SEC: Big 12

College wide receivers who gain 1,000 yards in a season are rarer than you’d expect.

Only 37 players in the the Power 5 conferences reached that milestone in 2014, compared to 57 who reached 1,000 yards rushing. Some schools have surprisingly long droughts without such a receiver and low numbers of players who have reached that season milestone.

Nebraska and Virginia Tech -- which have a combined 248 years of football between them -- were the most surprising. They’re the only Power 5 teams to never officially have a player reach 1,000 yards receiving, although they can thank the old rule that didn’t count bowl stats as official until 2002. (The Hokies’ Andre Davis finished with 1,070 yards after the bowl in the 1999 season, but he’s credited with 962. Nebraska’s leading single-season receiver, Johnny Rodgers, had 1,013 yards in 1972 -- but 71 yards came in the bowl game.)

The third-longest drought came from the SEC, where Mississippi State last produced a 1,000-yard receiver in 1978, when current head coach Dan Mullen was 6 years old. No Power 5 team reached the milestone in each of the last five years.

Conference-wide, the Pac-12 fared the best by producing such a receiver at a 38.3 percent clip over the last five seasons. Both the Pac-12 and the Big 12 also led the way by having half their teams reach the mark in 2014.

At the bottom? Once again, when it came to the attack through the air, the Big Ten languished behind the other conferences. It produced a Power 5-low 20 percent rate over the last five seasons. Both the Big Ten and SEC also had only three teams finish with 1,000-yard receivers last season.

Last week, we discovered the Pac-12 is tied for tops when it comes to producing 1,000-yard rushers.

Well, turns out it's more of the same with passing.

Sixty-five passers reached the 2,500-yard mark last season, and more came from the Pac-12 than anywhere else in the Power 5. It wasn't even close. Seventy-five percent of Pac-12 teams boasted a passer who reached that milestone. Compare that to the next-best conference, the Big 12, which saw six out of 10 teams meet the criteria.

The Pac-12's dominance wasn't a one-year anomaly, either. Over the past five seasons, the conference has produced 41 such passers in 60 attempts. Compare that to the ACC, which was second by producing those QBs at a 55.7 percent clip, or the Big 12, which was right behind at 54 percent.

The worst conference? Maybe it shouldn't come as a surprise that it's the one with a reputation for its ground-and-pound style, the Big Ten. No conference had fewer passers reach 2,500 yards last season -- the Big Ten had only five -- and no conference had fewer passers reach that plateau over the past five seasons.

Among individual teams, triple-option Georgia Tech has gone the longest without a 2,500-yard passer at 14 years. Eight teams -- including three in the Pac-12 -- boasted a 2,500-yard quarterback in each of the past five seasons.

Here's an overall look, by Power 5 conference, of each team and its most recent 2,500-yard passer:

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Many believe ESPN Junior 300 defensive Nick Bosa will be an even better college football player than his brother. That’s saying a lot because his brother is Joey Bosa, star defensive lineman for national champion Ohio State and one of the top projected picks for the 2016 NFL draft.

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Quarterback Kyler Murray grabbed all of the headlines at Allen (Texas) High School over the past few seasons, but it’s actually junior offensive tackle Greg Little who is a higher-ranked prospect.


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Six of the top-10 prospects in the country remain uncommitted with plans to announce live on ESPN on national signing day. One of those is No. 6-ranked Daylon Mack. The 6-foot-1, 330-pound explosive defensive tackle announced on Twitter Saturday morning that he had made his decision between TCU, Texas and Texas A&M.


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Brandon Martin surprised observers by coming out of nowhere to become one of the nation’s most highly-coveted prospects. He also surprised many when he made a commitment to Missouri last weekend. However, Martin showed us with his latest move, the surprises aren’t over yet.


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Editor's note: This story has been updated following Kyler Murray's decision to stick with Texas A&M.

It's been a while since Texas A&M and the University of Texas have been locked in a handful of major recruiting battles. A rivalry that was once played on the field is now playing out in high schools and living rooms with six days left until national signing day. While Longhorns fans are in a state of frenzy due to rumors and chatter, the Aggies remain the "cool school" in the Lone Star State and hold the momentum headed into the first two of five announcements that could flip that perception within the state lines.

What exactly is on the line for both programs beginning with Friday's announcements by ESPN 300 cornerbacks Holton Hill and Kris Boyd? The Longhorns' shot at starting a wave of momentum of their own, and the Aggies showinging their ability to make a late push on two prospects Texas has recruited as priorities.


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ESPN 300 receiver Van Jefferson is no longer committed to Georgia and the news was definitely disappointing for the Dawgs. So who’s in the driver’s seat now for the one of the best receivers in the country?


