NCF Nation: Keithen Valentine
Oklahoma State running back Keith Toston: Rushed for 172 yards on 30 carries and also caught two passes for 45 yards to spark the Cowboys’ 31-28 triumph over Colorado. Toston scored a pair of touchdowns on a 45-yard TD run and a 47-yard TD pass from third-string quarterback Brandon Weeden to spark the triumph. Toston has topped the 1,000-yard mark for the season, producing 1,130 yards heading into the Bedlam game with Oklahoma on Saturday.
Texas Tech running back Baron Batch: Who said Texas Tech can’t produce top running backs? Batch rushed for a career-high 136 yards on 25 carries and a touchdown and also added seven receptions for 68 yards to spark the Red Raiders’ 41-13 thumping of Oklahoma.
Nebraska safety Larry Asante: Notched a team-high 10 tackles and provided an interception and a clutch forced fumble to pace the Cornhuskers’ 17-3 victory over Kansas State. Asante’s rattling hit caused a fumble by Keithen Valentine at the Nebraska 1, preventing KSU from scoring a touchdown which would have brought it back into the game. His big effort helped boost the Cornhuskers into a Big 12 North title-clinching performance.
Missouri wide receivers Danario Alexander and Jerrell Jackson: Combined for 19 receptions for 315 yards to pace the Tigers’ 34-24 victory over Iowa State. Alexander produced 11 catches for 173 yards and a 63-yard TD grab from Blaine Gabbert, enabling him to set a Missouri single-season receiving yardage record with 1,411. Alexander is second in single-season receiving with 92 receptions. Jackson set career-high totals of eight receptions, 142 yards and a 70-yard TD grab from Gabbert.
Texas quarterback Colt McCoy: Passed for 396 yards and four touchdowns to lead Texas to a 51-20 victory over Kansas. In the process, McCoy notched his 43rd career victory as a starting quarterback to give him the NCAA record. He also rushed for 29 yards and even punted. He capped off his memorable evening by shooting off Texas' Big Smokey cannon and banging on the Texas band’s “Big Bertha” bass drum three times before leaving Darrell K. Royal/Texas Memorial Stadium for a final time as a player.
As he left the field, the Nebraska senior safety again was dabbing at his eyes.
But after a big performance in the Cornhuskers’ 17-3 North Division-clinching victory, Asante was trying to get rid of the remnants of a post-game Gatorade shower he and Nebraska coach Bo Pelini got along the sidelines.
“He was giving me a hug, telling me how much he loved me and how far along I’d come as a player,” Asante said, chuckling at the memory. “Then out of nowhere, I got dumped. But I didn’t get mad. It was joyous. I was happy.”
So were the Cornhuskers, who rode a gritty defensive effort into the Dec. 5 Big 12 championship game for the first time since 2006.
“We want to be known as a hard-hitting, hard-nosed defense,” defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh said. “One where everybody is making tackles and making things happen.”
Asante keyed a stellar defensive performance by Nebraska which limited the Wildcats to a field goal on their first drive and no more scoring after that. It was the 10th time in 11 games that a Nebraska opponent has scored 17 points or less, including the Cornhuskers’ last five opponents.
His big night included an interception and a forced fumble which turned away KSU’s best scoring opportunity when he hammered KSU’s Keithen Valentine, causing a fumble at the Nebraska 1.
Saturday’s triumphant performance is a remarkable transformation from where Pelini inherited the team less than two years ago.
To call that group defensive waifs might be an insult to all of the lost souls who wander the Earth.
The missed tackles and busted coverages that marked the Kevin Cosgrove era are nothing but a bad memory for those seniors who remained in the most dramatic transition in Nebraska’s history.
That team allowed six opponents to score at least 40 points on them as they finished in the bottom ten nationally in rushing defense, scoring defense, total defense, turnover margin and sacks. The Cornhuskers were torched for 76 and 65 points in losses in two of their final three games in that lost season.
“They’ve come a long way in the last two years,” Pelini said. “When I got here, especially the guys on defense, they were written off and told how bad they were.”
But from those humble origins, Pelini nurtured the confidence and got this group to believe in his methods.
The result has been a run of games just like Saturday night.
“They kept getting better,” Pelini said. “Now, look at how far they have come. It’s been fun to watch.”
Many of those same players were integral contributors to Nebraska’s huge defensive effort. After KSU produced a field goal on its opening possession, the Wildcats were turned away on their final 10 possessions without a score. Included in that run were two possessions inside the Nebraska 20-yard line and three other stops at the Nebraska 27, 33 and 41-yard lines.
The reason for that toughness was instilled by Pelini and his older brother, Carl, who serves as Nebraska’s defensive coordinator.
“We take it personal as a unit. We don’t want to give up any points,” Asante said. “We didn’t have that culture back then. They’ve taught us how to play every play like it’s our last. And we wanted to go out there the right way.”
Suh, who finished in his final home game with nine tackles, 1.5 sacks and two passes broken up, said that Pelini's coaching has been the major reason for the change.
"We've grown tremendously, but there still is a lot of work to do,” Suh said. “His message when he first got here has been embraced by everybody. We’re not to what he expects from us, but I think we’re on a good path.”
Asante might be the best example of Pelini’s transformation. He came to Nebraska as one of the nation’s top 10 junior college prospects. But he looked lost in Cosgrove’s defense and there were some early thoughts he couldn’t play in Pelini's defense.
His seven tackles Saturday enabled him to tie for third on Nebraska’s career list for tackles.
There were still some areas of concern, like a sputtering offense that will never be confused with the Cornhuskers’ glory era when Eric Crouch, Scott Frost and Co. wreaked havoc across the Big 12.
The Cornhuskers are built to win games like Saturday’s battle over Kansas State. They will challenge Texas, but likely don’t have the firepower to dent the Longhorns’ emerging defense.
But the recent play of the Blackshirts will give them a puncher’s chance of sticking close to Texas, who might be looking ahead to their BCS title game prospects rather than worrying about the Cornhuskers next month.
“The way we played seems like it’s a recurring theme,” Pelini said. “We still have a long way to go, but there’s still a lot out there. Our kids are hungry and it’s on to the next challenge for us.”
Keithen Valentine's fumble near the Nebraska goal line killed one drive that looked like the Wildcats were ready to score.
KSU came away with no points despite moving to the Nebraska 15 when Josh Cherry misfired on a 33-yard field goal attempt.
