in the SEC in receiving but exploded in the SEC championship game with 144 receiving yards and two touchdowns. He also had four touchdown catches in one game earlier in the season. If Gilbert can take away Missouri’s top downfield threat, the rest of the Oklahoma State defense can zero in on stopping running back Henry Josey and pressuring quarterback James Franklin.

Gilbert has made himself quite a bit of future money by coming back to school for what has been a banner senior season. He could make even more blanketing the physical, 6-foot-6 Green-Beckham.

Oklahoma receiver/returner Jalen Saunders

Allstate Sugar Bowl vs. Alabama

In many ways, the Sooners don’t match up well with Alabama, which was on track to advance to a fourth national championship game in five seasons before a dramatic loss to Auburn in the Iron Bowl.

But Oklahoma does have an X factor in Saunders, whose versatile playmaking could keep the two-touchdown underdog Sooners in the game.

In the upset victory over Oklahoma State that pushed Oklahoma into the Sugar, Saunders had a 61-yard punt return touchdown, a 37-yard reverse rush that set up another score and a game-winning, 7-yard touchdown grab in the corner of the end zone with 19 seconds remaining.

If Saunders can also pull off big plays on special teams and reel in clutch receptions, Oklahoma just might be able to hang around with the Crimson Tide.

Baylor running back Lache Seastrunk

Tostitos Fiesta Bowl vs. Central Florida

In the summer, Seastrunk declared he was "going to win the Heisman" this season. While Seastrunk rushed for more than 1,000 yards and Baylor led the nation in offense, Seastrunk didn’t have the kind of individual season he had gunned for, due in part to a midseason groin strain.

Will that prompt Seastrunk to come back for his senior season, or will the Fiesta be his final college game? According to ESPN draft guru Mel Kiper, Seastrunk grades out somewhere around a third-round pick. The Fiesta could be a chance for Seastrunk to improve his stock.

Or it could be a chance for him to build toward a more serious Heisman campaign in 2014.

Texas Tech quarterback Michael Brewer

National University Holiday Bowl vs. Arizona State

The ongoing Texas Tech quarterback competition was reduced by one last week, when freshman Baker Mayfield elected to transfer. That could open the door for Brewer to finally regain a stranglehold on the position.

Brewer was the offseason favorite to win the job. Then, he suffered a summer back injury and, after returning to practice in October, was never able to shake off enough rust to catch up with Mayfield and Davis Webb.

These bowl practices, however, should give Brewer plenty of snaps to return to form, and if he gets the starting nod over Webb, he could take the job for good with a solid showing against Arizona State.

Kansas State quarterback Jake Waters

Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl vs. Michigan

The junior college transfer was one of the most improved players in the Big 12 from beginning to end. After struggling during the nonconference and early portion of the league schedule, Waters helped fuel K-State’s surge the second half of the season. In fact, in the Wildcats’ only loss (Oklahoma) after Oct. 12, Waters still passed for 348 yards and three touchdowns.

The Wildcats will need another big game out of Waters against Michigan. They’ll also need him to take care of the ball, too. The Wolverines have been up and down defensively, but with 17 interceptions, they feature one of the better ball-hawking defensive backfields in the country.

Conference wrap: Big 12

December, 16, 2013
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Dealing with the likes of Robert Griffin III, Ryan Tannehill, Brandon Weeden and Landry Jones had become commonplace for Big 12 defenses in previous seasons. In 2013, defensive coordinators around the conference got their revenge, kind of, as the Big 12 scoring average dropped to 31.7 points per game, the lowest since 2010.

[+] EnlargeBryce Petty
Jerome Miron/USA TODAY SportsBryce Petty proved he was a worthy successor to past Baylor quarterbacks.
Uncertainty at the quarterback position was the overriding theme throughout the Big 12 except at one school: Baylor. The Bears featured the best quarterback in the league in Bryce Petty, the junior who took control of Art Briles’ offense and looked like a veteran in his first season as a starter while leading the Bears to their first Big 12 championship. While quarterback troubles handcuffed several offenses, playmakers such as Kansas State’s Tyler Lockett, West Virginia’s Charles Sims and others around the conference still found ways to impact games.

The defenses became the foundation of Big 12 title runs as Baylor, Oklahoma State and Texas used improved defenses to put themselves in title contention on the season’s final day. Baylor safety Ahmad Dixon, Oklahoma State cornerback Justin Gilbert and Texas defensive end Jackson Jeffcoat were among the Big 12’s best defenders.

The season began with Oklahoma State as the favorite in a wide-open race but few foresaw the Bears’ 11-1 season and outright conference title. BU played the role as the Big 12’s most impressive team week after week until a disappointing loss in Stillwater but didn’t let it derail their hopes for a title, defeating TCU and Texas to capture the title when OSU lost to Oklahoma to end the season.

Things weren’t quite as rosy at TCU, where a combination of injuries and turnovers took the Horned Frogs out of the conference title race early in the year. Cornerback Jason Verrett & Co. did their job on defense but got very little help from the offense on the way to a disappointing season for a team that Big 12 players picked as the league favorite.

Offensive MVP: Petty. The quarterback position was the lone question about the Bears' offense heading into the season. Could their new triggerman excel like Griffin and Nick Florence? Petty passed the test with flying colors, passing for 3,844 yards and 30 touchdowns with just two interceptions.


