Big 12 Review – Week 8

Hundreds, possibly thousands of Oklahoma State University students attended a candlelight vigil outside the school's Student Union on Sunday following a tragic accident at the Sea of Orange Homecoming Parade on Saturday. (csmonitor.com)

Hundreds, possibly thousands of Oklahoma State University students attended a candlelight vigil outside the school’s Student Union on Sunday following a tragic accident at the Sea of Orange Homecoming Parade on Saturday. (csmonitor.com)

Football didn’t matter Saturday.

Some might argue it still doesn’t matter, and they could be right.

Oklahoma State University is home to America’s Greatest Homecoming Celebration.  But, on Saturday, tragedy struck the Cowboys again.

Around 10:30 a.m., Adacia Chambers, 25, allegedly drove her vehicle at a high rate of speed into the crowd at the end of the parade route, at the intersection of Main Street and Hall of Fame Avenue, just two blocks from Boone Pickens Stadium.

Four are confirmed dead, including a two year-old boy.  About four dozen more are hurt, several of whom are in critical condition.

There was talk to cancel the game.  Sure, both teams are off on Dec. 5, but who cares?  Football doesn’t matter.

Emergency responders were already at the parade and responded immediately.  On-lookers in the crowd helped and according to Twitter, one volunteer when asked by an Oklahoma Highway Patrolman how long he could stay replied, “I’m here until we’re done.”

Football didn’t matter.

What mattered is how one community came together at a time in which it needed to more than ever before.

Oklahoma State has been struck by tragedy before.  On Jan. 27, 2001, one of the men’s basketball team’s planes crashed in Colorado following a game against the Buffaloes, killing 10.

In November 2011, the night before the Cowboys lost to Iowa State to end their National Championship hopes, another plane crash killed four, including women’s basketball coach Kurt Budke.

The difference this time, it was in OSU’s back yard.  This time, when tragedy struck, it was right there in Stillwater.

This time, when tragedy struck, it was at one of the most beloved events during the OSU school year.  It was a time for celebration and a time for gathering with friends, family, loved ones, anybody.

Then it turned into a time of grieving.

The game was somber.  What had just happened was lingering in the air.

“We’ve done it before and we’ll do it again,” public address announcer Larry Reece said over the PA system.  “Because THIS IS OUR HOME.  THIS IS OUR FAMILY.  THIS IS OUR TEAM.”

Then there was a football game, but it didn’t matter.

 

Week 8 Results

No. 2 Baylor 45, Iowa State 27

Texas 23, Kansas State 9

No. 17 Oklahoma 63, Texas Tech 27

No. 14 Oklahoma State 58, Kansas 10

Week 8 Record: 3-1

2015 Record: 40-10

 

Week 9 Schedule & Picks

No. 5 TCU over West Virginia

No. 12 Oklahoma State over Texas Tech

No. 14 Oklahoma over Kansas

Texas over Iowa State

Big 12 Review – Week 7

Kansas State coach Bill Snyder wrote a letter to the Kansas State University students, apologizing for the Wildcats' embarrassing loss to Oklahoma. (Kansas City Star)

Kansas State coach Bill Snyder wrote a letter to the Kansas State University students, apologizing for the Wildcats’ embarrassing loss to Oklahoma. (Kansas City Star)

Bill Snyder is arguable the classiest man in college sports.

After Kansas State got shelled against Oklahoma on Saturday, Snyder send the above letter to the K-State students via an email from the athletic department.  Snyder’s letters have become a trophy of sorts in college football.

Kansas State isn’t bad, and Snyder’s recruiting tactics are working as they always do.  Snyder is one of the top coaches in college football history.  Remember, he did bring Kansas State back from its label as the worst program in college football in 1988.

With a chance to rebound against Texas, now, the Wildcats are on their way back to being at the top of the Big 12.  If you’re a K-State fan reading this and saying, “Yeah, right,” just give it a couple years.

 

Week 7 Results

Texas Tech 30, Kansas 20

No. 2 Baylor 62, West Virginia 38

No. 19 Oklahoma 55, Kansas State 0

No. 3 TCU 45, Iowa State 21

Week 7 Record – 4-0

2015 Record – 37-9

 

Week 8 Schedule & Picks

No. 2 Baylor over Iowa State

Kansas State over Texas

No. 17 Oklahoma over Texas Tech

No. 14 Oklahoma State over Kansas

Big 12 Review – Week 6

Charlie Strong and Texas beat Oklahoma in the 2015 Red River Rivalry, to the surprise of many. Some in the media were arguing that had the Longhorns lost, Strong would be out in only his second year of a dire rebuild in Austin. (WFAA)

Charlie Strong and Texas beat Oklahoma in the 2015 Red River Rivalry, to the surprise of many. Some in the media were arguing that had the Longhorns lost, Strong would be out in only his second year of a dire rebuild in Austin. (WFAA)

If you picked Texas to beat the Sooners last week, email me.  I need your help making picks this year, apparently.

