NCF Nation: Taylor Potts

LUBBOCK, Texas -- Oklahoma State has forged an identity with its 48 jersey combinations, but Texas Tech will have a special jersey of its own today.

A day after Veterans Day, Texas Tech will wear jerseys featuring camouflage to support the Wounded Warrior Project, which provides help to wounded servicemen.

Last year, rather than taking questions, Texas Tech quarterback Taylor Potts read a statement about what the week meant to him.

The Red Raiders have spent time this week with Sal Giunta, who received the Medal of Honor, the armed forces' highest decoration for valor, for rescuing several of his squad members in Afghanistan.

Giunta will be an honorary captain today, and it'll be interesting to hear what Tech players learned from him this week.

Texas Tech's jerseys will draw plenty of attention to the cause Wounded Warrior champions.
Seth Doege had just polished off a performance that would land him national player of the week honors. He and his Texas Tech teammates rushed to the corner of the field to sing their fight song, the first visiting team to do so in victory at Oklahoma's Owen Field in more than six years.

[+] EnlargeTexas Tech's Seth Doege
AP Photo/Sue OgrockiTexas Tech quarterback Seth Doege passed for 441 yards and four touchdowns against Oklahoma.
As they got there, Doege spotted a familiar face: his dad. Their eyes met, and Randy Doege pumped a fist. No words necessary. We did it.

"I’ll always remember that," Seth Doege said.

This relationship between Doege and Texas Tech has been give-and-take forever. All of Doege's West Texas family are Texas Tech fans. He grew up watching Kliff Kingsbury, whose single-game NCAA completion percentage record Doege broke this season against New Mexico.

When Tech offered him a scholarship early in his high school career, he took it and essentially ended the recruiting process.

Doege missed his final two seasons of high school football, but Texas Tech stayed committed to him.

Doege got a chance to play for Tech back in 2009, but he was benched in his first start and didn't see any meaningful action until becoming the starter this season. Transfer? Ha.

Now as a junior, he's largely responsible for the biggest win at Texas Tech in a long time. After the win at Oklahoma, coach Tommy Tuberville told his team it may have been the best of his coaching career, which included more than a decade in the SEC at Ole Miss and Auburn.

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Landry Locker and Trey Fallon of ESPN Dallas are joined by Chris Level of Double T 104.3 to talk about Tech's shocking win in Norman and the new outlook of the season moving forward.

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"It’s something I’ll never forget. It’s something you dream about as a kid, playing the No. 1 team in the nation and coming out with the victory," Doege said. "It’s something every kid wants to do."

A dream in the sense that he always hoped it would happen, but not that he never thought it could. Texas Tech must not have heard that it was expected to lose by four touchdowns on Saturday.

"We expected to win that game. It was special, but at the same time, we weren’t surprised," Doege said. "We felt like we were a good football team. We felt like in our two losses, we had opportunities to win those games, and we felt like if we just went in there and played really well, that we would give ourselves the opportunity to win the game, which we did. It’s just one of those things where, we were confident."

Doege especially had reason to be confident. His passing numbers were competitive with anyone in the country, and after Saturday's win, his 22 touchdown passes are fourth nationally and tied for the Big 12 lead. Only Houston's Case Keenum has topped his 2,608 passing yards.

"Seth’s had a lot of success this year, not just in that game. He’s emerged as one of the best quarterbacks in the country and he’s been consistent with it," Tuberville said. "All the hype of a game like that, going in and being able to play that well at our quarterback position is going to give him a lot of confidence. They did a lot of different things in the secondary, they gave him a lot of different looks, and he was able to handle all of them."

Doege sat on the sidelines while quarterbacks before him like Graham Harrell and Taylor Potts endured lopsided beatings in the same stadium. No Tech team had won in Norman since beating 3-8 Oklahoma under first-year coach John Blake back in 1996.

"We were physical, we weren’t scared and we were there to win the game, not play the game," Doege said. "I don’t think anybody on the team was intimidated at all. We went into that game really confident and we expected to win. I don’t think anything about OU really intimidated us. We knew this was a great football team, but we also knew that we were a great football team, too, and we’d put in as much work as anybody."

"It was a party in the locker room," Doege added.

The party's over. A special night can evolve into a special season. That continues Saturday against Iowa State.

"Now we know how good we can be," Doege said.

Notes from a visit to Texas Tech

March, 23, 2011
3/23/11
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LUBBOCK, Texas -- Not having an indoor facility is a lot like having a leaky roof. Most of the time, it's not a problem. But when it rains, it's an annoyance that's too late to fix to do any good.

Tuesday, of course, it was the wind that postponed Texas Tech's practice until today. As a result, I didn't get to see Texas Tech practice, but I spent a long while with coach Tommy Tuberville and a few players during my time in Lubbock.

Tuberville is mildly irritated with the lack of an indoor practice facility, and sometimes the Red Raiders are able to practice at Frenship High School, but that poses a whole new set of problems. In fact, when I sat down in Tuberville's office, he had a mock-up of an indoor facility on his desk, a rough draft of something he had drawn up to gauge the possibility of building an indoor facility in the future.

[+] EnlargeTommy Tuberville
Matthew Emmons/US PresswireTexas Tech coach Tommy Tuberville is mildly irritated with the school's lack of an indoor practice facility.
"It's not a necessity, but it's something that would really help," he said. "I just had somebody draw that up just to get the feasibility of whether it would fit here and how big it needs to be, height, and a lot of them use it for different things."

Tuberville cited his nickname of the Riverboat Gambler, which apparently transcends the field and carries over to spring practice as well. Last year, Tuberville began spring practice in mid-March, partially because he needed time to get his feet on the ground after being hired in January. This year, Tech's spring game is set for Saturday, the first in the Big 12.

