Everyone’s favorite NFL draft analyst revealed his first of what will likely be many mock drafts this morning. If the actual draft goes anything like this first stab at reality, then there will be several Big 12 players feeling good about their decisions to leave early.
Here’s a list of the Big 12 players Mel Kiper has going in round one. (For the full list, here is a link, although I think you'll need ESPN Insider to see it in its entirety).
Gabbert, Smith, and Williams were all underclassmen that declared early for the draft. It’s been said in the space before that Gabbert and Smith could have benefited from another year in school, but if this is indeed where they get drafted, it’s tough to argue with the decision. Besides having another year of experience under their belt (always a good thing), another year in school likely wouldn’t have drastically changed their draft position.
Gabbert had an easier decision since he’s been pegged as a first round selection all along, and a likely top ten pick at that. Smith, on the other hand, was told by the NFL draft advisory board he’d likely be a second round pick. Based upon that, he had a tougher decision to make. If he ends up going near the top ten as Kiper projects, he’ll be laughing all the way to the bank, however.
For Miller, Amukamara, and Solder, their eligibility was done and now it’s just a matter of impressing the scouts during pre-draft workouts and putting themselves in the best possible position for April’s draft. If this first mock draft in any indication, they all look to be in a good positions. But as everyone knows, not everything goes as planned when draft day finally rolls around.
Maybe it was Ryan Broyles and Travis Lewis announcing they were coming back for their senior years. Or maybe it was the fact that 17 of 22 starters return, including Landry Jones, who will be entering his third season as Oklahoma’s starting quarterback. Was it their BCS bowl victory over Connecticut?
In reality, it’s probably a combination of all the above, not to mention, in the revamped Big 12 they’ll no longer have to deal with a conference championship game. Not that it stopped them much in the former Big 12 as the Sooners picked up seven Big 12 titles, losing only once in eight trips to the title game.
Whatever the reasons, wherever you look Oklahoma is the first name that rolls off people’s tongues when talk about the list of teams expected to be atop the polls next season. Never mind the fact that the season is barely a week behind us, recruiting classes haven’t been finalized, and spring football is still two months away. Take a look at Sports Illustrated. How about ESPN? Rivals? Yep, it’s the same. All have Oklahoma at the number one spot.
That’s all great, but I hardly believe Bob Stoops is going to take the next seven months off with the reassurance from the national folks that the Sooners are the cream of the crop next season.
Granted, it’s hard to find fault in the logic behind the early predictions. Quarterback Landry Jones returns after finishing 2010 as one of the nation’s best passers. He’ll still be throwing to the aforementioned Broyles who’ll continue to rewrite the Sooners records books during his senior season. They’ll be no DeMarco Murray at running back, but the presence of Roy Finch should help ease those concerns.
On defense, Lewis returning was huge for a defense that will have to replace Jeremy Beal and both its safeties. Besides that, they’ll be talent all over the field to help break in the newcomers. Austin Box, Tom Wort, Frank Alexander, Ronnell Lewis, and Jamell Fleming are all names that will help Sooner fans sleep better this offseason. Not to mention, another top ten recruiting class is expected to be signed in two weeks.
The schedule won’t be easy but some of the bigger games on the slate are in Norman, where Oklahoma happens to be pretty tough to beat. Missouri, Texas Tech, and Texas A&M all have to take trips into OU’s backyard. There is the trip to Tallahassee to take on Florida State, however, that could derail any title plans, or on the other hand, make their end-of-season resume that much stronger with a victory over the Seminoles. And you can’t forget the annual showdown with Texas when talking about the Sooner's schedule. It’s anyone’s guess what the Longhorns will look like with Mack Brown having to replace nearly his entire staff this offseason. Either way, it should be advantage Sooners.
So as the snow falls outside, optimism reigns supreme for the Sooners around the country. Of course, just ask Texas or Florida how much preseason rankings matter, and it's even a stretch to call rankings in January “preseason”. But you have to start somewhere and right now that means Oklahoma is on top.