I’m not saying Texas is bad, because they’re not.  The Longhorns are loaded with talent, but most of it is young and it didn’t appear as if Texas were playing cohesively enough to win big games, especially in Big 12 play.  More specifically, it looked as if Texas’ special teams was a train wreck.

First, Nick Rose missed a PAT – not even a chip-shot field goal, a PAT – against Cal which cost the ‘Horns the game.  Then, a week later against Oklahoma State, punter Michael Dickson dropped a snap.  Mind you, it is Dickson’s first year playing American Football after playing Australian Rules Football as a defender in prep school, however it wasn’t anything to do with the style of game.  He merely dropped the snap.

Then, TCU shellacked Texas in Fort Worth, and now the Longhorns are supposed to play Oklahoma?  Seriously?

But, they did.  Texas showed the nation what many in the nation, myself included, had forgotten.  That was that the Longhorns are in fact a good football team surrounded by a series of unfortunate events and circumstances.  It’s as if Lemony Snicket wrote this year’s Texas season to start.  Although I never doubted Charlie Strong’s abilities as a coach, I did forget that Texas has hands-down the roughest schedule in major college football.

Open the season on the road against a pretty decent Notre Dame team?  No thanks, I’ll pass.

Follow it with Rice as your home opener?  Yeah, maybe.

End nonconference play with a Cal team that is lightyears ahead of last year’s Cal team?  No thanks.

Open conference play with arguably the most underrated team in the Big 12?  Pass.

Follow that with the preseason favorite to win the conference ON THE ROAD?  Hard pass.

Hit the road again, this time to play your arch-rival on national TV?  I’m thinking no.

Texas is going to look bad at times this year, but those are just growing pains.  If you sport burnt orange week in and week out, just make it through this year.  I promise you, it will be worth it in the long haul.

 

Week 6 Scores

No. 3 Baylor 66, Kansas 7

Texas 24, No. 10 Oklahoma 17

Texas Tech 66, Iowa State 31

No. 21 Oklahoma State 33, West Virginia 26 – OT

No. 2 TCU 52, Kansas State 45

Week 6 Record: 3-2

2015 Record: 33-9

 

Week 7 Schedule and Picks

Texas Tech over Kansas

No. 2 Baylor over West Virginia

No. 19 Oklahoma over Kansas State

No. 3 TCU over Iowa State

IDLE: No. 16 Oklahoma State, Texas

Big 12 Review – Week 5

Bill Snyder and Kansas State led all game against Oklahoma State, until the Pokes took a lead midway through the fourth quarter. (Wichita Eagle)

Bill Snyder and Kansas State led all game against Oklahoma State, until the Pokes took a lead midway through the fourth quarter. (Wichita Eagle)

I think it’s safe to say Oklahoma State is a second half team.  In five games, the Cowboys have come from behind in three to win: at Central Michigan, at Texas and home against Kansas State.  The Pokes have struggled to wake up at the start of each game.  However, quarterback Mason Rudolph has looked incredible except for at Texas, especially in the second halves of games.

But, unless the Cowboys start playing four quarters, the latter seven games of this season could be a little rough.  Oklahoma State needs to figure out how to wake up before the game.  Only once have the Pokes done so – Sept. 19, against UTSA.  They didn’t even do it against FCS Central Arkansas.  Don’t get me wrong, the potential on this team despite the end of linebacker Ryan Simmons’ career, is there.  At this point, though, I’m not sure how high they finish.

Baylor proved me wrong last week.  I picked the upset in the BUTT Bowl and, man, was I wrong.  Although, Texas Tech has still showed that they’re lightyears better than last year.  Patrick Mahomes is still a very capable quarterback.  The Red Raiders have yet to peak, too.  The Bears, though, have reached their ceiling.

Kansas has clinched last in the Big 12, unofficially, after losing at Iowa State last week.  Somewhere in here I should probably mention that West Virginia shut down against Oklahoma.  Don’t expect the same out of West Virginia this week, at home against Oklahoma State.

 

Week 5 Results

No. 15 Oklahoma 44, No. 23 West Virginia 24

No. 4 TCU 50, Texas 7

Iowa State 38, Kansas 13

No. 5 Baylor 63, Texas Tech 35

No. 20 Oklahoma State 36, Kansas State 34

Week 5 Record: 3-2

2015 Record: 30-7

 

Week 6 Schedule and Picks

No. 3 Baylor over Kansas

No. 10 Oklahoma over Texas

Texas Tech over Iowa State

West Virginia over No. 21 Oklahoma State

No. 2 TCU over Kansas State

Big 12 Review – Week 4

Ben Grogan saved the day for Oklahoma State in Austin on Saturday.  Grogan hit field goals to tie the game at 27 and to win for the Cowboys. (Tulsa World)

Ben Grogan saved the day for Oklahoma State in Austin on Saturday. Grogan hit field goals to tie the game at 27 and to win for the Cowboys. (Tulsa World)

Week four was ugly.  Oklahoma State played to lose and still beat Texas down in Austin.  TCU survived the scare of a lifetime from Texas Tech, of course if you ask a Red Raider fan, TCU stole the game from the Raiders.