"I started spring practice about three weeks before anybody even thought about spring practice," he said. "I did it for the simple fact that we've got to have more offseason. If we go 4 to 5 weeks of offseason and then have spring practice and then 2 to 3 weeks of offseason, it breaks it up too much. We've got to get stronger and quicker."

Last year, the late spring practice meant players like LaRon Moore couldn't make it back for the fall because of injuries suffered in the spring. So the gamble, of course, was that the weather in West Texas would cooperate.

"The weather was rough last year. I said, 'We can't have two years bad weather like that back-to-back, and we haven't. We've had great weather," he said. "Until today. We've got a mini-hurricane out there."

Winds were up to 50 miles per hour throughout Tuesday.

"No sense in going out there if you can't get anything done," he said.

Regardless, we touched on a wide variety of topics, and we'll have more on the Red Raiders later this week, but here's some of what Tuberville had to say.

Offense playing catchup

Tuberville readily admitted that the offense is behind where it was a year ago at this point, but what would you expect? Last year's team had two senior quarterbacks, a senior running back and two senior receivers. Even though this is spring No. 2 for Tuberville, he's working with a much younger offense as a whole this time around.

He feels like he's starting back at ground zero a bit, but the eventual upside with this group is obviously higher since they won't be here one year and gone the next like most of last year's offense.

This year will come with a few changes, but Tuberville has a good idea of what he wants. He didn't have to worry about having two quarterbacks that were ready last year, Taylor Potts and Steven Sheffield came with the job. This time around, Tuberville wants to make sure he has two quarterbacks, and it may be a bit more difficult, but Jacob Karam and Seth Doege have separated themselves. It's not over yet, but Doege taken the early lead with his consistency and is getting the vast majority of reps in practice with the first team. Tuberville said, barring injury, Michael Brewer will redshirt. Like last year, Tuberville plans to officially name a starter during the second week of fall two-a-days. More on the quarterbacks is coming later.

[+] EnlargeTexas Tech's Seth Doege
Dustin Bradford/Icon SMITexas Tech quarterback Seth Doege has been getting most of the reps with the first team.
He also wants his tight ends to get involved more as blockers to help establish a running game he believes the Red Raiders need. That's good news for touted recruit Jace Amaro's future, but for now, the duties have gone to Adam James, who has put on a bit of weight to fill the need.

Freshmen LB, RB impress early

Two early-enrolling freshmen have stolen the show in spring scrimmages, and Tuberville provided a bit of insight on both.

Linebacker Blake Dees has racked up tackles in both scrimmages and should be a part of the rotation at middle linebacker along with Sam Fehoko. For Dees, who Tuberville admitted has surprised him with his early impact, the coaches simplified his responsibilities, allowing his natural linebacker instincts to take over.

"He's really catching on well. He might not be a starter, but he'll play," Tuberville said. "We put him at linebacker and he plays run first. It's cut his responsibilities down and really helped him."

Simplicity in his 4-2-5 scheme is what Chad Glasgow has preached since he took the job, and with so many young, inexperienced players all over the defense, it's going to be necessary for the defense.

Another quick note: Tuberville sees safety as the strength of the defense, thanks to new nickel back Terrance Bullitt and Cody Davis. D.J. Johnson has also moved to safety from cornerback.

Running back Ronnie Daniels led the team in rushing with 80 yards on 13 carries in the second scrimmage, and the 6-foot-2, 195-pounder has made it obvious he'll play as a freshman along with Eric Stephens and Aaron Crawford. Tuberville has expressed his desire to run more two-back formations with one as a runner and the other as a blocker, and the Red Raiders have developed solid depth at the position.

Daniels had 3,000 yards as a senior in high school.

"He's just been so raw at running back, sometimes that's the best kind to have. You don't tie them down with reads and things he has to do," Tuberville said. "He just came in and just turned it loose. He's got a good frame, he's tall and physical and he's got good hands. He can play in this offense and he's been a breath of fresh air."

No Championship Weekend for Tech-Baylor, other schedule notes

Texas Tech and Baylor are set to finish the season against each other in Cowboys Stadium, and since the Big 12 Championship game no longer exists, Tech was open to the idea of moving their game to that weekend. Other games like the Lone Star Showdown and Bedlam may end up on that weekend, but the Bears and Red Raiders won't. After the championship was kaput, Jerry Jones filled the stadium with another event.

The Big 12 schedule is still in flux, but Texas Tech knows it will open its season with Texas State, have an off week and then play 11 consecutive games.

Who's set and who's not at quarterback?

February, 17, 2011
2/17/11
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We took a look at the Big 12's spring storylines yesterday, and for several teams, that involves the quarterback. For others, it doesn't. But heading into the spring, which starts as early as Friday at Texas Tech, here's how the Big 12's teams rank in terms of certainty at quarterback.

LOCKED AND LOADED

Baylor: Baylor's offense runs entirely through the Bears' Robert Griffin III. He rebounded well last season from the knee injury that made him miss most of the 2009 season, and became a much, much better passer. We'll see if that continues in 2011, but it would take a serious injury to knock him off his starting spot.

[+] EnlargeBrandon Weeden
John Rieger/US PresswireBrandon Weeden enters next season as Oklahoma State's starting quarterback.
Oklahoma State: Brandon Weeden started every game for the Cowboys last season and earned All-Big 12 first-team honors. He's back. Look elsewhere for quarterback controversy. The backup race between Clint Chelf, Johnny Deaton and early enrolling freshman J.W. Walsh could be interesting, though.

