NCF Nation: Waymon James

Big 12 predictions: Week 11

November, 7, 2013
11/07/13
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Welp, it finally happened. I finally lost to a guest picker. And to a 14-year-old, no less. Thanks, Caymen. I thought you weren’t going to embarrass me?

Anyway, this reporter’s pride is on the line again. This week’s guest picker submission:

My name is Claire Stallings and I would love to one day be a guest picker for you. It’s about time a lady shows these men how to pick a perfect week! I love the Big 12 and of course Baylor. I worked for the team all through college and I am that girl who knows more about Baylor football than most of the men on campus. I think it would be interesting to throw a girl into the “man’s world.” Don’t worry, I can hold my own. #GirlPower

The last time a girl challenged me to something, I was destroyed by my wife in a 5K. So this is my shot at redemption. #BringTheNoiseClaire.

Tonight, Max and national writer Mark Schlabach will be in Waco for Oklahoma-Baylor. Saturday, Brandon will drive to Stillwater to check out Kansas-Oklahoma State. Due to my horrific picking, I've been benched for the weekend.

To the Week 11 picks:

SEASON RECORD

Trotter last week: 2-2 (.500)

Guest picker (14-year-old Caymen) last week: 3-1 (.750)

Trotter overall: 43-14 (.754)

Guest picker overall: 29-11 (.725)

THURSDAY

Baylor 52, Oklahoma 34: The Sooners’ best chance in this game is to pound the ball, wear out the clock and keep Baylor’s high-powered offense on the sidelines. But without star fullback Trey Millard, I’m skeptical OU can pull off such a game plan. The Sooners have no viable tight end, and none of their other fullbacks are capable receiving threats off play-action. OU’s remaining firepower keeps the game interesting into the second half. But a Sooners defense playing two freshman linebackers finally capitulates to the overwhelming speed of the Baylor offense, as the Bears make a statement they belong in the national title picture.

Claire’s pick: The media (including you, Jake) keeps saying K-State laid out the blueprint on how to beat Baylor, but then again, Mack Brown made it clear that OU is far from invincible. Between Baylor’s dynamic receiving duo, Antwan Goodley and Tevin Reese, along with Lache Seastrunk and Bryce Petty’s Heisman-worthy performances, this pick was easy. #GoingTarpless. Baylor 56-35

SATURDAY

West Virginia 26, Texas 23: I find it strange the voters still haven’t put Texas back in the Top 25 polls. I actually had the Longhorns ranked 14th in the ESPN power ranking, the highest of the 19 voters in the ESPN poll. But this is a tough spot for Texas. West Virginia has been a far better team in Morgantown than away from it. The Mountaineers also have a ton of momentum from last week’s comeback overtime win over TCU, with a bowl appearance in their sights. Texas QB Case McCoy comes back to earth a bit and the Longhorns get caught peeking ahead to next week’s clash with Oklahoma State, as Charles Sims runs wild again to hand Texas its first Big 12 loss.

Claire’s pick: The Horns will win if they keep the ball with Malcolm Brown and Johnathan Gray. But they have to make sure Case doesn’t make too many mistakes on the road. If they are not careful, West Virginia will upset Texas, just like they did to OSU. #TexasStayawayfromBriles. Texas 31-28

Kansas State 37, Texas Tech 34: With receivers Tyler Lockett and Tramaine Thompson back in the fold, the Wildcats are finally firing on all cylinders offensively. QBs Daniel Sams and Jake Waters have been terrific lately, and, much to Bill Snyder’s satisfaction, have been taking care of the ball, too. Tech has had a great run. But turnover-prone teams usually don’t fare well against Snyder-coached teams, and only six offenses in college football have turned the ball over more times than the Red Raiders. As a result, K-State continues its late-season push and hands Tech a third straight defeat.

Claire’s pick: I grew up in a Tech-loving family from Midland, Texas. I have lost sleep over this pick, and I may lose friends and a chunk of my inheritance after this is published. Unfortunately, the clock has struck midnight for Cinderella, and they are beginning to look reminiscent of last year’s West Virginia squad. #SorryDad. K-State 38-35

TCU 19, Iowa State 13: Will either side have enough players left to actually stage the game? Iowa State figures to be without running back Aaron Wimberly, who’s been its best offensive player, and could be without QB Sam B. Richardson, too. TCU cornerback Jason Verrett and running back B.J. Catalon are questionable on a team that also will be missing running back Waymon James and receiver Brandon Carter. The difference in this game proves to be TCU QB Casey Pachall, who finally showed signs of returning to his old self last week.

Claire’s pick: This is the “Battle of Who Could Care Less” between two struggling teams. TCU’s players are dropping like flies. TCU barely wins, but for sure is not making a bowl. #NotYallsYear #ByeFelicia. TCU 14-10

Oklahoma State 55, Kansas 9: Kansas has been hanging tough in Big 12 play. That ends here. The Cowboys have finally found their identity offensively with Clint Chelf at QB and the tough-running Desmond Roland at tailback. Oklahoma State keeps rolling in its return to the thick of the Big 12 title race.

Claire’s pick: I have always liked Kansas -- they have great school colors for game-day outfits. But that is all they have. Chelf is a real threat and the Cowboys' backfield has exploded these past few games -- they might actually steal the Big 12 title right out of Baylor’s little paws. #ButPleaseDont. Oklahoma State 56-14

What to watch in the Big 12: Week 5

September, 26, 2013
9/26/13
10:15
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Oklahoma's visit to Notre Dame highlights a very light week in the Big 12. Half of the league’s teams are on byes but there are still some interesting things to learn from the four games involving Big 12 teams this weekend.


Here's what to watch in the Big 12 for Week 5.

