With nearly all the teams in the Big 12 in the midst of spring practice, how about we start a week-to-week breakdown of the upcoming fall schedule in hopes of giving us an idea how next season may play out. Yes, obviously it's only a guess but what else I'm I supposed to be doing between now and August 30th?
So without further ado, here's a look at the entire week one schedule in the Big 12 with a won/loss prediction to follow. I'll keep track of the records as we make our way through the schedule. As always, feel free to let me know in the comments below where you feel I may have erred in my ways.
Big 12 schedule - week one
|Sat. 8/30||Louisiana Tech @ Oklahoma||Win|
|Sat. 8/30||Florida State vs. Oklahoma State (in Arlington)||Loss|
|Sat. 8/30||Alabama vs. West Virginia (in Atlanta)||Loss|
|Sat. 8/30||North Texas @ Texas||Win|
|Sat. 8/30||Samford @ TCU||Win|
|Sat. 8/30||Central Arkansas @ Texas Tech||Win|
|Sat. 8/30||Stephen F. Austin @ Kansas State||Win|
|Sat. 8/30||North Dakota State @ Iowa State||Win?|
|Sun. 8/31||SMU @ Baylor||Win|
Best Game of the week:
Florida State vs. Oklahoma State (in Arlington)
Mike Gundy has made it clear he's no fan of scheduling heavyweight schools as nonconference opponents, an opinion that may be even more enforced given the 2014 season opener comes against the defending national champions. Remember, FSU also happen to return a Heisman trophy winner at quarterback.
However you slice it, facing the Seminoles with a team returning only nine starters is going to be a monumental task for the Cowboys. Florida State is expected to be the number one ranked team in the country when the preseason polls are announced late this summer.
On the bright side, it's probably better to face them in the early in the season not to mention there isn't a better measuring stick to find out where your team stands than facing the defending national champs.
If the Cowboys play FSU close or heaven forbid, find a way to pull the upset, it should be a big confidence boost to carry over for the rest of the season.
Who scheduled these guys?
Alabama vs. West Virginia (in Atlanta)
West Virginia limped to the finish line in 2013 losing back-to-back games to Kansas and Iowa State following an overtime loss to Texas. Given their 4-8 record at season's end, 2014 is big year for Dana Holgorsen to inject some positive momentum back into the program.
What better way to do that than by opening the season with Alabama? Wait, come again? The same Alabama that has had the Sugar Bowl loss to Oklahoma stuck in their craw the entire offseason? Yes, that Alabama.
Looking at it with a glass half full, there's probably not a better way to maximize your offseason workouts than by staring at the Crimson Tide atop your schedule all summer.
As for building that positive momentum, that may have to wait until week number two when Towson comes to town.
Who scheduled these guys, part II?
North Dakota State @ Iowa State
They may not play football at the FBS level, but nobody wants to face North Dakota State to open the season, a team coming off back-to-back-to-back FCS national titles.
Kansas State found that out the hard way after the Bison stormed into Manhattan and left with a 24-21 victory to open last season.
Now it's Iowa State's turn to take on NDSU who will have a new head coach at the helm following Craig Bohl's departure to Wyoming. Given the remarkable run the Bison have been on the past few seasons, Rhoads shouldn't have to worry about his team looking ahead to the Big 12 opener with Kansas State the following week.
The Charlie Strong era begins
North Texas @ Texas
There will be plenty of anticipation in Austin for Charlie Strong's debut following 16 season's with Mack Brown at the helm.
North Texas might not raise a lot of eyebrows by name only, but this is a program on the rise under Dan McCarney. The Mean Green finished 9-4 last season including a victory over UNLV in the Heart of Dallas Bowl. That's the good news.
The bad news for North Texas is they'll be facing the Longhorns with as many as 11 new starters. Even so, Texas has many question marks themselves and you can bet all the eyes of Texas will be upon Austin come August 30th looking for answers.
Hit the snooze button
Conference Standings - week one
How about we try something new around here? It's that time of the year we're the news can be a little baron although with spring practice getting underway, maybe they'll be more to talk about over the coming month.
But either way, here's a list of quotes from teams around the Big 12 that were said this week that for one reason or another, peaked my interest a bit.
