Big 12: Dave Christensen
I'll be sticking around Dallas to watch games at home Saturday, but on Sunday night I'll be at Floyd Casey Stadium for Baylor's season-opening showdown against SMU.
How'd I do last year? I'm glad you asked. I'll be keeping track of my weekly record as the season goes along.
Without further ado, here's who I've got in Saturday's Big 12 games. Spoiler alert: I have every Big 12 team winning.
Last season: 67-19 (.779)
West Virginia 47, Marshall 14: I sense some nerves on the part of a few West Virginians. No worries, though. The offense will be as good as advertised. The first quarter will be a little rough, but the Mountaineers will take care of business and won't make the fans sweat.
Iowa State 28, Tulsa 24: The Cyclones are a good team, and you always hear they'd do much better in a league that wasn't quite as difficult. How's C-USA sound? Iowa State's the underdog, but it's the better team in this one, even if Tulsa's going to contend for a league title. Steele Jantz will make some more magic happen in the fourth quarter.
Kansas 38, South Dakota State 14: Charlie Weis' debut will go well, and Dayne Crist will look very good as well. Look out for Kale Pick to make a big impact: eight catches and 100 or more receiving yards for the former quarterback in this one.
Kansas State 34, Missouri State 10: Don't expect Kansas State to look very impressive. Bill Snyder is about winning, not blowouts. Still, Missouri State won't be able to stop the running game, and Kansas State will eliminate the mistakes that plagued it in last year's near disaster. Overpowering.
Oklahoma State 172, Savannah State 4: I'm sticking with my offseason prediction on this one. Savannah State just might be the worst four-year college football team in America. The Tigers have two wins in the FCS in the past two years. Both wins have been tight decisions over some school called North Carolina Central. Who gets to play those guys? Rutgers beat them 48-0 in 2011, if you're into that kind of thing.
Texas Tech 55, Northwestern State 20: There will be lots of offense here. Texas Tech's defense still has question marks, but Seth Doege and his receivers do not. On to the next one.
Texas 27, Wyoming 17: The Longhorns have to be careful in this one. A turnover will give Dave Christensen's squad a gift touchdown, but the Longhorns will wear down the Cowboys over 60 minutes with their running game.
Oklahoma 41, UTEP 17: Don't get too wrapped up in the gorgeous views from the Sun Bowl. Mike Price's Miners are in for a long night after the sun goes down. The Sooners won't mess around in the opener, and they'll build a two-touchdown lead by halftime, cruising to an opening win as the Big 12's only team on the road in Week 1.
Baylor 41, SMU 31: This is my pick of the week. Come back later today for a video on this game.
Remember, these are preseason predictions. We'll obviously still do week-to-week picks, and they may change between now and then. There are a lot of preseason practices and a whole lot of games between now and the end of the season.
There are always teams who disappoint and teams who surprise. But heading into the season, here's how I see the Big 12 shaking out.
Baylor 41, SMU 31: Nick Florence breaks out with a big debut in this Southwest Conference showdown. Lache Seastrunk has a quiet day, but shows flashes of brilliance that warn the rest of the league.
Iowa State 28, Tulsa 24: The Cyclones defense comes up big as the offense sputters early with quarterbacks Jared Barnett and Steele Jantz rotating throughout. Jantz makes enough plays in the fourth for yet another fourth-quarter comeback.
Kansas 38, South Dakota State 14: Turner Gill's debut vs. North Dakota State ended in a 6-3 loss. I've never seen South Dakota State, but I can tell you that they are not North Dakota State. So ... that's something.
Kansas State 34, Missouri State 10: Last year's opener was a nailbiting, come-from-behind 10-7 victory over Eastern Kentucky that made K-State look like the worst team in the Big 12. No such work here. K-State takes care of business, and by custom, Bill Snyder reveals just two plays in his playbook (Klein Left, and Klein Right).
Oklahoma 41, UTEP 17: This one kicks off in the desert at 9:30 p.m. Oklahoma time. The last time OU played in this stadium, it rolled over Stanford in the Sun Bowl. You can go to bed early in this one, Sooners fans. Get some sleep and get to church in the morning.
Oklahoma State 172, Savannah State 4: Does this game really need to be played? The competition from high school to Savannah State is not all that different for Wes Lunt.
Texas 27, Wyoming 17: Don't get caught sleeping on Wyoming. Dave Christensen's team is pretty good. Overlook them at your own peril. Texas won't. The Longhorns have a lot to prove this year. The difference: They have the personnel to do it.
Texas Tech 55, Northwestern State 20: Tech is finally healthy, and the Demons quite simply can't hang. Time to flex for the Red Raiders.
West Virginia 47, Marshall 14: The battle for bragging rights in West Virginia was close in Bill Stewart's final year. It wasn't last year. It won't be this year. WVU rolls against one of a few familiar opponents it will face in 2012.
BIG 12 STANDINGS
- Oklahoma: 1-0
- Kansas State: 1-0
- West Virginia: 1-0
- Texas: 1-0
- Oklahoma State: 1-0
- Baylor: 1-0
- Texas Tech: 1-0
- Iowa State: 1-0
- Kansas: 1-0
- TCU: 0-0 (Gotta hate those opening weekend byes. I feel for you, Frogs. It's no fun to wait a week longer than everyone else for the season to arrive.)
That honor is understandable, considering what the conference's first-year coaches have been able to accomplish.
Rhoads leads all first-year coaches in win improvement from last season. And Snyder is tied for fifth.
Interestingly, three of the coaches on the list have associations with the Big 12. Gene Chizik was the head coach at Iowa State who preceded Rhoads. Dave Christensen served as the offensive coordinator at Missouri before accepting the Wyoming job. And Tim Beckman was the defensive coordinator at Oklahoma State before taking the Toledo head job.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
After struggling through one of my worst weeks in recent history, I'm hoping for a turnaround in these picks.
Here they are.
Kansas 41, Duke 17: The Jayhawks have too many offensive weapons and an improved defense with a knack of making big plays. Jake Sharp and Toben Opurum provide an emerging 1-2 weapon at running back and Dezmon Briscoe will juice production in the passing game with Todd Reesing as he becomes more comfortable in the offense. Duke coach David Cutcliffe will likely alternate Sean Renfree and Thaddeus Lewis at quarterback. Both will likely struggle against an emerging Kansas defensive front that has produced nine sacks in its first two games.
Missouri 45, Furman 6: Look for the Tigers to jump on their FCS opponent quickly, hoping to make amends after last week’s closer-than-expected victory over Bowling Green. Blaine Gabbert regressed in his second start, but should be ready to show improvement this week. If they can find the edge exhibited against Illinois, this one won’t be close for very long.