And on their final third-quarter possession, the Wildcats again were stymied. Phillip Dillard's third-down sack at the Nebraska 32 ended that possession.
KSU's division title hopes are being frittered away by its sputtering offense.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
Here are my Big 12 picks for this weekend.
Colorado 21, Toledo 20: This might be the biggest game of Dan Hawkins’ career after his team’s opening-game debacle against Colorado State. The Buffaloes need to get a ground game going -- remember that guy on the bench is Darrell Scott -- and do a better job of limiting big plays on defense. Toledo quarterback Aaron Opelt threw 67 passes in last week’s loss at Purdue, but will find it much tougher this week against the Buffaloes’ underrated secondary keyed by cornerback Jimmy Smith. I’m looking for the Buffaloes to do just enough to escape the Glass Bowl with a victory-- but it’s not going to be easy or pretty.
Iowa 21, Iowa State 17: The Cyclones have had much recent success against the Hawkeyes at Jack Trice Stadium, where they have won four of the last five in the series since 1999. The Hawkeyes struggled last week against Northern Iowa and were lucky to escape with a victory only after blocking field goals on the last two plays of the game. I look for replacement running back Adam Robinson to run with a little more confidence this week for the Hawkeyes. Don't be surprised if wily Iowa coordinator Norm Parker cooks up a defensive scheme that will handcuff the Cyclones’ emerging no-huddle offense. But it wouldn’t surprise me if the Cyclones were able to make this one close and maybe even eke out an upset victory.
Nebraska 41, Arkansas State 14: The Cornhuskers ran off a 49-3 victory over FAU and Bo Pelini wasn’t happy about his team’s defensive efforts. They’ll be facing another challenger from the Sun Belt in Arkansas State, who shouldn’t pose too many problems. I’ll be interested to see the continued development of future Cornhuskers like Rex Burkhead and Cody Green and see how the defense reacts after the scalding criticism of their coach. If Pelini gets mad after giving up three points, what's he going to do if they give up seven or 10 or 14 points this week?
Oklahoma State 45, Houston 34: Oklahoma State had a strong opening performance, including a salty defensive showing that stopped Georgia cold after the Bulldogs scored a touchdown on their opening possession. It will be interesting to see if that huge victory left the Cowboys with a hangover. It’s something they can’t afford, considering Houston’s high-powered offense keyed by Case Keenum. The Cougars had Oklahoma State on the ropes last season before the Cowboys blew the game open in the second half. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a similar kind of game on Saturday.
Texas 45, Wyoming 7: The Longhorns’ toughest nonconference road game shouldn’t pose too many problems, even with injuries on the offensive line and other personnel losses in the secondary. I’ll be interested to see how alternating Wyoming quarterbacks Robert Benjamin and Austyn Carta-Samuels attack a Texas defense that allowed more points in an opening game last week in 10 years. It will also be noteworthy to watch Texas’ running backs and see if Vondrell McGee still is the featured back after his fumble problems last week. Despite playing at high elevation, the Longhorns should have no worries.
Kansas 44, UTEP 35: Kansas ran the ball strongly last week against Northern Colorado and should be able to do the same against the Miners. But it wouldn’t surprise me if UTEP quarterback Trevor Vittatoe and some underrated offensive weapons make the Jayhawks sweat their way through their visit to the Sun Bowl. In the end, Dezmon Briscoe will make enough plays as a receiver and maybe as a kick returner to extend the Miners’ 16-game losing streak against Big 12 teams.
Missouri 34, Bowling Green 14: What can Blaine Gabbert do for an encore? His auspicious start has been the talk of the “Show-Me” State this week after a breakthrough performance against Illinois. I was just as impressed by the Tigers’ “Scorpion” defensive front which made Illinois quarterback Juice Williams miserable. The Missouri defense will be tested by Bowling Green’s talented pass-and-catch duo of Tyler Sheehan and Freddie Barnes. The Falcons beat Missouri in each of Gary Pinkel’s first two seasons at Missouri, including his first game there in 2001. But that’s a long time ago.
Oklahoma 34, Idaho State 0: Landry Jones gets his first start at quarterback as he replaces Sam Bradford. I look for Bob Stoops to have a conservative approach this week designed to build confidence for Jones over the next several games. There won’t be anything fancy as the Sooners will lean on a running game that needs to help restore assurance in an offensive line that struggled last week. Idaho State dropped a 50-3 outing at Arizona State last week in a game where Bengal quarterbacks threw four interceptions. It might be more of the same as the Sooners’ defense will be charged to pick up its performance with all of the lingering questions on offense.
Texas Tech 41, Rice 17: Taylor Potts didn’t have the best of college career starts, throwing three interceptions last week against North Dakota. I look for improvement from him and the Tech running attack as they meet rebuilding Rice. Owls coach David Bailiff is still struggling to find a quarterback and I expect both John Shepherd and Nick Fanuzzi to get an opportunity to play. But it won’t nearly be enough as the Red Raiders should cruise into the Texas game with a better performance than their first game.
Kansas State 31, Louisiana-Lafayette 24: Carson Coffman should have a better performance in his second game and the Kansas State special teams will be improved in a tougher-than-expected battle at Cajun Field. The Ragin’ Cajuns have a couple of nice offensive weapons in quarterback Chris Masson and running back Undrea Sails. If they get rolling, it could be a long night in the bayou for the Wildcats. I’m also a little concerned about how Kansas State’s lack of depth affects them at both offensive line and defensive line during what should be a hot, humid night. But in the end, Kansas State running backs Daniel Thomas and Keithen Valentine will provide enough offense for the Wildcats to escape Louisiana with a tough victory.
Last week: 10-2 (83.3 percent)
Season: 10-2 (83.3 percent)
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
After spring practice, there's been a little movement in my pre-spring power rankings. Here's where I think schools are slotted heading into the summer.
|Kenny Felt/Icon SMI|
|Sergio Kindle was switched to defensive end this spring and dominated early practices.|
1. Texas: Colt McCoy is back bigger and stronger than ever. But the real improvement during the spring for the Longhorns came in the secondary, where they have legitimate two-deep talent. Sergio Kindle was a natural at defensive end and incoming freshman Alex Okafor was better than advertised as a prime pass-rusher. The running game is still a question and depth at defensive tackle could be iffy. But the Longhorns still remember how 2008 played out -- at least if the asterisk-marked Big 12 championship hung in their team room is any indication. February pre-spring ranking: 1.