So without further ado, here's some rumblings from around the league over the past seven days. Enjoy.
"You didn't hear it from me, but we're going to be better than we were last year," - Baylor safety Orion Stewart who is projected to replace the departed Ahmad Dixon.
-Just for some context, Stewart was referring to the secondary which lost four of five starters to graduation and not the entire team. That being said, the Bears aren't short on confidence following a season in which they won their first ever Big 12 title. See below.
"We have the (Big 12 title) belt around our waist and it's buckled up pretty tight. It will be a struggle to get that sucker off, I can promise you that. We like the belt and we're going to keep it," - Baylor head coach Art Briles.
On to Lawrence, KS:
"There will be some people that say, 'Well, I'll be surprised if it doesn't go deep into August (QB battle)'. That's never a good thing," Charlie Weis said. "It's never a good thing of it goes deep into August because it means you don't have (a quarterback). Any time there's a quarterback competition that goes to the end - I had one, trust me - it means you don't have one."
Coach Weis, don't tell Mike Gundy about this. Of course, we don't know what Gundy has planned in his own battle between J.W. Walsh and Mason Rudolph because he's not going to talk about it. At KU, last year's starters Jake Heaps and Montell Cozart will compete with UCLA transfer T.J. Millweard for the starting spot in John Reagan's offense.
Here's more from Weis on removing himself as the offensive coordinator position.
"I think I know as much offensive football as just about anybody, but I'm geared towards playing games at a different score than these games are being played at. So I think that most people won't swallow their ego and recognize the fact that, 'You're not the answer here.'"
"Now, I think I'm smart enough to learn how to try to do that, but I haven't been doing that. I've been doing it the same way for a long, long, time. So I thought the better answer, the better alternative was to bring somebody in who's used to scoring in the 40's. I think that's why I went in that direction."
Oklahoma opens spring practice this weekend and Bob Stoops met with the media on Thursday to discuss.
"I know where you're going with this and I've got no comment on it," - Stoops in response to having or not having a spring game drawing a few chuckles from the media. Oklahoma State, by the way, has elected not to hold a formal spring game this year.
Stoops on having Texas Tech transfer quarterback Baker Mayfield on the roster.
"Baker introduced himself when I got back from recruiting. I was like, 'Who's this guy coming after me?' 'Hey coach, I'm Baker Mayfield.' I said, 'I heard about you.' We're excited about him. He's a neat guy. Everybody - the players - really enjoy him."
"He's been working in there with the other quarterbacks. Obviously with as thin as we are at that position, we're elated that he decided to do this and he'll have his opportunities, as well. We don't discriminate in any fashion here so he'll have opportunities like everyone else does."
"Looking at him running around as an athlete out there, he looks really good. And again, his attitude, work ethic, he fits right in and I notice the other quarterbacks helping him out. We'll see where that goes."
Mayfield won't be eligible in until 2015 when he'll have two years of eligibility remaining.
Texas Tech opened spring practice this week with Davis Webb being the lone scholarship quarterback on campus at the moment. Apparently, Mayfleid hitting the town without getting noticed is getting more difficult.
"So far, I've gotten stopped at every single dinner. So that kind of got me a little more publicity, I guess (his Holiday Bowl performance). I don't want that to be the highlight of my Texas Tech career. The Holiday Bowl championship is awesome, being the (offensive MVP, but I want more than that."
That's not a bad attitude to have given he still has three more years of eligibility remaining.
Kliff Kingsbury also likes what he sees from the lone guy standing after Mayfield and Michael Brewer transferred.
"He knows what I expect and I've said all along he's very self-motivated and wants to be really, really good. So that makes it easy on me. If anything, it's just brought us closer."
It works for Baylor. Oklahoma used it to perfection against Alabama in the Sugar Bowl. Baylor and Texas Tech seldom have trouble moving the ball. The same goes for Oklahoma State.
Apparently Gary Patterson likes what he sees when it comes to the hurry up offenses he faces most Saturday's in the Big 12. Enough so that TCU is going to change their offensive philosophy entirely entering the 2014 season.
