Big 12

Blair Kerkhoff's Big 12 report

We mark the season's halfway point and the first occasion of six Big 12 games on a Saturday to pass along some midyear honors.

Defensive player of the year: Jeremy Beal, Oklahoma defensive end. Beal is at his best against top-shelf opponents, and that habit will serve the Sooners well as they visit Missouri on Saturday. Beal leads the Big 12 in sacks with 661/27.

Among others having outstanding seasons are Oklahoma State linebacker Orie Lemon, Nebraska linebacker Lavonte David, Texas tackle Randall Kheeston and end Sam Acho.

Offensive player of the year: Taylor Martinez, Nebraska quarterback. This answers in the affirmative the question, can your player of the year get benched? Martinez sat out the final 161/27 quarters in Saturday's loss to Texas, but the first 20 or so were sensational. He's the league's third-leading rusher (126.3), tops the Big 12 with 12 rushing touchdowns and is fifth in passer rating.

But the competition is closing fast. Oklahoma State wide receiver Justin Blackmon, Pokes running back Kendall Hunter, Oklahoma wide receiver Ryan Broyles and Sooners running back DeMarco Murray are putting up terrific numbers and all of these candidates get prime exposure opportunities this weekend. All due consideration goes to their quarterbacks, Oklahoma State's Brandon Weeden and Oklahoma's Landry Jones.

Not getting TV exposure as opponents Saturday but not to be discounted are Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin and Kansas State running back Daniel Thomas.

Coach of the year: Could be Bob Stoops, Art Briles, Gary Pinkel or Bill Snyder. I'll go with Mike Gundy. In what many believed would be a rebuilding season, he has Oklahoma State eligible for a fifth straight bowl game and back in the polls for the third straight season.

Ranking the Big 12


1. Oklahoma (2) at MissouriOU owns Tigers

2. Missouri (3) OklahomaGameDay time

3. Oklahoma State (4) NebraskaVictory = Contender

4. Texas (5) Iowa StateFine-tuning time

5. Nebraska (1) at Oklahoma StateGood on road

6. Kansas State (6) at BaylorNot average Bears

7. Baylor (9) Kansas StateBowl eligible if win

8. Texas Tech (8) at ColoradoDesperate for win

9. Texas A&M (7) at KansasQB spot open

10. Colorado (10) Texas TechMcCartney on radar?

11. Iowa State (11) at TexasNightmare slate

12. Kansas (12) Texas A&MJayhawks are terrible