Jay Beck

Jay Beck

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Sunday, 08 December 2013 08:34

Baylor celebrates first ever Big 12 title

Baylor is your 2013 Big 12 champion.

Let that think in for a second.

From not winning a Big 12 game in 2007 opening the door for Art Briles' arrival in 2008, to a conference championship six years later, it's been a remarkable run.

"This is a defining moment for our program and hopefully one we can repeat multiple times," Briles said. People said they can be pretty good, but not Big 12 champions. Well now they can stop that sentence because we are Big 12 champs."

Baylor beat Texas the same way they've been winning games all season. With a better-than-you-think defense to go along with an offense that never takes their foot off the gas pedal.

Baylor held Texas to 217 yards for the game while racking up 508 yard of their own. They did it with a solid ground game (221 yards rushing) and relied on Bryce Petty's arm for the rest (287 yards passing) in the coldest game ever played at Floyd Casey Stadium.

And what a way to close out The Case.

“I don’t think this is going to set in until I wake up and see that we’re Big 12 champs,” Baylor senior defensive end Chris McAllister said. “Who would have ever thought that Baylor would go to a BCS game?”

The Bears can now look forward to their first ever BCS game in the final year of the BCS era. They're headed to the Fiesta Bowl in Tempe to likely take on Central Florida winners of the American Athletic Conference.

"It was a tremendous crowd and a tremendous atmosphere--a lot of emotion, a lot of energy and a lot of support. When you're away from home for 30 days like we have been and you get the opportunity to come back home, it's a good feeling. Our guys and our Baylor family took full advantage of it. We're deeply indebted to all the support we've received all year."

Here's a video from Baylor Athletics that puts on bow on the Bears' Big 12 title.  Well done, Baylor, and congratulations.  Hightlights of the game are also below.

Oklahoma didn't want to hear anything about playing a spoiler role coming into Saturday's Bedlam game against Oklahoma State, but that's exactly what they did to the Cowboys Big 12 title hopes like it or not. And in the process, they threw themselves right into the BCS bowl game mix with most predicting an unlikely matchup with Alabama coming in the Sugar Bowl.

By virtue of their 33-24 come from behind win over the Cowboys, the Sooners forged a three way tie for second place in the Big 12 allowing Baylor to capture the conference title by knocking off Texas in the day's second game.

Oklahoma relied on Jalen Saunders 64 yard punt return for a touchdown in the first half to keep the game close as their offense struggled to get anything going early on.

Late in the third quarter, the Sooners needed the special teams, yet again, with Bob Stoops calling a fake field goal in which holder Grant Bothum rolled to his left and threw to kicker Mike Hunnicutt for a touchdown that tied the game at 17.

"I just thought a field goal wasn't going to be good enough," Bob Stoops said. "I knew we were going to need more than that, we had a numbers advantage out to that side and the way they were lining up and it worked out that way."

Oklahoma State wasn't done as they put together their most impressive drive of the day late in the fourth quarter going 89 yards on seven plays behind Clint Chelf's arm and capped by a one yard touchdown run by Desmond Roland putting the Cowboys back in front, 24-20.

Blake Bell wasn't having any of it, however. He in turn led OU right back down the field on a eight play 66 yard drive throwing the winning touchdown pass to Saunders in the game's final seconds. As good as Bell was on the final drive, he needed a little help along the way as Justin Gilbert dropped what would have been a game ending interception.

How close is this?

"Then on Gilbert's interception, I thought he caught the ball," Mike Gundy said. "He came down and he had it. I thought after he was on the ground that it rolled out, but again, I don't have as good as view as you guys did."  As close as it was, it was probably the right call, although it's one that easily could have went the other way just as easily.  Hey, everybody needs a little bit of luck, right?

Bell then threw the game wining touchdown several plays later with only 19 seconds remaining which was an absolute thing of beauty.  There's a reason they call this thing Bedlam.

"Blake went in and did a great job," Bob Stoops said.  "I'm really proud of his poise, he scrambled around and made some plays on his own. Jalen Saunders again was sensational."

