Bear Trap: Oklahoma State dismantles Baylor, controls Big 12

9 Comments

For the first time this season, the No. 4 Baylor  (9-1, 6-1 Big 12) offense was not invincible. In fact, at teams it was impotent. Perhaps it was the venue, where the Bears have not won in 74 years, or perhaps it was the first time the Bears were met by an opponent capable of scoring and defending everything Baylor does well. No. 10 Oklahoma State (10-1, 7-1 Big 12) played about as perfect a game you could play in a 49-17 taming of Baylor.

Oklahoma State quarterback Clint Chelf had his second career 300-yard passing performance with 337 yards, a new career high. both of Chelf’s 300-yard games have come against Baylor. The Cowboys quarterback threw two touchdown passes before getting a rest in the fourth quarter. He completed 18 of 24 attempts. his top target was Tracy Moore, who had five catches for 126 yards and a touchdown. The Cowboys outscored Baylor 35-14 in the second half after taking a statement 14-3 lead to the half.

If you watched Baylor for the first time this season on Saturday night you may have never guessed it, but Baylor’s offense came in to the game averaging 61.2 points and amassing 683 yards of total offense per game. That is how good Oklahoma State played on the defensive side of the football. Baylor’s pass offense was shut down by an aggressive defensive secondary, with Oklahoma State not allowing Antwan Goodley, Levi Norwood or Clay Fuller much room to work with as they have most of the season. Baylor’s recently emerging Heisman candidate at quarterback, Bryce Petty, had a rough night from start to finish, ending his night completing 28 of 48 attempts for 359 yards and two touchdowns. Most of those yards came in the second half when the game was well out of hand. Petty also missed a snap and failed to cover it up before Oklahoma State’s Tyler Patmon and returned 78 yards for a touchdown. That particular sequence ay have altered the entire momentum of the game, as Baylor was on the door step and about to cut a 25-point deficit down to 17 points with time to play. It still would have been an uphill climb for Baylor, but it would have been less steep.

Oklahoma State now has complete control of the Big 12 race with one game to play. The Cowboys get a week off before hosting rival Oklahoma (9-2, 6-2 Big 12) in the annual Bedlam game. A win by Oklahoma State will clinch the Big 12 championship and the automatic BCS berth that goes with it.That would send Oklahoma State to their second BCS bowl game in three seasons if they can finish the job against the Sooners.

Baylor’s BCS chances took a bit of a hit, but it is still too early to completely rule out the Bears from the BCS bowl picture. While the BCS championship game is now out of the mix, Baylor can still be in play for an at-large bid. It may be a reach, but if Baylor ends the season with regular season wins against TCU and Texas, Baylor could remain an option for a BCS bowl game. The problem is Fresno State or Northern Illinois are currently in line to grab one of the BCS spots, leaving one less spot available to an at-large option from a power conference.

Of course, Baylor can still win the Big 12 if they win their next two games and Oklahoma tops Oklahoma State.

Sun Belt commissioner Karl Benson frowns upon Group of Five playoff idea

AP Photo
4 Comments

The chances a team from the Group of Five ever gets selected to play in the College Football Playoff range from slim to none. As such, talk from within the Group of Five has kicked up from time to time, especially over the last year, about a possible Group of Five-only version of the College Football Playoff. The reactions to that idea has been mixed, but add Sun Belt Conference commissioner Karl Benson to the group of people who thinks that idea should be tossed aside.

While attending meetings for the College Football Playoff, Benson told reporters he would prefer to see conference champions from the Group of Five (American, Conference USA, MAC, Mountain West, and Sun Belt) receive better bowl bids instead of playing in a minor version of the College Football Playoff.

It’s time to have a realistic conversation about creating a playoff for the Group of 5,” NIU athletic director Sean Frazier told Brett McMurphy, then of ESPN.com, back in December. “Why not?”

Well, there are a number of reasons. First, not everybody seems to be on board with playing the college football version equivalent of the NIT. Sure, it would be on TV and would get ratings, but the reward at the end of the JV playoff would mean little. Nobody would consider it a national championship. That’s what the FCS is for.

