Written by Sam Schwizer | 13 August 2016

Tight end Adam Breneman was one of the key recruits secured by former Penn State head coach Bill O'Brien in the Class of 2012. Injuries would get in the way of what would have been a dynamic career with the Nittany Lions and it was thought Breneman had been forced into early retirement from the game. However, this fall, Breneman will return to the college football field, although not with the Nittany Lions.

On Tuesday, Breneman announced (via Twitter) he will be playing football for the UMass Minutemen. Breneman is a graduate transfer, making him eligible to play immediately this fall for the independent program. Breneman noted he still had a desire to try playing football after a few months away from the game. At UMass, Breneman will be surrounded by a few familiar faces, with former Penn State quarterback Austin Whipple and high school teammate Andrew Ford. UMass is also coached by Mark Whipple, a former head coach of the program who has since gained some NFL experience as an assistant coach. It looks to be a pretty decent situation for Breneman, all things considered. Many NCAA football expert picks have UMass performing well this season after the acquisition of Breneman.

"I will always treasure my time at Penn State and the support the fans, coaches, and teammates have given me as I chase my dream of playing football at the top level," Breneman said in a statement shared on Twitter. "I will bleed blue and white forever and I will always be proud of the battles we won at PSU, on and off the field."

Breneman's commitment to Penn State was a noteworthy one at the time. In the aftermath of the Freeh Report's release, Breneman and quarterback Christian Hackenberg were faced with the decision to follow through on a commitment to a program that, at the time, was likely to never play in a bowl game during their college years, or pursue other opportunities. Both decided to stick to their commitments in the end and the two became immediate leaders of the Class of 2012. It helped keep the class and recruiting efforts as together as possible at the time.

At UMass, Breneman will continue his education as he works for his MBA in the Isenberg School of Management. On the football field, Breneman will have the opportunity to go up against some big name programs, which could help with any potential NFL Draft stock down the line if things work out. UMass opens the year on the road against Florida and then plays Boston College and Mississippi State in September. Breneman and the Minutemen head to South Carolina in October and make a trip out to Provo, Utah to play BYU. A trip to Hawaii comes at the end of the regular season, which should also be nice.

Breneman has been nothing but an exceptional example of class and integrity while at Penn State, and that will surely continue as he heads up to UMass.

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Written by Charlie Tangier | 17 February 2016


As March Madness closes in, the value for college basketball handicappers is just heating up.

But being able to spot the best teams in the NCAA tournament is more than just following the top-seeded teams. Smart bettors need to pay attention to those teams flying under the radar. These are the ones that the betting public never pays attention to, the Cinderella teams that play good no matter how little attention they receive.

If handicappers can zero in on those teams before anyone else does, then they stand a really good chance of locking in on some very good value.

To assist college basketball handicappers in spotting those teams, we have put together a few useful tips. These tips come courtesy of sports information traders the worlds number one sports betting service http://sportsinformationtraders.com/college-basketball-picks-and-parlays/

The first, and most important thing for handicappers to notice, is the strength of a team’s schedule.

For example, if a team closes out the regular season with a less than impressive, 19-11 record, then it’s likely that the general public will not pay a lot of attention to them. However, if that team has played one of the toughest schedules in the country, then they are probably better than their record shows.

Conversely, a team that has an impressive record, 25-5, but played a cupcake schedule, might just be a team that could be exposed come tournament time. The caveat to that however, is a team that is destroying conference competition.

The betting public doesn’t give much respect to many conferences that fall outside of the limelight and if there is a particularly strong team that comes out of an smaller conference, it is likely that many people will not pick up on them. If that's the case, there is a very good chance at finding some great value.

Next, in the same vein, handicappers should be on the lookout for teams that raise the bar against top ranked opponents, especially on the road. Because tournament games are played at neutral sites, these teams can be dangerous once March rolls around. These teams are easy to spot, in that they tend to cover the spread against good teams but fail consistently against lesser teams.

Finally, college basketball handicappers need to be aware of teams that have recently added or lost a key player, and ones that have experienced coaches who have played in the big games before.

It's not uncommon for college basketball teams to add or lose a new player to their roster just before tournament time. This could occur for many reasons such as, player injury, suspension or transfer. Whatever the reason, handicappers need to be keyed in on a team that adds or loses a player mid season, as it could dramatically change the chemistry of that team and how good it is likely to perform come March Madness.

A lot of that can also depend on a team's coach.

Coaching is important in all sports, but even more so in college basketball, and especially come tournament time, as teams face enormous pressure, and how they handle it is often reflected in its coach.

Leadership comes from a team's coach, and a coach who has played in the big games in March is one to really take a look at.

On the other hand, if a coach has consistently failed during tournament time, it's probably a wise idea for handicappers to avoid the team he is leading. 

