Big 12: nonconference 2013

Nonconference preview: West Virginia

August, 14, 2013
8/14/13
4:00
PM ET
Time for the final team in our look across each Big 12 team's nonconference schedule: West Virginia.

William and Mary, Aug. 31
  • Coach: Jimmye Laycock, 33rd season (215-60-2)
  • 2012 record: 2-9 (1-7, Colonial Athletic)
  • Offensive headliner: Receiver Tre McBride caught 55 passes for 897 yards and 10 touchdowns as a sophomore in 2012, earning second team all-conference honors.
  • Defensive headliner: Safety Jerome Couplin led the team with 91 tackles and three interceptions as a junior in 2012. He also had two tackles for loss, two forced fumbles and four pass breakups.
  • The skinny: The Tribe have a strong program under Laycock, and nearly upset Maryland to begin the 2012 season, losing 7-6. William and Mary are unranked in the FCS poll entering this season, but a bad outing for a WVU offense breaking in a ton of new faces could make this game a little close for comfort.
vs. Georgia State, Sept. 14
  • Coach: Trent Miles, first season (0-0)
  • 2012 record: 1-10 (1-7, Colonial Athletic)
  • Returning starters: seven offensive, seven defensive
  • Offensive headliner: Receiver Albert Wilson is the program's all-time leader in receiving yards. He caught 48 balls for 947 yards and seven touchdowns last season.
  • Defensive headliner: Defensive lineman Theo Agnew transferred in from UMass and led the team with eight tackles for loss a year ago. He had two sacks and made 60 total tackles.
  • The skinny: Georgia State has only had a football program since 2010, but will move into FBS classification this season as a member of the Sun Belt. I'd expect a rocky transition as the program continues to try and get its feet underneath it. Hard to see this game being close.
vs. Maryland at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, Mary., Sept. 21.
  • Coach: Randy Edsall, third season (6-18)
  • 2012 record: 4-8 (2-6, ACC)
  • Returning starters: seven offensive, five defensive
  • Offensive headliner: Receiver/return man Stefon Diggs had a big freshman debut, catching 54 balls for 848 yards and six touchdowns. He also returned two kicks for touchdowns and averaged over 10 yards on his 22 punt returns.
  • Defensive headliner: Linebacker Cole Farrand led the team with 78 tackles a year ago, and is the team's leading returning player in tackles for loss, with six. He also forced three fumbles a year ago.
  • The skinny: Maryland was hamstrung by quarterback injuries a year ago, but before it got really bad, they hung with WVU in a 31-21 loss last season that included two long Diggs touchdown catches. This rivalry game is WVU's best shot to lose a game in nonconference play.
Chances of going 3-0: 65 percent

Wrapping up: West Virginia's schedule features two games that should be blowouts and another in which it's likely to be a solid favorite. Maryland is an improving program that's trying to bounce back from a tough season, and is fully capable of knocking off a rebuilding WVU team, especially in Baltimore. If WVU loses a nonconference game, there's about a 95 percent chance that's where it happens. Still, the Mountaineers have a lot of promise on offense, and have a good shot to be better than most think. The Maryland game comes down to a situation dependent on WVU: Play an average game, and West Virginia should walk away a winner.

Nonconference preview: Texas Tech

August, 8, 2013
8/08/13
4:00
PM ET
Let's move on with our look at each Big 12 team's nonconference slate. Next up: Texas Tech.

