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Wednesday, April 1, 2009
Who's going to win the North Division? Heck, I don't know

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- After driving more than 1,100 miles and meeting with five of the six coaches in the North Division over the last week, it would seem that I would have a pretty good idea who should be the favorite for next season.

But after meeting with Bill Snyder earlier today to finish off my North swing, I'm more confused than ever who should be favored.

Confidence is high at both Kansas and Nebraska. The Jayhawks believe they finally have an offense to contend with Oklahoma and Texas. The defense -- minus three starting linebackers -- is another story.

And Nebraska feels reasonably confident about its defense with the return of defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh and several other key defense players. The offense, which will start a new quarterback and two new wide receivers figures to be a lot like the Cornhuskers were back in the 1980s -- the Big Red ground machine -- with a lot of Roy Helu Jr. and Quentin Castille.

If you could morph Kansas and Nebraska together, I think you might be able to find a Big 12 championship-caliber team. The Jayhawks' offense, supported by the Cornhuskers' defense, would be a salty combination. But both teams are lacking one key element that makes it unlikely the conference championship will come back to the North Division for the first time since 2003.

After visiting every Big 12 team but Colorado, here are some of my perceptions.