Big 12: Missouri State Bears
The Wildcats survived close calls against FCS foes Eastern Kentucky and Massachusetts in recent seasons. Opening-night struggles against what should have been overmatched opponents are nothing new.
That was the case Saturday until a 35-point fourth-quarter outburst gave the Wildcats a convincing 51-9 victory over Missouri State.
Collin Klein didn't necessarily help or hurt his fledgling Heisman campaign, completing 19 of 28 passes for 169 yards and two touchdowns. Kansas State looks like it's trying to limit the damage done to its workhorse quarterback. He carried the ball 317 times last season, averaging 26.4 per game.
Tonight? Just 12 carries for 59 yards. Bill Snyder's team did what it took to win. The game's biggest highlight? A 95-yard sprint from John Hubert, who finished with 152 yards and a score on his 12 carries.
Kansas State hardly outgained the Bears, 493-415, which has to cause plenty of concerns for Tom Hayes' defense, playing its first game under a new coordinator since Chris Cosh left for South Florida.
Still, it's an opening game, and you have to consider this progress from last season, when the Cats needed fourth-quarter heroics to stage a 10-7 comeback win over Eastern Kentucky.
This one had the Cats sweating early, but the end result was pretty, even if three of the final four touchdowns were quick strikes from 95, 89 (Tramaine Thompson punt return) and 46 yards out.
It's 1-0 for the Wildcats, and the Cats will prep themselves for a Week 2 date at home against Miami (Fla.).
That game will be part of a six-game 2010 home schedule for the Wildcats. All but one of the games will be against FBS foes.
The Wildcats' game against Iowa State has been pushed ahead to Sept. 18 and will be played again at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Mo. And KSU will finish the season with a Nov. 27 road game at North Texas.
The schedule will feature seven teams coming off bowl appearances, including five visiting Manhattan for KSU home games.
And it should be more conducive to making a bowl trip. The Wildcats notched two victories over FCS opponents last season, but could count only one toward the six-win minimum for a bowl appearance. The 6-6 Wildcats missed a bowl trip by one game.
Taking care of that was among several priorities that KSU attempted to address with the schedule, KSU athletic director John Currie said.
"Generally, we have five primary goals in scheduling,” Currie said. “We want to have as many home games as possible, especially early in the season; have at least 11 FBS opponents each season; attempt to include an open date during the regular season and create opportunities to provide further exposure for our program and university on a national level.
"With this schedule, we feel we have accomplished these goals and are looking forward to a sold-out Bill Snyder Family Stadium in 2010.”
The Sept. 18 game against Iowa State will be the earliest conference game for KSU since the Wildcats kicked off the Big 12 with the inaugural game in conference history against Texas Tech in 1996.
The schedule also features a game against Central Florida, beginning a two-game, home-and-home schedule with the Golden Knights.
Here's a look at KSU's 2010 schedule
Sept. 4 UCLA
Sept. 11 Missouri State
Sept. 18 Iowa State (at Kansas City, Mo.)
Sept. 25 Central Florida
Oct. 7 Nebraska
Oct. 16 at Kansas
Oct. 23 at Baylor
Oct. 30 Oklahoma State
Nov. 6 Texas
Nov. 13 at Missouri
Nov. 20 at Colorado
Nov. 27 at North Texas
It's interesting for a number of reasons. The Wildcats will begin their two-game cross-division schedule with Texas this season. KSU has been the most successful North Division team against the Longhorns in the history of the Big 12 and will come into the upcoming game with a two-game winning streak and a 4-2 record against the Longhorns since 1996.
The KSU schedule starts with four of their first five games at home and finish with the final three games of the season on the road. That should help build confidence for a young team early in the season, but will test them mightily as the season finishes up.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
Before venturing away from the friendly confines of Owen Field, there were some lingering questions that persisted about Oklahoma.
Considering Oklahoma had notched a 1-7 record in its last eight games west of Norman, the Sooners' road struggles were well chronicled. It led Oklahoma players preparing for the upcoming road season by wearing "Built Road Tough" t-shirts in the past several weeks.