Baylor and West Virginia managed to beat up on two cupcakes, but WVU’s was more impressive to me.  Maryland is at least a Power 5 opponent.  Kansas was Kansas and lost to Rutgers on the road.

This week is quite intriguing.  First, West Virginia is in Norman to play Oklahoma in arguably the Big 12 Game of the Week.  The Mountaineers’ offense has been impressive this season, while I still don’t know what to think of OU.  I’m sold on Baker Mayfield.  He’s clearly a great fit at quarterback for the Sooners.  However, I’m still conflicted about the rest of the team.  This will be a great chance to see what Oklahoma is made of.

Kansas State will be in Stillwater on Saturday to open its Big 12 schedule at Oklahoma State.  The Cowboys are coming off a disgusting performance on the part of the entire offense.  K-State’s front seven will be the best OSU has faced yet, possibly the best this season if TCU doesn’t recover.  The Pokes will need to carry out a balanced attack against the Wildcats, but expect this game to play out like the 2013 game, also in Stillwater.

I’m not sold on Baylor.  Yes, they score in tons but they haven’t played anybody.  I know it seems as if everybody thinks Baylor could be God’s gift to football, but I fully expect them to lose this week.  Texas Tech has proved that they can hang with anyone.

 

Week 4 Results:

No. 3 TCU 55, Texas Tech 52

No. 5 Baylor 70, Rice 17

No. 24 Oklahoma State 30, Texas 27

Rutgers 27, Kansas 14

West Virginia 45, Maryland 6

Week 4 Record: 5-0

2015-16 Record: 27-5

 

Week 5 Match-ups and Picks

Iowa State over Kansas

No. 23 West Virginia over No. 15 Oklahoma

No. 4 TCU over Texas

Texas Tech over No. 5 Baylor

No. 20 Oklahoma State over Kansas State

Big 12 Review – Week 3

Jordan Sterns had an amazing game against UTSA. Sterns forced a fumble with 11 solo tackles and 13 total. (Pistols Firing Blog)

Jordan Sterns had an amazing game against UTSA. Sterns forced a fumble with 11 solo tackles and 13 total. (Pistols Firing Blog)

So I’m not sure whether Texas Tech proved me wrong, or if Arkansas is just bad this year.  Either way, the Bret Bielema vs. Kliff Kingsbury thing is funny.

Texas Tech will likely struggle this week, when it hosts TCU in both schools’ conference opener.  Although I don’t see the Frogs scoring 82 points again, two years ago the teams played a great game to open conference play in Lubbock.  The difference?  TCU’s entire offense returned this year from a team which rolled over Ole Miss in the Peach Bowl last year.

Oklahoma State looked GREAT against UTSA on Saturday and was the only team favored by 20 or more to cover.  Texas still looks disastrous against Cal, despite its comeback.  I guess you could say every Rose has its thorn.  I said before the season that while I expect the Pokes to win in Austin, I see them losing at either Texas or West Virginia.  Although, the last time a home team won in this series was 2008 in Austin.  A random fact, OSU’s entire nonconference schedule were Adidas schools.

I’m intrigued by West Virginia’s match-up with Maryland and Steve Lebby’s “suspension” for the first half of Baylor’s game against Oklahoma.  Come on, the guy is from the Oklahoma City area and Phillip Montgomery who is now the coach at Tulsa after being the OC at Baylor gave him those passes, give him a break.

Look for Kansas to lose… again.  The same could go for Iowa State had the Cyclones not scheduled a bye for this week.

Week 2 Results

No. 16 Oklahoma 52, Tulsa 38

Kansas State 39, Louisiana Tech 33

No. 25 Oklahoma State 69, UTSA 14

Texas Tech 35, Arkansas 24

Cal 45, Texas 44

Week 2 Record: 5-2

2015 Record: 22-5

Week 3 Schedule & Predictions

Rutgers over Kansas

No. 5 Baylor over Rice

West Virginia over Maryland

No. 24 Oklahoma State over Texas

No. 3 TCU over Texas Tech

IDLE: Oklahoma, Kansas State, Iowa State

Big 12 Review – Week 2

Patrick Mahomes has won Big 12 offensive player of the week twice in the two weeks of 2015. Texas Tech is 2-0 entering their final nonconference game at Arkansas. (Dallas Morning News)

Patrick Mahomes has won Big 12 offensive player of the week twice in the two weeks of 2015. Texas Tech is 2-0 entering their final nonconference game at Arkansas. (Dallas Morning News)

Two weeks down, and two offensive player of the week awards for Patrick Mahomes.  Please excuse me as I rant to Kliff Kingsbury,

Coach Kingsbury,

Will you please fix your defense?  Whether it’s you or your defensive coordinator, David Gibbs, please fix it.  Although your defense is explosive and may be able to score with anybody with a true sophomore quarterback already having won two Big 12 Offensive Players of the Week awards, your defense is last in the Big 12 in rushing defense and eighth in passing defense – you share a conference with Kansas, one of the worst Power Five teams around.

