Big 12: Juice Williams
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
Here are three things that Nebraska and Missouri need to tonight in order to win tonight at Faurot Field.
Three things Nebraska needs to do to win:
1. Dominate in the trenches. Nebraska’s front four has to dominate the Missouri offensive line and get to Blaine Gabbert often. Nebraska doesn’t necessarily need sacks, but they do need to knock him around. Ndamukong Suh, Barry Turner and Co. can’t let the sophomore get into a comfort zone or it could be a long night. Interestingly, Bo Pelini didn’t think his defensive line was good enough last season so he came up with a wrinkle of a stand-up lineman he thought would fool Missouri. Instead, it paved the way for a 52-17 Missouri win. The Cornhuskers are better and more experienced this season. No gimmicks needed. Just beat them with straight four-man pressure.
2. Have strong, mistake-free games from their cornerbacks. Missouri loves to spread its wide receivers, trying to get matchup advantages. Starting Nebraska cornerbacks Anthony West and Prince Amukamara often are on an island. They can’t get beat by the Tigers’ athletic bunch of receivers.
3. Run the ball effectively. If the Cornhuskers can climb onto Roy Helu Jr.’s back, they likely have a good shot of winning. That would enable them to keep Missouri’s high-powered team off the field and dominate the game. But remember, Nebraska averaged only 2.3 yards per carry against Missouri last season. It has to do a better job to win.
Three things Missouri needs to do to win
1. Early success by Gabbert. The sophomore has played as well as any Big 12 quarterback in the first month of the season, but he hasn’t played a defense anywhere like Nebraska’s. The Tigers like to beat opponents with short passes. Look for Nebraska to play Missouri’s receivers tight and challenge Gabbert to beat them deep.
2. Run the ball better than earlier this season. The Tigers during their Big 12 title seasons ran the ball effectively. But they’ve struggled this season, averaging only 3.8 yards per carry. Derrick Washington, who rushed for 1,000 yards last season, hasn’t played as well this season. He needs a big night against the Cornhuskers. The Tigers seem to have closed ranks this season from the wide splits that marked the Chase Daniel era. Maybe they need to go back to that strategy to provide some running lanes for Washington, Kendial Lawrence and De'Vion Moore.
3. Play with the defensive intensity of the Illinois game. As predicted before the season opener, Missouri’s Sean Weatherspoon indeed “squeezed the pulp” out of Illinois quarterback Juice Williams. The Tigers haven’t played as well since, barely escaping against Bowling Green, allowing Furman to pass for 305 yards and Nevada to run for 218 yards. In order to beat Nebraska, the Nebraska front seven needs to turn up its intensity of that first game as it tries to contain Helu. If Missouri can control the ground game defensively and force Zac Lee to beat the Cornhuskers, it has a good shot at winning.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
Here are my Big 12 picks for this weekend.
Colorado 21, Toledo 20: This might be the biggest game of Dan Hawkins’ career after his team’s opening-game debacle against Colorado State. The Buffaloes need to get a ground game going -- remember that guy on the bench is Darrell Scott -- and do a better job of limiting big plays on defense. Toledo quarterback Aaron Opelt threw 67 passes in last week’s loss at Purdue, but will find it much tougher this week against the Buffaloes’ underrated secondary keyed by cornerback Jimmy Smith. I’m looking for the Buffaloes to do just enough to escape the Glass Bowl with a victory-- but it’s not going to be easy or pretty.
Iowa 21, Iowa State 17: The Cyclones have had much recent success against the Hawkeyes at Jack Trice Stadium, where they have won four of the last five in the series since 1999. The Hawkeyes struggled last week against Northern Iowa and were lucky to escape with a victory only after blocking field goals on the last two plays of the game. I look for replacement running back Adam Robinson to run with a little more confidence this week for the Hawkeyes. Don't be surprised if wily Iowa coordinator Norm Parker cooks up a defensive scheme that will handcuff the Cyclones’ emerging no-huddle offense. But it wouldn’t surprise me if the Cyclones were able to make this one close and maybe even eke out an upset victory.
Nebraska 41, Arkansas State 14: The Cornhuskers ran off a 49-3 victory over FAU and Bo Pelini wasn’t happy about his team’s defensive efforts. They’ll be facing another challenger from the Sun Belt in Arkansas State, who shouldn’t pose too many problems. I’ll be interested to see the continued development of future Cornhuskers like Rex Burkhead and Cody Green and see how the defense reacts after the scalding criticism of their coach. If Pelini gets mad after giving up three points, what's he going to do if they give up seven or 10 or 14 points this week?
Oklahoma State 45, Houston 34: Oklahoma State had a strong opening performance, including a salty defensive showing that stopped Georgia cold after the Bulldogs scored a touchdown on their opening possession. It will be interesting to see if that huge victory left the Cowboys with a hangover. It’s something they can’t afford, considering Houston’s high-powered offense keyed by Case Keenum. The Cougars had Oklahoma State on the ropes last season before the Cowboys blew the game open in the second half. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a similar kind of game on Saturday.
Texas 45, Wyoming 7: The Longhorns’ toughest nonconference road game shouldn’t pose too many problems, even with injuries on the offensive line and other personnel losses in the secondary. I’ll be interested to see how alternating Wyoming quarterbacks Robert Benjamin and Austyn Carta-Samuels attack a Texas defense that allowed more points in an opening game last week in 10 years. It will also be noteworthy to watch Texas’ running backs and see if Vondrell McGee still is the featured back after his fumble problems last week. Despite playing at high elevation, the Longhorns should have no worries.
