NCF Nation: Lyle Leong

The Big 12 might be weak at the top of the running back heap, but it's definitely not at receiver. The conference has at least three of the top five receivers in the country, and the top two. They highlight a very strong group of receivers across the league, and I continue our position rankings with receivers today.

Remember that depth plays a big part of these rankings. We'll be ranking the top 10 individuals at each position later on before the season begins.

Other position rankings: 1. Oklahoma

[+] EnlargeRyan Broyles
J.P. Wilson/Icon SMIRyan Broyles finished the 2010 season with 131 catches for 1,622 yards and 14 touchdowns.
The Sooners have the nation's No. 2 receiver, Ryan Broyles, but found a handful of others to surround him in 2010 and should have a couple more in 2011. Sophomore Kenny Stills broke Broyles' freshman receiving record and looks like a budding star. Dejuan Miller came on strong before a season-ending knee injury, but he's back. The Sooners lose Cameron Kenney, but Trey Franks had a strong freshman campaign, and freshmen Justin McCay (redshirt) and Trey Metoyer could provide even more playmakers.

2. Oklahoma State

The Cowboys boast the returning Biletnikoff Award winner and 2011 favorite, Justin Blackmon, with a great group around him, too. Slot machine Josh Cooper returns for his senior year, and fellow senior Hubert Anyiam (the team's leading receiver in 2009) is hoping to return to form after being slowed by an ankle injury in 2010. Isaiah Anderson is a shifty speedster, while Michael Harrison and Tracy Moore offer a more aerial approach to receiving.

3. Texas A&M

The Aggies have the Big 12's No. 3 receiver, Jeff Fuller, who is arguably one of the top-five in the college game. But they also have the Big 12's most experienced receiving unit, with guys who won't be surprised by anything they see in Big 12 play. Juniors Ryan Swope and Uzoma Nwachukwu are the team's second and third options, but fellow juniors Kenric McNeal and Brandal Jackson could be bigger pieces of the offense in 2011. Tight end Nehemiah Hicks should see his profile rise in his coming sophomore year.

4. Baylor

Top target Kendall Wright will likely end his career as the Bears' leading receiver for all four of his seasons on the field, and 6-foot-4, 220-pound junior Josh Gordon looks like the new Jeff Fuller. Terrance Williams, Lanear Sampson and Tevin Reese round out the Bears' top five, who all had at least 40 catches last season, and all return.

5. Missouri

Missouri still lacks a proven big-play threat, but has two pass-catchers who have some of the best hands in the game. Receiver T.J. Moe and tight end Michael Egnew won't drop many passes, and combined to catch 182 for 1,807 yards and 11 touchdowns. Wes Kemp and Jerrell Jackson bring a lot of experience and both had at least 39 catches last season. If Marcus Lucas or Rolandis Woodland can become a consistent downfield threat, Missouri will rise up these rankings by season's end.

6. Texas Tech

Tech's top two receivers, Lyle Leong and Detron Lewis, must be replaced, but the Red Raiders have a few solid candidates to do it. Junior Alex Torres will likely lead the group, but fellow junior Austin Zouzalik and seniors Jacoby Franks and Tramain Swindall will be counted on for more production. Dark horse/juco newcomer Marcus Kennard could blossom into a household name across the Big 12 by season's end.

7. Texas

Sophomore Mike Davis and redshirt freshman Darius White are loaded with potential, but two of the team's top three receivers (James Kirkendoll, John Chiles) are gone, and no Texas receiver caught more than two touchdowns last season. Malcolm Williams and Marquise Goodwin are as different as two receivers could be, but both need to break out to help whoever becomes the Longhorns quarterback next fall.

8. Kansas State

Brodrick Smith will be back this season after breaking his leg in a loss to Nebraska. But two of the team's top three receivers are gone, leaving converted quarterback Chris Harper as the leading returner, though Smith might have held that title if he'd stayed healthy. Sophomore speedster Tramaine Thompson can make plays if he gets the ball with some space.

9. Iowa State

The Cyclones will be breaking in a new quarterback this season and they will need a playmaker to step up. Tight end Collin Franklin led team in receiving last season but he is now gone. Darius Reynolds looks like a possible candidate to fill the role, although incoming slot receiver Aaron Horne might rack up a few catches in space. Darius Darks and Josh Lenz should earn some more targets too.