Colorado 24, Wyoming 21: It can’t get any worse for Dan Hawkins and the Buffaloes, can it? If they lose this one, it will. Despite the struggles stopping big plays and operating the offense in losses against Colorado State and Toledo, the Buffaloes will rebound. Even though the Cowboys turned the heat up on Texas last week and Dave Christensen had his way against the Buffaloes when he was offensive coordinator at Missouri -- he outscored Colorado by a combined 113-10 margin last season -- it won’t be that easy this time. The Buffaloes will rebound and win a gritty game that won’t be very spectator friendly.
Oklahoma 38, Tulsa 17: Landry Jones makes his second career start against Tulsa, an underrated program under Todd Graham that will be itching to earn some national revenge against their “big brothers” from across the state. This should be a good matchup between the Golden Hurricane, who led the nation in total offense each of the past two seasons, and the salty Oklahoma defense. Sooners coaches are familiar with Tulsa quarterback G.J. Kinne, who they tried to recruit as a linebacker. Even without Sam Bradford, the Sooners still should have enough offense to win.
Virginia Tech 28, Nebraska 21: Nebraska quarterback Zac Lee will be looking to stop the Hokies’ 31-game home nonconference winning streak in his first career road start. There might be tougher first-game assignments in college football, but I don’t know of many. Lee leads the conference in pass efficiency, but will be stepping up in class when he faces the active Virginia Tech defense. Ryan Williams and fellow freshman David Wilson both rushed for more than 160 yards last week and the Hokies will be looking to set the tempo by using them. Still, the Cornhuskers might make this one closer than expected with a strong pass rush against Tyrod Taylor and if they can stay away from special-teams mistakes.
Baylor 31, Connecticut 21: The Bears will be gunning for their second straight conquest over an opponent from a BCS-affiliated conference against Connecticut, which beat them in Storrs last season. But this is a different Baylor team, which has had a bye week to settle down after an upset victory over Wake Forest in its opener. Backup quarterback Cody Endres steps in as Connecticut’s starter after Zach Frazer was hurt last week against North Carolina. One item to watch will be how Baylor’s young Canadian tackles Danny Watkins and Phillip Blake will handle Lindsay Witten, who leads the Big East in sacks.
Kent State 24, Iowa State 21: Paul Rhoads will try to halt the Cyclones’ nation-worst 17-game road losing streak. Iowa State quarterback Austen Arnaud will be trying to rebound after throwing four interceptions in the Cyclones’ 35-3 loss last week to Iowa. Freshman quarterback Spencer Keith will make his first career start for the Golden Flashes, who ranked 96th or worse in each of the four major offensive statistical categories. In the end, this one might be settled by which of two of the nation’s worst turnover margin teams -- Kent State is 94th and Iowa State is 108th -- does the better job of protecting the ball.
Texas A&M 38, Utah State 10: Texas A&M hopes to build on a strong opening-game performance against New Mexico where the offense and defense were both productive in a 41-6 victory. Jerrod Johnson looked more comfortable starting his second season as quarterback and the Aggies showed strong skill players. The defense, while still not at the “Wrecking Crew” standards of the past, had a strong effort with five sacks keyed by three from Von Miller. Utah State was challenging for Utah, but likely doesn’t have the firepower to stay close to the rejuvenated A&M attack for long in this game.
Oklahoma State 45, Rice 17: The Cowboys are intent on rebounding after last week’s disappointing home loss to Houston. They likely will play without Big 12 leading rusher Kendall Hunter, but backups Beau Johnson and Keith Toston averaged nearly 8 yards per carry against Houston. The Cowboys gave up more yardage in the first half last week than against Georgia in the previous week. They shouldn’t face much of a challenge from Rice, which is rebuilding from last season’s 10-win team. Coach David Bailiff alternated among three quarterbacks last week and could do the same against an Oklahoma State defense that will be intent on improvement this week.
Texas 54, Texas Tech 31: Even though they claim otherwise, rest assured the Longhorns have been awaiting this rematch ever since their 39-33 loss in Lubbock last season. They should have the upper hand in this one because their secondary is a year more experienced and this will be Texas Tech quarterback Taylor Potts’ first road game as a starter. The Longhorns looked lethargic in the first half last week at Wyoming, but blew the game by scoring 28 unanswered points in the second half. It won’t be that easy this week against Potts and the Red Raiders, but look for the Longhorns’ offense to produce similar late success.
UCLA 21, Kansas State 10: This one figures to be a low scoring game as the Wildcats have sputtered offensively and UCLA will be playing without starting quarterback Kevin Prince, who sustained a broken jaw late in the Bruins’ victory at Tennessee. Look for both teams to try to take control on the ground with UCLA employing Johnathan Franklin and Kansas State countering with Big 12 rushing leader Daniel Thomas. The Wildcats have also struggled mightily with special teams in their first two games and must improve for any upset hopes. But the UCLA defense is too formidable, winning this one as they pick up the slack for an offense missing Prince.
Last week: 7-3 (70 percent)
For the season: 16-6 (72.7 percent)
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
Here are 10 trends I'll be watching across the Big 12 on Saturday.
1. How Texas’ secondary counters Texas Tech’s passing offense: Although they’ve been careful not to mention the revenge angle, Texas defensive players clearly want the test of stopping Texas Tech after the Red Raiders’ dramatic comeback victory in Lubbock last season -- a loss that eventually cost them a shot at playing for the national championship. I imagine that Blake Gideon has had flashbacks of his dropped interception on the play before Michael Crabtree’s game-winning TD grab. And Earl Thomas has probably replayed his coverage bust on Crabtree on the game-winning play on countless occasions. The Texas defense is back and more experienced and will be challenged by a retooled Texas Tech offense that includes new quarterback Taylor Potts and new featured receivers Lyle Leong and Tramain Swindall. Graham Harrell and Crabtree won’t be there, but it will still be a big challenge for the Longhorns.
2. How Taylor Potts and Zac Lee fare in their first road games as starters: Potts and Lee have looked invincible at home in their first two starts, ranking 1-2 in the Big 12 in touchdown passes. Both will be facing huge challenges this week in their first games away from home. Potts’ Red Raiders will be facing the challenge of winning in Austin, a location where they haven’t won since 1997. And Lee and Nebraska will be looking to snap Virginia Tech’s streak of 31 straight nonleague home wins. I don’t expect either of the young gunslingers to pull off an upset, but both will learn some invaluable lessons that will prepare them for the rest of their careers.
