Posted on: December 30, 2011 4:09 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
A look at the key matchup that could determine the Cotton Bowl.
Tyler Wilson, QB, Arkansas vs. Kansas State secondary
Arkansas' offensive line hasn't been great this season, but considering the amount of times that the Razorbacks dropped back to pass, the fact that Arkansas only allowed 25 sacks on the year is somewhat impressive. Combine that with a Kansas State pass rush that only tallied 19 sacks on the season, and it's reasonable to believe that Tyler Wilson is going to have some time to throw against Kansas State in the Cotton Bowl.
Which is terrible news for Kansas State.
An offense like Arkansas', which averaged 321.7 yards per game passing and scored 37.4 points per game is not one that you want to give a lot of time to, nor is Tyler Wilson. A quarterback with a strong arm and a lot of weapons at his disposal. Then there's the Kansas State pass defense which finished the regular season ranked 73rd in the FBS in defensive pass efficiency (132.79) and allowed opposing quarterbacks to complete 63% of their passes and throw for 24 touchdowns.
Which has to have Wilson licking his chops, but he can't get too cocky because the Kansas State defense was also good at picking off passes, snatching 18 on the year. Only five other teams in the country finished with more.
So while Wilson will have plenty of chances in this contest, and has a plethora of dangerous options to choose from, he's going to have to be smart with his decisions. While trusting your receivers while the ball in the air is a good thing, you don't want to trust them too much because the Kansas State secondary has players like Nigel Malone (led Big 12 with 7 interceptions) and Tysyn Hartman (3 interceptions) who are more than capable of making a play on the ball.
If Wilson makes the right decisions and goes with the plays that are there, and doesn't try to make the play that isn't, then Arkansas has a very good chance to win this game. If not, then the opportunistic Kansas State secondary could make Arkansas its eleventh victim of the year.
Posted on: December 30, 2011 2:57 pm
Edited on: December 30, 2011 2:58 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
KANSAS STATE WILL WIN IF: Kansas State is an odd team in that it wasn't exactly outstanding in any one area this season, yet that didn't stop the Wildcats from winning 10 games. So how can it go about winning an eleventh game against a team as good as Arkansas? Well, it should probably follow the same formula that it used all season. Give the human wrecking ball that is Collin Klein the football and let him run people over for 60 minutes. As a team the Wildcats rushed for 193.7 yards per game in 2011, with Klein totalling 1,099 yards on the year. He was also virtually unstoppable in the red zone, as he scored 26 rushing touchdowns. This should not change against Arkansas. The Razorbacks allowed 174.33 yards per game on the ground, giving up 4.5 yards per carry and allowing 20 touchdowns on the season. Numbers that will go up if Kansas State is going to be successful. And running the ball will not only help Kansas State's case on offense, but by using Klein and John Hubert to move the ball on the ground, the Wildcats will also give their defense a break. Arkansas' offense is not one you want to keep on the field for too long because it's explosive and can rack up a lot of points, and Kansas State's offense isn't designed for shootouts. Though it has participated in a few. Still, if the Wildcats want to win this game, they'd be better served to keep this score in the upper 20s, lower 30s.
ARKANSAS WILL WIN IF: Arkansas' strength is clearly its offense, and considering that the Razorbacks have a brand new defensive coordinator for this game, that's not likely to change. Arkansas should pay close attention to what quarterbacks like Oklahoma State's Brandon Weeden and Oklahoma's Landry Jones did against the Wildcats. Both Oklahoma and Oklahoma State run offenses that are similar to Arkansas, and those two signal callers combined to throw for 1,007 yards and 9 touchdowns against Kansas State. The Wildcats defense is a lot better suited to stopping the run than it is spread passing attacks, and Arkansas is the perfect kind of offense to exploit that. Though Tyler Wilson will have to take care of the ball as well, because while the Kansas State secondary may not be great, it is opportunistic and guys like Nigel Malone can make a big play. So as long as Wilson takes care of the ball and spreads it out amongst his many weapons, then Arkansas should be able to put up a lot of points in this contest.
X-FACTOR: Joe Adams. It's a shame that Kansas State's Tyler Lockett lacerated his kidney in November and will miss this game not only because of the concern for the freshman's safety, but because we could have had two of the most explosive kick and punt returners in college football this season if he were healthy. However, we still get the chance to watch Joe Adams, and he has the ability to make any punt into one of the most exciting plays in a football game. While Kansas State's kickoff coverage unit has been one of the best in the country this season, its coverage on punts has been pretty average, and if they leave the slightest crack open for Adams in this game, then he may change the outcome of the Cotton Bowl by himself.