It's no secret that TCU's offense was is for a significant reconstruction with the hiring of Doug Meacham and Sonny Crumbie as offensive coordinators following a disappointing season that saw the Horned Frogs finish with a 4-8 record. Meacham spent last season as Houston's offensive coordinator following eight seasons at Oklahoma State, the last two working with Dana Holgorsen and Todd Monken.
TCU isn't wasting any time cranking up the new offense in spring practice which opened Saturday in spring practice.
"You can tell the tempo is a lot quicker than we've been doing it," Patterson said on Saturday. "There is going to be learning curve. The biggest thing that you've got to understand with this offense is it's about the first downs. You've got to play throw and catch. It can't be about incompletions, and that's one of the things, the attention to detail we've got to do a better job of perfection (through) the air."
In 2013, TCU's offense ran a total of 818 plays (403 rush/415 pass). Compare that to Texas Tech which ran 1,136 plays, 313 more than did TCU playing only one more game. Based on the Horned Frogs average plays per game last season, TCU would have to play four and-a-half more games in order to reach that total.
Of course, in order to run such an offense it helps to have a quarterback capable of doing so. Trevone Boykin is the man for now along with redshirt sophomore Tyler Matthews. With the change to far more passing than what TCU has done in the past, expect incoming freshmen Foster Sawyer and Grayson Muehlstein to join fray this summer.
With the change to an up tempo offense there is the trade off that a team's defense is going to be on the field more, but it appears as if putting more points on the board is the focus for TCU going forward.
After all, TCU's defense has done a better than average job of slowing down Big 12 offenses thus far finishing both of the past two seasons second and first in yards allowed. They may just have to do it a little more frequently with their offense now moving at a much faster clip.
After going 6-12 in Big 12 games the past two seasons, the risk is likely worth the higher reward.
Baylor announced on Friday that's its first road game of the season against Buffalo has been moved to Friday night, September 12th and will be broadcast nationally on ESPN. The game was originally slated to be played on Saturday, September 13th.
The move is a good one for national exposure as the Bears will now have a lot more eye balls watching given a Saturday afternoon game against the Bulls probably wouldn't raise many eyebrows.
The move doesn't come without its pitfalls, however. Baylor opens the season Sunday, August 31st against SMU meaning Baylor will have two straight short weeks to prepare for its second and third games of the season. Given the competition (Northwestern State and Buffalo), having a chance to play on national television obviously outweighed having one less day to prepare in back-to-back weeks.
Baylor will then have its first bye week of the season following the Friday night game at Buffalo before they open Big 12 play at Iowa State on September 27th.
Bryce Petty returns at quarterback for Baylor. Trevor Knight is back for Oklahoma as is Jake Waters for Kansas State. Those are established names you know and all three should be in for big seasons in 2014.
But that doesn't mean there isn't a slew of true freshmen quarterbacks who could have the opportunity to make a significant impact in the Big 12 next season. Playing as a true freshmen is anything but a given - especially at quarterback - but here's a few names you could be hearing over the PA system sooner than you might expect.
Mason Rudolph - Oklahoma State, 6'4" 217 lbs.
Will Mason Rudolph have a chance to take over the starting quarterback job in his first season? Maybe, but if so, we likely won't know about it until after the Pokes take the field this fall. Mike Gundy has already said he's not talking about his quarterbacks until after the opener against Florida State.
Rudolph is already on campus and will participate in spring ball beginning what should prove to be an interesting battle with J.W. Walsh and Daxx Garman for the starting job.
Walsh will have the early leg up given what he's already accomplished at the position but don't count out Rudolph who ran an offense similar to what they Cowboys run while in high school.
"He chose Oklahoma State over LSU for those reasons," said Rudolph's high school coach, Kyle Richardson. "To come in and compete for a job the minute he gets there and be in the system that he could get into a spot to compete earlier because he knows (it). At this point, it's gonna be on him to go in and take advantage of whatever reps he can get early and then from there, see what happens."
Walsh may have the early advantage but remember, Gundy gave the starting job to Wes Lunt as a true freshman just two seasons ago so if Rudolph comes in and performs like many think he will, don't be surprised if he's under starting under center at some point in the coming season.