Defensive MVP: Jeffcoat. The Longhorns’ senior didn’t run away from the competition for this award the way Petty did for the offensive version. But a strong end to the year and sitting atop top the Big 12 in sacks (12) and was second in tackles for loss (18) made him the Big 12's top defender in 2013.


Newcomer of the year: Sims. The Houston transfer didn’t envision the struggles he experienced during his lone season in Morgantown, W.Va. Yet, he was one of the league’s best and most consistent playmakers despite the musical chairs alongside him. His 129.1 all-purpose yards per game average was second in the Big 12.

Biggest surprise: Baylor. The Bears finished fifth in the Big 12 preseason poll as question marks about Petty and their defense dragged them down in the minds of many. Yet Petty and the defense rose to the occasion, becoming the driving forces behind the program’s breakthrough season that sees them playing in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl.


Biggest disappointment: TCU. Bigger things were expected from Gary Patterson's squad. Injuries to Casey Pachall and Devonte Fields hurt TCU’s chances but sloppy, uncreative offense did more damage. While the defense played well enough to be in the title hunt, the offense dragged the squad into the bottom half of the Big 12 standings.

Best game: Bedlam. Few people gave Oklahoma a chance to knock off OSU, which entered the game with the chance to make its second Fiesta Bowl berth in three years. But OU answered a late touchdown from the Cowboys with a touchdown of its own in the game’s final moments to destroy OSU’s Fiesta Bowl dreams and catapult OU into the Allstate Sugar Bowl.

Big 12 weekend rewind: Week 15

December, 9, 2013
12/09/13
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Taking stock of Week 15 in the Big 12:

Team of the week: Baylor was unranked to begin the season and picked to finish fifth in the Big 12. Instead, with a convincing 30-10 victory over Texas, the Bears won 11 games for the first time in school history to capture the program’s first outright conference title in 33 years. Baylor will cap its magical season against Central Florida in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl.

Disappointment of the week: Oklahoma State had a chance at a second Big 12 title and BCS bowl berth in three years. And all the Cowboys had to do was beat Oklahoma in Stillwater as 10-point favorites. Instead, despite shuffling through three quarterbacks and not scoring an offensive touchdown until 19 seconds left in the game, the Sooners knocked off their instate rival yet again. The Cowboys have lost 10 of 11 to Oklahoma, but given the circumstance and the ending, this one hurt worst of all.

[+] EnlargeJalen Saunders
Brett Deering/Getty ImagesJalen Saunders had another memorable day against Oklahoma State.
Big (offensive) man on campus: Jalen Saunders is to the Cowboys what kryptonite is to Kryptonians. A year after sparking Oklahoma’s Bedlam fourth-quarter comeback with a punt return touchdown, Saunders gashed Oklahoma State again, having a hand in Oklahoma’s first three touchdowns. He returned another punt for a score in the first quarter. He took a double reverse 37 yards to set up the fake field goal touchdown. Then, with 19 seconds remaining, he hauled in the game-winning touchdown from Blake Bell in the corner of the end zone from 7 yards out. Saunders will finish his two-year career in Norman with four Bedlam touchdowns.

Big (defensive) man on campus: Cornerback K.J. Morton returned from an abdominal strain to deliver the exclamation point to Baylor’s season. Morton picked off Texas quarterback Case McCoy twice, returning the second 57 yards in the fourth quarter for an apparent touchdown. The score was nullified on his celebration penalty. But by then, the party had already begun in Waco.

Special teams players of the week: The field goal tandem of Grant Bothun and Michael Hunnicutt converted Bob Stoops’ first successful fake field goal attempt in 11 years. After their drive stalled at the Oklahoma State 8-yard line, the Sooners lined up for a field goal. Instead, Bothun, the holder, took off running with the ball left and threw the ball to Hunnicutt, the kicker. Hunnicutt backed into the end zone before getting belted by two Cowboys, tying the score 17-17.

Play of the week: Cornerback Justin Gilbert appeared to have ended Bedlam with an Oklahoma State victory, as he came down with an apparent interception on a jump ball to Lacoltan Bester. But instead of landing on the turf, Gilbert landed on Bester, who tapped the ball out of Gilbert’s hands at the last moment. Officials ruled it an incompletion, and Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy inexplicably didn’t challenge the call. Five plays later, Bell hit Saunders for the game-winning score.

Stat of the week: As Oklahoma State’s head coach, Gundy’s record against Oklahoma is 1-8. Gundy’s record against the rest of the Big 12: 44-22

Quote of the week: “A defining moment for our program and one I think we'll be able to repeat many times." -- Baylor coach Art Briles, after the school’s first Big 12 championship

What to watch in the Big 12: Week 15

December, 5, 2013
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Two games left. A conference title up for grabs. Here we go. The Big 12 storylines to keep an eye on this weekend:

1. Crowning a champion: The Big 12 didn’t need a big prime-time showdown at AT&T Stadium to end up with a marquee final weekend of conference play. The league’s schedule makers should get holiday bonuses for their work this year, pitting the Big 12’s four best teams against each other on championship weekend with a conference title on the line. Odds are Oklahoma State wraps it all up with a victory over Oklahoma, but if the Sooners pull the upset all eyes will be on Texas-Baylor to decide who gets the trophy.