at SMU, Aug. 30
  • Coach: June Jones, sixth season (31-34)
  • 2012 record: 7-6 (5-3 Conference USA)
  • Returning starters: Six offensive, three defensive
  • Offensive headliner: Quarterback Garrett Gilbert's debut after transferring from Texas wasn't great, but he racked up 2,932 yards and 15 touchdowns, though he also threw 15 interceptions. His top target should be senior receiver Jeremy Johnson.
  • Defensive headliner: Senior linebacker Randall Joyner is the team's leading returning tackler, with 93 stops a year ago.
  • The skinny: Texas Tech hasn't lost to SMU since all the way back in 1986, spanning a total of 14 meetings. SMU's program has improved since Jones' arrival, and with a new coaching staff and a road atmosphere, this could be a bit shaky for the Red Raiders. Still, Tech just has to play solid to earn a win here.
vs. Stephen F. Austin, Sept. 7
  • Coach: J.C. Harper, seventh season (34-26)
  • 2012 record: 5-6 (4-3 Southland)
  • Offensive headliner: Running back Gus Johnson (!!) rushed for 954 yards and 14 touchdowns, and quarterback Brady Attaway threw for 29 scores and 3,671 yards, though he had 21 interceptions.
  • Defensive headliner: Linebacker Collin Garrett made 96 stops a year ago, including 9.5 tackles for loss, an interception and a forced fumble.
  • The skinny: SFA returns most of its core from a year ago, but this is the same squad who lost to SMU 52-0 in its only meeting with an FBS team in 2012. It's hard to see Tech losing this game, barring a meltdown or barrage of turnovers.

vs. Texas State, Sept. 21.

  • Coach: Dennis Franchione, third season (10-14)
  • 2012 record: 4-8, (2-6) WAC
  • Returning starters: Six offensive, seven defensive
  • Offensive headliner: The Bobcats are a run-heavy offense, but lost the top two rushers from last season's team, including quarterback Shaun Rutherford. Receiver Andy Erickson caught 39 balls last season for 482 yards and three touchdowns.
  • Defensive headliner: Safety Xavier Daniels made 66 tackles a year ago, including a forced fumble and five pass-breakups.
  • The skinny: Texas State scared folks when it upset Houston to start the season, but Tech brought the Bobcats back down to earth with a humbling 58-10 win in San Marcos. It's hard to see Tech having a serious chance to lose this time around, especially against a team losing so much talent in the running game.
Chances of going 3-0: 62 percent

Wrapping up: Tech's nonconference schedule is one of the worst in college football, and outside of Baylor and Kansas State, it's hard to find one in the Big 12 that's going to be more yawn-inducing. The opener against SMU will be interesting, but even on the road, the Red Raiders will be favored. Losing that game is very possible, but if Tech plays well and leaves Dallas with a 'W', it should coast into Big 12 play at 3-0.
Time to continue our team-by-team look at the Big 12's nonconference schedule.

Next up: TCU.

Versus LSU at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, Aug. 31
  • Coach: Les Miles, ninth season (85-21)
  • 2012 record: 10-3 (6-2 SEC)
  • Returning starters: eight offensive, five defensive
  • Offensive headliner: Senior quarterback Zach Mettenberger threw for 2,609 yards and 12 touchdowns last season while completing 58.8 percent of his 352 pass attempts.
  • Defensive headliner: Defensive lineman Anthony Johnson will be depended upon after the departures of Sam Montgomery and Barkevious Mingo. Johnson made 10 tackles for loss and three sacks a year ago.
  • The skinny: For now, leading rusher Jeremy Hill (755 yards in 2012) is suspended indefinitely, but the Frogs will be without reigning Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year Devonte Fields. LSU is reloading along the defensive line, but just like most games between SEC and Big 12 teams, this game will be decided on the line of scrimmage. TCU is a physical team on both sides of the ball and this is a winnable game, but TCU will be about a touchdown underdog.
Versus Southeastern Louisiana, Sept. 7
  • Coach: Ron Roberts, second season (5-6)
  • 2012 record: 5-6 (5-2 Southland Conference)
  • Offensive headliner: Receiver Tony McCrea led the team in 2012 with 28 catches for 401 yards and a touchdown. He also returned one of his two punt returns for a score.
  • Defensive headliner: Junior linebacker Kaleb Muse was 10th in the Southland and led the Lions with 80 tackles, including five for loss, two sacks and an interception. He also forced two fumbles.
  • The skinny: Southeastern Louisiana was routed by 52 points at Missouri and by 49 at UAB in the only two games it played last season against FBS competition. Doesn't seem like much danger for a very talented TCU team. Only turnovers could make this one interesting.
Versus SMU, Sept. 28
  • Coach: June Jones, sixth season (31-34)
  • 2012 record: 7-6 (5-3 Conference USA)
  • Offensive headliner: Quarterback Garrett Gilbert's debut after transferring from Texas wasn't great, but he racked up 2,932 yards and 15 touchdowns, though he also threw 15 interceptions. His top target should be senior receiver Jeremy Johnson.
  • Defensive headliner: Senior linebacker Randall Joyner is the team's leading returning tackler, with 93 stops a year ago.
  • The skinny: SMU is better than it looked in a rainy blowout loss to Baylor last season, and gave the Frogs lots of trouble in a Dallas downpour last season. It has to replace running game mainstay Zach Line, as well as its top three in tackles for loss from a year ago, highlighted by kick-blocking freak Margus Hunt. SMU is a good team, and if TCU loses the turnover battle or turns in an average performance, this could easily be a loss.
Chances of going 3-0: 34 percent