Darius Lee-Campbell - Iowa State, 6'2 200 lbs.
The Cyclones return two quarterbacks with starting experience in Sam Richardson and Grant Rohach so Darius Lee-Campbell winning the starting job won't be easy. Then again, with Mark Mangino taking over as offensive coordinator, the door might be more open than it would have been otherwise.
Lee-Campbell will arrive on campus in June and brings with him plenty of play making ability with his ability to move the ball on the ground. That playmaking ability is something that has been lacking in ISU's offense of late and if Lee-Campbell can get his arms around Mangino's offense, there's no reason to think he can be a factor in the quarterback competition during his first season on campus.
"I'm pretty confident," Lee Campbell said. "With the new offensive coordinator, they don't have too much more experience inside the system than I do. Just a couple more practices than I do. So I'll start off a step behind. But then again, I am more athletic than most of the quarterbacks there."
Jerrod Heard - Texas. 6'1" 193 lbs.
It's no secret the play of the quarterback in recent seasons was a big reason for Mack Brown's demise in Austin. The Longhorns simply haven't found anyone capable of playing with any type of consistency since Colt McCoy left town.
Entering his first season, new head coach Charlie Strong has options at the position. David Ash is back after missing a good chunk of the 2013 season due to concussions and Tyrone Swoopes will be squarely in the mix for playing time, as well, after seeing limited playing time as a freshman.
How Ash and Swoopes perform this spring and into fall camp will be the deciding factor on what UT's staff decides to do with incoming freshman Jerrod Heard who will arrive in Austin this summer as the top dual threat in the country coming out of high school.
If Ash and Swoopes struggle, Heard certainly provides a nice fall back option if he doesn't take the job outright at some point in 2014. He finished his high school year by amassing over 11,500 yards of offense including back-to-back seasons rushing for over 2,000 yards.
Will he see the field in 2014? Ash and Swoopes will likely have first dibs but with Heard now in the mix, the pressure will be on both to perform to perform at high level on a week-to-week basis.
Skyler Howard - West Virginia, 5'11" 205 lbs.
Clint Trickett might be the guy once again for West Virginia next season, but he's sitting out the spring while recovering from shoulder surgery. Trickett's absence combined with Paul Millard playing baseball this spring (no word on what that means for spring football practice) means junior college transfer Skyler Howard should get plenty of reps when spring practice opens this weekend.
Howard is already on campus and so far, so good, at least as far as offseason workouts go. "I haven't seen him in a football setting yet," Dana Holgorsen said. "The workout end of it, though, is good. The players gravitate toward him. He gets through a workout better than our skill guys. He's a breath of fresh air to me."
With both Trickett and Millard struggling at times a season ago, the race for the starting quarterback job should be wide open. Howard will get his chance, that much is certain. The 5'11" signal caller also has the ability to make plays with his legs potentially adding another element to the Mountaineers offense.
"Skyler’s an athletic kid," offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson said. "A lot of his bigger plays (last year) were extended plays when he kept his eyes downfield.”
True freshman William Crest will also arrive on campus this summer and very well could work his way in the quarterback mix, as well.
Patrick Mahomes - Texas Tech, 6'3" 198 lbs.
Baker Mayfield and Michael Brewer are gone leaving Davis Webb as the only scholarship quarterback on campus. Patrick Mahomes is set to arrive on campus this summer, that is if he doesn't choose to play professional baseball instead. He would most likely become the number two QB behind Webb the moment he steps foot on campus.
“Yeah, he’s of that mindset," Kliff Kingsbury said. "We told him to get ready to come in. It’s a unique situation. We only have one scholarship quarterback on the roster. Get ready to come in and compete and play right away.”
If Webb were to succumb to any type of injury, Mahomes would find himself the starter just like that.
Of course, Texas Tech must first sweat out the MLB draft to find out where Mahomes is drafted and what type of money he would be looking at if he were to sign a pro contract. If he does decide on baseball, then Tech will once again be forced to look at a walk on class that features four incoming QB's. That worked out well for Tech this past season but you can bet getting Mahomes on campus will be a big plus for the upcoming season.