Yes, it is true that I took way too much time to look that up, but coach, your offense would be more fun to watch if was thumping teams.  I mean, most people didn’t think you had a chance this season but in the third week you’ve received votes from the coaches as one of the nation’s top 25 teams.

 

Sincerely,

Everyone who follows college football

The Red Raiders have so much potential but the defense is clearly a problem.  Baker Mayfield just needs a half to warm up each game, Mason Rudolph looks great but Mike Yurcich is clearly keeping some tricks up his sleeve until conference play.

Kansas lost again (shocked face) and Iowa State lost to in-state rival Iowa.  Baylor is a one-sided team as always – offense.  Its defense seems nonexistent, letting up 31 to a bad FCS team.  TCU destroyed its FCS opponent, as it should have, and look for the Frogs to do same in this week’s Battle for the Iron Skillet.

Before I get in to this week, I want it to be known that what Baker Mayfield accomplished on Saturday is noteworthy and I probably would have voted for him to be the conference’s offensive player of the week after going in to arguably the most hostile stadium in the nation and bringing the Sooners back from down 17-0 in a thrilling, double-overtime instant classic.

Also, I’d like to take this time to announce that I make picks outside of the Big 12 in a weekly TV show I host, called The Poke Report, on OStateTV every Saturday.  Tune in this Saturday at noon to see who I take in games like Ole Miss-Alabama and Georgia Tech-Notre Dame.

 

Week 2 Results

Kansas State 30, UTSA 3

West Virginia 41, Liberty 17

Texas Tech 69, UTEP 20

No. 3 TCU 70, Stephen F. Austin 7

Iowa 31, Iowa State 17

No. 19 Oklahoma 31, No. 23 Tennessee 24 – 2OT

Memphis 55, Kansas 23

Oklahoma State 32, Central Arkansas 8

No. 4 Baylor 66, Lamar 31

Texas 42, Rice 28

Week 2 Record: 8-2

2015 Record: 17-3

 

Week 3 Schedule & Predictions

No. 16 Oklahoma over Tulsa

Kansas State over Louisiana Tech

No. 25 Oklahoma State over UTSA

Arkansas over Texas Tech

Cal over Texas

No. 3 TCU over SMU

Iowa State over Toledo

IDLE: West Virginia, Baylor, Kansas

Big 12 Review – Week 1

During the game at Minnesota, TCU kicker Jaden Oberkrom ended up kicking with a video playing of a chipmunk at TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis. (SB Nation)

During the game at Minnesota, TCU kicker Jaden Oberkrom ended up kicking with a video playing of a chipmunk at TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis. (SB Nation)

Week One of the 2015 college football season is in the books.  TCU is still my favorite to win the conference.

“Baylor looked best, they scored 28 points in the first quarter,” one might say.

And to that, I counter they let up 14 and SMU is a rebuilding program.  Chad Morris is a nice guy and seems to be the guy to restore that program but let’s not get ahead of ourselves on where that Mustang program is.

I still think Baylor is severely over-hyped.

TCU started off shaky on the road, but they came around late and looked better as the game progressed.  Trevone Boykin still managed 246 passing yards in the Horned Frogs’ win Thursday.

Oklahoma State started shaky but came back to retake the lead and beat Central Michigan on the road.  The Pokes are now 5-0 all-time against the MAC and last week was their first MAC game since 1994.

Patrick Mahomes was IMPRESSIVE against a good Sam Houston State team.  SHSU had more wins in the last four years than any other Division 1 school in Texas entering the season.  However, Texas Tech’s defense was bad.  David Gibbs even went so far as to say “nobody played good.”

Baker Mayfield was impressive for Oklahoma, but the Sooners were just playing Akron.  Texas looked like most people expected against Notre Dame.  Iowa State won, Kansas almost won and Kansas State broke the internet.

I don’t know if it’s related, but Texas followed by doing something that I find to be one of the dumbest things in college football.

I marched for five years (four in high school and one in college) and I still have yet to figure out what sense this makes.

Especially when they’re an in-state “rival.”

Sorry, Tech.

As for this week, I’m curious to see what happens in the Big 12’s road tests in San Antonio and (more importantly) Knoxville.