The inspiration must have worked. The Sooners delivered a masterful 55-14 thumping of Washington on Saturday that ranked as the Huskies' worst home loss since 1929. That performance had Daily Oklahoman columnist Berry Tramel writing about how the Sooners are legitimate contenders for the national championship.
It won't be easy. The Sooners' remaining opponents have a combined record of 21-3 so far this season. And DT DeMarcus Granger picked up a nasty-looking injury to his left leg when he was involved in a scrum with three Washington defenders a play after he had been flagged for a personal foul.
But Tulsa World Oklahoma beat writer John Hoover said this squad appears to be different than recent Oklahoma teams after it returned to the top two in the nation in both major polls for the first time since 2004.
Whether the Sooners can maintain that ranking through the Big 12 schedule remains to be seen. But it's about as good a start as Bob Stoops could have asked for coming into the season.
Speaking of good starts, here are some nourishing links to get Big 12 fans through a Monday morning.
- Despite rolling up 693 yards against SMU in a 43-7 victory, Texas Tech coach Mike Leach wasn't happy with his team's offensive performance. Leach kept individual standouts Graham Harrell and Michael Crabtree from postgame interviews because quarterbacks and wide receivers were "holding us back." The Red Raiders' offensive line is getting healthier with the return of G Louis Vasquez and the most extensive playing time of the season for T Rylan Reed.
- San Antonio Express-News columnist Mike Finger writes about some undetected early weaknesses in the Big 12, despite a strong early record.
- Bo Pelini saw glimpses of what he thinks are the real Cornhuskers, particularly his team's strong secondary play against New Mexico State.
- Iowa State was kicking itself after pushing the ball inside the Iowa 30 six times, but only producing a field goal. But Gene Chizik was impressed with the Hawkeyes' defense.
- Baylor's convincing victory over Washington State -- the Bears' first over a nonconference BCS opponent since 1998 -- opened some eyes around the country.
- Despite having two producers with more than 10 catches against South Florida, Kansas coach Mark Mangino was peeved about his wide receivers. The Jayhawks' heralded defense was doomed by a 20-minute lull against South Florida.
- The Lawrence Journal-World's Eric Sorrentino hands out his weekly Big 12 awards.
- There was no letup in Missouri's offense against Nevada, as the Tigers made quick work of the school's record book against the Wolf Pack. And the Columbia Tribune's Dave Matter writes the Missouri offense might be the nation's best.
- Louisville FB Brock Bolin is preparing for a physical game Wednesday against Kansas State.
- Oklahoma State's sizzling offense has piled up an average of 536 yards per game in its last three contests. And it has already scored 152 points so far this season -- a standard it didn't reach until the eighth game last season. Three OSU backs reached 100 yards against Missouri State on Saturday with none playing in the fourth quarter.
- Austin American-Statesman columnist Kirk Bohls offers a tongue-in-cheek look at the proposed Longhorn Television Network.
- Dallas Morning News columnist Chuck Carlton says that USC's dominating performance against Ohio State could help the Big 12.
- Freshman WR Jeff Fuller and Ryan Tannehill have emerged as vital cogs in Texas A&M's sputtering pass offense.
- Colorado is preparing for West Virginia's unconventional swarming 3-3-5 defense.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
The games in the Big 12 have played out as expected today. Big victories by Missouri and Oklahoma State by a combined margin of 126-30 were to be expected, as was Iowa's 17-5 victory over Iowa State.
Here are a few things that I saw after watching games throughout the afternoon.
- Chase Daniel is playing like a Heisman Trophy candidate and Missouri's offense is awesome. Of course, the Tigers still haven't played a defense that has legitimately tested them.
- Phillip Bates didn't give Iowa State the lift I thought he would provide as a spot player. And the Cyclones had as much trouble as I thought they would against Shonn Greene, who gashed them for 120 yards and a touchdown.
- Oklahoma State's offense might be the most versatile in the conference. They can pass like they did last week in coming back for a victory against Houston. And they can pound the ball on othe ground like at Missouri State, when they gashed the Bears for 450 yards with three different backs with more than 100 yards.
I'll have another report later this evening after games involving Oklahoma, Texas Tech and Nebraska.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
Here are ten things to watch for this week in the Big 12.