Foster Sawyer - TCU, 6'5 210
Grayson Muehlstein - TCU, 6'3 199 lbs
Let's assume for a second that part-time starter the past two seasons, Trevone Boykin, makes a permanent move to wide receiver. That would open the door for two true freshmen to earn significant playing time sooner rather than later.
Those true freshmen are Foster Sawyer and Grayson Muehlstein, both of who will arrive on campus this summer meaning they'll have a steep learning curve in order to earn playing time. The good news for both is that given TCU is installing a new offense this spring, it's going to be new for everyone.
Each guy possesses significant upside with Sawyer's strong suit being his passing ability while Muelstein falls into the dual threat mode. "This offense is simple enough that a younger player can play at a high level and that's what we're hoping for," Gary Patterson said. "This offense could help them (freshmen receivers), along with Foster and Grayson."
Who wins the starting quarterback job at TCU is anybody's guess, but it wouldn't surprise anyone if one or both of these guys get the opportunity to make a significant impact in 2014.
If West Virginia was looking to add an experienced coach to its defensive staff, mission accomplished. WVMetroNews reported on Friday that the Mountaineers have fired former Penn State defensive coordinator Tom Bradley to their staff.
Bradley served 33 seasons as an assistant under Paterno at Penn State and was also the interim head coach after Paterno was fired during the 2011 season.
He won't be calling the plays for West Virginia, however, as the coordinator position was already given to last year's safeties coach, Tony Gibson, following Keith Patterson's departure to Arizona State.
Bradley's role in the defense has yet to be publicly announced, although the Metro News report indicated that Gibson would also work with the linebackers while Damon Cogdell would coach the lineman and Joe DeForest would coach the safeties.
If accurate, that could potentially leave Bradley handling the cornerbacks. He was a defensive back for the Nittany Lions during his playing days.
Whatever his position responsibilities turn out to be, having him on staff will surely bolster the defensive staff as a whole while giving the newly anointed Gibson a good sounding board in his first season as a coordinator at the FBS level.
If you're an Oklahoma State fan hoping to watch the Orange squad dismantle the White squad (or vice versa) in the spring game, you're out of luck this year.
The Cowboys athletic department announced on Monday that instead of concluding spring practice with the usual scrimmage, they'll hold what they are calling the "Orange Blitz".
The Blitz will consist of a 90 minute practice for fans to watch followed by a meet and greet between fans and players on the field after practice has concluded.
Why the change? It depends on what theory you want to believe.
It's no secret that Oklahoma State is going to be searching for starting quarterback when spring practice opens. Mike Gundy already said during is recruiting press conference that he wasn't going to discuss the quarterback battle until after OSU's opener against Florida State.
Is this a way to shield the quarterback competition from the public during the spring? It's possible.
Whatever the case, in the grand schemes of things, it's not a huge deal other than having a few disappointed fans, possibly. They'll still practice 15 times just like everyone else in the country. And I'm guessing they'll do plenty of scrimmaging among themselves only behind closed doors.
But if you're a fan wanting to draw conclusions about who's in the lead for starting spots, you're going to wait until August 30th to find out. That or do your best breaking down the position drills you'll be watching on April 5th.
If you have an extra $2,000 laying around, one of the coolest helmets worn by any team in the country this season can become a new piece on your mantel. And there's even an Art Briles autograph to go with it.
Baylor decided to sell the helmets worn against Central Florida in the Fiesta Bowl as a way to celebrate their 2013 Big 12 title. The cost includes $700 to replace the originals with the remainder going to the Baylor Football fund.
"Our guys love it," Briles said in his office as he personally signed each and every one. "Our fans love it, and — fortunately — 17- and 18-year-olds love it. It's great for recruiting, and that's the game that never stops."
What is their not to love? If you're into the uniform craze that has swept through college football over the past few seasons, Baylor's gold helmets are/will be tough to top.
"That is a good looking helmet," Briles said.
Baylor debuted the helmets in their first Big 12 game of the season against West Virginia. Correct me if I'm wrong, but they also wore them against Texas Tech in addition to the Fiesta Bowl game.
If you're interested in purchasing one from Baylor, here's all the information you'll need but you'd better move fast as there are only a few remaining.
Signing day is in the books which means spring football is just around the corner.