Oklahoma: Landry Jones will effectively be a third-year starter for the Sooners next season, and a strong contender for All-Big 12 honors and possibly the Heisman. It's his offense for sure in 2011.

Texas A&M: Ryan Tannehill would be the easy front-runner even if he hadn't started the second half of the 2010 season. But he did, went 5-1 in his starts, and has the Aggies sniffing the top 10 in the preseason.

BETTER LOCK IT DOWN, KID

Texas: Garrett Gilbert had a horrible first year as starter in 2010, but he'll need to show his coaches -- new and old -- he'll be better in 2011. Grasping new coordinator Bryan Harsin's system will be key in keeping the junior ahead of his competition, Case McCoy and Connor Wood. Coach Mack Brown said last month that the job was open.

Missouri: James Franklin is the likely lead dog in the race, but only because he got more time and experience playing the game and adjusting to the speed of the game. He'll need to clearly be the best quarterback Missouri has to leave the spring as the projected starter. Tyler Gabbert and Ashton Glaser might steal the title with standout springs, but if all three aren't getting it done, incoming freshman Corbin Berkstresser could theoretically crash the party in preseason camp.

Iowa State: Jerome Tiller has five starts in two seasons because of injuries to Austen Arnaud, including an historic, albeit ugly, 9-7 win at Nebraska in 2009. But Paul Rhoads signed juco transfer Steele Jantz, and he'll have a great chance to win the job, too. James Capello and Jared Barnett will try to make splashes in the spring.

WHICH END IS UP?

Texas Tech: Tech, as usual, is likely to get good play out of whoever wins the job, but it's a near guessing game at this point. Seth Doege and Jacob Karam impressed coach Tommy Tuberville last spring working with the first team after Steven Sheffield and Taylor Potts were hurt, but Doege and Karam will have to hold off younger talents Scotty Young and Michael Brewer to win the job.

Kansas: The Jayhawks never settled on a quarterback, and battled injuries at the position last year. Kale Pick was moved to receiver during the 2010 season, and Jordan Webb and Quinn Mecham will be the main competition this year, despite a lack of truly inspired play for much of 2010. If incoming freshman Brock Berglund, who enrolled early, can show flashes of potential and outplay Webb and Mecham, he might be the guy best suited to help Kansas win right now and in the future.

Kansas State: The Wildcats' presumptive starter might not even be playing the position in 2011, and we've seen very, very little of the three quarterbacks hoping to replace the departed Carson Coffman. Justin Tuggle, a juco transfer, started three games at Boston College and has a good shot to win the job. Newcomer Daniel Sams could win the gig eventually, or it could be the returning Sammuel Lamur, who threw all of three passes last season (completing all three!) as the third-stringer.
Springtime is almost here. And here's a look at what to expect across the Big 12 when it gets into full swing here in the next couple weeks.

BAYLOR BEARS

Spring practice starts: February 28

Spring game: April 2

What to watch:
  • Big changes on defense. Baylor brought in Phil Bennett as its new defensive coordinator, and he says his scheme will be multiple, built to fit the Bears' personnel. Considering the Bears' recent recruiting successes in the secondary, look for a 4-2-5 type of look.
  • Recruiting stars: time to shine. Both safeties, Tim Atchison and Byron Landor, are gone. Baylor, though, has two former ESPNU 150 recruits at safety who would be well served to start filling their potential. Prince Kent was a reserve last season and at one time, the nation's No. 51 overall recruit who originally signed with Miami. Ahmad Dixon, meanwhile, was the No. 15 overall prospect in the 2010 class. The opportunity is there. Baylor needs big talent at the position. Briles has recruited it. Can they develop into players who make Baylor a contender?
  • Running back competition. Jay Finley topped 1,200 yards in 2010, but he's gone. Who steps into his void? Terrance Ganaway is a bowling ball at 5-foot-11, 235 pounds, but the shifty Jarred Salubi could get a good amount of carries, too. They could begin to share carries this spring.
IOWA STATE CYCLONES

Spring practice starts: March 22

Spring game: April 16

What to watch:
  • Quarterback competition. It should be a good one in Ames this spring. Jerome Tiller is the name most recognize after getting lots of meaningful time and starts because of injuries to Austen Arnaud over the past two seasons. But juco transfer Steele Jantz sounds confident he can win the job. Rising sophomore James Capello and redshirt freshman Jared Barnett will compete, too.
  • Paging Cyclone receivers. Iowa State had one of the most underwhelming receiving corps in the league during the past season, and three of its top five pass-catchers won't return in 2011. Of those three, however, one is a tight end (Collin Franklin) and another is a running back (Alexander Robinson). The new quarterback will need some help, and Darius Darks and Darius Reynolds will need to provide it as seniors.
  • Shontrelle's time or not? Freshman Shontrelle Johnson looked like the running back with the most pop behind Robinson for most of 2010, but two other freshmen running backs jockeyed for carries, too. Paul Rhoads is hardly handing the job over to Johnson, but spring could be the time when he really separates himself from the pack.
KANSAS JAYHAWKS

Spring practice starts: April 1

Spring game: April 30

What to watch:
  • What are they doing behind center? Kansas never got much consistent play out of the quarterback position last year, but freshman Brock Berglund is one of the 2011 class' top recruits, and enrolled early to compete in the spring with Jordan Webb and Quinn Mecham. With a building program like Kansas, there's perhaps some value in handing the program to a younger player like Webb or Berglund, but they'll have to earn it. Doing so will start in the spring, but don't expect the Jayhawks to have a set-in-stone starter by spring's end.
  • Top linebacker back on the field. Huldon Tharp missed all of 2010 with a foot injury, but he says he's 100 percent and ready to get back on the field. As a freshman in 2009, he was fifth on the team in tackles, with 59, and looked like one of the league's possible budding stars. Now, he'll get his chance to join fellow linebacker Steven Johnson as one of the team's top tacklers, and he'll do it as a sophomore after redshirting in 2010.
  • Toben rising? Turner Gill raised plenty of eyebrows when he moved his team's leading rusher in 2009, Toben Opurum, to linebacker in fall camp, and eventually slid him up to defensive end. But toward the end of 2010, Opurum started showing some major signs of growth at the position. We'll get a better idea this spring if he's one of the league's most unlikely new stars at defensive end.
KANSAS STATE WILDCATS

