Big 12 notebook: Oklahoma St. rides emotional roller coaster into Tech

The Oklahoma State football team kneels during a moment of silence for the victims of the tragic incident during the school's homecoming parade before last Saturday's game.
Brody Schmidt/AP

Oklahoma State football players and coaches had to go through with a football game just hours after tragedy struck the school’s homecoming parade in which four people were killed and scores more sent to the hospital.

On Monday some players and coaches from the football team joined other athletes from Oklahoma State as well as NBA star Kevin Durant and others from the Oklahoma City Thunder to visit victims being treated at an Oklahoma City hospital.

One of those players was Cowboys quarterback J.W. Walsh, who said he had class Monday night, but wanted to be at the hospital during the day. Oklahoma City is about 75 miles from the Oklahoma State campus in Stillwater.

“It wouldn’t matter if I have class or not,” Walsh told the Tulsa World. “I’m going.”

Somehow the Oklahoma State football players are supposed to compartmentalize all of these swirling emotions, go to class and prepare to play another football game on Saturday.

And this one could be costly. The No. 12 Cowboys (7-0, 4-0 Big 12) hit the road for Texas Tech (5-3, 2-3 Big 12), always a raucous environment no matter the Red Raiders’ record. 

And Kliff Kingsbury’s team is no slouch. The Raiders are improved and boast one of the nation’s most explosive offense. They certainly possess the ability to knock Oklahoma State from the ranks of the unbeaten if its focus wanes from the task at hand.

Needless to say, Saturday’s game presents a challenge for the Cowboys far beyond what is normally required to win a football game. 

Injured Baylor QB feels the love

When news broke Monday that Baylor quarterback Seth Russell will undergo neck surgery that will end his season, a love-fest broke out on Twitter between rivals who would normally want to rip each other’s heads off.

TCU quarterback Trevone Boykin wished Russell well. And Russell told Boykin to keep his Horned Frogs ballin’, which, if he did, would effectively eliminate Baylor from its mission of reaching the playoffs. TCU running back Aaron Green sent his regards, as did demoted Oklahoma quarterback Trevor Knight, whose 2014 season came to an abrupt and scary halt against Baylor with his own neck injury.

Then came a series of tweets among Baylor quarterbacks. Robert Griffin III chimed in with his support and then the latest in this line of Art Briles-recruited QBs, the man who assumes the reins, true freshman Jarrett Stidham, offered encouragement to Russell, who then told Stidham he’ll be with him every step of the way.

No injury at any other position means as much as a season-ender to the quarterback. It can wreck a magical season, although Baylor would prefer to think that Stidham is the next J.T. Barrett and Cardale Jones rolled into one impressive 6-foot-3, 210-pound frame.

Briles, who convinced Stidham to back down from his commitment to Texas Tech and sign at Baylor, says Stidham isn’t a typical true freshman.

"We certainly have a ton of confidence in Jarrett,” Briles said. “He doesn’t perform like a freshman. He’s instinctively and athletically ready. He’s a guy we felt all along that was in line to be a really productive player for us.”

Stidham has an extra week of practice with Baylor having its second bye of the season. He’ll make his first start on Nov. 5 when No. 2 Baylor plays at Kansas State.

Homecoming for Mountaineers’ QB

West Virginia has lost three consecutive conference games during a stretch of games that locals are calling one of the most difficult in school history. The Mountaineers have lost to No. 14 Oklahoma, No. 12 Oklahoma State and No. 2 Baylor. Now they get No. 5 TCU on the road on Thursday night.

Perhaps West Virginia can draw on the motivation of quarterback Skyler Howard, who is making a homecoming. Howard went to high school 13 miles from TCU’s Amon G. Carter Stadium, but he was never recruited by the Horned Frogs or, frankly, any Power 5 schools in Texas or elsewhere.

Howard walked-on at FCS school Stephen F. Austin, but that didn’t work out so he chased his dream to California and junior college. He took off and earned a spot with the Mountaineers, eventually taking over as the starter last year when Clint Trickett got injured.

Now Howard’s back coming back to Fort Worth as a Big 12 starting quarterback to play in front of friends and family and with a chance to ruin the playoff hopes of the nation’s fifth-ranked team. But don’t mistake this for a told-you-so game for Howard to stick it to TCU for not recruiting the hard-nosed local kid.

"I don’t fault them [TCU] for that or anything of that nature,” Howard said of the Frogs not recruiting him during the Big 12 media days in August. “I’m not going to go in there hot-headed and try to prove everybody wrong. I don’t fault them for that or anything of that nature. I’m not going to go in there hot-headed and try to prove everybody wrong.

"It’s one of my goals to prove people wrong that I couldn’t do this, but I’m just looking forward to going in there and playing ball."

Quick hits: In a surprising move Monday, Iowa State offensive coordinator Mark Mangino left the program seven games into his second season. Coach Paul Rhoads declined to say if Mangino was fired or quit, and Mangino declined to address it … Oklahoma running back Samaje Perine faces a Kansas defense Saturday that he it up for an NCAA single-game record 427 yards last year. Perine has not been as productive this season in OU’s new Air Raid offense and while sharing backfield duties with Joe Mixon … Texas coach Charlie Strong was said to be willing to listen if Miami called about its open head coaching job, according to an ESPN report Monday. But at his weekly press conference, Strong laughed at the suggestion and said he has the best job in the country … Demoted Texas quarterback Tyrone Swoopes leads the team with seven touchdowns, all coming in the "18-wheeler" package coaches designed after Swoopes lost his job as the starting QB … TCU’s final five opponents have a combined record of 23-11, two are unbeaten and three are ranked.

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