The bowl games will be announced on Sunday night and it appears as if it will come down to either Oklahoma  or Oregon heading to New Orleans to take on Alabama in the Sugar Bowl.  Oklahoma State is likely heading to Dallas to take on an SEC team (Mizzou/South Carolina?) in the Cotton Bowl.

Oklahoma has now won nine of the last 10 meeting with their instate rival with the lone Cowboy win coming in 2011 when the Cowboys captured their first Big 12 title.  Saturday would have been the Pokes second in three years, but the Sooners simply weren't having any of it.

 

 

#15 Oklahoma (9-2)  @ #6 Oklahoma State (10-1)

  • Game time: 11:00
  • TV: ABC
  • Sirius Channel: 117 (OU) 113 (OSU)
  • The Spread: Oklahoma State -10

 

1. The quarterbacks. Trevor Knight is back in the starting role for Oklahoma and is coming off his best game of the season after completing 70% of his passes and rushing for 82 yards against Kansas State. That followed his 123 yard rushing performance against Iowa State after replacing an injured Blake Bell.

Likewise for Oklahoma State, Clint Chelf is coming off a phenomenal performance against Baylor. In his last two starts, Chelf has completed 35 of 47 passes (74.5%) with five touchdown passes.

In comparing the two quarterbacks, Chelf probably gets the edge simply based on experience. This isn't his first Bedlam start not to mention, he'll be playing on his home field.

2. The weather. The high in Stillwater is expected to be a balmy 23 degrees on Saturday with some snow and sleet in the forecast. The grounds crew at Boone Pickens Stadium is already hard at work getting the field ready to play.

 

3. The Big 12 title. If Oklahoma State can knock off the Sooners, the Cowboys will gain a share of the Big 12 title and earn the league's automatic bid to the Fiesta Bowl. Should the Sooners win, they'll forge a three way tie for second place and leave the Big 12 champion to be decided in the Baylor - Texas game to be played later Saturday afternoon.

4. Don't call the Sooners spoilers. Oklahoma can indeed spoil the Cowboys chances at the Big 12 title, but don't go about calling them a spoiler. "The fact that you call us the spoiler against Oklahoma State, I'm not even going to answer that," Gabe Ikard said, rolling his eyes.

"We're OU and they're OSU, so I wouldn't call it a spoiler role," Gabe Lynn said.

"That may be the lowest form of motivation that a competitor can have. So no, that has nothing to do with how we approach the game whatsoever. That is a very, very low form of motivation," Bob Stoops said.

5. Barry Switzer vs. Pat Jones. Oklahoma's former coach took to twitter this week to say the Sooners would "Hang Half a Hundred" on the Cowboys. Former Oklahoma State coach Pat Jones - to no one's surprise - wasn't exactly in agreement.

It's interesting to see (although probably not surprising) Switzer come out with such a bold prediction given how OU has topped the 50 point mark exactly once this season, against Tulsa.

6. Aaron Colvin returns for Oklahoma. The Sooners secondary got lit up last week by K-State's Jake Waters and Tyler Lockett without Colvin in the lineup. He is expected back this week and wil undoubtedly give the Sooner secondary a big boost against the Pokes passing attack.

7. Oklahoma State stopping the run. The Cowboys lead the Big 12 in rushing defense allowing 130 yards per game but they'll be tested on Saturday. Damien Williams may be gone for OU, but they still have Brennan Clay, Roy Finch, and Keith Ford to go along with Knight who figures to get his share of carries from the quarterback spot. If they can keep the OU ground game in check, it stands to reason they may win going away.

8. Josh Steward and Just Gilbert on punt/kick returns. These guys are good, like really good, in the return game.  It goes without saying, OU can't afford to give up big plays on special teams if they want to pick up a victory on the road.

9. Recruiting. It's no secret the Oklahoma and Oklahoma State are after a lot of the same high school players. How much does the Bedlam outcome affect recruiting? Whatever your view point, it stands to reason recruits are paying close attention when these teams get together. NewsOK.com had a good piece this week on what this game means on the recruiting trail.