Wrapping up: TCU will have a lot of the Big 12's reputation hanging on its season opener against LSU, and the Battle for the Iron Skillet is always an emotional game, no matter how far the gap in talent is between the crosstown rivals. The Frogs have a schedule setup that most of the Big 12's best programs should follow, with a clear "A" game against a top-25 opponent, a "B" game against a good team and a "C" game -- an all-but-guaranteed victory. And SMU is actually a major-conference opponent now, too, because the Mustangs will begin playing in the American Athletic Conference this season. A 3-0 record in nonconference play would be enormous for the Frogs, but getting a victory against LSU in Week 1 is the toughest hurdle by far.

Nonconference preview: Texas

July, 18, 2013
7/18/13
2:30
PM ET
Time to continue our team-by-team look at the Big 12's nonconference schedule.

Next up: Texas.

vs. New Mexico State, Aug. 31
  • Coach: Doug Martin, first year (0-0)
  • 2012 record: 1-11 (0-6, WAC)
  • Returning starters: eight offensive, six defensive
  • Offensive headliner: Receiver Austin Franklin caught 74 passes for 1,245 yards and nine touchdowns last season. He missed time this spring to get his academic standing in order.
  • Defensive headliner: Safety Davis Cazares made 116 tackles last season with three tackles for loss and a blocked kick.
  • The skinny: Texas doesn't play the Texas A&M Aggies anymore, but start their season with a different brand of Aggie in 2013. New Mexico State's lone win last season came against FCS Sacramento State in the opener. The 11-game losing streak that followed cost fourth-year coach DeWayne Walker his job. The defense gave up at least 42 points in each of the last four games last season. This game shouldn't be a problem for the Longhorns.
at BYU, Sept. 7
  • Coach: Bronco Mendenhall, ninth year (74-29)
  • 2012 record: 8-5
  • Returning starters: nine offense, five defense
  • Offensive headliner: Receiver Cody Hoffman caught 100 passes last season for 1,248 yards and a team-high 11 touchdowns. He'll be a senior this season.
  • Defensive headliner: Linebacker Kyle Van Noy is one of the nation's top defenders. He made 22 tackles for loss a year ago, including 13 sacks. He had 52 total tackles, forced six fumbles and blocked two kicks.
  • The skinny: BYU is a solid team that forced Texas to rally in the second half for a 17-16 win in 2011. Texas is the better team here, but the Cougars are a conference-play quality team and the Provo crowd will be ready in a big-time atmosphere. Texas will have to play well to win this game. Defending quarterback Taysom Hill isn't easy.
Ole Miss, Sept. 14
  • Coach: Hugh Freeze, second year (7-6)
  • 2012 record: 7-6, 3-5 SEC
  • Offensive headliner: Receiver Donte Moncrief hauled in 66 passes for 979 yards and 10 touchdowns last season from first-year juco quarterback Bo Wallace, who's another headliner for the Rebels.
  • Defensive headliner: Sophomore linebacker Denzel Nkemdiche has earned some preseason All-America buzz after making 82 tackles and 13 tackles for loss last season, both team-highs. Still, he might be overshadowed by his younger brother, the nation's No. 1 recruit in the 2013 class, defensive end Robert Nkemdiche.
  • The skinny: Texas' breakout game last season was its blowout win in Oxford, which was one of David Ash's best games ever. The Longhorns hung 66 points on the board and established some momentum heading into conference play. The Rebels' hyped recruiting class will receive a lot of attention, but Texas has had plenty of those and will have the edge in experience. It won't be an easy game, but one Texas should win.
Chances of going 3-0: 43 percent

