News, notes and quotes from around the Big 12 with five days to go until the 2014 football season openers:
- No one can accuse the Big 12 of treading lightly and scheduling cupcake season openers. Oklahoma State and Iowa State take on defending national champions right out of the gate. Oklahoma State will Meet defending BCS champion Florida State and Heisman Trophy-winner Jameis Winston in Arlinglton, Texas, on Saturday, while the Cyclones will host two-time defending FCS champion North Dakota State, winner of 24 consecutive games. Among those 24 straight victories was a season-opening upset of Kansas State last season.
- You can add West Virginia to the list of Big 12 teams that will open up against one of the country’s elite teams. The Mountaineers will go head-to-head with No. 2-ranked Alabama in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game in Atlanta on Saturday afternoon and in front of a national TV audience. West Virginia is 98-29-4 all-time in season openers. This record will surely be under a severe challenge against the Crimson Tide. As far as schedule strength in the nonconference, the Mountaineers get the Big 12 blue ribbon for 2014. In their third game of the season, WVU goes to Maryland (now in its first season in the Big Ten), which handed WVU one of its worst defeats a year ago, 37-0.
- Former Oklahoma quarterback Blake Bell will operate out of the tight end position to start the season. At his weekly press conference this week, however, head coach Bob Stoops indicated the “Belldozer” package, with the 6-6, 252-yard Bell carrying the ball on short-yardage plays, is still alive and well and will be used in certain situations this season. Stoops also told reporters that, at this time, Dorial Green-Beckham, the highly talented wide-receiver transfer from Missouri is attending fall classes at OU and plans to stick around for another season. Only time will tell for sure.
- When defending Big 12 champion Baylor opens its 2014 season Sunday night against SMU, the Bears will do so in spanking new, $260 million McLane Stadium on the banks of the Brazos River. The new stadium seats 45.000 and is expandable to 55,000.
- Kansas is the only Big 12 school that does not open its 2014 schedule this weekend. The Jayhawks open up a week from Saturday at home against Southeast Missouri State. Coach Charlie Weis says he would rather play this Saturday, but that the delay just may work in the Jayhawks’ favor. Southwest Missouri State opens its season this Thursday. This allows Weis’ coaching staff to get a head start on evaluating its opponent and putting together the Jayhawks’ game plan for the home opener next weekend.
- A common question that was asked each head coach on the first Big 12 football teleconference of the season on Monday was what statistic do they highlight the most after each game. Turnover margin was the most popular answer.
- It’s still up in the air who will be at quarterback for TCU in the Horned Frogs season opener Saturday vs. Samford, out of the Southern Conference. “When we run out on the field for the first offensive huddle, that’s when you’ll know.” head coach Gary Patterson said on Monday. It will be either Texas A&M transfer Matt Joeckel or junior Trevone Boykin. Only Patterson knows for sure at this point.