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Written by Mizzourah Blog | 13 March 2013

Although it is sometimes overshadowed in the media by baseball and American football, basketball is another enormously popular sport in the US – and betting on it is also extremely popular. Again, the majority of basketball betting revolves around the NBA (National Basketball Association), but it is also possible to get betting markets on leagues such as the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association), where teams like the Missouri Tigers compete – so what kind of odds do the Tigers have to win this season’s NCAA title?

Well at the moment they are rated as outsiders for the league by sports betting sites, as the lowest odds you can get for them at the moment are 50/1 for the league while, depending on the site you visit, the odds on them can be as long as 100 and even 250/1. Of course there are sides with much higher odds still, and some of the more adventurous basketball betting fans (plus fans of the Tigers) may feel like taking a risk on them at 50/1, but for most people they will represent a bit too much of an outside bet for the NCAA this season.

Tigers fans may feel a kind of obligation to bet on their team, such is the nature of being a fan, but they would probably be better off playing Slam Dunk at an online casino like http://www.iPhonecasino.ca instead. This five reel, nine pay line slot is basketball-themed all the way, from the reel icons of players, basketball shoes, referees and cheerleaders, to the bonus game – but this basketball theme doesn’t come at the expense of the best features of slots. Slam Dunk is really cheap to play, as you can use coins as low as $0.01 to play it, and the double up game feature gives you the opportunity to potentially double any payout you get playing the game.

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Written by Ben Wilson | 13 November 2011

As the Missouri Tigers begin their 2011 campaign under new coach Frank Haith, let’s break down the team by position.  In this edition, the focus will be on the Mizzou guards, who will form the backbone of the squad.  Without senior forward Laurence Bowers, who tore his ACL in an off-season pick up game, the Tigers will employ a four-guard lineup this season and will need production from each one in order to compete for a Big 12 title.  The guards this year include Kim English, Marcus Denmon, Matt Pressey, Phil Pressey, Michael Dixon, and Jarrett Sutton.  New acquisitions Earnest Ross (From Auburn) and Keion Bell (From Pepperdine) will sit out this season based on the NCAA Transfer Rules.  In addition, freshman Tony Lester was suspended indefinitely earlier in the preseason for violating team policies.

Kim English: 6 foot 6, 200 pound senior from Baltimore, MD

Last Season: 10.0 PPG, 3.1 RPG, 2.0 APG

Without a doubt, English took a step backwards last season, as his scoring dropped from 14 to 10 points per game.  However, the stat sheet wasn’t the only indicator of English’s struggles.  In many conference games last year, he appeared to be sloppy with the ball, had poor shot selection, and never established a rhythm.  As a sophomore, he was a key component to a Tiger team that advanced to the Elite 8, as he presented a mismatch for many teams.  Despite being 6 foot 6, English is a pure shooter with beautiful form, and when he gets into the flow of games, he is as dangerous as any player in the Big 12.  He admitted last year that part of his struggles might have been due to his developing of bad habits over the previous summer while working with NBA players in his hometown.  Regardless, he is a classic gym rat who is hungry for a successful senior season and is a natural leader, coaching other players whether he is in the game or not.  English knows that he must be better this year, but expect coach Frank Haith to help him utilize his size more to his advantage in the team’s new offense, which should result in better production.

Marcus Denmon: 6 foot 3, 185 pound senior from Kansas City, MO

Last Season: 16.9 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 1.8 APG, which earned him a spot on the All-Big 12 First Team

Denmon has the most talent of anyone on the Tigers, and for being only 6 foot 3, is about as close to being a complete shooting guard as possible.  His accomplishments haven’t gone unnoticed either, as he was named to the preseason All-Big 12 Team, and was one of 50 players nationwide named to the preseason Naismith Award list.  He is the one player who the Tigers will look to isolate on nearly every offensive possession, as he is deadly from beyond the three-point line (44.8 % last year) and doesn’t take bad shots or force in tight passes.  In an offensive system that seemed out of control last season, Denmon was the one guy who could slow things down and take control of a game.  His only weakness is that he struggles to hit shots off the dribble–his lack of height forces him to alter his shot when he gets near the lane, which results in more misses.  His consistency will be imperative for the Tigers this year, but based on the few games so far, he seems to be in mid-season form already.

Matt Pressey: 6 foot 2, 195 pound senior from Dallas, TX

Last Season: 5.7 PPG, 1.8 RPG, 1.6 APG

Pressey was on the “second line” last year in former coach Mike Anderson’s fast-paced attack and is a solid defensive player who is best offensively when he serves as a distributor.  The biggest knock on Pressey from last year was that he took too many three pointers, many of which were ill-advised and early in the shot clock.  Among Mizzou’s guards last season, Pressey had the lowest percentage from behind the arc (A paltry 26.1 %).  In Mike Anderson’s so-called system of “organized chaos”, Pressey struggled to find an identity on the court, and it seemed as if he was just another guy sprinting up and down the court.  After transferring from the Ju-Co ranks after his sophomore year, he now has a year of experience with the Tigers, and should improve on both sides of the ball.  Because Mizzou is now using a four-guard lineup, Frank Haith will count on Pressey as his fourth starting guard.  If he can play smarter this season and stay active on defense, he can be a difference maker for the team.