[+] EnlargeMike Gundy
Brett Deering/Getty ImagesMike Gundy has Oklahoma State are focused on beating Oklahoma and earning their second Fiesta Bowl trip in three years.
2. Can the Pokes do it again? Mike Gundy likened Oklahoma State’s run in the month of November to playoff football. You’ve got to win one game to make the next one count. The Cowboys control their own destiny now thanks to the beatdowns they handed Texas and Baylor in back-to-back weeks, and they get the Sooners at home in Stillwater. Now they have to capitalize and secure their second Fiesta Bowl trip in three years.

3. Day of the underdog: Texas fans will be unabashedly rooting for Oklahoma on Saturday. Yep, seriously. They have to. Even Case McCoy admitted he’s pulling for a Sooners victory, even if it makes him “sick to my stomach.” The Sooners have a chance to play spoiler and knock OSU from atop the Big 12 standings. If they pull that off, can Texas notch an even more surprising victory in Waco? The Longhorns have embraced the underdog role ever since starting 1-2.

4. Finishing Baylor’s dream season: The loss to OSU knocked Baylor out of the national title hunt, damaged its hopes of playing in a BCS bowl and might’ve killed Bryce Petty’s chances of winning the Heisman. Yet the Bears still have a ton to play for this weekend. This can still go down as the best season in school history, especially if Baylor wins a share of the Big 12 title.

5. Who’s the DPOY? Good luck finding a consensus about who should win the Big 12’s Defensive Player of the Year honor this season, and this weekend might not change that much. Still, several candidates have a chance to make a strong final impression, including Oklahoma State linebacker Caleb Lavey and cornerback Justin Gilbert as well as Texas defensive end Jackson Jeffcoat.

6. Oklahoma’s next BMOC: Trevor Knight is another guy who could definitely use a strong finale to help his reputation not only for 2013 but, more importantly, for the offseason and beyond. Knight is coming off nice performances against Iowa State and Kansas State. An upset win over OSU could do wonders for proving he is Oklahoma’s quarterback of the future.

7. Mack Brown: What’s on the line? Who knows what this Baylor game means for Brown’s future at Texas, other than this: If Texas wins, good luck firing a coach who brings a Big 12 trophy home after leading his team from 1-2 to 9-3. And if the Bears win a blowout, well, buckle up for another rumor-filled week in Austin.

8. December weather: Introducing the X factor in both of this weekend’s Big 12 games: Winter Storm Cleon. The high and low for Stillwater on Saturday are 28 and 17. Waco is expecting freezing rain and temperatures in the high 20s. We could be in for some very messy, conservative football.

9. Closing out The Case: It’s a historic weekend for Baylor, which plays its final home game at 63-year-old Floyd Casey Stadium on Saturday. The last time a current Big 12 school opened a brand-new stadium was 1980, when West Virginia built Milan Puskar Stadium. The Bears are breaking out retro uniforms and expect the largest crowd ever in stadium history.

10. The Sunday bowl shakeout: The bowl projections for the Big 12’s six bowl-eligible teams are somewhat obvious at this point but could be in for a big shakeup depending on how these final two games play out. You know the committees of the AT&T Cotton, Valero Alamo and Buffalo Wild Wings Bowls will be watching closely and could face difficult decisions if we see some upsets.

Big 12 weekend rewind: Week 13

November, 25, 2013
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Taking stock of Week 13 in the Big 12:

Team of the week: Oklahoma State took command of the Big 12 title race with a commanding 49-17 win over No. 4 Baylor. Behind the most dominant defensive performance in the Big 12 this season, the Cowboys limited the nation’s highest-scoring offense to just three points over the first three quarters. Oklahoma State also rolled up 594 yards of offense, too. The Cowboys are now 9-3 versus AP Top 25 teams going back to 2011, and after winning just one conference title from 1953 to 2010, Oklahoma State can win a second in three seasons with a victory over Oklahoma in two weeks.

[+] EnlargeClint Chelf
Ronald Martinez/Getty ImagesBehind a career day from signal-caller Clint Chelf, Oklahoma State rolled Baylor in Stillwater.
Disappointment of the week: Baylor traveled to Stillwater, Okla., with a chance to send a message that it belonged in the BCS National Championship. Instead, the Bears were blown out of Boone Pickens Stadium. Baylor’s vaunted offensive attack never got anything going, as the Bears finished with their fewest points in a game since 2010. The 32-point loss was also the worst from a top-four BCS team since No. 2 Texas Tech lost by 44 points to Oklahoma in 2008. It has still been a remarkable season for the Bears, but it won’t be one that ends in the national title game.

Big (offensive) men on campus: Oklahoma State quarterback Clint Chelf, Oklahoma running back Brennan Clay, Kansas State wide receiver Tyler Lockett and Iowa State quarterback Grant Rohach.

Chelf unleashed the best performance of his career, completing 19 of 25 passes for a career-high 370 yards and three touchdowns. Chelf also had a 48-yard reception on a trick play. For the second consecutive week, Chelf posted the second-highest QBR in college football, delivering a score of 97.8 (scale zero to 100) against Baylor. He is now seventh in the FBS in QBR.

