Baylor QB Bryce Petty shines brightest among Big 12 stars

Posted Wednesday, Dec. 04, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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More information Storylines Fera rolling Texas kicker Anthony Fera, one of three finalists for the Lou Groza Award, has made 15 consecutive field goals heading into Saturday’s game at Baylor. The mark matches the school record. Fera is 19 of 20 on FG attempts this season, with a long of 50 yards against Oklahoma. Precise Petty Despite a huge edge in attempts (319-43), Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty has thrown fewer interceptions (2) this season than Bears backup Seth Russell (3). Petty’s 28-2 ratio in touchdowns-to-interceptions ranks among the nation’s best. Many happy returns Heading into the final week of the regular season, Big 12 teams have combined to score 40 defensive or special teams touchdowns. The most popular method has been via interception returns (18). The longest is a 100-yard kickoff return. The shortest is a muffed punt recovery in the opponent’s end zone.
More information Spotlight Parker Graham, Oklahoma State OL Oklahoma State offensive lineman Parker Graham, a senior from Webb City, Mo., has a chance to collect his second conference championship ring in three seasons if the Cowboys (10-1, 7-1 Big 12) defeat rival Oklahoma (9-2, 6-2) in Saturday’s regular-season finale in Stillwater, Okla. Graham (6-foot-7, 315 pounds) said this year’s title, if it occurs, will be “more of a team effort” than the 2011 title, when the Cowboys relied on two eventual first-round NFL Draft picks (QB Brandon Weeded, WR Justin Blackmon) and other headliners. “Back in 2011, we had a bunch of big names,” Graham said. “While we have great players this year, I think it has been more of a team effort for us. The whole season has really shown … the leadership that we have. We have been able to push through everything and overcome obstacles to get where we are right now. It’s the best way to end the season, with a Big 12 championship on the line (while playing OU). We’re where we’ve wanted to be since spring ball.” Burch’s picks No. 9 Baylor 38, No. 25 Texas 33 (Saturday, 2:30 p.m., KDFW/Ch. 4): Bears earn share of Big 12 title, keep their BCS at-large hopes afloat with a hard-earned win to close out Floyd Casey Stadium. No. 6 Oklahoma State 41, No. 18 Oklahoma 28 (Saturday, 11 a.m., WFAA/Ch. 8): Cowboys outlast their rivals, secure Big 12 berth in Fiesta Bowl for second time in three years. Last week: 3-1 Season: 57-16

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The final crystal football of the BCS era will not wind up in the trophy case of a Big 12 school. But credit the league’s football programs with being the drama kings of college football on Championship Saturday.

Most leagues have trimmed their list of title contenders to two teams at this point. The Big 12 has three: No. 6 Oklahoma State (10-1, 7-1 Big 12), No. 9 Baylor (10-1, 7-1) and No. 25 Texas (8-3, 7-1).

Because OSU closes Saturday against No. 17 Oklahoma (9-2, 6-2), followed by the Baylor-Texas matchup in Waco, we’ve seen 30 percent of the league’s 10 members make it to Week 15 with legitimate Big 12 title hopes. That gives the Big 12 a de facto doubleheader of title games while other conferences have only one. Such final-week drama demands a tip of the cap to the league schedule-maker, which we’ll distribute along with other honors from the 2013 Big 12 football season:

• Most Valuable Player: Bryce Petty, Baylor QB. When coaches and media ballots are cast, he’ll be the runaway choice as the league’s Offensive Player of the Year. Petty, a junior, has earned that by leading the Bears to a 10-1 record while ranking second nationally in passing efficiency (183.8 rating) and first in yards-per-completion (17.87). In his first season as a college starter, Petty has topped the 300-yard passing mark on nine occasions and posted a 28-2 ratio of touchdown passes to interceptions.

• Most Valuable Administrator: Tim Allen, Big 12 senior associate commissioner. Allen creates the Big 12 football schedules and he deserves a bow for Saturday’s high-profile finales. Having two significant national telecasts with title implications on Championship Saturday, when other leagues have only one, is huge for the Big 12 profile.

• Most Memorable Game: Baylor validated its mettle as an elite team by taking down then-No. 10 Oklahoma 41-12 in front of a standing-room-only crowd in a Thursday night national telecast.

• Most Memorable Debut(s): Texas Tech quarterback Baker Mayfield, an incoming freshman walk-on, threw for 413 yards and four touchdowns, without an interception, in a 41-23 victory over SMU. Because the contest came in Tech’s season opener, it also marked the first career win for first-year coach Kliff Kingsbury, 34.

• Most Unexpected Result: Texas upset then-undefeated Oklahoma 36-20 as a two-touchdown underdog to break a three-game losing streak in the Red River Rivalry and slow the talk about finding a replacement for embattled coach Mack Brown.

• Most Puzzling Result: West Virginia stunned No. 6 Oklahoma State 30-21, giving the Cowboys (10-1) the loss that is keeping them out of the BCS national title picture. The Mountaineers finished 4-8, lowlighted by a 52-44 home loss to Iowa State (3-9).

• Best Newcomer: Greg Robinson, Texas defensive coordinator. Without Robinson’s input, the Longhorns would not be in the Big 12 title mix. Since taking over for fired predecessor Manny Diaz in September, the Texas defense has allowed 355.4 yards and 23.1 points per game in Big 12 play under Robinson. In nonconference games, Texas allowed 491.3 yards and 30.3 points per game.

• Worst Newcomer: A season-opening loss by the reigning champion to an FCS opponent. Kansas State turned the trip against North Dakota State, marking a league first. It also served as a season low on the national prestige meter.

• Best Unintended Statement for Big 12 Football: Texas A&M and Missouri. Two teams built in the Big 12, with Big 12-styled spread offenses, have made a major impact in the SEC in their first two seasons. A&M finished 11-2, with a Heisman Trophy winner, in 2012 and No. 5 Missouri (11-1) will play for Saturday’s SEC title against No. 3 Auburn (11-1). SEC loyalists will disagree, but the immediate success of the Aggies and Tigers suggests the nation’s most dominant football league in the BCS era is not as far ahead of peers as some would like to believe.

• Worst Unintended Statement for Big 12 Football: September struggles by projected front-runners Texas (1-2 start), TCU (1-2 start), Kansas State (loss to FCS opponent) and Oklahoma State (Sept. 28 loss to West Virginia) kept all league teams out of the top 10 rankings until midseason, the longest drought to start any season in Big 12 history.

• Best Fresh Wrinkle: Every school won at least one conference game for the first time since the 2010 season.

• Worst Fresh Wrinkle: Only six teams qualified for bowl berths after nine made the postseason last season.

• Best Stat Related to Bottom Line: The Big 12’s top three teams in turnover margin are tied for the league lead heading into Saturday’s games. All rank among the nation’s top 19, led by Oklahoma State (No. 2, plus-16), Baylor (No. 15, plus-9) and Texas (No. 19, plus-8).

• Worst Stat Related to Bottom Line: Four of the league’s top eight teams in passing yards lost more than half of their conference games, including Big 12 pacesetter Texas Tech (7-5, 4-5). Tech ranks second nationally, at 392 yards per game, and West Virginia (4-8, 2-7) is No. 35, with a 262.1 average. TCU (4-8, 2-7) and Iowa State (3-9, 2-7) also make the list with season averages of 226.3 (TCU) and 219.2 (Iowa State).

Jimmy Burch, 817-390-7760 Twitter: @Jimmy_Burch

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