2. Oklahoma: Gerald McCoy talks about the Oklahoma defense being the best in the nation and they could be with nine returning starters. And the Sooners could improve even more if Auston English and Ryan Reynolds make strong comebacks from injuries. The biggest question remains the four new starters along the offensive line who will be charged with blocking for Heisman Trophy winner Sam Bradford. That turnover remains the primary question that could stymie the Sooners' hopes of an unprecedented fourth straight Big 12 title. February pre-spring ranking: 2.
3. Oklahoma State: Mike Gundy looks to have the conference's most balanced offense -- even as Dez Bryant recovered from knee surgery this spring. The big question remains the defense. New coordinator Bill Young started work on the defensive line as his first order of business before branching out to the rest of the unit. The Cowboys can score with anybody, but Young's work improving the defense will determine whether OSU can contend for its first Big 12 South title and be a legitimate factor in the BCS race. February pre-spring ranking: 3.
4. Nebraska: Quarterback Zac Lee's early grasp of the offense looked impressive this spring, but he'll have to build on that quick study if the Cornhuskers are to contend for Bo Pelini's first North title. There are still some holes at wide receiver and along the right side of the offensive line, but the Cornhuskers are improving their talent level -- particularly on defense. I make them a slight favorite in the North Division, mainly because of a more favorable schedule of cross-division rivals. February pre-spring ranking: 4.
5. Kansas: Anticipation is soaring for the Jayhawks, who finish the spring with legitimate hopes of their first undisputed Big 12 North title. Todd Reesing is the North's best quarterback and the return of Dezmon Briscoe from his suspension would give Reesing his best offensive weapon. The line will have less experience than any team in the conference, but has some heralded talent in place. The biggest defensive question will be replacing three starting linebackers who were the heart of last season's defense. Mark Mangino has hinted at a 4-2-5 defense that may be better suited for combating the Big 12's explosive offenses. Their hopes will depend on navigating the North's toughest stretch of South Division opponents. February pre-spring ranking: 5.
6. Texas Tech: Coach Mike Leach has a new five-year contract but will be facing some heavy lifting. This will be his most significant offensive rebuilding job during his coaching tenure as he replaces the prime weapons of last season's South Division tri-champion. Taylor Potts won't be as productive as Graham Harrell, but he has more experience coming into the position than most of Leach's previous starting quarterbacks. The star power at wide receiver will be lacking without Michael Crabtree, but the spring showed the Red Raiders still have much talent and should be deeper throughout the receiver rotation. McKinner Dixon's spring suspension, coupled with Brandon Williams' defection to the NFL, makes pass rushing iffy. And the Red Raiders are looking for two new safeties from an inexperienced group. It all adds up to a challenging rebuilding job for Leach. February pre-spring ranking: 6.
7. Colorado: The Buffaloes remain the Big 12's mystery team and Tyler Hansen's thumb injury only accentuates that uncertainty. New offensive coordinator Eric Kiesau will be taking over this summer. And while he's been around the program for three years, it's still a concern taking the top job. The offense looked fine in the spring game, particularly a bruising rushing game keyed by Darrell Scott and Rodney Stewart. The defensive line remains the biggest question on the other side of the ball and we won't know how that group will play until the season begins. Dan Hawkins confidently picked the Buffaloes to go 10-2 after last season. They'll be better than last season's 5-7, but I'm not sure they will live up to their coach's optimism. February pre-spring ranking: 8.
8. Missouri: It was tough to get a handle on the Tigers during the spring. Blaine Gabbert had some moments, but his numbers weren't that impressive. But those struggles were understandable considering he was throwing to some inexperienced receivers while Danario Alexander and Jared Perry recovered from injuries. The turnover in both coordinators from last season will be interesting to watch. And with all of the thoughts about the huge personnel losses on offense, the Tigers also will lose a lot on defense. I still think the Tigers will go bowling this year, but will be better suited for a run at the 2010 North title than this season. February pre-spring ranking: 7.
9. Baylor: Optimism is flowing along the Brazos with Bears backers -- with good reason if Robert Griffin can duplicate his freshman success. The biggest offensive question remains his protection with two new offensive tackles. On defense, the Bears have a lot of talent returning and Phil Taylor looks like the real deal at
defensive tackle -- their biggest defensive need. Art Briles is changing the culture at Baylor, but it will be interesting to see if he can really push them into bowl contention -- not an easy task in the Big 12 South. February pre-spring ranking: 9.
10. Texas A&M: Credit Mike Sherman for thinking outside the box. The idea to move Von Miller to the "jack" position on defense was a master stroke -- if Miller can hold up to the pounding he'll face in the trenches. It was hard to get a gauge on A&M's running game with so many injuries in their offensive line. When healthy -- and with the arrival of heralded freshman Christine Michael -- the Aggies should be much better than last season. Same for a secondary that appeared overmatched in the spring, but was crippled by injuries at cornerback. It will be a long road back to Big 12 contention, but look for A&M to be more respectable this season. February pre-spring ranking: 11.
11. Kansas State: I wonder if Bill Snyder has ever had second thoughts since returning to coaching. His rebuilding job with this team pales next to what he originally faced back in 1989, but the Big 12 is a more difficult challenge than that old Big Eight was. Carson Coffman claimed the starting job with a late push in the spring, but will be challenged by Grant Gregory and Daniel Thomas later in the summer. The running game needs somebody to emerge as Keithen Valentine and Jarell Childs alternated spring work. The defense has a long way to go, although Vic Koenning's 4-2-5 appears to better suit the talent on hand. Snyder's acumen should help them in some close games, but it still will be a huge challenge to get them back into bowl contention. February pre-spring ranking: 10.
12. Iowa State: Paul Rhoads is a realist. It's hard not to be after he took a look at his defensive players and realized how far the Cyclones have to come in order to be a force in the North. Look for them to make steps this season thanks to his enthusiasm, but still facing a huge climb in order to be competitive with all of the explosive Big 12 offenses. The Cyclones should be productive on offense with new coordinator Tom Herman. Backup quarterback Jerome Tiller looks like he's ready to push Austen Arnaud after a strong spring game. And Alexander Robinson could emerge as one of the Big 12's most underrated players as a versatile run-catch option. February pre-spring ranking: 12.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
With only two teams still holding spring games, we're nearly down to the bitter end in terms of practices across the Big 12.
Colorado and Kansas State still have work to do. But there are other stories around the conference today that merit some consideration as well.