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Few recruiting battles are more intriguing than the ones going on in Texas for high-profile players such as Daylon Mack, Soso Jamabo and Chris Warren III. What schools they pick could tilt recruiting supremacy in the Lone Star State moving forward


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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Five-star defensive tackle Daylon Mack recently backed off of his commitment to Texas A&M and announced a top two of TCU and LSU. But after learning that LSU defensive coordinator John Chavis left to take the same position at Texas A&M, Mack had a shake up with his future plans.


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ATLANTA -- One team played as if it had something to prove. The other played as if it had something better to do.

And, in the end, motivation seemed to be the difference as the playoff-snubbed TCU Horned Frogs demolished the Ole Miss Rebels 42-3 Wednesday in Atlanta to win the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl.

It was over when: When Bad Bo showed up, there wasn’t much Ole Miss could do about it. Bo Wallace, who became known for his streaky play during his three seasons as Ole Miss’ starting quarterback, finished his career on a sour note. The senior was sacked three times and threw three interceptions in the first half alone, one of which resulted in a touchdown. TCU jumped out to a 28-0 halftime lead and never looked back.

Game ball goes to: If you’re looking for an early 2015 Heisman Trophy favorite, look no further than Trevone Boykin. TCU’s star quarterback was in peak form against Ole Miss, throwing for three touchdowns and 188 yards against a defense that ranked 12th in the country entering the day. From this pass to this fake toss, Boykin showed there wasn’t much he couldn’t do. The junior ranked fourth in the Heisman balloting this season. But if he continues his upward trajectory into his senior season, it’s difficult to imagine he won’t be in New York next year.

How the game was won: Wallace couldn’t keep the football. The Rebels' defense was out of sorts. And just before the mercy of halftime, Ole Miss lost arguably its best player, offensive lineman Laremy Tunsil, to a fractured fibula. For TCU, the game was won by halftime. Thanks to a stingy defense and an explosive offense, the Horned Frogs turned around the Big 12’s bowl season blues in a major way.

Stat of the game: The turnovers were enough of a statement, but TCU’s defense was much more than a happy beneficiary of Wallace’s many errors in judgment. No, the Horned Frogs were sound throughout, stuffing Ole Miss at the point of attack. Though five first-half sacks spoke volumes about the pressure TCU generated, it was its total defense that was most impressive, limiting the Rebs to 59 total yards of offense in the first half and 129 in the entire game.

Best play: How in the world? ... Yeah, Kolby Listenbee did catch that pass. Somehow, TCU's junior wideout went up for the jump ball from Boykin and snatched it away from both Ole Miss defensive backs, Mike Hilton and Trae Elston. Listenbee hauled in the pass and fell on his back, staying inbounds for the spectacular 35-yard touchdown reception.
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At one point, both TCU and Ole Miss were inside the top four of the College Football Playoff selection committee's rankings. But the Rebels couldn't survive a rugged SEC West schedule. And the Horned Frogs couldn't hold off the Big Ten champion Buckeyes in the final rankings.

Still, both programs have the consolation of playing in a big-time bowl matchup in Atlanta. And a win in the Peach Bowl would give the Horned Frogs or Rebels plenty of momentum going into 2015.

SEC reporter Alex Scarborough and Big 12 reporter Jake Trotter break down this New Year's Eve showdown:

[+] EnlargeAaron Green
Tim Heitman/USA TODAY SportsEstablishing the ground game with Aaron Green will be important for TCU against Mississippi.
How TCU can control the game: The Rebels have a phenomenal secondary, so it’s imperative that TCU gets Aaron Green and the run game rolling early to open up opportunities for quarterback Trevone Boykin downfield. On the other side of the ball, TCU can also help its offense by giving it short fields. The Horned Frogs finished the regular season second in the country in turnovers forced. Ole Miss quarterback Bo Wallace, meanwhile, has a penchant for tossing interceptions at inopportune times. If the Horned Frogs can force Wallace into mistakes, they can take command of this game behind an explosive offense that capitalizes off turnovers as efficiently as any in the country. -- Trotter

How Ole Miss can control the game: Let's face it, TCU hasn't seen a defense quite like Ole Miss.' Boykin probably doesn't know what a Landshark is. He'll find out in the SEC-friendly waters of Atlanta. The last time Ole Miss was there, its secondary came up with four interceptions against Boise State. To stop Boykin and stay in control of the game, the Rebels will need a similar output from Senquez Golson, Cody Prewitt and Co. And it all starts up front. If Robert Nkemdiche and C.J. Johnson are able to win the battle at the line of scrimmage and get into the face of Boykin, the entire outlook changes. A turnover here or there and Ole Miss will be in good shape. -- Scarborough