10. It's Bedlam. Do you really need a reason to watch other than that?

 

 

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The college bowl selections will be released on Sunday night following the conference championships played on Saturday.

You may think you don't have a voice to say who should be playing where which may be indeed be true in some cases, but not as far as the Discover Orange Bowl goes.

This year Discover has created a social media dashboard where fans can voice their opinion and vote who they think will - or should - play in this year's Discover Orange Bowl game slated for January 3rd, 2014.

To participate, simply head over to DiscoverOrangeBowl.com to cast your vote, tweet for your team, and share your photos via Instagram and Facebook.

As you can see, Clemson and Alabama are leading the charge at the moment as the favorites to play in the Orange Bowl following along with most of the recent  BCS projections. Whether you are in agreement or not, let your voice be heard.

Since we're partial to the Big 12 around these parts, how about casting some votes for the Baylor Bears who for one reason or another, aren't getting much love as far as the BCS bowls are concerned. Should Baylor knock off Texas Saturday afternoon, they'll finish with an 11-1 record and depending on what happens in the other games, should finish ranked anywhere from 5-8 in the final BCS standings.

That, by the way, will be well ahead of (cough, cough) Clemson who is already sitting with two losses and ranked 13th in the latest BCS rankings. And that's not to say we have anything against Clemson who has a fine football team, but what fun is it if you're not even joining the conversation?

So get to it, head over to DiscoverOrangeBowl.com and leave your mark via your favorite social media channel.

There are several ways to participate. How easy is this?

1.       Use #DiscoverOrangeBowl in social content to cheer on their teams or vote for their match up (Now-12/8)

a.       Photo Upload - Include following message on Facebook, Twitter, & Instagram (mobile only): Would love to see my #Spartans in this year’s #DiscoverOrangeBowl!

b.      Twitter - I’m excited that #Alabama may be headed to this year’s #DiscoverOrangeBowl! #RollTide

c.       Facebook - Include following message in text box: My vote for the #DiscoverOrangeBowl is #Clemson! #SolidOrange #GoTigers

2.       Visit the site and share socially from there: http://www.discoverorangebowl.com/

a.       Enter your top pick for the Discover Orange Bowl as part of the GameDay Leaderboard

b.      Share your College Football Photos, in support of your GameDay pick

c.       Tweet for your team

d.      Recruit your friends


Disclaimer: I am a paid brand Blogger for Discover Products Inc. My views are my own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Discover Products Inc. and its affiliates.

Thursday, 05 December 2013 13:38

Bryce Petty isn't going anywhere

Bryce Petty has had an incredible run during his junior season - his first year as a starter - leading some to believe he might toss in name into the 2014 NFL draft.

Rest easy, Baylor fans, Petty is planning on being back in Waco next season.

"I will definitely be back next year," Petty told KWTX-TV in Waco, Texas, on Wednesday.

Now that's one piece of the puzzle in place for the Bears.  Next in line is what running back Lache Seastrunk is considering.  Should Seastrunk decide to come back as well, Baylor very well may be your Big 12 favorites in 2014 even if there will be plenty of holes to fill along the offensive line along with losing six or seven starters on defense.

Even has good as Petty has been this season, there's still room for improvement as the last two weeks have proved. 

As the competition has ratcheted up over the past four games, Petty is completing just 54% of his passes during that stretch lowering his season percentage to 62%.  Maybe that's nitpicking, but it stands to reason that with another offseason of work to go with a big senior season, Petty could work his way into a top draft pick.

What does Bob Stoops always say?  If you're not a first round pick, then you should come back.  If you apply that reasoning to Petty's situation, it's clear he's making the right decision. There's plenty of upside to Petty returning to Waco and Baylor has to be thankful they'll be able to reap the benefits.