Benson is not alone in his anti-Group of Five playoff stance. MAC commissioner Jon Steinbrecher also has been on record saying he is not interested in such a plan, and he oversaw a member from his conference go undefeated last season and play in the Cotton Bowl (Western Michigan).

My initial reaction is that’s not something I’m interested in,” Steinbrecher said, according to MLive.com in December. “We’re part of the (College Football Playoff) system, and it’s done a lot of very good things for the Mid-American Conference.”

Without the support from two of the Group of Five commissioners (and you can almost be guaranteed you can add Mike Aresco of the American Athletic Conference to the list given the conference’s push to be considered a power conference), this idea is pretty much dead on arrival.

LSU’s Arden Key: I am not sitting out my junior year

Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images
2 Comments

After taking a little time off from the LSU football program this spring, Arden Key calmed the nerves of Tigers fans on Wednesday with a simple message on his Twitter account.

Key announced to his Twitter followers he will be on the field for the Tigers this fall. Back in February, LSU released a statement saying Key would be stepping away from the program “for personal reasons.” What those personal reasons were is unknown, but he did so with the support of head coach Ed Orgeron and the entire football program at the time.

Key earned second-team All-SEC honors last season after leading LSU with 14.5 tackles for loss and 12 sacks, a school record. With news, he would be stepping away from the program and the age of top NFL Draft prospects opting out of bowl games, the mere thought that Key might become the first potential NFL Draft pick the following season sitting out the entire football season was difficult to completely ignore. Fortunately, especially for LSU and not so much for LSU’s opponents, Key is choosing not to break that barrier at this time.

Texas A&M removes WR Kirk Merritt from roster

Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images
1 Comment

After being charged for allegedly exposing himself to tutors at Texas A&M, wide receiver Kirk Merritt is no longer an Aggie. Merritt has been removed from the Texas A&M football program, according to a report from The Eagle. Though there has been no official statement confirming such news, Merritt’s name has been wiped off the team’s online roster.

Merritt pleaded not guilty to a pair of indecent exposure charges against him stemming from an incident last October. Merritt allegedly exposed himself to female academic tutors. Merritt was suspended by Texas A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin a few days after the alleged incidents. The suspension was expanded to indefinite status following Merritt’s arrest on November 8. The suspension has since been lifted after the university’s conduct process wrapped up in January.

It has been a bit of a bumpy year for Merritt. Merritt left Oregon for Texas A&M last summer due to family reasons. He participated in Texas A&M’s spring practices but did not play in the spring game.

Big 12 revenue eclipses $300 million mark

AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez, File
1 Comment

When it comes to revenues, the SEC and Big Ten continue to set the pace and leave the rest of the competition in the dust. That said, the Big 12 saw a second straight sizable revenue bump, according to recent tax returns.

As reported by USA Today, the Big 12 recorded a revenue of $313 million for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2016 on its tax return. The figure is up roughly $40 million from last year’s revenue, and the conference has now doubled its revenue since the 2012 fiscal year amid conference realignment changes. As for the revenue shares for each Big 12 program, the numbers ranged from $28 million to West Virginia to $28.9 million for Oklahoma. This marked the first time West Virginia and TCU were eligible to receive their full conference revenue shares as Big 12 members.

The biggest reason for the big jump in revenue came from increased bowl revenue. The Big 12 pulled in $114.5 million in bowl revenue in 2016, which was just $74.5 million in 2015. The 2015 season, which was included in the fiscal year outlined by this tax return, saw Oklahoma advance to the College Football Playoff and Oklahoma State be selected to play in a New Years Six bowl game (Sugar Bowl), which led to a larger bowl game distribution for the Big 12. The previous year saw no Big 12 team in the College Football Playoff (TCU, Baylor).

The Big 12 still lags well behind the SEC. Most will, of course. The SEC announced a revenue of $584.2 million for the 2015-2016 fiscal year, with each SEC member receiving a revenue share of $40.4 million. The SEC and Big 12 are the only conference revenue numbers currently on record for the 2015-2016 fiscal year, but expect the Big Ten to be a solid second in the pecking order, with the ACC likely to come in front of the Big 12 and the Pac-12 to be toward the bottom of the pack.

Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby had a pay increase as well. Bowlsby reportedly earned a little more than $2.6 million in 2015, earning more than $70,000 than the previous year.