3. The special-teams battle between Nebraska and Virginia Tech: The Hokies have one of the most vaunted special teams in college football, the foundation of “Beamer Ball” over the years. It will be telling to see how Nebraska’s special teams of new punter Alex Henery and new long-snapper P.J. Mangieri, a freshman walk-on who was recruited specifically to snap, will play in the intense cauldron of emotion at Virginia Tech against the Hokies’ storied special-teams unit.
4. Can it get any worse for Colorado? Coach Dan Hawkins’ team has been one of the nation’s biggest early disappointments. Hawkins brashly predicted “10 wins and no excuses” before the season. They might not make that prediction at this point if they played 50 games. Expect some fans at Folsom Field to be wearing paper bags over their head in shame after the Buffaloes’ disappointing 0-2 start that included losses five days apart to Colorado State and Toledo. Hawkins’ seat already is blistering and he’ll be facing a Wyoming team directed by Dave Christensen, a former Missouri offensive coordinator who helped outscore the Buffaloes by a combined margin of 113-10 in the last two seasons he was there. Christenson’s offenses have a current run of 106 straight points against the Buffaloes after those two games. If that streak continues, Hawkins’ tenuous job status may bubble over.
5. Can Kansas State muster enough offense to challenge injury-depleted UCLA? Bill Snyder is looking for a statement victory at the Rose Bowl against the Bruins, who will play without starting quarterback Kevin Prince. In order to capitalize on that loss, the Wildcats will have to show much improvement offensively against a tough UCLA unit that ranks 27th in scoring defense and 33rd in total defense.
6. Baylor’s “Royal Canadian Tackle Patrol” against Connecticut’s Lindsey Witten: Baylor’s inexperienced pair of starting tackles -- former Canadian fireman Danny Watkins and Toronto native Phillip Blake -- will be challenged to protect against Witten, who leads the nation with seven sacks. The two young tackles were praised for their strong play in their first career starts against Wake Forest. But they need to come up with another big effort to protect Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin.
7. Landry Jones and his second career start: Oklahoma backup quarterback Landry Jones looked strong in his first start in what amounted to a glorified scrimmage against Idaho State. He’ll face a bigger challenge Saturday against an underrated Tulsa defense that ranks second nationally in sacks, second in tackles for loss and tied for fifth nationally in turnover margin. The blitz-happy Golden Hurricane will present many more problems than in his Jones’ first start.
8. Iowa State’s attempt to snap the nation’s longest road losing streak: Paul Rhoads will be gunning to end Iowa State’s 17-game road losing streak as the Cyclones visit Kent State. Truthfully, this might be the Cyclones’ best chance to win on the road this season. Iowa State didn’t show much in a 35-3 loss to Iowa last week that was punctuated by four interceptions thrown by Austen Arnaud. But the Cyclones’ defense should be able to stick with a Kent State offense that ranks 96th in rushing offense, 97th in passing offense, 106th in total offense and 111th in scoring offense nationally.
9. Zac Robinson’s hopes to rebound: Oklahoma State’s starting quarterback has struggled in his first two games. He threw a critical late interception that was returned for a clinching touchdown last week by Houston and hasn’t played to his previous level. His 54.7 percent completion percentage is down significantly from last season, when he completed 65 percent of his passes for more than 3,000 yards. And he’ll have to operate this week against Rice without leading 2008 Big 12 rusher Kendall Hunter, idled this week with an ankle injury.
10. How Blaine Gabbert reacts to the first dose of adversity as a college starter: Missouri’s starting quarterback had a strong career start against Illinois. His second start last week against Bowling Green was a marked contrast as the Tigers sputtered early before finally charging back for a 27-20 triumph. Gabbert and the Tigers shouldn’t be challenged by FCS opponent Furman, but the game will provide an opportunity to see if Gabbert learned much from last week’s struggles.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
Here are some of the topics that people are talking about inside the Big 12 after the first two weeks of the season.
- Texas Tech’s running game has regressed this season, down from 119 yards per game last year to just 46 yards per game and 2.8 yards per carry after two games. The major reason for the decline has been the defensive philosophy of opponents North Dakota State and Rice. But another factor has been that Graham Harrell was comfortable with the running game and frequently checked into those plays at the line of scrimmage in the past. New quarterback Taylor Potts isn’t nearly as proficient at that part of the Red Raiders’ offense – yet.
- Kansas is intent on developing its secondary and that retooled unit helped key the Jayhawks’ victory against UTEP. Kansas coaches weren’t happy with sophomore Anthony Davis and moved nickelback Chris Harris into the starting lineup in his place. Phillip Strozier made his first start at safety and the Jayhawks responded by limiting the Miners to 204 passing yards -- their lowest production since early last season.
- Despite struggling with the Big 12’s worst kicking game after two games, Bill Snyder isn’t turning away from starting kicker Josh Cherry. Against Louisiana-Lafayette, the Wildcats missed two field-goal attempts, struggled with another and saw an extra point glance off the left upright. Snyder still is working to build Cherry's confidence and will have him in the lineup Saturday against UCLA.
- One concern coming out of the Texas game at Wyoming was the Longhorns’ early inability to protect Colt McCoy from various blitz packages. That pressure helped contribute to McCoy’s early struggles until Wyoming got tired and didn’t have the personnel to stick with the Longhorns into the second half. That won’t be the case when Oklahoma and maybe even Texas Tech play against Texas. It will be interesting to see if future Texas opponents saw anything in the game films at Laramie that could affect McCoy later his season.
- One interesting thing about Missouri’s play-calling when down last week against Bowling Green was how new offensive coordinator David Yost didn’t abandon his running game. Obviously having backs like Derrick Washington and Kendial Lawrence has to help that confidence. But it was noticeable that Yost isn’t afraid to stick with the run where former Missouri offensive coordinator Dave Christensen believed in a pass-first, everything-else-later mentality in those times of desperation.
- Robert Griffin uncorked a 59-yard quick kick in Baylor’s first game and mentioned he is extremely comfortable in the role as a punter. Griffin said the kick was his first in game since his freshman season in high school -- when he served as his team’s kicker and punter.
- While he’s careful to say it’s not a quarterback battle, look for backup Jerome Tiller to get an early series for Iowa State when the Cyclones visit Kent State. Coach Paul Rhoads said it's nothing against Austen Arnaud, but he always believes in two quarterbacks getting early work in a game. The idea is to have both quarterbacks fresh and ready to contribute in case of an emergency, Rhoads said.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
Here’s a look at Big 12 games this week gauged in terms of spectator appeal.
A ranking of four stars indicate must-see football. Three-star games are definitely worth the investment in time. Two-star games bear a quick glimpse or two for occasional score updates, but little more. And one-star games mean you might be better off taking care of your plumbing or visiting your in-laws.
Check out this list and plan your Saturday schedules accordingly.
