Big 12: Big 12 Previewing Week 1

Previewing Week 1: Missouri

July, 21, 2011
7/21/11
3:45
PM ET
You're counting down the days, I'm sure. We're so close, and yet so far from the season's opening weekend. I can't wait for it, and I'm sure every player in the Big 12 can't either. So, despite being a bit far off, we'll take a look at each team's opener, inspired by our friends over at the Big Ten Blog.

We started this series at the top of the alphabet, and it's time for the Tigers.

Missouri Tigers


Week 1 Opponent: Miami (OH)

Coach: Don Treadwell, first year

2010 record: 10-4 (7-1, MAC)

Returning starters: 17 (8 offense, 9 defense)

About the RedHawks: Miami was no doubt underrated last season when the Tigers rolled them in Columbia, 51-13. The Redhawks were unimpressive in nonconference play, but reeled off six consecutive wins to end the season to win the MAC, a quality league at the FBS level. The RedHawks' turnaround from a 1-11 season in 2009 to a MAC title was one of the best stories in college football, and earned second-year head coach Mike Haywood the job at Pittsburgh, though that already didn't end well.

The RedHawks will lean on new coach Don Treadwell this year, who helped guide Michigan State to a share of a Big Ten title last season as offensive coordinator and interim head coach after coach Mark Dantonio suffered a heart attack following an overtime win against Notre Dame on Sept. 19.

Could Treadwell be the next great Miami name in the program that's earned the moniker of "Cradle of Coaches?" Jim Tressel, Woody Hayes, Bo Schembechler and new Indiana coach Kevin Wilson, a former Oklahoma offensive coordinator, have all come through Miami.

On the field, the Redhawks return quarterback Zac Dysert, a junior, and Austin Boucher, a sophomore who played in seven games as a freshman. Dysert suffered a rib injury and Boucher led the team to wins in its final four games, including the conference championship and the GoDaddy.com Bowl, but fall camp opens with a competition between the two. Boucher completed more than 60 percent of his passes and averaged more than 300 yards a game in his final two starts.

Leading rusher Thomas Merriweather (921 yards, 12 TDs) graduated, but rising sophomore Tracy Woods carried the ball 94 times for 376 yards and a touchdown last season.

Leading receiver Armand Robinson (1062 yards, 12 TDs) is gone, too, but the RedHawks return four receivers with at least 25 catches last season.

The defense returns nine starters, including all eight of the team's top tacklers, led by linebacker Jerrell Wedge.

Random factoid: Illinois coach Ron Zook, whose Illini team has opened its past four seasons against Missouri, is a Miami (OH) alum.

Totally unscientific percentage chance Missouri wins: 81 percent. Miami clearly made big improvements late in the year, and the Tigers will be throwing out a first-time starter at quarterback, which comes with all kinds of unknowns. Missouri is better at every position, but if the offense sputters, anything could happen.

More Week 1 previews:

Previewing Week 1: Kansas State

July, 20, 2011
7/20/11
3:45
PM ET
You're counting down the days, I'm sure. We're so close, and yet so far from the season's opening weekend. I can't wait for it, and I'm sure every player in the Big 12 can't either. So, despite being a bit far off, we'll take a look at each team's opener, inspired by our friends over at the Big Ten Blog.

We started this series at the top of the alphabet, and it's time for the Wildcats.

Kansas State Wildcats

Week 1 Opponent: Eastern Kentucky

Coach: Dean Hood, third year (13-10)

2010 record: 6-5 (5-2, Ohio Valley)
About the Colonels: Eastern Kentucky's offense runs around T.J. Pryor, who ran for 505 yards and nine touchdowns to go with 1,613 yards and 12 touchdowns through the air. Pryor completed just more than 53 percent of his 22 passes, though, and was picked off 12 times with those 12 touchdowns.