Wrapping up: Texas gets the distinction of being one of just two Big 12 teams (Oklahoma) that won't face an FCS team this season. There's not a game on this schedule that Texas will enter as an underdog, but Ole Miss and BYU are absolutely capable of beating Texas. The Longhorns haven't been a great team in Austin recently, but going on the road to Provo should be the toughest test. A subpar performance in either of those games could mean a loss. Texas is also capable of blowing out both teams with strong nights. Either way, it should be a fun slate once the Longhorns get past a weak New Mexico State team.
Time to continue our team-by-team look at the Big 12's nonconference schedule.

Next up: Oklahoma State.

Mississippi State at Reliant Stadium in Houston, Texas, Aug. 31
  • Coach: Dan Mullen (29-22), fifth year
  • 2012 record: 8-5, 4-4 SEC
  • Returning starters: seven offensive, six defensive
  • Offensive headliner: Quarterback Tyler Russell had a big breakout season with 2,897 passing yards, 24 touchdowns and just 10 interceptions. He loses his top four receivers from 2012, though.
  • Defensive headliner: Linebacker Benardrick McKinney made 102 tackles as a freshman last season, including 4.5 tackles for loss.
  • The skinny: The Cowboys are the undercard of a Big 12-SEC doubleheader on neutral fields in Week 1, playing an afternoon game before TCU and LSU kick off in primetime. OSU is a more experienced team and a two-touchdown favorite. It should win, but this is obviously a team capable of beating OSU if it plays average or worse.
at Texas-San Antonio, Sept. 7
  • Coach: Larry Coker (12-10), third year
  • 2012 record: 8-4, 3-3 WAC
  • Returning starters: 10 offense, nine defense
  • Offensive headliner: Quarterback Eric Soza rolled up 18 touchdowns and three interceptions as a junior in 2012. He completed less than 60 percent of his passes and threw for 2,085 yards.
  • Defensive headliner: Sophomore defensive back Nic Johnston is the team's leading returning tackler with 67 tackles in 2012. He had five tackles for loss, a sack and an interception. He also forced four fumbles and blocked a kick.
  • The skinny: The Roadrunners have only existed since 2011 and handled the transition to FBS a year ago pretty well, going 8-4. All four losses were by at least 20 points to bowl teams, though. UTSA returns as many starters as any team in the country, but if OSU doesn't turn the ball over and plays well, it should coast easily, even on the road.
Lamar, Sept. 14
  • Coach: Ray Woodard (13-21), fourth year
  • 2012 record: 4-8, 1-6 Southland
  • Offensive headliner: Receiver Barry Ford had twice as many receptions as any other Cardinal, hauling in 49 catches for 470 yards and a touchdown. One interesting note: Receiver Kevin Johnson transferred from Oklahoma State and returned a pair of kicks for touchdowns last season. He caught 10 touchdown passes and had 19 receptions for 309 yards.
  • Defensive headliner: Jermaine Longino made 107 tackles and six tackles for loss last season. He also forced three fumbles.
  • The skinny: The Cardinals got shut out twice last season, and scored just two points in a loss to Hawaii. The offensive firepower's simply not there to make this one close.
Chances of going 3-0: 61 percent

Wrapping up: Oklahoma State should coast through its final two games, and is a sizable favorite against the Bulldogs in the season opener. Still, that's going to be a huge game and really the only opportunity Oklahoma State has to lose in nonconference play. That should be one of the most entertaining games of the nonconference season, but the rest of OSU's slate outside of Big 12 play could be pretty ugly.
Time to continue our team-by-team look at the Big 12's nonconference schedule.