 

Week 1 Results

Oklahoma State 24, Central Michigan 13

No. 2 TCU 23, Minnesota 17

No. 4 Baylor 56, SMU 21

South Dakota State 41, Kansas 38

Texas Tech 59, Sam Houston State 45

No. 19 Oklahoma 41, Akron 3

Kansas State 34, South Dakota 0

No. 11 Notre Dame 38, Texas 3

West Virginia 44, Georgia Southern 0

Iowa State 31, Northern Iowa 7

Kurt’s Korner Week 1 Record: 9-1

 

Week 2 Picks

Kansas State over UTSA

West Virginia over Liberty

Texas Tech over UTEP

No. 2 TCU over Stephen F. Austin

Iowa State over Iowa

No. 23 Tennessee over No. 19 Oklahoma

No. 4 Baylor over Lamar

Texas over Rice

Oklahoma State over Central Arkansas

Kansas over Memphis

2015 Big 12 football preview

TCU dominated the Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl in their New Year's Six bowl game against No. 9 Ole Miss after dropping from No. 3 to No. 6 in the CFP rankings following a 55-3 thumping of Iowa State to end the regular season. (Bleacher Report)

TCU dominated the Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl in their New Year’s Six bowl game against No. 9 Ole Miss after dropping from No. 3 to No. 6 in the CFP rankings following a 55-3 thumping of Iowa State to end the regular season. (Bleacher Report)

What a great way for the Big 12 to start the College Football Playoff era, right?

The 2014 season was likely one Bob Bowlsby would soon like to forget.  Sure, the TCU-Baylor game was arguably the Game of Year – at least the regular season – however, that loss cost the Horned Frogs a trip into the playoff. A 14-point loss in West Virginia would cost the Bears theirs just a week later.

The funniest part – depending on how you might look at it – TCU was No. 3 in the CFP Top 25 entering their season finale against Iowa State which they won 55-3 at home. The next day, TCU had dropped.

Three spots.

I’m fairly young, but I can’t remember seeing a team who won by 52 drop in the rankings, especially three spots.  I doubt it will happen again.

Ever.

Throw in that Bob Stoops decided to send Oklahoma State to a bowl game and you’ve got a weird 2014 season.

But that’s why we love the mess that is college football.

Regardless, the conference has been under some heat because its two best teams were left out (No.’s 5 and 6 in the rankings). Many have presented it as the Big 12 being the only Power Five conference without a conference championship game.

Bowlsby, of course, is adamant that isn’t the case.

Welcome back the same 10 schools this season, no additions and not much changed.

Except no more co-champions.  I guess the slogan is true, now.

I will break down each team, in the order I predict the final conference standings will be come December with game-by-game picks.

1) No. 2 TCU – 2014: 12-1; 8-1 – Peach Bowl Champions
TCU brings back almost everybody including their biggest weapon, Trevone Boykin who is arguably the preseason Heisman favorite.  The Horned Frogs were one dreadful collapse from making the College Football Playoff.  With Baylor, Texas and West Virginia at home this year, there likely isn’t much that can stop the machine in Fort Worth.  However, either the Mountaineers or Baylor are capable of toppling TCU in Fort Worth and the Oklahoma schools have the best chance when TCU hits the road.  Possibly the scariest part of this team is the offense, which put up 82 points against Texas Tech last year.  If they blow out Minnesota on the road to start the season off, the rest of the conference could possibly be playing for second place.

  • at Minnesota – W
  • vs. Stephen F. Austin – W
  • vs. SMU – W
  • at Texas Tech – W
  • vs. Texas – W
  • at Kansas State – W
  • at Iowa State – W
  • vs. West Virginia – W
  • at Oklahoma State – W
  • vs. Kansas – W
  • at Oklahoma – W
  • vs. Baylor – W

2) Oklahoma State – 2014: 7-6; 4-5 – Cactus Bowl Champions
The Cowboys were young in 2014 and losing J.W. Walsh to injury Week 2 definitely didn’t help cases.  Now responsible for grooming two Big Ten QBs – Wes Lunt (Illinois) and Daxx Garman (Maryland) – it appears to be young Mason Rudolph’s turn to lead the Pokes.  The offensive line has had time to mold and should be much better than a year ago.  The biggest question could be at running back, with the dismissal of Tyreek Hill who recently pleaded guilty to a domestic abuse charge.  The Cowboys seem to be best in odd-numbered years (2011 – conference champions; 2013 – one play from conference champions).  In a weak conference, mark Nov. 7 on your calendar.  The game against TCU could be the second sell-out in Boone Pickens Stadium history and the Big 12 Championship Game by default.  However, expect the Cowboys to drop a game at either Texas or West Virginia and don’t be surprised if they drop one either at Iowa State or at home to Baylor or Oklahoma.