- Dave Matter of the Columbia Tribune writes an outstanding story that delves into the unconventional coaching background of new Missouri offensive coordinator Dave Yost.
- Former Nebraska All-American linebacker Trev Alberts has emerged as the leading candidate for the Nebraska-Omaha athletic director job, Rob White of the Omaha World-Herald reports. Alberts is set for two days of meetings with school officials and students in Omaha later this week.
- Dave Curtis of the Sporting News lists Kansas State running back Keithen Valentine and Nebraska wide receiver Curenski Gilleylen as prime examples of "Mr. April" from 2008.
- Former Texas A&M football coach Jackie Sherrill tells Victoria Advocate reporter Mike Forman why he remembers Texas fans chanting "Poor Aggies" only once during his coaching career.
- Robert Cessna of the Bryan Eagle proposes a way for Texas A&M athletic director Bill Byrne to make his budget by selling the roughly 200 empty seats in the press box for the Aggies' spring game.
- An argument with a former girlfriend lead to felony and misdemeanor drug charges for Oklahoma State wide receiver Bo Bowling, the Oklahoman's Scott Wright reports.
- Fast-rising former Oklahoma tackle Phil Loadholt could sneak his way into the first round of this weekend's NFL draft, according to the Oklahoman's Jake Trotter.
- David Youngblood of the Oklahoma State Daily O'Collegian writes about the Cowboys' defensive progress this spring.
- Bobby La Gesse reports for the Omaha World-Herald that new Iowa State defensive coordinator Wally Burnham has started his transformation of the Cyclones' defense, but still has much work to do.
- Record-breaking Missouri kicker Jeff Wolfert expects to be a free-agent selection in this weekend's draft, but told Randy Covitz of the Kansas City Star he remains confident he can play in the NFL.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
Happy Tax Day to everybody. Hopefully, there won't be many midnight filers among my readers and there will be a healthy return coming to most of you.
Me, I wasn't quite so lucky, but took care of my payment to Uncle Sam a few days ago. And I've been dealing with a cranky Windows system all morning that has made work a bear -- and then some.
But nothing can stop lunchtime links. (Hat tip to my wife's computer -- you can never tell when you need a good backup).
- Boulder Daily Camera columnist Neill Woelk urges Dan Hawkins to bring back Colorado's traditional power running game.
- Kansas State running back Keithen Valentine is excited about getting a second chance in the program with new coach Bill Snyder, Kansas City Star/Wichita Eagle beat writer Jeffrey Martin writes.
- Iowa State players are learning that peak conditioning is the most important factor in picking up Tom Herman's spread offense, Ames Daily Tribune beat writer Bobby La Gesse writes.
- Robert Cessna of the Bryan Eagle notes that Texas A&M linebackers are becoming more proficient with their blitz packages.
- Six-foot-7 Adrian Reese has moved from tight end to split end for Texas Tech, where he conceivably should be able to take advantage of height mismatches with smaller cornerbacks. Don Williams of the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal writes that Reese will challenge Edward Britton and Rashad Hawk for playing time at the new position.
- Former Oklahoma assistant Charley North has stacked his new staff at Dibble High School with former Sooners players, Ryan Aber of the Oklahoman reports. Among the members of North's staff include Stephen Alexander, J.R. Conrad and Jacob Gutierrez.
- Veteran Lawrence Journal-World sports editor Tom Keegan details the recent development of Kansas wide receiver Johnathan Wilson.
- Who gets to wear the gold jerseys at Missouri's spring game on Saturday? Matt Schiffman of the Columbia Missourian writes about the spirited battle between the Tigers' offensive and defensive units to determine who will wear those prized uniforms.
- Kansas athletic director Lew Perkins, already the conference's highest paid athletic director, could be in line for another cash bonanza, Andy Hyland of the Lawrence Journal-World reports. Perkins could pocket a retention bonus of $750,000 if he remains at Kansas through June 30.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
Here are a few items to watch for around the Big 12 this week
1. Expect a more balanced Colorado offensive attack against West Virginia with the return of TE Riar Geer, who missed the last two games with a sprained knee. His return will give the Buffaloes an intermediate receiving threat important against West Virginia's 3-3-5 defense. Don't be surprised if it also boosts the confidence of QB Cody Hawkins, who will have his favorite target from last season returning.
2. Despite being overshadowed by linebacking mates Joe Mortensen and Mike Rivera, Kansas LB James Holt is being used as the team's top blitzer in new coordinator Clint Bowen's schemes. Holt responded with a game-high 13 tackles, a sack and forced two fumbles while thriving in his new role against South Florida.
3. Junior-college transfer RB Keithen Valentine will get the majority of playing time against Louisville and not just because of his rushing abilities. Kansas State coaches think the 5-foot-8, 197-pound Valentine is the best antidote they have for Louisville's blitz tendencies.
4. Don't be surprised if Missouri opts to bench S William Moore for this week's game against Buffalo. Moore, the Tigers' inspirational leader and best defensive back, tweaked his injured ankle against Nevada. The Tigers would like to have him as near to 100 percent as possible for the start of conference play Oct. 4 at Nebraska.
5. Iowa State QB Austen Arnaud got all the snaps except for three series against Iowa. Despite that imbalance, Iowa State coach Gene Chizik remains committed to a two-quarterback system where Phillip Bates will see some playing time in every game. Chizik likes to use his quarterbacks depending on feel. He expects to use both this week against UNLV.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
The Big 12 season will unfold with many things I can't wait to watch. Here are 25 of the most special to me.
1. Missouri WR Jeremy Maclin streaking into the secondary moments after returning a punt.
2. Oklahoma RB DeMarco Murray getting loose on a sweep.
3. Listening to one of Texas Tech coach Mike Leach's postgame news conferences.
4. Watching the young Texas secondary grow up before my eyes, starting Saturday night against Florida Atlantic.
5. Experiencing the crunch of Kansas' linebackers swarming style from the sidelines.
6. Watching Colorado TB Darrell Scott likely earn a starting position over the course of the first few weeks of the season.
7. Rooting for a good kid like Oklahoma State WR Artrell Woods to make a complete return from an injury last year that nearly ended his career.
8. Watching Nebraska and Bo Pelini make their first steps onto the field at Memorial Stadium during the Cornhuskers' "Tunnel Walk."