1. Missouri WR Danario Alexander's return: I'll be interested to see how Alexander performs in his first game since injuring his knee in the Big 12 championship game last December. He's a tall, athletic target who will be especially important for QB Chase Daniel in red-zone possessions. Just what the Tigers need, another offensive weapon.
2. Iowa State's defensive front against Iowa's inside running game: The Cyclones struggled mightily last week against Kent State. And they'll be stepping up in class as they try to contain bullish Iowa RBs Shonn Greene and Jewel Hampton.
3. The Oklahoma State triplets and what they'll do for an encore: QB Zac Robinson, RB Kendall Hunter and WR Dez Bryant all will have their chances against Missouri State, but I'm not betting on another 200-200-300 performance like last week. The Cowboys will have the game in hand by the middle of the second quarter, limiting their chances to pad their statistics in the second half.
4. New Mexico State's first-game readiness: The Aggies, no doubt, will be at a huge disadvantage in their maiden voyage this season after their first game against Nicholls State University was postponed by Hurricane Gustav. Saturday will be Nebraska's third game. That experience should have the Cornhuskers ready for the Aggies' aerial attack keyed by QB Chase Holbrook.
5. Bob Stoops' heebie-jeebies in a Pac-10 stadium: Stoops has never won in two previous trips to the West Coast (Oregon in 2006, UCLA in 2005). That losing streak continues Oklahoma's struggles that have seen the team win only one of its last six road games against Pac-10 teams since 1988.
6. Washington State's early arrival at Baylor: Hurricane Ike pushed the kickoff up a day, making an already difficult trip more arduous for the Cougars. And they can't be feeling very confident after last week's 66-3 home blowout to California. WSU struggles defensively against the pass, so look for Robert Griffin to try to establish WR David Gettis early.
7. The trench battle between Kansas T Jeff Spikes and South Florida DE George Selvie: The Bulls have to pressure Kansas QB Todd Reesing for any chance to win. Selvie finished second nationally with 14.5 sacks, but hasn't notched one since mid-November. His slump has permeated the rest of his team as the Bulls have produced only one sack as a team this season.
8. Mike Leach's gambles: No Big 12 coach disdains punting on fourth-and-short situations as much as Leach, no matter where on the field he's positioned. After being burned twice on missed fourth-down plays deep in his own end of the field last week at Nevada, it will be interesting to see how reckless Leach will be Saturday against SMU.
9. Graham Harrell's slump: Some are wondering if Texas Tech's talented quarterback has hit a wall after struggling last week against Nevada. He had a below 50 percent completion percentage for the first time in his starting career last week. Harrell has thrown three touchdowns after the first two games of the season. He averaged 3.6 touchdown passes per game last season.
10. Nebraska's offensive discipline: The Cornhuskers struggled with self-inflicted mistakes last week against San Jose State. They were flagged eight times offensively, including false-start penalties on three consecutive snaps at one juncture. A veteran quarterback and offensive line were expected to have better communication than that.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
Hurricane Ike is poised to sweep through Texas as millions have been told to evacuate their homes along the Gulf Coast.
The massive hurricane has already affected this weekend's schedule across the Big 12 before making landfall.
Texas' game against Arkansas has been postponed until Sept. 27. It will be the first time that Texas has ever postponed a game because of weather in school history.
The approaching storm is having effects all over Austin. Elementary schools will be closing there at noon Friday. Texas deflated its massive practice bubble at Denius Fields Thursday to make sure it won't get blown away in the storm.
Texas coach Mack Brown told reporters that several players initially told him they would have liked to have played the Razorbacks. But out of respect for all of the potential calamity, Texas officials decided that not playing this weekend made more sense.
"We've just got to manage it and handle it," Brown told reporters on Thursday. "The thing that we will explain to the players today is -- how selfish of us to feel sorry ourselves that we don't get to play. There are a lot of people this weekend that have got a lot more problems than we have, and we need to pray for them."
Baylor moved its game against Washington State to Friday night because of concerns about the weather. Their decision means that the Cougars will face an excruciatingly long day, leaving Pullman, Wash., early on Friday for a 1,490-mile flight to Waco before playing later Friday night.