Nebraska at Virginia Tech, ABC-TV, 3:30 p.m. ET: The Cornhuskers are looking for their first big statement road victory under Bo Pelini in a tough visit to the Hokies, who have lost at home only 15 times in the last 16 seasons. The Cornhuskers played them tight last season in Lincoln and are improved. We’ll see how much in this game.
Texas Tech at Texas, ABC-TV, 8 p.m.: Mike Leach has lost all four times his teams have played in Austin, allowing 59, 52, 43 and 42 points. Taylor Potts came within one touchdown pass of tying the school record last week, but will be challenged by a stout Longhorn secondary still smarting about squandering the game in Lubbock last season. Look for a shootout with the first team that reaches 40 likely to win.
Tulsa at Oklahoma, 3:30 p.m.: Landry Jones will get his first real test against the Hurricanes, who have won 38 games in the last four seasons including their last two bowl games. The Sooners will be challenged, but the key will be to run the ball and allow the defense to tee off on Tulsa’s passing offense.
Connecticut at Baylor, 5 p.m.: The Bears will gun for two-straight victories to start the season after taking last week off. They are intent on revenge after last season’s loss to Connecticut, which comes into the game with uncertainty at quarterback following their loss to North Carolina last week and the injury to starting quarterback Zach Frazer.
Kansas State at UCLA, 10:15 p.m.: This one might get ugly, considering UCLA is down a quarterback with Kevin Prince’s injury and already ranks 103rd in total offense. Kansas State might have a chance if they can keep up their strong recent defensive work and continue getting a big effort out of Big 12 rushing leader Daniel Thomas.
Duke at Kansas, noon: Too bad this isn’t a basketball game. Instead look for the potent one-two rushing game of Jake Sharp and Toben Opurum to dominate in the trenches against a Duke defense that isn’t nearly as feisty as the one that Coach K’s team plays.
Rice at Oklahoma State, 7 p.m.: Zac Robinson’s recent offensive struggles magically will be fixed after playing a Rice defense that ranks last nationally in scoring defense and pass defense and is among the bottom five in total defense and pass efficiency defense.
Iowa State at Kent State, ESPN360, 7 p.m.: This will be Paul Rhoads’ best hope to get a road victory and snap the Cyclones’ nation-worst 17-game road losing streak. This should be an ugly game as two teams ranked 94th or worst in turnover margin will compete to see who can protect the ball the best.
Furman at Missouri, 2 p.m.: This looks like a chance for Blaine Gabbert to be able to rebuild his confidence against the outmatched Furman secondary. I’m just glad I’m not covering this game on deadline where I’d have to worry about typing Furman tailback Tersoo Uhaa's name too many times.
Wyoming at Colorado, 3:30 p.m.: I would expect to be able to find several Colorado fans wearing paper bags over their heads at this game. As it is, new Wyoming coach Dave Christensen will be challenged to claim his team’s first victory at Folsom Field since 1982. But if anybody should know, it might be Christensen. The Missouri teams on which he served as offensive coordinator humbled the Buffaloes in the last two seasons by a combined score of 113-10.
Utah State at Texas A&M, 7 p.m.: The Texas Aggies will probably score a boatload of points in this and we won’t know anymore about them after meeting the Utah version of the Aggies. Utah State hasn’t beaten a school from a conference with an automatic berth in the BCS since upsetting Kansas State in 1992. Bet it won’t happen Saturday night, either.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
Gather around my Big 12 friends. The first week is over and here are the games noted for the upcoming week. Here's my list of the games in terms of fan appeal.
A ranking of four stars indicate must-see football. Three-star games are definitely worth the investment in time. Two-star games bear a quick glimpse or two for occasional score updates, but little more. And one-star game are indications that your time might be better invested in some “honey-dos” for your spouse or introducing yourself to the kids.
Here's a list of the games for this week. All games are considered to be played Saturday, unless otherwise noted.
Houston at Oklahoma State (3: 30 p.m. ET): The streaking Cowboys will have to rebound after their huge victory over Georgia against the underrated Cougars. Oklahoma State blistered Houston for a 300-yard passer/200-yard receiver/200-yard receiver in last season’s 56-37 victory. But the Cougars led 16-7 early in that game.
Colorado at Toledo (ESPN, 9 p.m., Friday): Can the Buffaloes rebound after their embarrassing season opener against Colorado State? It won’t be easy because they are playing on a short work week against Toledo.
Iowa at Iowa State (noon): Paul Rhoads gets his first taste of the Cy-Hawk Rivalry. The Cyclones have played well recently, winning seven of the last 11 games in the series. The Hawkeyes have been the betting favorite in the last eight games, winning four of them. And Iowa State will be in the role again Saturday afternoon.
Kansas at UTEP (7:30 p.m.): Earlier this summer, I thought Trevor Vittatoe and the Miners might be able to spring an upset over the Jayhawks. UTEP’s loss to Buffalo changed my opinion, but the Jayhawks still might be facing more of a tussle than many are thinking on their visit to the Sun Bowl.
Texas at Wyoming (3:30 p.m.): I still can’t believe this is Texas’ marquee non-conference road game. The Longhorns will be playing at high elevation, but shouldn’t slow down against Dave Christensen’s team.
Idaho State at Oklahoma (7 p.m.): This one is only interesting to see Landry Jones’ first career college start and how the Oklahoma defense plays as it carries the team.
Bowling Green at Missouri (7 p.m.): After being hailed as the greatest defense since the ‘75 Steelers, how will Missouri’s unit respond to their recent plaudits? And remember Gary Pinkel is 0-2 in games against his old buddies from the Mid-American Conference while coaching at Missouri, including a 51-28 blowout in his most recent game against the Falcons in 2002.
Kansas State at Louisiana-Lafayette (7 p.m.): Weird things happen to teams that venture into Cajun Field, where heat and humidity cause opponents to wear down late in the game. The Wildcats can’t play as poorly on special teams as they did in the opener and win this game.
Rice at Texas Tech (7 p.m.): This game would have been a lot better last season. But now, we will be treated to two rebuilding teams in a game that could last four hours because of their passing offenses.
Arkansas State at Nebraska (2 p.m.): Don’t be fooled by the Red Wolves’ 61-0 thumping of Mississippi Valley State. Jerry Rice is long gone from his old school. This one is for Cornhusker fanatics, only.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
Texas starting guard Michael Huey and starting middle linebacker Jared Norton both will miss the Longhorns' game Saturday at Wyoming because of injuries.
Texas coach Mack Brown told reporters Monday that Tray Allen, who played defensive tackle in the Longhorns' opener against Louisiana-Monroe, will move back to left guard for their game against the Cowboys. Huey was carted off the field after he was injured against the War Hawks.