Phil Pressey: 5 foot 10, 175 pound sophomore from Dallas, TX

Last Season: 6.5 PPG, 3.9 APG, 2.2 RPG

Much excitement surrounded last year’s arrival of Matt Pressey’s younger brother, Phil, who chose Mizzou based on close relationships with not only his older brother, but also Mike Anderson.  Luckily, the younger Pressey did not follow Anderson to Arkansas, and returns for his second season as the team’s starting point guard.  With blazing speed, ankle-breaking moves, and the ability to score from long-distance, Pressey seemed to be a perfect fit for Anderson’s system when he arrived on campus.  But as any freshman will experience, Pressey had his share of growing pains upon being handed the reigns as the starting point guard.  Like others, he was out of control many times on fast break situations and forced the ball way too much.  However, these mistakes are expected out of freshman, no matter how highly touted they are coming out of high school.  Haith’s system will allow Pressey to think and distribute the ball more offensively, while at the same time will let him use his greatest weapon on the defensive side of the ball and on fast breaks.  With a year of college basketball experience behind him, look for Pressey to show better discipline and decision-making in his sophomore campaign.

Michael Dixon: 6 foot 1, 185 pound junior from Kansas City, MO

Last Season: 10.2 PPG, 3.6 APG, 2.6 RPG

At the press conference following the exhibition victory over Central Missouri, Haith said that Dixon hates being called a sparkplug.  However, that’s exactly the type of player he is: Short, aggressive, quick, and passionate when on the court.  However, his biggest struggle last season was the inability to stay under control.  Similar to the Presseys, Dixon will benefit from having a more structured offense that will slow things down and allow him to make better decisions.  Unlike last year, when Dixon was on the second line, he will be featured as the Tigers’ 6th man, frequently subbing in and out with Matt Pressey.  Haith believes that this role will bring out the best in Dixon, and all indications point to both Pressey and Dixon receiving the same amount of minutes.  If Dixon can improve on his ball handling skills and shot selection, he will help the starting guards (who won’t be used to playing heavy minutes at first) stay fresh.

Jarrett Sutton: 6 foot 4, 190 pound senior from Kansas City, MO

Last Season: 0.7 PPG, 0.3 RPG, 0.1 APG

A fan favorite, Sutton only sees action late in blow out wins.  His biggest asset to the team is his hard work in practice to simulate the tendencies of opposing offenses.

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Written by Ben Wilson | 08 November 2011

With many in Columbia buzzing with excitement about Mizzou’s move to the Southeastern Conference (Which was made official Sunday), others continued to voice their concerns about how competitive the Tigers will be in their new conference, where perennial powerhouses Alabama, LSU, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina reside.  But coming off of what could possibly have been a season-changing win at Texas A&M, a future SEC opponent of the Tigers, the team had finally silenced some of their critics.  Quarterback James Franklin proved that he could step up and make big plays when it mattered, and FX Analyst Charles Davis went so far as to say that the defensive performance in the second half from the Tigers was the best he had seen all year in the Big 12. For those who wondered if Mizzou was even going to make a bowl game, it seemed certain that this new surge of confidence would propel the Tigers forward to a strong second half of the season.

But in college football, consistency is the name of the game, and is something that even the elite teams struggle with.  Despite facing a struggling Baylor team that had cooled off considerably since opening the season with a shocking 50-48 win over TCU, the Tigers were not able to carry their momentum to victory over the Bears.  Of course, no road win in the Big 12 comes easily, and with it being homecoming weekend at Baylor, the fans in Waco were certainly pumped up to welcome the Tigers into Floyd Casey Stadium.

Coming into the game, the biggest weapon the Tigers would have to tame was star quarterback Robert Griffin III.  Simply known as RGIII, he quickly became the talk of college football nation, and many called the Baylor offense a one man show as a result of his big arm and fast legs.  Early on though, Dave Steckel’s defense took the big play away from the Bear’s potent offense.  And by employing a quarterback spy, RGIII didn’t have much room to run and was forced to check the ball off short.  But as any good offense knows, making adjustments over the course of a 60 minute game is imperative for success, and that’s exactly what Baylor did.  The Bears decided to spread the field on offense with numerous four and five receiver sets, which resulted in lots of confusion for a young, inexperienced secondary.  When all was said and done, RGIII ended up with 406 passing yards, and the Baylor offense as a whole lit up the Tigers defense for an astounding 697 yards.