  1. Can Oklahoma strike for the Big 12 Conference? The Sooners have the chance to earn the biggest nonconference win of any Big 12 team this season if they can knock off Notre Dame in South Bend on Saturday. OU has its eye on inserting itself into the BCS title conversation and that could begin with a win against the Fighting Irish.
  2. What does Dana Holgorsen have in store for his former colleagues at Oklahoma State? Holgorsen spent one season as the offensive coordinator at Oklahoma State before he was named coach in waiting at West Virginia. He played a major part in transforming OSU’s offense into what it is today so both teams will be very familiar with the other’s offensive attack. Add in the Mountaineers’ struggles on offense this season and you have to expect Holgorsen will have some new, creative wrinkles to confuse OSU’s defense and spark WVU’s offense.
  3. How will TCU respond to a 1-2 start? TCU coach Gary Patterson didn’t like how his team was handling its start to the season, saying his group was "feeling sorry for themselves." Yet the Horned Frogs have had two weeks to get things going back in a positive direction and, even though they’ve stumbled at the start, they still have one of the top defenses in the conference. And that’s a terrific foundation to build upon.
  4. [+] EnlargePaul Rhoads
    David Purdy/Getty ImagesPaul Rhoads and Iowa State are off to a slow start.
  5. Can Iowa State get its first win of the season? The Cyclones opened the season with losses to Northern Iowa and Iowa. Worst yet, Paul Rhoads’ crew has played just two games heading into tonight’s game at Tulsa, making it tough to find any kind of rhythm and confidence on either side of the football. ISU’s defense has been particularly bad allowing 27.5 points and 417.5 yards per game thus far. It’s a young roster, full of inexperience, so if the Cyclones don’t win tonight, things could snowball in a hurry for the Cyclones.
  6. Will OSU stumble in Morgantown? The Cowboys will be a big favorite when they step on the field in Morgantown, W. Va., after WVU’s embarrassing 37-0 loss to Maryland last weekend. It would be easy for the Pokes to overlook the Mountaineers and stumble on the road in a conference play, particularly since WVU does have some talented, albeit young, players on the roster. WVU will be looking to prove it is better than it showed against the Terps while OSU will simply be looking to get off to a good start in conference play. Motive advantage: WVU.
  7. Can TCU find some type of offensive identity? What is TCU’s identity on offense? Does anybody know? The Horned Frogs have looked uncertain during their first three games, particularly with Trevone Boykin under center. Don’t be surprised if TCU re-commits its offense to the running game with talented runners B.J. Catalon and Waymon James in the backfield while putting Boykin on the back burner.
  8. How will OU quarterback Blake Bell do in his first road start? The Sooners signal caller has the opportunity to send a message with a stellar performance in his first road start. The Fighting Irish will be looking to stop the run and play physical, forcing Bell to beat them with his arm. If he can do it on a national stage, the junior will remove all doubt who should be leading the Sooners’ offense for the next two seasons.
  9. Is OU’s defense the real deal? The Sooners' defense has been terrific in OU’s first three games. Yet it hasn't been tested like it will be against the Fighting Irish. OU’s defense is built for speed and handling the spread offenses in the Big 12 so if ND comes out and tries to ram the football down OU’s throat, the Sooners will have to have an answer or risk being compared to last season’s disappointing unit.
  10. Will Ford Childress reward Holgorsen for sticking with him? The WVU quarterback has kept his starting job after throwing more touchdown passes to Maryland defenders than his teammates last weekend. He threw more interceptions than he completed passes to WVU receivers in the loss. Yet Holgorsen didn’t hesitate when asked if he was sticking with the redshirt freshman. Childress will be looking to reward that loyalty against OSU.
  11. Will Iowa State find an answer to its offensive woes? This was supposed to be a breakout season for quarterback Sam Richardson. It’s not looking good for the sophomore thus far. His numbers aren’t horrible (502 passing yards, 62 completion percentage) but he’s been unable to spark the Cyclones offense and take the entire team to another level like ISU fans would have hoped. If Richardson hopes to turn things around, he can start against a Tulsa defense that gave up 51 points to Oklahoma on Sept. 14.

Big 12 predictions: Week 5

September, 26, 2013
9/26/13
9:00
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Our guest picker this week is Omar Ahmad, out of Huntington, W.Va. Here was Omar’s clever submission:

I should be your Big 12 guest picker for Week 5. Why? Because when it comes to challenging the experts at ESPN, nobody Bears down like I do. I'm like an unstoppable Cyclone of correct predictions. I'm not a Wildcat with my selections (you'll never catch me picking a Longhorn to do anything other than be a horn that's long). I strive for the highest summits of analysis the likes of which no Mountaineer has ever seen. While you may be a college football maverick, I'm the Red Raider with guns-up accuracy. No Jayhawk can hang with my stuff (or anyone's stuff, for that matter). So stop being a Cowboy with your reckless game-picker selections. You know you're gonna tab me Sooner or later. Horned Frogs.

Last week, I correctly picked Texas to bounce back and beat Kansas State, but Omar’s Mountaineers burned me with a no-show performance in Baltimore. I was also called out in front of my ACC colleagues via this tweet from a @beedubss: “I hope Andrea Adelson and Heather Dinich get to give @ESPN_Big12 a really hard time about his #WVUvsMD prediction. #GirlsRuleBoysDrool #GoTerps”.

Come on, guys. We’re better than this.

If you want to be next week’s guest picker, contact me here, and tell me why. And, as always, creativity counts.

To the Week 5 picks:

SEASON RECORD

Trotter last week: 4-1 (.800)

Guest picker last week: 4-1 (.800)

Trotter overall: 25-5 (.833)

Guest picker overall: 10-3 (.769)

Tulsa 30, Iowa State 27: Dating back to last year, Iowa State has now lost six of seven, which includes a two-touchdown loss to Tulsa in the Liberty Bowl. Tulsa, meanwhile, has played better since an embarrassing 27-point loss at Bowling Green in its opener. This game is in Tulsa, where the Hurricane has not lost since falling to eighth-ranked Houston in November 2011. The Cyclones just don’t have the offensive firepower right now around quarterback Sam Richardson, who also faces the possibility of playing the rest of the season on a bum ankle.

Omar’s pick: The Golden Hurricane is a young team, but can still run the ball. The Cyclones cannot, and the return of Tom Farniok won’t change the fact that Sam Richardson is currently the team’s biggest threat on the ground. Tulsa, 31-27

TCU 31, SMU 16: Coach Gary Patterson rode his team hard during the off week, even calling them out in the media for “feeling sorry for themselves.” Despite the disappointing 1-2 start, the Horned Frogs have too many veteran players to feel sorry for themselves for very long. This is still a good team, with good players on both sides of the ball. If TCU can uncover an offensive identity post QB Casey Pachall -- perhaps running the ball more with B.J. Catalon and Waymon James to take pressure off QB Trevone Boykin -- the Frogs will be fine. This SMU game is a golden opportunity for TCU to figure out some things before going to Norman next weekend.