Spring practice starts: April 6

Spring game: April 30

What to watch:
  • Prodigal Kansan sons come home. There's no doubt that the Wichita native Brown brothers are the main attraction at Kansas State this spring, a season after transferring back home. Bryce Brown, the running back, was the nation's No. 8 prospect in the 2009 class. Arthur Brown, the linebacker, was the nation's No. 6 prospect in the 2008 class. Bryce transferred from Tennessee and Arthur from Miami. The Wildcats are pinning much of their hopes on the duo, and we'll get a good sense of what they can provide soon.
  • Quarterback competition. Carson Coffman is gone, and two new faces will challenge for the job: juco transfer Justin Tuggle and Daniel Sams. Sammuel Lamur is also up for the gig. Collin Klein may or may not be; Bill Snyder hasn't explicitly confirmed a past comment from Sams saying Klein had moved to receiver. Don't expect a starter to be named by spring's end, but a general order could start to form.
  • Can the defense show improvement? Kansas State had the Big 12's worst overall defense last year, and the worst rushing defense in college football, giving up 3,008 yards on the ground. Coordinator Chris Cosh looks like he'll still be around in 2011, and defensive backs David Garrett and Tysyn Hartman are solid pieces to try and build around. But this young maturing defense must get better to make a bowl game again with so many questions on offense. That starts in the spring.
MISSOURI TIGERS

Spring practice starts: March 8

Spring game: April 16

What to watch:
  • Franklin comes alive! Blaine Gabbert bolted to the NFL early, and Missouri has a gaping hole a quarterback. The position, however, is surrounded by a lot of quality talent that likely makes the Tigers a Top 25 team. There's no understating the importance of the position for the Tigers, and that will begin to be decided in the spring. James Franklin, a rising sophomore, saw spot duty in 2010 as more of a runner, and may have the inside track on the job, but Tyler Gabbert, Blaine's younger brother, and Ashton Glaser should make it an interesting competition in the spring. If neither of them impress early, don't count out incoming freshman Corbin Berkstresser.
  • Here is the new secondary. Same as the old secondary? After years of pass defense being one of the Tigers' biggest weaknesses, it became a strength in 2010 behind the leadership of senior corners Kevin Rutland and Carl Gettis. But the Tigers lose them and safety Jarrell Harrison. Rutland emerged as one of the team's most impressive players last spring, but was Missouri's success in the secondary a one-time thing or the beginning of a welcome trend?
  • Time to dominate the trenches? Missouri played without likely first-round pick Aldon Smith for much of the previous season, but the defensive and offensive lines for the Tigers were as good as ever in 2010. How will they look in 2011? Impact juco transfer Sheldon Richardson won't be enrolled by the spring, but the four returning starters on the offensive line should get some solid work against Brad Madison, Jacquies Smith and Terrell Resonno.
OKLAHOMA SOONERS

Spring practice starts: March 21

Spring game: April 16

What to watch:
  • Freshmen on display. Coach Bob Stoops hasn't been shy about saying his 2010 recruiting class was his best ever, but it could look even better after this spring. Two of his best emerging recruits, Justin McCay and Geneo Grissom, didn't even play in 2010, and could start to make an impact. The same goes for Corey Nelson, who will try to earn some more time somewhere backing up star Travis Lewis.
  • Is there a golden boot in Norman? Jimmy Stevens was much more accurate in 2010, finishing 19-for-23, but his attempts outside 45 yards were sparse. The good news is he missed none of his 53 extra points. Field goals have been a bit of an adventure for the past couple years, but continuing in the spring what he started last year would be a good sign for Oklahoma. The Sooners are strong everywhere and need good special teams play to reach their lofty title goals.
  • Are the Sooners' backs back? Roy Finch missed the Fiesta Bowl with a stress fracture, and his durability is certainly questionable entering 2011. When he's healthy, he looks like the next star in the Sooners' backfield, but they'll need some depth behind the 5-foot-8, 173-pounder. Jermie Calhoun, Jonathan Miller and Brennan Clay have all looked good at times, but there should be some good competition from newcomers Brandon Wegher, an Iowa transfer who'll be in camp this spring and eligible next season, and blue-chip recruit Brandon Williams, who enrolled early.
OKLAHOMA STATE COWBOYS

Spring practice starts: March 7

Spring game: April 16

What to watch:
  • Every piece of the offense. The spring in Stillwater is all about keeping or improving upon the status quo. Had it kept Dana Holgorsen, there'd be little doubt that would happen, but Oklahoma State must make the most of its five returning offensive linemen, quarterback Brandon Weeden and receiver Justin Blackmon. The opportunity for a historic season is there, but they'll have to pick up the nuances of the new offense quickly in the spring like they did last year.
  • What about the kicker? Dan Bailey won the Lou Groza Award as the nation's top kicker in 2010, but he's gone. Oklahoma State needs to fill that role quickly, and we'll likely know who will get the nod after the spring.
  • Who steps up on the defensive line? The Cowboys lose three starters up front on defense, including All-Big 12 performer Ugo Chinasa and tackles Chris Donaldson and Shane Jarka. Can senior Richetti Jones become a star in the Big 12? We'll have a good idea if he, or any of the Cowboys' other defensive linemen, can by the end of April.
TEXAS LONGHORNS