Oklahoma State, located nearly 500 miles from the Texas Gulf Coast where the storm will hit, pushed its game start against Missouri State forward by six hours on Saturday. And Missouri will move its kickoff with Nevada to late Saturday morning to capitalize on a vacant television window provided when Baylor moved its game.
The changes have resulted in the most massive late changes in Big 12 play since the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, resulted in all games being postponed later that weekend.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
Here are some of the stories that are making news after Hurricane Ike drastically affected this weekend's Big 12 schedule.
- Austin American-Stateman columnist Kirk Bohls said the postponement could help the Longhorns or it could hurt them. The Longhorns will have extra time to build confidence in a developing defense. But it also would set up a punishing four-game schedule with consecutive games against Arkansas, Colorado, Oklahoma and Missouri.
- Kansas coach Mark Mangino and South Florida coach Jim Leavitt have come a long way since they were toiling on Bill Snyder's staff at Kansas State. So has former Kansas standout CB Aqib Talib, who plans to watch the game tonight against USF along Kansas' sidelines. The Jayhawks hopes will rely on unconventional QB Todd Reesing, who crams his backpack with copies of the Economist and dreams of studying abroad after his college career ends.
- Iowa State's rivalry with Iowa is critical as coach Gene Chizik searches to create an identity for his program.
- Miami and Nebraska, opponents in five bowl games over the last 25 seasons, have announced a two-game contract for regular-season games in 2014 and 2015.
- Oklahoma coaches are bracing for the challenge of containing versatile Washington QB Jake Locker.
- Texas A&M coach Mike Sherman has called out Jorvorskie Lane, saying the massive fullback needs to be a better blocker. The team's vaunted rushing game has struggled during its first two games.
- Texas Tech coach Mike Leach isn't drinking any Black and Red Kool-Aid about how good his team is supposed to be.
- With an easy game approaching against Missouri State, Oklahoma State can't afford to look ahead to its Big 12 schedule.
- Missouri's young defenders are excited about their chances of playing against Nevada after a solid effort against Southeast Missouri last week.
- Kansas State punter George Pierson has punted only three times this season -- never after drives engineered by QB Josh Freeman.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
The Big 12's record of 12-0 was impressive last week, but the first sweep in conference history should be taken with a huge grain of salt. Some of the opponents that the Big 12 teams beat barely had a pulse.
It will be a different story this week with more competitive games. I'm even picking a couple of Big 12 teams to lose. Here are my picks:
USF 23, Kansas 20 -- I still don't think the Jayhawks have enough of a ground attack to win what should be a tight defensive battle. Kansas QB Todd Reesing has been phenomenal this season, but his offense has got to be more balanced to expect a victory in this statement game for both programs. And don't be surprised if USF DE George Selvie is a disruptive force in this game against Kansas' young offensive tackles.
Iowa 27, Iowa State 14 -- Gene Chizik continued ISU's recent domination in the series with a 15-13 victory in Ames last season. But look for the Hawkeyes to return the favor with a convincing victory this season, mainly because of the tough inside running of Shonn Greene and Jewel Hampton against the Cyclones' undersized front.
Baylor 27, Washington State 17 -- This should be a good indicator of the relative strengths of the Big 12 and Pac-10 conferences when their respective cellar-dwellers meeting. Baylor QB Robert Griffin will be the difference in this one. Look for him to make a couple of big plays against a Washington State team that has been outscored 105-16 in its first two games, ranks last nationally passing efficiency and scoring defense and is next-to-last in total offense.
Missouri 41, Nevada 17 -- Chase Daniel will be explosive early and watching in a ball cap from the sidelines by the second half. The Tigers need to show some defensive improvement after struggling performances in their first two games and the return of S William Moore and LB Van Alexander certainly will help. They might have some trouble with underrated Nevada QB Colin Kaepernick, who repeatedly befuddled Texas Tech last week, but should easily prevail.