It’s that time of year. The games are finished, recruiting is hitting a feverish pitch with only two weeks until signing day, and winter conditioning is about to start. And if you’re a player not coming back next year, then hopefully you’re starting to get ready for the NFL Draft.
That will be the case this weekend with the first a several All-Star games that will allow players to showcase their skills in front of the NFL Scouts. The East-West Shrine game kicks off Saturday at 3:00(CST) from the Citrus Bowl in Orlando.
Assuming there aren’t any last second roster changes, the Big 12 will have eight players participating in workouts this week and then the game on Saturday.
Probably the most interesting story of the week will be that of Jerrod Johnson. Johnson had been tabbed as the Big 12’s Offensive Player of the Year prior to the season but lost his starting job after seven games. Johnson had offseason shoulder surgery and never fully recovered. It wasn't until after the season when Texas A&M came out and said it he couldn't make some of the throws needed during the season. The shoulder has continued to gain strength throughout the season, however, and he’ll now have the chance to show the scouts just how far he’s come.
Also keep an eye on Oklahoma State linebacker Orie Lemon who was the leader for the Cowboys after missing 2009 with an ACL injury. And Nebraska's Pierre Allen didn’t have huge stats, but has the potential to impress if he finds a scheme that suits his talents.
Jonathan Nelson of Oklahoma and David Sims of Iowa State had solid seasons at safety and will be looking to improve their draft status at a position that isn’t often highly drafted by NFL teams.
Here’s at look at the Big 12 players on the East Squad coached by Dan Reeves:
|Pierre Allen||Nebraska||DE||Now playing in Senior Bowl, Jan. 29th.
|Mike Smith||Nebraska||OT||Missed all of 2010 with leg injury.|
|Jonathan Nelson||Oklahoma||S||102 tackles (2nd on team) 2 ints, 7 pass break ups|
|David Sims||Iowa State||S||96 tackles, 3 FF, and 4 pass break ups|
|Greg Smith||Texas||TE||9 catches for 60 yards in 2010|
And the West Team coached by Wade Phillips:
|Dan Bailey||Oklahoma State||K||27-31 on FG's. Long 52 yards.|
|Orie Lemon||Oklahoma State||MLB||Led OSU with 133 tackles. Missed '09 season with knee injury|
|Jerrod Johnson||Texas A&M||QB||Lost starting job after shoulder failed to recover from surgery|
Here are the complete rosters for the game.
This weekend the deadline for underclassmen to declare for the NFL passed and by my count, 54 players are giving up the rest of their eligibility to try and make it on the big stage. With 32 teams in the NFL, that’s enough players to fill up more than a round and half with just underclassmen. Without trying to make a sweeping generalization, it’s probably safe to say there’s a good portion of those 54 that should have stayed in school.
As the numbers show, the SEC and ACC were hit the hardest by the early defections. Here’s a breakdown by conference of players leaving early.
It’s tough to gauge what exactly, if anything, the numbers mean. It’s not surprising that the SEC has the most players, however. After winning the last five national championships, the conference continues to prove they are loaded with talent.
It goes without saying, however, just because a player says he’s leaving early doesn’t necessarily mean he has NFL talent or the drive it takes to make it at the next level. Every year players make decisions that just plain aren’t very smart (We all remember Jevan Snead declaring and then going undrafted. He just recently signed with the Arena League).
From the Big 12 perspective, the conference was largely unaffected by early departures, unless your school’s name is Missouri. The Big 12 had only three players declare for the draft, two of which were Tigers, quarterback Blaine Gabbert and defensive end Aldon Smith. The third player was cornerback Aaron Williams of Texas.
Does this mean the league is short on NFL talent? Hardly. Just ask Ryan Broyles, Travis Lewis, Brandon Weeden, Justin Blackmon, or Jared Crick who took the other route and decided to return to school. You’ll likely see most of those names littering NFL draft projections after next season and probably higher than would have been this season, at least that’s their hope. And then there’s the case of Stanford’s Andrew Luck who had been projected as the top pick in the draft, yet he decided to return to Stanford.