And Norton, who contributed five tackles from his linebacker spot in the Longhorns' opener, also will the upcoming game after tweaking his ankle against Louisiana-Monroe. He would be replaced by junior Dustin Earnest, although the Longhorns could start the game in a nickel or dime package of five or six defensive backs because of Wyoming coach Dave Christensen's heavy reliance on passing.
Losing two starters so early isn't a good start to the Longhorns' gameweek preparations. It will be their first game at Wyoming in school history.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
It's the player, school or coach that "done you wrong" once upon a time -- or maybe even repeatedly.
These figures resonate through the years for rival schools, providing an enemy that serves as a unifying element for hatred from fans of a rival school.
Here's a list of Big 12 villains over the years, both historic and present. Take a good look at the grouping and see if you have any recommendations of players or coaches I might have missed.
I'd be curious to see if any coaches or players spark greater antagonism than the ones I've selected.
Current villain: Texas coach Mack Brown, who's gone 11-0 against them with no signs of stopping.
All-time villain: Former Baylor coach Kevin Steele. His decision to try to ram in a statement touchdown against UNLV in 1999 blew up in his face like an exploding cigar when Darrell Bush fumbled and Kevin Thomas raced 99 yards for a touchdown on the final play of the game. That play snatched a sure victory from the Bears, making Steele and the Bears the laughingstock of college football. His program never recovered from that moment.
Current villain: Wyoming coach Dave Christensen, who piled up 106 straight points against the Buffaloes in the last two seasons while offensive coordinator at Missouri, beating them by a combined 113-10 margin. The Buffaloes will have a chance for payback this season when Christensen brings a less-talented Wyoming team to Boulder.
All-time villain: Nebraska coach Tom Osborne directed the Cornhuskers to a career record of 21-3-1 against the Buffaloes during his coaching stint from 1973-97.
Iowa State Cyclones
Current villain: Kansas quarterback Todd Reesing has thrown seven career TDs against the Cyclones and beaten them twice, including last season's dramatic 35-33 comeback victory.
All-time villain: Iowa coach Hayden Fry, whose homespun witticisms weren't that funny for Cyclone fans when he was winning 15 straight against them from 1983-97.
Current villain: Nebraska DT/FB Ndamukong Suh who beat the Jayhawks with a memorable offensive and defensive performance last season and is back for more in 2009.
All-time villain: Kansas State coach Bill Snyder beat the Jayhawks 12 of his last 13 seasons in his first coaching run, including a nine-season streak where he rolled up 41, 38, 48, 54, 50, 52, 40, 64 and 42 points in consecutive blowout victories.
Kansas State Wildcats
Current villain: Kansas running back Jake Sharp grew up only 61 miles from Manhattan in nearby Salina, but has abused them since arriving at college. He's tormented them with five career touchdowns, including four last season.
All-time villain: Texas A&M running back Sirr Parker, whose dramatic game-winning touchdown in overtime snuffed out the Wildcats' national-title hopes in 1998.
Current villain: Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford has beaten the Tigers in the Big 12 title game each of the last two seasons, ruining their hopes for a first Big 12 title.
All-time villain: Colorado coach and former Missouri grad and assistant Bill McCartney should have been magnanimous after getting a gift victory over the Tigers en route to a shared 1990 national title. Instead, he sparked hostility among his old friends by ripping Faurot Field's "treacherous" playing field.
Current villain: Missouri quarterback Chase Daniel talked a lot of smack and then backed it up by beating the Cornhuskers in each of the last two seasons. And after orchestrating a 52-17 victory in Lincoln last season, he raised the hackles of Cornhusker fans by complaining about Nebraska players spitting on him. He'll be gone this season, but definitely not forgotten among Cornhusker fans.
All-time villain: Oklahoma. Even though the rivalry was marked by immense respect on both sides -- imagine Barry Switzer doing Nebraska television commercials and endorsing Nebraska gubernatorial candidate Tom Osborne -- the Sooners' domination was a constant source of irritation for the Cornhuskers. Oklahoma claimed 16 straight from 1943-59 and beat Osborne in eight of his first nine games against them.
Current villain: Those pesky BCS bowls. The Sooners have lost five-straight BCS games, stripping coach Bob Stoops of much of his national stature that should have been gleaned from an unprecedented three-straight Big 12 titles.
All-time villain: Darrell Royal represented the ultimate turncoat to Sooner fans after starring at the school from 1946-49 as a record-setting quarterback and defensive back. His 12-7-1 career record against the Sooners included eight straight victories and 12 of his 14 games against them that made his old friends despise him.
Oklahoma State Cowboys
Current villain: Texas coach Mack Brown, who has run off an 11-0 record against them. Worse, four of those victories were by four points or less, including the last two games.
All-time villain: Oklahoma. The cross-state rivals have turned the "Bedlam Series" into a one-sided affair with a 74-16-7 edge. Since Josh Fields orchestrated back-to-back upsets in 2001-02, Stoops hasn't called off the dogs in six-straight victories, exploding for 52, 38, 42, 27, 49 and 61 points.
Current villain: The Big 12's tiebreaker rules. Texas fans are still lamenting the national-title shot that got away last season, despite beating Big 12 title game participants Oklahoma and Missouri.
All-time villain: Jackie Sherrill. He beat them regularly at Texas A&M and continued his success at Mississippi State. Even worse, he fired up his team before that 1991 victory by castrating a bull and then crowed about it after his Texas-taming success. Even more than Barry Switzer, Longhorn fans hate Sherrill.
Texas A&M Aggies
Current villain: Texas Tech coach Mike Leach. He's beaten them seven of nine games, including four straight. And he's gigged them by mocking their traditions, their coaching, their quarterbacks, everything but "The Dixie Chicken."
All-time villain: Texas. All things burnt orange set off Aggie fans -- with good reason. Their team has been dominated by the Longhorns in the school's longest rivalry. And how much of a Texas fixation do the Aggies have? The second verse of the Aggie War Hymn is essentially all about Texas.
Current villain: Missouri coach Gary Pinkel. Nobody in the conference does a better job of rolling up points or handcuffing Tech's offense than his Tigers, who have averaged 47 points and won by an average of 26.3 points per game during recent three-game winning streak in the series.
All-time villain: Texas A&M. Aggie fans chap Red Raider followers by claiming the game isn't a rivalry. Mike Leach has made it seem one-sided in recent seasons. But look closely enough and you'll find it's not unusual to see the A&M logo a
dorning urinals in several bars in Lubbock. Isn't that the best sign of antipathy there is?
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
There are several obvious games that are already noticeable that should carry an extra bit of trepidation for Big 12 teams as they prepare for the upcoming season. Even with Big 12 teams likely to be solidly favored in these games, here are five games that should come with a warning label considering the opponent and the circumstances of the game.