10. Kansas

Converted defensive back Daymond Patterson is the team's top receiver, but the team's No. 3 receiver junior Bradley McDougald, moved to safety in the middle of the season. Tight end Tim Biere is one of the Big 12's best and led the team with four touchdowns last season. Chris Omigie and D.J. Beshears have some potential, and converted quarterback Christian Matthews keeps showing up in spring games. But all three, along with the rest of the group, would benefit from some consistency at the quarterback spot.

Texas Tech recruiting analysis

February, 3, 2011
2/03/11
9:00
AM ET
Texas Tech Red Raiders

The class

Signees: 27 (four from junior college)

Top prospects: Kenny Williams and Bradley Marquez both ranked among the nation's top 30 running backs and Jace Amaro is one of the nation's top tight ends. Incoming quarterback Michael Brewer was the nation's No. 27 quarterback and could be a factor in the Red Raiders spring quarterback competition.

Needs met: Texas Tech has a lot of depth at running back, but Marquez and Williams could end up being two of the Red Raiders' best backs eventually. The Red Raiders are moving on without running back and longtime starter Baron Batch and also must replace departed receivers Detron Lewis and Lyle Leong. Derek Edwards and LaDarrin Roberts could fill that void in depth behind rising underclassmen, and junior college transfer Marcus Kennard could contribute quickly. Defensive end Cooper Washington switched to the Red Raiders from Oklahoma on signing day and could help provide some elite talent up front to instill the SEC-type defense Tommy Tuberville hopes to bring to Lubbock.

Analysis: Texas Tech is ecstatic with this class, and for good reason. It's one of the best in the Big 12 behind top-tier classes Texas and Oklahoma, and it's one of the best-ranked classes in school history. ESPN ranks it just outside the national top 25, and we could see some elite skill position players emerge from this unit. The big-time defensive signees will be coming in 2012, but for now, offensive coordinator Neal Brown has plenty more young players to help further establish his offense.

ESPN recruiting grade: B-minus

2010 Big 12 All-Bowl team

January, 14, 2011
1/14/11
11:24
AM ET
We've spent the week wrapping up the bowls, and now that it's Friday, here's our Big 12 bowl team comprised of players who got it done individually in their bowl games.

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

OFFENSE

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

DEFENSE

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

SPECIALISTS

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

Final 2010 Big 12 Power Rankings

January, 11, 2011
1/11/11
11:00
AM ET
» Power Rankings: ACC | Big 12 | Big East | Big Ten | Pac-10 | SEC | Non-AQ

It's been a fun year with a fun finale last night, but here's how the Big 12 sits to end the 2010 season.

For reference, here's how I ranked the league before the bowl games.

1. Oklahoma (12-2, 6-2, last week: 1) For all the bumps that 2010 brought the Sooners, they did what everyone picked them to do: Win the Big 12. They did the same in the Fiesta Bowl: Beat Connecticut handily.

2. Oklahoma State (11-2, 6-2, LW: 3) The way Texas A&M, Missouri and Nebraska played in the postseason, there's no doubt that Oklahoma State was playing the second-best football of anyone in the conference to close the year.

3. Texas A&M (9-4, 6-2, LW: 2) The Aggies played by far the best team of anyone in the Big 12 in their bowl game, and didn't play well on offense or defense, but Missouri and Nebraska don't warrant a jump after losing to unranked teams.

4. Missouri (10-3, 6-2, LW: 4) Missouri had the closest loss among the Big 12's top tier of teams in the league's weak bowl showing, but outside of Blaine Gabbert's inexplicable late interception, the Tigers played pretty well in the second half.

5. Nebraska (10-4, 6-2, LW: 5) Not many positives to the Huskers' flat showing in San Diego. Something to learn from, but Nebraska can't afford to get out-muscled up front in the Big Ten like they were against Washington.

6. Texas Tech (8-5, 3-5, LW: 6) The Red Raiders were one of just three Big 12 bowl winners, and got nice days out of long-time friends and teammates Lyle Leong and Taylor Potts to do it. Nice job to hold off an impressive Northwestern comeback, too.

7. Kansas State (7-6, 3-5, LW: 8) The Wildcats got robbed on a call, but there's nothing saying they would have won. K-State still needed a two-point conversion and would have had to stop Syracuse in overtime. The Orange racked up almost 500 yards of offense, and Syracuse running back Delone Carter had 198 rushing yards. Not a good recipe for a win, bad call or otherwise.