Clay also had a career day, rushing for a personal-best 200 yards and two touchdowns on 31 carries, with Damien Williams suspended, to lead OU to a 41-31 win over Kansas State.

Lockett had a monster performance, too, in the game, hauling in 12 passes for 278 yards and three touchdowns. Lockett’s 440 all-purpose yards broke Darren Sproles’ school record and were the second most ever in a Big 12 game.

Rohach, who had not thrown a touchdown pass in his five previous games, finished 15-of-20 passing with scoring throws of 58 and 15 yards to lead Iowa State to a 34-0 rout of Kansas.

Big (defensive) men on campus: Oklahoma State cornerbacks Tyler Patmon and Kevin Peterson.

Baylor’s pass-catchers entered the night leading the country in 30-, 40- and 50-yard receptions. Against the Cowboys, they had just two such receptions.

Even with All-American cornerback Justin Gilbert limited to spot duty because of a shoulder injury, the Cowboys still locked up Baylor’s receivers. Why? Patmon and Peterson, who held up remarkably well in man coverage on the outside against Baylor's Antwan Goodley and Levi Norwood. With Patmon and Peterson taking away the deep ball, the Cowboys were able to commit more bodies to pressuring QB Bryce Petty and shutting down Baylor’s rushing attack.

Patmon also delivered the Oklahoma State defense’s exclamation point when he scooped up a Petty fumble in the fourth quarter and raced 78 yards for a touchdown to put the Cowboys up 42-10.

Special-teams player of the week: Oklahoma’s Jalen Saunders. For the second consecutive week, a Saunders punt return proved to be the turning point in an OU win. With the Sooners up 27-24 early in the fourth quarter, Saunders fielded a short punt on the fly and dashed 30 yards to the K-State 3-yard line. Clay scored a touchdown on the next play, and the Wildcats never recovered from the special-teams swing.

Play of the week: Midway through the first quarter in Stillwater, QB Petty pulled the ball on a read-option and appeared to be on his way to a 27-yard touchdown. Instead, Petty’s feet got tangled up and he stumbled to the turf at the OSU 1. It proved to be a critical stumble. Two plays later, Shock Linwood tried to extend the ball over the goal line, but before he could, Cowboys defensive tackle James Castleman batted the ball out of Linwood’s hands and recovered the fumble. The Cowboys countered with a 99-yard touchdown drive to take a 7-0 lead and remained in control the rest of the night.

Stat of the week: Baylor has lost 37 straight road games to ranked opponents dating all the way back to 1991.

Quote of the week: "Without question, there are rodeos, and this is not their first one."
-- Baylor coach Art Briles, on Oklahoma State after the Cowboys defeated his Bears 49-17

STILLWATER, Okla. -- With nine minutes still to be played, America’s top offense finally had enough.

So instead of going for another seemingly hopeless fourth-and-long, Baylor called its record-setting offense to the sideline and sent out the punt team. On the other side of the field, sensing the capitulation, Oklahoma State defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer began hopping up and down, slapping the helmet of any defender passing by his general vicinity.

The 10th-ranked Cowboys always believed they could knock off fourth-ranked Baylor. But nobody, from "College GameDay" guest picker Marcus Smart to the Cowboys themselves, thought they would put the mighty Bears away before the fourth quarter.

Yet, Saturday night before a sold-out Boone Pickens Stadium, Oklahoma State did exactly that, pummeling Baylor into submission 49-17 to ensure the Big 12 title will go through Stillwater.

Again.

[+] EnlargeBryce Petty, Daytawion Lowe, Tyler Johnson
AP Photo/Sue OgrockiThe Oklahoma State defense bottled up Bryce Petty and the high-flying Baylor offense all night.
“We weren’t intimidated,” said Cowboys linebacker Caleb Lavey. “And we were able to shut them down.”

No defense had slowed the Bears down all year, much less shut them down.

Baylor came into the night leading the nation with 61 points per game. After three quarters in Stillwater, the Bears had managed a single field goal.

“The Baylor offense deserved to get the pub it was getting,” Lavey said. “So being able to keep them off the board in touchdowns until the fourth quarter says a lot about this defense. Our defense did a great job.”

Great doesn’t do it justice. The Big 12’s best defense was dominant.

Head coach Mike Gundy said he felt Oklahoma State would need to score 35 points just to have a chance against Baylor. Thanks to his defense, the Cowboys needed only half that.

Even with All-American candidate Justin Gilbert limited to spot duty because of a shoulder injury, fellow cornerbacks Tyler Patmon and Kevin Peterson locked up Baylor’s speed-demon receivers in man-to-man coverage. The Bears, who led the country in completions of 30 yards or more, finished with just two such completions Saturday.

Up front, Oklahoma State tackles James Castleman and Calvin Barnett owned the line of scrimmage. Baylor, which had been averaging more than 300 yards per game on the ground, was held to just 96 yards rushing with a paltry average of 2.6 yards per carry.

And in between, linebackers Lavey and Shaun Lewis came up with huge plays all night.