North Dakota State at Iowa State, Sept. 3: Craig Bohl will have the Bison fired up for their game in Ames. And he knows a little bit about beating the Cyclones, considering his history as a defensive coordinator at Nebraska.
This game has all the marking of one to worry about for the Cyclones. It's Paul Rhoads' first game as a head coach. The Bison have been tough in other road games at FCS teams in recent seasons, losing by three points at Wyoming last season, beating Minnesota and Central Michigan on the road in 2007 and losing by one point at Minnesota and beating Ball State on the road in 2006. Even with the talent disparity, this game might be closer than expected.
Rhoads should ask Colorado coach Dan Hawkins how much losing to an FCS team in your first game at a Big 12 school can ruin your first season. That 2006 opening-game loss to Montana State was a particularly bad start for Hawkins' coaching tenure there.
Houston at Oklahoma State, Sept. 12: This game is coming at a tricky time for Oklahoma State, which will be coming back for a second game after a huge emotional opener against Georgia the week before. The Cougars will have 5,000-yard passer Case Keenum along with 1,000-yard rusher Bryce Beall and 1,000-yard receiver Tyron Carrier among a group of 15 returning starters.
And not only do the Cougars return a lot of experience, but they also have a modicum of confidence against OSU. Houston led the Cowboys last season, 16-7, late in the first half before the Cowboys' offense blitzed them for four touchdowns in a span of barely 7½ minutes. If Houston can do a better job defensively this season, it could make Mike Gundy sweat against the preseason Conference USA West Division's favorites.
Kansas at UTEP, Sept. 12: The trip to the Sun Bowl might be a little more harrowing than expected for the Jayhawks.
UTEP quarterback Trevor Vittatoe threw for 33 touchdown passes and 3,274 yards last season. The Miners also surround him with 14 other returning starters. If Vittatoe can stay protected, he might be able to singe the Jayhawks' questionable linebacking corps and perhaps win a shootout. Stranger things have happened -- particularly playing in front of what should be a sellout crowd at the Sun Bowl.
And here's a statistic to keep in mind before the game: The Jayhawks have lost their last three true nonconference road games and haven't claimed a nonconference road game since winning at Wyoming in 2003. Their trip to El Paso won't be a picnic.
Wyoming at Colorado, Sept. 19: On paper, this looks like a game the Buffaloes should easily win. But a couple of trends might prove to benefit new Wyoming coach Dave Christensen, who will be playing his first road game.
Christensen was the offensive coordinator of a Missouri team that beat Colorado by a combined margin of 113-10 over the past two seasons, including a 58-0 victory last season. He won't have Chase Daniel, Jeremy Maclin or Chase Coffman in this game, but he still has confidence of being successful against Colorado's defense.
The Cowboys won at Tennessee last season so they aren't intimidated by hostile road environments. They have 17 starters back, including eight defensive players who will be facing Colorado's defense with some confidence after strong play late last season.
Colorado has a history of struggling as a big favorite in previous nonconference home games, winning by seven against Eastern Washington last season and losing at home to Montana State in Hawkins' first game in 2006. The signs point to this being a game where the Buffaloes potentially could struggle.
Missouri at Nevada, Sept. 25: This Friday night game will set up nicely for veteran Nevada coach Chris Ault and the Wolf Pack, who will showcase their program on national television in this game.
Nevada has the explosive Pistol offense keyed by quarterback Colin Kaepernick, the returning Western Athletic Conference player of the year who will be looking to make a national name for himself with a big performance. Also back are 2008 WAC leading rusher Vai Taua and 2007 leading rusher Luke Lippincott, who sustained a season-ending knee injury in the second game last year. And they'll be facing a retooled Missouri defense.
The Wolf Pack still remember a gadget pass for a touchdown by Missouri wide receiver Tommy Saunders when they were behind 45-17 midway through the third quarter of a game they eventually lost 69-17 in Columbia last season. Could revenge spur a better effort at home? It will be interesting to see if the Wolf Pack can similarly make the Tigers sweat in a game played at high altitude at Reno.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
Big 12 teams should be seldom tested before conference play begins as most teams again are opting to compete with a pillow-soft slate of opponents.
Here's the toughest and weakest of the Big 12 nonconference schedules:
1. Oklahoma: BYU (at Arlington, Texas), Idaho State, Tulsa, at Miami
The Sooners deserve props for adding the BYU game late. The nationally televised game should showcase Oklahoma's defense as it thwarts Max Hall and Harvey Unga for the Cougars. Idaho State is a bad Division I-AA team that went 1-11 last season. Tulsa and Miami both went to bowl games last season. The Golden Hurricane will be breaking in a new quarterback and a new coordinator -- not a good recipe for success for a road team at Owen Field. And although the game against Miami brings back memories of Jimmy Johnson vs. Barry Switzer, the fact is that the Hurricanes could be worn out by the time Oklahoma visits. Miami starts the season with a meat-grinder schedule of Florida State, Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech before the Sooners visit.
2. Colorado: Colorado State, at Toledo, Wyoming, at West Virginia
Coach Dan Hawkins has this team pegged for good things in the conference. The Buffaloes will be tested by four FBS opponents, including two on the road. The rivalry game against Colorado State should be decided in the trenches and the Buffaloes' offensive line will be a load for the Rams. The Toledo game might be trickier than expected considering the Buffaloes will be playing this one only five days after the Colorado State game. But Colorado still should have the talent to prevail. Something tells me that Hawkins will remember that new Wyoming coach Dave Christensen's offense hung 113 points against his defense the last two seasons when he was at Missouri. And the West Virginia trip will be a challenge, although new Mountaineers quarterback Jarrett Brown is largely untested.
3. Missouri: Illinois (at St. Louis), Bowling Green, Furman, at Nevada
The Tigers' inexperienced defense will get a huge challenge in the opener against Illinois' pass-and-catch tandem of Juice Williams and Arrelious Benn. They'll be facing another experienced quarterback in three-year Bowling Green starter Tyler Sheehan, but the Falcons' defense will be breaking in two new cornerbacks. Furman has a talented quarterback in Jordan Sorrells, but the Paladin's defense shouldn't be able to match Missouri. The trip to Nevada might be a hornet's nest. The Wolf Pack have made four straight bowl trips, multi-purpose quarterback Colin Kaepernick and the Western Athletic Conference's last two leading rushers. And, oh, yeah, the Wolf Pack probably still remember that 69-17 beatdown to the Tigers last season in Columbia.
