Race for second heating up in the Big 12

ISUGipson
As the Big 12 season enters its final week, the most fascinating race is for second.

Kansas State, Iowa State, Texas and Oklahoma are all tied with 10 conference victories. All four teams have two games remaining, and all four teams could finish second as easily as they could finish fifth.

A breakdown:

Kansas State
Remaining Games:
at Oklahoma State, vs. Baylor.
Why they could finish second: The Wildcats won their last road game and have already beaten Oklahoma State this season. Winning in Stillwater, though difficult, is hardly impossible. And they should be favored against Baylor at home, where they have won 15 straight. K-State also benefits from tie-breakers, by virtue of its victory over Kansas. Texas also beat the Jayhawks, but it is hurt by losing twice to Oklahoma. That could come in handy when its time to seed the Big 12 Tournament.
Why they could finish fifth: Oklahoma State has been on a roll since Marcus Smart returned from his three-game suspension, and K-State is 2-6 on the road. There’s a reason the Cowboys are favored by 8.5 points in Stillwater. Baylor has also been playing well since it downed K-State in Waco. Beating the Bears at Bramlage Coliseum isn’t a given. The Wildcats face arguably the toughest schedule of this four-team group.
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Football Friday: Kansas State has owned Texas, but is the streak really that weird?

It’s time for another Football Friday. This feels like the biggest one of the year.

Kansas State will take on Texas at 7 p.m. on Saturday in Austin. It will be an important game for both teams. It is the conference opener for both sides, the Longhorns are desperately trying to get back on track and the Wildcats are hoping they can continue owning the series.

That seems like more than enough buildup. Now on to your questions:


Here’s the way I look at the streak: Is it odd that Kansas State, a team from the old Big 12 North with a 50,000-seat stadium, is the only team in the conference with a winning overall record against Texas? Yes. Is it strange that Ron Prince, a coach with a losing record who went 2-8 against ranked opponents at K-State, was undefeated against the Longhorns and beat them when they were ranked No. 4 and No. 7? Hell yes. Is it bizarre that K-State has beaten Texas three straight times since Bill Snyder came out of retirement? No. The Wildcats have been the stronger team since 2010, going 30-12 while Texas has hovered above .500 at 23-18.

That much is evident by the way they have won their last two home games in the series, 39-14 in 2010 and 42-24 last year. Those “We own Texas” chants have been justified. The last three wins were no fluke. The first two victories (Colt McCoy got hurt in 2006 and K-State scored on an interception return, a kickoff return and a punt return in 2007) were. K-State has also benefited from avoiding Texas in 2008 and 2009, when the Longhorns were the far superior program. But that’s the way it worked out, and K-State hasn’t lost to Texas since 2003. Is there magic involved? Maybe a little at the beginning, but the last three wins were expected.
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The Week Ahead: K-State hopes for sixth straight win over struggling Texas


Kansas State and Texas are teams heading in opposite directions.

The Wildcats have bounced back well from an opening loss with back-to-back wins and seem to have their running game back on track just in time for the start of Big 12 play.

The Longhorns have lost back-to-back games in embarrassing fashion (they let BYU and Mississippi combine for more than 800 rushing yards) and it seems like everyone and their dog is calling for longtime coach Mack Brown to resign.

It would seem as though K-State is catching Texas at the right time. There is one amazing soap-opera going down in Austin right now. But maybe this is the week the Longhorns figure out how to defend the zone read. Las Vegas oddsmakers clearly think that much is possible, as they have made Texas a four-point favorite.

One thing is for sure: This is a very important game for both teams. The winner will start the Big 12 season with a victory and pick up valuable momentum heading into important stretches. The loser will need to climb out of a hole. K-State has shown progress in its past two games, but the Wildcats don’t have much room for error at 2-1 with a trip to Oklahoma State up next. Texas is already in a world of hurt at 1-2. You have to wonder if players would quit on Brown after another loss.

Here is a look at everything else you need to know about the week ahead:
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Kansas State hardly alone in waiting to announce a starting quarterback


Whenever Kansas State has a preseason quarterback competition, Bill Snyder prefers to wait until the opening game is a few days away to announce a starter.

That is once again the plan leading up to this season. Snyder will likely announce a winner between Jake Waters and Daniel Sams at the beginning of next week. Traditionally, he waits until Tuesday.

The routine isn’t new. How it compares to other quarterback announcements across the Big 12 is. This year, Snyder may reveal his starting quarterback before a handful of his fellow Big 12 coaches.

As of Wednesday morning, only four Big 12 teams (Texas, Baylor, Kansas and Iowa State) know who their starting quarterback will be for Week 1. Six quarterback battles remain ongoing. Most of them will likely end in the next few days, but at least two will continue up until opening kickoff. Both TCU’s Gary Patterson and Oklahoma State’s Mike Gundy have said they won’t announce a starter before gameday.

The way Patterson talks, he might not release an official depth chart until his team takes the field for warm-ups against LSU.
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Kansas State football will benefit from a home-heavy, travel-friendly schedule

If you have access to a car, you can easily attend all 12 of Kansas State’s football games this season.