Thursday, 05 December 2013 13:15

Big 12 football: Texas vs. Baylor preview

#24 Texas (8-3) @ #7 Baylor (10-1)

  • Game time: 2:30
  • TV: FOX
  • The Spread: Baylor -14.5

 

If Oklahoma can knock off Oklahoma State in the first game of the day, Texas and Baylor will be playing for the 2013 Big 12 championship. No tiebreakers, nothing, just one true champion as the Big 12 had always planned. And even if the Cowboys take care of business, there's still plenty riding on Saturday's contest.

Is Mack Brown truly fighting for his job? Whatever your view point, firing a coach who just won at least a share of the Big 12 title won't be an easy chore. For the Bears, they still hold out hopes that a BCS bid is headed their way depending on what else happens around the country on Saturday. That only happens, however, with a Baylor victory.

What can you expect to happen on Saturday?

Baylor: Keys to the game

1. The run game. The Bears struggled to get anything going on the ground against Oklahoma State finishing with just 94 yards on 36 carries. The return of Lache Seastrunk and Glasco Martin helped last week against TCU, but the Bears still managed just over three yards a carry for the game. If Baylor can run the ball consistently and get Seastrunk to the second level against UT, you have to like their chances.

2. Get an early lead. For as high powered as Baylor's offense has been this season, you would think they would well equipped to come from behind. The simple fact is, however, in order for Baylor to be successful - especially without Tevin Reese - they need to have a threat of a run in order to be successful. As we saw against Oklahoma State, when they got down big in the second half, that threat of a run was gone and Baylor continued to struggle as a result.

3. Protecting Bryce Petty. Much of the focus on Baylor's offensive struggles the past two weeks have been on the loss of Tevin Reese and for good reason. But make no mistake, losing left tackle Spencer Drango to a season ending back injury has played a part, as well. The Bears have given up five sacks the last two weeks and considering Texas may have the best pass rush in the Big 12, giving Petty time to operate will be paramount to the Bears' success against Jackson Jeffcoat and company.

Texas: Keys to the Game

1. Stick to what you do best. The Cowboys had success throwing the ball on Baylor, but Clint Chelf played out of his mind against the Bears. It's probably not a reasonable expectation to think Case McCoy will be as precise as Chelf was against Baylor. What Texas does in the ground game is going to be the difference on Saturday. Kansas State rushed for over 300 yards against the Bears and held the ball for a good portion of the game. If Texas can have similar success with Malcolm Brown and Joe Bergeron, their chances of pulling the upset go up tenfold.

2. Turnovers. If TCU doesn't turn the ball over four times last weekend (two of which were returned for touchdowns), they beat Baylor and it might not have been close. Baylor is good enough the way it is and if Texas gives them any freebies, well, it won't bode well for the Longhorns on the scoreboard.

3. Texas defense; win first down. Baylor is going to come at Texas' defense 100 mph early, but if UT can have success on first down, just watch, Baylor was slow things down even if just a little, and will struggle to find the rhythm that makes them so dangerous. Second and third-and-longs will be the Longhorns' best friend on Saturday.

The Prediction:

Will being back on their home field be all that Baylor needs to get their offense humming again? It's possible, but it's probably safe to assume that the Bears' issues on offense run deeper than just the field they are playing on. It still comes down to execution which is something BU has struggled with since Reese went down with a broken wrist.

Now, whether Texas can have the same success in stopping the Bears the way Oklahoma State and TCU did remains to be seen. That being said, I'm guessing UT's defense will hold up its end of the bargain and keep the Longhorns in the game thanks in part to a strong pass rush and limiting Baylor's big plays.

The problem will come on the other side the ball. Texas will have some success with Brown/Bergeron on the ground, but it won't be enough. In a game that will be much lower scoring than some expect, Baylor holds on for win number 11, but just barely. Baylor 30 Texas 24.

 

 

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Wednesday, 04 December 2013 15:33

Holiday Bowl has eyes on Kansas State

What happens in this weekend's two Big 12 games will play a big part in what teams go where as far as the bowls go, but it's no mystery who the Holiday Bowl has their sights set on for their December 30th game.