8. Baylor (7-6, 4-4, LW: 7) Baylor flopped in its return to a bowl, losing 38-14 to Illinois. But look for the Bears in the postseason again in 2011 and to turn in a better performance on a big stage. Bears didn't respond well to big games this year.


9. Colorado (5-7, 2-6, LW: 9) Not many common threads for Colorado from 2010 to 2011. New coaching staff, new league. Should be an interesting future.

10. Texas (5-7, 2-6, LW: 10) Texas has four of its five coaching vacancies filled. Know any good offensive line coaches? Longhorns new look should be fun to watch through the spring and into next season.

11. Iowa State (5-7, 3-5, LW: 11) Iowa State missed a pair of opportunities -- on the road against Colorado and at home against Missouri -- to qualify for a bowl, but Year 3 is perhaps the most important under Paul Rhoads and certainly the most telling of where this program is headed.

12. Kansas (3-9, 1-7, LW: 12) The Jayhawks managed a nice recruiting class in the middle of the Big 12, and snatched early-enrolling quarterback Brock Berglund from Colorado. A nice start for Turner Gill on the recruiting trail in his first full year.
Texas Tech and Northwestern will kick off the New Year's Day bowls from Dallas in the inaugural TicketCity Bowl from the Cotton Bowl at the State Fair of Texas. With the appearance, Texas Tech stretches its streak of no losing seasons to a Big 12-best 18 years.

Here's a look at the matchup.

WHO TO WATCH: Quarterbacks Taylor Potts and Steven Sheffield. These two have been intertwined all season, and it won't change on Saturday. Coach Tommy Tuberville says both will play, which isn't necessarily anything new for the Red Raiders. In fact, both played during Texas Tech's best win of the season. Steven Sheffield got his only start of the season against Missouri, but struggled and was replaced by Potts. He rallied his team from a double-digit deficit and helped Texas Tech win three of its final four games to reach bowl eligibility.

WHAT TO WATCH: Texas Tech's defense. The Red Raiders struggled for most of the year defending everything, but especially the pass, where they rank last in the Big 12. Texas Tech is at the bottom in total defense, too. Northwestern will be starting Evan Watkins in place of injured, do-everything quarterback Dan Persa, but if the Red Raiders can right the ship against the inexperienced Watkins, they could win easily. Northwestern was blown out by Illinois and Wisconsin in its final two games. Complicating matters for Texas Tech is its situation at defensive coordinator. Defensive line coach Sam McElroy will take over for this game after James Willis left the program on Sunday.

WHY WATCH: There should be plenty of what fans like to see: offense. Even though Northwestern was blown out in those two games, it scored 27 and 23 points, giving up 48 and 70. Texas Tech's offense hasn't been consistent all year, but against the Wildcats defense, the Red Raiders should have some success. Potts has a pair of 800-yard receivers in Detron Lewis and Lyle Leong, and an 800-yard rusher in experienced senior Baron Batch.

PREDICTION: Texas Tech 38, Northwestern 27. I have my doubts about Watkins' ability to make plays in big spots like Persa did this year, and against a playmaking offense like the Red Raiders have, converting a few of those inevitable third-and-longs is necessary. Texas Tech should be able to do it. Northwestern won't.

TicketCity Bowl

December, 6, 2010
12/06/10
2:12
AM ET
Northwestern Wildcats (7-5) vs. Texas Tech Red Raiders (7-5)

Jan. 1, noon ET (ESPNU)

Northwestern take by Big Ten blogger Adam Rittenberg: Northwestern’s season will officially end Jan. 1 in the inaugural TicketCity Bowl against Texas Tech. The bigger question: Did the Wildcats’ campaign already come to a close back on Nov. 13?

Northwestern has looked extremely shaky since losing star quarterback Dan Persa to a season-ending ruptured Achilles’ tendon in a Nov. 13 win against Iowa. Not surprisingly, the Wildcats have struggled on offense as backup quarterback Evan Watkins goes through some growing pains. The more shocking backslide has come on defense, as Northwestern surrendered 118 points, 848 rushing yards and 10 rushing touchdowns in losses to Illinois and Wisconsin. Missed tackles became a big problem down the stretch, and Pat Fitzgerald’s crew needs to get things rectified against a Texas Tech squad that ranks among the top 20 in both passing and total yards.