Nebraska 37, New Mexico State 17 -- The Aggies might have had a better chance to compete in this one before having their first game postponed because of weather concerns. New Mexico State QB Chase Holbrook will make some plays against Nebraska's developing defense, but not nearly enough. Nebraska has beaten the Aggies by a combined margin of 125-0 in two previous games in the series. Hal Mumme's offense will score this time, giving them a pyrrhic victory of sorts.
Oklahoma State 48, Missouri State 6 -- History was made last week when OSU's talented trio of Dez Bryant, Kendall Hunter and Zac Robinson became the first trio in Big 12 history to go for 200 yards rushing and receiving and 300 yards passing in the same game. Their numbers won't be as impressive against Terry Allen's team -- only because they likely won't be playing during the second half. OSU cruises in this one.
Texas Tech 61, SMU 20 -- Don't be surprised if this one lasts for more than four hours with all of the passes that will be thrown at Jones AT&T Stadium. Tech QB Graham Harrell will be intent on making up for a pedestrian performance last week in Nevada. And something tells me that Mike Leach is going to want to make a statement to June Jones about who has the most prolific passing offense in the Lone Star State. SMU has lost 10 straight games on the road and 12 in a row to Tech since last beating them in 1986.
Oklahoma 41, Washington 17 -- The Sooners' sizzling offense has hung half-a-hundred against each of their opponents this season. It won't be as easy this time around, but still a comfortable statement victory on the road -- something that OU didn't do very often last season. It will be interesting to watch multi-talented Washington QB Jake Locker against the speedy Sooner defense, keyed by emerging freshman LB Travis Lewis.
Last week: 12-0 (100 percent). Season: 23-1 (95.8 percent).
Posted by ESPN's Tim Griffin
Here's the latest four-star viewer's guide for the games of the weekend. Plan your honey-dos and set your tape recorders accordingly.
A ranking of four stars indicates must-see television, and maybe even a game tape to be savored by more devoted viewers. Three-star games are worth the investment in time. Two-star games bear a quick glimpse or two for occasional score updates. And one-star games are indications that your time might be better spent at the grocery store or playing with the kids. All games will be played on Saturday unless otherwise noted.
Kansas at South Florida (ESPN/8 p.m. ET, Friday) -- Both teams will be trying to prove their national legitimacy in a battle between old Bill Snyder disciples Mark Mangino and Jim Leavitt.
Iowa State at Iowa (Big Ten Network, noon) -- Hard to believe that the game for the Cy-Hawk Trophy is one of only four this week matching 2-0 teams.
Arkansas at Texas (ABC, 3:30 p.m.) -- Darrell Royal and Frank Broyles aren't roaming the sidelines like the good ol' days, but Mack Brown hasn't forgotten the thumping that the Razorbacks gave his team in Austin in 2003 in their last trip.
Oklahoma at Washington, (ESPN, 7:45 p.m.) -- Bob Stoops didn't like his last trip to the northwest when he was jobbed by a Pac-10 officiating crew in Oregon. This game should be easier, particularly with Ty Willingham's job status being an open question in Seattle these days.
Washington State at Baylor (FSN, 12:30 p.m.) -- This matchup is intriguing only because a judgment can be made about the relative strengths of the Big 12 and Pac-10 conferences when its worst teams meet.
Nevada at Missouri (PPV, 12:30 p.m.) -- Rangy Nevada QB Colin Kaepernick gave Texas Tech fits last week. It won't be quite as easy in Columbia, particularly with top Nevada running threat Luke Lippincott out for the season with a knee injury.
New Mexico State at Nebraska (PPV, 7 p.m.) -- This has some entertainment value as New Mexico State mad scientist Hal Mumme and talented QB Chase Holbrook faces the Nebraska secondary. How much will the Cornhuskers miss Barry Turner? And how much will the Aggies be a mystery in their first game of the season?
SMU at Texas Tech (FSN, 7 p.m.) -- Wonder if there might be a few passes at Jones SBC Stadium in this one? Tech has dominated the series, winning the last 12 games since SMU's six-game streak from 1981-86.
Missouri State at Oklahoma State (FCS, 7 p.m.) -- Don't expect the Cowboys' talented offense to show much mercy against Terry Allen's Missouri State team. The Bears have never beaten a Big 12 team in nine previous games.