The argument has been made and probably rightfully so, that if you’re not a sure fire round pick then you’re making a mistake by coming out early. But that can only be said for players with that type of potential. For some, 10 more years in college wouldn’t make them a first round pick and they're just in a hurry to try and make a buck.
There is still a lot that will change before the draft, but just for a reference point, four of the top five on Mel Kiper’s latest big board are SEC underclassmen. In all, eight of the 14 SEC players who declared are currently listed in his top 25. And looking at all the conferences, 13 currently listed in his top 25 are underclassmen. That still leaves 41 players looking to improve their stock between now and April’s draft. (Yes, I realize his draft board will be far from what actually happens in the draft, but again, just a reference point).
The decision whether to leave early is different for everyone and an individual decision in every case. There’s always the injury scenario that causes potential top picks to think twice about coming back, but Sam Bradford’s situation likely eased some of those fears (Bradford came back to school and missed almost his entire senior year but was still drafted number one). For most of the players, the worst case scenario (besides injury) is that you get drafted low or not at all, can’t make a team, but leave with a diploma in hand. And for most, that’s hardly a worst case scenario.
There will undoubtedly be stars born from this year's crop of underclassmen. But the Big 12, and really college football, will be better for those that postponed the rest of their lives for another year. And to the rest of the group, best of luck to you. You'll no doubt be missed.
With the college football season officially in the rear view mirror, all the attention now turns to the NFL playoffs for your viewing pleasure. The divisional round starts on Saturday and Big 12 fans will have plenty of rooting interest if they didn't already. In total, there will be 34 players from the Big 12 on active rosters this weekend.
The talent is evenly spread out between the eight teams, but if you're going to use this as a reason not to cheer for a team, then the Jets would be your squad. They have the fewest players with just two from the Big 12 on their roster.
If you're an Iowa State or Kansas fan looking for your alumni, you might be relegated to watching some old game film as they are the only two schools without anyone on a roster that is still alive in the NFL.
Here's a list of the Big 12 players whose team is still playing, including those on injured reserve or the practice squad.
Happy viewing and have a great weekend!
|Baltimore Ravens||Pittsburg Steelers|
|Pos.||College||Yrs. Pro||Pos.||College||Yrs. Pro|
|Chris Chester||G/C||Oklahoma||5||Casey Hampton||DT||Texas||10|
|Kelly Gregg||DT||Oklahoma||11||Tony Hills||T||Texas||3|
|Sam Koch||Pos.||Nebraska||5||Ziggy Hood||DE||Missouri||2|
|Cory Redding||S||Texas||8||Jonathan Scott||T||Texas||4|
|Injured Reserve||Injured Reserve|
|Daniel Sanders||C||Colorado||1||Limas Sweek||WR||Texas||3|
|Brand Bond||T||Oklahoma State||R|
|New York Jets||New England Patriots|
|Pos.||College||Yrs. Pro||Pos.||College||Yrs. Pro|
|Brodney Pool||S||Oklahoma||6||Thomas Clayton||RB||Kansas State||3|
|Matt Slauson||G||Nebraska||2||Sammy Morris||RB||Texas Tech||11|
|Wes Welker||WR||Texas Tech||7|
|Ty Warren||DL||Texas A&M||8|
|Green Bay Packers||Atlanta Falcons|
|Pos.||College||Yrs. Pro||Pos.||College||Yrs. Pro|
|Mason Crosby||K||Colorado||4||Justin Blaylock||G||Texas||4|
|Graham Harrell||QB||Texas Tech||2||Matt Bryant||K||Baylor||9|
|Brandon Jackson||RB||Nebraska||4||Dominique Franks||CB||Oklahoma||R|
|Jordy Nelson||WR||Kansas State||3||Curtis Lofton||MLB||Oklahoma||3|
|Injured Reserve||William Moore||S||Safety||2|
|Josh Bell||CB||Baylor||3||Sean Weatherspoon||OLB||Missouri||R|
|Jermichael Finley||TE||Texas||3||Injured Reserve|
|Brad Jones||LB||Colorado||2||Kerry Meier||WR||Kansas||R|
|Seattle Seahawks||Chicago Bears|
|Pos.||College||Yrs. Pro||Pos.||College||Yrs. Pro|
|Russell Okung||T||Oklahoma St.||R
|Earl Thomas||S||Texas A&M||R
|Injured Reserve||Henry Melton||DE||Texas||2|
|Red Bryant||DT||Texas A&M||3||Joshua Moore||CB||Kansas State||R|
Let’s see, what name doesn’t belong on the list: Bob Tway, Hunter Mahan, Scott Verplank, Charles Howell III, or Brandon Weeden? All went or are going to Oklahoma State, check. All are professional golfers, check, umm wait a minute. Doesn’t Weeden play football. Well, yes, yes he does. And now you can add golf to his resume that already includes playing baseball professionally in the New York Yankees organization.