4. Nebraska: Florida Atlantic, Arkansas State, at Virginia Tech, Louisiana-Lafayette
No truth to the rumor that the Cornhuskers are gunning for the September version of the Sun Belt championship. Their road game at Virginia Tech is the toughest game that any Big 12 team will play this season. But Bo Pelini will have two games to get his defense ready for Tyrod Taylor and Co. Florida Atlantic coach Howard Schnellenberger made his career name by beating the Cornhuskers in the 1984 Orange Bowl while at Miami. He won't be nearly as successful this time around. Arkansas State stunned Texas A&M last season, but the Red Wolves will be utilizing a new offensive line this season. And Louisiana-Lafayette's offense is very young and the Cornhuskers will be catching them the week after they have met up with LSU.
5. Oklahoma State: Georgia, Houston, Rice, Grambling
Four home games make for an ideal schedule for the Cowboys to make some national noise. The Georgia game will be arguably the biggest home nonconference game in school history. But the Cowboys grab a break as the Bulldogs try to break in new quarterback Joe Cox. Houston will have Case Keenum and a high-powered offensive attack, but the Cowboys blistered the Cougars for 56 points last year and could score more this season. Rice won't be as good this season after losing most of its offensive firepower. And Grambling has a great football history and an even better band.
6. Baylor: at Wake Forest, Connecticut, Northwestern State, Kent State
The nonconference schedule could determine whether the Bears can snap that long bowl drought. And it won't be an easy one considering that Baylor is the only Big 12 team with two opponents from "Big Six" conferences. The Wake Forest opener will be a huge test, but Robert Griffin might be able to feast on a depleted Demon Deacon defense that lost four starters to the NFL draft. The Bears nearly beat Connecticut last season on the road and the Huskies lose their starting quarterback and top rusher from that team. New coach Bradley Dale Peveto will bring new ideas for Northwestern State, but the Bears have a big edge. And Kent State will be breaking in a new quarterback for a team that has won only 19 games in the last five seasons under Doug Martin.
7. Kansas: Northern Colorado, at UTEP, Duke, Southern Mississippi
The Jayhawks should be able to name their margin against Northern Colorado in the opener. The trip to the Sun Bowl against UTEP the following week might be a different matter. UTEP quarterback Trevor Vittatoe could be a challenge, although the Jayhawks should have enough firepower to outscore them. A Kansas-Duke game would be a made-for-national television delight in basketball. Football, however, is a different story. And Southern Mississippi might be poised to challenge for the Conference USA title and might be a chore with leading conference rusher Damion Fletcher and all of its starting secondary back to challenge Todd Reesing and Dezmon Briscoe.
8. Texas A&M: New Mexico, Utah State, UAB, Arkansas (at Arlington, Texas)
The Aggies desperately need to build confidence and collect a few victories before the South Division gauntlet begins. After last season's opening-game loss against Arkansas State, expect coach Mike Sherman to have the Aggies focused for all of the games. They catch new New Mexico coach Mike Locksley with an uncertain quarterback in the Lobos' opener. Utah State is universally picked to finish last in the Western Athletic Conference. UAB will be rebuilding its defense and likely won't pose many problems for Jerrod Johnson. But the game against Arkansas at
the new Dallas Cowboys' stadium will be a challenge for A&M's defense. The Razorbacks should be much improved in Bobby Petrino's second season. Fans are paying premium prices and expect big things from both teams. The Aggies may catch a break considering the Razorbacks will play SEC contenders Georgia and Alabama in their previous two weeks.
9. Texas Tech: North Dakota, Rice, at Houston, New Mexico
Mike Leach's nonconference schedule won't be as bad as last season's trip to the pastry wagon, but not by much. North Dakota is transitioning into FCS status this season after ranking 137th among the 148 Division II passing teams last season. Sounds like target practice for Taylor Potts, doesn't it? Rice won't be nearly as tough as last season without James Casey, Jarrett Dillard and Chase Clement gone. The trip to Houston will be Tech's biggest challenge and Case Keenum will test Tech's rebuilt secondary in the first battle between the old Southwest Conference rivals since 1995. And New Mexico will have had several weeks to work under Locksley's system, making them a tougher challenge for the Red Raiders in early October.
10. Texas: Louisiana-Monroe, at Wyoming, UTEP, Central Florida
The Longhorns had a couple of game against Utah and Arkansas fall through in their planning. But don't expect the Longhorns to get that much sympathy for a group of opponents that won't give them much BCS bounce. Louisiana-Monroe will be breaking in a retooled offense with a new quarterback. The road trip to Wyoming doesn't resonate like some the Longhorns have made to places like Ohio State and Arkansas in recent seasons. The Cowboys will be breaking in a new quarterback, too. UTEP could contend for the Conference USA West title, but the Miners are a different team on the road. And the Nov. 7 game against Central Florida will bring the nation's worst offensive team from last season into Austin.
11. Iowa State: North Dakota State, Iowa, at Kent State, Army
Paul Rhoads doesn't want any surprises early in his first season and his nonconference schedule. North Dakota State has posed problems to FBS teams like Minnesota in the past. Iowa doesn't have Shonn Greene back, but has almost everybody else back on a stout defense that will challenge the Cyclones. Mighty mite 5-foot-5, 170-pound tailback Eugene Jarvis will test ISU's defense and the trip to Kent State won't be a gimme. And new Army coach Rich Ellerson will bring 6-10, 283-pound wide receiver Ali Villanueva along with starting quarterback Chip Bowden from a team that won three games last season.
12. Kansas State: Massachusetts, at Louisiana-Lafayette, at UCLA, Tennessee Tech
The schedule doesn't provide as many gooey treats as some that Bill Snyder's teams have feasted on in the past, but it's still nothing to write home about. Massachusetts is a contender in the CAA, which is the toughest top-to-bottom FCS conference in the nation. Louisiana-Lafayette will have to replace a lot of offensive talent, but can be troublesome at Cajun Field. UCLA struggled offensively last year and will be breaking in a new quarterback with four new offensive linemen. KSU might be able to compete in that one better than most might think. And Tennessee Tech coach Watson Brown, older brother of Texas coach Mack Brown, returns a talented pass-and-catch combination of Lee Sweeney and Tim Benford. KSU still should roll, however.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
Missouri acted quickly to fill some holes in their schedule by adding upcoming nonconference games with Indiana and Miami (Ohio) and pushing back a scheduled series with Wyoming.
The two-season home-and-home Indiana series will begin with a game in Bloomington, Ind., in 2013, followed with a return game in Columbia in 2014.
The Miami series should match the Tigers against new coach Michael Haywood, who will begin his first season with the RedHawks this year. The series begins with a game in Columbia in 2010 and in Miami in 2012.