  • at Central Michigan – W
  • vs. Central Arkansas – W
  • vs. UTSA – W
  • at Texas – W
  • vs. Kansas State – W
  • at West Virginia – L
  • vs. Kansas – W
  • at Texas Tech – W
  • vs. TCU – L
  • at Iowa State – W
  • vs. Baylor – W
  • vs. Oklahoma – L

3) No. 4 Baylor – 2014: 11-2; 8-1 – Cotton Bowl
Ah, Baylor, seemingly the nation’s favorite Big 12 school.  Honestly, I was cheering for Texas Tech to pull off the upset last year in the BU-TT Bowl (which is a name I seriously think needs to catch on).  With Bryce Petty now playing for the New York Jets, I’m curious to see how the Baylor QB situation plays out.  Seth Russell gets the start on opening night, but that could change.  Shawn Oakman is supposed to be this enormous specimen, but a source who met Oakman at Big 12 Media Days said Oakman’s size is severely over-hyped.  Fittingly enough, so is Baylor.  I would not be surprised to see Baylor lose a game like Texas Tech this year.  Another possible L for the Bears is West Virginia.  The Big 12 is a weak conference and Baylor’s hype could become evidence of that.

  • at SMU – W
  • vs. Lamar – W
  • vs. Rice – W
  • vs. Texas Tech (in Arlington, Texas) – L
  • at Kansas – W
  • vs. West Virginia – W
  • vs. Iowa State – W
  • at Kansas State – W
  • vs. Oklahoma – W
  • at Oklahoma State – L
  • at TCU – L
  • vs. Texas – W

4) No. 19 Oklahoma – 2014: 8-5; 5-4 – Russell Athletic Bowl
The Sooners were a let-down last year.  There’s no other way to say it.  Trevor Knight showed potential.  After the season, the Sooners hired former Texas Tech QB and East Carolina offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley, to take over for Josh Heupel.  Riley’s play-calling suits the way Trevor Knight played in high school, which is why the Sooners went after Knight in the first place.  Now, instead, they’re going with Baker Mayfield.  I firmly expect Knight to take over as starter before the midpoint of the season.  I wouldn’t be surprised if OU were to lose Bedlam for consecutive years for the first time since 2001 and 2002.  The Red River Rivalry may even fall in the Longhorns’ favor, depending upon Mayfield/Knight and the Sooner running backs.  One thing I said that received mixed reactions in Stillwater, “I think Stoops may be reaching the end of his stay in Norman.”

  • vs. Akron – W
  • at Tennessee – L
  • vs. Tulsa – W
  • vs. West Virginia – L
  • vs. Texas (in Dallas, Texas) – W
  • at Kansas State – L
  • vs. Texas Tech – W
  • at Kansas – W
  • vs. Iowa State – W
  • at Baylor – L
  • vs. TCU – L
  • at Oklahoma State – W

5) West Virginia – 2014: 7-6; 5-4 – Liberty Bowl
West Virginia is, arguably, the most underrated team in the Big 12 entering the 2015 season.  The Mountaineers’ air-raid attack has improved each year under coach Dana Holgersen.  Last year, the Mountaineers made it back to a bowl game and lost a game which was…interesting, to say the least.  In 2014, West Virginia was great in late-game scenarios against both Baylor and Texas Tech, keeping the Bears at bay in Morgantown and making a come back to beat Tech in Lubbock.  Now, Skyler Howard has the full-time starting position after Clint Trickett’s retirement/graduation.  Howard’s performance in the Liberty Bowl, without much time for preparation, let alone first-team reps, was pretty impressive.  Any time the Mountaineers lose a big-time wide receiver another seems to pop out of the ground, which could help WVU be better than most expect in 2015.

  • vs. Georgia Southern – W
  • vs. Liberty – W
  • vs. Maryland – W
  • at Oklahoma – W
  • vs. Oklahoma State – W
  • at Baylor – L
  • at TCU – L
  • vs. Texas Tech – L
  • vs. Texas – W
  • at Kansas – W
  • vs. Iowa State – W
  • at Kansas State – W

6) Kansas State – 2014: 9-4; 7-2 – Alamo Bowl
The Wildcats will be bowl eligible.  That’s just the Bill Snyder way.  They lost everybody except little Gronk.  According to the Wichita Eagle, though, the Wildcats have yet to announce a starting quarterback for Saturday’s opener against South Dakota.  It seems like, every year, it doesn’t matter what anyone says about K-State, they’re fine.  They’ll play everyone tough and even “shock” a few teams.  But, is it really a shock?  Bill Snyder is without a doubt one of the greatest college football coaches of all time.  Although, it does appear to be a rebuilding year in Manhattan.

  • vs. South Dakota – W
  • at UTSA – W
  • vs. Louisiana Tech – W
  • at Oklahoma State – L
  • vs. TCU – L
  • vs. Oklahoma – W
  • at Texas – W
  • vs. Baylor – L
  • at Texas Tech – W
  • vs. Iowa State – W
  • at Kansas – W
  • vs. West Virginia – L

7) Texas Tech – 2014: 4-8; 2-7
After my initial tweet a while back, I had to move the Raiders.  As much as I don’t want to say it, this is coach Kliff Kingsbury’s last shot at a good year or he will likely lose his job.  Kingsbury’s offenses are exhilarating, incredible and awesome to watch.  However, his defenses typically just flat suck.  Granted, they’ve gone through an average of one defensive coordinator per year for the last six years and just hired No. 7 in January.  Although, David Gibbs served as Houston’s interim head coach last year, which (hopefully) should help.  I’m hoping the defensive line improved dramatically, but a source tells me it’s still bad.  Actually, they said it looks like a 4A high school defensive line in Texas.  A trip to Fayetteville during Week 3 (on ESPN2, mind you) could lead us to say, “Hey, Tech ain’t too terrible,” or it could just be brutal (much like last year’s Arkansas game).  Six or seven wins isn’t an unreasonable expectation for the Red Raiders.  Eight?  No, especially because they play a team Week 1 with more wins in the last four years than any other Division 1 program in Texas.  Although, it’s an FCS game, it’s not a sure-fire win.  Sorry, Tech fans.