Kansas 44, UTEP 35: Kansas ran the ball strongly last week against Northern Colorado and should be able to do the same against the Miners. But it wouldn’t surprise me if UTEP quarterback Trevor Vittatoe and some underrated offensive weapons make the Jayhawks sweat their way through their visit to the Sun Bowl. In the end, Dezmon Briscoe will make enough plays as a receiver and maybe as a kick returner to extend the Miners’ 16-game losing streak against Big 12 teams.
Missouri 34, Bowling Green 14: What can Blaine Gabbert do for an encore? His auspicious start has been the talk of the “Show-Me” State this week after a breakthrough performance against Illinois. I was just as impressed by the Tigers’ “Scorpion” defensive front which made Illinois quarterback Juice Williams miserable. The Missouri defense will be tested by Bowling Green’s talented pass-and-catch duo of Tyler Sheehan and Freddie Barnes. The Falcons beat Missouri in each of Gary Pinkel’s first two seasons at Missouri, including his first game there in 2001. But that’s a long time ago.
Oklahoma 34, Idaho State 0: Landry Jones gets his first start at quarterback as he replaces Sam Bradford. I look for Bob Stoops to have a conservative approach this week designed to build confidence for Jones over the next several games. There won’t be anything fancy as the Sooners will lean on a running game that needs to help restore assurance in an offensive line that struggled last week. Idaho State dropped a 50-3 outing at Arizona State last week in a game where Bengal quarterbacks threw four interceptions. It might be more of the same as the Sooners’ defense will be charged to pick up its performance with all of the lingering questions on offense.
Texas Tech 41, Rice 17: Taylor Potts didn’t have the best of college career starts, throwing three interceptions last week against North Dakota. I look for improvement from him and the Tech running attack as they meet rebuilding Rice. Owls coach David Bailiff is still struggling to find a quarterback and I expect both John Shepherd and Nick Fanuzzi to get an opportunity to play. But it won’t nearly be enough as the Red Raiders should cruise into the Texas game with a better performance than their first game.
Kansas State 31, Louisiana-Lafayette 24: Carson Coffman should have a better performance in his second game and the Kansas State special teams will be improved in a tougher-than-expected battle at Cajun Field. The Ragin’ Cajuns have a couple of nice offensive weapons in quarterback Chris Masson and running back Undrea Sails. If they get rolling, it could be a long night in the bayou for the Wildcats. I’m also a little concerned about how Kansas State’s lack of depth affects them at both offensive line and defensive line during what should be a hot, humid night. But in the end, Kansas State running backs Daniel Thomas and Keithen Valentine will provide enough offense for the Wildcats to escape Louisiana with a tough victory.
Last week: 9-3 (75.0 percent)
Season: 9-3 (75.0 percent)
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
With a young defense still grasping the nuances of college football, Missouri coordinator Dave Steckel made an astute decision that belied his lack of experience in his new job.
Namely, why not unleash “The Scorpion?”
Steckel’s simplified four-man pass rush featured three defensive ends in the lineup at the same time to boost the athleticism of his defensive front.
“Coach Steckel said he got a little bored calling the same defense over and over,” Missouri linebacker Sean Weatherspoon said. “But why change anything when our base was working like it did?”
That assessment might have been one of the biggest understatements of the young season. The Tigers’ defense stung Illinois in a convincing 37-9 victory that ranked as the biggest surprise of the weekend in the Big 12.
Yes, that was the same Missouri defense that ranked 98th nationally in total defense and 117th in pass defense last season. The Tigers were also supposed to be reeling from the loss of first-round draft pick Ziggy Hood, top pass-rushing specialist Stryker Sulak and inspirational leader William Moore from last season.
But Missouri coach Gary Pinkel has been telling anybody who would listen this summer that his defense is faster and more athletic than any unit he has had at Missouri.
And “The Scorpion” proved that.
Steckel realized that he had so much talent at defensive end that it didn’t make sense not to play his best players together. So along with starting defensive ends Jacquies Smith and Brian Coulter, redshirt freshman defensive end Aldon Smith was added to the mix at defensive tackle.
Aldon Smith was the most productive of Missouri’s defensive linemen, producing a sack and six tackles, including three for losses. He saw action at both end and tackle and continually harassed Illinois quarterback Juice Williams.
“It was just a team effort and everybody did their job,” Smith said. “Some people might be surprised, but I’m not. We worked so hard in the off-season getting this down and Saturday’s game was the result of it.”
Yes, that was the same Illinois quarterback who torched the Tigers for 451 passing yards and five touchdowns in a wild 52-42 shootout that Missouri was fortunate to win in 2008. He was limited to 179 passing yards in Saturday’s loss.
The Missouri defense didn’t flinch this time around. And a secondary that was a running punch line last season didn’t allow a completion of longer than 24 yards against the Illini.
Obviously, the Tigers were helped when top Illinois wide receiver Arrelious Benn went down with an ankle injury early in the first quarter and produced only one catch. But the Tigers sat back and dared Williams to beat them with his arm – and he couldn’t do it.