Omar’s pick: Despite the 1-2 start, TCU’s defense is still arguably the best in the Big 12. Garrett Gilbert will get his yards, but Boykin and Catalon run wild on a Mustang front seven that’s one of the smallest and most inexperienced in the nation. TCU, 36-20

Oklahoma State 42, West Virginia 14: Both teams are running Dana Holgorsen’s offense. Only one is running it well. After the 37-0 loss to Maryland, Holgorsen rightfully called West Virginia’s offense as inept as it could be. Omar's Mountaineers don’t have any playmakers at receiver, the offensive line is not getting any push in the run game and QB Ford Childress is too young to overcome either deficiency. Poor Charles Sims, by the way, picked the wrong year to transfer. Imagine Sims on the same team with Geno Smith, Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey. Now that would be an offense that could outscore Oklahoma State. This West Virginia offense cannot.

Omar’s pick: The Cowboys are getting it done by land and air so far, while the Mountaineers are trying to rebuild the offense through Ford Childress. The WVU defense keeps it closer than most expect. OSU, 34-21

Notre Dame 24, Oklahoma 21: The Sooners feel good about themselves after Blake Bell’s performance against Tulsa. But this isn’t Tulsa. And this game won’t be played in Norman. The Irish have looked lackluster so far this season, but they’ve played a difficult schedule featuring Michigan and Michigan State. The Sooners, meanwhile, have yet to play anybody. Notre Dame will win the battle in the trenches, force Bell into a couple of critical mistakes in his first start on the road and make the plays in the fourth quarter like it did last year in Norman. They will move to 10-1 all-time in the series while preventing the Big 12 from picking up its first Top 25 non-conference victory.

Omar’s pick: Blake Bell has a cool nickname; Tommy Rees does not. OU, 28-23

A closer look: Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl

December, 17, 2012
12/17/12
11:00
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As the bowl season approaches, we're going to be looking a little closer at each game. We'll go down the Big 12 bowl schedule in chronological order.

BUFFALO WILD WINGS BOWL

TCU (7-5) vs. Michigan State (6-6)

Where: Sun Devil Stadium, Tempe, Ariz.

When: Saturday, Dec. 29, 10:15 p.m. ET

TV: ESPN

About TCU: The Frogs have been through more in the past year than any team in the Big 12, dealing with the losses of impact players like quarterback Casey Pachall (left team to seek drug/alcohol treatment) and Waymon James (knee injury). Still, they've held it together and grabbed the best win of their season on the road on Thanksgiving night with a physical win over Big 12 power Texas. A 4-0 start had TCU ascending into the top 15, but the loss of Pachall left the offense in the hands of redshirt freshman Trevone Boykin, who's turned in an admirable effort, but ultimately, the Frogs have gone as far as the defense will take them this season.

About Michigan State: Michigan State lost four of its final six games, but one of those wins came against Big Ten champion Wisconsin on the road. That was the end of what looked like a promising season for the Spartans, picked by many to win the league. Its first three losses in Big 12 play came by a combined five points, and its next two came by just a combined seven points. The Spartans are very likely better than their record, but there's no hiding from the disappointment of a 6-6 regular season in a weak Big Ten after coach Mark Dantonio had guided MSU to consecutive 11-win seasons entering 2012.

Horned Frogs to watch: We already told you TCU's defense makes this team run, so keep your eyes on the unit's two biggest talents. It starts with DE Devonte Fields up front and CB Jason Verrett in the secondary. Michigan State's a running team, so Fields may get more action, but he'll be ready. He's more of a pass rusher, but the true freshman earned Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year honors from the media. Verrett was the Big 12's best shutdown corner, but offensively, Josh Boyce and Brandon Carter are almost as good as any receivers in the league. Boykin's been effective with his arm and legs, but if MSU doesn't cover Boyce and Carter well, you'll see a big day through the air. Boykin's hit both on big plays down the field against Oklahoma and West Virginia this season. The Frogs will certainly try to stretch the field in this one.

Spartans to watch: Michigan State's offense begins and ends with running back Le'Veon Bell. TCU will get to know the 244-pound workhorse -- he even inspired some early season Heisman buzz -- very well by the game's end. He's carried the ball at least 29 times in seven games this season, and logged 350 carries on the season. That's the most in the nation, and no back in the Big 12 carried the ball more than 257 times. The Spartans also have five receivers with at least 340 yards receiving, but defensively, TCU's offensive line will have to focus lots of energy on star defensive lineman William Gholston. He's got 12 tackles for loss this season and has broken up nine passes.

Did you know? This isn't a new bowl game, it's just a new sponsor. The Big 12 has had a long-standing relationship with the Insight (previously Insight.com) Bowl, sending a team every year since 2006 and every year but four since the Big 12's inception. This year, the bowl just welcomes a new sponsor. The most eye-opening stat for TCU this season? It's played 16 true freshmen this season ... and 11 seniors.

TCU youth forced to learn on the fly

October, 23, 2012
10/23/12
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Trevone BoykinAP Photo/Cal Sport MediaTrevone Boykin has racked up 863 yards and nine touchdowns since taking over for Casey Pachall.
Gary Patterson walked onto the practice field on Sunday unsure of what he'd find.

The Horned Frogs have played 16 true freshman this season, tied with Texas for the most in college football. Before this season, Patterson had never played more than six true freshmen.

It has just 11 scholarship seniors and nearly 70 percent of the 76 players who have taken the field this season for the Frogs have been either freshmen or sophomores.

On Saturday, Patterson's Tadpoles rallied from a double-digit deficit in the game's final three minutes to force overtime, but lost an emotional home game in triple overtime.

How his young players' spirits would respond was anyone's guess.

What he found brought a smile to his face: His team practiced better after the emotional loss than it did after a road victory at Baylor the previous week.

Coaches love to say the true measure of a team is how it responds to a loss. Patterson's got his answer in the toughest of scenarios.

"They’ve done what they have to. We’ve got to keep showing up and find a way to win, but really, through everything, they’ve handled it well," Patterson said. "They’re good kids."

