Our Way-Too-Early 2018 Big 12 Football Power Rankings

It’s a quarterback league in the Big 12. If you have one, or at least have a good idea, you’re a step ahead of everybody else. The Oklahoma Sooners, with three Heisman-winning quarterbacks — including the most recent one — plug and play at that position. That’s why they are at the top of the Star-Telegram’s internet-search friendly “#WayTooEarly” Big 12 Power Rankings for 2018. West Virginia knows who its quarterback will be. Just about everyone else has decisions to make, but the incoming talent at the most important position in the game looks outstanding again in the Big 12. The Star-Telegram’s Way-Too-Early 2018 Big 12 Power Rankings 1. The OKLAHOMA SOONERS will have a new quarterback. Normally that pushes any team down in the way-too-earlys. And in this case, the new quarterback has to replace Baker Mayfield. Hard to imagine an improvement in production. But, Kyler Murray looks like no ordinary replacement. He was a winner at the most elite level of Texas high school football. No small thing. And at a place like Oklahoma, plenty of weapons are lying around. They will all be put to use, no matter the quarterback. 2.The WEST VIRGINIA MOUNTAINEERS got a nice Christmas gift when Will Grier opted to play his senior season. That’s a big deal. He gives the Mountaineers the most veteran quarterback in the Big 12, who happens to be an accurate thrower with a big arm. Plus, he gets his top target back, David Sills III. This quarterback-receiver pair have a head start on every other quarterback-receiver duo in the league. 3. The TCU HORNED FROGS are going to have a new quarterback, too, a choice that comes from the two highest-rated quarterbacks the Horned Frogs have ever signed. Both are four-star players, signed in back-to-back recruiting classes. Shawn Robinson has a head start on Justin Rogers. Robinson played in six games last year, starting and winning a road game in the Big 12 as a freshman. Rogers Continue Reading

Peterson: Who’s the Big 12 Coach of the Year? Easy. It’s Matt Campbell.

AMES, Ia. — If Matt Campbell doesn’t win Big 12 Conference’s Coach of the Year Award, then no one should. If he doesn’t win, then the conspiracy theorists among you (and you know who you are) just might be onto something. Maybe there are people out there that wish Iowa State football didn’t exist.I’ve heard Campbell called a miracle worker, which I don’t buy. He’s done a great job of changing the culture. He’s weeded out players who didn’t fit his style. Along with the seniors, he’s orchestrated the locker room into a place where there’s just one clique — the all-in Cyclones football clique — and don’t forget this:Matt Campbell has made Iowa State football consistently relevant for the first time in a long, long while.Heck, this team might even win at Kansas State on Saturday for the first time since Dan McCarney’s 2004 team won there.A miracle season? If Matt made miracles, then why did the Cyclones lose against Iowa, Texas, West Virginia and Oklahoma State?I don’t subscribe to whatever Hilton Magic is, either, and maybe that’s just my curmudgeon seeping out. If the always-rockin’ place was magical, then please explain the almost 20-point loss to Wisconsin-Milwaukee. There wasn’t anything magical on that night.You needn’t wave a wand when it comes to Big 12 football Coach of the Year. It should be Campbell. It should be unanimous.Name me a coach that’s done a better job. He’s turned an embarrassing (remember the Take A Knee game?) program into a Big 12 championship game longshot heading into Saturday’s 2:30 p.m. regular-season finale at Kansas State.He’s probably taking his team to either Orlando, Houston or Memphis for a bowl, too. Iowa State could win eight regular-season games for the first time since 2000, if successful at Kansas State.Lincoln Riley of Oklahoma?The Sooners were supposed to be in the Big 12 Continue Reading