"We are focused on Kansas state," Holiday Bowl executive direct Bruce Binkowski told Kellis Robinett. "If there are available, we are going to take them."

It appears that the Holiday Bowl may indeed get their wish since they have the fifth selection among Big 12 teams and K-State is currently sitting fifth in the Big 12 standings.

National University Holiday Bowl 2013 logoOne thing that could derail their plans is if the Big 12 is awarded two BCS bowl bids although for whatever reason, Binkowski doesn't feel like that was going to happen. In that case, everyone else would move up a spot in the selection order.

If Oklahoma State and Baylor win this weekend, the Cowboys would be headed to the Fiesta Bowl and the Bears would finish with an 11-1 record making them an attractive selection for an at-large bid.

Most scenarios, however, have Clemson and Michigan State (assuming they lose to Ohio State in the B1G championship game) being selected ahead of Baylor. Assuming Northern Illinois wins the MAC Championship, they would be headed to the BCS, as well, due to their ranking in the BCS poll.

However it plays out, the Holiday Bowl has their sights set on the Wildcats. "Everything about Kansas State is great on our end. They have seriously great fan support, they have won five of their last six and Bill Snyder is in our Holiday Bowl hall of fame, Binkowski said. "We think it is a big winner for San Diego to have a shot at Kansas State."

As for their opponent, whoever it is from the Pac-12 will provide a big challenge. The Holiday Bowl gets the third choice from the Pac-12 meaning either Arizona State, Oregon, or Stanford are likely heading to San Diego. All three teams are currently ranked in the top 12 of the latest BCS standings. Arizona State and Stanford play Saturday night in the Pac-12 championship.

It seems likely the loser of that game would fall to the Holiday Bowl especially if Kansas State is the Big 12's representative. Kansas State and Oregon played last season in the Fiesta Bowl.

If you're one like that likes to look at trends as it relates to coaching success, Dana Holgorsen is headed in the wrong direction.

West Virginia's head man led the Mountaineers to a 10-3 record during his first season including a 70-33 thrashing of Clemson in the Orange Bowl leading many to believe the sky was the limit with the Mountaineers set to head to the Big 12.

With Geno Smith, Tavon Austin, and Stedman Bailey returning from the 2011 squad, West Virginia was thought to be a Big 12 title contender during their first season in the league. Five games into the 2012 season, all was going according to plan. West Virginia was undefeated and ranked in the top five in both polls.

Since then, however, it's been much tougher sledding than anyone could have envisioned. West Virginia limped to the finish line losing six of their last eight games in 2012.

Things didn't get much better in 2013 as West Virginia struggled to a 4-8 finish that included losses to Kansas and Iowa State to end the season, games that should they have won, would have sent them to another bowl game.

Since the middle of last season when WVU stood 5-0, the Mountaineers have compiled a 6-14 record and have just three Big 12 conference wins. That trajectory led to speculation that Holgorsen's job could indeed be in danger after only three seasons.

On Tuesday, West Virginia athletic director Oliver Luck put those concerns to rest, at least for another season, although he made it clear he expects more next season.

We have high expectations at West Virginia University for success on and off the field and as Coach Holgorsen has acknowledged to me, we are not meeting those expectations on the field.  Coach Holgorsen and I met at length and reviewed this past season.  We discussed the coaching staff, recruiting, player development, strength and conditioning, academic support, facilities, in short, all the components that make up a successful program.  We are working diligently to improve our capabilities in all of these areas.
 
I strongly believe in our coaching staff, including the work that our strength and conditioning staff is doing.  In my opinion, continuity is the key ingredient that will bring our football program back to the high level that Mountaineer fans expect.
 
We had plenty of challenges this season; nonetheless, we should not and will not use those as excuses for our performance. We simply must get better.

Was Holgorsen's job ever in jeopardy? In my opinion, probably not. As Luck mentioned in his statement, there was plenty of mitigating factors that led to this season's 4-8 record.

On the bright side, there was the victory over Oklahoma State which would seem to indicate this was better than a four win team even if the Mountaineers caught OSU early in the season before they were clicking on all cylinders.