Bowl practices will be valuable for Watkins, who had attempted only seven passes before taking over the starting job on Nov. 20. The redshirt freshman could use a boost from the ground game, although top running back Mike Trumpy is questionable for the game after fracturing his wrist against Illinois. Northwestern needs to find a way to establish an offensive rhythm and keep the high-powered Texas Tech attack on the sideline.

After two near misses in bowls the last two years, Northwestern aims for its first postseason victory since the 1949 Rose Bowl. This one would qualify as an upset.


Texas Tech take by Big 12 blogger David Ubben: Early in the season, a bowl game was no guarantee for the Red Raiders. A loss to Oklahoma State landed them at 3-3 and 1-3 in conference play, but the transition year from Mike Leach to Tommy Tuberville didn't result in the end of the Big 12's longest bowl streak. Texas Tech is the only team to qualify for a bowl game in every year since the birth of the Big 12, and that wasn't going to end in the final year of its existence as a 12-team league.

The Red Raiders offense has been inconsistent this season, but it still boasts two experienced, senior quarterbacks in starter Taylor Potts and backup Steven Sheffield, who saw time this year and a start, despite losing a preseason quarterback battle. Receiver Lyle Leong is also a player to watch; his 17 touchdown catches are second only to Biletnikoff Award finalist Justin Blackmon.

The in-state Red Raiders should have the advantage in an atmosphere with a substantial amount of alumni not needing to leave the Dallas city limits to see Texas Tech play. They’ve already played in the Cotton Bowl once this season, facing Baylor back in October.
Texas Tech's Steven Sheffield got his first start of the season on Saturday, but was benched before he even made it to halftime.

Taylor Potts has stepped in and led the Red Raiders to a pair of touchdown drives, hitting Lyle Leong for a 16-yard touchdown to tie the game at 17.

Missouri's long touchdown runs look good on the scoreboard, but outside of the two early runs, the Tigers haven't been able to maintain any drives. They haven't converted any of their six third downs so far, and have clearly lost momentum.

If they don't get something going and find a way to keep up with a renewed Texas Tech offense under Potts (Blaine Gabbert: 7-of-15, 49 yards), the Tigers will find themselves leaving Lubbock with a loss.

What to watch in the Big 12: Week 10

November, 4, 2010
11/04/10
10:18
AM ET
I'll be in Stillwater on Saturday checking out a big South battle between Oklahoma State and Baylor, but I'll have my eye on every game as usual. Here's what I'm watching:

1. The scoreboard at Boone Pickens Stadium. You saw it in my pick this morning, there's going to be a lot of points on the board this Saturday, featuring some of the best skill-position talent in the league. Oklahoma State's triplets -- quarterback Brandon Weeden, running back Kendall Hunter and receiver Justin Blackmon -- go head-to-head with Robert Griffin III, Jay Finley and Kendall Wright.

[+] EnlargeBrandon Weeden and Kendall Hunter
John Rieger/US PresswireOklahoma State's Brandon Weeden (3) and Kendall Hunter (24) -- along with receiver Justin Blackmon -- have been tough to stop this season.
2. Big hits. This should be something to keep an eye on for the rest of the season, really. I had it on last week's what to watch, but I'm interested to see if receivers over the middle go unjacked-up, or if there's any noticeable difference with how defenders hit. Oklahoma safety Quinton Carter, one of the league's hardest hitters, says his style is changing because of the crackdown. Nebraska's defense says it won't change the way it plays after linebacker Eric Martin was suspended. Courtney Osborne's hit on Blaine Gabbert (clean in my book) went unpunished after Missouri's Gary Pinkel sent it to the league for review in hopes of educating his players on which hits were legal and which hits weren’t.

3. Texas' defense. It completely shut down the league's best rushing offense earlier in the season in a marquee 20-13 victory at Nebraska. Now, it takes on the Big 12's No. 2 rushing team, Kansas State, in Manhattan. What's in store for running backs Daniel Thomas and William Powell?

4. Texas Tech's receivers. Jacoby Franks and last year's leader, Alex Torres, are out. They the are Red Raiders' Nos. 3 and 4 targets. Franks is gone for the year, and Torres could be too, but arthroscopic surgery earlier this week provided hope he could return in a few weeks. Those who will be playing, namely seniors Lyle Leong and Detron Lewis, will need to play well to keep up with Missouri's offense. Younger players like Austin Zouzalik and Tramain Swindall have to elevate their play.

