Big 12 Conference

FORT WORTH, TX - OCTOBER 03:  Head coach Charlie Strong of the Texas Longhorns looks on as the Longhorns prepare to take on the TCU Horned Frogs at Amon G. Carter Stadium on October 3, 2015 in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
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Kansas State dominating clock and Longhorns after one half

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There is nothing particularly pretty about what Kansas State has done in the first half, which is typical of a team coached by Bill Snyder. Regardless, it has been more than effective enough against a Texas team that once again looks stale and lifeless. A pair of first-half touchdowns have given Kansas State a 21-7 lead at halftime against the Longhorns.

Jesse Ertz took for a 19-yard touchdown play on the opening possession fo the game for the Wildcats. Ertz accounted for both of Kansas State’s touchdowns in the half on the ground, and added a late touchdown pass for a 21-7 lead. Ertz has been given good protection and time to process what is happening on the field, which has led to a good amount of safe and efficient passing plays for Ertz and Kansas State.

Kansas State has also dominated the Longhorns in time of possession. The Wildcats have had just one possession lasting at least five minutes in the first half, not including the last offensive possession of the first half. On defense, the Wildcats are not allowing Texas to move the ball much, which has led to a small time of possession. That appeared to be playing right into Kansas State’s advantage until a late first-half possession by Texas resulted in a long touchdown. Shane Buechele uncorked an 80-yard touchdown pass down the right sideline with Devin Duvernay doing the honors with his speed most of the way. Kansas state has held the football for 23 minutes and 18 seconds, with 19 first downs.

Texas must do a better job of getting off the field on defense in the second half and start flipping the time of possession in their favor.

Power Five conference races beginning to come into focus

BATON ROUGE, LA - OCTOBER 17:  College Football Playoff National Championship Trophy presented by Dr Pepper is seen at Tiger Stadium on October 17, 2015 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
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As we get set to embark on Week 8 of the 2016 college football season, we’re officially beyond the halfway point and closer to championship weekend than we are to opening weekend. And, with that, the Power Five conference races are starting to come into focus — but are far from finished.

This weekend, though, there are a handful of key matchups that could offer further clarity across the major conferences, although most, if not all, are still weeks away from being decided.

That said, here’s a look at where the Power Five conferences and, in four of the five cases, how their respective divisions stand before the eighth weekend of the regular season kicks off.

At 4-0, Clemson currently controls its own destiny in the division courtesy of the Oct. 1 win over 3-1 Louisville.  The U of L will be desperately rooting for Florida State, at 2-2 with one of those league losses coming at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium in the middle of last month, to knock off Clemson next Saturday as well as the Tigers tripping up in one of their other three remaining conference games (Syracuse, Pitt, at Wake Forest) while also holding serve through the remainder of their slate.  FSU, with league losses to the U of L and North Carolina, will need a minor miracle to get back to the conference championship game.

Technically, 2-2 Wake Forest remains in contention, and still has games against Clemson and Louisville.  Then again, they’re Wake.

In all likelihood, the Coastal will come down to a three-team race: 3-1 North Carolina, 3-1 Virginia Tech and 2-1 Pittsburgh.  Tech has already beaten UNC, and will face Pitt next weekend.  The Tar Heels, meanwhile, own a win over the Panthers to go along with the loss to the Hokies.  Simply put, if Tech wins out (at Pitt, at Duke, Georgia Tech, Virginia), they will claim the division and represent the Coastal against their Atlantic counterparts.

As you know, though, this division very rarely plays to the form it presents halfway through the conference season.

With all due respect to 2-1 Penn State, 3-0 Michigan and 3-0 Ohio State are on a collision course for an epic edition of the greatest rivalry in all of college football that will likely not only impact the division and the conference race but the College Football Playoff as well.  PSU could make me eat my words almost immediately as they play host to OSU in the always-dangerous white-out game later tonight; that said, if the Buckeyes can get past the Nittany Lions, they’ll have to traverse home games against Northwestern and Nebraska as well as road trips to Maryland and an abruptly vulnerable Michigan State before hosting UM.  The Wolverines get to host Illinois, Maryland and Indiana along with visits to rival Michigan State and Iowa before The Game.