Posted on: December 7, 2011 2:57 pm
Edited on: December 7, 2011 2:58 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
The season has wrapped, the bowl games are set and it's time to hand out some awards. As part ofCBSSports.com's look at the regular season, here is the best of the Big 12 conference.
AwardsOFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Robert Griffin, quarterback, Baylor
When it comes to choosing only one person to be the Offensive Player of the Year in a conference that features so many potent offenses as the Big 12, it's not easy. Or at least, it shouldn't be. Still, despite all the amazing offensive players in the Big 12 this season, the choice here was pretty clear for me. Robert Griffin set an NCAA record with his 192.3 efficiency rating this season, all while throwing for 3,998 yards and 36 touchdowns compared to only 6 interceptions. No one player was more important to his team this season than Griffin was, and he'll likely be adding a Heisman Trophy to his collection soon enough.
DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Frank Alexander, defensive line, Oklahoma
There were a few other players I considered for this like Iowa State's A.J. Klein and Texas A&M's Sean Porter, but in the end I went with Alexander. He was a force on the defensive line for one of the conference's best defenses all season long. Alexander finished the season leading the Big 12 in tackles for loss with 18, and was tied with Porter for most sacks in the conference with 8.5.
FRESHMAN OF THE YEAR
Quandre Diggs, defensive back, Texas
This was between Diggs and Kansas State's Tyler Lockett for me, but I went with Diggs since Lockett missed the final three weeks of the season. I also went with Diggs because he deserves the honor, picking off 3 passes and breaking up another 13 while making 46 tackles for the Longhorns in 2011.
COACH OF THE YEAR
Bill Snyder, Kansas State
This was extremely tough, as I mulled between Snyder, Mike Gundy and Art Briles for a while. In the end I went with Snyder because I'm still amazed by what he's now done twice in Manhattan. I had a feeling before the season began that Kansas State would be better than we thought, but I didn't see a 10-2 season and a near berth in a BCS bowl being possible. So because of that I have to give the nod to Snyder.
All-Big 12 OffenseQUARTERBACK
Robert Griffin, Baylor
He was my offensive player of the year, so he's my selection for quarterback here as well. Though I'd be remiss if I didn't give a tip of my non-existent cap to Brandon Weeden and Collin Klein.
Terrance Ganaway, Baylor and Henry Josey, Missouri
When it comes to the Baylor offense, Griffin and the passing game get a lot of credit, but Ganaway is what helps make that passing attack even more dangerous. When you have a running back who rushes for a Big 12-best 1,347 yards and 16 touchdowns, defenses can't just drop back into coverage and take away your passing game. Ganaway's presence gives Baylor its balance. As for Henry Josey, he finished the season averaging more yards per game than any other Big 12 running back and would have led the conference in rushing yards if not for a knee injury against Texas that cost him the last few weeks of the season. Still, 1,168 yards in 10 games and over 8 yards a carry will get you here injury or not.
Kendall Wright, Baylor and Justin Blackmon, Oklahoma State
Too many deserving receivers to choose from, but I went with Wright and Blackmon. Somebody had to be on the receiving end of all those Robert Griffin passes, and Wright was the most popular target. He led the conference with 1,572 receiving yards and had 13 touchdowns. Only one receiver finished the year with more receptions and touchdowns than Wright, and that was Oklahoma State's Blackmon. He came into the season with enormous expectations considering what he did in 2010, and though he didn't match those numbers, 113 receptions for 1,336 yards and 15 touchdowns is one hell of a letdown. Also, honorable mention to Ryan Broyles who had his senior season cut short and Texas A&M's Ryan Swope.
Michael Egnew, Missouri
This wasn't that hard of a decision since Egnew led all Big 12 tight ends in receptions (47), yards (484), and was tied in touchdowns (3). Egnew was a reliable target for James Franklin all season.
Grant Garner, Oklahoma State; Levy Adcock, Oklahoma State; Gabe Ikard, Oklahoma, Kelechi Osemele, Iowa State, Jeremiah Hatch, Kansas
No matter what kind of scheme you use, there are no great offenses without great offensive lines, which means the Big 12 had plenty to choose from. Trying to pare a long list down to five was not easy, but these are the guys who stood out to me the most all season.
All-Big 12 DefenseDEFENSIVE LINE
Frank Alexander, Oklahoma; Ronnell Lewis, Oklahoma; Ray Kibble, Kansas State; Alex Okafor, Texas
If you're an offensive lineman and you look across the line of scrimmage to see these four men in your face, you know you are going to be in for a long day. Whether getting to the quarterback or stuffing the run, all four of these lineman had their names called quite often this season.