5. Blaine Gabbert. Gabbert actually played pretty well for what was available last week, running when he needed to and throwing without any real misses on the rare occasion when a receiver was open. This week should be much easier against a Texas Tech secondary that is the worst in the league and one of the worst in the nation. Is he due for a big week? His targets will be back open, and he won't get hit nearly as much. The Red Raiders gave up 449 yards to Ryan Tannehill, 274 yards to Cody Hawkins and 356 to Brandon Weeden in the past three weeks. Not a sparkling résumé.

6. Oklahoma on the road. Bob Stoops says it's not a real problem. The Sooners' win-loss margin at home is 22.7 points higher than away from Owen Field, by far the highest of any other elite program. This year, the Sooners have a loss to Missouri and a two-point win over Cincinnati, the last-place team in the Big East at 3-5, on their record. Texas A&M is a renewed team with Ryan Tannehill at quarterback. Is an upset in store?

7. Tannehill's next test. Like we mentioned above, Texas Tech's secondary ranks last in the league, giving up 45 more yards per game through the air than any other team. That ranks 119 out of 120 teams nationally. Oklahoma isn't way, way better (sixth in Big 12, No. 83 nationally), but they'll be tougher than Texas Tech. What does Tannehill have in store for his encore after a school-record 449 yards and four touchdowns in his first start last week?

8. Quarterback controversies. Texas Tech has reopened the competition between Steven Sheffield and Taylor Potts, and hasn't officially announced a starter. Kansas' top two passers may be back this week, but their status is in doubt as No. 3 Quinn Mecham hopes to make his second career start. Texas A&M coach Mike Sherman hasn't explicitly said Tannehill will start on Saturday, but it would be hard to imagine he wouldn't after last week. Keep an eye on how all this shakes out on Saturday.

9. Kansas climbing. The Jayhawks led at halftime last week at Iowa State. Now, they host the next-worst team in the league, Colorado, the Big 12's only other 0-4 team. There's no doubt this is the best chance for either team to get their first -- and maybe only -- conference win of the year.

10. Huskers taking care of the ball. I'm not 100 percent sure, but I think the definition of a football nightmare is finishing a game with more turnovers than points. That's what Nebraska did last year, turning the ball over eight times in a 9-7 home loss to an Iowa State team missing its two best players, running back Alexander Robinson and quarterback Austen Arnaud. They'll face a full-strength Iowa State team in Ames on Saturday for control of the North. The Huskers have an incredible 26 fumbles in eight games, but have lost only nine of them. What are the odds history repeats itself?

Big 12 Stock Watch: Week 6

October, 6, 2010
10/06/10
10:38
AM ET
Rising: Iowa State linebackers

The Cyclones Jesse Smith led the Big 12 in tackles last season. You might want to count on a player from Iowa State duplicating the feat this year. The Big 12's top two tacklers are both on the second line of the Iowa State defense. A.J. Klein (52 tackles) is the conference leader and the only player in the Big 12 over 50 stops. Jake Knott made 13 tackles against Texas Tech to assume second place, with 48. Granted, for Iowa State's run defense, coach Paul Rhoads might want to have the defensive line snatch a few of those tackles. The Cyclones have allowed 970 rushing yards through five games, more than any team in the Big 12.

Falling: Kansas State penalties

You know all that garbage about Bill Snyder-coached teams being well-disciplined and not prone to mistakes? What a crock that is. Kansas State has committed fewer penalties than any team in the Big 12 so far in Snyder's second-year return to Kansas State. The Wildcats ranked fifth last season after a fourth-place finish in 2008, but in 2007, they were the Big 12's most penalized team.

So far, Kansas State has just 19 penalties, an average of 4.8 per game. The next-best team in the conference, Texas A&M, averages six per game. Kansas State's penalties have accounted for just 41 yards per game, almost a full five yards fewer than the second-place team.

[+] EnlargeLyle Leong
AP Photo/Steve PopeTexas Tech's Lyle Leong is tied for the NCAA lead with nine touchdown receptions this season.
Rising: Big 12 South receivers not named Ryan Broyles

Texas Tech's Lyle Leong had his second three-touchdown game of the season against Iowa State and tied Oklahoma State's Justin Blackmon for the national lead in touchdown catches, with nine. Texas A&M's Jeff Fuller has the next-most touchdowns, with five, including two against Oklahoma State last Thursday.

