Happy Thanksgiving

November, 27, 2014
Nov 27
10:00
AM ET
Happy Thanksgiving, Big 12 fans.

We'll have coverage of tonight's critical Big 12 bout between TCU and Texas. But until then, it will be a light day on the Big 12 blog. I plan on spending the afternoon fighting through a turkey coma.

Today is a day to be thankful -- especially for all the TCU and Baylor fans out there who have gotten to enjoy two fabulous seasons. We hope all of you have a great Thanksgiving with family and friends.

TCU at Texas primer

November, 26, 2014
Nov 26
4:00
PM ET
Turkey, Texas and TCU make for a big-time Thanksgiving night in Austin.

The No. 5 Horned Frogs will put their College Football Playoff hopes on the line against a surging Texas team that enters its senior night on a three-game win streak. TCU, fresh off a bye, can move to 10-1 and exact a little revenge after losing to the Longhorns 30-7 last year

Below, Max Olson and I break down this critical Big 12 matchup:

How TCU can control the game: Get off to a quick start. An early lead would not only give TCU immediate control, it would put pressure on Texas to throw the ball more than it would like. The Horned Frogs lead the Big 12 in forced turnovers by a wide margin. If they can force Texas into obvious passing downs, opportunistic playmakers like linebacker Paul Dawson and safety Chris Hackett will have their chances to produce game-changing plays defensively, as they have all season. -- Trotter

How Texas can control the game: Charlie Strong will always answer this question with defense, and his has been responsible for allowing just 16.1 points per game in Big 12 play. The bye week gave his staff more time to find ways to confuse and pressure Trevone Boykin. Takeaways and responsible run defense are a must this week. On offense, a patchwork line has to continue progressing and find a way to win more battles than it loses up front. -- Olson

TCU's X factor: The interior offensive line trio of center Joey Hunt and guards Brady Foltz and Jamelle Naff. They will be facing off against one of the top defensive tackles in the country in Malcom Brown, who has the talent to blow up the middle of opposing lines. The Horned Frogs need to keep Brown at bay so the rest of the offense can function on schedule. That tall task will fall on Hunt, Foltz and Naff, who will have their biggest challenge of the season on Thursday. -- Trotter

Texas' X factor: Tyrone Swoopes, of course. Texas has a few speedsters up its sleeve in Daje Johnson and Armanti Foreman, who change the game in an instant. Keep an eye on them. But ultimately, Texas' hopes of pulling the upset will hinge on Swoopes stepping up in big moments and avoiding costly mistakes and turnovers. It might take an A-game from him to beat these Frogs. -- Olson

What a win would mean for TCU: This will be the final chance for TCU to impress the playoff selection committee. A win, especially a dominant one, would leave a lasting impression in the minds of those 12 committee members. A win would also put TCU a home win over Iowa State away from gaining at least a share of the Big 12 title. -- Trotter

What a win would mean for Texas: A home win over one of the nation's best probably wouldn't greatly alter the Longhorns' bowl destination, but it could be a total game-changer for Strong and his rebuilding efforts. In terms of recruiting, fan support and offseason morale, beating TCU to finish the Big 12 season on a four-game win streak would be monumental and set Texas up to take the next big step in 2015. -- Olson

Big 12 players in the Week 14 spotlight

November, 26, 2014
Nov 26
2:30
PM ET
Our weekly look ahead at six Big 12 players who are poised to surprise or might be due for a big performance.

TCU QB Trevone Boykin: He's had a terrific season. He's made big plays and won big games. He's had a couple Heisman moments along the way. On Thursday night, the spotlight shines bright on Boykin in front of a national TV audience and against the Big 12's No. 1 scoring defense. A huge game just might secure Boykin's ticket to New York. Oh, and TCU also needs to win to keep it College Football Playoff hopes alive.

Texas Tech CB Tevin Madison: The true freshman has quietly had a really solid debut season (six pass breakups, 49 tackles, one INT) and will be put to the test by Baylor in a week when top corner Justis Nelson (concussion) is questionable and might also have to play some safety. No matter which Bears receivers he gets matched up against, Madison and fellow rookie Nigel Bethel II have to hold their own. No question Bryce Petty will try to pick on them.