Arthur Brown, Kansas State; A.J. Klein, Iowa State; Sean Porter, Texas A&M
While Porter was tied for the Big 12 lead with 8.5 sacks, Klein was a tackling machine for the Cyclones with 101 tackles and also proved useful in coverage. Then there's Arthur Brown who, in my opinion, may be the best all-around linebacker in the conference. Whether stopping the run, in pass coverage, or just being wherever he needs to be to make a big play. Kansas' Steven Johnson and Texas' Emmanuel Acho also deserve a mention here.
Nigel Malone, Kansas State; Jamell Fleming, Oklahoma; Markelle Martin, Oklahoma State, E.J. Gaines, Missouri
If you're a cornerback or a safety at a Big 12 school, you are going to be tested week in and week out. There's no way around it, and some plays you're going to get beat, as it happens to everybody. Still, more often than not, these were the four defensive backs whom I saw making the plays their defenses needed them to make this season.
PK Randy Bullock, Texas A&M; P Quinn Sharp, Oklahoma State; Returner Tyler Lockett, Kansas State
I could have gone with Quinn Sharp for both punter and placekicker as he performed both duties for Oklahoma State this season, and performed extremely well in both jobs. I decided to go with Bullock however as he was called on more often than Sharp to put points on the board and did so at the same rate. Then there's Tyler Lockett who was one of the more exciting returners in the conference this season, with two kickoffs returned for touchdowns. He just slightly edged out Texas' Fozzy Whittaker.
Tags: A.J. Klein, Alex Okafor, Art Briles, Arthur Brown, Baylor, Big 12, Bill Snyder, Brandon Weeden, CBSSports.com All-Conference Team, Collin Klein, E.J. Gaines, Emmanuel Acho, Frank Alexander, Gabe Ikard, Grant Garner, Henry Josey, Iowa State, Jamell Fleming, James Franklin, Jeremiah Hatch, Justin Blackmon, Kansas, Kansas State, Kelechi Osemele, Kendall Wright, Levy Adcock, Markelle Martin, Michael Egnew, Mike Gundy, Missouri, Nigel Malone, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Quandre Diggs, Quinn Sharp, Randy Bullock, Ray Kibble, Robert Griffin, Ronnell Lewis, Ryan Broyles, Ryan Swope, Sean Porter, Steven Johnson, Terrance Ganaway, Texas, Texas A&M, Tom Fornelli, Tyler Lockett
Posted on: October 15, 2011 10:53 pm
Edited on: October 15, 2011 10:53 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
KANSAS STATE WON. Kansas State used some smoke and mirrors to beat Texas Tech on Saturday night, and by smoke and mirrors I mean special teams and turnovers. Texas Tech actually outgained the Wildcats 569 yards to 341 on the night, including a 388 to 94 advantage at halftime, but it didn't matter. Kansas State won thanks to two blocked field goals, a kick return for a touchdown, and 4 turnovers by Seth Doege. One of which was a pick-six by Nigel Malone only 37 seconds into the game. The result of all this was Kansas State's first win in Lubbock since 2000, and bowl eligibility after only six games.
WHY KANSAS STATE WON. As I said above, it was special teams and turnovers. What really killed Texas Tech on Saturday night, though, was that three of Doege's turnovers came on consecutive possessions in the fourth quarter. All three came in Texas Tech territory, and although Kansas State was only able to get 7 points out of them, it was the points those turnovers kept off the board for Texas Tech that made the difference.
WHEN KANSAS STATE WON. After kicking a field goal with 2:32 left to cut Kansas State's lead to 41-34, Texas Tech recovered an onside kick to keep hope alive. Unfortunately the Red Raiders couldn't go anywhere, and when Doege's pass to Aaron Crawford on 4th and 4 fell incomplete the Wildcats just had to run out the rest of the clock.
WHAT KANSAS STATE WON. On a day when a few surprise unbeatens like Michigan, Illinois and Georgia Tech all suffered their first loss of the season, Kansas State survived a tough road test. With a game against Kansas next weekend, which is a rivalry game that may not be as easy as you'd think, there's a strong chance that Kansas State will be hosting Oklahoma in Manhattan in two weeks with both teams undefeated.
WHAT TEXAS TECH LOST. This could have been a big win for Texas Tech following last week's home loss to Texas A&M, but the Red Raiders just beat themselves in the fourth quarter. Now Tommy Tuberville's team is off to a 1-2 start in the Big 12 with road games against Oklahoma, Texas and Missouri, plus a game against Oklahoma State still left on the schedule. Those two wins that Tech needs to get to a bowl game aren't going to come easy.
THAT WAS CRAZY. As great as Kansas State's special teams units were in this game, with the two blocked field goals and the kick return, they also made some dumb mistakes. A missed extra point and failure to recover an onside kick could have cost Kansas State the game.