9. Judging how much better suited Texas A&M QB Stephen McGee is to run Mike Sherman's offense than Dennis Franchione's. I bet McGee is, too.
10. Maybe having a chance to see Kansas State QB Josh Freeman uncork a ball 70 or 80 yards -- on the fly.
11. Waiting to see Iowa State coach Gene Chizik's decision on who is better -- Austen Arnaud or Phillip Bates.
12. Waiting for a chance to see Baylor QB Robert Griffin and Texas QB John Chiles play a position other than quarterback.
13. Seeing the Sooner Schooner march up and down the field. Something tells me a good night would be Saturday against Chattanooga.
14. Waiting to see the records that Graham Harrell to Michael Crabtree can set this season.
15. Chase Daniel chewing out an offensive lineman who might have missed a block -- or maybe a coach he doesn't agree with.
16. Catching a few replays of Texas' mammoth Godzillatron scoreboard and wishing I had one just like it in my living room.
17. Seeing the "Waving of the Wheat" after a Kansas victory. This never gets old.
18. Ralphie the Buffalo leading Colorado on the field. Simply the best mascot in all of college sports.
19. The Texas A&M Marching Band in one of their stirring, patented halftime shows.
20. Watching how much playing time Marlon Lucky will receive with Nebraska this year. Bet he still is among the conference's rushing leaders.
21. Seeing how Texas Tech's young defense reacts to excitable coach Ruffin McNeill.
22. Standing next to Kansas State TB Keithen Valentine and judging if I'm really taller than he is.
23. Watching the pads pop when Oklahoma running backs run behind the mammoth left side of their offensive line keyed by T Phil Loadholt and G Duke Robinson.
24. Standing close -- but not too close -- to the Baylor bear mascot and Bevo the Longhorn along the sidelines.
25. Waiting for another big return by Kansas State so I can see Ron Prince happily stomp down the field in jubilation.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
Nebraska's punishing ground attack historically has been as big a part of the Cornhuskers' storied program as Herbie Husker, sellout crowds at Memorial Stadium and Academic All-Americans.
Consider that between 1977 and 2003, Nebraska ranked at least seventh or higher every season in the national rushing rankings. That's right: seventh or better. And in 13 of those seasons the Cornhuskers led the nation in rushing.
That's why the rankings during the four seasons of Bill Callahan's tenure -- 34th, 107th, 23rd and 66th -- were so disappointing. Two of the four teams even threw the ball more than it ran. How un-Nebraskalike, even in this age of spread passing offenses.
Most observers are expecting Nebraska to more effectively run the ball this season. Some are even predicting a smash-mouth running attack keyed by an experienced offensive line and four strong I-backs led by Big 12 returning rushing leader Marlon Lucky.
Running the ball would also provide a way for new coach Bo Pelini to keep his defense off the field, dominating time of possession and lessening the time his defensive unit will have to make plays.
Senior Nebraska offensive guard Matt Slauson told the Omaha World-Herald it would be noticeable compared to his previous seasons.
"We're going to line up and smash guys, and if it works, we're going to keep doing it," Slauson told the newspaper.
Which tells me one thing. Simple dives and off-tackle smashes won't be nearly as unpopular among Nebraska fans as they might be at other places across the Big 12 this season.
And speaking of traditional, hearty fare, how about this lip-smacking collection of links this morning? It's good for what ails you.
- Former Penn State DT Phil Taylor has enrolled at Baylor and begun practicing with the team. Taylor was dismissed from the Nittany Lions after his involvement in an on-campus fight last season. Freshman K Ben Parks has won the starting job for the Bears' opener Thursday night against Wake Forest.
- Boulder Daily Camera coulumnist Neill Woelk said Colorado fans are providing a form of corporate welfare to Colorado State, buying tickets this week that weren't scarfed up by the Rams' fans.
- Colorado TE Riar Geer avoided jail Monday after his friends and family members pleaded to a judge that his role in an off-campus fight was out of character. But he'll miss the first two games of the season as he recovers from knee surgery.
- Heralded Colorado freshman TB Darrell Scott is trying to keep up with the other demands than just playing.
- Iowa State will have 27 freshmen in its two-deep roster Thursday night against South Dakota State. But Des Moines Register columnist Sean Keeler writes that Iowa State coach Gene Chizik needs to choose a starting quarterback soon and stick with him.
- Kansas State list four newcomers on its starting lineup for Saturday's game against North Texas. Three are from junior colleges -- RB Keithen Valentine, CB Blair Irvin and LB Ulla Pomele - and LB Olu Hall is arrives from Virginia.
- Jeff Martin of the Kansas City Star/Wichita Eagle provides a few nuggets from Kansas State's press conference, including Coach Ron Prince uttering the word "confirmed" 14 times during a 30-minute stint at the podium.
- Kansas State officials learned that top returning receiver and punt returner Deon Murphy has an extra year of eligibility. He will be considered a junior in the upcoming season.
- Kansas has 10 freshmen and 15 sophomores in its two-deep roster, including PR Daymond Patterson as a starter.
- The Lawrence Journal-World's Matt Tait writes about Kansas rebuilding its secondary without All-American CB Aqib Talib.
- Dugan Arnett of the Lawrence Journal World wonders who would be the bigger chick magnet in downtown Lawrence -- Michael Phelps or Todd Reesing?
- Manhattan Mercury beat writer Mark Janssen breaks down the ABC's of Kansas State football.
- Dave Matter of the Columbia Tribune's Big 12 notebook leads with Florida Atlantic coach Howard Schnellenberger's comments about Texas.
- Kansas City Star college columnist Blair Kerkhoff has Oklahoma ranked No. 5 in his top 25 countdown. Kerkhoff also expects faster play and shorter games with the new clock rules.
- Missouri WR Jared Perry gave Dave Matter the quote of the day about how he hopes to impress the Illinois defense after struggling with injuries. "It's a big motivation," Perry said, "because people are just sleeping on me. So, I have to wake them up."
- Nebraska coach Bo Pelini says he's not any more excited about Saturday's game against Western Michigan than any other. "My level of excitement really isn't any different than it was last year," said Pelini, who spent the last three seasons as defensive coordinator at Louisiana State. "I treat them all the same. I think we'll be prepared come Saturday and let it all hang out. It'll be a fun time, but at the same time I've got to keep my emotions in check, as does the team."
- Lee Barfknecht of the Omaha World-Herald says that Kansas State QB Josh Freeman has provided the best quotes of the preseason -- particularly those that threw Kansas State's seniors last seasons under the bus for their lack of leadership. Barfknecht also gives his preseason Big 12 rankings.