Texas WR/RB Daje Johnson: When will the Texas speedster finally get unleashed? Since returning from suspension and a subsequent injury, Johnson has been used almost exclusively on sweep plays. He's averaging 12.5 yards per rush. Against No. 5 TCU, the program he decommitted from to become a Longhorn, Texas will need all the offensive firepower it can muster. So now might be a good time to let Johnson loose and see what he can do in the pass game and in the open field.

Kansas State RB Charles Jones: Last week, I put K-State running back DeMarcus Robinson on this spotlight list. That did not go well. His six rushes against West Virginia netted minus-7 yards, and the Wildcats had a grand total of 1 rushing yard on the night. So how about you, Charles Jones? What do you have to offer this week against the Kansas defense that just gave up the best rushing performance in FBS history?

Baylor CB Ryan Reid: Give the Bears credit: Entering their final two games of Big 12 play, they have few lingering injury issues. They've replaced their losses on the right side of the offensive line and at defensive end. Tion Wright did a solid job of replacing Reid last week, but Art Briles says the starting corner's hip injury won't hold him out this week. He's a critical piece for the finale against Kansas State and especially if the Bears make it into the playoff.

Iowa State RB DeVondrick Nealy: What is it going to take to win a conference game? The Cyclones came close against Texas Tech and might be able to surprise a slipping West Virginia team. You have to like what Nealy provided last week with 109 total yards of offense, his best performance since the last time ISU won a game (Oct. 11 vs. Toledo). Get the ball in this dude's hands and see if the Mountaineers can catch him.
This season hasn't gone like Texas Tech would have hoped. The Red Raiders are 4-7 heading into their season finale with Baylor in Arlington, Texas on Saturday.

Yet one shining light for Kliff Kingsbury's program has been the play of running back DeAndre Washington, who eclipsed the 1,000-yard barrier last weekend. Washington is the Big 12's second leading rusher with 1,038 rushing yards. He took some time this week to chat with ESPN.com about his offseason focus, individual success in 2014 and his post-football future.

[+] EnlargeDeAndre Washington
John Weast/Getty ImagesDeAndre Washington says he isn't concentrating on his own individual success, despite rushing for more than 1,000 yards already this season.
After last year, heading into the offseason what did you want to improve on?
DeAndre Washington: Basically, I just had a chip on my shoulder. I didn't like the way I played last year so I really tried to take it upon myself to make sure I had a better season.

What was it about last year that really stuck with you?
DW: Just all of the plays I left on the field, I left a lot of plays out there and that was it. I was being kind of hesitant coming off the ACL injury (Note: Washington tore his ACL in 2011). I just wanted to put that behind me heading into the offseason and get better from it.

Coming in this year and having success, how have you felt about what's going on for you individually?
DW: It felt good, I just wish we could win some more games, get some wins with it. My body feels good so it's been fun all year.

How has it been trying to manage having a lot of success individually when, as a team, you're struggling?
DW: You can't really think much about [individual success] especially when you're not getting wins. I don't really think too much about it, we need to get some Ws to go with this success.

What's the key for you guys?
DW: Execution. When we have the opportunity to put away games or extend games, we have to take advantage of those opportunities. At different points in the season we let those opportunities slip away.

What was your first childhood memory of playing football?
DW: Little league flag football game. I was playing defense and I remember getting a tipped ball interception and taking it 80 yards. The excitement, the thrill I got from it, just let me know that football was something I really wanted to do.

Do you remember when you realized football could actually take you somewhere?
DW: When I got my first scholarship (offer). That's when it got a little bit more serious, I could actually use this to go to school.

Before that were people saying you couldn't do it because of your size?
DW: Yeah. There's always been doubters but that's just what fuels the pit.

If you weren't playing football what would you being doing?
DW: That's a good question, I couldn't even tell you.

Well what would you say is your dream, post-football, job?
DW: Actually I'm looking into being a scout, like an NFL scout. That's something I've been interested in for a while now.

What intrigues you about that?
DW: Being able to travel to different cities, look at different talent and be around football personnel but not be too close because I'm not into coaching. I thought that would be something fun to do.

Up to this point what is your biggest football accomplishment?
DW: Without a doubt getting into the 1,000-yard club this weekend.

Was that a goal heading into the season?
DW: That was definitely something I wanted to accomplish and big ups [credit] to the offensive line. We got it done.