Next up: Oklahoma.

Louisiana-Monroe, Aug. 31
  • Coach: Todd Barry (17-20), fourth year
  • 2012 record: 8-5, 6-2 Sun Belt
  • Returning starters: Eight offensive, nine defensive
  • Offensive headliner: Quarterback Kolton Browning earned a bit of Heisman buzz last season after the Warhawks' monumental upset at Arkansas. He threw for 3,049 yards, 29 touchdowns and 10 interceptions last season.
  • Defensive headliner: Linebacker Ray Stovall made 13.5 tackles for loss last season, leading the team. He had 63 total tackles.
  • The skinny: The Warhawks turned heads with their two-quarterback offensive package in last year's game against Baylor, which could be a tough test for an underwhelming Oklahoma defensive line that will likely be playing without its only returning starter, Chuka Ndulue. He was arrested on suspicion of DUI this weekend. The Sooners should win, but if they play poorly like last season against UTEP or in 2010 against Utah State, this could be a nervous Saturday for the OU faithful.
Tulsa, Sept. 14
  • Coach: Bill Blankenship (19-8), third year
  • 2012 record: 11-3, 7-1 Conference USA (No. 1, West)
  • Returning starters: Seven offense, three defense
  • Offensive headliner: Running back Trey Watts rushed for 1,108 yards and three scores on 186 carries, averaging almost six yards per carry. He set career highs for rushing in his final two games of 2012, capped by a 149-yard game against Iowa State.
  • Defensive headliner: Tulsa loses its top two tackles and top four players in tackles for loss, but linebacker Shawn Jackson had 87 tackles and 9.5 tackles for loss. He forced three fumbles and had five sacks.
  • The skinny: Oklahoma seems to always play well against Tulsa, and gets the Golden Hurricane back in Norman for the first time since a 47-14 win in 2011. That was an eight-win team, and Oklahoma beat a five-win Tulsa team 45-0 in Norman in 2009. Hard to see Tulsa winning this game, even though it's a quality squad.
at Notre Dame, Sept. 28
  • Coach: Brian Kelly (28-11), fourth year
  • 2012 record: 12-1 (lost to Alabama in BCS National Championship Game)
  • Returning starters: six offense, eight defense
  • Offensive headliner: It would have been Everett Golson, but he's been suspended for the season. Receiver T.J. Jones caught 50 balls for 649 yards last season, and will catch passes from Tommy Rees to begin this season. The Irish lost their top two rushers from last season, too.
  • Defensive headliner: Manti Te'o made a run at the Heisman Trophy last season, but defensive lineman Stephon Tuitt led the team with 11 sacks last season and scored a touchdown in the season opener. He had 45 tackles, blocked a punt and forced a fumble.
  • The skinny: Oklahoma will be eyeing revenge in South Bend after the Irish used a late run to earn a 30-13 win in Norman. The Sooners caught a big break in Golson's suspension, but this won't be an easy win. Even without Golson, Oklahoma's still trying to beat what's likely a top-20 team on its home field.
Chances of going 3-0: 45 percent

Wrapping up: Give Oklahoma major props. It's got one of the most difficult nonconference schedules in the entire country. It's not a perfect measure of schedule difficulty, but good luck finding another program who's playing three FBS teams who combined to win 31 games last season. That's crazy. Oklahoma may very well be favored in all three games, but that Notre Dame game won't be easy. It looks like mostly a coin flip, but Oklahoma's signed up to host two more teams who could beat the Sooners on a bad night.
Time to continue our team-by-team look at the Big 12's nonconference schedule.

Next up: Kansas State.