PODCAST: ‘Cyclone Insider’ scrutinizes the Big 12 title road

Iowa State isn’t out of the Big 12 Conference title game conversation quite yet.Tommy Birch, Randy Peterson and Chris Williams talk about what happens for the Cyclones to get into the Big 12 championship game.The guys also previewed Saturday’s game against Oklahoma State and broke down possible bowl game landing spots.Take a listen below!October 31: Time to aim highOctober 24: Revel in the football buzzOctober 17: Cyclones could be near something specialOctober 10: Breaking down the takedown of OklahomaOctober 3: Basketball hope, football frustrationSeptember 26: Texas-sized controversiesSeptember 19: Say hey to a new hoops recruitSeptember 12: Moving on from Cy-Hawk sorrowSeptember 5: The Cy-Hawk talk is onAugust 29: Breaking down the Week 1 depth chartAugust 22: 'Insider' is just 12 days from college footballAugust 15: 'Insider' talks all things football — and their final takeaways from fall campAugust 8: 'Insider' talks Iowa State football's fall campAugust 1: 'Insider' talks fall camp — and what it reveals about how the Cyclones are shaping upJuly 25: Tom Manning talks upbeat offense; guys talk Cy-Hawk cessation:July 19: Unpacking the meat of Big 12 media daysJuly 11: Lyndsey Fennelly joins the show before media days becomes the showJune 27: 'Insider' talks with Steve ProhmJune 20: 'Insider' talks Big 12 footballJune 13: 'Insider' talks with Matt CampbellJune 6: 'Insider' talks with Louis Ayeni Continue Reading

Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby paints grim future for NCAA, says ‘cheating pays’

DALLAS (AP) — Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby had a dire warning Monday for anyone who likes intercollegiate athletics the way they are now. “You’re going to hate it going forward,” Bowlsby said. “There’s a lot of change coming.” During his opening address at Big 12 football media days, Bowlsby talked about growing financial constraints athletic programs face going forward and the “strange environment” that exists with class-action lawsuits against the NCAA and its member schools. Bowlsby said he’s doesn’t think there is a real understanding of how much lawsuits — which he numbered as seven and “growing all the time” — could radically alter things. “I think all of that in the end will cause programs to be eliminated. I think you’ll see men’s Olympic sports go away as a result of the new funding challenges that are coming down the pike,” he said. “I think there may be tension among and between sports on campus and institutions that have different resources.” Bowlsby also addressed the NCAA enforcement program, which he said “is broken” considering no hearings before the infractions committee in almost a year even though he doesn’t believe cheating is rampant. “I think it’s not an understatement to say cheating pays presently,” he said “If you seek to conspire to certainly bend the rules, you can do it successfully and probably not get caught in most occasions. ... They’re in a battle with a BB gun in their hand. They’re fighting howitzers.” While acknowledging the outcomes are unknown, the former Stanford athletic director expressed concern about fewer opportunities for some athletes to go college in the future. “I fear that we will get past the change and then we’ll realize that all the gymnastics programs went away, or that we have agents Continue Reading

Baylor has different take defending Big 12 title

DALLAS (AP) — Coach Art Briles and Baylor arrived at Big 12 football media days as defending champions for the first time.Briles has a slightly different take on the Bears' newfound standing."How can you defend and protect something that nobody can take? 2013 is gone forever. That title is ours," Briles said Monday. "We're attacking 2014 just like everybody else. That's our mindset with our players, and that's the way they've been approaching everything."The first of five coaches on the podium for the first day, Briles used a baseball analogy in that leadoff role."The thing that's a little different is, I don't know what the commissioner expected, but we're not going to try to bunt or get a single. I promise you that," he said. "We're swinging for the fences. So maybe he should have put us fourth because that's just the way we approach the game."Even with quarterback Bryce Petty and receiver Antwan Goodley back, Baylor was picked second in the Big 12 media preseason poll behind Oklahoma. The Bears won 11 games last season before losing 52-42 to UCF in the Fiesta Bowl.Kansas State and Texas, who will join the Sooners for the second day at the Omni Dallas Hotel, were picked third and fourth, respectively.Oklahoma State opens Aug. 30 against defending national champion Florida State and Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston in Arlington, Texas.The Cowboys will have less available practice time once school starts after falling below the NCAA minimum standard with their Academic Progress Rate score over a four-year period. They can work only 18 hours a week, instead of the standard 20 under NCAA rules, though coach Mike Gundy said that won't be too much of an issue."We haven't used the 20 hours in a number of years. And when you put it down on paper, we end up being about 45 minutes short," Gundy said. "We'll incorporate a few new things in two-a-days prior to school starting, when we don't have any limitations, and we'll move forward. I've challenged the players Continue Reading