Truth is, they've only had to play because TCU's faced unprecedented losses since the end of last season. The most high-profile case was earlier this month when junior quarterback Casey Pachall left the team to seek treatment for addiction after a DWI arrest. In January, four players were removed from the team after being swept up in a campus drug sting as part of nearly 20 student arrests.

One of three 700-yard rushers from a year ago, Ed Wesley, left the team for personal reasons after the spring and entered the NFL supplemental draft. The team's best remaining running back, Waymon James, suffered a knee injury earlier this season and will miss the rest of the year. Matthew Tucker missed last week's game, too, leaving much of the backfield duties to freshman B.J. Catalon.

True freshman Devonte Fields only earned a starting job after one of the team's leaders, Ross Forrest, injured his knee in the preseason and will miss the season.

Totaled up, more than 20 players Patterson thought he'd have this fall after the 2011 season are missing from the roster.

"Some years you just have those kinds of years. What I’ve always told them is in great programs, the next guy always steps up and that’s what has to happen, the next guy has to step up," Patterson said. "I think they’ve been good. Freshmen don’t know any better. They came in here to win championships."

Doing that in 2012 will be difficult with undefeated Kansas State looking strong in the driver's seat and TCU trying to weather the tougher back half of its schedule with redshirt freshman Trevone Boykin at the helm, replacing a seasoned veteran in Pachall.

Still, Patterson's been impressed with his team's response.

"What the kids understand is what we haven’t done as a coaching staff is we haven’t quit. We just keep coaching ‘em up and trying to find a way to win and I think kids respond to that," he said. "We’re trying to coach them like they’re juniors and seniors, get them to grow up and they have, even though we lost last week, I think we played better than we did last week against Baylor, as a football team."

The inaugural season in the Big 12 hasn't gone as planned, but there's still plenty on the table to play for in Fort Worth. Most of all, respect, and sending a message to the rest of the Big 12 that personnel losses won't affect the Frogs' ability to compete. So far, it hasn't, with wins over Baylor and a near-upset of a top-15 team in Texas Tech.

Patterson has no choice to play freshmen and sophomores now, but when those players become juniors and seniors, they'll be plenty tested and ready to chase those championships they signed up to earn for TCU.

"The kids have played hard, we’ve just got to keep moving forward," Patterson said.

What we learned in the Big 12: Week 8

October, 21, 2012
10/21/12
10:00
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Here's what I learned after five Big 12 games in Week 8:

K-State is the unquestioned leader for the Big 12 title. Any questions? Kansas State has three road victories against Top 25 teams this year and walked into Oklahoma and West Virginia and handed both Big 12 contenders humbling losses. Coach Bill Snyder has this team playing up to its potential, doing the same things it did last year ... just better.

Baylor has work to do to get into the postseason. The Bears are stuck in a three-game losing streak and are slumming at the bottom of the Big 12 standings at 0-3, just ahead of Kansas at 0-4. Baylor is a pretty good team, but the Big 12 is deep, and somebody has to get swallowed up. Baylor has four ranked teams left on its schedule and stands at just three wins overall. With Iowa State, Kansas and Oklahoma State left, the opportunities will be there for the Bears, but only KU looks like a gimme, and the Jayhawks nearly beat Baylor last year, even with RG3.

TCU is playing gutsy, gutsy football. The Horned Frogs have lost more players than anybody in the Big 12, but they keep chugging along and nearly grabbed a huge win against Texas Tech. Trailing by double digits with three minutes to play, Trevone Boykin hit LaDarius Brown for a 60-yard score to get the Frogs back in it. TCU played without Brandon Carter for much of the game, and its best offensive lineman, Blaize Foltz, was missing, too. Preseason All-Big 12 DE Stansly Maponga was out, and the team's top two backs after spring football, Ed Wesley (left team) and Waymon James (knee), are gone this season. Boykin is playing only because of the Casey Pachall mess earlier this fall, but TCU keeps hanging on. Saturday would have been one of the most emotional wins in a long time for the Frogs, but this team is still good and will be scary in 2013.

[+] EnlargeJ.W. Walsh
Richard Rowe/US PresswireJ.W. Walsh and Oklahoma State could still defend the Big 12 title, but a murderers' row awaits.
Texas Tech is a force to be reckoned with. The Red Raiders have one bad loss to a very good team in Oklahoma and eked out a triple-overtime, comeback win on the road against a good TCU team. How good are the Red Raiders? Well, they're one of just three teams (K-State, Oklahoma State) to control their fate in the Big 12 title race, so we'll find out exactly how good next week when they travel to Manhattan, Kan. The Red Raiders look legit, but in case you weren't watching on Saturday night, so did K-State, and significantly more so.

There is still hope for Oklahoma State. Beating Iowa State by three touchdowns isn't easy, even if the Cyclones' offense is struggling. Oklahoma State did it, and did it with its backup quarterback, J.W. Walsh. I generally think the quarterback "controversy" is a joke. This offense is built to run with Wes Lunt commanding things, and it will be his when he comes back, but when will that be? Oklahoma State is crazy if it hasn't had a frank conversation about a medical redshirt at this point. The Cowboys have just one Big 12 loss but a whole lot to prove with five more ranked teams on the schedule in the next five weeks. OSU still hasn't really beaten anybody, but it'll have plenty of chances.

West Virginia has hit rock bottom ... I think. Geno Smith said it after the game, and he's right: This is a terrible, terrible time for a bye week. The Mountaineers have two weeks to do some soul searching before hosting a young but improving TCU team. Those offensive issues last week against Texas Tech may have been a sign of things to come, and TCU knows a thing or two about playing some defense. Coach Gary Patterson learned a lot from these past two games, I'm sure. We know the WVU defense can't stop anybody, but will the offense regain its form? We won't know for another couple of weeks.
When was the last time a player worked as a third-string running back in practice during the week, and on Saturday took the field as a team's starting quarterback?

Before Saturday, it had to have been awhile. TCU's Trevone Boykin made both unorthodox moves out of necessity, but couldn't lead TCU to a win over Iowa State in the Frogs' first Big 12 home game.

[+] EnlargeTrevone Boykin
Matthew Emmons/US PresswireTrevone Boykin got his first start as the Horned Frogs' quarterback on Saturday against Iowa State.
Boykin won the TCU backup quarterback job ahead of Matt Brown, but the 6-foot-2, 215-pound redshirt freshman from Mesquite, Texas, worked at running back with Waymon James out for the season with a knee injury and Matthew Tucker a game-time decision with an ankle injury.