Who or what do you consider the greatest influence on the player you've become?
DW: Definitely my mom [Tiffany Jones]. All the sacrifices she made to get me where I am is the man reason why I do what I do today.

Updated recruiting class rankings

November, 26, 2014
Nov 26
11:30
AM ET
video
Success on the recruiting trail has given some programs much to be thankful for this Thanksgiving and that includes a few teams whose recent triumphs have led to a rise in the class rankings.

One of those teams is UCLA, which, just prior to beating cross-town rival USC Saturday, were able to score a victory on the recruiting trail as well, landing a key in-state commitment. ESPN 300 DE Keisean Lucier-South became the Bruins?? fifth 300 prospect and first on the defensive side of the ball. A rangy and promising prospect, the top-five defensive end has the ability to give UCLA a defender that can create problems coming off the edge as both a run defender and likely more immediately as a pass-rusher.

Ole Miss also landed a key in-state commit in ESPN 300 OG Javon Patterson, a big and athletic prospect at the position, who combined with 2014 signee Rod Taylor, could allow the Rebels to anchor their O-Line with a formidable pair of guards.

Check out the full rankings here.
Mississippi State might still be holding on to the coveted No. 4 spot in the College Football Playoff rankings for the moment.

But the gravest threat to the Frogs of Fort Worth and the Bears of the Brazos for playoff inclusion appears to reside north of the Mason-Dixon Line.

The playoff selection committee released its weekly rankings Tuesday night, and TCU held steady at No. 5 despite having the week off. After dispatching Oklahoma State and its plucky true freshman quarterback, Baylor remained ranked seventh.

[+] EnlargeUrban Meyer
AP Photo/Jay LaPreteUrban Meyer and Ohio State are behind TCU in this week's College Football Playoff rankings, but if the Buckeyes win the outright Big Ten title, it could be enough to vault past the Horned Frogs.
But while the Big 12 duo hangs tough in the playoff chase, their playoff future could hinge on sixth-ranked Ohio State.

Unlike Baylor, the Buckeyes have no wins over another playoff contender.

Unlike TCU, the Buckeyes have a loss against an unranked opponent.

And unlike Baylor and TCU, Ohio State does not compete in one of the three best conferences in college football.

But going into the final two weeks of the season, the Buckeyes seem to be the apple of the committee’s eye for the lone playoff spot currently up for grabs.

If the season ended today, Mississippi State would be in the playoff over TCU, Ohio State and Baylor. But following Ole Miss’ 30-0 loss at Arkansas last weekend, the Egg Bowl has lost its luster, robbing the Bulldogs of a chance to boost their relatively thin résumé with a victory over a Top 10 team. Mississippi State has only one victory over a Top 25 team (Auburn) to go along with a nonconference slate of Southern Miss, UAB, South Alabama and Tennessee-Martin. Assuming that Alabama wins the Iron Bowl, Mississippi State would not represent the West Division in the SEC title game, either.

Committee chairman Jeff Long stressed Tuesday night that “conference championships will be a tiebreaker factored in at the end of the season.” And if Mississippi State, TCU, Ohio State and Baylor are all as close in the minds of the committee as Long has suggested, Mississippi State, based on that tiebreaker disadvantage, would be the odd dog out.

That brings us back to the Buckeyes.

The committee seems to be giving Ohio State a pass for its 35-21 loss in Columbus on Sept. 6 to 5-6 Virginia Tech. Long even quashed the premise that Virginia Tech constituted a bad loss for Ohio State. (He must have missed the Hokies’ 6-3 double-overtime loss to lowly Wake Forest over the weekend.)

With the committee inexplicably overlooking the Virginia Tech loss, the Buckeyes seem to be in prime position for the fourth spot. Ohio State is ranked ahead of Baylor, and if both teams won out, there’s no reason to believe that would change. Sure, the Bears have No. 12 Kansas State next weekend. But the Buckeyes potentially would have No. 14 Wisconsin in the Big Ten championship game. Beating the Badgers at a neutral site would seemingly offset a Baylor victory over K-State in Waco.

The Buckeyes would still have to jump TCU. But if a victory over Wisconsin alone weren’t enough to catapult Ohio State past the Horned Frogs, the addition of the Big Ten title in a 13th game probably would. Sure, TCU would technically be co-champs of the Big 12. But the committee would likely favor a sole champion of one conference over a co-champ of another that would also have a tiebreaker problem with the other co-champ.