Spring practice starts: February 24

Spring game: April 3

What to watch:
  • New coaches and their students/players. Texas has five new coaches. Although it's hard to get a good read early on, how they relate with the players on the field, in the film room and around the facilities will have a big impact on how the 2011 season plays out in Austin. The young-blooded coordinators could serve themselves well by relating to players and the players will need to spend plenty of extra time learning new schemes and plays.
  • Quarterback competition ... or not? Mack Brown says the gig is open and it is, for now. Garrett Gilbert can close it with a strong spring. If Garrett struggles on the field or has difficulty grasping the new system, the door will be wide open for Connor Wood or Case McCoy to step in and close it. Gilbert didn't get much help, but he did very little in 2010 to inspire a lot of breathing room with McCoy and Wood clamoring for playing time.
  • And you've got to defend the pass, too. Texas loses its top three cornerbacks to the NFL, and only Carrington Byndom and A.J. White got much meaningful playing time last season. Younger players can earn some rare early playing time with a strong spring. Will anyone step up?
TEXAS A&M AGGIES

Spring practice starts: March 22

Spring game: April 16

What to watch:
  • New linebackers in the running. Spring isn't so scary when you bring back nine defensive starters, but the two Texas A&M lost were the heart of its defense. Linebackers Michael Hodges and Von Miller are gone. Kyle Mangan didn't look fantastic when forced into action during the Cotton Bowl, but the time is now for Damontre Moore and Dominique Patterson, a pair of sophomores, to make their impact.
  • Tannehill's tuning things up. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill played about as well as anyone could have hoped late last season, but he'll need it to continue his performance with a solid spring nailing down the timing with his receivers, who all return. He's already got a leg up on last year's quarterback, Jerrod Johnson, who was held out of team drills last spring after shoulder surgery that eventually derailed his senior season.
  • Christine's back. Christine Michael missed the second half of the season with a broken leg, giving way to Cyrus Gray's rise among Big 12 backs. It should make Texas A&M's depth at the position even more impressive, but we'll see how Michael looks coming back from the injury.
TEXAS TECH RED RAIDERS

Spring practice starts: February 19

Spring game: March 26

What to watch:
  • Past defending that pass defense. Texas Tech had the Big 12's worst pass defense last season, but has a pair of big potential players at cornerback in rising sophomores Tre Porter and Jarvis Phillips. Starters LaRon Moore and Franklin Mitchem are gone, but if returning starters Cody Davis and Will Ford can continue to mature, the defense should improve in the area most important for success in the Big 12.
  • And they're off! There's a four-man quarterback derby set in Lubbock this spring between Seth Doege, Jacob Karam, Michael Brewer and Scotty Young. I don't expect it to be settled until midway through fall camp, similar to last season, but there should be a solid front-runner and more clarity after spring. Coach Tommy Tuberville was extremely impressed with Doege and Karam last spring after Taylor Potts and Steven Sheffield went down with injuries.
  • Time to find new stars. Most of the big names on Texas Tech's defense are gone. Colby Whitlock, Bront Bird, Brian Duncan will all continue their careers elsewhere. The leaders on the defense will have to begin to emerge in the spring. Is it Scott Smith? Cody Davis? A younger, unexpected player? We'll find out. Sometimes these types of situations aren't as easy to predict as they might seem, like Missouri's strength in 2010 emerging in the secondary.
Tags:

Baylor Bears, Iowa State Cyclones, Kansas State Wildcats, Missouri Tigers, Oklahoma Sooners, Oklahoma State Cowboys, Texas Longhorns, Texas A&M Aggies, Colby Whitlock, Brennan Clay, Christine Michael, Von Miller, Alexander Robinson, Chris Cosh, Steven Sheffield, Brandon Wegher, Turner Gill, James Franklin, Tysyn Hartman, Bill Snyder, Bront Bird, Case McCoy, Brandon Williams, Dan Bailey, Justin Blackmon, Franklin Mitchem, Richetti Jones, Connor Wood, Ryan Tannehill, Terrance Ganaway, Cody Davis, Travis Lewis, Cyrus Gray, Scotty Young, Chris Donaldson, Bryce Brown, Jerome Tiller, Brian Duncan, LaRon Moore, Justin Tuggle, Darius Darks, Paul Rhoads, Brad Madison, Art Briles, Sheldon Richardson, Bob Stoops, Jerrod Johnson, Blaine Gabbert, Jay Finley, Jared Barnett, Taylor Potts, Jimmy Stevens, Arthur Brown, Mack Brown, Garrett Gilbert, Jermie Calhoun, Collin Franklin, Phil Bennett, Jacquies Smith, Jarred Salubi, Collin Klein, Carl Gettis, Seth Doege, Scott Smith, Terrell Resonno, Carson Coffman, Aldon Smith, Brandon Weeden, Toben Opurum, Shane Jarka, Tyler Gabbert, Ahmad Dixon, Corey Nelson, Prince Kent, Shontrelle Johnson, Geneo Grissom, Quinn Mecham, Damontre Moore, Byron Landor, Darius Reynolds, Ugo Chinasa, Kevin Rutland, Jacob Karam, Michael Brewer, Jordan Webb, A.J. White, Huldon Tharp, Ashton Glaser, Jarvis Phillips, Tim Atchison, Michael Hodges, Tre Porter, Kyle Mangan, Brock Berglund, David Garrett, Carrington Byndom, Justin McCay, Corbin Berkstresser, Daniel Sams, Dominique Patterson, James Capello, Jonathan Miller, Steele Jantz

Final 2010 Big 12 Power Rankings

January, 11, 2011
1/11/11
11:00
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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.
The Big 12 got off to a good start on New Year's Day, moving to 2-4 in postseason play with Texas Tech's 45-38 win over Northwestern in the TicketCity Bowl.