On Thursday morning, TCU coach Gary Patterson dealt with the news that his starting quarterback, Casey Pachall, had been arrested on suspicion of DWI. Pachall was suspended indefinitely, and all of a sudden, it was Boykin's time.

For one practice, he was the team's starting quarterback. After Thursday, it was time to go head-to-head against the Big 12's No. 3 scoring defense.

"We wish we had a little bit more for [time for] it. The biggest thing is he doesn’t have the experience to do it," Patterson said. "Trevone runs better, but just needs the experience of seeing the field better."

TCU's offense didn't change much with Boykin in place instead of Pachall, but to make matters worse, Tucker couldn't play to provide Boykin a safety valve. When James went down with a knee injury, Patterson said he had one back he trusted. Now, that one back was down, and only freshman B.J. Catalon and senior Aundre Dean were left.

Still, TCU managed 455 yards of offense, more than any offense against Iowa State all season.

"You’re talking about playing your first Big 12 [game] and I consider Iowa State a pretty good defense," Patterson said. "The key is you can’t throw interceptions, especially not for touchdowns, and you can’t turn the ball over. He’s got to do a better job of managing the game."

Will Boykin get another chance this week against Baylor, which has had two weeks to prepare for the Frogs? Patterson says he'll address Pachall's status at his Tuesday media luncheon, after meeting with the school's AD and chancellor on Sunday.

Boykin was responsible for three interceptions, and Catalon coughed up a pair of fumbles, including one inside Iowa State's 5-yard line.

Boykin's last interception was returned for a score, but his speediness provides a new facet to TCU's offense that Pachall couldn't.

"We’re excited about it; he gave us some options we didn’t have before," Patterson said. "We’ll move forward with that."

Iowa State swamps undermanned TCU

October, 6, 2012
10/06/12
7:15
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TCU wasn't at full strength, but Paul Rhoads didn't take very long to get his first win over a ranked opponent in 2012. He did it on the road in 2009 (Nebraska) and 2010 (Texas); last season, No. 2 Oklahoma State played victim. This time, it was a 37-23 victory over TCU, thanks to a strong start from Jared Barnett, selected to move in front of Steele Jantz. Barnett connected on two long touchdown passes in the first quarter and finished with 183 yards, three touchdowns and an interception on 12-of-21 passing.

It was over when: Iowa State defensive lineman David Irving deflected a pass with his face ... and caught it anyway. The 262-pounder caught the ball off his facemask and raced 21 yards for a touchdown to put Iowa State up two touchdowns with 7 minutes, 51 seconds left in the fourth quarter.

Game ball goes to: Receiver Josh Lenz. The Bifocal was in full focus on Saturday, hauling in touchdown passes of 1, 51 and 74 yards to pace the Iowa State offense. He wasn't done. He later threw a 15-yard touchdown pass. More on that later ...

Stat of the game: TCU lost the turnover battle, 5-1, and two came inside the Iowa State 5-yard line, TCU's seventh and eighth turnovers in the red zone this season. Another was returned for a touchdown. Playing without Casey Pachall, the Frogs couldn't afford mistakes like that.

Best call: Facing a second-and-10 on the TCU 15-yard line, Iowa State ran a flawless reverse pass, finished off by Lenz, who found a wide-open Ernst Brun Jr. for the touchdown that put Iowa State ahead, 30-20. A field goal in that situation would have kept it a one-possession game, but the well-executed trick play wouldn't allow it.

What it means: TCU might need to brace for a long season. Iowa State looked like the better team on the field by far, and to this point, the Cyclones had looked like the ninth-best team in the Big 12. Iowa State's defense continues to be underrated around the league, but it frustrated Trevone Boykin for much of the day. Boykin, starting in place of Pachall, who was suspended indefinitely after a drunk-driving arrest Wednesday, finished with 270 yards, a touchdown and three interceptions on 23-of-40 passing. The Frogs badly missed Pachall, and never established a running game without Waymon James, who's out for the season with a knee injury. Meanwhile, Iowa State went on the road and got yet another victory over a top-15 team under Rhoads. He seems to make a habit of that.

What to watch in the ACC: Week 4

September, 20, 2012
9/20/12
10:15
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Time to take a look at what to watch in the ACC in Week 4. I think you probably already have a good idea of what is in store.

1. Top-10 clash. By now, you probably already know the matchup between No. 10 Clemson and No. 4 Florida State is only the ninth meeting featuring two ACC teams ranked in the top 10. So yes, it is a big game, one of the biggest games in league history, even. I have been asked this question several times during the week: What is the best possible outcome for the ACC? Clearly one team has to win and one has to lose. But in the best-case scenario, this game is competitive, thrilling and pretty clean, and goes down to the wire. To me, that validates having two teams ranked in the top 10 and keeps the loser somewhere in the top-15 range.

2. Offense vs. defense. This is your classic matchup of terrific offense against terrific defense. So which unit gets the edge? We find out Saturday. According to ESPN Stats & Information, Florida State is one of two teams that has yet to allow a touchdown this season (TCU is the other) and has forced 22 three-and-outs in 42 opponent drives. Clemson, meanwhile, is averaging 39.7 points per game this season. The Tigers have 17 plays that gained 25 yards or more this season, tied for the most in the nation.

[+] EnlargeAndre Ellington
Joshua S. Kelly/US PresswireAndre Ellington and Clemson can give the ACC a lift by knocking off SEC power LSU.
3. Andre Ellington vs. FSU run D. One of the matchups that has not been given too much attention this week is between Clemson running back Andre Ellington and the Florida State run defense. While much of the media focus has been on Sammy Watkins and DeAndre Hopkins, Ellington is an absolute player to watch. According to ESPN Stats & Information, Ellington has gained more yards after contact (199) than Florida State has allowed in total rushing yards (101) this season. As for the FSU defense, the Noles have forced their opponents into no gain or negative yardage on 40 of 85 rushes (47.1 percent), the highest percentage in the Football Bowl Subdivision. Ellington has failed to gain yards on just four of his 53 rushes this season (7.5 percent) and has been hit in the backfield on just seven runs.