TCU’s X-factor: TCU’s safeties notoriously have a nose for the ball. Free safety Chris Hackett led the Big 12 in interceptions this season. Strong safety Sam Carter was second in the league last season in interceptions. Both are All-Big 12 performers. And both will be reading Wallace’s eyes to see if they can produce that critical game-changing defensive play. -- Trotter

Ole Miss' X-factor: All the talk is going to be about TCU's high-flying offense versus Ole Miss' Landshark defense, and rightfully so. But don't sleep on Wallace and the Rebels' offense, which has plenty of firepower. Despite the loss of Laquon Treadwell, Wallace isn't without big-time targets at receiver. The one to pay the most attention to is Cody Core. If you watched Ole Miss' season-opener against Boise State, you should recognize the 6-foot-3 junior. He's the one who went off for 110 yards and two touchdowns. He finished the regular season with 530 receiving yards and six touchdowns, and could be Wallace's top target close to the end zone. -- Scarborough

What a win would mean for the Horned Frogs: For obvious reasons, TCU was disappointed it did not qualify for the inaugural College Football Playoff. But with a win against Ole Miss, that disappointment will quickly transform into anticipation for 2015. With Boykin and nine other starters back offensively, the Horned Frogs will open next season on the short list of viable national title contenders. A bowl win against a quality opponent like Ole Miss would give the Horned Frogs momentum, too, heading into a season that could be even more special than the 2014 one was. -- Trotter

What a win would mean for the Rebels: The whole season could have gone downhill after that heartbreaking loss to Auburn on Nov. 1. And for a moment it did. Without much hope of reaching the playoff and without its best player, Treadwell, Ole Miss was dominated in a 3-0 loss to Arkansas. But something changed the following week. Showing some pride with the Egg Bowl at stake, the Rebels beat then-No. 4 Mississippi State by 14 points. With another win, Ole Miss would make history with the first 10-win season since 2003. -- Scarborough
Here’s what you need to know when TCU and Ole Miss go head-to-head Wednesday at 12:30 p.m. ET (ESPN) in Atlanta:

1. Playoff motivation: TCU should feel snubbed by the College Football Playoff selection committee. Being dropped from No. 3 to No. 6 a day after demolishing Iowa State was almost unexplainable. Seeing Florida State and Ohio State in the final four instead should burn up the Horned Frogs. It should make them angry and motivated to beat Ole Miss. Winning against a top SEC program in a New Year’s Six bowl would provide the message they surely want to send: We should have been in. It’s a cliché sentiment, “Us against the world,” but don’t discount its value. When you have roughly a month off between games, something has to fuel you.

2. Bo’s final ride: Forget Good Bo vs. Bad Bo. What Bo Wallace has done as Ole Miss’ quarterback the past three seasons might not be beyond reproach, but it’s certainly close. That’s at least what the stats tell us. The long-haired gunslinger transferred from a junior college in 2012 and immediately threw for 2,994 yards. In the two seasons since, he has averaged 3,216 yards, 20 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. He has won a total of 24 games, and with No. 25 he would pass former Ole Miss great Eli Manning for the most in school history. You can bicker with the interceptions and other mistakes, but in his final game as a Rebel it might be time to set aside hurt feelings and appreciate all Wallace has accomplished.

3. A clash of qualities: Lest we forget there’s an actual game to be played, there’s the not-so-small matter of TCU’s high-powered offense going up against a more than worthy opponent in the Ole Miss D. The Horned Frogs, under the direction of quarterback Trevone Boykin, have flourished, ranking fourth in the country in total offense. With its version of the spread/hurry-up, no-huddle, it has scored more than 40 points in a game eight times this season. Meanwhile, Ole Miss’ Landshark defense ranks 13th nationally and has surrendered 20 points or less 10 times this season. As they say, something’s got to give. If Ole Miss holds down the Horned Frogs, it will be an indictment of Big 12 defenses. If TCU lights up the Rebs, it will be an indictment on the long-standing narrative that the SEC is the home to the best defenses in college football.
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HOUSTON -- The postgame handshake was brief. No small-talk chatter or back-slapping. No horns-down twitches, either.

Charlie Strong walked up, gave Bret Bielema a firm handshake, turned and walked off.

"I got beat," Strong said soon after, "so what are you going to do, go talk and tell jokes?"

Bielema stared at the exiting Texas coach for a moment. He looked a bit startled by their two-second meeting, but what should he have expected? The two head coaches were heading in different directions.

[+] EnlargePhilon
AP Photo/David J. PhillipArkansas' stomping of Texas on Monday will send the Razorbacks into next season with lofty expectations, while the Longhorns are left to pick up the pieces.
Arkansas' head man made his way over to the midfield stage to accept the Advocare V100 Texas Bowl trophy, his prize for a purely dominant 31-7 victory and a seven-win season that should have Razorbacks fans fired up about the future.