  • vs. Sam Houston State – W
  • vs. UTEP – W
  • at Arkansas – L
  • vs. TCU – L
  • vs. Baylor (in Arlington, Texas) – W
  • vs. Iowa State – W
  • at Kansas – W
  • at Oklahoma – L
  • vs. Oklahoma State – L
  • at West Virginia – W
  • vs. Kansas State – L
  • at Texas – L

8) Texas – 2014: 6-7; 5-4 – Texas Bowl
This will likely be one of if not the worst Texas team in a very long time.  The Longhorns will be lucky to win six games.  I firmly expect them to go, at best, 5-7.  But, they’ll give Oklahoma a run for its money.  The Longhorns area a very unstable team and I don’t see that changing in 2015.  However, it isn’t fair to knock this against Charlie Strong.  This year should count only for him.  If Strong can get this team to be bowl eligible, then Texas will be a force to be reckoned with starting in 2016.

  • at Notre Dame – L
  • vs. Rice – W
  • vs. Cal – W
  • vs. Oklahoma State – L
  • at TCU – L
  • vs. Oklahoma (in Dallas, Texas) – L
  • vs. Kansas State – L
  • at Iowa State – W
  • vs. Kansas – W
  • at West Virginia – L
  • vs. Texas Tech – W
  • at Baylor – L

9) Iowa State – 2014: 2-10; 0-9
Iowa State will not finish last in the Big 12.  Write it down, circle it, put a star by it, it will not happen.  Granted, it’s only (to me) because of the changing of the guard in Lawrence.  I don’t see the Cyclones being any better than last year.  I also don’t see them being any worse.  Paul Rhodes is still a good coach but it’s ridiculously hard to get recruits to go to Ames, Iowa.  I actually feel bad for him, because if he were at a program that could draw recruits, he’d have the record of a winning coach.  I’m curious about Iowa State’s quarterback situation, with Sam Richardson having 19 games as a starter.  If Richardson improved, the Cyclones are going to scare some people.

  • vs. Northern Iowa – L
  • vs. Iowa – W
  • at Toledo – W
  • vs. Kansas – W
  • at Texas Tech – L
  • vs. TCU – L
  • at Baylor – L
  • vs. Texas – L
  • at Oklahoma – L
  • vs. Oklahoma State – L
  • at Kansas State – L
  • at West Virginia – L

10) Kansas – 2014: 3-9; 1-8
I know they have a new coach, but Kansas will likely look bad this year.  If anyone knows how I can make the money that Charlie Weis is rumored to be making from Kansas, let me know, because I’d love to pay off my loans.  Clint Bowen stays on the staff as the defensive coordinator, after almost beating Oklahoma State as the interim head coach in 2014.  David Beaty is the new man in charge, but don’t look for changes yet.  Although, he’s made a splash in recruiting already, those benefits won’t be seen until at least 2016.  It’s going to be rough for anyone sporting the Jayhawk on their apparel.  On a side note, whose idea was it to schedule Oklahoma for the homecoming game?  Not a good one, there.

  • vs. South Dakota State – L
  • vs. Memphis – W
  • at Rutgers – L
  • at Iowa State – L
  • vs. Baylor – L
  • vs. Texas Tech – L
  • at Oklahoma State – L
  • vs. Oklahoma – L
  • at Texas – L
  • at TCU – L
  • vs. West Virginia – L
  • vs. Kansas State – L

College football is a beautiful creature.  And it’s finally back.

Lots of work to be done in San Antonio

The “Race for Seis” ended Saturday night at the STAPLES Center in Los Angeles, at least for 2015.  Unfortunately I didn’t get to watch it, as I was attending Game 2 on the 2015 Bedlam Baseball Series at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark in downtown OKC.  Oklahoma State clinched it’s fifth straight series win, beating the Sooners 8-1.

Bright side.

On the last night of the season, the Spurs could have clinched the No. 2 seed and a first round date with Dallas for the second consecutive year.  I, and most other die-hards, knew Pop would rest the “Fantastic Four” for at least most of the second half.

The Spurs lost to New Orleans and wound up in the worst possible position entering the night – 6th.  Paired up with the second most explosive offense in the West – the LA Clippers.