Big 12 fortunes ride on new Red River Rivalry, Texas’ Tom Herman, Oklahoma’s Lincoln Riley

FRISCO, Texas — A few days ago, Oklahoma President David Boren made some ripples — we know, what’s new? — by saying he is “philosophically in favor of a 10-win Texas.” Tom Herman’s response:“So am I!”Herman laughed as he said it. And then the Longhorns’ first-year coach acknowledged that he’d like to see Oklahoma have similar success. And this isn’t so much détente in a heated rivalry so much as it is recognition of the obvious:The Big 12 needs Texas to get good again — and for Oklahoma to remain there.All of which is why the Red River rivalry is suddenly so fascinating. Herman is Texas’ new hope, the guy who is supposed to catapult the Longhorns back to winning. On the other sideline at the Cotton Bowl that second Saturday in October will be another newcomer. All Lincoln Riley is charged with is maintaining what Bob Stoops built, and goosing the Sooners just a bit to reach their success levels of the 2000s.Both jobs are big enough by themselves. But in very important ways, both coaches also shoulder the fortunes of the Big 12 at a very critical time.As the conference’s media days unfolded Monday and Tuesday, coaches and players mingling with mascots and cheerleaders in an indoor football arena, the vibe was upbeat with a dose of defiance.“I don’t think the Big 12 is in any jeopardy whatsoever or as weak as some might portray,” Kansas State coach Bill Snyder said.He was echoed by others, which was a good sign: The league that can’t ever seem to get out of its own way was, publicly at least, reading from the same page. But as always with this league, the backdrop is uncertainty.The Big 12’s TV contracts run through the 2024-25 school year; that’s also when the grant-of-rights from each school to the league is set to expire. After that, no one is sure if the league will continue to exist in its current form — or at least, with its Continue Reading

Jeff Woody: Iowa State football is first in the Big 12 standings. In November. What a time!

The rest of the country finally knows what we’ve known for a long time: Iowa State is a great place to be.Obviously, I’m biased, but this nation-wide notoriety feels like a band you’ve been listening to for years finally gets their breakthrough hit. And you feel like shouting, “I TOLD YOU SO!"With the win over No. 4 TCU in hand, Iowa State has now beaten a top-five team on the road and at home in the same calendar month. The defense has shut out two conference opponents in three weeks (TCU had a special teams touchdown this week but no points by its offense). The Cyclones are for sure going to a bowl game and sitting in first place in the Big 12 in November with the nation's No. 16 ranking.Not only that, but Iowa State currently has only one ranked team remaining on the schedule (with West Virginia being dropped this week) — assuming Kansas State doesn’t rip off four straight wins before the two teams play. The great thing is, the Cyclones played really well on Saturday, and yet there are still obvious things that they can improve on.How fun is it to be thrilled with an outcome and still see room for improvement? Most college football programs would love to be in that position.I’m going to start with the good, but not going to dwell there because everyone already has hashed out exactly what they’ve done.I’m a big fan of “The Walking Dead.” One scene in the last season reminds me of this Iowa State team. Without any spoilers, Rick and the gang are in a scuffle with a guy named Negan and his group of ruffians. At one point, Negan has Rick and his son, Carl, absolutely dead to rights with literally no visible or conceivable means of escape.Kneeling and bound, Rick looks at this guy and says, “I don’t know how and I don’t know when, but I will kill you.” He had no reason to believe that he was going to win — or even survive, for that matter. But he Continue Reading

Peterson: Iowa State facing West Virginia obstacle in trek toward Big 12 title game