All of this, of course, is just speculation with games still to be staged. Much can still happen in these final two weeks.

Oregon could lose the Civil War and Alabama could lose the Iron Bowl. Florida or Georgia Tech could beat Florida State and Wisconsin could topple the Buckeyes.

Heck, Minnesota could still even win the Big Ten title, which would be quite the early Christmas present for the folks in Fort Worth.

So both Baylor and TCU remain very much alive in the playoff hunt.

But Big 12’s biggest roadblock to the fourth playoff spot lies not in Starkville.

But rather, smack in the heart of Ohio.

Big 12 Week 14 predictions

November, 26, 2014
Nov 26
10:30
AM ET


Why TCU will win: This is going to be a back-and-forth, physical fight in which Texas will throw everything it's got at TCU. All the pressure is on the Frogs -- not that they can't handle it. If Charlie Strong's D can slow down Trevone Boykin, it's anyone's ballgame. A difference that might matter: the kicking game. TCU's Jaden Oberkrom can be trusted with a game-winning kick. Can Texas' Nick Rose? TCU 20, Texas 17 Olson

Why Texas will keep it close: Defense. The Longhorns have the Big 12’s best unit, and their disruptive front will make life hard for Trevone Boykin. UT just won’t score enough points to cement its upset bid. TCU 28, Texas 27 — Chatmon

Other unanimous selections

Baylor over Texas Tech: The Bears won't aim for 82, but they know they need to score a bunch of points. In addition to having a brutal run defense, Texas Tech's secondary is also banged up this week. So, you know, moving the ball should not be terribly difficult for Bryce Petty and his many weapons. Tech can keep up early, but for how long? Baylor 52, Texas Tech 24 Olson

Kansas State over Kansas: The Wildcats have focused on resuscitating their running game, and their instate rival might provide the perfect tonic. The Jayhawks are still reeling from giving up an FBS record 427 rushing yards to Samaje Perine last week. K-State won't get that many on the ground. But the Wildcats will have a big day offensively to prime their trip to Waco in the season finale. Kansas State 38, Kansas 13 Trotter

West Virginia over Iowa State: The Mountaineers will get the losing taste out of their mouths because of their superior offensive firepower, no matter whether Clint Trickett or Skyler Howard is behind center. West Virginia 42, Iowa State 28 Chatmon

Season records:
  • Trotter: 61-7
  • Chatmon: 60-8
  • Olson: 58-10

Kickoff Show: Week 14 (1 ET)

November, 26, 2014
Nov 26
10:25
AM ET
ESPN.com's Ivan Maisel, Ted Miller and Adam Rittenberg join host Chantel Jennings to discuss rivalry week in college football and its impact of the playoff landscape. They will also answer your questions live.

Big 12 playoff tracker: Nov. 26

November, 26, 2014
Nov 26
9:00
AM ET
The fifth edition of the College Football Playoff rankings were released Tuesday night, and both TCU and Baylor remained on the outside looking in on the top four. The Horned Frogs and Bears stayed in the same positions as last week, at No. 5 and No. 7, respectively.

Here's a deeper look at what those rankings mean for the Big 12's remaining two playoff contenders:

TCU Horned Frogs
Record: 9-1 (6-1 Big 12)
Playoff committee rank: No. 5
Next big obstacle: Thursday at Texas
Reason for optimism: The Horned Frogs stayed where they were despite having the week off. Minnesota also jumped seven spots all the way to No. 18, giving TCU one of the best nonconference wins in the country. The Horned Frogs now have three top-25 wins, which compares favorably against fourth-ranked Mississippi State, which has only one. TCU also kept its distance from Baylor, preventing the Bears' head-to-head advantage from coming into play.
Cause for concern: The Horned Frogs only have one last real chance to impress the selection committee, Thursday night at Texas. Will that be enough to vault them ahead of Mississippi State and stave off Ohio State and Baylor? TCU can't afford another lackluster performance like the one two weeks ago at Kansas.
Whom they'll be rooting for this week: Go, Gophers, go! Minnesota coach Jerry Kill is one of Gary Patterson's best friends off the field, and the Gophers are TCU's best friend on the field. If Minnesota can beat No. 14 Wisconsin this weekend, it will give TCU a victory over the Big Ten West champ. An Ole Miss win over Mississippi State in the Egg Bowl, an Auburn win over Alabama in the Iron Bowl and/or a Florida win over Florida State wouldn't hurt, either.