North Dakota State, Aug. 30
  • Coach: Craig Bohl, 11th year (89-32)
  • 2012 record: 14-1 (7-1, Missouri Valley)
  • Offensive headliner: The Bison return two 1,000-yard rushers from their 2012 national championship team. Sam Ojuri and John Crockett combined for 2,085 yards last season.
  • Defensive headliner: Linebacker Grant Olson returns after making 148 tackles last season, including 11.5 for loss. He recovered two fumbles as well. That total would have ranked fourth in FBS.
  • The skinny: Very dangerous game for Kansas State here. The Wildcats have struggled against FCS competition in season openers before, and NDSU is 6-3 all-time against FBS competition, including wins over Kansas, Minnesota (twice) and Colorado State. K-State should win, but if it plays poorly, or even average, this is a loss. Considering the roster turnover at K-State, this should be even more worrisome. Back in 2011, K-State beat a 7-5 Eastern Kentucky FCS team, 10-7. Similar situation. Worse team.
Louisiana-Lafayette, Sept. 7
  • Coach: Mark Hudspeth (18-8), third year
  • 2012 record: 9-4, 6-2, Sun Belt
  • Returning starters: seven offense, six defense
  • Offensive headliner: Quarterback Terrance Broadway has a reputation as a playmaker and threw for 2,842 yards with 17 scores and nine interceptions last season. He also rushed for 769 yards and nine touchdowns.
  • Defensive headliner: Linebacker Justin Anderson made 105 tackles last season, 30 more than any other Ragin' Cajun. That included 8.5 tackles for loss and three sacks.
  • The skinny: The Cajuns are a fun team to watch and have won nine games and a bowl in each of the past two seasons. Lafayette is another team fully capable of beating K-State, who the Wildcats won't get much credit for beating. Seems like a lose-lose situation there.
Massachusetts, Sept. 14
  • Coach: Charley Molnar (1-11), second year
  • 2012 record: 1-11, 0-8 MAC
  • Returning starters: four offense, five defense
  • Offensive headliner: Tight end and All-Name teamer Rob Blanchflower caught 43 passes for 464 yards and two touchdowns and is UMass' top returning receiver.
  • Defensive headliner: Linebacker and fellow All-Name teamer Kassan Messiah is the team's leading returning tackler after making 65 tackles in nine games as a freshman in 2012.
  • The skinny: UMass was a strong FCS program at one point, but saw the program take a downturn and had a rough transition to the FBS game a year ago as a member of the MAC.
Chances of going 3-0: 56 percent

Wrapping up: Bill Snyder finally gets his wish as tougher schedules from the past get fazed out. There's no Miami on this schedule. There's not a single team from a major conference and all three games are at Bill Snyder Family Stadium. There's not a name team on the schedule, but for a team that's rebuilding like Kansas State, facing experienced teams who know how to win like Louisiana and North Dakota State could prove tougher than casual fans glancing at a schedule realize.

Nonconference preview: Kansas

June, 25, 2013
6/25/13
2:30
PM ET
Time to continue our team-by-team look at the Big 12's nonconference schedule.

Next up: Kansas

South Dakota, Aug. 31
  • Coach: Joe Glenn, second year (1-10)
  • 2012 record: 1-10 (0-8, Missouri Valley)
  • Offensive headliner: Quarterback Josh Vander Maten rushed for 495 yards and threw for 1,662 yards and seven scores in his first year as a starter last season. He returns as a junior.
  • Defensive headliner: Defensive back Devin Taverna was second on the team with 79 tackles and intercepted three passes. He broke up five more passes.
  • The skinny: South Dakota is a struggling FCS program that should line up and give Kansas a win, something it hasn't experienced since its 2012 opener. The Coyotes' lone win of 2012 came against Colgate.
at Rice, Sept. 14
  • Coach: David Bailiff (30-44), seventh year
  • 2012 record: 7-6, 4-4, Conference USA
  • Returning starters: seven offense, 10 defense
  • Offensive headliner: Quarterback Taylor McHargue threw for 2,209 yards and 12 touchdowns last season, adding 667 yards and 11 scores on the ground.
  • Defensive headliner: Defensive lineman Cody Bauer was fourth on the team with 51 tackles and made 12 tackles for loss. Almost half of those (5.5) were sacks, and he also had an interception and forced a pair of fumbles.
  • The skinny: Kansas snatched defeat from the jaws of victory last season, blowing a nine-point fourth quarter lead to lose on a last-second field goal against the Owls last season. They were the first Big 12 team to lose to Rice since the Southwest Conference breakup, and that was in Lawrence. KU should be better this season, but winning this game won't be easy.
Louisiana Tech, Sept. 21
  • Coach: Skip Holtz (0-0), first year
  • 2012 record: 9-3, 4-2 WAC
  • Returning starters: two offense, four defense
  • Offensive headliner: Running back Kenneth Dixon racked up 1,194 rushing yards and 27 scores last season. He also caught a touchdown pass.
  • Defensive headliner: Tech's top seven tacklers are gone, but junior defensive back Levander Liggins had 50 tackles and intercepted two passes last season, breaking up 11 more passes.
  • The skinny: This team would have run KU ragged last season but with a whole new look and a new coaching staff after Sonny Dykes packed his bags for Cal, the Jayhawks should be in the mix. It's anything but an easy win, but if the Jayhawks play well, they should have a good shot to win. The Bulldogs will be a little unpredictable this early in the season.
Chances of going 3-0: 19 percent