When looking at the stat sheet, it appeared as though Mizzou’s offense played a great game, but just came up on the short side of a 42-39 shootout.  However, Franklin and the offensive unit were out of sync much of the night, and all three touchdowns that were scored in the final quarter came with the Tigers down at least 17, when the Bears had gone into their prevent defense.  Throughout the game, the Tigers struggled in many of the same ways that they have all season long.  Running back Henry Josey only touched the ball five times in the second half, and while Mizzou was playing catchup nearly the entire fourth quarter and in their hurry-up offense, his presence seemed to be completely forgotten coming out of halftime.

And just like their three previous road losses, the Tigers were unable to produce efficient, touchdown scoring drives until the fourth quarter, when they were down big.  On the season, Mizzou has now scored 119 fourth quarter points, an average of 13.2 points per game, or nearly two touchdowns.  In addition, the Tigers have outscored their opponents by a combined 67 points in the final quarter, but have been outscored by 32 in the second and third quarters.  This strong statistical evidence shows that many of the Tigers’ opponents have made adjustments on both sides of the ball after the first couple drives of the game, and have taken advantage.  For the Tigers, they haven’t been able to make substantial adjustments of their own until the fourth quarter, when many of their losses have been close to out of hand.

For fans who are now wondering what’s next for this football team that has been so maddeningly inconsistent, it is time to recenter the expectations for the Tigers.  If they can win two of their final three games, they will become bowl eligible and have a chance to salvage a respectable final season as a member of the Big 12.  While playing in a game like the Pinstripe Bowl might not be of much consolation, the additional snaps can only help Franklin as he and the rest of the team prepare to adjust to life in the SEC.  But for the fans who are ready to focus on basketball and forget about the football squad, it is certain that Gary Pinkel will motivate his troops to finish the home stretch on a high note, and will be looking for the upset bid this weekend over Texas at home.  Whether or not the Tigers can execute for 60 minutes against a solid Longhorns squad remains to be seen, but expect a passionate performance, especially from the seniors, as they begin to close out the final chapter of their careers.

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Written by Joe Proszek | 06 November 2011

The SEC has made it official: Mizzou will be the 14th member of the conference.

After months of speculation and half-true reports of Mizzou joining, the SEC made it official Sunday morning by announcing the Tigers will join the East division in football.

Cue the groans and jeers of the world about how Mizzou cannot compete against the rest of the SEC in football.

But this is not necessarily true. Mizzou is no pushover when it comes to football, and will be very competitive against their new SEC foes.

The SEC is widely considered the best conference in all of college football, boasting members like LSU, Alabama, Arkansas, South Carolina, Georgia, and Auburn, who are ranked no.1, 2, 7, 9, 18, and 22 respectively. But four of those teams play in the West division.

In the East division, Mizzou will be pitted against the likes of Kentucky, Vanderbilt, and Tennessee, all of whom boast the same overall record as the Tigers this season, but significantly worse conference records. And unlike the Tigers, all three of those teams as well as future division rivals Georgia and Florida cannot boast a win over a ranked team this season.

According to current national rankings, Mizzou would be first in the division in rushing yards per game (244.9), first in passing yards per game (255.1) and first in points scored per game (34.9).

Additionally Mizzou does not exactly come from a league of pushovers. This season alone Mizzou has faced the then No. 1 Oklahoma Sooners (only lost by ten, ahead a good chunk of the game), the No. 3 Oklahoma State Cowboys (lost by 21, but the game was close until the last few minutes) and defeated the then No. 16 Texas A&M Aggies in College Station.

These games, coupled with last-drive defeats at No. 14 Kansas State, No. 22 Arizona State and Baylor, show that the Tigers are capable of hanging with even the best of the best.

The claim that the spread offense cannot be effective against the smash-mouth SEC style is also false. Look at the spread style offenses that have been effective against the conference. Florida and Auburn both ran the spread and won national championships for the conference by relying on a hyper-athletic dual threat quarterback in Tim Tebow and Cam Newton respectively.

While I acknowledge that James Franklin is not on the level of Tebow or Newton, he is a solid dual threat quarterback with outstanding potential next season. And considering he has his favorite target in T.J. Moe for another season, he will only get better. The last time coach Gary Pinkel’s spread offense faced an SEC opponent it blew out Arkansas 38-7 in the 2008 Cotton Bowl.

Additionally Mizzou boasts one of the top tailbacks in the country in Henry Josey, who, as a sophomore this season, has already rushed for 1,150 yards and 9 touchdowns, giving the Tigers what will be one of the most volatile running attacks in the SEC. Josey rushed for 137 yards against OU, who only gives up 127 per game. As a team, the Tigers rushed for 241 yards against the then No. 1 team in the country.

Mizzou is clearly more than capable of competing in the SEC East division, and given the new recruiting venues open to the Tigers, they can only become more competitive over time. Do not turn on this Mizzou team, they could be contending for the conference title right away.