- Omaha World-Herald columnist Tom Shatel wonders if ESPN analyst Kirk Herbstreit really likes Nebraska as much as he's saying - or if he's only try to throw a bone to his old Ohio State teammate and current Nebraska coach Bo Pelini.
- The Lincoln Journal-Star's Curt McKeever doesn't expect any suprise teams from the Big 12 because of the conference's depth at the top.
- Pelini met with the media for about two minutes Monday after an intense practice on the first day of classes. Former Nebraska coach Bill Callahan never practiced his team on the first day of classes.
- Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy will be back calling plays for the Cowboys this season after delegating that job to assistants in recent years.
- Oklahoman columnist John Rohde is expecting Saturday's Oklahoma State-Washington State game to be fun on Saturday.
- Jake Trotter of the Oklahoman writes that Oklahoma's non-conference schedule shouldn't be a liability to their national title hopes - even as the Sooners start the season Saturday against Chattanooga, a 2-9 team last season.
- Oklahoma State WR Damian Davis has been suspended for the Cowboys' opener against Washington State for an undisclosed violation of team rules.
- Oklahoma State's Kendall Hunter has set a goal of rushing for 1,000 yards this season according to Bill Haisten of the Tulsa World.
- Tulsa World columnist John Klein said that Mike Gundy should have more talent at his disposal this season than any previous season when he was Oklahoma State's head coach.
- Jimmie Tramel of the Tulsa World writes about Texas A&M's water balloon fight in his weekly Big 12 notepad, also providing a quotepad and his rankings.
- Eleven positions remain up for grabs on Texas' depth chart, heading into Saturday's game against Florida Atlantic.
- Kirk Bohls of the Austin American Statesman writes of Texas' new slogan worn on their orange wristbands: "Consistently good to be great."
- Depth at tailback could produce Texas A&M's first 1,000-yard rusher since 2003, according to Randy Riggs of the Austin American-Statesman.
- Freshman WR Jeff Fuller is listed as a starter for Texas A&M's opener. And QB Stephen McGee told the San Antonio Express-News that backup QBs Jerrod Johnson and Ryan Tannehill are "two of our four top guys" at receiver.
- Texas Tech CB Darcel McBath is determined that Eastern Washington won't sneak up on his team on Saturday night - particularly as Coach Mike Leach has repeatedly talked about Michigan's upset losos to Appalachian State last season. "I definitely don't want to make Sports Center for that," McBath told the Lubbock Avalanche-ournal. "We can't let that happen."
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
How good will be the Big 12 be this season?
With an armada of strong quarterbacks and concentrated power at the top of both divisions, the conference could produce something really special this season. The Associated Press' preseason poll is stacked with five Big 12 teams among its top 14 teams. That respect is coming after four Big 12 teams finished in the top 10 last season and a Big 12-record eight consensus All-Americans were selected last season.
Blair Kerkhoff of the Kansas City Star speculates today that the Big 12 finally can come close to matching the SEC this season. Keys, he mentions, will be the performance of the Big 12 in tough nonconference games like Missouri-Illinois, Kansas at South Florida, Kansas State at Louisville and Virginia Tech at Nebraska. The Big 12 should win its only matchup this season against the SEC when Arkansas visits Texas.
The conference's true reputation will be built in bowl games. After struggles early in its history in bowls, the Big 12's 5-3 bowl record last season was its fifth above .500 in history and third in four seasons.
That trend will have to continue to help the conference's burgeoning reputation to keep growing. And it probably wouldn't hurt for Oklahoma to win a bowl game, too.
But those games are more than four months away. The season is approaching in a mere three days.
To whet your appetite for that start, here's a power-packed stack of morning links. Enjoy them.
- Chip Brown of Orangebloods.com breaks down the 10 best decisions of Mack Brown's coaching tenure at Texas.
- Boulder Daily Camera columnist Neill Woelk can't believe that Mark Mangino is making $2.3 million per season -- considering he's had two winning seasons in his six-year tenure as a head coach at Kansas.
- Baylor's three quarterbacks discuss battling for their starting job as coach Art Briles' decision appears no clearer.
- Four newcomers dot Kansas State's depth chart. RB Keithen Valentine, CB Blair Irvin, OLB Olu Hall and ILB Ulla Pomele all will be in the starting lineup Saturday against North Texas.
- Missouri sports information director Chad Moller has "something big" planned in his pitch for Chase Daniel's Heisman hopes, according to the Kansas City Star's Mike DeArmond. Moller says cost of his surprise will be about $50,000.
- The Omaha World-Herald has virtually everything you'd ever want to know about the Cornhuskers in its preview edition. Among the highlights include World-Herald beat writer Jon Nyatawa's story on Bo Pelini's building plan, Tom Shatel's column on football motivation, a Husker inkblot test that shows how the Cornhuskers can finish 8-4 and Shatel's 14 predictions for the coming season.
- Not to be outdone, the Lincoln Journal-Star had a preview section with Bo Pelini as a superhero with "Bo Wonder. Villains, Beware!" shouting from the cover. Columnist Steve Sipple explains his rationale for the cover. Beat writer Brian Christopherson details the Cornhuskers' 1-2 offensive punch in QB Joe Ganz and I-back Marlon Lucky, and Curt McKeever's list of Husker villains for the 2008 season.
- The Big 12 is heavily represented on John Walter's 50 most intriguing people in college football. Included on the MSNBC.com list are Baylor QB Robert Griffin, Missouri WR/KR Jeremy Maclin, Missouri K Jeff Wolfert, Nebraska I-back Marlon Lucky, Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy, Oklahoma State WR Artrell Woods and Texas Tech QB Graham Harrell and WR Michael Crabtree .
- Oklahoman columnist Berry Tramel speculates on the chances that Bob Stoops will remain at Oklahoma for 10 more years.
- Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy still hasn't announced who'll be calling plays for the Cowboys in their season opener Saturday against Washington State.
- Des Moines Register beat writer Andrew Logue interviews Iowa State quarterbacks Austen Arnaud and Phillip Bates.
- Wichita Eagle columnist Bob Lutz writes that Ron Prince's junior-college laden recruiting class is nothing like Bill Snyder's recruiting strategy.
- Jake Trotter of the Oklahoman breaks down Sam Bradford's Heisman hopes.
