Big 12 Insider: Defense will punch TCU's bowl ticket

Posted Wednesday, Oct. 31, 2012  comments  Print Reprints
A
Big 12 projected finish

Current

Proj.

Kansas St.

8-0, 5-0

11-1, 8-1

Oklahoma

5-2, 3-1

10-2, 8-1

Texas Tech

6-2, 3-2

9-3, 6-3

Oklahoma St.

5-2, 3-1

7-5, 5-4

West Virginia

5-2, 2-2

7-5, 5-4

TCU

5-3, 2-3

7-5, 4-5

Texas

6-2, 3-2

7-5, 4-5

Iowa State

5-3, 2-3

6-6, 4-5

Baylor

3-4, 0-4

4-8, 1-8

Kansas

1-7, 0-5

1-11, 0-9

Spotlight on Oklahoma State RB Joseph Randle

The junior hails from Wichita (Kan.) Southeast High School, the same city that produced NFL and OSU legend Barry Sanders.

Randle is starting to turn heads similar to Sanders, who won the 1988 Heisman Trophy. Randle leads the Big 12 with 891 yards and has rushed for over 100 yards in six of the Cowboys' seven games. Last week against TCU, he became the first rusher to gain 100 or more yards against the Horned Frogs, muscling his way to 126 yards on a season-high 32 carries. It's the first time an OSU back has had 30 or more carries since 2009.

"It didn't even seem like [I got 32 carries]," Randle said. "When you're so involved in the game, you just lose yourself, like Eminem. I have some people on my team that love that song, so I just lost myself in the game. If you're worrying about stats during the game, you're doing the wrong thing."

Randle began his career as a backup to All-American Kendall Hunter, but as a sophomore last season he finished fourth in the Big 12 in rushing. He needs 109 yards to become only the sixth OSU back to have two 1,000-yard seasons. The select group includes Terry Miller (who did it three times in the 1970s), Thurman Thomas, David Thompson, Tatum Bell and Kendall Hunter.

"He has definitely been consistent," OSU offensive coordinator Todd Monken said. "It's been good having Joe, thank goodness. Especially when Jeremy Smith had gotten hurt. Joe, ever since I've gotten here, is very durable. He stays away from being hurt a bunch, and he doesn't really complain. He just works and goes out there and plays."

Saturday's games

Oklahoma at Iowa State (11 a.m., WFAA/8): Sooners look to rebound from loss against Notre Dame; Iowa State's defensive leader, Jake Knott, is out for the season with an injury.

TCU at West Virginia (2 p.m., KDFW/4): Loser will have lost three straight for the first time in a while: Last time for TCU was 1998; W.Virginia, 2004.

Texas at Texas Tech (2:30 p.m., WFAA/8): Sluggish Longhorns face conference's No. 1 defense.

Kansas at Baylor (2:30 p.m., FSSW): Jayhawks ran the ball against Texas; Baylor is 95th vs. the run and 118th in total defense.

Oklahoma St. at Kansas St. (7 p.m., WFAA/8): K-State is averaging 43.4 points against Big 12 opponents.

Have more to add? News tip? Tell us

Six wins. Doesn't seem like a lot, but it means the world to college coaches and players. It's the magic number to earn a bowl berth.

TCU's Gary Patterson has mentioned it for months. As we wind down to the final stretch of the regular season, teams on the cusp of that sixth win will move heaven and earth to get there. That includes six teams still left in the Big 12 within striking distance.

"We're just trying to get to six wins and bowl eligibility," said Patterson, who could have been speaking on behalf of all those still hoping for that sixth victory. "It's not that easy, not against good teams, and everybody we've got left is a good team."

But defense starts to assert itself later in a season, and the Horned Frogs, who play at No. 21 West Virginia on Saturday, remain a solid defensive team.

"In November, whoever plays the best defense, controls the ball, and does everything is going to be the team that wins the conference title and be the top three teams," Patterson said.

The Big 12 has been a hard nut to crack in 2012, but the fate of the league has started to show itself with a final month of games remaining.

With that, here's how the conference could finish and how eight of the 10 teams will earn bowl berths:

Fiesta Bowl (Glendale, Ariz.) Someone is going to knock off Kansas State (8-0, 5-0 in Big 12), making it easier, and with less controversy, for the BCS gods to match up the title game. But the Wildcats will edge Oklahoma for the Big 12 title. Who beats KSU in the final month among Oklahoma State, TCU, Baylor and Texas? Not sure, but it won't be Baylor. The Wildcats will face Notre Dame, which will finish undefeated but left out of the championship game.

Cotton Bowl (Arlington) Oklahoma (5-2, 3-1) will finish the season with five consecutive wins but will settle for second place because of its five-point loss to KSU on Sept. 22. The Sooners will meet LSU, which will be thwarted by Alabama and finish second in the SEC.

Alamo Bowl (San Antonio) Texas Tech (6-2, 3-2) will finish 3-1, with games against Baylor and Kansas left. The Red Raiders will meet the second-place finisher in the Pac-12 (not in a BCS bowl), likely Stanford or USC.

Buffalo Wild Wings (Tempe, Ariz.) Oklahoma State (5-2, 3-1), despite playing well, still faces the toughest stretch of its schedule the final month. Losses to Kansas State (Saturday night) and to Texas Tech and Oklahoma will send the Cowboys to Arizona to meet a mid-pack Big Ten team, which they'll pummel.

Holiday Bowl (San Diego) West Virginia (5-2, 2-2) will regroup after two consecutive losses and finish fifth to earn a trip to the West Coast to play the Pac-12's third-place team. The likely opponent is whoever finishes lower between USC and Stanford.

Meineke Car Care of Texas Bowl (Houston) TCU (5-3, 2-3) will snag one, maybe two, more wins in its final four games to earn its eighth consecutive bowl berth. The Horned Frogs will head back to Houston, where they've played three bowls in the previous 11 seasons. They'll match up against the sixth-place team from the Big Ten, currently looking like Iowa (4-4, 2-2) to ESPN's two bowl analysts.

Pinstripe Bowl (New York City) Texas (6-2, 3-2) will limp through the rest of its season, going 1-3 the final month, but still earn the league's coolest bowl destination with a trip to Yankee Stadium to play the Big East's fourth-place team Pittsburgh. Cool because it's the Big Apple and cool because it'll be cold and the press box is open to the elements.

Independence Bowl (Shreveport) Iowa State (5-3, 2-3) could struggle in the final month (even against last-place Kansas), but will nab a sixth win. The Cyclones will have their hands full, though, against Louisiana Tech.

Left out in the cold: Baylor (3-4, 0-4) will fail to earn a bowl for the first time in three seasons, and Kansas (1-7, 0-5) will miss the postseason for the fourth consecutive season.

Other projected bowls:

BCS National Championship Game: Alabama vs. Oregon

Rose Bowl: Nebraska vs. Oregon State

Sugar Bowl: Georgia vs. Louisville

Orange Bowl: Florida State vs. Boise State

Bell Helicopter Armed Forces: Tulsa vs. Air Force

Stefan Stevenson, 817-390-7760

Twitter: @FollowtheFrogs

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