Weatherspoon also credited Steckel’s presence on the sideline for helping the defense improve. In the past, Missouri defensive coordinators were situated in the press box. But Steckel, a former Marine known for his intensity, was on the field exhorting his team.
“I think our communication was a whole lot better,” Weatherspoon said. “Coach Steckel still has a few wrinkles that nobody has seen. Our defensive line got a little bit more pressure. It was a good day to show what we could do.”
Having their fiery coach so close to his team provided a little extra motivation for the Missouri defense, Weatherspoon said.
“Now, you would have to face him as you came on the field,” Weatherspoon said, chuckling. “In the old days, we could wait until halftime or after the game. But now, he’s right there waiting if somebody made a mistake.”
In Missouri's opener, "The Scorpion" kept Steckel relatively quiet.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
Here's a look at the naughty and nice across the conference in the first game of the season.
Hot: Missouri’s defense. After being torched for 451 yards and five touchdown passes last season against Juice Williams, a simpler Missouri defense squeezed the Illinois quarterback. Williams passed for 179 yards and no touchdown passes in Saturday’s game against the Tigers.
Not: Colorado’s offense. The Buffaloes had trouble with the play clock all night long and produced only 29 rushing yards on 21 carries. And that’s from a Buffalo offense that was thought to have one of the Big 12 North’s most potent running games. It was the worst rushing performance for the Buffaloes since producing minus-27 yards against Florida State in 2007.
Hot: Iowa State’s offensive execution. Despite playing most of the game without headset communications between the press box and sidelines, the Cyclones did not commit an offensive penalty in their first game utilizing offensive coordinator Tom Herman’s hurry-up attack.
Not: Oklahoma offensive line. First, they allowed the pressure that ended up getting Sam Bradford hurt. And they were flagged with three false starts on Oklahoma’s opening possession, major penalties on the first play of the first two second-half drives and six penalties by Oklahoma tackle Cory Brandon.
Hot: Oklahoma State’s defense: After allowing Georgia to convert two first downs on an 80-yard scoring drive to start the game, veteran coordinator Bill Young masterfully turned the tables from that point. After that scoring drive, the Cowboys defense allowed only 177 yards and 2-for-10 on third-down conversions.
Not: Kansas State’s special teams. This unit -- typically the strength of Ron Prince’s teams the last several seasons -- nearly cost the Wildcats the game in a closer-than-expected victory over Massachusetts. A muffed punt by Brandon Banks led to one UMass touchdown and a blocked punt that was returned for a touchdown made the game much closer than Bill Snyder was hoping his coaching return would be.
Hot: Texas redshirt freshman running back D.J. Monroe. He returned a kickoff 89 yards for a touchdown the first time he touched the ball and added 64 rushing yards on nine carries to lead the Longhorns' victory over Louisiana-Monroe.
Not: Colorado running back Darrell Scott. The Buffaloes’ top 2008 recruit hardly was a factor in the Buffaloes’ loss to Colorado State. Scott had two touches -- one carry and one reception -- and produced only 15 total yards.
Hot: Baylor wide receiver David Gettis. After struggling to produce in previous seasons, Gettis came through in a big way in the Bears’ victory over Wake Forest. He produced a game-high five receptions for 65 yards, including an 8-yard TD grab that was his first touchdown since 2006.
Not: Texas running back Vondrell McGee. His starting position might be short lived if he continues to struggle protecting the ball. McGee had a pair of fumbles, a rarity for Texas considering the last time that a Longhorn running back fumbled came in the 2007 Baylor game.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
Biggest surprise of the day so far for the Big 12 has been the strong early play of Missouri, which is bouncing favored Illinois all over the Edward Jones Dome with a quick 16-3 lead early in the third quarter.
In the process, the Tigers appear to be living up to the prophecy of preseason All-American linebacker Sean Weatherspoon, who promised to "squeeze the Juice" -- Illinois quarterback Juice Williams.
New Missouri kicker Grant Ressel has picked up where Jeff Wolfert left off with three field goals to lead the Tigers.
But the play of sophomore quarterback Blaine Gabbert has been the biggest revelation as he has riddled Illinois for 191 yards in the first half. The Tigers have taken advantage of deeper passes than they typically used with Chase Daniel.
Dave Steckel's defense has done a masterful job of keeping Illinois' talented pass-catch tandem of Williams and Arrelious Benn. Williams was limited to 79 yards in the first half. Benn accounted for one catch for 9 yards.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
Iowa State 31, North Dakota State 17 (Thursday): The Paul Rhoads era begins Thursday in Ames against a tricky opponent in the Bison, who are 3-2 in their last five games against FBS opponents -- including a victory at Minnesota in 2007. They’ll challenge a young Iowa State team struggling to find its identity on defense. But even with those uncertainties, Craig Bohl’s team likely won’t have enough offense to stick with Austen Arnaud and Co. in their first game running Tom Herman’s no-huddle offense.
Baylor 31, Wake Forest 28: The Bears learned their lesson last season in Waco, falling into an early 17-0 deficit before losing a 41-13 blowout. Art Briles decided not to start Robert Griffin in that game, but he’s been in the Bears’ starting lineup ever since. The key will be the performance of new Baylor tackles Danny Watkins and Phillip Blake, who will protect Griffin from Wake Forest’s pass rush. Wake Forest starting defensive ends Tristan Dorty and Kyle Wilber have accounted for only seven career starts and will be outweighed by more than 50 pounds per man by the Baylor tackles. The Bears rushed for at least 200 yards in four of the last five games last season. If they can maintain that balance with Griffin’s passing on Saturday, they can steal an upset victory.