4. Bounce-back week. Now on to some of the other matchups. This could be called "bounce-back week in the ACC" for a few of the other teams in the league: Virginia Tech, Wake Forest, North Carolina and Virginia -- teams that all lost last week. I left out Maryland because the Terps play No. 8 West Virginia and face the biggest challenge of all these teams. Virginia Tech, Wake Forest and North Carolina all are expected to win. Virginia? The Hoos are a double-digit underdog at No. 17 TCU.

5. Logan Thomas. Speaking of Virginia Tech, which Logan Thomas will we see Saturday against Bowling Green? Thomas played poorly against Pitt last week, throwing three interceptions. The mistakes were absolute killers, as Pitt used the turnovers to pull the upset. One of the big problems for Thomas and the Hokies has been an inability to run the ball. That, combined with ineffective quarterback play, has left this team stagnant on offense. We'll see what the Hokies try to do to jump-start both Thomas and the run game this weekend.

6. Can Georgia Tech beat Miami? The Hurricanes have won three straight in the series, but all signs are pointing to Georgia Tech this season. Last week against Virginia, the Jackets scored seven rushing touchdowns -- tied for the most under coach Paul Johnson. This is a pretty confident group on offense going into the game. The bigger question for Tech is how to slow down Miami freshman sensation Duke Johnson, who scored three different ways against Bethune-Cookman. Tech has not faced anybody nearly as good as Johnson in its first three games this season, and the Jackets have had problems slowing down some of the speed and athleticism Miami has presented in the past.

7. Does Maryland have a chance? There is always a chance in any game, but the Terps are going to have their work cut out for them. I got to watch Geno Smith play last year when West Virginia was in the Big East, and the only time I saw him flustered was when he faced heavy pressure. Maryland does have a good defense that can apply pressure, but there are two problems: 1. Smith is better this season and 2. He gets rid of the ball so fast. Maryland's only chance in this game is with a studly defensive performance, but I just don't think the Terps have the players to slow down Smith, Stedman Bailey and Tavon Austin.

8. Does Virginia have a chance? Late news Wednesday night -- TCU will be without running back Waymon James for the rest of the season. The Horned Frogs have depth concerns at that position, but the bigger problem for Virginia will be slowing down Casey Pachall and the passing game. Virginia is so green in the secondary, the advantage might go in TCU's favor.

9. Will the real North Carolina please stand up? Are the Tar Heels the team that trailed Louisville 36-7 at halftime last week or the one that outscored the Cardinals 27-3 in the second half and nearly won? Coach Larry Fedora sure would love to find out against East Carolina on Saturday. This is a game that should have plenty of juice in-state. East Carolina sold out its ticket allotment for the game.

10. Could be a good day for the state of North Carolina. Wake Forest plays Army, NC State plays the Citadel and Duke plays Memphis in games almost everybody expects to go the ACC's way. The hope for these teams is that there is no look-ahead factor with conference games set for next week: Duke travels to play Wake, and NC State will be at Miami.

Big 12 weekend rewind: Week 3

September, 17, 2012
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Here's what you need to know about the week that was in the Big 12.

Best offensive performance: J.W. Walsh, QB, Oklahoma State. Cowboys fans weren't sure what to expect when Wes Lunt went down in a heap clutching his knee. Walsh was ready, and proved why the OSU QB race this spring was so close. He also proved why you don't immediately transfer if you lose a position battle. He threw for 347 yards on 21-of-30 passing and ran for 73 yards and a score on just six carries, helping Oklahoma State roll over Louisiana-Lafayette, 65-24.

[+] EnlargeJ.W. Walsh
Sue Ogrocki/AP PhotoOklahoma State quarterback J.W. Walsh, who played in place of injured starter Wes Lunt, had a solid game against Louisiana-Lafayette.
Best defensive performance: Joel Hasley, LB, TCU. The first-year starter made a big impact in TCU's first Big 12 game. He was all over the place for the Frogs, making 12 tackles and notching two sacks in the Frogs' 20-6 win over Kansas. Honorable mention: Quandre Diggs, CB, Texas; Arthur Brown, LB, Kansas State

Best team performance: Texas. It's not easy to go on the road against anyone and assert dominance, but Texas did it in a game that was never very close against Ole Miss. The Longhorns had 350 yards rushing and 326 yards passing. The defense didn't have a good night tackling, but the Longhorns haven't put up that kind of offensive balance since the national title year of 2005. Honorable mention: Oklahoma State

Best play: Kye Staley, FB, Oklahoma State. Staley's story will never stop being incredible, but the rumbler's comeback tour had another big moment on Saturday, when he took a short pass and turned it into a 52-yard score. A major knee injury had Staley out of the game, but he's back, and he's a fan favorite in Stillwater. His story got more front-page treatment in a quiet week across the Big 12. Honorable mention: Marquise Goodwin, Texas

Worst play: Take your pick, TCU. The Frogs had a snap go between Casey Pachall's legs in the red zone early, leading to a loss of possession and a 30-plus yard loss. Late in the game, Pachall fumbled for a touchback at the 1-yard line, too. Waymon James coughed up a fumble inside the KU 10 and Pachall was sacked for another fumble just outside the KU 20-yard line. That's quite a lowlight reel, and I didn't even get to the Frogs' missed 27-yard field goal yet.

Worst moment: Lunt's knee injury. Injuries are probably the worst part of this game, and Lunt's future looks bright. To see him go down and immediately clutch his knee? Nothing short of sickening. It doesn't sound like a major injury, but here's hoping the 18-year-old gets back to health soon.

Best moment: Late Saturday night, when this terrible week of Big 12 football ended. No marquee matchups. No games decided by fewer than 14 points. Can we move to next week yet?
TCU came to Lawrence to play its first Big 12 game.

It left with a win.

The Frogs can leave with that knowledge, but they also leave with a long list of mistakes that could have made Saturday's 20-6 win much more impressive.

TCU won and convincingly looked like the better team, but it also looked like a team prone to bone-headed mistakes when it mattered most.

On the game's opening drive, TCU quarterback Casey Pachall had a snap go between his legs on a play inside the KU 10-yard line. A scramble resulted in KU possession all the way back at the Jayhawks 47-yard line.

On TCU's next drive, Pachall was sacked and fumbled on a play at the KU 23-yard line. The Jayhawks took over, but threw an interception on the ensuing play.