After announcing that he’ll take a pass at this year’s NFL draft, Weeden announced via twitter: "I forgot to mention I'm also the newest member of the OSU golf team!!!! Proud to be part of something special! Football and Golf!!!!"
Oklahoma State golf coach, Mike McGraw, said on Wednesday,“He's going to walk on for us,” McGraw said in a phone interview. “He's a great leader, he loves golf and he's a great Cowboy.”
Great leader, loves golf, and a great Cowboy; that's cool and all, but can he swing the sticks? According to McGraw, he's gotten solid reviews. “They like his game,” McGraw said. “Now am I saying he's going to lead us to a national championship? Probably not.” McGraw was referring to the fact that Weeden already regulary plays with the Oklahoma State golfers.
So what about football? Cowboy fans need not worry. Everything had to be Ok'd with Mike Gundy who gave his blessing, with the stipulation that when spring football rolls around, he'll be on the football field and won't miss any practice time.
I can think of worse ways to spend your spare time than tooling around on the golf course. Let's hope for Weeden's sake, he doesn't follow in the foot steps of another athlete who's tried his hand on the links. I'm guessing if McGraw sees anything resembling this come the first practice, Weeden's golf career might be a short one.
It may be January 13th, but it’s never too early to start thinking about next year. I mean, spring football is only two, maybe three months away.
The Big 12 will begin its first ever year without divisions, and without a title game. Every team will play every other in the conference so they’ll be no bickering about how had the easier draw this time around. Here’s a peek at who figures to be where heading into 2011.
1. Oklahoma – Landry Jones returns. Ryan Broyles returns. Travis Lewis returns. They’re the defending Big 12 Champs. All that means the Sooners are the odds on favorite to win another Big 12 title. They’ll be no DeMarco Murray but Roy Finch helps alleviate those worries. Oklahoma may not only be the favorites in the Big 12, but the favorites to win the national title.
2. Oklahoma State - The Cowboys got great news on Wednesday with Brandon Weeden and Justin Blackmon announcing they’re returning to Stillwater. The offensive line returns intact and a young defense has another year of experience in Bill Young’s system. Everyone talks about the Red River Rivalry with Texas as the defining game in the Big 12 but that may change in 2011 with Bedlam taking center stage in the preseason.
3. Texas – The Longhorns are saying, “Don’t forget about us.” It may seem ludicrous to put them in the number three slot after a 5-7 season, not to mention they will have an almost entirely new coaching staff in Austin. There are questions marks no doubt, but show me a team between numbers 4-10 that has a more talented roster and I’ll consider moving the Longhorns down. Texas is down, but probably not for long.
4. Texas A&M – The Aggies were the talk of the Big 12 after reeling off six victories in a row to end the season. Ryan Tannehill and Cyrus Gray return along with an improved offensive line. And don’t forget the injured Christine Michael will be in the backfield, as well. The defense will be entering its second year in Tim DeRuyter’s system and should show even more improvements in 2011.