Wrapping up: Despite not playing a single AQ-conference team, this is actually a pretty challenging schedule for the Jayhawks. Such is life when you've won six games in three seasons and two of those were against FCS teams. The competition level will obviously ramp up in Big 12 play, but if KU can get through this slate 3-0, it's sure to win at least one Big 12 game. It hasn't beaten a current Big 12 team since winning its conference opener against Iowa State in 2009. Reaching a bowl game isn't an impossibility for this KU team, but it is if they lose one of these games.

Nonconference preview: Iowa State

June, 24, 2013
6/24/13
4:00
PM ET
We're continuing our look across the Big 12 at each team's nonconference slate. Everybody's got three games on the docket, but not all are created equal.

IOWA STATE CYCLONES

Northern Iowa, Aug. 31
  • Coach: Mark Farley (104-46), 13th year
  • 2012 record: 5-6, 4-4 Missouri Valley
  • Offensive headliner: Running back David Johnson rushed for 1,021 yards and 13 touchdowns on just 178 carries a year ago.
  • Defensive headliner: Linebacker Jake Farley started just five games a season ago, but managed to lead the Panthers with 85 tackles.
  • The skinny: Northern Iowa is a good FCS program that failed to make the playoffs a season ago after six consecutive finishes in the FCS top 20. Mark Farley actually coached linebackers at Kansas from 1997-2000, but found a home in Cedar Falls. Iowa State is 20-4-3 all time against Northern Iowa.
Iowa, Sept. 14
  • Coach: Kirk Ferentz (100-74), 14th year
  • 2012 record: 4-8, 2-6 Big Ten (T-5th Legends)
  • Returning starters: Seven offense, seven defense
  • Offensive headliner: Former walk-on Mark Weisman was one of the best stories in college football last year. After injuries provided him opportunity, he led the Hawkeyes with 815 yards and eight touchdowns on 159 carries.
  • Defensive headliner: Linebacker Anthony Hitchens led the Big Ten with 124 tackles last season.
  • The skinny: After losing three consecutive games to the rival Hawkeyes, Iowa State has won two consecutive games by three points and earned their first win in Iowa City since 2002 last season. All of a sudden, Iowa State is 4-4 in the past eight meetings against Iowa. Since 1998, the Cyclones are 9-5 against Iowa.
at Tulsa, Sept. 26
  • Coach: Bill Blankenship (19-8), third year
  • 2012 record: 11-3, 7-1 Conference USA (No. 1, West)
  • Returning starters: Seven offense, three defense
  • Offensive headliner: Running back Trey Watts rushed for 1,108 yards and three scores on 186 carries, averaging almost six yards per carry. That included a 149-yard game in the Liberty Bowl win over Iowa State.
  • Defensive headliner: Tulsa loses its top two tackles and top four players in tackles for loss, but linebacker Shawn Jackson had 87 tackles and 9.5 tackles for loss. He forced three fumbles and had five sacks.
  • The skinny: This will be the third time these two teams have met in the past 13 months, and split the first two meetings. The story of the past two was second-half dominance. Iowa State did it in September. Tulsa did it in the Liberty Bowl. The Golden Hurricane are a strong program that should be able to go toe-to-toe with the Cyclones. This game is largely a toss-up.
Chances of going 3-0: 32 percent