Baylor Bears
Record: 9-1 (6-1)
Playoff committee rank: No. 7
Next big obstacle: Dec. 6 vs. Kansas State
Reason for optimism: Committee chairman Jeff Long reiterated the difference between No. 4 Mississippi State and No. 7 Baylor was small. The Bears also remain one spot away from the head-to-head advantage with TCU likely kicking in. Baylor also has the chance to land a third top-25 win in a week when No. 12 Kansas State comes to Waco.
Cause for concern: The Bears are still behind Ohio State, even though the Buckeyes struggled at home vs. Indiana. Long curiously also said the committee didn't view Ohio State's early-season defeat to 5-6 Virginia Tech as a bad loss. If that's the case, Baylor might have a tough time jumping the Buckeyes, who still have the Big Ten championship game ahead.
Whom they'll be rooting for this week: Wisconsin to thump Minnesota. That would damage the profile of TCU and Ohio State, the two teams ranked immediately ahead of Baylor. The Bears will also be pulling for Auburn, Oregon State, Florida, Ole Miss, Texas and Michigan. If any of those six could pull an upset, it would push Baylor one step closer to playoff inclusion.

Big 12 morning links

November, 26, 2014
Nov 26
8:00
AM ET
Awesome, simply awesome.
  • It's looking more and more like the Big 12 could be on the outside looking in when the College Football Playoff committee releases the final rankings on Dec. 7, writes Berry Tramel of The Oklahoman. I had previously believed Baylor or TCU would be in if they won out and finished 11-1. Not anymore. There's a real chance that both teams finish 11-1 and neither makes the College Football Playoff based off the committee's current rankings. Ohio State is looming and Mississippi State remains in the top four. It looks like the Big 12 will definitely need help if it hopes to cement a spot in the top four.
  • West Virginia's starting quarterback against Iowa State remains unknown, reports Bob Cohn of the Pittsburgh Tribune. Starter Clint Trickett didn't practice on Tuesday but is expected to return to practice on Wednesday after suffering a concussion against Kansas State last weekend. Skyler Howard impressed while replacing Trickett against the Wildcats but Holgorsen maintains Trickett will start if healthy. As good as Howard was against KSU, I agree with Holgorsen's commitment to Trickett. The senior is a big part of WVU's return to a bowl game this season and should be rewarded by remaining the starter (if healthy) despite his recent struggles (5 interceptions during WVU's three-game losing streak).
  • It's been a tough season at Iowa State but Sam B. Richardson could set a school record for touchdown passes in a season in the Cyclones' final two games, writes Tommy Birch of the Des Moines Register. The record is 20 and Todd Bandhauer, the current record holder, didn't even realize he still holds the record. It's shocking to think 20 touchdown passes is a season record for a Big 12 school considering 34 FBS quarterbacks passed for more than 20 touchdowns in 2013. Richardson has 16 through 10 games and would need to average more than two touchdown passes per game in ISU's final two contests to secure the record.
  • Kansas coach Clint Bowen is making a point to educate his players about the Sunflower Showdown rivalry with Kansas State, reports Jeff Deters of the Topeka Capital-Journal. The Jayhawks interim coach has set aside some time this week to make sure his players understand why the rivalry matters in the state of Kansas. I don't know that it will help KU's motivation when they take on K-State, but it couldn't hurt.
  • Texas defensive tackle Malcom Brown was named a finalist for the Outland Trophy Award (nation's top interior lineman) on Tuesday. There's no doubt in my mind Brown should be the clear favorite for the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year. He's been disruptive in the middle of Charlie Strong's defense and is one reason I wouldn't be surprised to see the Longhorns upset TCU. And in case you missed it on the Big 12 blog on Tuesday, Max Olson had a terrific read on why football is not Brown's No. 1 priority.
video
No team in the top seven of last week’s College Football Playoff Rankings lost, and the selection committee obviously saw nothing to prompt a change in that order this week. So, we’re right back where we were last Tuesday night, except that there are now only two weeks remaining for any upsets to occur.