How the game was won: Texas Tech's offense put up big points like most expected them to, but only played one quarterback for most of the game. Taylor Potts played well and the Red Raiders' offense rolled for most of the game. Instead, it was the Wildcats who went with a two-quarterback attack, rotating Evan Watkins and Kain Colter often but neither found a rhythm to help Northwestern's offense until the Wildcats trailed by 22. Colter ran the ball well late in the game, but it wasn't enough to make up for Texas Tech's early cushion.

Turning point: Texas Tech led 24-6 at halftime, but fumbled the opening kickoff, handing the ball back to the Wildcats deep in Red Raiders territory for the game's first turnover. The Wildcats couldn't capitalize, botching a quarterback sneak and settling for an 18-yard field goal. On the next play from scrimmage, Texas Tech running back Eric Stephens broke an 86-yard touchdown run to take a 31-9 lead, the Red Raiders' biggest of the day. Northwestern got to within seven late, but the early lead was enough for the Red Raiders to hold on.

Stat of the game: Texas Tech notched its second 45-38 win of the season in the Cotton Bowl stadium. Back in October, the Red Raiders beat Baylor on the neutral field, 45-38.

Player of the game: Potts. He finished with an impressive 369 yards and four touchdowns on 43-of-56 passing, pacing the Red Raiders' offense that struggled to run the ball for most of the day. He also caught a pass and ran it in for a touchdown, but it was later reversed to a run after officials determined the pass went backward. Northwestern took away the run game, opening up short underneath routes, and Potts capitalized. He had lots and lots of time to throw, a credit to the offensive line, but he was as accurate as he's been all year. Without that, it would have been a very different game.

Best call: Potts threw Austin Zouzalik what looked like a routine screen to the sideline, but Zouzalik tossed it back to Potts, who was escorted into the end zone by a trio of offensive linemen, helping the Red Raiders take a 24-6 lead at halftime. Tommy Tuberville didn't want to run it, but told ESPN heading into halftime that he got outvoted by his fellow coaches.

Second-guessing: Texas Tech strung together an impressive 82-yard drive in 12 plays to take a 38-17 lead, but tried for the onside kick and a possible knockout punch against a Northwestern defense that hadn't stopped them from reaching the end zone on the last four drives. The Red Raiders were offside, however, and gave Northwestern the ball at the 36-yard line. The Wildcats needed just two plays to score and cut the lead to 14, keeping the game still somewhat in doubt. Texas Tech had to punt on its next possession, and Northwestern scored a touchdown to bring the game to within 38-31.

There was a little bit of upside to the curious decision, but with Northwestern's offensive inconsistency throughout, it seemed pretty unnecessary, and cost the Red Raiders momentum.

Record performance: Matt Williams' booming 24-yard field goal that opened scoring is the longest in the history of the TicketCity Bowl. Gotta love inaugural bowl games.

What it means: The exit of Texas Tech defensive coordinator James Willis from the program days before the game didn't hurt them badly enough for a loss. The Red Raiders looked good early, and though Northwestern's quarterbacks struggled to complete passes with consistency, Texas Tech didn't make it very easy on them. The way the offense played, the defense didn't need a big performance, but they got one for long enough in the first half, and as a result, the Red Raiders held on. They entered Saturday's game ranked 116th nationally in total offense, giving up over 460 yards a game. Northwestern's undermanned offense without quarterback Dan Persa managed just 374 yards.

Well, that was entertaining. Despite an exciting comeback, Northwestern couldn't draw even with Texas Tech and its bowl drought continues for at least another year.

Here's a quick look at the Wildcats' 45-38 loss to Texas Tech in the TicketCity Bowl.

How the game was won: Northwestern mounted a spirited second-half comeback behind true freshman quarterback Kain Colter, but it couldn't overcome season-long defensive woes against the powerful Texas Tech offense. The Wildcats rallied from a 31-9 third-quarter deficit to close within a touchdown, but they couldn't get the defensive stops they needed. Colter and the offense did enough to give the Wildcats a chance, but a defense that allowed 118 points in its final two regular-season games didn't make any strides during bowl practice.

Turning point: Northwestern twice cut its second-half deficit to seven points, but couldn't make a defensive stop to give the offense a chance to tie. After drawing to within 38-31 early in the fourth quarter, Northwestern let Texas Tech march 69 yards in 10 plays to the end zone. Then, after a pick-six by cornerback Jordan Mabin, the Wildcats couldn't get off of the field on third-and-short as Texas Tech bled the clock.

Player of the game: Texas Tech's Taylor Potts. The senior seemed locked in from the get-go and shredded Northwestern's defense with his complement of pass-catchers. Potts finished the game 43-for-56 passing for 369 yards and four touchdowns with an interception. He took advantage of holes in the Wildcats' secondary and, aside from one throw in the fourth quarter, made sound decisions.

Stat of the game: Northwestern ranked third in the Big Ten in pass offense in the regular season, averaging 242.6 yards per game. The Wildcats had just 145 pass yards against Texas Tech.

Unsung hero of the game: Colter made major strides during bowl practices and spurred Northwestern's second-half comeback. The true freshman eclipsed 100 rushing yards and scored two touchdowns, running mainly the option attack. He likely will challenge Evan Watkins for the backup quarterback job next fall.

