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Big 12 In Two Spots Of Stewart Mandel's Top 10
December 21, 2012
Wendell Barnhouse is a nationally-known and respected columnist who has spent over 20 years covering collegiate athletics. He has reported from 25 Final Fours and more than three dozen bowl games and has written about the Big 12 and its schools since the conference's beginning. Barnhouse will be updating the Big 12 Insider on happenings and behind-the-scenes information about the conference.

Stewart Mandel of reviews his top 10 stories/moments from the 2012 football season and Kansas State coach Bill Snyder and West Virginia's Geno Smith made the list.

No. 4. Bill Snyder rules. I already wrote an ode to Kansas State's 73-year-old patriarch when I nominated him for Sportsman of the Year. I also wrote a feature about him last season when the Wildcats started 7-0, the first indication that Snyder was sparking yet another revival in the Little Apple. But when Kansas State lost 58-17 to Oklahoma last October, it fueled the perception that the team's eventual 10-win Cotton Bowl season was a mirage. Many, including me, predicted the Wildcats would return to earth in 2012. Instead, Snyder's team scored a 24-19 win at Oklahoma on Sept. 22 en route to a 10-0 start and a No. 1 spot in the BCS standings prior to its loss to Baylor on Nov. 17. K-State's success was more explainable this time around with quarterback Collin Klein blossoming into an eventual Heisman finalist and Arthur Brown, Meshak Williams and Ty Zimmerman, among others, comprising a bona fide big-time defense. Still, it's hard to quantify exactly how Snyder continues to produce top-10 teams with top-50 recruiting classes, and it's not like the man is delivering public insights. But then again, that's part of his charm.

No. 7. Geno Smith, September Heisman winner. I happened to spend a Saturday off the road on Sept. 29, and while the noon games (or 9 a.m. my time) often tend to be snoozers, I couldn't take my eyes off of the alternatingly fascinating and maddening Baylor-West Virginia game. There were no defenses in sight, as the teams combined for 133 points and an inconceivable 1,507 yards of total offense (Baylor gained 700 and lost). But Smith's performance, in particular, stood above the rest. He attempted 51 passes and only six fell incomplete. He threw for 656 yards and eight touchdowns. At that point in the season, through four games, Smith had thrown 20 touchdowns and no picks. It appeared as if Dana Holgorsen's offense was near the point of perfection. That wasn't the case, as Texas Tech walloped Smith and the Mountaineers, 49-14, two weeks later to start a five-game losing skid. But Smith's hot streak was sure fun while it lasted.

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