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Written by Ben Wilson | 25 October 2011

After a disheartening performance two weeks ago in Manhattan, KS, many Mizzou football fans were ready to write off this season as lost.  A 24-17 loss to Kansas State gave the Tigers a 2-3 overall record, including an 0-2 mark in Big 12 play.  Mizzou faithful were hopeful after a bounceback performance the next week against Iowa State in the 100th Homecoming game, but many still did not view the Tigers--a team that was ranked 21st in the preseason polls--as being close to elite.

The 52-17 drubbing of the Cyclones last weekend served as a massive confidence booster for the team, and meant that fans still had some belief in the Tigers, at least for one more week.  For the first time this season, Mizzou proved they could beat a solid team. While Iowa State is not in the ranks of Oklahoma in the college football landscape, they came into this matchup with wins over respectable Iowa and Connecticut squads, and a 3-2 record to show for it.  And since teams are ultimately measured not by how close they come to winning games or by how well they play in a tough environment, but rather by the wins and losses on their record, this game was one Mizzou needed desperately.

As Mizzou prepared for the matchup with the Cowboys, it was obvious to many that if the Tigers were going pull the upset, they would have to remain aggressive throughout the game.  It was assumed that star Cowboy quarterback Brandon Weeden would lead a touchdown drive or two, but in order to have success defensively, the Tigers could not afford to back off and give Weeden ample time to throw the ball.  The secondary has shown time and again it is the weakest area of the defense, so coordinator Dave Steckel needed dial up pressure and have confidence in his defensive line.

Coming into the game, OSU ranked second in the nation in offense, averaging over 550 yards and 49 points per contest.  And throughout the game, Weeden and the Cowboys showed why. He easily picked apart the Tigers' defense, despite them showing different looks.  And those who thought that the OSU passing attack was nothing without star wide receiver Justin Blackmon were proven wrong.  When Mizzou applied pressure, other Cowboy receivers Michael Harrison (3 Catches/71 Yards/1 Touchdown) and Tracy Moore (7/63) exploited one on one coverage from the Tigers.  And when Mizzou dropped back into a zone, Weeden didn't force anything, as he repeatedly dumped the ball off short for 8 to 12 yard gains.  In addition, OSU reminded everyone that they can run the ball.  While the numbers are a bit inflated from some big gains in garbage time, the main Cowboy running backs slashed the Tigers through the ground, as  Joseph Randle and Jeremy Smith combined for 209 yards and 3 scores on just 27 carries.

But while many saw the 45-24 final tally and assumed that it was a blowout, the score failed to indicate just how close the matchup really was.  If it wasn't for a pair of extremely unlucky turnovers, Mizzou could easily have pulled this one out, or at least have made OSU sweat out the victory.  It is unfair to blame quarterback James Franklin for two of his interceptions, which were both batted up at the line and caught by defensive lineman.  His third quarter fumble was a bad mistake as he should know to cover up the ball better, especially deep in the red zone.  Despite this, he never saw defender Wilson Youman coming, and didn't have any time to react once he was hit.  In addition, all three bad breaks occurred when it seemed as though the Tigers were about to completely sway the momentum of the game.  But when it was all said and done in the third quarter, Mizzou had turned it over three times in three possessions despite the defense stiffening up and pressuring Weeden into his only turnover of the game.  Down 38-17 at that point, they had been taken out of the game for good.

Despite the discouraging result, however, the Tigers cannot afford to get down on themselves now, as three of their next four games come against ranked opponents, and the one unranked team they will face, Baylor, has been ranked for much of the season, with their most notable win being a 50-48 shocker over defending Rose Bowl Champion TCU.  At 3-4, the math is fairly simple.  Assuming the Tigers take care of lowly Kansas in the season finale, they must win two of the next four games in order to become bowl eligible.  While it seems bleak in Columbia, the Tigers must keep believing that they have what it takes to knock off these tough opponents.  After all, they have shown flashes of brilliance in each game, and while fans are growing impacient of Franklin's mistakes, they must understand that a quarterback in his first year as a starter must have support in order to remain confident and to mature.

Nobody is expecting much out of Mizzou as they travel to College Station to take on #17 Texas A&M on Saturday, but the last time they were in a similar situation at then-top ranked Oklahoma, the Tigers came out fearless and jumped on the Sooners right out of the gates.  Texas Tech proved last weekend that underachieving teams with loads of talent certainly have the ability to put it all together when nobody expects it; whether the Tigers can do the same remains to be seen, but it will be interesting to watch for sure.

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Written by Peter LeGrand | 13 October 2011

TCU officially joined the Big 12 on Monday, meaning the league will remain at 10 teams after Texas A&M departs for the SEC. The Horned Frogs are not only a good fit for the league, but the perfect replacement for the Aggies.

TCU brings a program with a rapidly rising national profile, a newly renovated stadium, and already has established rivalries with several Big 12 teams from their days in the Southwestern Conference. They also solidify the Big 12′s presence in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, the fourth largest metroplex in the United States and largest in the South.