Oklahoma State 34, Georgia 31: Mike Gundy’s team comes into this game with more hype than any Oklahoma State team in history with the highest national ranking to start the season. The Cowboys will face a couple of potentially troubling personnel losses after starting tight end Jamal Mosley (quit team) and starting middle linebacker Orie Lemon (season-ending knee injury) were lost earlier this week. The Cowboys won’t be facing a team unaccustomed to road success as Mark Richt’s team is an incredible 30-4 on the road, including a 5-2 road record against top 10 teams. The Bulldogs will be a physical challenge and hammer away at the Oklahoma State defense that struggled late last season. But I’m expecting the Oklahoma State offensive triplets to prove too much for Georgia in a shootout.
Illinois 35, Missouri 31: The Illini are looking to turn the tables after losing four straight against the Tigers in the annual Arch Rivalry since it returned to St. Louis in 2002. Missouri quarterback Blaine Gabbert will make his first career start, only a few long touchdowns passes from his old high school in the St. Louis area. Missouri linebacker Sean Weatherspoon has played big against the Illini in previous seasons with two interceptions last season. He’s promised to “squeeze the pulp” out of Illinois quarterback Juice Williams again this season. But in the end, Williams’ experience and play-making abilities will prove to be a little much for the Tigers to overcome.
Nebraska 45, Florida Atlantic 17: Zac Lee makes his first career start as the Cornhuskers attempt to build on momentum that saw them finish with a four-game winning streak, punctuating that with a Gator Bowl victory over Clemson. It will be important for the Cornhuskers to get a lot of work for an inexperienced set of running backs that features only two players -- Roy Helu Jr. and Marcus Mendoza -- with previous college experience. The Cornhuskers will face old rival Howard Schnellenberger, who claimed a memorable national championship while at Miami by beating them in the 1984 Orange Bowl. The Owls are coming off a victory over Central Michigan in the Motor City Bowl. Quarterback Rusty Smith was the MVP of that game and comes into the contest as the Sun Belt Conference’s leading career passer. But look for Nebraska’s talented defensive front to repeatedly pressure him and set the tone for the victory.
Oklahoma 48, BYU 20: The Sooners and Cougars christen the Dallas Cowboys’ new stadium in Arlington, Texas, in its first college football game. Both teams are alike on offense as they have standout quarterbacks and tight ends and rebuilt offensive lines that are question marks coming into the game. Look for Oklahoma’s dominance along the defensive front to be the difference in this game, helping to extend BYU’s losing streak of 12 games to ranked nonconference opponents. BYU quarterback Max Hall struggled against better opponents last season and will be flummoxed by Oklahoma’s veteran defense that returns nine starters from last season.
Texas A&M 28, New Mexico 17: Mike Sherman and the Aggies will be looking for a better start than last season, when they dropped a season-opening loss to Arkansas State that deflated much of his momentum in starting the program. Look for the Aggies to play better Saturday with improved play in the trenches after their struggles last season. A&M running backs Cyrus Gray and Christine Michael should be primed to dictate the pace.
Texas 51, Louisiana-Monroe 7: The Longhorns start off a pillow-soft nonconference schedule and shouldn’t face much of a challenge from the War Hawks, who finished 4-8 last season and were picked to finish seventh in the Sun Belt this season. Colt McCoy returns for his fourth season as starter and the Longhorns’ offense should prove multiple problems for the smaller Louisiana-Monroe team. Watch for Texas to try to feature Vondrell McGee as it hopes to give him a chance to grow into a comfortable role in the offense. The Longhorns have won their last nine openers by a margin of 43 points. This one should be right in that range.
Kansas 55, Northern Colorado 10: Mark Mangino’s team comes in with more hype about a potential Big 12 North title than in any previous season in school history. The Jayhawks shouldn’t be challenged much by a Northern Colorado team that was 1-10 last season and has lost its last two openers to FBS schools by an average of 44.5 points per game. Look for Todd Reesing and an explosive set of Kansas wide receivers to have a huge night against the outmanned Bears.
Texas Tech 56, North Dakota 10: It’s a name the margin game for the Red Raiders, who will be trying to build the confidence of a developing offense keyed by new quarterback Taylor Potts. Mike Leach has won six straight openers, scoring an average of 45.7 points per game. I’m expecting a big offensive showing by a group intent on showing it still has firepower even after Graham Harrell and Michael Crabtree are gone.
Kansas State 31, Massachusetts 14: It’s reunion weekend as Bill Snyder returns to the sideline to begin his second tour of duty after a three-season sabbatical. Carson Coffman will get the nod at quarterback and celebrated junior college transfer Daniel Thomas gets the start at running back. The Minutemen hope for better luck than their last game against a Big 12 team when they were blown out at Texas Tech last season. Look for them to stay closer, but they'll be facing too much emotion for them to overcome in Manhattan with Snyder’s return.
Colorado 24, Colorado State 14 (Sunday): Dan Hawkins plans to wait until game day to name his starter. It shouldn’t matter if the Buffaloes’ running attack plays to its level against a CSU defensive front that allowed 190 rushing yards last season and returns only one starter. Colorado State is inexperienced at quarterback and the Buffaloes should prevail -- no matter who is their quarterback.