Pryor's top receiver, Orlandus Harris, returns after catching 56 passes for 940 yards and seven touchdowns. It's the Ohio Valley, sure, but that 16.8 yards per catch average would have been second in the Big 12 last year, just behind Baylor's Josh Gordon, who averaged 17 yards per catch.

Pryor was the team's leading rusher, but the spectacularly named H.B. Banjoman will be a senior in 2011 after rushing for 423 yards and five scores in 2010.

Eastern Kentucky is breaking in a new defensive coordinator, Tony Hatmaker, who spent the past three seasons coaching defensive backs.

The Colonels only played one BCS conference team last season, losing 23-13 to Louisville, but finished the season on a four-game winning streak. They finished with a winning record, but missed the playoffs for a second consecutive season after being bounced in the first round in 2008.

Random factoid: Kansas State hasn't suffered a loss in a season opener under Bill Snyder since a 31-0 loss to Arizona State in 1989, Snyder's first year as Wildcats coach.

Totally unscientific percentage chance Kansas State wins: 94 percent. Kansas State will learn a lot about itself early in the season with new faces on the offensive line and at running back, two positions that were a strength in recent years for the Wildcats, but Eastern Kentucky doesn't look like a team with a real chance to pull the upset.

More Week 1 previews:

Previewing Week 1: Kansas

July, 14, 2011
7/14/11
1:15
PM ET
You're counting down the days, I'm sure. We're so close, and yet so far from the season's opening weekend. I can't wait for it, and I'm sure every player in the Big 12 can't either. So, despite being a bit far off, we'll take a look at each team's opener, inspired by our friends over at the Big Ten Blog.

We started this series at the top of the alphabet, and it's time for the Jayhawks.

Kansas Jayhawks

Week 1 Opponent: McNeese State

Coach: Matt Viator, sixth year (39-15, 27-7 Southland)

2010 record: 6-5 (5-2, Southland)

Returning starters: 15

About the Cowboys: The last time the Big 12 got a glimpse of McNeese State, it trailed 50-0 in the third quarter against Missouri.

So the Cowboys, proud members of the FCS Southland Conference, may not worry fans, but it's hard not to be reminded of what happened in last season's Jayhawks season opener. Kansas really gave the entire conference a black eye when it got popped by FCS North Dakota State 6-3 in Lawrence on the opening weekend, becoming the only team in the conference that didn't begin its season with a win.

Kansas should be better this season, though, and certainly has a much more clear identity. Its starting quarterback, Kale Pick, now plays receiver and its eventual leading rusher on the season, James Sims, rode the bench while DeShaun Sands ran for a rousing 17 yards on 10 carries.

So it's quite a bit different this time around. Will the result follow?

McNeese State boasts Andre Anderson at running back, who won Southland Conference Newcomer of the Year honors with a 855-yard 2010 season. Jacob Bower (5-4) and Cody Stroud (1-1) split starts last year as redshirt freshmen, but those are the names you'll hear if you're a Kansas fan in early September. Linebacker Deron Minor finished his career with 343 tackles.

Can Sims and the Jayhawks running game take advantage? If not, it's going to be another long season in Lawrence.

Random factoid: There's no official title, I suppose, but McNeese State might have the most garish uniforms in college football. Good grief.

Totally unscientific percentage chance Kansas wins: 86 percent. Kansas blows them out? Things are certainly looking up in Lawrence.

More Week 1 previews:

Previewing Week 1: Iowa State

July, 1, 2011
7/01/11
1:30
PM ET
You're counting down the days, I'm sure. We're so close, and yet so far from the season's opening weekend. I can't wait for it, and I'm sure every player in the Big 12 can't either. So, despite being a bit far off, we'll take a look at each team's opener, inspired by our friends over at the Big Ten Blog.

We'll start this series at the top of the alphabet.