On the downside, the losses to Kansas and Iowa State to end the season had to be huge red flags. Kansas hadn't won a Big 12 game in three years. Iowa State finished one game behind WVU at 3-9.

Is Holgorsen now officially on the hot seat? That probably depends on your viewpoint, but one thing is clear, 4-8 isn't going to cut it. Making a bowl game, at a minimum, would seem to be the expectation next season if not seven or eight wins.

With Alabama on the schedule to open the 2014 slate - a likely loss - it appears WVU will need to find a way to win at least four Big 12 games next season, and maybe five or six depending on whether than can beat another nonconference opponent, Maryland, that happened to beat this year's team 37-0.

Whatever expectations Luck has placed on the program internally, one thing is for sure, the honeymoon period for Holgorsen is over. Start winning or next year at this time, we'll be talking about who is going to replace him leaving one of the best offensive coordinators in the country on the market for somebody's taking.

Monday, 02 December 2013 12:49

Baylor going old school versus Texas

Baylor takes on Texas Saturday afternoon with at least a share of the Big 12 title on the line. It's also the last game that will be played at Floyd Casey Stadium before the Bears move into their new digs next season.

In honor of the event, Baylor will be donning some throw back uniforms when they take on the Longhorns.

Here are a few of the pictures as tweeted by Jeff Barlow, Baylor's equipment manager.

 

 

 

 

What do you think? They're sharp if you ask me.  The Bears have been on the cutting edge of the uniform craze this season with the gold helmets worn against West Virginia and the all black look against Oklahoma.

Now, they're bringing the old school look versus the Longhorns which should be a fitting tribute to honor the occasion.

Iowa State's offense finished the season with a flurry scoring 34 and 52 points over the final two weekends of the season but it still wasn't enough to save offensive coordinator Courtney Messingham's job.

Paul Rhoads announced on Sunday that Messingham and running backs coach Ken Pope would not return next season. Both were hired by Rhoads as part of his original staff when he came to Ames prior to the 2009 season.

Inexperience and injuries at the quarterback position didn't make Messingham's job any easier this season, but the Cyclones offense has been inconsistent at best and downright awful at its worst since Messingham took over playing calling duties prior to the 2012 season.

The Cyclones had averaged just over 24 points per game in each of the past two seasons which was better than only Kansas in the Big 12 during that time.

"It's not that surprising," Iowa State running back James Woody told the Ames Tribune on Sunday. "It's disappointing because I liked Messingham as a guy. Based on the success that we didn't have during the season I understand why that happened."

Rhoads doesn't appear to be in a big hurry to fill the two coaching vacancies as any type of announcement regarding the hires isn't expected for at least two weeks as Rhoads and the rest of the staff turn their focus solely to recruiting.

It would appear that Rhoads has a couple internal candidates to fill the coordinator void should he decided to go that route as he did with Messingham. Offensive line coach Chris Klenakis was Nevada's offensive coordinator from 2007-2009 and was brought in to help install the pistol offense this season.

Wide receiver coach Todd Sturdy was Washington State's offensive coordinator prior to joining ISU's staff, as well. He was let go when Mike Leach took over in Pullman before the 2012 season.

Whichever route Rhoads decide to go, the career path of former OC Tom Herman won't hurt his chances should he decide to look outside the program.

Rhoads plucked Herman away from Rice where he was running the Owl's high flying offense when he was hired as ISU's head coach. Urban Meyer saw the genius in the hire who then brought him to Columbus two season's ago where he is currently the coordinator for the Buckeyes as the get set for the Big Ten championship game with the BCS title game likely to follow.

Rhoads obviously isn't standing pat with the status quo coming off a three win season, his lowest win total in five seasons as ISU's head coach.  He has taken the Cyclones to bowl games in three of his five season and has brought back the competitiveness that was lost during Gene Chizik's two year stint in Ames. Even so, he has yet to get the program over the proverbial "hump" so it's not all the shocking he's looking for some new blood as he continues to move the program forward.

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