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'Year of the backup QB' marks Big 12 this season

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

It hasn't been a good season for starting quarterbacks in the Big 12.

In fact, it could almost be said that it's been "open season" on starting quarterbacks across the conference this season.

Only six teams have had the same starting quarterback in the lineup for all of their games. And it's no coincidence that the conference's best teams -- Texas and Oklahoma State -- have had the same starting quarterback for every game.

Baylor and Oklahoma have already lost Robert Griffin and Sam Bradford, ending the Bears' hopes of a bowl game and likely ending the Sooners' chances of defending their unprecedented three-peat of conference titles.

But no team has been as drastically affected as Texas Tech, which had never had a quarterback miss a start before this season under Mike Leach. The Red Raiders have more than made up for it this season as Taylor Potts and Steven Sheffield both have been knocked out of the lineup at different times.

Potts returned to the lineup last week and struggled in the Red Raiders' loss to Texas A&M. It led to a heavy chorus of boos and chants of "No More Potts" after his interception in that game as third-stringer Seth Doege finished the game.

"I ignore that, but I'm going to play whoever I think is the best guy," Leach said of the vociferous fan reaction. "I guess it's free speech."

With Sheffield still a week away as his injured foot heals, Leach could turn to Doege Saturday against Kansas.

But he's not tipping his hand early in the week.

"Game-time decision," he said. "We'll look at practice."

Here's a look at each Big 12 team and their progression of quarterbacks this season.

Baylor: Griffin was idled with a season-ending knee injury against Northwestern State on Sept. 26. Backup Blake Szymanski had struggled with bruised shoulder. Freshman Nick Florence started games against Kent State and Oklahoma. Szymanski started against Iowa State. Florence returned to the starting lineup Saturday against Oklahoma State.

Colorado: Starter Cody Hawkins struggled with on-field performances and was replaced when Tyler Hansen burned his redshirt against Texas on Oct. 10. Hansen started the Buffaloes' games against Kansas and Kansas State, but was replaced by Hawkins against Kansas State on Saturday.

Iowa State: Starter Austen Arnaud bruised his hand during the Cyclones' victory over Baylor on Oct. 17. He was replaced in the starting lineup by Jerome Tiller, who directed the Cyclones' upset victory at Nebraska on Saturday.

Kansas: Todd Reesing has started every game.

Kansas State: Carson Coffman started the first four games, leading the Wildcats to a 2-2 nonconference record. Grant Gregory was inserted into the starting lineup when conference play began, leading KSU to a 3-1 record.

Missouri: Blaine Gabbert has been slowed by a sprained right ankle, but has been the Tigers' starter in every game. Backup Jimmy Costello replaced him late in the Tigers' loss to Texas last week.

Nebraska: Zac Lee has been the starter for every game, but the Cornhuskers have sputtered against top opponents. The Cornhuskers have scored 59 points against opponents from BCS conferences, with 27 of those points coming in one quarter. Coach Bo Pelini has hinted at a change to freshman Cody Green, who despite strong early production, has seen action in only four games this season.

Oklahoma: Bradford was knocked out of the starting lineup late in the first half of the Sooners' season-opening loss to BYU. Backup Landry Jones has played well at times, setting the school's single-game record for touchdowns with six against Tulsa. Jones started three games before he was replaced by Bradford, who started against Baylor and Texas. Bradford was knocked out of the Texas game on the Sooners' second possession, re-injuring his shoulder and forcing season-ending surgery.

Oklahoma State: Despite sustaining a pulled groin muscle in training camp, Zac Robinson has started every game for the Cowboys.

Texas: Colt McCoy has started every game for Texas.

Texas A&M: Jerrod Johnson has started every game for Texas A&M.

Texas Tech: Potts was Texas Tech's starting quarterback for the first five games before he was knocked out of the New Mexico game with a concussion. Sheffield rallied the team with a strong performance in that game and then orchestrated victories in the next two games against Kansas State and Nebraska before injuring his foot against the Cornhuskers. Potts returned to the starting lineup but struggled in the Red Raiders' loss to Texas Tech on Saturday. Now, Leach is hinting that he might start Doege against Kansas this week.