Big 12: Tim Davis
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
After making a trip to the Orange Bowl last season as the first BCS appearance in school history, Kansas is back for more in tonight's Insight Bowl against Minnesota. Here's a look at several items to watch in the game.
Who to watch: It's easy to get lost as a quarterback in the Big 12 at times, but Kansas quarterback Todd Reesing quietly broke a slew of his own single-season school records this season with 302 completions, 406 attempts and 3,575 passing yards. When Kansas' young offensive line gives him protection, the diminutive Reesing can carve defenses up. His chances for success Wednesday will be magnified by the return to health of key weapons like wide receiver Kerry Meier and running back Jake Sharp, who both struggled with injuries late in the season. It will be the healthiest that Kansas has been since early in the season, providing the Jayhawks an opportunity against a slumping Minnesota team that lost its last four games after starting 7-1.
What to watch: The play of Kansas' secondary will be critical to the Jayhawks' chances. Starting cornerback Justin Thornton did not make the trip for undisclosed disciplinary reasons. Senior Kendrick Harper will start in his place. That retooled unit will try to contain Minnesota quarterback Adam Weber, who was hot during the Gophers' fast start but averaged only 144.7 yards and threw more interceptions than touchdowns in Minnesota's last three games. Minnesota coach Tim Brewster fired offensive line coach Phil Meyer and replaced him with Tim Davis as the running-game coordinator after the late slump. But the Gophers' ability to pass the ball from the spread offense will determine whether they can sneak out of Sun Devil Stadium with an upset against an erratic Kansas pass defense that ranked 113th nationally and allowed 19 touchdown passes in its last six games.
Why to watch: The Jayhawks already made their mark by making back-to-back bowl trips for the first time in the 119-season history of the program. They can crack another barrier Wednesday by winning, which would give them 20 victories in the last two seasons for the first time as well. A big effort against Minnesota also could set the tone heading into next season when the Jayhawks are positioned to be one of the North's preseason favorites.
Here's a look at my predictions for the first three bowl games involving the Big 12.
Missouri 38, Northwestern 27 -- The Tigers have had to stew over their championship game loss for nearly a month, wondering why they ended up in San Antonio in a season that opened with BCS promise. I'm expecting Chase Daniel and Chase Coffman to step up for one more huge offensive game in their final games together. Jeremy Maclin could be leaving the program and offensive coordinator Dave Christensen will be leaving for the head coaching job at Wyoming. Even with a struggling defense, I think the Tigers can outscore Northwestern and finish off back-to-back 10-win seasons for the first time in school history.
Kansas 45, Minnesota 20 -- Coach Mark Mangino has already made history by taking the Jayhawks to back-to-back bowl trips for the first time in school history. And this bowl game looks promising for them. The Jayhawks struggled in pass defense all season, but Minnesota couldn't move the ball late in the season in a late collapse that saw them lose its final four games. Coach Tim Brewster hired assistant coach Tim Davis to juice production in the Gophers' run offense that struggled all season. The guess here is that he hasn't had enough time to do that, especially against Kansas' underrated corps of linebackers. If Kansas quarterback Todd Reesing has protection, he should have a lot of fun against Minnesota's leaky secondary.
Oklahoma State 49, Oregon 47 -- Brace yourself for one of the best of the bowl games - particularly if you like high-octane offenses. Both teams scored at least 40 points six times during the season. Neither defense looks that imposing. It looks like a recipe for points and yards by the bunches. And that game could favor the Cowboys, because of their varied offensive weapons. Look for Zac Robinson to be more of a running threat -- like he was in the Oklahoma game -- and for Oklahoma State's advantage in special teams to be magnified with playmakers like Dez Bryant and Perrish Cox. But still, it won't be easy as the Cowboys will be playing this game without defensive coordinator Tim Beckman. He's gone to his new job as head coach at Toledo and it will be up to the rest of the defensive staff to pick up the slack against Oregon's potent offense keyed by head coaching designate Chip Kelly.
My record for championship week: 1-0 (100 percent)
My record for the season: 84-13 (86.6 percent)