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Matt Campbell said from the outset that he came to Ames to lead Iowa State football to championships.A bowl game? Not just get to a bowl game, the crafty coach has said many times. Win a bowl game.Big 12 championship game? Again, don’t just settle for getting there. Win it.That’s why bowl-eligibility for the first time since 2012 isn’t even big news around Iowa State football. There’s a Big 12 title to be won, and another step toward that goal involves Saturday’s 2:30 p.m. game at 5-3 West Virginia.Ranked 15th in this week’s first College Football Playoff poll — the only ratings that matter right now — this team that’s captivated the college football nation holds the key to who plays for the conference title Dec. 2 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. It holds head-to-head tiebreakers over two of the three other one-loss leaders — Oklahoma and TCU.One-loss Oklahoma State comes to Jack Trice Stadium next Saturday, and the level of that game’s importance rests with what happens this weekend.It’s a sprint to the finish with four regular-season games left, including three on the road. This weekend, it's the Cyclones’ very good defense against the Mountaineers’ very good offense.  Specifically, it’s all the parts of Iowa State’s pass defense against Will Grier and all the parts that have made him among the Big 12’s best quarterbacks.West Virginia is favored by about a field goal, which essentially is whatever home field advantage exists in Milan Puskar Stadium. Essentially, Vegas calls it even. Iowa State 31, West Virginia 27Kansas’ Khalil Herbert rushed 36 times for 291 yards against the Mountaineers. It came in a loss. Nonetheless, West Virginia nearly gave up 300 rushing yards to one player. Oklahoma State’s J.D. King rushed 21 times for 141 yards against the Mountaineers last Saturday. This Continue Reading

Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby thinks FBI investigation ‘going to be around for a while’

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby believes the federal investigation into corruption in college basketball has brought to light a seedy underbelly of the sport that people have known about all along.Bowlsby, who spoke during the Big 12’s media day Tuesday, also thinks the investigation that has brought down Louisville coach Rick Pitino and athletic director Tom Jurich is not going away soon.“We certainly have always known all the best parts of college athletics and all the worst parts of college athletics are embedded in the sport of men’s college basketball,” Bowlsby said. “Lots of high-risk academic people and high-risk social people and lots of third-parties involved, and I think it’s impossible to know at this point how far this goes or who might be involved in it.”Federal prosecutors have accused 10 men, including four assistants at Power Five conference schools, of funneling money to prospects in an attempt to direct them to certain schools, agents and companies. The probe hit the Big 12 when former Oklahoma State assistant Lamont Evans was charged in the case.“I know everybody wants answers to all those things,” Cowboys coach Mike Boynton said. “I really can’t answer much in regards to the investigation. But when that headline comes across your phone, I was shocked. That’s really all I can say about initial feelings and thoughts about it.”The NCAA has already formed a commission, independent from the organization’s governance, to study the inner workings of the sport. It is being chaired by former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.Bowlsby said the Big 12 provided some guidance to athletic directors during a meeting last week, and there has been additional guidance from the NCAA heading into the next season.“Surveillance of rule compliance is something our schools do all the time. It’s routine, almost a daily part of how they operate,” Continue Reading

Week 10 lookahead: Plenty of Playoff implications for Big 12, ACC

The early College Football Playoff results are in: Georgia first, Alabama second, Notre Dame third and Clemson fourth, followed by a grab bag of unbeaten and one-loss teams elbowing for postseason position as the regular season hits its home stretch.It’s time for college football to get serious. It’s time for brass tacks. No more fooling around. Every game counts, even when a loss no longer eliminates a contender from the championship picture — but these games in November really count, beginning with a Saturday defined by key matchups across each of the Power Five conferences.For two leagues in particular, the ACC and Big 12, it’s a weekend fraught with postseason implications. Each league has at least three and potentially four Playoff contenders. By Sunday, that number will be trimmed by at least one and perhaps two, with a profound impact on the remaining major conferences.Start in Stillwater, Okla., where Oklahoma State hosts Oklahoma in an elimination game. The Sooners are No. 5 in the first Playoff rankings, six spots ahead of the Cowboys. Oklahoma has built its résumé in no small part on a win at Ohio State in September; fittingly, the selection committee seeded the Sooners one slot ahead of the Buckeyes.“Obviously a big one this week, going to Stillwater to play one of the best teams in the country right now,” Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley said. “And honestly, to me, having seen them the last few years, they’re probably as well-rounded as they’ve been since I’ve been here.” MORE: UCF is unbeaten, and coach Scott Frost is in demand CFP RANKINGS: Notre Dame's resurgence could cause chaos MORE: The top 10 college football games in November A win at Oklahoma State would keep the Sooners in position to be the next team in line behind Notre Dame and Clemson, should either lose in November. Any fears over the Big 12 being left out of the field were Continue Reading