With a 20-6 lead and a chance to seal the win early in the fourth quarter, Pachall was stripped at the 1-yard line on what would have been a touchdown. The ball squirted out the back of the end zone for a touchback and seven more points that would never be on the scoreboard for the Frogs.

Most unbelievably: Running back Matthew Tucker fumbled with just over three minutes to go inside the 10-yard line and TCU nursing that same two-touchdown lead.

The Frogs' Jaden Oberkrom also missed a 27-yard field goal in the first quarter.

By game's end, TCU had been inside Kansas' red zone six times. It finished with 10 points, three turnovers and a missed field goal. Not good at all.

TCU got the win, but the focus in the days to come will undoubtedly be on those big, big mistakes.

Make those same kinds of mistakes, and how many Big 12 teams does TCU beat? Anyone besides Kansas? It's certainly debatable, especially considering nine different Big 12 teams got votes in polls this past week.

The Frogs were the more physical team in this one, and running backs Waymon James and Tucker combined for 164 yards on 24 carries. James left the game late in the fourth quarter with a knee injury.

Tucker's fumble marred an otherwise good day for the backs, too.

Fortunately for the Frogs, the defense picked up the slack on this day. Through two weeks, though, Kansas had been the Big 12's worst defense. How many Big 12 offenses can TCU hold to six points?

Gary Patterson doesn't need anybody to tell him scoring 20 points, especially on the road, won't get it done in Big 12 play.

The mistakes were out of character for the Frogs, but they happened on this day.

To Kansas' credit, the Jayhawks have now forced 12 turnovers through just three games. In all likelihood, that'll be the best mark of any team in the league by day's end. No Big 12 team had more than five through two games.

On one hand, it's impressive that TCU could do so much wrong and still win somewhat comfortably on the road in conference. When you lose the turnover battle 4-2, that's not easy to do. TCU kept from sweating in the final minutes by forcing a Dayne Crist fumble near the goal line.

On the other hand it's definitely going to be big, big trouble later in the season if TCU does anything like this again.
TCU 56, Grambling State 0: TCU wasn’t just looking to win, the Horned Frogs were looking to dominate.

And they didn’t waste time in their easy victory, scoring touchdowns on their first six possessions. TCU scored on a 70-yard punt return by Deante' Gray, a 1-yard run by Waymon James and an 28-yard interception return by Elisha Olabode to take a 21-0 lead just minutes into the game.

Those three touchdowns by three different phases (offense, defense, special teams) served as a signal that the Horned Frogs were ready for their first game as a member of the Big 12 and wanted to send a message to the rest of the conference by dominating an inferior opponent in every phase of football.

Quarterback Casey Pachall and receiver Josh Boyce showed signs of being a quarterback-receiver duo to be reckoned with as TCU put the game away by halftime. Pachall finished 9 of 9 pass attempts for 201 yards and three touchdowns while Boyce had four receptions for 102 yards and two scores. Boyce’s 66-yard touchdown catch was the highlight of the night as he waved through a couple of Grambling State defenders before outracing the rest to the end zone.

Meanwhile, the Tigers gained 70 total yards as TCU's defense overwhelmed their offensive attack.

Message sent.

Texas Tech 58, Texas State 10: Saturday's game had danger written all over it for the Red Raiders, who must not have been paying attention to all those red flags.

An amped crowd awaiting Texas State's first-ever game as an FBS member? A team coming off a shocking, 17-point win a week earlier as a 36-point underdog?

All Texas Tech saw was a four-touchdown lead less than a minute into the second quarter. It never got any closer. Texas Tech rolled in front of a packed crowd in San Marcos, Texas.

Darrin Moore's first two catches of the season went for touchdowns and Seth Doege threw five on the night before taking a seat in the third quarter. He completed 25 of 32 passes for 319 yards in the blowout.

Another solid performance for the Texas Tech defense, too, which held Northwestern State to less than 100 yards of offense last week. Texas State was forced to bench quarterback Shaun Rutherford early, and gained a little momentum with Tyler Arndt, but this one was all Red Raiders.

Texas Tech has to feel confident after leaving no doubt in this game, and hosts New Mexico next week. The Lobos won just one game a year ago.

ESPN.com's preseason All-Big 12 team

August, 29, 2012
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The season is only a few days away, and it's time to unveil our official All-Big 12 team.

The criteria for this is pretty simple: I picked the best players at every position in the game, but made room for deserving players. For this league, that meant eliminating the tight end spot and sliding a more deserving Collin Klein onto the team via an all-purpose position.

The quarterbacks are solid in this league, but I'd call the cornerbacks the best and deepest position in the league. The worst? Defensive tackle. I didn't put a single one on the All-Big 12 team, electing to name four defensive ends along the defensive line. I hate doing that, but this year, it's necessary.

Without further ado, here's our team:

OFFENSE

QB: Geno Smith, West Virginia
RB: Joseph Randle, Oklahoma State
RB: Waymon James, TCU
All-Purpose: Collin Klein, QB, Kansas State
WR: Stedman Bailey, West Virginia
WR: Kenny Stills, Oklahoma
WR: Tavon Austin, West Virginia
C: Joe Madsen, West Virginia
OL: Gabe Ikard, Oklahoma
OL: Lane Taylor, Oklahoma State
OL: Cyril Richardson, Baylor
OL: Mason Walters, Texas

DEFENSE

DL: Jackson Jeffcoat, Texas
DL: Stansly Maponga, TCU
DL: Alex Okafor, Texas
DL: Meshak Williams, Kansas State
LB: A.J. Klein, Iowa State
LB: Arthur Brown, Kansas State
LB: Jake Knott, Iowa State
CB: Carrington Byndom, Texas
CB: Brodrick Brown, Oklahoma State
S: Kenny Vaccaro, Texas
S: Tony Jefferson, Oklahoma

SPECIALISTS:

K: Quinn Sharp, Oklahoma State
P: Quinn Sharp, Oklahoma State
KR: Justin Gilbert, Oklahoma State
PR: Tavon Austin, West Virginia

Honorable mention/regrettable snubs: Landry Jones, QB, Oklahoma; Malcolm Brown, RB, Texas; Ivory Wade, C, Baylor; LaAdrian Waddle, OL, Texas Tech; Blaize Foltz, OL, TCU; Kenny Cain, LB, TCU; Shaun Lewis, LB, Oklahoma State; Jamarkus McFarland, DL, Oklahoma; Quandre Diggs, CB, Texas; Nigel Malone, CB, Kansas State; Demontre Hurst, CB, Oklahoma; Tyler Lockett, KR, Kansas State
Just when you thought the offseason couldn't get worse for TCU, it does. Arguably the team's most talented rusher will leave the team.