For TCU, it means an increase in competition, which will lead to an initial decrease in losses, but the automatic BCS berth and incentives to play higher tier competition in conference play will boost recruiting and allow Gary Patterson to take their team to the next level. Playing in a conference against teams much closer to home should be an extra benefit for recruits, as away games in Iowa or Kansas are certainly more appeasing than traveling to West Virginia, Florida, or New Jersey for their family and friends. With Gary Patterson at the helm, there is no doubt that TCU would be able to excel in football in the Big East, but the Big 12 simply offers them more prestige along with more accessible rivalries and competition, making the move a no-brainer.

With 10 teams, the Big 12 will likely stand pat for the remainder of the year, but I believe it should attempt to reel in two more members to bring its membership total level with its name. Urgency should be a factor, as Missouri (which controls the St. Louis and heavily influences the Kansas City markets) is consistently rumored to be following Texas A&M to the SEC. Below I preference who the Big 12 should add, based on the following criteria- geographical sense, market size, and potential to compete:

1. Houston: The Cougars high powered aerial attack has been called gimmicky by some, but it produces points and they would be able to stay in contention and possibly win a lot of games if they joined next year. Of course, breaking in a new quarterback would be a challenge with the departure of the incredible Case Keenum, but backup QB David Piland threw for 2,641 yards with 24 TD in 8 starts last season, giving them experience right away. They are also in a potential recruiting heaven, as the Houston metro area is the sixth largest in the country, and with superior competition and exposure in the Big 12 (along with a fun offense) their recruiting could improve rapidly. They also have traditional rivalries with Texas, TCU, and others from their days in the Southwestern Conference.


2. SMU: The Mustangs were on the verge of becoming a true powerhouse in the early 80s before they were hit with “the death penalty” for recruiting violations in 1987. Besides a re-entrance into a conference with an automatic BCS bid, it would bring more Texan power to the Big 12 and another strong link to the Houston area. Furthermore, coach June Jones’ air attack would keep them in enough games to be competitive from the start.

With these two teams, the Big 12 could go back to their North/South configuration, although with a slight twist.

North                                                                              South

-Iowa State                                                                    -Baylor

-Kansas                                                                         -Houston

-Kansas State                                                               -Texas

-Missouri                                                                       -TCU

-Oklahoma                                                                    -Texas Tech

-Oklahoma State                                                         -SMU

Besides being more geographically consistent, these two divisions give the possibility of a much more evenly matched Big 12 title game than fans saw under the old North/South split, with Oklahoma and Texas in opposite divisions.

If the Big 12 were to be unable to secure Houston and SMU, some possible suggestions to fill the South from the Texas region would be Rice, North Texas (largest student body in Texas), UTEP or another air-raider: Tulsa.

If the Big 12 gains SMU and Houston and Missouri still leaves for the SEC, then the Big 12 should consider going out and getting a non-Texas team to fill the “North”. The three teams they should target who would be suitable members for a conference with an automatic BCS bid:

1. Boise State: The Broncos have been the ultimate BCS buster, making trips to two Fiesta bowls, proving themselves against top-tier teams like Oregon (in ’08 and ’09), Virginia Tech, Georgia, and Oklahoma, and have thrust themselves into the conversation not only for a BCS berth, but a berth in the BCS title game the past few seasons. Not to mention they have the hippest recruiting tool there is: the blue turf. Besides being an addition that would be praised and met with national curiosity as everyone would finally see how the powerhouse from Idaho would do against a BCS schedule, BSU would bring in huge crowds and television ratings for the conference. Long term, despite a smaller market and stadium, along with being an awkward addition geographically, Boise would be a quirky contender, standing alongside Texas and Oklahoma as the flagship teams of the conference.

2. San Diego State: A little outside the box pick perhaps, but Aztec football is a sleeping giant that could be awakened amidst the superior competition and exposure the Big 12 would provide, maybe allowing them to fill their 54,000 seat stadium. They would not be in a position to win the conference immediately, but have shown (in dramatic fashion against Missouri last season) that they are capable of competing with most Big 12 teams. Furthermore, their location in San Diego (the fifth most populous county in the country) provides a strong viewership and a foothold for the Big 12 in Pac 12 country, useful for giving teams like Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, and Texas strong exposure to high profile recruits in California. Reaching out West would provide growth for the conference and help the Aztec program take the next step; a win/win for both parties involved.

3. BYU/Tulsa: Neither of these teams would be as good of a fit as the teams above, but both would be a better alternative to an 11 team league as a championship game means relevancy longer into the season and more profit for everyone. Tulsa brings a very clean geographic fit and a high powered offense allowing it to compete right away. However, they have a small stadium, will never be able to significantly compete with Oklahoma or Oklahoma State for instate recruiting, and have the smallest student body of any university in the FBS. BYU is a geographic anomaly, like Boise or San Diego State, but doesn’t bring in a huge national spotlight or a significant market. While history does show that they can have success on a large scale (1984 national champs), and will undoubtedly have more success in the conference in a long term capacity then Tulsa would, I do not see them bringing a lot to the Big 12 compared to Boise State or San Diego State.

