• Oklahoma, Baylor already standing out in Big 12

    It’s the fifth week of the college football season, and we already have some first impressions of who will be in the mix for the Big 12 title this year.
     
    The first team on everyone’s minds is Oklahoma. After stunning the Crimson Tide in last year’s Sugar Bowl, the Sooners are one of the favorites to make this year’s college football playoff.
     
    So far this season, there isn’t much evidence to the contrary. The Sooners are 4-0, winning against Tennessee two weeks ago and away at West Virginia last weekend.
     
    The keys to the Sooners’ success this season will hinge on sophomore QB Trevor Knight. Playing defense and running the ball are Oklahoma's biggest strengths, but they’ll need Knight to give them the extra push in games against tougher opponents.
     
    The Baylor Bears are next up. Senior quarterback Bryce Petty is on my short list for Heisman this season and will be a big part in Baylor’s bid to win the Big 12 this year.
     
    The difference maker for the Bears this season will be an away game in Norman. Last year Baylor beat Oklahoma by a score of 41-12. I don’t think that will be the case this season.
     
    Although I like Baylor’s ability to move the ball better than the Sooners, I don’t trust the Bears to win in Norman. The Sooner’s home field advantage and stout defense will be too much to handle for Baylor.
     
    Kansas State and Oklahoma State are both decent this year. I have both finishing in the top four with only two or three losses.
     
    The Wildcats played a close one against the defending SEC champion Auburn Tigers, but couldn’t quite pull it off. It always seems like Bill Snyder is up near the top of the standings, and for good reason, he’s an excellent coach.
     
    This year will take his best efforts. He has to play on the road against Oklahoma and Baylor. The good news is, he’ll have Texas, Oklahoma State and Texas Tech at home.
     
    OSU had a similar misstep, falling short to defending national champion Florida State in the Big 12’s premier non-conference opener.
     
    The Cowboys were poised to put up a fight for the Big 12 until junior QB J.W. Walsh underwent surgery on his right foot after going down in week 2.
     
    Still, I’m not going to count out Mike Gundy and his high scoring Cowboys.
     
    TCU, Texas, and Texas Tech will end up somewhere in the middle with Iowa State, West Virginia, and Kansas bringing up the rear.
     
    Here are twelve Big 12 matchups to look out for this season:
     
    1)    Saturday Nov. 8 Baylor at Oklahoma
     
    2)    Saturday Dec. 6 Oklahoma State at Oklahoma
     
    3)    Saturday Dec. 6 Kansas State at Baylor
     
    4)    Saturday Oct. 4 Baylor at Texas
     
    5)    Saturday Oct. 11 Texas vs. Oklahoma
     
    6)    Saturday Nov. 1 Texas at Texas Tech
     
    7)    Saturday Nov. 1 Oklahoma State at Kansas State
     
    8)    Saturday Oct. 18 Kansas State at Oklahoma
     
    9)    Saturday Oct. 18 Baylor at West Virginia
     
    10) Saturday Nov. 8 Texas at West Virginia
     
    11) Saturday Nov. 15 Oklahoma at Texas Tech
     
    12) Thursday Nov. 27 TCU at Texas
     
  • Hester breaks Sanders' return record

    Amongst all the depressing news in the NFL regarding domestic violence, the league finally has a reason to celebrate: Devin Hester has broken Deion Sanders’ NFL touchdown return record.

    With a comfortable 28-0 lead, the Falcons forced a three-and-out against the Buccaneers forcing them to punt. The rest is history.

    Devin Hester fielded the punt on the 38-yard line, hesitated and started a full out sprint towards the end zone.  Hester went untouched for a 62 yards, resulting in a  touchdown with 7:06 remaining in the second quarter. After scoring, the overjoyed Hester hugged and startled a Georgia Dome security guard. It was his 20th career return touchdown, surpassing Deion Sanders’ record of 19.

    Hester did more than just break Sanders’ record, though, as he rushed for a 20-yard touchdown, forced a fumble and recovered a fumble as the Atlanta Falcons routed the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 56-14.

    Many teams choose not to kick to Hester because even if he doesn’t run it all the way back for a score, he often puts his team in great field position. Lovie Smith, Hester’s former head coach in Chicago and the current head coach of the Buccaneers, knows this better than anyone else, but he still kicked it to him anyways.

    Although Hester has played seven of his nine years as a wide receiver for the Bears and Falcons, he is most efficient on special teams as a kick returner. He made the Pro Bowl in 2006, 2007 and 2010, and earned a spot on the 2000s All-Decade Team by the Associated Press and ESPN.

    Hester’s most memorable year as a kick returner was his rookie year, when he had six returns for touchdowns: three punt returns, two kick returns, and a missed field goal return against the Giants.  Arguably the most memorable kick return in Hester’s career was on the opening kickoff against the Indianapolis Colts in the 2007 Super Bowl.  Hester’s kick return in the Super Bowl held the record for the quickest score in the Super Bowl until this year when the Seattle Seahawks forced a safety on a bad snap on the first play of the game.

    Hester gained a reputation for running bad routes and dropping passes as a receiver for the Chicago Bears. After new hires were made at the head coach and general manager positions in 2013, Hester was demoted from the wide receiver position and was strictly assigned as a returner.

    Even though Hester was loved by the Bears and their fans, the team informed him this past offseason that he would not return to Chicago for a ninth season due to the salary cap.  While Bears fans are disappointed that Hester broke the record in another team’s uniform, it is still great to see a guy like Hester finally break Sanders’ record.