College Football News published an interesting list of the top 200 players in college football a couple of weeks ago.
We earlier listed the Big 12 teams and their selections.
But here's a way to introduce you to some of the better players from the nonconference teams that Big 12 teams will be facing this season.
First, the Big 12 North Division and its nonconference opponents.
And don't say we didn't warn you about some of these players.
Florida Atlantic (Sept. 5): QB Rusty Smith (No. 89)Arkansas State (Sept. 12): DE Alex Carrington (No. 97), RB Reggie Arnold (No. 124), QB Corey Leonard (No. 129)at Virginia Tech (Sept. 19): QB Tyrod Taylor (No. 93), G Sergio Render (No. 98), CB Stephan Virgil (No. 147)Louisiana-Lafayette (Sept. 26): None
Northern Colorado (Sept. 5): Noneat UTEP (Sept. 12): QB Trevor Vittatoe (No. 163)Duke (Sept. 19): DT Vince Oghobaase (No. 102)Southern Mississippi (Sept. 26): RB Damion Fletcher (No. 67)
Illinois (at St. Louis, Sept. 5): WR Arrelious Been (No. 25), QB Juice Williams (No. 41), LB Martez Wilson (No. 174)Bowling Green (Sept. 12): NoneFurman (Sept. 19): Noneat Nevada (Sept. 25): QB Colin Kaepernick (No. 34), DE Kevin Basped (No. 149), DE Dontay Moch (No. 167), RB Vai Taua (No. 200)
Colorado State (Sept. 6): Noneat Toledo (Sept. 11): SS Barry Church (No. 128)Wyoming (Sept. 19): DT John Fletcher (No. 161)at West Virginia (Oct. 1): RB Noel Devine (No. 75), LB Reed Williams (No. 96), DT Scooter Berry (No. 125), QB Jarrett Brown (No. 140)
KANSAS STATE WILDCATS
Massachusetts (Sept. 5): NoneLouisiana-Lafayette (Sept. 12): NoneUCLA (Sept. 19): DT Brian Price (No. 21), CB Alterraun Verner (No. 83), LB Reggie Carter (No. 107)Tennessee Tech (Sept. 26): None.
IOWA STATE CYCLONES
North Dakota State (Sept. 3): NoneIowa (Sept. 12): T Bryan Bulaga (No. 80), LB Pat Angerer (No. 177)at Kent State (Sept. 19): RB Eugene Jarvis (No. 94)Army (Sept. 26): None
Coming Thursday: The South Division and its nonconference opponents.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
There's no doubt after spending a lot of time around Missouri players last week that they feel disrespected by preseason prognosticators who aren't picking them to contend in the North Division title race this season.
Sure, the Tigers lose players like Chase Daniel, Chase Coffman, Jeremy Maclin, William Moore, Ziggy Hood and Jeff Wolfert from their back-to-back title-game teams. All arguably are among the greatest players at their positions in school history.
Recruiting has picked up in recent years for the Tigers. And that infusion will have them be competitive in nearly every game this season.
But being able to contend for a third-straight appearance in the Big 12 championship game might be a different story -- particularly with the balance that should be present in the rest of the division this season.
Here's a look at three predictions for the Tigers this year.
1. There's no way that Missouri can escape the nonconference part of their schedule without at least one loss.
Illinois has lost all four games in the Missouri series since it returned to St. Louis in 2002. The Illini have been embarrassed by allowing an average of 46 points per game in the last two seasons. They will want revenge and with Juice Williams, they probably will get it this season.
And veteran Nevada coach Chris Ault still remembers how the Tigers ran up the score in a 69-17 loss at Columbia last season. The Wolf Pack will have their chance at revenge this season, buying quarterback Colin Kaepernick some exposure before a national television audience.
I'm expecting Missouri to lose at least one of those nonconference games. And it wouldn't be a shock to me if they lost both of them.
2. Blaine Gabbert won't be Chase Daniel, but he won't fare badly in his first season as starter.
There was some "Chicken Little" thinking among Missouri fans when Gabbert struggled during the spring game. Don't worry about him. By the middle of the season, I'm expecting him to be an accomplished Big 12 starter.
And even with the troubles I'm expecting for his team early, the Big 12 will be a different story. And if Gabbert can orchestrate a big victory over Nebraska on Oct. 8 in the Tigers' Big 12 opener, they might hang around the Big 12 North Division title race a lot longer than most are expecting.
3. Missouri will have five receivers who will produce at least 50 receptions this season.
The Tigers won't have Maclin, Coffman or Tommy Saunders this year. Don't look for as much concentration at the top of the receiving list, but expect a lot more balance. Danario Alexander, Wes Kemp, Andrew Jones, Jared Perry and even running back Derrick Washington are ready to step up as receivers this season. New coordinator David Yost's offensive strategy will feature a lot of producers.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
IRVING, Texas -- Missouri linebacker Sean Weatherspoon said he had no regrets about his recent tweet on his Twitter page about his plans for the Tigers' Sept. 5 opener against Illinois in St. Louis.
The All-Big 12 linebacker apparently is using the upcoming matchup against Illinois quarterback Juice Williams for inspiration.