[+] EnlargeOhio State
AP Photo/Carlos OsorioOhio State is sitting pretty with two weeks left in the regular season.
With no possible head-to-head matchups between the current top seven, there’s a possibility they could all win out -- but not a good one. The Football Power Index says there’s a 10 percent chance that those teams go 7-0 this week, and barely over a 1 percent chance that they go 13-0 between now and Dec. 7 (Mississippi State would play only one more game if Alabama wins Saturday). In fact, FPI gives only a 14 percent chance for Alabama, Oregon and Florida State all to win out.

Each forthcoming loss among the top teams could make the selection committee’s job a little easier. But for now, let’s look at the committee’s worst-case scenarios.

In the unlikely event that the seven all run the table

Big 12 bowl projections: Week 13

November, 25, 2014
Nov 25
8:00
PM ET
The fourth College Football Playoff rankings were revealed Tuesday night, and the Big 12 was left outside the top four for the second consecutive week.

TCU remained at No. 5; Baylor stayed at No. 7.

As a result, nothing changed from last week's bowl picture.

Oklahoma State is the only Big 12 team that can still play its way to bowl eligibility. But the Cowboys will have to upset Oklahoma in Bedlam on Dec. 6 to get to six wins.

Goodyear Cotton Bowl: TCU
VIZIO Fiesta Bowl: Baylor
Valero Alamo Bowl: Kansas State
Russell Athletic Bowl: Oklahoma
AdvoCare V100 Texas Bowl: Texas
AutoZone Liberty Bowl: West Virginia
Cactus Bowl: None eligible
video
For the first time this season, the top seven teams in the College Football Playoff Top 25 have remained the same, as determined by 11 members of the 12-member selection committee (Mike Tranghese was sick and unable to travel to Dallas for the meetings).

No. 1 Alabama, No. 2 Oregon, No. 3 Florida State and No. 4 Mississippi State each won in Week 13, and in spite of another close win for the Seminoles, FSU did not drop another spot. The only difference at the top was that No. 8 UCLA, No. 9 Georgia and No. 10 Michigan State all slid up one notch to take the spot of Ole Miss, which sank nine spots to No. 19 after being shut out by Arkansas.

Here's what the bracket would look like today:

NCF Playoffespn


TCU is still the first team on the bubble at No. 5, followed by No. 6 Ohio State and No. 7 Baylor. No. 11 Arizona jumped four spots, and No. 17 Missouri is up three spots. Another big mover was No. 18 Minnesota, which rose seven spots after beating Nebraska.

The biggest surprise this week was that not one but two Group of 5 teams were ranked: No. 23 Boise State and No. 24 Marshall. It was a controversial call, as Boise State is a two-loss team just one win away from clinching the Mountain West's Mountain Division, and Marshall is the only undefeated team remaining in the Group of 5. Marshall has already clinched the Conference USA East title.

Marshall is ranked No. 19 in the latest Associated Press poll, followed by No. 21 Colorado State and No. 25 Boise State. This is the first time since Week 10, when East Carolina was ranked in the selection committee's first Top 25, that the Group of 5 has been represented in the CFP rankings.

That would make Boise State the frontrunner to represent the Group of 5 in a New Year's Six Bowl.

As for the other major bowls, here's a projection based on the current rankings:

The Orange Bowl lost the ACC champion (FSU) so it gets the next highest-ranked ACC team, No. 16 Georgia Tech. The Orange Bowl then selects the next highest-ranked nonconference championship team from the Big Ten, SEC or Notre Dame. By contract, displaced conference champs from the SEC and Big Ten don't go to the Orange Bowl. That would pit the Yellow Jackets against No. 10 Michigan State because the committee would look to avoid a rematch with No. 9 Georgia.

Here's what New Year's Eve and New Year's Day could look like, based on today's rankings:

Dec. 31

12:30 p.m. ET -- Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl -- No. 9 Georgia vs. No. 7 Baylor

4 p.m. ET -- VIZIO Fiesta Bowl -- No. 23 Boise State vs. No. 8 UCLA

8 p.m. ET -- Capital One Orange Bowl -- No. 16 Georgia Tech vs. No. 10 Michigan State

Jan. 1

12:30 p.m. ET -- Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic -- No. 5 TCU vs. No. 6 Ohio State

5 p.m. ET -- Rose Bowl Game presented by Northwestern Mutual -- No. 2 Oregon vs. No. 3 Florida State

8:30 p.m. ET -- Allstate Sugar Bowl -- No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 4 Mississippi State

Big 12 Tuesday mailbag

November, 25, 2014
Nov 25
4:00
PM ET
In Tuesday's mailbag, we talk postseason honors, and the Baylor-TCU debate rages on. As always, thanks for your questions. To submit questions for next Tuesday's mailbag, click here.