But nationally, behind Blackmon, Leong and Hawaii's Kealoha Pilares, no receiver has more than six touchdowns through five weeks.

Falling: Ryan Broyles' streaks

Credit Texas' secondary. Broyles had 100 yards receiving in seven consecutive games and had caught at least nine passes in his past six games. Texas held him to just five catches and 36 yards, with no touchdowns. Despite Saturday's game, Broyles still has the national lead in receptions, with 46, but Missouri's T.J. Moe leads the nation in receptions per game, with 9.3.

Rising: Texas A&M rush defense

The Aggies ranked 91st nationally in rush defense last year, giving up 4.6 yards per carry and allowing opponents to score 29 touchdowns on the ground, which ranked 106th.

No such case this year. Texas A&M, even after giving up 101 yards and two touchdowns to Kendall Hunter on Thursday, ranks third nationally in rush defense, and is giving up just 2.25 yards per carry. The 274 total rushing yards allowed by Tim DeRuyter's defense is second nationally only to Kent State.

Falling: Texas' first downs

Texas' offense was rolling last year, collecting 330 first downs, less than only Texas A&M and Texas Tech in the Big 12 and fifth-most nationally. The loss of Colt McCoy and Jordan Shipley hurt, but Texas has fallen off the map in the stat, ranking dead last in the Big 12 in first downs per game, with just over 18. That's five fewer per game than they averaged in 2009. Texas now ranks 86th nationally in first downs.

Five first downs may not sound like a lot, but add five more per game, and the Longhorns would rank in the national top 25.

Scoring coming in chunks in Ames

October, 2, 2010
10/02/10
9:55
PM ET
Texas Tech didn't rebound well from a two-week break after losing to Texas.

The Red Raiders gave up 24 consecutive points to Iowa State to open scoring in the second quarter.

They did rebound well from the Cyclones opening punch.

Texas Tech quarterback Taylor Potts hit Lyle Leong for a 21-yard touchdown late in the third quarter that tied the game, but Iowa State opened the fourth quarter with a 27-yard touchdown pass from Austen Arnaud to Collin Franklin to take a 31-24 lead.

Give Texas Tech credit, the defense has played well after going down 24-0 and the offense scored a pair of touchdowns in the last minute of the first half, thanks to a defensive stop.

That stretch included Leong's first touchdown catch of the game, giving him eight receiving touchdowns while still playing in his fourth game this year.

Iowa State recovered some momentum heading into the fourth quarter, recovering a fumble in Texas Tech territory to take a 3-0 lead in the turnover battle, and turned the third turnover into Arnaud's third touchdown pass.

Potts has completed 28-of-39 passes for 238 yards and three touchdowns.

Iowa State running back Alexander Robinson has already topped 100 yards on just 12 carries, including a touchdown.

Should be a great finish.

Red Raiders' response is loud

September, 18, 2010
9/18/10
9:20
PM ET
LUBBOCK, Texas -- Texas Tech picked a fine time to kickstart its sputtering offense. Through the first quarter -- aided by a loss of 21 on a bad snap on the Red Raiders' first play of the game -- Texas Tech had minus-4 yards of offense.

On its first drive of the second quarter, it showed flashes of the effectiveness and speed the school became known for over the past decade under Mike Leach. Texas Tech went 68 yards in six plays in just two minutes, capped by a pretty fade by Taylor Potts to Lyle Leong in the back left corner of the end zone to tie the game at 14.

Really an impressive response by Texas Tech after getting dominated early on by the Longhorns. Jarvis Phillips' interception ignited the crowd, and the team finally responded.

Texas looks a bit flustered on both sides of the ball now, a sudden change from the circumstances early on. The Longhorns offense went three-and-out to start the quarter.

Instant analysis: Texas Tech 35, SMU 27

September, 5, 2010
9/05/10
7:15
PM ET
LUBBOCK, Texas -- Definitely a nice win for Texas Tech against a pretty good SMU team that won eight games -- including a 45-10 bowl win -- last season. Texas Tech shut down Kyle Padron when they needed to, despite letting the game get sloppy late. SMU was driving, but never seriously threatened to score on the final drive.