From Weatherspoon's Twitter page: "Just finished a stellar workout, hit 475 on the bench easy, almost hit 500, gotta get it soon! 50 days until I squeeze the pulp out of Juice"
Weatherspoon and Williams are friends and frequently communicate, Weatherspoon said.
"Me and Juice have talked before," Weatherspoon said. "To me it was more like a joke, a clever little thing I came up with."
But Weatherspoon said he meant no malice in any comments against the Illini.
"Hopefully, he doesn't take any offense to it because I didn't really mean much by it," Weatherspoon said. "I didn't think Twitter would be like that, but basically it's like a press release when you say something on it. I definitely have to watch out what I say when I use it."
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
IRVING, Texas -- We should have a lot of juicy story topics today in the second day of the three-day Big 12 confab at the Westin Hotel.
Here's a look at the lineup for this morning. The proceedings will be available both on ESPNEWS and Big12sports.com:
Missouri (10 a.m. ET) I'll be interested to see if Gary Pinkel and his team play the "no respect" card after they were picked fourth in the preseason media poll. Sean Weatherspoon is one of the league's better quotes and I'm sure he'll be grilled on his recent comments about wanting to "squeeze the pulp" out of Illinois quarterback Juice Williams in the Tigers' season opener. And defensive tackle Jaron Baston and guard Kurtis Gregory will likely be asked about the Tigers' line -- which should be one of the team's strengths.
Baylor (10:45 a.m. ET) Some observers expect the Bears to break through and make a bowl this season, despite Baylor's 15-season drought that dates back to 1994 and is the longest in the conference. Robert Griffin decided to give up track to concentrate to concentrate on football. A lot will depend on Baylor's defense and veteran players Joe Pawelek and Jordan Lake will be queried about that unit's growth.
Kansas (11:30 a.m. ET) I wonder how long it will take before coach Mark Mangino shares something about the status of wayward wide receiver Dezmon Briscoe. I just can't see the Jayhawks contending for the North without him as an integral part. Todd Reesing also will be appearing and likely answering a lot of questions about being one of the underrated players in the conference.
Oklahoma (12:15 p.m. ET) The conference's three-time defending champions will be answering a lot of questions about the three-way tie that involved Texas and Texas Tech. I'm sure we'll hear a few questions about Bob Stoops' recent BCS woes. I'm expecting Heisman Trophy winner Sam Bradford to attract the biggest crowd of any player. And Gerald McCoy is one of my favorite players in the conference -- both for his production on the field and his verbiage away from it.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
The Big 12's nonconference schedule is marked with several extremely difficult tests early. These are statement games for the conference as a whole. If Big 12 teams can win these games, it would grab a lot of national attention.
If not, the Big 12's national reputation could take an early hit that could have naysayers reminding us about the conference's bowl struggles last season against the SEC.
But here's a look at six games that will be the most difficult for Big 12 teams. These will be a little more difficult than those last week I listed as potential trap games.
1. Nebraska at Virginia Tech, Sept. 19: Bo Pelini's toughest nonconference road game to date. The Hokies are ranked no lower than 14th nationally in any preseason magazine I've seen yet and will be a tremendous challenge in Blacksburg. In order to win, the Cornhuskers will have to keep Virginia Tech's defense and special teams in check and hope for a break or two.
2. Georgia at Oklahoma State, Sept. 5: This game will arguably be the biggest nonconference game in Oklahoma State history. And even though the Cowboys likely will be favored and facing a Georgia team breaking in a new starting quarterback, it will still be a huge test to beat one of the Southeastern Conference's traditional power teams.
3. Iowa at Iowa State, Sept. 12: The Cyclones have won four of the last five games at home in the series, but Paul Rhoads' first big test against his cross-state rivals looms especially large. Particularly with the Hawkeyes expected by many to be the surprise team in the Big Ten this season.
4. Illinois vs. Missouri (at St. Louis), Sept. 5: This game was already going to be tough before Sean Weatherspoon started tweeting about squeezing "the pulp" out of Illinois quarterback Juice Williams. And bet that Ron Zook and the Fighting Illini haven't forgotten that the Tigers have won four straight games against them in the bragging-rights battle.
5. Oklahoma at Miami, Oct. 3: This rivalry was one to circle back in the mid-1980s when Barry Switzer and Jimmy Johnson were battling. It's still a good one and Randy Shannon will be looking for a statement victory that would grab attention for his program from across the nation. Bet that Shannon will remind his team about the 51-13 whipping it endured last season in Norman for a little inspiration before the game at Land Shark Stadium.
6. Baylor at Wake Forest, Sept. 5: Baylor should be much better than last season and the Demon Deacons should be a little down from last season. But Wake Forest still should be a challenge considering Jim Grobe's recent transformation of the Demon Deacons, who have posted a 14-5 home record in the last three seasons. Baylor's defense will have to play much better than last season, when it allowed scoring drives on Wake Forest's first three possessions in an eventual 41-13 loss in Waco.
And 10 others to watch:
Colorado at West Virginia, Oct. 1
Oklahoma at BYU (at Arlington), Sept. 5
Texas A&M vs. Arkansas (at Arlington), Oct. 3
Texas Tech at Houston, Sept. 26
Houston at Oklahoma State, Sept. 12
Kansas at UTEP, Sept. 12
Missouri at Nevada, Sept. 26
Connecticut at Baylor, Sept. 19
Southern Mississippi at Kansas, Sept. 26
Kansas State at UCLA, Sept. 19
The All-Big 12 linebacker apparently is using the upcoming matchup against Illinois quarterback Juice Williams for inspiration.