5. Missouri – The Tigers will have big shoes to fill trying to replace Blaine Gabbert and Aldon Smith who took off early for the NFL. The offense has never been a problem under Gary Pinkel so expect the Tigers to continue to find a way to put points on the board, even without Gabbert. If the defense can sustain the improvements they saw on defense in 2010, the Tigers won’t go quietly next season. It won't be easy without Smith, but Tiger fans have to like what they saw in 2010.
6. Texas Tech – It was a year of transition for the Red Raiders under Tommy Tuberville. There are still big holes to fill on the defensive side of the ball, including finding a defensive coordinator. But Tuberville knows defense so expect continued improvement from a unit that got torched at times this season. Taylor Potts and Steven Sheffield are gone so Tech will have another quarterback battle on their hands through the spring and fall.
7. Baylor – The Bears return quarterback Robert Griffin so that in itself means the offense will be in good hands. Art Briles also just hired Phil Bennett to run the defense which should help shore up 30 points a game in 2010. Baylor made it to a bowl game for the first time since 1994 and should make it two in a row in 2011.
8. Iowa State – Paul Rhoads almost made it to a bowl game in back-to-back years despite facing a brutal schedule in 2010. The Cyclones will be without quarterback Austen Arnaud, but Jerome Tiller has been in big games during his time in Ames and figures to be an experienced if not solid replacement. The defense will be much more experienced than this year’s team and could be the strength of team in 2011.
9. Kansas State – Until Kansas State gets some help on the defensive side of the ball, it’ll be a struggle to keep up with the offenses in the Big 12. K-State gave up 230 yards on the ground this season which is something Bill Snyder is addressing on the recruiting trail looking for defensive lineman. Snyder is still trying to find a difference maker at quarterback that was a staple of his best teams during his first tenure in Manhattan. But don’t ever count out Snyder; he’ll have KSU on the cusp of another bowl bid one way or another.
10. Kansas – It was a long, long year for Turner Gill in his first year back in the Big 12. Offense, defense, you name it, the Jayhawks need help all over. James Sims will be back at running back which gives them something to build around. And Gill is having some good success on the recruiting trail, although it’ll take a year or two to develop that talent. Kansas should be better but most likely will be looking up at the rest of the conference for another season.
So that’s the early wrap on 2011. The conference may be down two teams, but on the field, the Big 12 will still be solid next season and figures to have their say in the national title picture when it’s all said and done. Of course, September is a long time away and a lot can change between now and then. But after all the upheaval in 2010, we already knew that.
Things continue to look up in Stillwater, Oklahoma these days. The Cowboys are coming off an 11-2 season and today they received more great news. Two of the staples from one of the most prolific offenses in the country announced they were forgoing the upcoming NFL draft to return for their senior season. Quarterback Brandon Weeden and wide receiver Justin Blackmon will be on part of the 2011 squad that should once give again battle for the Big 12 Championship.
Blackmon already was a first team All-American and Belitnekoff winner as the nation’s best receiver after hauling in 20 touchdowns and over 1700 yards in 2010. “It can only make you better coming back,” Blackmon said. “I can improve throughout next year with the coaching and the strength and conditioning staff we have here. They can get me better and try to get me to my full potential.”
And all of those yards and touchdowns for Blackmon came courtesy of the 27 year old Weeden who said Wednesday, “when you’re 27, what’s the difference of one more year, “ after some thought his age may give him reason to get to the NFL as soon as he could.
One group of people we were no doubt not happy to hear of the duo’s intentions were Big 12 defensive coordinators. With that being said, Cowboys head coach Mike Gundy still has one little item to attend to; naming an offensive coordinator to replace to Dana Holgorsen who bolted for West Virginia to be the coach-in-waiting under Bill Stewart.
Gundy said on during the press conference he had no timetable to replace Holgorsen, but intended to keep the style of offense similar to what they ran under Holgorsen. Until that piece is in place, no one can be sure what to expect. But the fact that Weeden and Blackmon are coming back is a pretty good indication that any change in the OSU offense won't be dramatic in style. In other words, you can rule out the option coming to Stillwater next season.
