Thursday, June 20, 2013
Previewing nonconference play: Baylor
By David Ubben
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.
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.