Wrapping up: Iowa State's playing a pretty solid nonconference slate. The Northern Iowa series is an in-state rivalry, but the Iowa series is obviously the highlight of the nonconference slate. The last two games between the two biggest programs in Iowa have been great entertainment, but there's a wide variance of possibilities out there for the Cyclones. ISU is off twice in the first five weeks of the season, so it'll have almost two weeks to prepare for both Iowa and Tulsa (the Tulsa game is on a Thursday), which could be an advantage. Going 3-0 is probably just as likely as Iowa State going 1-2.

Nonconference preview: Baylor

June, 20, 2013
6/20/13
4:00
PM ET
Inspired by our friends over at the Pac-12 blog, we'll start our look at each Big 12 team's nonconference slates up close.

BAYLOR BEARS

Wofford, Aug. 31
  • Coach: Mike Ayers (162-111-1), 25th year
  • 2012 record: 9-4, 6-2 Southern Conference
  • Offensive headliner: Running back Donovan Johnson returns in 2013 after rushing for just under 500 yards a season ago. He was overshadowed by Eric Breitenstein, but should benefit from a run-heavy scheme.
  • Defensive headliner: Linebacker Mike McCrimon led the team with 76 tackles, seven tackles for loss and two interceptions.
  • The skinny: Wofford is a strong FCS team that lost to the eventual national champion in the quarterfinals of the FCS playoffs last season. It also lost by just 17 at South Carolina. It finished the season in the FCS top 10, but has to replace a 2,000-yard rusher in Breitenstein, the SoCon's Athlete of the Year last season. The Terriers threw just 88 passes all last season.
Buffalo, Sept. 7
  • Coach: Jeff Quinn (9-27), fourth year
  • 2012 record: 4-8, 3-5 MAC
  • Returning starters: nine offense, seven defense
  • Offensive headliner: Receiver Alex Neutz caught 11 touchdown passes and racked up 1,015 yards on just 65 catches despite quarterback issues for the Bulls.
  • Defensive headliner: Linebacker Khalil Mack had 94 tackles, but made 20 tackles for loss, which was more than any Big 12 player had. He had eight sacks and forced four fumbles.
  • The skinny: Buffalo is still trying to rebuild after Turner Gill left the program for Kansas. The Bulls shouldn't pose a big threat, despite returning the 17th-most starters in college football. They've won just 11 games in the past three seasons.
Louisiana-Monroe, Sept. 21
  • Coach: Todd Barry (17-20), fourth year
  • 2012 record: 8-5, 6-2 Sun Belt
  • Returning starters: Eight offensive, nine defensive
  • Offensive headliner: Quarterback Kolton Browning earned a bit of Heisman buzz last season after the Warhawks' monumental upset at Arkansas. He threw for 272 of his 3,049 yards in a five-point loss to Baylor in Monroe last season.
  • Defensive headliner: Linebacker Ray Stovall made 13.5 tackles for loss last season, leading the team. He had 63 total tackles.
  • The skinny: The Warhawks nearly won two games against SEC teams last season, and came dangerously close to shocking the Bears in an entertaining Friday night game, too. They return a lot of talent from an eight-win team, headlined by Browning. The Bears have to be careful in this one. It's their best chance to lose a nonconference game.
Chances of going 3-0: 77 percent

Wrapping up: The Bears have one of the weakest nonconference schedules in college football, and one of the worst in the Big 12. It's a hyped season in Waco this year, but Bears fans will have to wait awhile before they get to the good parts. The good news: Rolling through this slate should mean a spot in the top 25 by the time conference play arrives.

SPONSORED HEADLINES