Like the ACC Coastal, this division’s winner will very (?) likely come from a trio of teams: 3-0 Nebraska, 3-1 Iowa, 2-1 Northwestern.  The Cornhuskers already have a win over the Wildcats, while the Wildcats beat the Hawkeyes on the road the first weekend of this month.  Nebraska will close out the season against Iowa, while the latter has one sizable advantage over the other two as they avoid Ohio State completely while the others will face the Buckeyes in Weeks 9 (Wildcats) and 10 (Cornhuskers).  Both of those games, incidentally, are in Columbus.

There’s a potential wrench that could be tossed into the race, it should be noted, as 1-2 Wisconsin still has games remaining against all three of the West teams mentioned above.  Sweep those and get a little additional help, and the Badgers could be right back in the discussion by the end of the regular season.

BIG 12
Next season, this conference’s champion will be decided by a league title game.  This season, the standard round-robin format will determine the champion, and, because of that and the way the schedule is constructed, this league is as convoluted as any in the sport.

Three members are undefeated at the moment in Baylor and Oklahoma at 3-0, West Virginia at 2-0.  Two others are 2-1 — Oklahoma State and TCU.  How convoluted is the current state of the Big 12 race?  Just two games have been played between those five teams thus far: Baylor beating Oklahoma State and Oklahoma beating TCU.  A third will be played this weekend as the Horned Frogs will travel to Morgantown to face the Mountaineers in a contest that will allow a little — little — clarity when it comes to the conference race.

This could be the most simplistic of all the P5 divisions: barring something extraordinary taking place, the winner of this division will be decided in the Apple Cup between a 3-0 Washington and a 3-0 Washington State.  Or, at the very least, the winner will play in that rivalry game.  And, of all the developments thus far this season, that may be the most stunning.  To put a finer point on this divisional race, the team currently in third place at 2-2, 2015 Pac-12 champion Stanford, lost to both UW and Wazzu by a combined score of 86-22.

Utah and Colorado are tied atop this division at 3-1, with 3-2 USC still in the same neighborhood.  The Utes own a win over the Trojans, while the Trojans own one over the Buffs.  Utah and USC still have Washington on their schedule, while Colorado, which avoids UW, has to play a Washington State team that won’t face either of the other.  One date to circle on the calendar: Nov. 26, with the Utes traveling to Boulder to square off with the Buffs in the regular season finale.

A lot like the Big 12, this race likely won’t be decided until we get deep into November.

Despite its loss to 2-2 Tennessee, 3-1 Florida controls its own destiny in this division.  Win out, and the Gators will earn their second consecutive berth in the SEC championship game.  Their remaining league schedule?  The annual World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party grudge match with Georgia in Jacksonville, and road trips to No. 17 Arkansas and No. 25 LSU sandwiched around a home game against South Carolina.  UT, though, could easily win out as their lone remaining games consist of South Carolina, Kentucky, Missouri and Vanderbilt.  While the Gators are currently in control, their path to Atlanta is much steeper than that of the Vols despite currently sitting in the driver’s seat — and knowing full well that that come-from-ahead loss to UT is riding shotgun.

This might be the most fun division in all of college football.  Again.  Alabama and Texas A&M both sit at 4-0, while Auburn and LSU are at 2-1.  The really, really fun part?  Only A&M and Auburn have met already this year, a Sept. 17 win for the Aggies on The Plains.  The Tide and Aggies meet in a critical matchup this afternoon, but several more critical contests await the division in the coming weeks.

In other words, grab your popcorn.  This thing is far from decided — a sentiment that’s far from the exclusive property of this division.