All told, the Cowboys forced three fumbles, including two from inside their own 5-yard line. In the first quarter two plays after Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty stumbled to the turf at the 1 after a 27-yard dash, Castleman batted the ball out of Shock Linwood’s hands, and recovered it himself. The Cowboys countered with a 99-yard touchdown drive to grab control and a 7-0 lead.

Early in the fourth quarter, Baylor finally drove the ball back to the Oklahoma State 2 with a chance to cut the deficit to 35-17. Instead, Petty fumbled a wild snap, and Patmon scooped it up and returned it 78 yards for a touchdown to put the Cowboys up 42-10.

After a three-and-nothing on its the next possession, Baylor punted, starting up the party on the Oklahoma State sideline.

“They’re a great team,” said Spencer, who mixed up eight-man coverages with exotic blitzes all game. “But our kids tonight executed and played great defense.”

Yet as good as it was, the Oklahoma State defense was hardly the whole story.

[+] EnlargeClint Chelf
Allen Kee/ESPN ImagesOklahoma State QB Clint Chelf had a career day, throwing for 370 yards and accounting for four TDs.
Cowboy quarterback Clint Chelf remained on fire while outgunning Petty, Chelf's Heisman hopeful counterpart.

Chelf completed his first 12 passes, threw for a career-high 370 yards and accounted for four touchdowns as he continued his late-season charge since taking back over the starting job last month.

“He was accurate, and he made good decisions,” Gundy said. “I couldn’t be more proud of what he’s accomplished. He’s been a good leader, and he’s done it quietly. He's been humbled, and for that he's had success.”

Chelf lost the starting job two lackluster series into the season opener against Mississippi State. With J.W. Walsh in at quarterback, the offense languished, including in a 30-21 loss at West Virginia in a conference opener that looks more stunning by the week.

But since reclaiming the job on Oct. 26 at Iowa State, Chelf has been one of the best quarterbacks in the country. Last week, he delivered the second-highest QBR in the country in a 38-13 win at Texas.

Saturday, he was even better, throwing darts all over the field while picking apart Baylor’s secondary. Then in the third quarter, Chelf delivered the exclamation point, hauling in a throwback pass from Josh Stewart before racing 48 yards to the Baylor 5-yard line to set up a touchdown that put the Cowboys up 28-3.

“Chelf toughed everything out,” Stewart said. “He stayed with it. And tonight he was very impressive.”

So were the Cowboys, who before 2011 had only one conference title -- a three-way split in 1976 – in 58 years. After its stomping of the Bears, Oklahoma State is now one Bedlam win in Stillwater away from winning its second Big 12 title in three years.

“We have made great strides,” Gundy said. “The best way I can explain that is: I don’t know the last time we took the field and our players didn’t think we could win.”

Once again, the Cowboys took the field thinking they could win. They left it in control of the conference title. Again.

Big 12 weekend rewind: Week 12

November, 18, 2013
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Taking stock of Week 12 in the Big 12:

[+] EnlargeCharlie Weis
John Rieger/USA TODAY SportsKansas and coach Charlie Weis were finally able to celebrate a Big 12 win on Saturday, ending a 27-game conference losing skid.
Team of the week: Oklahoma State was dominant in its 38-13 victory at Texas. But team of the week honors go to Kansas, which finally snapped a 27-game Big 12 losing streak with a 31-19 victory over West Virginia. The Jayhawks snapped the streak with authority, too, leading the Mountaineers 31-7 at one point in the fourth quarter. Kansas had been showing mild improvement throughout the season but couldn’t string together a performance over the course of an entire game. Saturday, Charlie Weis’ bunch finally did just that, giving the Jayhawks something tangible to build off moving forward.

Disappointment of the week: The Longhorns had a chance to set up a de facto Big 12 title game with Baylor in the regular-season finale. Instead, Oklahoma State handed Texas its biggest home loss of the Mack Brown era. The Cowboys completely shut down the Texas offense, including quarterback Case McCoy, who threw three interceptions. Texas is still technically alive in the Big 12 title race. But Brown has a better chance of being the coach in Austin next year than Texas does of winning the Big 12 championship.

Big (offensive) men on campus: Oklahoma State quarterback Clint Chelf, Kansas running back James Sims and Baylor receiver Levi Norwood.

Chelf delivered the second-highest adjusted QBR (97.3) of the weekend in college football while leading Oklahoma State to its biggest win of the season. He threw for 197 yards and ran for another 95 while accounting for four touchdowns.

Sims was phenomenal against West Virginia, with 211 yards and three touchdowns on 22 carries. His 68-yard scoring run 28 seconds before halftime proved to be the pivotal play in the game. Sims (914 yards) trails only West Virginia’s Charles Sims (946 yards) for the Big 12 rushing title.

Norwood picked up where Tevin Reese left off. With Reese out with a dislocated wrist, Norwood exploded against Texas Tech with 156 yards receiving. Norwood also had touchdown receptions of 40 and 58 yards and a 58-yard punt-return touchdown.

Big (defensive) men on campus: Oklahoma State cornerback Justin Gilbert and Kansas linebacker Ben Goodman.

Gilbert had maybe the finest game of his career, picking off McCoy twice. Gilbert leads the Big 12 with six interceptions.