How the game was won: Texas Tech won the turnover battle convincingly, 4-0. One first-half turnover turned into a Texas Tech touchdown, and the Red Raiders led 21-7 at halftime.

Turning point: Texas Tech let SMU get on the board with an impressive 12-play, 72-yard drive that brought the Mustangs to within seven. But the Red Raiders responded with a speedy six-play drive to make it 21-7 before half and scored on the opening drive of the second half to take a 21-point lead.

Stat of the game: Texas Tech's trainers said the temperature read 148 degrees on the turf at AT&T Jones Stadium during Sunday's game. While it wasn't nearly as hot in the stands, the nearly triple-digit heat in Lubbock on Sunday meant a few seats in the stadium were left empty for the second half.

Player of the game: Taylor Potts, QB, Texas Tech. Potts held off an encore of "No More Potts" with a solid performance, shaking off a few early kinks to finish with 359 yards on 34-of-53 passing and three touchdowns.

Unsung hero of the game: Cody Davis, S, Texas Tech. Davis delivered a few big hits in the secondary and on several occasions, flew up into the box to deliver a big hit in run support.

Record performance: Lyle Leong, WR, Texas Tech. The Red Raider receiver registered career highs in yards (142), receptions (11) and tied his career high in touchdowns (3).

Record performance II: SMU kicker Matt Szymanski booted a school-record 61-yard field goal in the fourth quarter that brought SMU to within 15.

Tech answers SMU before half

September, 5, 2010
9/05/10
5:22
PM ET
LUBBOCK, Texas -- Texas Tech answered its worst defensive possession of the game with its best offensive possession, countering a 12-play, 72 yard drive by SMU with seven play, 80 yard drive in 1:23 to grab a 21-7 halftime lead.

Detron Lewis capped the drive with 16-yard touchdown score over the middle.

Lewis and fellow receiver Lyle Leong have emerged as quarterback Taylor Potts' top two targets in the season opener. Potts has thrown all three of his touchdowns to the pair, who have combined for 13 receptions and 174 of the Red Raiders' 226 passing yards in the first half.

Even better for Texas Tech is after the impressive touchdown drive, it will receive the kick to begin the second half.

Leong keying the Raiders early

September, 5, 2010
9/05/10
4:36
PM ET
LUBBOCK, Texas -- Lyle Leong helped spark Texas Tech's Alamo Bowl comeback against Michigan State with a 43-yard catch on third-and-12 and the Red Raiders trailing by four midway through the fourth quarter. That eventually set up the Red Raiders' go-ahead touchdown that put Tech up for good.

It looks like he's parlayed his strong finish (nine catches, 116 yards, TD in his final two games) into a great start in 2010, with two touchdown catches to put Texas Tech up 14-0.

He hauled in a perfect fade pass from Taylor Potts in the back left corner of the end zone at the end of the first quarter and caught his second touchdown on the next possession, dragging across the back of the end zone underneath the south goalpost in front of the student section.

Leong caught 45 passes for 571 yards and nine touchdowns last season.

As for June Jones' high-flying offense, Tommy Tuberville's new-look defense has taken the upper hand, which has to be encouraging to fans who listened to Tuberville talk about the shift in philosophy all spring and summer. SMU has the ability to break the big play, but Texas Tech has prevented it thus far, limiting the Mustangs to just two first downs and 63 total yards on 16 plays, including 0-for-4 on third downs.

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin


Here are 10 trends I'll be watching across the Big 12 on Saturday.

1. How Texas’ secondary counters Texas Tech’s passing offense: Although they’ve been careful not to mention the revenge angle, Texas defensive players clearly want the test of stopping Texas Tech after the Red Raiders’ dramatic comeback victory in Lubbock last season -- a loss that eventually cost them a shot at playing for the national championship. I imagine that Blake Gideon has had flashbacks of his dropped interception on the play before Michael Crabtree’s game-winning TD grab. And Earl Thomas has probably replayed his coverage bust on Crabtree on the game-winning play on countless occasions. The Texas defense is back and more experienced and will be challenged by a retooled Texas Tech offense that includes new quarterback Taylor Potts and new featured receivers Lyle Leong and Tramain Swindall. Graham Harrell and Crabtree won’t be there, but it will still be a big challenge for the Longhorns.