Perhaps that’s the best way to describe just how travel-friendly the Wildcats’ schedule will be this year.

It features eight home games and only three trips across state lines. And it is one of the main reasons many believe K-State will exceed preseason expectations, which have the Wildcats qualifying for a middle-tier bowl and finishing sixth in the Big 12 standings.

Let’s take a closer look at the schedule perks: K-State will benefit from five conference home games, as opposed to four last year, and play all three of its nonconference games at Bill Snyder Family Stadium.

K-State hasn’t played eight home games since 2006, when Ron Prince had his lone winning season and the Wildcats reached the Texas Bowl. The last time it happened during the Snyder era was 2002, when the Wildcats won 11 games and beat Arizona State in the Holiday Bowl.

This is the type of schedule Snyder prefers. He has been building toward it since he returned to the sidelines in 2009 and only played six home games in his first two seasons back.
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FAQ: The Longhorn Network


With Kansas State’s next basketball game at Texas set to be televised on the Longhorn Network, Wildcats fans naturally have questions about how and where they can watch it.

The game won’t be available in many mainstream formats (No DirecTV or Dish Network) but the Longhorn Network is carried by major TV providers Cox Cable (channel 272) and AT&T U-Verse. It can also be found on Verizon and Grande Communications.

On twitter, some have asked if the game will be available on ESPN3. It will not. I spoke with Rob Carolla, the Big 12′s Director of Communications for basketball, this morning, and he confirmed that the game will be televised exclusively on the Longhorn Network. He said it is up to each school to decide how to distribute games that are played on its third-tier TV network, and the only institutions in the Big 12 that allow their third-tier games to be shared on ESPN3 and ESPN Full Court are Kansas and West Virginia.
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Fiesta Bowl Countdown: From now on, Nigel Malone isn’t taking chances at the goal line

If Nigel Malone has the chance to score a touchdown against Oregon, he says he won’t drop the football until he runs through the back of the end zone and an official asks him for it.

Even then, he might be hesitant to part with the pigskin.

That’s the kind of caution he vows to show the rest of his career after the humiliating play he made against Texas. If you don’t recall the gaffe, here’s what happened: He intercepted a pass near the sideline in the first quarter and saw nothing but open field between him and the end zone. But as he approached the goal line, he became overconfident and dropped the ball an inch short of paydirt. Officials originally awarded him a touchdown, but took it away after a lengthy review.

“I’m pretty sure I crossed it. The line was behind me before I let the ball go. But it is what it is,” said Malone, a senior cornerback. “I know next time I won’t make it close. I’m going to give it to the ref. I might bring it back to the sideline.”
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Looking ahead to gameday: at Texas


Editor’s note: In preparation of the upcoming football season, K-Stated will look ahead to all 12 games on the Wildcats’ 2011 schedule. Next up, Texas A&M

There’s a pretty easy way to look at the Big 12’s new round-robin schedule: It’s a positive for the old south division teams and a negative for the old north division teams.

If you’re a team like Texas, you’ve got to like the idea of playing Kansas, Iowa State, Kansas State and Missouri on a yearly basis. If you’re a team like K-State, you’ve got to hate the idea of playing Oklahoma, Texas Tech, Oklahoma State, Texas, Baylor and Texas A&M every single year.

Or … do you?

While the first paragraph of this blog is true for most teams in the new-look Big 12, it could be viewed the opposite way by the Wildcats and Longhorns.

Coming off three straight wins over Texas, an amazingly easy 39-14 romp in Manhattan last year and an all-time record of 6-5 against the Horns, K-State may be the only team around that will look forward to playing Texas year-in, year-out.

The Wildcats will see if they can keep their winning streak going in Austin this November. Read More »

Postgame: K-State 39, Texas 14

At one point during its 39-14 victory over Texas, Daniel Thomas said one of the Longhorns’ defensive backs began complaining of boredom.

That pretty much sums up what happened Saturday night. The Wildcats ran the ball so effectively and often that Texas cornerbacks and safeties had little to do. The plan caught the Longhorns by surprise and K-State easily picked up its sixth win of the season and became bowl eligible.

Here’s a deeper look:

THE GOOD
1. Collin Klein added a whole new element to K-State’s rushing attack. The sophomore quarterback made the first start of his college career and rushed for 127 yards and two touchdowns on 25 carries. He made good reads throughout the night, and his speed was a nice complement to Thomas’s bruising running style. Read More »

Gameday Preview: Texas at K-State

Coming into the season, this looked like a very compelling game.

After dropping its last two games to Kansas State, it seemed like Texas would have revenge on its mind today in Manhattan. And with a traditional Big 12 powerhouse coming to town, the Wildcats would have the chance to pick up a statement victory.

The game is still compelling enough to be televised nationally at 7 p.m. on ESPN2, but it isn’t the match up everyone expected. The Longhorns (4-4) are struggling like never before under coach Mack Brown. The Wildcats (5-3) have lost two in a row.

Still, bowl implications mean the game is still important for both sides.
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