TCU running back Ed Wesley will leave TCU because of family reasons, according to a report in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

Coach Gary Patterson confirmed Wesley's exit, which leaves the Frogs with two 700-yard rushers entering fall camp in August.

Wesley was second on the team with 726 yards and six touchdowns in 2011. The Irving, Texas native was the Mountain West Conference freshman of the year in 2009 and earned all-conference honors in 2010. He was a semifinalist for the Doak Walker Award as the nation's top running back and would have been a senior in 2012.
Waymon James and Matthew Tucker will pick up the slack for the Frogs, and Nebraska transfer Aaron Green will be ready to go in 2013, but losing James is still a big gut punch. The senior was a leader, and accounted for 120 carries in 2011. James and Tucker will have to handle more of the load.

It could get worse for the Frogs, too. The Star-Telegram also reported linebacker Deryck Gildon, offensive lineman Carter Wall and fellow lineman Nykiren Wellington were off the team because of grades.

That's the last thing TCU needed this offseason. The Frogs already lost their top defender, Tanner Brock, after a campus drug sting before spring camp. Safety Devin Johnson, DL D.J. Yendrey and reserve OL Ty Horn were also removed from the team.

The biggest question for TCU heading into its inaugural Big 12 season was: Do the Frogs have the depth to win big? Offseason attrition is doing its part to make the answer to that question very clear.
TCU FansCal Sport Media/AP ImagesThe Horned Frogs move to the Big 12 next season, an AQ conference with a perfect geographic fit.
We'll cap our moving week by introducing a new team to the big stage: TCU, welcome to the Big 12.

Our former Southwest Conference teams surely remember the Horned Frogs, but it's time to get everyone acquainted. To help me out, we've got College Nation blogger Andrea Adelson.

David Ubben: Andrea, you've been around this program the last year or so. Most fans won't have to travel far when they make it to the newly renovated Amon G. Carter Stadium, but what can they expect for a game-day experience?

Andrea Adelson: TCU might not have a stadium as big as Texas or Oklahoma, but fans sure get loud and provide a really good home-field advantage. The Horned Frogs have won 26 of their last 27 home games, and coach Gary Patterson has lost only seven times there in his 11 seasons as head coach. The newly renovated stadium should provide even more of a home-field advantage as the student section has now been reconfigured to run goal line to goal line behind the opponent bench. Students typically get dressed up all in purple and there is one spirit organization known as the HyperFrogs that leads chants throughout the game to get everybody fired up. Word is that playing a full slate of Big 12 competition is going to spur even more excitement at games and lead to many more sellouts.

DU: I'm excited to see it. I've done baseball and basketball at TCU, but I've never been to a football game. I'll have to end that this year. I'm definitely buying the idea that TCU's attendance issues have been accentuated by some less-than-stellar opponents. I'm not impressed by the home record, though.

The Horned Frogs already have their hand signal ready, a signature of Texas teams from that old Southwest Conference, but what's this move, getting reacquainted with some old friends, mean to TCU?

AA: It means everything, David. TCU was so desperate to get into an automatic qualifying conference, it agreed back in 2010 to join the Big East and then tried to tell everybody that geography did not matter and making the move was the perfect fit. The truth is, TCU always had designs on the Big 12, but the league had no interest in the Horned Frogs. Maybe that is because they were viewed as the pesky little brother that needed to be kept locked in his room. But the shifting sands of realignment made it increasingly obvious that TCU was the no-brainer choice to join the Big 12. It is no wonder TCU jumped ship for a conference closer to home without ever having played a down of football in the Big East. The Horned Frogs have finally achieved the goal set when the Southwest Conference broke up -- and it took only three (and a half) league homes to get there.

DU: Yeah, people want to knock TCU for conference jumping, but how can you not when the non-AQ leagues are shifting as much as they have in the past couple of decades. There's no doubt about it: TCU is home. I was at the news conference when they announced the move, and I've never seen so many people in suits wearing enormous smiles.

Big 12 fans may know TCU's combo of quarterback Casey Pachall and receiver Josh Boyce, but who are a few names Big 12 fans should keep an eye out for in 2012?

[+] EnlargeEd Wesley and Waymon James
Troy Babbitt/US PresswireEd Wesley and Waymon James are part of TCU's deep running back corps.
AA: TCU has a three-headed running back trio in Ed Wesley, Matthew Tucker and Waymon James, and all three return for this season. The three nearly split their carries evenly in 2011 -- each getting over 100 -- and combined for 2,337 yards and 24 touchdown runs. On the defensive side of the ball, watch for DE Stansly Maponga, a first-team Mountain West selection who really blossomed in his sophomore season. Maponga had nine sacks, 13.5 tackles for loss and five forced fumbles and will be expected to anchor what should be a solid defensive line. I am also going to be intrigued to see how receiver Brandon Carter does in his sophomore season. He did play as a true freshman and had 352 yards and three touchdowns, but bigger things will be expected. He was one of the big gets in the 2011 recruiting class, a four-star prospect out of Euless, Texas.

DU: OU fans may remember Brandon Carter. He was almost a Sooner, but they wanted him to play corner. Safe to say he's feeling good about his decision now.

Time to put you on the spot, AA: Forecast the Horned Frogs' first year in the Big 12. Win total, conference record, bowl game and Big 12 finish.

AA: Without knowing the actual schedule, as in home games and away games, I am going to say at least eight wins and a finish in the top four. So that would project out to Alamo or Insight, and of course that depends on who else is eligible to be selected.

DU: Yeah, the Big 12 isn't really making this one easy on us.

I like what TCU's got coming back. This is a team that could run the table outside of the Big 12, but they may hit a few speed bumps in the transition. I'll say TCU wins nine games, finishes fourth in the Big 12 and heads to the Insight Bowl. Not a bad debut for a program that could see its success sky-rocket in years to come.

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