- Tulsa World columnist Dave Sittler predicts a 12-0 regular season for Oklahoma, capped by a loss to Missouri in the Big 12 championship.
- Terrance Harris of the Houston Chronicle has an extended sit-down with new Texas A&M coach Mike Sherman.
- Kirk Bohls of the Austin American-Statesman considers how the Texas roster would be broken down after a 44-man NFL-style draft.
- Chuck Carlton of the Dallas Morning News produces an interesting comparison between Dallas-area natives Chase Daniel of Missouri and Matthew Stafford of Georgia.
- Kansas QB Todd Reesing tells the Fort Worth Star
-Telegram's Mike Jones about his interest in dancing and life in the fishbowl in Lawrence, Kan.
- Texas Tech athletic director Gerald Myers told the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal "there's a good possibility" the Red Raiders will face Oklahoma State in Dallas in 2009.
- Texas Tech coaches still haven't decided on starters at running back and center heading into Saturday's opener against Eastern Washington. Daniel Charbonnet has won the starting job at free safety, with the right corner and kicker jobs still open.
- The Tulsa World's Guerin Emig profiles TB DeMarco Murray, a key offensive weapon for Oklahoma's success this season.
- J. Brady McCullough of the Kansas City Star details the changing expectations around the Jayhawks' program.
- Heralded Colorado running back Darrell Scott has lost 17 pounds since arriving at college. He's now down to a trim 210 pounds and hopes to play close at close to 205 once the season begins.
- New Texas A&M coach Mike Sherman is emphasizing speed in his rebuilding process, Randy Riggs of the Austin American-Statesman writes.
- Colorado is preparing for uncertainty in its season opener against Colorado State. The Buffaloes will be facing an opponent featuring a new coach, new offensive coordinator and new starting quarterback.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
I was struck looking at some pictures on the Oklahoman's web site of Bob Stoops and how he has changed as he begins his 10th season coaching the Sooners.
I recalled interviewing Stoops soon after he took over the Sooners' job. His reputation preceded him after a strong run as Steve Spurrier's defensive coordinator at Florida. But I will still struck at how young Stoops appeared to be back then -- barely older it seemed than some of his players.
His career has provided for much of the juice in the Big 12. He led the Sooners to a bowl game his first season and to the national championship the next -- the first time a Big 12 team ever claimed an undisputed football national championship.
Since Stoops started, 13 Big 12 coaches have come and gone and every job in the conference has turned over with the exception of Texas.
All of those coaches were fired except for Kansas State coach Bill Snyder, who helped give Stoops his start.
Today, three Big 12 coaches -- Kansas' Mark Mangino, Texas Tech's Mike Leach and Nebraska's Bo Pelini -- once worked for Stoops. And another, Baylor coach Art Briles, is a second-generation descendant of the Stoops' coaching tree after earlier working with Leach at Texas Tech.
The beginning of Stoops' 10th season has prompted a week-long series of stories this week in the Oklahoman. The first two days were compelling reads and I'm expecting the rest to be as similarly strong.
Oklahoman sports columnist Berry Tramel started the series Sunday with a definitive analysis of Stoops' place in Oklahoma's storied football history.
Today's group of anecdotes about Stoops gave an interesting picture about him from those who know him best. My favorites included how Stoops demanded a practice field with no more chicken bones; his fastidious nature he inherited from his father: how he once stood up to Spurrier; and how he got his point across to the 2000 championship team to eat their breakfasts before practice. Good stuff.
Stoops' place in Big 12 history is secure. But looking at those pictures sure did make me think about how quickly time slips away.
Here are today's links. I can only hope they can have the staying power of Stoops.
- Texas Tech running backs coach Seth Littrell hasn't set a timetable for settling on a starting tailback. Shannon Woods, Aaron Crawford and Baron Batch are hooked up in a tight battle for the job.
- Bryan-College Station Eagle columnist Robert Cessna liked what he saw from Texas A&M's offense at their most recent scrimmage. TB Mike Goodson looked recovered from a tweaked groin muscle after scoring on an 80-yard screen pass from Stephen McGee.
- Baylor struggled through a turnover-fest at its most recent scrimmage, upsetting new coach Art Briles. "It (the turnovers) just makes you sick to your stomach," Briles told the Waco Tribune-Herald. said. "I'm not sure if we were as mentally prepared as we needed to be ... We've got to perform better, but I'd rather this happen now than on Aug. 28."
- Colorado sophomore TB Demetrius Sumler has emerged as the Buffaloes' likely starter against Colorado State in their season opener with heralded freshman Darrell Scott set for goal-line and short yardage duty.
- Scott and his uncle, Colorado WR/PR Josh Smith, still flashed some big-play potential at the Buffaloes' most recent scrimmage. Scott contributed kickoff returns of 50 and 47 yards, while his uncle, Josh Smith, returned a punt 44 yards for a score and added a 62- yard kickoff return.
- Iowa State coach Gene Chizik has beefed up his secondary with the realization that every Big 12 North opponent will be playing a spread offense this season.
- Sign of the times? Lawrence Journal-World columnist Tom Keegan predicts that Kansas' football team will be better than its defending national championship men's basketball team.
- Check out the Kansas City Star's video log of a recent Kansas practice to see how Coach Mark Mangino doesn't like to be crowded during a media scrum. Ah, coach, that's what happens when you start having a winning team.
- Kansas State coach Ron Prince doesn't know what to think about his team's top 25 ranking in Playboy Magazine -- its only top 25 preseason ranking this season. "I'm not even going to try to say anything clever regarding that," Prince told the Topeka Capital-Journal. There are six Big 12 teams ranked in the magazine's preseason issue, or so I've been told. Oklahoma is No. 1, with Missouri fourth, Kansas 10th, Texas Tech 11th and Texas 13th among the top 25 heading into the 2008 campaign.
- No catchy nicknames yet for the package where Texas QB Colt McCoy and QB John Chiles both are in the lineup for the Longhorns. Coaches, for now, are referring to it as the "Q Package."
- So much for all of the talk about open football practices at USC. Texas baseball coach Augie Garrido recently got booted from a Trojan workout at the L.A. Coliseum.
- Nebraska athletic director Tom Osborne recently made a trip to the Omaha World-Herald offices to chat up members of the Fourth Estate. Osborne had an interesting comment to World-Herald columnist Tom Shatel. "There are some places where they have a Boone Pickens -- they are always going to be OK," Osborne said. "I think we'll be in good shape, as long as that football stadium stays filled. If that goes south, it could be a problem." Interesting comments from the leader of a school that had a near 100 percent renewal rate in season tickets.