Goodman halted a potential West Virginia scoring drive in the third quarter. He picked off quarterback Paul Millard at the line of scrimmage, then rumbled 54 yards to the Mountaineers' 14-yard line. Sims capitalized on the turnover with a 2-yard touchdown that put the Jayhawks up 24-7.

Special-teams players of the week: Kansas State kicker Jack Cantele and Oklahoma returner Jalen Saunders.

Cantele had never attempted a game-winning field goal before. But when the time came, he delivered, nailing a 41-yard kick with three seconds remaining to lift the Wildcats to a 33-31 win over TCU. Cantele converted his other three field-goal attempts, too, and the Wildcats needed every one of them.

With Iowa State leading OU 10-3 in the second quarter, Saunders broke off a 91-yard punt return TD to tie the game. The Sooners scored 45 unanswered points the rest of the way to rout the Cyclones.

Play of the week: Late in the second quarter of Oklahoma State's victory at Texas, Gilbert intercepted a McCoy pass intended for Kendall Sanders (who decommitted from Oklahoma State to sign with the Longhorns) and then raced 43 yards for his second pick-six of the season. The play put the Cowboys up 28-10 just 18 seconds before halftime, and Oklahoma State was firmly in control the rest of the way.

Stat of the week: Baylor now has six 60-point games this season. The only other FBS team with more than two is Ohio State, which has three.

Quote of the week: “I've warned them, this is different than the Big East. The days of just showing up and playing [are over].” -- West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen, after his team became bowl-ineligible after a loss to Kansas

Big 12 Power Rankings: Week 12

November, 18, 2013
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The only change in the power ranks comes at the bottom:

1. Baylor (9-0, 6-0 Big 12, last week 1): Is there any team at any level of football that seems less worried about a 14-0 deficit? The Bears have to be one of the best vertical passing teams in college football history. Who knows, maybe the best. Baylor now has 27 pass plays that have gone for at least 40 yards. Nobody else in college football has more than 16. As a result, QB Bryce Petty is on pace to shatter Colt Brennan’s season passing efficiency record set in 2006. With another big game in Stillwater, Petty could set himself up for a trip to New York while lifting the Bears firmly into third ahead of Ohio State in the BCS standings.

2. Oklahoma State (9-1, 6-1 Big 12, LW 2): As Texas found out, the Cowboys are stout on every level defensively. Tackle Calvin Barnett is ferocious up front, linebacker Caleb Lavey is in on seemingly every play and corner Justin Gilbert is one of the best cover men in college football. All three should be on every first-team All-Big 12 ballot, and Lavey, the heart and soul of this team, should be the front-runner for Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year. This is the only unit in the conference with a chance against Baylor.

3. Texas (7-3, 6-1 Big 12, LW 3): Over the weekend, Oklahoma State handed coach Mack Brown his most lopsided home loss in 16 years in Austin. Now, barring a miracle upset in Waco on Dec. 7, the Longhorns are staring down a regular-season finish of 8-4 -- at best. That record would not bode well for Brown’s future at Texas, even after a gallant recovery from the early-season disaster.

4. Kansas State (6-4, 4-3 Big 12, LW 4): As Bill Snyder said, the Wildcats didn’t play their best against TCU. But they played just well enough to win. Perhaps they were peeking ahead to this weekend, which will be the game of the year for K-State. If the Wildcats can take out Oklahoma, they will likely end the regular season on a six-game winning streak, go to a solid bowl and carry tons of momentum into next season.

5. Oklahoma (8-2, 5-2 Big 12, last week 5): The Sooners once believed that Trevor Knight was their QB of the future. He just might be, after all. In relief of injured QB Blake Bell, Knight looked the best he has all year against Iowa State. He completed 8 of 14 passes and rushed for 123 yards and a touchdown while delivering a respectable adjusted QBR of 74.8. It’s time for the Sooners to turn the offense back over to Knight and see what he can do down the stretch.

6. Texas Tech (7-4, 4-4 Big 12, LW 6): The Red Raiders brought their A-game to Arlington and still got beat by 29 points. But that was more indicative of how explosive Baylor is. If the Red Raiders play the same way in Austin on Thanksgiving night, they stand a good chance to finally get off this November schneid.

7. West Virginia (4-7, 2-6 Big 12, LW 7): You don't just waltz into Memorial Stadium in Lawrence, Kan., and expect to stroll out with a victory. Oh wait, you do?

8. TCU (4-7, 2-6 Big 12, LW 8): The Horned Frogs fought hard against K-State, but came up short again. Now, as coach Gary Patterson put it, they’ll have to settle for turning the Baylor game in two weeks into a bowl.

9. Kansas (3-7, 1-6 Big 12, LW 10): Congratulations to the Jayhawks. Nobody outside the KU program believed that a 27-game Big 12 losing streak would be snapped. Well, almost nobody. Iowa State is up next. And if the Jayhawks win Saturday, it will be called a winning streak.

10. Iowa State (1-9, 0-7 Big 12, LW 9): Forgive Iowa State fans for storming the court after a November basketball victory against Michigan. The Cyclones haven’t had much to cheer about in awhile.

