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November 23, 2012

Baylor Blitz: JUCO update

JUCO update
Baylor's work on the JUCO recruiting trail isn't finished yet, although if the program plans to add any more in December, there's obviously some work to do.

The Bears are still in the running for Trinity Valley defensive end Quincy Russell and offensive lineman Josiah St. John.

Now, the question remains how strong the Bears are in the running. Russell has taken official visits to Texas Tech and went to Nebraska two weeks ago. He's scheduled to be at Oklahoma this week. From what we understand, he hasn't ruled out a visit to Baylor.

In case you lost track, St. John took his official visit to Baylor in August when fall workouts began. He has already taken visits to Texas Tech and Oklahoma and trying to decide where to visit next, according to a source.

That could be either TCU or Kansas State. Both of those teams are playing at home on Dec. 1 against Oklahoma and Texas respectively.

We'll see how it plays itself out.


Big 12 Weekend
A look at the upcoming weekend action involving the Big 12 along with their TV listings. All times are Central. All rankings are BCS.

West Virginia (5-5, 2-5) at Iowa State (6-5, 3-5)
2:30 p.m. Friday, Jack Trice Stadium, Ames, IA (ABC)
What to Watch:
The Mountaineers are in a major slide dropping their last five games including a heartbreaking 50-49 loss to Oklahoma at home last week. They need to win one of their last two games to become bowl eligible. While he's no longer a Heisman Trophy candidate, quarterback Geno Smith is having a great year throwing for 3,361 yards and 35 touchdowns. The Cyclones gained bowl eligibility with a win at Kansas last week. QB Sam B. Richardson emerged and had a great game. Now, the idea for the Cyclones is to win and clinch a winning season. However, the Cyclones are 1-3 at home in the Big 12.

Baylor (5-5, 2-5) vs. Texas Tech (7-4, 4-4)
1:30 p.m. Saturday, Cowboys Stadium, Arlington (FOX)
What to Watch:
The Bears need one more win to become bowl eligible. And they definitely have some momentum with the win over Kansas State last week. The defense also stepped up. Lache Seastrunk is now this team's starting running back and becoming a playmaker rushing for 560 yards. Until last year, Texas Tech had won 15 consecutive meetings. But the Red Raiders are struggling with offensive line injuries and quarterback Seth Doege also not sharp. With the Big 12 releasing its 2013 schedule, Baylor and Texas Tech agreed to continue the series at Cowboys Stadium for another two years.

No. 21 Oklahoma State (7-3, 5-2) at No. 13 Oklahoma (8-2, 6-1)
2:30 p.m. Saturday, Owen Field, Norman OK (ESPN)
What to Watch:
The annual Bedlam series resumes. The Sooners hold a commanding 82-17-7 lead. However, the Cowboys won last year's meeting. It looks like senior Clint Chelf will remain the starting quarterback as he has directed this team to wins over West Virginia and Texas Tech in the last two weeks. But the Cowboys haven't been a good road team. They are 6-1 at home and 1-2 on the road. Oklahoma kept its BCS at large hopes a live by pulling out a win at West Virginia last week. Quarterback Landry Jones is at 15,624 passing yards and only needs 170 yards to overtake Texas Tech's Graham Harrell (15,723) to become the conference's all-time passing leader and 350 to become all-time leader in total offense.

TCU 20, No. 16 Texas 13: The Horned Frogs (7-4, 4-4) forced three Texas turnovers - two in the TCU red zone - as they upset the Longhorns (8-3, 5-3) on Thanksgiving night in Austin and ended any outside hopes for the Longhorns had to share in the Big 12 championship.
The Horned Frogs rushed for 221 yards, which is pretty much par for the Texas rushing defense, which is last in the Big 12 in rushing defense at 200.2 yards per game.

Kansas State and Kansas have an off week


Big 12 Power Rankings
Each week, SicEmSports.com unveils its weekly power rankings. Agree or disagree, these make for great water cooler talk. These rankings are before the Texas-TCU outcome.

1. Kansas State - While no longer pursuing a national championship, they control the Big 12 race
2. Oklahoma - Sooners have won 32 consecutive games when leading at the half
3. Texas - DE Alex Okafor tied for the conference lead with 8 sacks
4. Oklahoma State - Cowboys fifth in total defense (388.2)
5. Texas Tech - Most penalized team in the conference (80-70.7)
6. TCU - Frogs are getting healthier with the 10-day layoff
7. Iowa State - QB Sam B. Richardson remains a mystery
8. Baylor - Has this much maligned defense turned a corner?
9. West Virginia - And to think they were the preseason Big 12 favorites
10. Kansas - Although the season has been rough, there are building blocks for 2013


Expansion running again
While one Big 12 official told me that the conference isn't looking to make any new additions anytime soon, we appear to be having another wave of this recklessness coming.

The Big Ten, apparently miffed the Notre Dame chose to move to the ACC, decided to be proactive and add Maryland and Rutgers earlier this week.

This may set off a chain of new movement. When the ACC announced a 12-year deal with the Orange Bowl and a $50 million exit fee, it was thought that the conference had found stability. But that may no longer be the case. Watch for Maryland to negotiate that exit fee. It's now a common practice in college athletics.

Connecticut is thought to be Maryland's replacement but there are concerns that the school leadership isn't sure about the ACC's future. There's also concerns from the ACC membership about why the conference is even talking to Connecticut.

That leads us back to the summer talks of Florida State and Clemson potentially reaching out to the Big 12 again, although Cincinnati and Louisville would love to be picked again. Maybe they have an ACC leg. However, they are not in the pecking order like major state schools such as FSU and Clemson.

Looks like more drama is about to begin.


Bowl projections
In August, we unveiled our inaugural Big 12 bowl projections. More than half of the conference membership - Kansas State, Iowa State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas, TCU and Texas Tech - is already bowl eligible.
Iowa State just joined the ranks last week. West Virginia and Baylor are still is one win shy as each at five wins.
Of course, this is subject to change:

BCS Fiesta Bowl - Kansas State. Another loss could kill BCS at large chances.

BCS Sugar - Oklahoma. Sooners still control their fate.

Cotton - Texas. I still like them in this spot

Alamo - Oklahoma State. It looks pretty clear the Cowboys are going to the River Walk.

Holiday - Texas Tech. There's a chance if the Red Raiders lose to Baylor, they could go elsewhere.

Buffalo Wild Wings (formerly Insight) - Iowa State. Now, this team can relax.

New Era Pinstripe - West Virginia. This one still makes sense for the Mountaineers given their slide and the ease to get to New York City.

Meineke Car Care - TCU. The Horned Frogs can finish anywhere from 6-6 to 8-4. But it's making more sense to keep them in Texas. Their opponent in this game comes from the Big 10 and likely would be Minnesota.

Heart of Texas Bowl - Baylor. This would definitely be a reward for this program given the October struggles


Emptying the notebook
* The cool thing about Baylor's 2013 schedule is that the final game on Dec. 7 is against Texas. It will be the last game at Floyd Casey Stadium.

* Still no word as far as Baylor hearing from the NCAA on the school's medical hardship application for quarterback Nick Florence.

* As for the funding for Baylor Stadium, we're told that everything continues to move very well (but financial numbers are not being disclosed). But the funding is going so well that the general fundraising campaign hasn't even started yet and there's no timetable of when it will.

* Posted earlier this week, Oklahoma City Douglass point guard Stevie Clark is announcing his decision next Friday, Nov. 30 at his school. It's thought that Oklahoma State is the leader for him, but don't discount the Bears' chances in this. Clark won't be able to sign his national letter of intent until April. The early signing period ended this past Wednesday.


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