In the Big 12, Baylor is the first to kick off spring practice in just under two weeks (February 28th) with TCU starting spring practice a day later. Both teams will hold their spring games on April 5th.
Here's a look at the entire conference's spring schedule. It may just be practice, but any football is better than no football.
Apparently teams are taking notice of the strength of schedule component in the upcoming college football playoff because after several seasons of less than stellar out of conference opponents, the Big 12 has solid slate of games outside of Big 12 play we can all look forward too.
There are still the usual clunkers but Florida State is there, and so are Auburn and Alabama. Take a look at the weekend of September 13th alone and you'll see Big 12 schools playing UCLA, Maryland, Tennessee, Duke, Arkansas and Iowa - all on the same weekend! It leaves you thinking what took so long for a playoff to become reality.
Here are the five best games coming up, at least from one guy's opinion. Tick, tock, six plus months and counting until August 30th.
1. Oklahoma State vs. Florida State - August 30th at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, TX
The Cowboys went away from their schedule easy philosophy a bit last season when they opened with Mississippi State but things really get ratcheted up in 2014 when they take on Florida State who happens to be the defending national champions.
The Seminoles return Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston and 13 starters from their national championship team to go along with a top five recruiting class. The Cowboys will also have to prepare not knowing exactly what FSU will be doing on defense with linebackers coach Charles Kelly slated to take over as defensive coordinator for the departed Jeremy Pruitt.
Oklahoma State will have a monumental task on their hands trying to knock off the Noles in the season opener, but if they can find a way, what a springboard it would be to the rest of the season.
2. Auburn @ Kansas State - Thursday, September 18th
If playing one of the teams in last year's BCS title game wasn't enough, Kansas State gets the chore of playing the loser when Auburn visits for a Thursday night tilt in Manhattan.
The Wildcats have plenty of holes to fill on defense this offseason and the newcomers will get put to the ultimate test against the Tigers who return eight starters on offense including quarterback Nick Marshall.
The good news is that K-State should have salty offense returning themselves and if they can hang with Auburn early, anything can happen given it's a pretty safe assumption to say the atmosphere inside Bill Snyder Family Stadium is going to be a bit electric.
3. Texas vs. UCLA - September 13th at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, TX
How far has Texas fallen from being one of the nation's elite? By the looks of how they fared against Oregon in the Alamo Bowl, a long ways. How fast can Charlie Strong turn the ship around? We will have a good idea as to the answer to that question before the Longhorns begin Big 12 play.
After opening with North Texas and BYU, Strong will face a stiff test from a UCLA team that many believe will open the season ranked inside the top ten.
Quarterback Brett Hundley returns along with 16 starters from a team that finished 10-3 last season.
Texas, on the other hand, will spend the bulk of spring practice trying to sort out their quarterback situation. They could go with experience - David Ash - or give one of the young guys - Tyrone Swoopes or Jerrod Heard - their shot. Either way, if they can find to knock off the Bruins it would be a solid beginning to the Charlie Strong era in Austin.
4. West Virginia vs. Alabama - August 30th at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, GA
Looking at the 2014 schedule and seeing Alabama at the top probably won't help Dana Holgorsen sleep much this offseason. The Crimson Tide aren't coming off another national title, but that doesn't mean they won't be loaded again next season.
If there's any good news for the Mountaineers, it's that three-year starting quarterback A.J. McCarron has finally graduated. Florida State transfer Jacob Coker is a good bet to win the starting job but whoever is under center for Alabama will be making their first career start so there's that.
This is a bit of a dangerous game for WVU because getting manhandled on national TV in the season opener isn't exactly a way to build confidence but then again, if the Mountaineers can hang around into the second half, it could work the other way, as well.
5. Tennessee @ Oklahoma - September 13th
Few teams will enter the 2014 season with more momentum going their way than the Sooners following victories over Oklahoma State and Alabama to close the season.
This isn't the Tennessee of old but it is still a team with plenty of tradition which helped them land of the top recruiting classes in the country. They may not be at the level to beat OU on their home field just yet, but their name alone makes this one of the more intriguing games of the nonconference season.
Sony gift card giveaway!
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