Big 12 helmet stickers: Week 12

November, 17, 2013
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Recognizing the best of the best from the Big 12 in Week 12:

RB James Sims, Kansas: The senior rushed for 211 yards and three touchdowns on 22 carries, and you know he would’ve traded the stats for a victory if given a chance. On Saturday he got both, as Kansas broke its 27-game Big 12 losing streak with a 31-19 upset of West Virginia. With freshman Montell Cozart at QB, Kansas ran the ball 55 times and threw on 12 plays, with just five completions. Going all-in on the run game paid off big, and the Jayhawks have Sims’ monster day to thank.

WR Levi Norwood, Baylor: The Bears were in need of a big-play threat after losing Tevin Reese for the year. They’ve found one in Norwood, who helped save the day in the first quarter with a 40-yard touchdown catch and a 58-yard punt return for a score after Baylor fell behind 14-0. Norwood finished with seven catches for 156 yards and two scores and 244 all-purpose yards in all.

CB Justin Gilbert, Oklahoma State: Gilbert was the game-changer for OSU in a 38-13 win at Texas. He returned his first interception of Case McCoy 43 yards in the final minute of the first half to put the Cowboys up 28-10, and he snagged another interception off McCoy on a deep ball late in the third quarter. He also finished second on the team with nine tackles on the day.

RB Damien Williams and QB Trevor Knight, Oklahoma: Neither started the game for Oklahoma, but both got the Sooner offense running with their own running. Knight replaced Blake Bell and had a modest passing day, but he ran for 123 yards on 10 carries with a 56-yard score. Williams put up 128 yards and two touchdowns, with one coming from 69 yards out, to put Oklahoma back on track to a blowout win.

K Jack Cantele, Kansas State: Let’s give some love to a kicker for once. Cantele was a perfect 4-for-4 on his attempts against TCU, hitting the easy ones from 31, 34 and 23 and then making a 41-yarder with 3 seconds remaining to give K-State the 33-31 win and secure bowl eligibility.

RB Shock Linwood, Baylor: We’re giving a bonus one to Linwood for another stellar performance filling in for the injured duo of Lache Seastrunk and Glasco Martin. Linwood carried 29 times for 187 yards and one touchdown. The third-stringer remains No. 2 in the Big 12 in rushing at 101.5 yards per game. He got some help from freshman Devin Chafin, who ran for 100 yards and two scores on 11 rushes.

Cowboys prove they're ready for Baylor

November, 17, 2013
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AUSTIN, Texas -- Mike Gundy didn’t own up to it, but his Oklahoma State players couldn’t hide the truth.

Gundy did some dancing on Saturday night. He busted out his famous moves in the locker room after the Cowboys’ 38-13 victory at No. 24 Texas.

It didn't take long for the video find its way to the Internet and not surprisingly, it looks similar to the one from after his 2011 win at Texas A&M.

“He only has one dance,” linebacker Shaun Lewis said. “So, I mean, it’s good to see him do it.”

Gundy had plenty to celebrate. Oklahoma State went on the road and whipped a Longhorns team that was 6-0 in the Big 12 by 25 points, on a day when OSU’s conference titles hopes would be dead with a loss.

[+] EnlargeClint Chelf
Brendan Maloney/USA TODAY SportsClint Chelf (10), Desmond Roland and Oklahoma State had plenty to celebrate in their win over Texas.
And that win sets up a whale of a game in Stillwater, Okla., next weekend between the Cowboys, winners of six in a row, and a 9-0 Baylor team that routed Texas Tech 63-34 and should move to No. 4 in the BCS standings following Stanford’s loss.

And even though the Bears were dominant as usual, the question must now be raised after what we witnessed Saturday: Can Oklahoma State win the Big 12?

“I certainly think we’ve got as good chance as anybody,” Gundy said. “We’re in playoff football right now. You’ve got to win the next one to get to the next one.

“If you’d have asked me that six weeks ago and I would’ve said we had as good a chance as anybody, you guys probably would’ve got up and walked out. And justifiably so.”

Why even Gundy marvels at about his team’s turnaround is the fact that, as he puts it, a college football team only gets two real, full practices each week. In the days following the Pokes’ 30-21 loss at West Virginia, his staff recognized that hurdle. You can’t change a season in one week.

All you can do with eight practices in one month is commit to gradual, daily improvement. OSU scraped out close wins over Kansas State and TCU. A solution to its offensive woes emerged in the duo of Clint Chelf and Desmond Roland.

And that Cowboys defense just keeps getting better. This unit, led by defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer, knew the formula for attacking Texas. Put extra help in the box. Slow down a Johnathan Gray-less run game. Dare Case McCoy to beat you through the air. Get the edge early and raise the pressure.

“That’s what we wanted to do when we were coming out of the locker room,” cornerback Justin Gilbert said. “We said ‘Let’s shut them up early and let’s play together.’”

The result: The Longhorns scored a season-low 13 points. McCoy threw three interceptions, two to Gilbert. Texas ran for 21 yards on seven carries in the third quarter while trying to rally.

“Coach Spencer came up with a great plan,” said linebacker Caleb Lavey, who snagged McCoy’s second interception.

But we knew Texas was offensively flawed. Is Oklahoma State ready for the Baylor juggernaut?

The Bears spotted Texas Tech a 20-7 lead in the first quarter Saturday night. Then Levi Norwood ran back a punt for a score, Baylor took a 21-20 lead to end the first and never trailed the rest of the night. They scored in five plays or less on five of their first six touchdowns.