Sic Everyone in Frisco, Texas, writes: Assuming Baylor would jump TCU eventually based on head to head if they win out, who should the Bears root for Thursday? Would a Texas win possibly move them into the top 25 giving Baylor four wins over top 25 teams and an unshared conference title? Or does a win over a Top 5-6 TCU help them more?

[+] EnlargePetty
AP Photo/LM OteroBryce Petty has had a solid season (23 TDs, five interceptions), but he probably shouldn't book a flight to New York for the Heisman ceremony.
Brandon Chatmon: I lean towards BU becoming TCU fans on Thanksgiving, particularly in this scenario. A win over a top 10 TCU should carry more weight than a win over Texas for the Bears. That said, it could be hard to assume Baylor jumps TCU based on how the committee has viewed things thus far.

Bryce Petty in Midlothian, Texas, writes: What are my chances of going to NYC with my buddies Marcus Mariota and Melvin Gordon? Also, will Jameis Winston be there?

BC: I don’t like your chances, Bryce. You lead the Big 12 only in yards per completion and touchdown percentage and rank outside of the top 10 nationally in pretty much every category. You’ve had a great season, but I don’t see a trip to New York in your future.

Dave Clouse: How many yards and TDs does Samaje Perine need to be an All-American (not just freshman All-American)?

BC: Roughly 427 rushing yards and five touchdowns against Oklahoma State in Bedlam. Perine has had a great season, but he’s not a first-team All-American quite yet. He has rushed for more than 100 yards in just four of OU’s 11 games so consistent greatness appears to be the next step for the Sooners’ freshman.

Luke in Fort Worth writes: What does TCU need to move back in the No. 4 spot to get into the playoffs when the final rankings are released on Dec. 7?

BC: The Horned Frogs need to win out and Baylor needs to lose to Texas Tech or Kansas State. If they do that, while they’ll need some help from other upsets around the nation, I think they will finish in the top four.

Leadfoot in Kansas writes: What do you think the chances are that the Big 12 amends the conference policy of co-champions?

BC: I don’t see it happening anytime soon, but I hope it does. The whole co-champions thing is silly to me.

Double Dan in Austin, Texas, writes: Will more teams be taking the Baylor scheduling route or the Kansas State/Auburn Michigan State/Oregon scheduling route in the future? I bet Kansas State would love to have that extra win right now no matter who it was against, and Baylor's weak schedule certainly hasn't seemed to hurt it in the playoff rankings.

BC: Baylor’s weak schedule has definitely hurt the Bears. The committee has pointed to “quality wins” week after week. I must say all the talk about scheduling and how it will changed based on the committee’s final rankings is odd for me. The committee isn’t about sending messages about scheduling. It is about finding the “best teams”. Just ask Marshall.

Lillian in Austin, Texas, writes: Is it possible Texas will be a playoff contender by 2016? Earlier? Later?

BC: I could definitely see Charlie Strong’s program battling for a playoff berth next season. TCU turned everything around this season, why can’t Texas in 2015?

Tyler J in Nashville writes: Kansas State gained a grand total of 1 yard on the ground against WVU. KU gave up 510 against Oklahoma! Something has to give during the Sunflower Showdown. Is this the week that K State finally reestablishes even a hint of a running game?

BC: At this point in the season, you are who you are. I don’t see K-State becoming a running force anytime soon, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Wildcats have running success against KU. I’d be surprised if that is what ultimately decides that game however.

Jeff in Rockwell, Texas writes: West Virginia now has five losses. WVU's home wins? Towson, Kansas, Baylor. To me it's becoming more clear, not less, why Baylor is behind TCU. It's simple, TCU's lone loss is a quality loss (top 5 team at the time, on the road by three points) and Baylor's lone loss is to a now five-loss team. However, it seems all of the attention is on the fact Baylor beat TCU rather than evaluating the entire season and comparing losses. Oh, and then there's the OOC games. What am I missing? How many losses does WVU have to have before people notice that Baylor lost to an average team?

