- David Ubben, College Football
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Time to continue our team-by-team look at the Big 12's nonconference schedule.
Next up: Kansas State.
North Dakota State, Aug. 30
Coach: Craig Bohl, 11th year (89-32)
2012 record: 14-1 (7-1, Missouri Valley)
Defensive headliner: Linebacker Grant Olson returns after making 148 tackles last season, including 11.5 for loss. He recovered two fumbles as well. That total would have ranked fourth in FBS.
The skinny: Very dangerous game for Kansas State here. The Wildcats have struggled against FCS competition in season openers before, and NDSU is 6-3 all-time against FBS competition, including wins over Kansas, Minnesota (twice) and Colorado State. K-State should win, but if it plays poorly, or even average, this is a loss. Considering the roster turnover at K-State, this should be even more worrisome. Back in 2011, K-State beat a 7-5 Eastern Kentucky FCS team, 10-7. Similar situation. Worse team.
Louisiana-Lafayette, Sept. 7
Coach: Mark Hudspeth (18-8), third year
2012 record: 9-4, 6-2, Sun Belt
Returning starters: seven offense, six defense
Offensive headliner: Quarterback Terrance Broadway has a reputation as a playmaker and threw for 2,842 yards with 17 scores and nine interceptions last season. He also rushed for 769 yards and nine touchdowns.
Defensive headliner: Linebacker Justin Anderson made 105 tackles last season, 30 more than any other Ragin' Cajun. That included 8.5 tackles for loss and three sacks.
The skinny: The Cajuns are a fun team to watch and have won nine games and a bowl in each of the past two seasons. Lafayette is another team fully capable of beating K-State, who the Wildcats won't get much credit for beating. Seems like a lose-lose situation there.
Massachusetts, Sept. 14
Coach: Charley Molnar (1-11), second year
2012 record: 1-11, 0-8 MAC
Returning starters: four offense, five defense
Offensive headliner: Tight end and All-Name teamer Rob Blanchflower caught 43 passes for 464 yards and two touchdowns and is UMass' top returning receiver.
Defensive headliner: Linebacker and fellow All-Name teamer Kassan Messiah is the team's leading returning tackler after making 65 tackles in nine games as a freshman in 2012.
The skinny: UMass was a strong FCS program at one point, but saw the program take a downturn and had a rough transition to the FBS game a year ago as a member of the MAC.
Chances of going 3-0: 56 percent
Wrapping up: Bill Snyder finally gets his wish as tougher schedules from the past get fazed out. There's no Miami on this schedule. There's not a single team from a major conference and all three games are at Bill Snyder Family Stadium. There's not a name team on the schedule, but for a team that's rebuilding like Kansas State, facing experienced teams who know how to win like Louisiana and North Dakota State could prove tougher than casual fans glancing at a schedule realize.
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