Iowa State Cyclones

Week 1 Opponent: Northern Iowa

Coach: Mark Farley (82-32, 10th season)

2010 record: 7-5 (6-2, Missouri Valley)

Returning starters: 19 (eight offense, 10 defense, one specialists)

About the Panthers: Farley, the Panthers' coach, came to Northern Iowa after four years coaching linebackers at Kansas. Since coming in 2001, the Panthers have won the Missouri Valley Conference six times and won the league seven times during the 1990s.

The Missouri Valley powers are one of two in-state teams Iowa State will open its season with, but here's guessing the Cyclones will have a better time in the season opener against Northern Iowa than against the Iowa Hawkeyes in Week 2.

Iowa State's game against the Panthers last year wasn't broadcast on television, but it was easily one of their better performances. Any time a defense pitches a shutout, that's easy to see.

Leading tackler Jamar Thompson (99 tackles) is gone, but the Panthers return a lot on both sides of the ball. Quarterback Tirell Rennie returns after running for 1,291 yards and throwing for 1,526 more and scoring 23 touchdowns. None of those came against the Cyclones last year, of course, but Iowa State's solid linebackers will have a tough task in reining him in. Carlos Anderson returns as well after running for 974 yards and two touchdowns.

Ben Boothby and Will Eilert, a pair of senior defensive tackles, combined for 15.5 sacks last year and linebacker James Conley added six more. Iowa State's new quarterback, whoever it is on opening day, could get a personal meeting with one of the three if he struggles.

Random factoid: Northern Iowa beat Iowa State in 2007, 24-13. That was the last time it beat a team from the FBS. Its only other victory over a major conference team since 1901 came over Kansas State in 1986 when it beat the Wildcats, 17-0.

Totally unscientific percentage chance Iowa State wins: 92 percent. Iowa State will try to find out who its playmakers are on offense, but the defense pitched a shutout in last year's 27-0 victory.

More Week 1 previews:

Previewing Week 1: Baylor

June, 30, 2011
6/30/11
2:45
PM ET
You're counting down the days, I'm sure. We're so close, and yet so far from the season's opening weekend. I can't wait for it, and I'm sure every player in the Big 12 can't either. So, despite being a bit far off, we'll take a look at each team's opener, inspired by our friends over at the Big Ten Blog.

We'll start this series at the top of the alphabet.

Baylor Bears

Week 1 Opponent: Texas Christian

Coach: Gary Patterson (98-28, 12th season)

2010 record: 13-0 (8-0, Mountain West)

Returning starters: 10 (four offense, four defense, two specialists)

About the Horned Frogs: I didn't feel great about Baylor's chances to actually beat TCU last year in Fort Worth, but I thought it had a good chance to make things interesting. After the first quarter, it was 21-0.

This year, I think the same, but the Bears should have a much better shot of pulling the upset.

TCU loses more talent from last year's team than any team in the country except Auburn, which brings back just seven starters. That heavy turnover, plus playing in the season opener at home versus the third game of the year on the road last year, should favor the Bears, who will play host at Floyd Casey Stadium in Waco.

TCU must replace NFL-bound quarterback Andy Dalton, three offensive linemen and standout receiver Jeremy Kerley. Linebacker Tank Carder and his gratuitous arm bands are back, but both safeties must be replaced. Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III loves to go vertical to Josh Gordon and Kendall Wright, so look for him to do it, and the Horned Frogs' secondary coach, Chad Glasgow, is now at Texas Tech.

TCU should start the season somewhere in the top 20, but Baylor will have a great opportunity to notch an attention-grabbing win with a Friday night kickoff on national TV. The game will be broadcast at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN.

Random factoid: TCU leads the series between the former Southwest Conference foes, 50-49-7. Baylor can even it up with a win.

Totally unscientific percentage chance Baylor wins: 42 percent. Baylor has lots of experience, especially on offense, and it's hard to imagine the defense being much worse than it was last year, especially against Dalton and the Horned Frogs' offense, which did anything it wanted to the Bears' D.

Will the player turnover be enough to offset TCU's advantages in overall talent and depth?

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