BC: We must travel in different circles because I have yet to hear or see someone point to Baylor’s loss to West Virginia as the reason why Baylor should be ahead of TCU. Nobody thinks that’s a better loss than TCU’s loss. The committee’s job is to find the best teams. If two teams play against each other and one team wins and one team loses, that should give you the answer, right?

Loyal all over writes: Which would you say has had the biggest impact to Oklahoma State offensive line: assistant coach Joe Wickline leaving, fresh faces, or injuries?

BC: Wickline leaving. And it’s not close.

Big 12 stat check: Week 14

November, 25, 2014
Nov 25
2:30
PM ET
A closer look at one statistic worth keeping an eye on for each Big 12 team entering Week 14:

Baylor: Baylor leads the FBS in points, yards and first downs per game, but the Bears’ remarkable ability to protect the football really stands out. BU ranks fifth among FBS teams and No. 1 in the Big 12 with a 6.0 turnover percentage. The top five teams in the FBS in that category-- BU, Rice, Oregon, Georgia and Northern Illinois -- have combined for 44 wins this season.

Iowa State: The Cyclones' defense will need to be much better on third down if ISU hopes to knock off West Virginia. ISU is allowing conversions on a Big 12-worst 47.1 percent of opponent’s third-down attempts. But last week’s 34-31 loss to Texas Tech proves some hope as ISU held the Red Raiders to 36.4 percent on third-down conversion attempts, which was a season low for Cyclones’ opponents.

Kansas: Big plays have been lacking for Kansas’ offense for much of the season. The Jayhawks have gained 10 or more yards on 16 percent of their plays this season, ranking last in the conference and No. 115 among FBS teams. New offensive coordinator Eric Kiesau has helped increase that number with some personnel changes, but KU will need several big plays if it hopes to upset Kansas State.

Kansas State: Is Jake Waters the Big 12’s top clutch signal-caller? The senior has a Big 12-best 79.8 raw QBR on third down. He completes 63.1 percent of his passes, averages 12.42 yards per completion and is sacked just 2.3 percent of the time on third down. Waters is a key reason the Wildcats’ offense is so efficient and productive.

Oklahoma: Baylor, TCU and Kansas State are well renowned for their offensive firepower. Yet Oklahoma sits atop the conference rankings in yards per play. The Sooners 6.72 yards per play has been built upon a running game that is averaging 265.4 yards per game and 6.3 yards per carry to lead the Big 12 in both categories.

Oklahoma State: The Cowboys averaged 1.87 points per possession in Mason Rudolph’s first start. With the true freshman at the helm, OSU’s offense was far more explosive in the 49-28 loss to Baylor than its previous four games. TCU (0.6), West Virginia (0.71), KSU (0.5) and Texas (0.58) each held the Cowboys below one point per possession in OSU's four losses before last weekend.

Texas: Opponents have converted just 5 of 30 third-down conversions against Texas’ defense in the Longhorns last two games. West Virginia (3 of 17) and Oklahoma State (2 of 13) struggled to continue drives. Winning the third down battle could be key if the Longhorns hope to slow Trevone Boykin and TCU on Thanksgiving night.

TCU: Gary Patterson’s team has outgained opponents by at least 330 yards on four different occasions this season, joining Alabama as the only FBS team to achieve this feat. The Horned Frogs outgained FCS opponent Samford (412), SMU (369), Oklahoma State (418) and Texas Tech (339) by that margin. It has been a part of a damatic change in TCU’s offensive fortunes under new offensive coordinator Doug Meacham.

Texas Tech: The inability to finish has handcuffed the Red Raiders this season. Tech has converted 58.8 percent of its goal-to-go attempts into touchdowns, the worst percentage in the Big 12 and tied for No. 115 among FBS teams. With Baylor on the horizon, Tech will need to capitalize on every single scoring opportunity it gets.

West Virginia: Dana Holgorsen’s team heads into its final game with six wins and bowl eligibility, a pretty remarkable feat for the Mountaineers considering their carelessness with the ball. WVU has a minus-15 turnover margin, worst in the Big 12 and tied for No. 120 among FBS teams. No FBS team at minus-15 or higher has more than three wins this season.

SPONSORED HEADLINES

BIG 12 SCOREBOARD

Thursday, 11/27
Saturday, 11/29