Corey Dauphine, Texas Tech’s top 2015 offensive recruit, takes to Twitter to announce transfer

TEMPE, AZ - SEPTEMBER 10:  Running back Corey Dauphine #21 and wide receiver Jonathan Giles #9 of the Texas Tech Red Raiders huddle up before the college football game against the Arizona State Sun Devils at Sun Devil Stadium on September 10, 2015 in Tempe, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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A key piece of Texas Tech’s 2015 recruiting class has decided to call it a day in Lubbock.

On his personal Twitter account Wednesday afternoon, Corey Dauphine (pictured, No. 21) has decided to transfer from Tech to an undetermined school.  The running back, who said his decision to transfer came “after talking with my family,” did not provide a reason for the departure.

A four-star 2015 recruit, Dauphine was rated as the No. 18 running back in the country and the No. 31 player at any position in the state of Texas. He was the highest-rated Red Raider recruit on the offensive side of the ball.

Dauphine chose Tech over offers from, among others, Baylor, Florida, Michigan, TCU, Tennessee and Texas A&M.

After taking a redshirt as a true freshman, Dauphine had two carries for 25 yards and a touchdown this season.  he appeared in a total of three games.

Department of Education opens Title IX investigation at Baylor

BUFFALO, NY - SEPTEMBER 12:  A Baylor Bears helmet on the sidelines during the game against the Buffalo Bulls at UB Stadium on September 12, 2014 in Buffalo, New York.  (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
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The United States Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights is investigating Baylor University for potential Title IX violations. The investigation comes following public scrutiny over Baylor’s handling of sexual assault cases dating back to August 2015.

The investigation goes back to when Sam Ukwuachu was convicted of sexual assault after transferring to Baylor from Boise State. Following his conviction, Baylor hired Pepper Hamilton to thoroughly review the way the university handled various accusations related to sexual abuse. The findings of the report were scathing and ultimately led to sweeping changes at the university, including the removal of head football coach Art Briles, the reassignment of chancellor Ken Starr and probation for Athletic director Ian McCaw. Baylor has since seen its Title IX coordinator (Patty Crawford) resign and later claim Baylor did not take her efforts seriously.

Baylor already has legal issues piling up now. Four Title IX lawsuits have been filed against the university. The university continues to also remain silent on some concerns as the school looks to regroup and recover from such a horrible situation.

Houston officials talking ‘reasonable’ extension for Tom Herman

ANNAPOLIS, MD - OCTOBER 08:  Head coach Tom Herman of the Houston Cougars looks on during a football game against the Navy Midshipmen at Navy-Marines Memorial Stadium on October 8, 2016 in Annapolis, Maryland.  (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)
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With Big 12 expansion off the table, most observers see Tom Herman not being long for the Houston job.  Still, the university is doing, or will do, its best to hang on to a man who will be one of the hottest commodities on the next spinning of the coaching carousel.

UH athletic director Hunter Yurachek told the Houston Chronicle that he has had “very general discussions” with those above him about offering Herman another revamped contract.  In November of last year, UH Board of Regents approved a new contract for Herman that would bump his salary from $1.45 million this season to $3 million, easily the most of any head coach in the AAC.

Last month, Yurachek revealed that Herman’s contract would contain a provision that stipulates the coach would receive a $5 million bonus if the Cougars moved from the AAC to one of the Power Five conferences.  The two sides had signed a memo of understanding regarding the payment prior to the Big 12’s decision to stay at 10 members.

As for the parameters of any extension added to the current deal, and while he will attempt to make it difficult for Herman to leave, Yurachek stated that the school “has to be reasonable” given its current revenue streams from the AAC.

“We have what I consider to be one of the hottest coaching commodities in all of college football,” Yurachek said. “It’s my job to continue to do due diligence and work with (president Renu) Khator and (board of regents) chairman Tilman Fertitta and put together parameters for what potentially could be a new contract offer for coach Herman as we look toward the future and retaining him as head coach.”

It’s widely expected that Baylor and LSU — and Texas, too, if Charlie Strong is dismissed as some surmise — will heavily pursue Herman as the regular season winds down.