The Tigers and Hoosiers will be playing for the first time since 1992, when Indiana took a 20-10 win in Bloomington. The schools have played 10 times overall, with Indiana owning a 6-2-2 lead in the series. They played once a year for eight straight seasons (1985 through 1992), with Indiana winning six of the games, with the other two ending in ties. Mizzou has not beaten Indiana since 1954.
Missouri has also agreed to push back the beginning of the scheduled series with Wyoming at the request of the Cowboys' athletic department. Games scheduled for 2011 (Columbia) and 2012 (Laramie) have been pushed back to 2017 (Columbia) and 2018 (Laramie).
What that means is that new Wyoming coach Dave Christensen likely will not have to end up coaching against his mentor, Missouri coach Gary Pinkel. The chances are good that in the next seven seasons that either Christensen or Pinkel will have another job or retire.
The announcements will likely be greeted with a huge yawn. The Tigers are dropping their rivalry with Illinois at the request of the Fighting Illini, who wished to play more home games rather than playing the neutral-site game against the Tigers in St. Louis.
Most Missouri fans would have wanted the program to schedule games with opponents with more national cachet than either Indiana or Miami. Several fans wrote to me talking about their wishes to see the Tigers stretch themselves by playing a strong national program like Iowa or Arkansas.
But the schedule additions should all be winnable games for the Tigers -- even if they don't grab too much national acclaim along the way.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
While it's not followed as closely as the changes at the top of the football program, the hiring of solid coordinators can often make or break a program.
And it's a chore that sometimes faces successful programs on a pretty regular basis.
For example, former Oklahoma offensive coordinators Mike Leach and Chuck Long both assumed head coaching jobs after coaching on Bob Stoops' staff with the Sooners. And former Texas defensive coordinators like Dick Tomey, Greg Robinson and Gene Chizik all parlayed their experience coaching under Mack Brown to head coaching positions.
Missouri coach Gary Pinkel will be facing an unprecedented dilemma -- at least while at Missouri -- as he replaces offensive coordinator Dave Christensen and defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus. Adding David Yost as his offensive coordinator and Dave Steckel as his defensive coordinator ranks as among the major changes the Tigers will be facing this season.
College Football News' Robert Cirminiello ranks the 20 biggest hirings of offensive and defensive coordinators for the upcoming season. Several have interesting Big 12 connections.
- 4. Kevin Steele, Clemson defensive coordinator: The former Nebraska assistant and Baylor head coach will be trying to pump some life into the Tigers' defense on Dabo Swinney's staff.
- 5. Bill Young, Oklahoma State defensive coordinator: The veteran Oklahoma State graduate returns to his old school from Miami intent on trying to bring the Cowboys' defense in line with their explosive offense.
- 11. Greg Robinson, Michigan defensive coordinator: After washing out at Syracuse as a head coach, the former Texas defensive coordinator has been charged with bringing some life in Rich Rodriguez's group with the Wolverines.
- 12. David Yost, Missouri offensive coordinator: After working with Missouri quarterbacks in the past, Yost was a natural pick to replace Christensen after he left for the head coaching job at Wyoming.
- 13. Andy Ludwig, Californa offensive coordinator: Picked up stakes and moved to California after barely having time to memorize the menu at the Hibachi Hut in Manhattan during his 65-day stint on Bill Snyder's coaching staff.
- 20. Gary Nord, Purdue: The former UTEP coach had a short stint on Howard Schnellenberger's staff at Oklahoma where he earned much derision among Sooner fans when he mentioned that he didn't see a full set of teeth in the state when coaching there.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
The Web site Coacheshotseat.com is one of my must reads every day. They always have an interesting spin on various college football topics and a lot of original content.
One post this afternoon was particularly interesting. The Web site ranks the 22 hirings of new FBS head coaches since the end of last season.
Here's a list of hirings of all new Division I head coaches. The ones that are highlighted have Big 12 connections.
1. Dave Christensen, Wyoming
2. Dan Mullen, Mississippi State
3. Rich Ellerson, Army
4. Dabo Swinney, Clemson
5. Brady Hoke, San Diego State
6. Steve Sarkisian, Washington
7. Doug Marrone, Syracuse
8. Danny Hope, Purdue
9. Mike Locksley, New Mexico
10. Ron English, Eastern Michigan
11. Mike Haywood, Miami (OH)
12. DeWayne Walker, New Mexico State
13. Chip Kelly, Oregon
14. Paul Rhoads, Iowa State
15. Gene Chizik, Auburn
16. Gary Anderson, Utah State
17. Frank Spaziani, Boston College
18. Tim Beckman, Toledo
19. Stan Parrish, Ball State
20. Dave Clawson, Bowling Green
21. Bill Snyder, Kansas State
22. Lane Kiffin, Tennessee
It's particularly interesting to look at the difference between former Missouri coordinator Dave Christensen and former Oklahoma State defensive coordinator Tim Beckman.
They believe that Christensen's success bringing his version of the spread to Wyoming will pump new life into the Mountain West Conference. And they compare that to the largely unknown Beckman, who will be challenged to succeed in the balanced Mid-American Conference.
The switch from Gene Chizik to Paul Rhoads appears to be a wash, as Rhoads' hiring is ranked No. 14 while Chizik checks in at No. 15.
But the most interesting comments to me were how the Web site viewed Bill Snyder replacing Ron Prince at Kansas State.
21. Bill Snyder for Ron Prince at Kansas State
"We could have gone either way on the firing of Ron Prince, but bringing Bill Snyder back to Kansas State? No, we cannot understand that move by KSU. OK...Bill Snyder was a great football coach, but that was in another time and another place. Snyder put up some great seasons at K-State, but in his last two years, which happened to correspond to the rise of Texas, Oklahoma, Texas Tech and Missouri in the Big 12, Snyder went 4-7 in 2004 and 5-6 in 2005. There is a reason that Bill Snyder was fired after the 2005 season and that reason has not changed and we believe K-State will regret hiring Snyder because he will not move the football program forward in what has become a much tougher Big 12. Instead of Bill Snyder, we would have hired Buffalo's Turner Gill, Oklahoma's Brent Venables, Illinois Mike Locksley, Missouri's Dave Christensen or even Dennis Franchione over bringing back Bill Snyder and we believe Kansas State will regret this coaching move."
I would criticique Coacheshotseat.com for saying that Snyder was fired after the 2005 season. He actually resigned. But I'm still intrigued by their comments.
It will be interesting to see how Snyder's return to KSU plays out. Either it will be a home run or a colossal flop.
I'm betting that Snyder's work ethic and his return of a veteran group of coaches familiar with the KSU program will work and work to ensure the program's success.
But even that might not be enough, considering the Big 12's strength.