Strong went over to a news conference room inside NRG Stadium and let loose with seven losses worth of anger and frustration before conceding Texas has "a long ways to go" after a rough first year of rebuilding.

Surely Bielema can sympathize, right? Until Nov. 15, the second-year coach had played 13 SEC games and lost them all. Suddenly, thanks to two upsets and the Monday night destruction of the Longhorns, Arkansas will start being hyped as hot for 2015.

"We have a lot of guys coming back that, if they continue to have the growth they did a year ago, we're gonna be able to do some special things," Bielema said.

His Razorbacks defense already had shutouts of Ole Miss and LSU on its résumé, yet found a way to top that. Arkansas held Texas to the least productive offensive performance of the entire 2014 college football season: an FBS-worst 59 total yards and 2 rushing yards on 43 plays.

The Hogs' control of the game was absolute. They pounded away up front, controlling the ball for more than 41 minutes and never giving Texas a hint of a real chance. Body blows early and often -- tough runs, easy passes, easier defensive stops -- was all it took.

When it was over, Bielema heaped praise on his seniors, on his players' leadership and focus. He touted his junior quarterback and bowl MVP winner, Brandon Allen. He pointed to just how exciting the future looks now.

The roughest days appear to be over at Arkansas. The elusive moment every rebuilding coach chases -- that over-the-hump victory, the high-profile display of dominance and promise -- heck, Bielema has had three of them in the past 60 days.

For Strong, the hill to climb is steeper. A brutal offseason is about to begin in Austin, Texas, and it's completely necessary.

"At some point, we've got to develop and get the pride back into this program," Strong said. "Texas has got to mean something. Right now, it doesn't mean much. You have to play with passion, play with energy and have to have an edge to you. We don't have that right now."

When Strong's most vocal player, senior corner Quandre Diggs, says Texas still has players who don't deserve their spot in the locker room, you know this team is tired of messing around. A fifth loss of 20-plus points -- the most in one season in school history -- raises the pressure.

Strong doesn't have a senior-to-be to hype up at quarterback. He has sophomore Tyrone Swoopes, who accounted for 25 total yards of offense (and minus-21 yards if you include his fourth-quarter interception return yardage); he has an offseason-long controversy that will require wide-open competition; and he has departing seniors, a patchwork offensive line, a dearth of playmakers. A lot more questions than answers.

Given that context, it's easy to see why Strong had no time to blather with Bielema. Texas badly wanted this season to end. And Arkansas just can’t wait for the next one to begin.

Instant Analysis: Arkansas 31, Texas 7

December, 30, 2014
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videoHOUSTON -- In a battle of 6-6 teams in the Advocare V100 Texas Bowl, it wasn’t even close. Arkansas held Texas to 59 total yards of offense and rolled to a a 31-7 victory at NRG Stadium. Here’s how it went down:

How the game was won: It was a physical beating from the Razorbacks on both sides of the ball. We knew Bret Bielema had a top-25 defense and one of the nation’s best run games. Against Texas, those units made everything look easy. They notched their seventh win by overwhelming Texas up front -- both with its massive offensive line and consistent ability to fluster Tyrone Swoopes -- and capitalizing on ideal field position all night long.

Game ball goes to: Brandon Allen, though the Arkansas quarterback’s linemen deserve just as much praise. Allen threw for 160 yards and two scores and guided the Razorback offense with poise to earn Texas Bowl MVP honors and a new tan cowboy hat.

It was over when: Arkansas’ control of this game was rarely in doubt, but Jonathan Williams’ 1-yard touchdown run capped an eight-minute drive that put the Hogs ahead 31-7 early in the fourth quarter. The fans in red began chanting “SEC,” and the ones in orange hit the aisles soon after Williams found the end zone. The Hogs ran the ball 11 plays on the drive and pushed Texas’ D around, including on a 5-yard dash on a fourth-and-1 conversion from the 6.

Stat of the game: Those 59 yards. In fact, through three quarters, Arkansas held Texas' offense to 29 total yards. Considering Texas mustered a 44-yard touchdown drive in the second quarter, that’s kind of incredible. The Horns had just as many penalty yards (29) after three quarters. The Longhorns finished with 2 rushing yards as a team and -32 from Swoopes.

Best play: Demetrius Wilson’s 36-yard TD catch to put the Hogs ahead 10-0. Did he push off a little? Maybe so. But Wilson earns high marks for difficulty on this one after beating corner Duke Thomas for a diving snag on a beautiful ball from Allen.
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