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CFT Previews: The Big 12

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The 2015 season was a successful one for the Big 12. The league got into the College Football Playoff for the first time, overcoming the bitter denial of Selection Sunday 2014, but is still looking for its first title game appearance since 2009 and its first national championship since 2005.

Will this be the year it happens? Most likely, no. But will it be entertaining? You betcha.

A quick rundown of the conference as it enters the season.

  1. Oklahoma (11-2 overall, 8-1 Big 12 in 2015): The Sooners are your undisputed preseason favorites. The 2015 champs have college football’s most fearsome backfield and enough talent returning on defense to get the job done. Problem is, the poll position is exactly where this program doesn’t want to be. The last four times OU started the season in the top four nationally? A No. 15 finish, a No. 16 finish, and two finishes outside the rankings.
  2. TCU (11-2, 7-2 Big 12): A former Aggie (starting quarterback Kenny Hill) and a former Red Raider (offensive coordinator Sonny Cumbie) will team up to try to lead TCU to its first undisputed Big 12 championship and Playoff appearance. Years where Gary Patterson has to re-tool are years where he’s most dangerous.
  3. Texas (5-7, 4-5 Big 12): Who would have ever thought it possible Texas could beat Oklahoma and Baylor — both away from Austin — and yet miss a bowl game? Such is life when you’re gutting a program to its studs and rebuilding all over. That’s all over now. Texas is no longer swimming upstream offensively with the hire of Sterlin Gilbert; it’s time to out-talent the teams below them and steal a game or two against those above them.
  4. Oklahoma State (10-3, 7-2 Big 12): Behind quarterback Mason Rudolph, Oklahoma State has enough talent to be competitive in any Power 5 league. However, do they have enough, particularly up front, to actually win any of them? Another 10-win season in which they finish near the top of the table may be the best Mike Gundy and company can shoot for.
  5. Texas Tech (7-6, 4-5 Big 12): Much like Oklahoma State above them, Kliff Kingsbury has figured his formula out in Lubbock. Now it’s about maximizing it as much as realistically possible — particularly while Patrick Mahomes still wears black and red.
  6. West Virginia (8-5, 4-5 Big 12): It’s a big season for Dana Holgorsen. His teams have played explosive offense at times. They’ve also played solid defense at times. Problem is, they’ve never done both at the same time. With a new AD in town, it’s now or never for the Mad Scientist.
  7. Baylor (10-3, 6-3 Big 12): Look up what happened to 2011 Ohio State and 2012 Arkansas before you throw your peanuts at the screen. Baylor won’t fall all the way to those depths — their sheer offensive talent plus a repugnant non-conference schedule virtually guarantees a 5-1 start at worst. But take a look at who the Bears play after their Oct. 22 bye: at an improving Texas team, back-to-back games with TCU and Oklahoma, a feisty, physical K-State team, a shootout against Texas Tech, then a trip to frigid Morgantown. For a team starting the season with 72 scholarship players and a smoldering crater in their head coach’s office, this has the makings of a team that falls down a cliff over the second half of the season.
  8. Kansas State (6-7, 3-6 Big 12): I’ll be honest here. All of these predictions are educated guesswork for us media types, but K-State’s preseason ranking is actual guesswork. I wouldn’t be surprised if this team won five games, and I would be even less surprised if they won 10.
  9. Iowa State (3-9, 2-7 Big 12): Matt Campbell is in stage one of a rebuild, but expect the Cyclones to be a tougher out than this ranking indicates. Iowa State won’t start in its default No. 9 slot for much longer.
  10. Kansas (0-12, 0-9 Big 12): David Beaty should be Big 12 Coach of the Year if the Jayhawks win two games, and national coach of the year if they win three.

Report: QB Davis Webb spurns Colorado, opts for Cal

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Even amidst reports that Davis Webb, who announced his commitment to Colorado in January, was considering other transfer options, Buffs head coach Mike MacIntyre was, at least publicly, confident that he could hang on to the ex-Texas Tech quarterback.

In the end, MacIntyre should’ve been publicly worried instead.

While nothing is official from any school, reports began surfacing earlier in the day Wednesday that Webb has decided to instead take his talents to Cal. The player himself subsequently confirmed to FOXSports.com‘s Bruce Feldman that the Golden Bears are his new destination.

Webb, who also considered Auburn after committing to Colorado, would be eligible to play immediately in 2016, his final season of eligibility.

Webb started 14 games combined for Texas Tech in 2013 and 2014. He lost a competition the following year to Patrick Mahomes, whose record-setting year at Tech in 2015 set him up to be a preseason favorite for the 2016 Heisman Trophy. Sitting behind the redshirt freshman last season, Webb played in five games, mostly in mop-up duty.

For his career in Lubbock, Webb completed 62 percent of his 747 passes for 5,557 yards, 46 touchdowns and 22 interceptions.

After leaving Texas Tech, QB Davis Webb lands at Colorado

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Exactly four weeks after officially leaving his first college football home, Davis Webb has unofficially found his second.

In a move that’s been expected for a week or more, Webb confirmed to FOXSports.com‘s Bruce Feldman that he has committed to continuing his collegiate playing career at Colorado. With starter Sefo Liufau likely out for the 2016 season because of a left-foot fracture — specifically, the dreaded Lis Franc diagnosis — sustained in mid-November, Webb, who will be eligible to play immediately, will enter spring practice as a favorite to win the starting job for the Buffaloes.

Webb made his decision before taking a planned official visit to Auburn.