With Ryan Broyles returning at Oklahoma, combined with the Weeden and Blackmon announcements, the Big 12 title may once again come down to what happens in the Bedlam showdown as it did in 2010. And if you saw the game this past November, you know that’s not a bad thing.
Rather than bore you with more stats from Oklahoma State’s offense (not that they weren’t impressive) take a look at some of the highlights yourself. I'm guessing Mike Gundy might get a goods night sleep tonight.
Whenever is coach is asked about a preseason ranking, you can count on some sort of canned response saying it doesn’t mean much, it’s where you finish that matters. Well, judging by what the voters thought in the preseason polls proves that point perfectly.
With the exception of Oklahoma, no other Big 12 teams finished near where they were projected. In fact, Nebraska was the only other team ranked in the preseason to finish the year ranked, albeit a little bit lower than predicted after their late season swoon.
Here’s a look at where the Big 12 teams finished in the final polls. There were five ranked teams to finish the season after having only three ranked to start the year.
|AP Poll||USA Today Coaches' Poll|
|NR||13||Oklahoma State||NR||10||Oklahoma State|
By far the biggest miss was on Texas. Granted, after losing Colt McCoy and Jordan Shipley to graduation, they were probably ranked to high to begin with, but no one saw a 5-7 season as their preseason top five ranking proves. They edged out Florida for the "Free-fall" of the year award. The Gators also also started the year ranked in the top five and finished out of the polls with an 8-5 record.
As for the preseason number one? That was Alabama. The Crimson Tide finished a respectable 10-3 on the year ranked 10th and 11th when it was all said and done. Not bad, but also not a national championship year as had been expected. But who said going back-to-back was easy? And how about Auburn, the team that claimed the BCS title? They started out the journey at #22 and #23.
So a memo to next years top five, beware and heed your coaches' advice. It's not where you start, it's where you end up. And if you're not in the preseason top ten, well, that just might be a good thing.
Thirty-five bowl games have come and gone with Auburn capturing the national title over Oregon last night. For the Big 12, it wasn’t exactly a bowl season to remember. Before we turn our focus to coaching rumors and recruiting, let’s hand out the report cards for the eight Big 12 teams who hit the field this holiday season.
The Honor Students:
Oklahoma: Grade A
Result: beat Connecticut in Fiesta Bowl, 48-20.
The Sooners came into the Fiesta Bowl as Big 12 champions and faced UConn, the 8-4 Big East champs who many BCS despisers didn’t think should even be in a BCS Bowl. It was a game that could have brought on some going-through-the-motion type of play from the Sooners, but Bob Stoops made sure that wasn’t about to happen. Oklahoma ended a five game BCS bowl losing streak in the process and dominated the overmatched Huskies, although UConn hung close longer than many expected. The win sets the stage for high expectations in 2011 with many believing the Sooners will begin the year ranked atop the preseason polls.
Oklahoma State: Grade A –
Result: beat Arizona in Alamo Bowl; 36-10.
The Cowboys capped of an impressive season with a 36-10 win over a reeling Arizona team that limped into the bowl season. It wasn’t the Cowboys most impressive showing of the season, but it was a game that was never in doubt. After Markelle Martin’s 61 yard interception return made it 23-7 at halftime, the Cowboys never looked back. The Cowboys totaled only 312 yards but it’s hard to find many faults with the Cowboys game, or their season, for that matter.
Making the Grade
Texas Tech: Grade B
Result: beat Northwestern in TicketCity Bowl, 45-38.
The Red Raiders were the only other Big 12 team outside of the state of Oklahoma to record a bowl win. They held leads of 31-9 and 38-17 before holding on in the end as Northwestern’s final hail mary was intercepted in the end zone on the game’s final play. The Texas Tech defense had been an issue all season but they got the job done against Northwestern who was playing with their backup quarterback, Evan Watkins. Tommy Tuberville finishes his first season in Lubbock with an 8-5 record.