Bringing in a few of these teams (or all four if Mizzou goes) to beat the SEC and PAC-12 to oft-mentioned superconference status is a possibility, but the Big-12 has taken such cautious steps so far that I highly doubt it would be so bold. However, the league is in survival mode right now, and will take any possible steps (even a BIG 16) necessary to stay relevant and most importantly, profitable, as they desperately attempt to hold the conference together.

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Written by Ben Wilson | 13 October 2011

After coming up short two weeks ago at Oklahoma in a 38-28 decision, many Mizzou fans remained optimistic and viewed the Tiger’s overall performance in Norman as a step forward.  After all, they hung with the top ranked team in the nation for most of the game, and quarterback James Franklin finally looked comfortable playing on the road in a hostile environment.  With a bye week following the Oklahoma game, the Tigers had ample time to prepare for their next road test, a matchup with the 20th ranked Kansas State Wildcats.

Many believed offensive coordinator David Yost could use the extra week to figure out how to distribute the ball more often to running backs Henry Josey, who showed explosiveness in Norman, and Kendial Lawrence, who was returning in his first game back from an injury suffered in the season opener.  On the defensive side, coordinator Dave Steckel would continue to work with the defensive unit on applying pressure to the opposing quarterback as well as shoring up problems in the secondary.

But the positive energy and optimism from the Tiger faithful that were brought into Manhattan Saturday afternoon were quickly squelched in the game’s opening minutes.  The Wildcats never relinquished the lead and held on to win 24-17 in a frustrating game for both Mizzou fans and coaches to observe.

By gaining exactly 0 yards in the first quarter and turning the ball over deep in their own territory, the offense immediately put the team in an big hole.  Franklin’s performance in the opening frame was exactly what Tiger fans thought he had gotten past, as he looked stiff and indecisive when in the pocket.  It goes without saying that his interception on the opening play of the game was a bad decision, as he stared down his first read and didn’t move his feet an inch in the pocket, allowing Ty Zimmerman to jump the route and pick off the pass.  On both plays in the first when Franklin took sacks, he again focused his eyes on his primary receiver while not moving from the center of the pocket until it was too late.

Despite a first quarter that could not have gotten any worse, the Tigers handled their situation fairly well.  They got the ball to Henry Josey and Kendial Lawrence more often, and allowed them to use their speed to get outside and gain chunks of yards.  In addition, simpler plays were called for Franklin, who looked more under control in a pair of drives that ended up stalling, albeit in field goal range.  After being torched by Kansas State quarterback Colin Klein on the Wildcat’s opening drive, the defense made some key adjustments and shut down the Wildcat offense for the majority of the last three quarters.  Realizing that Klein is a run-first quarterback, they allowed their secondary to go into single coverage on the outsides and use linebackers to plug up the middle of the field.

However, it was the small mistakes that would ultimately cost the Tigers in the end.  While Grant Ressel’s two missed field goals killed the Tiger’s momentum, key defensive personal foul penalties would keep a pair of Kansas State drives alive as well.  After stopping Klein and the rest of the Wildcat offense for the second straight possession to open the second half, it had seemed like Mizzou was ready to turn the tide.  A roughing the kicker penalty was the last thing the Tigers could afford down 10-3 in the third quarter, but they got just that. With new life, Kansas State would march down the field and score, giving them a dominant two-score lead.  In order to win a Big 12 road game against a ranked opponent, teams must be disciplined on both sides of the ball at all times, something the Tigers were not.

While many are ready to call this a lost season, it is clear that the makings of a top 25 team are still there.  For a third consecutive road game, Franklin stepped it up when down by double digits in the fourth quarter. In this game he simply ran out of time, as Mizzou would not get the ball back after cutting the deficit to 7 with 5:02 to play in the game.  In addition, Michael Egnew was finally given the looks he deserved, as he led the team with 8 catches for 73 yards.  Defensively, the Tigers played well, only giving up 286 yards of total offense.  After starting slow, they adapted well to the most run-oriented offense in the Big 12.  But while Klein didn’t throw a lot, it was clear that when he did, the Tigers failed to apply much pressure.  If they keep allowing more prolific quarterbacks in the conference to have ample time in the pocket, their weak secondary will only be exposed even more.

For Franklin, it is clear that he is a instinctive quarterback who needs to get into a rhythm to feel comfortable.  Offensive Coordinator David Yost needs to understand that coming out of the gates with aggressive passing plays will not work against solid Big 12 defenses.  By running outside the tackles with Josey and Lawrence early in games, the Tigers will be able to establish a solid run game, which in turn spreads out the defense for Franklin.  Once Franklin gets in a groove, the Tiger offense can put points up in a hurry and presents opposing defenses with a difficult task.