Texas Tech briefly put up a valiant fight. But Baylor just keeps rolling

“They’re on the verge of what you would call a great college football team,” Gundy said.

And it seems this Oklahoma State team is on the verge of something special. They’ve played at Boone Pickens Stadium only four times this season. They close out the year on their home turf against Baylor and Oklahoma.

Texas, by the way, isn’t out of the picture but got a startling reality check. A six-game streak to begin Big 12 play had the Longhorns dreaming of running the table and of Mack Brown silencing all his critics.

OSU humbled them with relative ease. Now they need to knock of Texas Tech and Baylor and get a little help from the Pokes -- like, say, a loss to the Bears -- to win the league.

The Longhorns no longer control their own destiny. Oklahoma State does. Baylor does. They put all on the line next Saturday.

“These are the ones that you live for,” Lavey said.

The preparation begins Sunday. The Cowboys know about the hype surrounding Baylor. And they know they can give the Bears a ballgame.

“We definitely want to knock those guys off, especially at home,” Gilbert said. “It’ll be a delightful moment. Aren’t they undefeated? That’ll be tremendous.”

Texas has no answers in loss to OSU

November, 16, 2013
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Texas graphicESPN Stats & Information It's been five years and counting since Texas last beat a top-25 team at home.

AUSTIN, Texas -- Texas got handed a beatdown on Saturday. There’s no other fair way to put it.

In a game billed as one of the Big 12’s biggest of the season, between two teams streaking and in control of their conference title hopes, No. 12 Oklahoma State took control early and never let go in a 38-13 victory over the No. 24 Longhorns.

[+] EnlargeClint Chelf
Brendan Maloney/USA TODAY SportsQuarterback Clint Chelf accounted for four touchdowns (two passing, two rushing) in the Cowboys' win over Texas.
The Cowboys handed coach Mack Brown the most lopsided home loss of his 16 years in Austin, and there was nothing fluky about it.

OSU won a big-time conference test with a stingy defense, a superior run game, far better special-teams play and three forced turnovers. All against a Texas team that had won six straight and truly believed it could play with the Big 12 title contenders.

“I’m disappointed,” Brown said. “I don’t get stunned about anything anymore.”

The Longhorns, who hadn’t lost in two months, never led in this game. They started slowly, rallied back to 14-10 and then gave the game away in a matter of only seven plays.

The first six came on a 67-yard touchdown drive sparked by a 29-yard pass from Clint Chelf to a wide-open Jhajuan Seales on third-and-10. Two plays later, Chelf sent a pass right into the hands of Texas safety Adrian Phillips that bounced off and into the grasp of receiver Tracy Moore for a 12-yard score.

“It’s just a play I have to make,” Phillips said. “I make that play every day. It just went through my hands. Sometimes when you roll the dice, it doesn’t go your way.”

Down 21-10 with 75 seconds left in the first half, Texas’ offensive coaches opted to roll the dice and go for a score. They got one. OSU corner Justin Gilbert baited Case McCoy into throwing an out that Gilbert picked off and returned 43 yards to the end zone.

“Yeah, I was forcing things. There’s no doubt about it,” McCoy said.

McCoy threw two more interceptions on the day, including one swiped by linebacker Caleb Lavey that the Cowboys turned into a 21-yard touchdown one play later. That was the final score of the day, and with 1:54 left in the third quarter, the game was over.

“The quarterback goes out and throws three picks, you’re not going to win the ballgame,” McCoy said. “It’s very rare that happens. So it’s on me, my team knows it’s on me and we’re going to get it fixed and go win.”

That's not to single out McCoy and Phillips. There were mistakes all over the field in this game, and OSU repeatedly capitalized. Texas had no answer in the second half. One field goal and no spark. No big plays, no momentum, no change. It hadn't faced that feeling in a long time.

And there’s not much to second-guess. Oklahoma State was the far superior team. Brown was asked afterward about his usage of freshman quarterback Tyrone Swoopes, which remains one of the great red herrings of Texas’ issues this season. Brown offered as honest an answer as he could have.

“You never make decisions when you’re tired and when you’re frustrated,” he said. “I’d say we’re both tonight.”

The clichés his players will lean on after this one -- about 24-hour rules and not letting one loss become two -- are actually apt. Texas still has plenty to play for. This team needs help to get to the Fiesta Bowl, yes. But Texas (7-3, 6-1 Big 12) gets more than 10 days to prepare for a Thanksgiving meeting with Texas Tech. Win that one and it'll still be in the thick of things with a trip to Waco on the horizon.

For now, though, all the Longhorns can worry about is fixing themselves. They made things far too easy for a talented Oklahoma State team that had very little trouble doing what it wanted to do in.

Brown wasn’t ready to assign much blame after the game. A thorough film session is needed before he can reach some conclusions, and he knows this season isn’t over yet.

“There’s a lot of football to be played,” Brown said. “You just can’t get your head down and lay down and quit when you have a bad night. You have to go back to work.”

There’s plenty of work to be done, even after the two-month run this team was on. Texas got its big moment on Saturday and got flat-out beat. Its Big 12 title hopes took a blow. We’ll know in two weeks whether it was a fatal one.

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