"Just finished a stellar workout, hit 475 on the bench easy, almost hit 500, gotta get it soon! 50 days until I squeeze the pulp out of Juice."
Weatherspoon is the key player on a rebuilding Missouri defense with only four returning starters. He apparently has more confidence in the Tigers than most preseason observers.
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
By my count, after looking at the upcoming calendar, we are now only 183 days from the start of the college football season.
I know that seems like an excruciating wait. And it is.
And there's still a lot of discussion time to go before the season starts.
Not only does it excite me about the start of the season, but it also got me looking at a calendar. Hence, the countdown.
Here is my ranking of the Big 12's best nonconference games a little less than six months out.
1. Georgia at Oklahoma State, Sept. 5: Everything could converge for Oklahoma State in the Cowboys' season opener. An experienced offensive team looking to build its defense will be meeting a Georgia team breaking in a new quarterback. This game might attract the first true sellout in the history of expanded T. Boone Pickens Stadium.
2. Nebraska at Virginia Tech, Sept. 19: The Cornhuskers' defense will be much improved than they were in the Hokies' 35-30 win in Lincoln last season. But Bo Pelini's hopes of springing an upset will depend on whoever is playing quarterback for them by that point of the season.
3. Oklahoma at Miami, Oct. 3: Dolphin Stadium has been a chamber of horrors for the Sooners in two recent BCS title game losses, but they should be ready against a Miami team that could be beat up after playing Florida State, Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech before this game.
4. BYU vs. Oklahoma (at Arlington, Texas), Sept. 5: The first college game to be played in the Dallas Cowboys' new stadium could be a big test for Oklahoma's rebuilt offensive line. This should be an entertaining game between two of the nation's top 20 teams in passing offense, total offense and scoring last season.
5. Illinois vs. Missouri (at St. Louis), Sept. 5: The Tigers won't have nearly as much firepower back as last year and Juice Williams will be primed for the Illini. It could be a rough first baptism for new Missouri coordinators Dave Yost and Dave Steckel.
6. Arkansas vs. Texas A&M (at Arlington), Oct. 3: Two old Southwest Conference rivals rekindle their storied rivalry for the 66th time -- but the first since the Razorbacks bolted the SWC for the Southeastern Conference after the 1991 season. The fact that the game will be playing out at the new Dallas Cowboys' Stadium only adds to its mystique.
7. Texas Tech at Houston, Sept. 26: This game will be coming the week after Texas Tech travels to Texas in its first road game. It could be dicey for the Red Raiders, although they won their last two games at Houston against the Cougars in the final days of the Southwest Conference. Tech averaged 45 points per game in those games -- and that was long before Mike Leach had taken over the program. I'm expecting a shootout in this one with both teams combining for more than 1,000 yards.
8. Houston at Oklahoma State, Sept. 12: First team to 50 points wins this one. And I bet Houston defensive coordinator John Skladany still remembers that Oklahoma State's Kendall Hunter, Dez Bryant and Zac Robinson pulled the 200-200-300 yardage feat in terms of rushing, receiving and passing in OSU's 56-37 victory last season.
9. Colorado at West Virginia, Sept. 26: The Mountaineers will be looking for payback after last season's overtime loss in Boulder that was settled by their kicking woes.
10. Missouri at Nevada, Sept. 26: Actually, I think this might be a better game than most. Colin Kaepernick should have the pistol firing for the Wolf Pack. It might be a tougher game than you might think for a young Missouri defense playing its first true road game.
11. Kansas State at UCLA, Sept. 19: This was the kind of game that Bill Snyder used to try to avoid back in the salad days of the Kansas State program. But a victory here could legitimize his early work as he rebuilds the program anew.
12. Kansas at UTEP, Sept. 12: This will be the biggest nonconference test for the Jayhawks and perhaps a tricky one. Todd Reesing should be able to score against the Miners, but the rebuilt Kansas defense could be in for test facing UTEP quarterback Trevor Vittatoe on his home field. The Sun Bowl ought to be rocking for this one.
A couple of factors struck me as interesting as I looked at these games.
First, the Big 12 will have only two home games in these dozen pivotal contests. Oklahoma State hosts both of them. Three more will be played at neutral sites. But the other seven games will be road contests for the Big 12 team.
It means the conference will have an early chance to prove its mettle nationally, or fall behind.
Also, did you notice a significant team is missing from this list?
That's right. Maybe that's why Texas is ranked as the conference's top team coming into the season.
But the Longhorns assuredly won't get much BCS bounce from a quartet of nonconference games featuring Louisiana-Monroe, Wyoming, UTEP and Central Florida.
Mack Brown better hope the South Division is as tough as usual in 2009. Because he's not going to get much sympathy in a head-to-head comparison with most other national powers when nonconference schedules are compared.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
I've covered Big 12 games every year since the conference started in 1996. And I can't remember a season in which the conference received as much national attention as in this one.
The route to the South Division title played out almost like a holy grail to national notoriety. And the games were almost as good as the hype that preceded them, which is something you rarely, if ever, see.