What it means: Northwestern just can't get over the hump in a bowl game, although the Wildcats avoided what looked to be an embarrassing performance with the second-half rally. The defense simply had too many problems this season, from tackling to discipline to lack of leadership, and Texas Tech's offense posed a bad matchup. Things could have been different had starting quarerback Dan Persa remained healthy, but the warts on defense showed up all fall. Northwestern has high expectations for 2011 and returns a good core, but it needs to make major upgrades on defense. It's still hard for folks to see Northwestern as a legit program until it wins a bowl game.
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: Keys for Texas Tech

December, 31, 2010
12/31/10
10:41
AM ET
1. Get one quarterback into a rhythm. If Texas Tech doesn't have success throwing the ball, it's not very good. If it does, it can beat a lot of good teams. The Red Raiders plan to play both Taylor Potts and Steven Sheffield at quarterback, which isn't bad in itself, but they have to figure out early who has the hot hand and who they plan on riding late in the game if it's close. The Red Raiders have struggled to run the ball all season, and need to get it done through the air to put up enough points for the win. That won't happen if Potts and Sheffield are uncomfortable or both have off days. Potts will likely be the guy for most of the game, but a couple bad drives early has the potential to throw the whole offense out of whack. If Northwestern capitalizes, a slow start by Tech could also produce some forced plays from whoever is under center for the Red Raiders, creating a deeper hole.

2. Stay grounded early. Texas Tech's defense has been unimpressive for most of the year, and now they'll be listening to a new voice in defensive coordinator Sam McElroy. It's been a year of transition for the Red Raiders, and this game is no exception. Early on, you might see some confusion. Maybe a costly delay on getting a play relayed to the players on the field. Whatever happens, Texas Tech will have to shake it off and get ready for the next possession. This game should have plenty of points, and the defense can't let an early miscue that can be easily fixed affect them later in the game.

3. Force Evan Watkins to make mistakes. The 6-foot-6, 240-pound freshman has lots of size, but not much experience. He'll be making his third career start, and in his last game against Wisconsin, he completed just under 60 percent of his passes and had three interceptions. He's also thrown for just 258 yards in those two starts combined. Texas Tech loved to blitz under former coordinator James Willis, but with the quality of quarterback play in the Big 12, that can come with a ton of risk. Against Watkins, that risk isn't quite as high. Come after him for 60 minutes, dare him to make a play downfield over the top of the defense, and there's a pretty good chance his mistakes will be more frequent than his big plays.

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.

Big 12 helmet stickers: Week 13

November, 28, 2010
11/28/10
2:07
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Here are five helmet stickers for a job well done this week. All outstanding performances. It wasn't too difficult to pick this week. They all are extremely deserving.

Cyrus Gray, RB, Texas A&M: Gray broke two of the biggest plays in Texas A&M’s season, scoring on runs of 84 and 48 yards as part of a 223-yard day on the ground. No Aggies running back has ever run for more on the Longhorns, and Texas A&M’s 24-17 win guaranteed a losing record for the rival Longhorns for the first time since 1997.

Rex Burkhead, RB, Nebraska: Burkhead took his share of snaps at quarterback, but usually his role is a runner in that situation. Not against Colorado. Burkhead tossed a pair of touchdown passes for a quarterback rating of 556, and also ran for 101 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries in Nebraska’s 45-17 win over Colorado.

Daniel Thomas, RB, Kansas State: Who cares if it was against North Texas? Only one player (Nebraska RB Roy Helu Jr. versus Missouri) has had a better rushing day this season than Thomas, who pounded a huge stamp on the Wildcats regular-season finale with a 270-yard, two-touchdown performance in a 49-41 win over the Mean Green.

Taylor Potts, QB, Texas Tech: In his last game at Jones AT&T Stadium, Potts had one of his best performances in a 35-20 win over Houston. He completed 32 of 46 passes for 373 yards and four touchdowns. His big day pushed him over 3,000 yards for the year too. That gave the Red Raiders a 3,000-yard passer for the 11th consecutive season.

Landry Jones, QB, Oklahoma: Jones hit a pair of long touchdown passes in the fourth quarter to give Oklahoma a 47-41 win over Oklahoma State, and passed for 468 yards and four touchdowns on 37-of-62 passing. Those attempts seem high until Oklahoma's 107 plays from scrimmage are also considered. Here's how Jones and the Sooners did it. Those 468 yards also tied Sam Bradford for a school record.

Potts pacing Red Raiders to Lubbock lead

November, 27, 2010
11/27/10
10:18
PM ET
Taylor Potts looks like he's going out in style in his final game at Jones AT&T Stadium.

He's already thrown three touchdown passes early in the third quarter, and has Texas Tech up 28-13 on Houston. He's 19-of-27 for 179 yards, too. Fellow senior Detron Lewis has been on the receiving end of two of those touchdowns as part of his nine-catch, 79-yard day.

The Red Raiders actually celebrated Senior Day early -- against Weber State last week -- to avoid Thanksgiving weekend complications, but this is a good representative of how Lewis and Potts would like to go out.

A win would also would deny 5-6 Houston a bowl berth.

Big 12 predictions: Week 13

November, 24, 2010
11/24/10
9:08
AM ET
Predictions: ACC | Big 12 | Big East | Big Ten | Pac-10 | SEC | Non-AQ

I hit on my upset special last week when I picked Texas A&M to beat Nebraska, but I'll pause and give you a few seconds to plead your case about why it shouldn't count...

...I'm counting it anyway.

For the second consecutive week, my only miss came courtesy of those plucky Boulder Buffs, so maybe it's time to start picking them to win. We'll see.