- Andrew Hartsock of the Lawrence Journal-World analyzes Kansas' options in replacing Brandon McAnderson at tailback. Heralded 2007 national junior-college rushing leader Jocques Crawford had an interesting take: "It puts a lot of pressure on me," Crawford said. "You look at the status of the numbers he put up, how he helped the team, I've got big shoes to fill. But everyone's replaceable."
- Missouri coach Gary Pinkel was perturbed with his team's performance after a sloppy, turnover-filled second scrimmage. I told our football team, 'We've got to get better.' It was sloppy in a lot of ways
," Pinkel told the Kansas City Star. And offensive coordinator Dave Christensen was even madder. "I can understand having some type of those errors with the twos, threes and fours, but it's intolerable with the No. 1 offense," Christensen told the Star.
- Natalie England of the San Antonio Express-News has an interesting retrospective of Mack Brown's first 10 years coaching at Texas.
- The defensive effort by Missouri was a little brighter. The Tigers' first-team defense held its opponents out of the end zone for the second-straight scrimmage. And All-Big 12 LB Sean Weatherspoon provided a pair of interceptions, including one to punctuate the scrimmage.
- The Kansas City Star serves up a passel of position ratings. Most interesting findings included Kansas State's Josh Freeman ahead of Texas' Colt McCoy at quarterback and Texas A&M's Stephen McGee ranked 10th, behind Colorado's Cody Hawkins and Nebraska's Joe Ganz.
- Mike Finger of the San Antonio Express-News analyzes the preponderance of top quarterbacks in the Big 12.
- Oklahoma RB Chris Brown says he's finally healthy after struggling with a right knee injury that requred microfracture surgery after the season.
- The Des Moines Register's Andrew Logue suggests that Coach Gene Chizik play both Austen Arnaud and Phillip Bates in the Cyclones' Aug. 28 opener against South Dakota State.
- Nebraska coach Bo Pelini went through a box of Sharpies as he pressed the flesh at the Cornhuskers' annual Fan Day. Attendance was 8,125.
- Logan Dold and Keithen Valentine have emerged as Kansas State's top two running backs for the Wildcats Aug. 30 opener against North Texas.
- Texas coach Mack Brown refuses to get in a war of words with Florida Atlantic coach Howard Schnellenberger, who reportedly called the Longhorns soft last week. "I haven't called anybody out in 56 years,'' he said. "And I'm not about to start now." But give Schnellenberger credit for one thing. His team will be earning $900,000 for the Aug. 30 game -- highest guarantee ever paid to a visiting non-conference opponent in Austin.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
Nicknames used to dot the college football landscape, giving a splash of additional color to an already colorful game.
There was "The Galloping Ghost," "The Kansas Comet," "Earthquake," "The Mad Stork" and "The Italian Stallion." For you old-schoolers out there like me, you'll immediately remember Red Grange, Gale Sayers, Bill Enyart, Ted Hendricks and Johnny Musso.
It was good stuff.
But in today's changing times, nicknames don't seem to be given as readily as in the past. That's why a couple of recent stories delighted me so much when I read them this morning.
Oklahoma State running back Kendall Hunter is in a tight battle to replace Dantrell Savage as the Cowboys' featured back.
More notable to me than Hunter's 696 yards last season was an anecdote from last season. The 5-foot-8 Hunter was in a team meeting when Oklahoma State running backs coach Curtis Luper inexplicably started referring to him as "Spud."
"I have no idea why that was," Hunter told the Tulsa World. "On the practice field that day, all I was hearing was Spud. Everywhere I went, it was Spud. Not Kendall, but Spud. I can't shake it."
And at Missouri, redshirt freshman wide receiver Jerrell Jackson has also picked up a similarly colorful moniker. Missouri linebacker Sean Weatherspoon has taken to calling him "Young Grasshopper" because of his pass-catching abilities. It sounds to me like something straight out of the old "Kung Fu" show that I used to love when I was a teenager back in the 1970s, but Jackson says Weatherspoon's descriptive nickname is a badge of honor.
"When I first got here, I caught a ball out of the air from one of the defensive backs, and he started calling me that." Jackson told the Columbia Daily Tribune.
Both nicknames seem to fit the players and are a throwback to the good ol' days of college football. I like them.
I'd be interested if any readers know about nicknames for other Big 12 players, or have suggestions for nicknames. If anybody has some, I'll share them in an upcoming post.
And after a problem with a crashed computer, which I called several nicknames I know weren't suitable for a family Web site, here are some mid-morning links.
Better late than never, I guess. Hope you enjoy.
- Former Penn State DT Phil Taylor is planning to transfer to Baylor. Former Penn State assistant coach Brian Norwood is Baylor's new defensive coordinator.
- Vince Young's jersey will be retired by Texas at the Longhorns' Aug. 30 opener against Florida International.
- Houston Chronicle beat writer Joseph Duarte has an interesting video interview with Texas QB Colt McCoy about his plans to rebound from a disappointing 2007 season.
- Nebraska coach Bo Pelini is confident that WR Khiry Cooper will remain with the team. Friday is the deadline for Cooper, a fifth-round choice of the Los Angeles Angels, to accept his baseball contract.
- The Oklahoma secondary's personnel has been shaken up after Lendy Holmes was moved to free safety and Dominique Franks earned first-team status at cornerback.
- Florida Atlantic coach Howard Schnellenberger claims he was misquoted by a student newspaper when he called Texas' defense soft. University Press sports editor Jay Warman, who originally posted Schnellenberger's quote on his blog earlier this week, said the quotes are accurate.
- Iowa State coach Gene Chizik is bullish about his team's development halfway through summer training camp.
- Despite his team suffering three season-ending knee injuries in a nine-day period, Colorado coach Dan Hawkins isn't changing his practice methods."It's kind of a freak deal," Hawkins told the Rocky Mountain News, adding that the only preventive measure would be to "stop running because, basically, that's when they happened. It's not because guys are hitting you, or cutting. I mean, they're all noncontact."
- Walk-on Kansas State RB Keithen Valentine has emerged as the team's likely starter.
- Fort Worth Star-Telegram national college football writer Trae Thompson lists Missouri WR Jeremy Maclin among his 10 "can't miss" players for 2008.