Kansas State: Grade B-
Result: lost to Syracuse in New Era Pinstripe Bowl, 36-34.
From start to finish, this may have been the most entertaining bowl game of the Big 12’s eight games. It turned out to be a tough one for Wildcat fans to stomach and rightfully so, after a bogus call cost K-State a legitimate chance at a 2 point conversion following their final touchdown. The first ever Pinstripe Bowl will no doubt be remembered for “The Salute”. As for the game, the Wildcats held their own against an improving Orangemen squad. The run defense that had been a problem all season caused issues once again, however, as Delonte Carter picked up 196 yards rushing. KSU scored with 1:26 remaining but the excessive celebration penalty caused the two point conversion try to be attempted from the 18 yard line. Overtime would have been a fitting end to this game, but thanks to Mr. Referee, we’ll never know what would have happened.
Missouri: Grade C
Result: lost to Iowa in the Insight Bowl, 27-24.
The 10-2 Tigers faced the 7-5 Hawkeyes but couldn’t close the deal in a game that falls into the would of/should of/could of category. Missouri racked up over 500 yards of offense against the Iowa defense but it was Blaine Gabbert’s two interceptions that sealed the deal for Missouri. The final pick was returned by Iowa for a score in what proved to be the winning touchdown as the Tigers looked to have control of the game. Missouri failed once again to run the ball, rushing for only 78 yards in the loss.
Texas A&M: Grade: C-
Result: lost to LSU in Cotton Bowl, 41-24.
The Aggies got off to a nice start after returning the opening kick-off 69 yards to set up the first touchdown of the game. Texas A&M added a field goal to go up 10-0 in the first quarter but were outscored 41-14 the rest of the way by LSU. Tim DeRuyter’s improved A&M defense had trouble slowing down LSU who totaled 446 yards and took advantage of four A&M turnovers including three Ryan Tannehill interceptions. The loss ended A&M’s six game winning streak that landed them in the Cotton Bowl. The Aggies made big improvements this season but the loss to LSU showed there is still some work to do in College Station.
Disappointed, but keep working, son.
Baylor: Grade D
Result: lost to Illinois in Texas Bowl, 38-14.
Baylor hadn’t been to a bowl game since 1994 and their first trip back to the post season wasn’t a good one. They fell behind 16-0 at halftime and 24-0 early in the third quarter before they finally resembled the team they had been for most of the 2010 season. They cut the lead to 24-14 early in the fourth but never seriously challenged the Illini. Illinois rushed for 291 yards in the victory against Baylor’s defense who had trouble slowing down Mike LeShoure all day. The result wasn’t what Baylor expected coming in, but that fact they qualified for the postseason was a sure sign they are headed in the right direction under Art Briles.
Nebraska: Grade D-
Result: lost to Washington 19-7 in the Holiday Bowl.
Some had said Nebraska wasn’t excited to be back in the Holiday Bowl facing a 6-6 team. Whatever the reason, the Huskers played arguably their worst game of the year. After putting 56 points on Washington earlier in the season, Nebraska’s offense could only muster seven points this time around. And they only gained 189 yards total, as Washington's revampled defensive line dominated Nebraska all night. The game showed just how many steps back the Husker offense took the second half of the season. Nebraska’s defense didn’t play as poorly, and had it not been for their effort, the overall team’s grade would have been an F. Washington still managed to exploit the Nebraska run defense, gaining 268 yards on the ground, with Chris Polk picking up 176 of those yards. All things considered, it was a disappointing ending to the season for Nebraska.
So if my math is correct, the Big 12 gets a grade somewhere in the C+ range for the bowl season. It wasn't all bad, but surely the conference had higher hopes than a 3-5 finish with Texas A&M being the only true underdog, at least when considering the point spreads heading in. The conference won their BCS game, but there was little to hang their hat on this holiday season.
General College Football
Saturday Down South (SEC)
Holy Turf (Big 12 and SEC)
Eye and Eer (Ohio State & West Virginia)
Big 12 team sites are on the team specific pages