I'm headed to Stillwater this week for Bedlam, a.k.a the Big 12 South championship game between Oklahoma and Oklahoma State, but here's who I've got this week in the rest of the games across the conference:

Last week: 5-1 (.833)

Overall: 71-18 (.798)

THURSDAY

No. 17 Texas A&M 20, Texas 13: This is my pick of the week. Come back later this afternoon for a video of my explanation.

FRIDAY

No. 15 Nebraska 19, Colorado 13: Nebraska's defense is playing better than it has all season. Its offense is playing as poorly as it has all season. It's anyone's guess as to if or how well Taylor Martinez plays on Saturday, but he won't be the same Martinez that routinely racked up 125 yards on the ground early in the season. Without being able to plant on that ankle, Martinez's passing mechanics suffered against Texas A&M as well. Nebraska finds enough offense to win with Rex Burkhead and Roy Helu Jr., but it's close against a Colorado team that's finally utilizing its apparent talent.

SATURDAY

No. 14 Missouri 31, Kansas 14: Kansas is getting better, and played a great first half against Oklahoma State last week. The Tigers offense is good, but they don't have the number of high-level options Oklahoma State used to blow out the Jayhawks in the second half. Don't be surprised if Turner Gill has something up his sleeve for this game, and pulls it out to help put some points on the board early.

Kansas State 41, North Texas 17: The Mean Green got a nice bump after firing Todd Dodge earlier in the year, but that bump isn't going to put them over Kansas State. They don't make running backs like Daniel Thomas in the Sun Belt. The Wildcats overpower the home team and head to a bowl game with a better taste in their mouth than after last week's loss to Colorado.

Texas Tech 47, Houston 24: Houston has lost its last three games, and given up 42 points a pop doing it. That streak won't end in Lubbock against the Red Raiders. Taylor Potts goes out on a high note heading into a bowl game.

No. 9 Oklahoma State 47, No. 13 Oklahoma 38: Expect this one to be well worth the price of admission. Oklahoma State's defense has made big strides down the stretch, and they'll be the difference this week. Mike Gundy gets his first win over the Sooners with the most on the line and on the biggest stage. Couldn't ask for a better time. I'll be back on Friday with my three keys to this game for each team.

Regular season complete: Baylor (7-5), Iowa State (5-7)

Big 12 Power Rankings: Week 12

November, 15, 2010
11/15/10
9:00
AM ET
Power Rankings: ACC | Big 12 | Big East | Big Ten | Pac-10 | SEC | Non-AQ

1. Nebraska (9-1, 5-1, last week: 1) The Huskers did it ugly against Kansas, but they did it, and that's all that really matters. The offense will have to be sharper in College Station next week to beat the red-hot Aggies.

2. Oklahoma State (9-1, 5-1, LW: 2) The Cowboys took care of business in Austin, and are inching toward a first-ever trip toward a Big 12 title. Don't be looking for a slip-up in Lawrence next week, but hype is building for what should be a heated Bedlam battle in Stillwater in two weeks.

3. Oklahoma (8-2, 4-2, LW: 3) Bob Stoops-coached teams at Oklahoma continue their home dominance, but Owen Field will remain quiet for the rest of the season. The Sooners have to get by Baylor in Waco next week to still have a chance to play for the South title in Stillwater a week later. That's not as easy as it used to be.

4. Missouri (8-2, 4-2, LW: 4) Blaine Gabbert redeemed himself in a big way, but the Tigers defense made plays everywhere against Kansas State. Good luck finding a team that loses with a 4-1 advantage in turnovers and a defensive touchdown. This week, even with Iowa State missing senior quarterback Austen Arnaud, Missouri's trip to Ames won't be easy.

5. Texas A&M (7-3, 4-2, LW: 5) The Aggies are the league's hottest team, but it's hard to move them above any of the four teams higher than them. That'll change if Mike Sherman's team can knock off Nebraska this week. Texas A&M played one of its best halves of the year in its comeback win against Baylor. And by the way, how does that last-second loss to Oklahoma State back in the conference opener look now? A lot more impressive.

6. Kansas State (6-4, 3-4, LW: 6) Kansas State burned itself with costly fumbles, but the Wildcats would be well-served to ride Collin Klein to the finish line in 2010. A second dynamic running threat adds a lot more to the offense than a second average-at-best passer.

7. Baylor (7-4, 4-3, LW: 7) Baylor's offense got deadlocked by Tim DeRuyter's defense in a frustrating loss, but the Bears will try to go out with a bang against Oklahoma in their season finale this week.

8. Texas Tech (5-5, 3-5, LW: 9) Texas Tech didn't move up as much as the four teams below them moved down. The Red Raiders looked pretty helpless in Norman, but that's nothing new for Texas Tech or anyone. The Sooners haven't lost a Big 12 game at home since 2001. A late switch back to Steven Sheffield didn't help much, either. Expect Taylor Potts to start again next week.

9. Iowa State (5-6, 3-4, LW: 8) The loss to Colorado was crushing, but not as crushing as losing Arnaud. Expect Paul Rhoads' team to rally around experienced backup Jerome Tiller this week and give Missouri a tough time with a bowl berth on the line.

10. Texas (4-6, 2-5, LW: 10) Don't think a lopsided win against Florida Atlantic is a given for the Longhorns. Howard Schnellenberger's Owls gave Sun Belt leader Florida International its only conference loss of the season, 21-9, and have won three in a row.

11. Colorado (4-6, 1-5, LW: 12) The Buffs won a big one for Brian Cabral, and might tap into something down the stretch. If Kansas State turns it over like it did against Missouri, Colorado might string together a two-game winning streak.

12. Kansas (3-7, 1-5, LW: 11) Kansas is getting better, but the season's finish will be tough against Oklahoma State and Missouri.

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