2. How Taylor Potts and Zac Lee fare in their first road games as starters: Potts and Lee have looked invincible at home in their first two starts, ranking 1-2 in the Big 12 in touchdown passes. Both will be facing huge challenges this week in their first games away from home. Potts’ Red Raiders will be facing the challenge of winning in Austin, a location where they haven’t won since 1997. And Lee and Nebraska will be looking to snap Virginia Tech’s streak of 31 straight nonleague wins. I don’t expect either of the young gunslingers to pull off an upset, but both will learn some invaluable lessons that will prepare them for the rest of their careers.

3. The special-teams battle between Nebraska and Virginia Tech: The Hokies have one of the most vaunted special teams in college football, the foundation of “Beamer Ball” over the years. It will be telling to see how Nebraska’s special teams of new punter Alex Henery and new long-snapper P.J. Mangieri, a freshman walk-on who was recruited specifically to snap, will play in the intense cauldron of emotion at Virginia Tech against the Hokies’ storied special-teams unit.

4. Can it get any worse for Colorado? Coach Dan Hawkins’ team has been one of the nation’s biggest early disappointments. Hawkins brashly predicted “10 wins and no excuses” before the season. They might not make that prediction at this point if they played 50 games. Expect some fans at Folsom Field to be wearing paper bags over their head in shame after the Buffaloes’ disappointing 0-2 start that included losses five days apart to Colorado State and Toledo. Hawkins’ seat already is blistering and he’ll be facing a Wyoming team directed by Dave Christensen, a former Missouri offensive coordinator who helped outscore the Buffaloes by a combined margin of 113-10 in the last two seasons he was there. Christenson’s offenses have a current run of 106 straight points against the Buffaloes after those two games. If that streak continues, Hawkins’ tenuous job status may bubble over.

5. Can Kansas State muster enough offense to challenge injury-depleted UCLA? Bill Snyder is looking for a statement victory at the Rose Bowl against the Bruins, who will play without starting quarterback Kevin Prince. In order to capitalize on that loss, the Wildcats will have to show much improvement offensively against a tough UCLA unit that ranks 27th in scoring defense and 33rd in total defense.

6. Baylor’s “Royal Canadian Tackle Patrol” against Connecticut’s Lindsey Witten: Baylor’s inexperienced pair of starting tackles -- former Canadian fireman Danny Watkins and Toronto native Phillip Blake -- will be challenged to protect against Witten, who leads the nation with seven sacks. The two young tackles were praised for their strong play in their first career starts against Wake Forest. But they need to come up with another big effort to protect Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin.

7. Landry Jones and his second career start: Oklahoma backup quarterback Landry Jones looked strong in his first start in what amounted to a glorified scrimmage against Idaho State. He’ll face a bigger challenge Saturday against an underrated Tulsa defense that ranks second nationally in sacks, second in tackles for loss and tied for fifth nationally in turnover margin. The blitz-happy Golden Hurricane will present many more problems than in his Jones’ first start.

8. Iowa State’s attempt to snap the nation’s longest road losing streak: Paul Rhoads will be gunning to end Iowa State’s 17-game road losing streak as the Cyclones visit Kent State. Truthfully, this might be the Cyclones’ best chance to win on the road this season. Iowa State didn’t show much in a 35-3 loss to Iowa last week that was punctuated by four interceptions thrown by Austen Arnaud. But the Cyclones’ defense should be able to stick with a Kent State offense that ranks 96th in rushing offense, 97th in passing offense, 106th in total offense and 111th in scoring offense nationally.

9. Zac Robinson’s hopes to rebound: Oklahoma State’s starting quarterback has struggled in his first two games. He threw a critical late interception that was returned for a clinching touchdown last week by Houston and hasn’t played to his previous level. His 54.7 percent completion percentage is down significantly from last season, when he completed 65 percent of his passes for more than 3,000 yards. And he’ll have to operate this week against Rice without leading 2008 Big 12 rusher Kendall Hunter, idled this week with an ankle injury.

10. How Blaine Gabbert reacts to the first dose of adversity as a college starter: Missouri’s starting quarterback had a strong career start against Illinois. His second start last week against Bowling Green was a marked contrast as the Tigers sputtered early before finally charging back for a 27-20 triumph. Gabbert and the Tigers shouldn’t be challenged by FCS opponent Furman, but the game will provide an opportunity to see if Gabbert learned much from last week’s struggles.

SPONSORED HEADLINES