“I just know it’s a good fit with Colorado,” Webb told Feldman. “I really like what [head coach Mike MacIntyre] and [offensive coordinator Brian] Lindgren are doing with the offense. I like that they are scheduled to play eight preseason Top 25 teams. I’ll have a good chance to showcase my ability on the road at Oregon and at Michigan. I will get plenty of exposure to pursue my dream of playing in the NFL.

“I really feel Colorado is just a couple of players from taking that next step to where the Colorado Buffaloes have been before (in the Top 25) and where Colorado should be.”

Webb, who will have one year of eligibility remaining, also took to Twitter to confirm his commitment.

Webb started 14 games combined for Texas Tech in 2013 and 2014. He lost a competition the following year to Patrick Mahomes, whose record-setting year at Tech in 2015 set him up to be a preseason favorite for the 2016 Heisman Trophy. Sitting behind the redshirt freshman last season, Webb played in five games, mostly in mop-up duty.

For his career in Lubbock, Webb completed 62 percent of his 747 passes for 5,557 yards, 46 touchdowns and 22 interceptions.

Texas Tech QB Davis Webb confirms transfer

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Rumors emerged shortly after Mike Jinks got the Bowling Green job that Texas Tech quarterback Davis Webb would soon join him.

Those reports were premature, but Webb confirmed Wednesday he is leaving Lubbock.

Webb announced the transfer on his Twitter account.

A junior, Webb is the third Red Raider gunslinger to leave Lubbock under Kliff Kingsbury, following Michael Brewer‘s departure to Virginia Tech and Baker Mayfield bailing for Oklahoma. He’s also the fourth quarterback in the Texas-Oklahoma corridor to announce a transfer, following Texas A&M’s Kyle Allen and Kyler Murray and Oklahoma’s Trevor Knight.

Surpassed by Patrick Mahomes on the depth chart, Webb played in parts of three seasons for the Red Raiders, throwing for 5,557 yards with 46 touchdowns and 22 interceptions.

 

Fournette’s five touchdowns power No. 20 LSU past Texas Tech in Texas Bowl

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LSU’s ferocious and unforgiving defensive front and Leonard Fournette being, well, Leonard Fournette was too much for a game Texas Tech squad as the 20th-ranked Tigers pulled away from the Red Raiders, 56-27 in the Texas Bowl Tuesday night.

Fournette opened the scoring with a two-yard touchdown plunge on LSU’s first possession. Texas Tech seemingly pulled even when Patrick Mahomes hit Jakeem Grant on a beautiful 46-yard lob on 3rd-and-10, but the Red Raiders’ ensuing two-point try failed. The one-point difference lasted all of 24 seconds when D.J. Chark, on his touch catch of the season, took a pitch and raced 79 yards for a touchdown.

The Bayou Bengals pushed the lead to 21-6 when Brandon Harris found Fournette for a 44-yard catch-and-dash score at the 6:41 mark of the second quarter.

The next seven possessions saw Texas Tech grab a handful of momentum and severely outplay LSU, much to the delight of the red and black Houston crowd. After Fournette’s touchdown, the Red Raiders marched 90 yards in nine plays, capped by a three-yard toss from Mahomes to Grant. Texas Tech forced a three-and-out on LSU’s next possession, and then another on the opening possession of the second half.

Texas Tech punted on its first touch of the third quarter, but Dakota Allen stepped in front of a Harris pass on LSU’s following possession, giving the Red Raiders three straight stops (not including an end-of-half possession). Mahomes capitalized with another third down touchdown pass, this one a 31-yarder to Reginald Davis at the 10:28 mark of the third quarter, pulling Texas Tech to within 21-20.

Unfortunately for Texas Tech and head coach Kliff Kingsbury, their Texas Bowl experience peaked at that moment.

LSU raced 75 yards in four plays, the last 43 on another Fournette touchdown run, then intercepted Mahomes off a deflection inside the Tigers’ red zone. Fournette scored again on the next possession, punctuating a four-play, 78-yard drive. After a three-and-out in which Texas Tech lost 13 yards, Harris capped a four-play, 64-yard drive with a 26-yard scoring dash, turning a 21-20 thriller into a 42-20 blowout in the span of 10 minutes.

The clubs traded scores to open the fourth quarter — another Mahomes-to-Grant pass for Texas Tech, another Fournette plunge for LSU — and LSU capped the scoring with a six-play, 65-yard drive ended by a two-yard Darrel Williams run.

LSU, who entered the night ranked 51st in total offense and 54th in scoring, ended the night with 638 yards of total offense on 10.3 yards per play with touchdowns on its last five full possessions. Fournette, of course, starred, rushing 29 times for a Texas Bowl record 212 yards and four touchdowns, plus a 44-yard touchdown reception. Harris hit 13-of-24 throws for 254 yards with a touchdown and a pick, and as a team the Tigers rushed 40 times for 384 yards and seven touchdowns.

Mahomes completed 28-of-56 throws for 370 yards with four touchdowns and one interception but, if possible, his performance out-shined his numbers. LSU virtually eliminated Texas Tech’s running game and sacked Mahomes six times, while forcing him to run for his life on the majority of his completions. Grant caught 10 passes for 125 yards and three touchdowns, and DeAndre Washington closed a stellar career with 11 carries for 37 yards and seven grabs for 81 yards.

LSU closed the season at 9-3, comforted in knowing the bulk of the roster — starting with Fournette — returns next season, which figures to make the Tigers a popular preseason top-5 pick for 2016. Texas Tech finishes at 7-6, comforted in knowing Mahomes returns to campus and the 2015 defense does not.