Even with three discouraging road losses on their record and a frustrated Gary Pinkel, fans should not expect this team to fall apart.  Along with the festivities of this weekend’s 100th Homecoming, the Tigers know that a win against Iowa State is crucial in order to have any hopes at earning a spot in a solid bowl game.  After Iowa State, Mizzou will face four straight ranked teams and will need to be in sync in order to have any shot of winning those matchups.  Pinkel isn’t used to dealing with failure and will be highly motivated. This is the first time since 2000 that the Tigers have been under .500 at any point in the season. So it is fairly safe to say that fans can count on a bounce back performance next week.

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Written by Ben Wilson | 26 September 2011

Facing a hot Oklahoma team that was fresh off a victory over then-5th ranked Florida State last Saturday, not many expected Missouri to have much of a chance against the Sooners, who had won 37 straight home games.  However, Tiger fans were looking forward to seeing how their team would stack up against one of the best teams in the nation.  After two home victories over weak opponents Miami (Ohio) and Western Illinois and a tough overtime road loss against a solid Arizona State team in-between, the Tigers' trip to Norman would be their biggest measuring stick of the young season.

But unlike the game against Arizona State, in which Mizzou struggled to handle the raucous atmosphere of Sun Devil Stadium in the opening minutes, the Tigers came out aggressive on both sides of the ball.  Quarterback James Franklin started his day sharp, completing his first five passes for 124 yards, highlighted by a 45 yard strike to L'Damian Washington and a one yard rushing score.

In leading the Tigers to an early 14-3 lead, Franklin's play mirrored that of the fourth quarter comeback he orchestrated against Arizona State.  Instead of impatiently scrambling out of the pocket every time his first read was covered, he maintained presence within it, allowing quick receivers like T.J. Moe, Jerrell Jackson and Washington to exploit single coverage from the Oklahoma secondary. His ability to tuck the ball and run kept the Sooners' defense off balance, which in turn created big holes for Henry Josey, who rushed six times for 66 yards in the first quarter.  Much of the Tigers' success in the opening frame on offense can be attributed to the offensive line, who stymied the Oklahoma pass rush, and gave Franklin ample time to scan the field.

On the defensive side, the Tigers began the game by applying pressure on Landry Jones and the Sooner offense.  They plugged the middle of the line, and held starting running back Brennan Clay to just 15 yards on five carries in the first quarter.  In addition, the much maligned secondary showed different looks, and eventually baited Jones to make an ill-advised throw into double coverage, which was intercepted by Kenji Jackson.

As the game progressed, however, both offensive and defensive units lost the aggression they employed so well in the early going, which resulted with Oklahoma running off 28 unanswered points to put the game away midway through the third quarter.

In the second quarter, the Tigers' offense looked as though they felt content to sit on their early lead.  Franklin completed just one of six passes during this stretch, and looked to run whenever he felt he had no safe options open.  Adjustments by the Oklahoma defense compounded the problem.  They began stacking the right side of the field, giving Franklin nothing to work with to his strong side.  Although there was constantly room to run on the left side, Franklin has yet to become comfortable with scrambling in that direction, and ran himself into a wall on many passing plays.  As a result, he was forced to either settle for small gains on the ground or to throw the ball away.  In addition, the Mizzou offense stopped giving Josey the ball, which allowed the Sooners to load up on Franklin.  Josey carried the ball just eight times over the last three quarters after six in the first several minutes of the first quarter.

Once the Sooners had stormed back to take the lead in the second half, the Tigers had lost all of the offensive flow they had built early on, and never really established a rhythm in the second half, except for late in the fourth quarter once the outcome of the game had been decided.  Franklin ended up completing less than 50 percent of his passes and was constantly under pressure, as the offensive line wore down.

Looking ahead, the Tigers must shore up some problems in order to be a force in the Big-12.  The issues with Franklin and some of his growing pains have been addressed, but a much more alarming issue lies in the low production to this point from receivers Michael Egnew and Wes Kemp.  In this game, the two combined for just five catches, and Franklin has not looked their way enough this year.  Those two are the largest, most physical weapons in the passing game.  Despite consistent numbers from Moe (Seven catches for 119 yards against the Sooners), Franklin frequently gets in trouble by often focusing solely on Moe, and does not see other open receivers.

Despite the loss, the Tigers continue to improve week in and week out. A 10 point loss at the hands of one of the best teams in college football on the road is not shameful.  In addition, Franklin is maturing with each snap, and it is obvious that he is going through his progressions much quicker than at the start of the season.  If the Tigers can keep a balanced offensive attack and improve their secondary play, they have what it takes to make some noise in the conference.

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