But there were other good games that didn't have much relevance to the Big 12 title, but were still fun to watch, nonetheless. By my count, Colorado was involved in four of the most intriguing games in the conference this season.
Here are my choices for the top 20 Big 12 games of the season. And the very best one remains one of the best football games I've ever seen.
|Brendan Maloney/US Presswire|
|Michael Crabtree pulls in a 28-yard touchdown pass with one second left to lift Texas Tech past Texas.|
1. Texas Tech 39, Texas 33 -- The Longhorns come within one second of becoming the first team in 65 seasons to beat four top-12 teams in succession. To beat them, the Red Raiders needed a dramatic last-second 28-yard touchdown pass from Graham Harrell to Michael Crabtree that will resonate through West Texas for the ages.
2. Texas 45, Oklahoma 35 -- A game of incredible surges finally is settled by Texas' pass rush and a tough running game that a Sooners defense, playing without middle linebacker Ryan Reynolds, didn't have an answer for. But there were tough, Heisman-worthy performances by both Colt McCoy and Sam Bradford and a dramatic kickoff return by Jordan Shipley.
3. Kansas 40, Missouri 37 -- Two dramatic late touchdown passes from Todd Reesing to Kerry Meier propel the Jayhawks to a dramatic victory in this old, bitter rivalry. The battered Jayhawks showed remarkable pluck by playing through a run of injuries to topple the North Division champs.
4. Oklahoma 61, Oklahoma State 41 -- Bradford masterfully lead the Sooners on eight-straight scoring drives and might have won the Heisman with his airborne spin near the OSU goal line. And he earned enough style points that computers pushed his team over the rest of the South Division the next day to boost them into the Big 12 title game.
5. Texas 28, Oklahoma State 24 -- The Cowboys almost pull off an improbable road upset in a game settled on the final play on a late deflection by Curtis Brown.
6. Colorado 17, West Virginia 14 -- Buffaloes do a number on West Virginia's rushing attack and win the game on a field goal that earned Aric Goodman a scholarship.
7. South Florida 37, Kansas 34 -- The Jayhawks lose a chance for a big nonconference road victory when Reesing is intercepted with 30 seconds left. The mistake allowed the Bulls to escape on Maikon Bonani's game-winning 43-yard field goal on the final play of the game.
8. Oklahoma State 28, Missouri 23 -- Three second-half interceptions help the Cowboys first highlight cracks in the Tigers' foundation that will become more noticeable later in the season.
9. Nebraska 40, Colorado 31 -- The Cornhuskers look like they are headed back after a dramatic 57-yard field goal by Alex Henery with 1:43 left to win it and a clinching 30-yard interception return for a score by Ndamukong Suh in the final seconds. The victory sends Nebraska to the Gator Bowl and keeps Colorado out of a bowl game.
10. Texas Tech 37, Nebraska 31 (OT) -- Jamar Wall's game-sealing interception in overtime provides victory in a game in which the Cornhuskers dominated offensively in the second half.
11. Texas Tech 35, Baylor 28 -- Harrell leads a gritty comeback from an 14-point deficit early in the second half despite playing with nine separate breaks in his non-throwing hand and without Crabtree.
12. Colorado 14, Kansas State 13 -- Freshman QB Tyler Hansen and a dramatic fourth-quarter performance by the Colorado defense leads the Buffaloes past Josh Freeman and a conservative game plan employed by Ron Prince.
13. Kansas 35, Iowa State 33 -- The Jayhawks storm back from a 20-0 halftime deficit and find a rushing threat to boot as Jake Sharp emerges after riding the bench most of the season before then.
14. Virginia Tech 35, Nebraska 30 -- The Cornhuskers' late rally is stymied by critical penalties and the Hokies' opportunistic offense.
15. Missouri 31, Baylor 28 -- The Tigers escape, despite nearly blowing a 21-7 halftime advantage in a victory settled by Robert Griffin's first career interception after 209 passes to start his career.
16. UNLV 34, Iowa State 31 (OT) -- The Cyclones couldn't claim an elusive road victory despite rallying from a 21-0 halftime deficit to tie the game on Austen Arnaud's touchdown pass with three seconds in regulation. After kicking a field goal to start overtime, ISU's defense allowed a 25-yard scoring pass on the first defensive play to end the game.
17. Colorado 28, Iowa State 24 -- Iowa State tailback Alexander Robinson is stopped in his tracks from the 1-yard line on the final play of the game by D.J. Dykes and Jimmy Smith to preserve the Buffaloes' victory. Cody Hawkins came off the bench to pass for 226 yards and four touchdowns in the second half to rally Colorado from a 10-0 halftime deficit.
18. Oklahoma State 56, Houston 37 -- The two teams combined for 1,182 total yards and 788 passing yards in a wild offensive battle punctuated by 236 receiving yards and three touchdown grabs by Dez Bryant.
19. Arkansas State 18, Texas A&M 14 -- The most stunning upset involving a Big 12 team this season foreshad
owed many troubles for the Aggies this season. A&M squandered a 14-3 halftime lead as Stephen McGee was sacked four times and intercepted twice.
20. Missouri 52, Illinois 42 -- The Tigers nearly squander a 25-point third-quarter lead before two late interceptions by Sean Weatherspoon. Missouri wins despite allowing 451 passing yards and five touchdown passes to Illinois QB Juice Williams.