The first five or six games of the series went about as expected.  Then, Game 7.  Keep in mind, I didn’t get to watch the game live, but I saw highlights from Bleacher Report.

Game 1: San Antonio 92 @ LA Clippers 107
Game 2: San Antonio 111 @ LA Clippers 107/OT
Game 3: LA Clippers 73 @ San Antonio 100
Game 4: LA Clippers 114 @ San Antonio 105
Game 5: San Antonio 111 @ LA Clippers 107
Game 6: LA Clippers 102 @ San Antonio 96
Game 7: San Antonio 109 @ LA Clippers 111

The most frustrating part of the whole series is that San Antonio didn’t come out of the gate well in six of the games.  The winning team eclipsed the century mark in each game and offense was very inconsistent from various Spurs.  Being able to play poorly and still only come two points from advancing shows how good the Spurs really are.  The troubles lie off the floor, however.

Contract Issues

The Spurs have only five players under contract for the 2015-16 season, according to basketball-reference.com:

  • Tiago Splitter ($8.5M)
  • Tony Parker ($13.4M)
  • Patty Mills ($3.6M)
  • Boris Diaw ($7M)
  • Kyle Anderson ($1.1M; Rookie Contract)

Kawhi Leonard is no longer a potential star in the league – he is one.  Four years removed from the draft night which left many fans scratching their heads wondering what a Kawhi is, the wing has made two NBA Finals appearances winning Finals MVP in 2014.  Still, no All-Star Game appearances thanks to the small market that is San Antonio and the lack of appeal to the nation in fundamental basketball.

Leonard said two things in regard to his contract making me wonder if he knows where he’s playing.  He said he wants a max deal, which the Tim Duncan-esque weapon clearly deserves, but he also said he wants to play his whole career in San Antonio.  Um, one problem.

The Spurs don’t give max deals.  Case and point, 2005, when Manu Ginobili was the hottest free agent on the market.

Leonard and Duncan are eerily similar – calm, productive, emotionless, incredibly skilled and make everyone around them better.  With the massive rise in salary cap, not signing Leonard after winning a ring may come back to bite R.C. Buford in the rear.

Peter Holt by no means has the deepest pockets in the league, but he forked up over $50 million for Tony Parker, $36 million for Tiago Splitter and let’s not forget the massive contract Ginobili had which ended following the 2013 NBA Finals loss.

Tim Duncan could in theory retire, and I’ve seen posts on Twitter from many Thunder, Mavericks and let’s face it, fans of any team.  Duncan doesn’t seem to age.  Reggie Miller pointed out during the Clippers series that Duncan can’t walk right because his knee is so messed up, but Duncan is playing as well as he ever has.

But, nobody knows how many years Duncan has left.  Would I be surprised to see him sign small, short-term deals to stay in basketball but leave plenty of space?  I’m not really sure.

I don’t anticipate Duncan demanding he get Lebron James money, because that’s not Tim.  However, the sure-fire first-ballot Hall-of-Famer is more than deserving of it.

Manu Ginobili is capable of being inducted in the Hall of Fame, but it won’t be on the first ballot.  Ginobili could do the same as Duncan – retire or sign a small deal to keep him around.

Matt Bonner, Aron Baynes, Danny Green are all free agents.  With a productive last couple years, Baynes could be an under-the-radar commodity.

Keep all of those names in mind and add one.  A big one.

LaMarcus Aldridge.

The Portland All-Star post has been quoted as saying San Antonio is at or near the top of his destination wishlist.  Gee, he’s not ring-chasing, is he?

With San Antonio going after him hard, the Spurs are trying to beat the Knicks, Bulls and Lakers in a way they traditionally haven’t – free agency.

Many of the 30 teams will be vying for the honor to pay Aldridge a ridiculous amount of money in hopes that he will be the rim protector they all have been hoping for.  The Spurs also have the 26th pick in the 2015 NBA Draft, per SB Nation.

Frank Kaminsky from Wisconsin could potentially be on the board at that point.  When that was pointed out to me, I forgot a key.  Aron Baynes is a free agent.

It isn’t like the Spurs to draft domestic talent, let alone keep it for Opening Night.  That’s why many were surprised when Anderson made the Opening Night roster, regardless that he was arguably the best passer in the Pac 12 in his final year at UCLA.

But, Buford is catching up in the game.  It seems that the 2013 Finals loss is sitting worse with him than anyone in the organization not named Popovich, Duncan or, deservedly, Ginobili.

The loss in 2015 is conflicting, because the team looked like crap at times, but against key opponents had good records:

  • Dallas – 2-2
  • Houston – 3-1
  • New Orleans – 1-3
  • Memphis – 2-2
  • Oklahoma City – 2-1
  • Golden State – 2-1
  • Cleveland – 1-1

The key to decide who all the Spurs go after in this year’s incredible free agent class and fairly average draft, is Aron Baynes.

And that may be the biggest surprise of the whole thing.