NCF Nation: Kory Sperry
Dec. 20, 2:30 p.m., (ESPN)
Fresno State is coming off its worst loss of the season, 61-10 to Boise State, and its coach is shopping for a new job. Not the ideal situation to go into a bowl, especially against a Colorado State team that won its past two games to gain bowl eligibility.
It wasn't that long ago that many thought Fresno State was capable of busting the BCS. But an early loss to Wisconsin ruined a BCS season and seemed to take the wind out of Fresno State. The Bulldogs suffered multiple injuries and had some kicking woes that led to bad losses.
On the other side, not many expected much from Colorado State, especially under first-year head coach Steve Fairchild. Colorado State hasn't played in a bowl game since 2005.
Statistically, Fresno State has a better total offense and defense, but these teams are quite similar. Both have pocket-passing quarterbacks, great tight ends -- Kory Sperry for CSU and Bear Pascoe for FSU -- but Fresno State's running game gives it a little more diversity.
This might be one of the more evenly matched games this bowl season.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
Here are some intriguing tidbits around the Big 12 heading into Saturday's games.
1. Texas A&M K Richie Bean misfired on two easy field goals of 32 yards and 25 yards in a loss to Arkansas State, but had even bigger worries. His family had just rebuilt their home in the New Orleans area in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, and Hurricane Gustav was on a direct path during the game. Bean's recent slump has reopened the kicking competition before this week's game with New Mexico with freshman Randy Bullock, who A&M coach Mike Sherman said he would have used late in the first game after Bean's earlier misses.
2. Kansas fans are concerned after the Jayhawks rushed for 128 yards and averaged a pedestrian 3.6 yards per carry in a blowout victory over Florida International. One of the biggest reasons was the absence of T Jeremiah Hatch, who didn't play for undisclosed reasons. Coach Mark Mangino said that Hatch is practicing with the team and could be available for Saturday's game against Louisiana Tech. His return would immediately boost Kansas' ground game.
3. Baylor QB Robert Griffin has another reason to get excited about his first college start against Northwestern State. His older sister, Dejon, a junior who competes in the hammer, discus and shot put for the Demons' track team, says she'll support her little brother over her own school at Saturday's game in Waco.
4. Texas coach Mack Brown will consult with DE Henry Melton and LB Sergio Kindle before he decides how many games DT Lamarr Houston will be suspended for after his weekend arrest. He was charged with driving while intoxicated. Melton and Kindle both were suspended three games last season after they were arrested for similar charges last summer.
Houston's absence Saturday night from the Longhorns' pass rush against UTEP adds a little more pressure for Texas redshirt freshmen S Blake Gideon and S Earl Thomas, who will be starting their first road games at the raucous Sun Bowl.
5. Kansas State coach Ron Prince has repeatedly said that QB Josh Freeman was his most improved player since the spring. Freeman played like it in the Wildcats' season-opening 45-6 victory over North Texas, accounting for five touchdowns. But the most noticeable change for Freeman in his third season as a starter appears to be his patience at hitting second and third receivers. He also looked more comfortable as a running threat, which wasn't always the case in his previous two seasons as a starter.
6. Colorado coaches worried about finding a defensive playmaker to replace Jordon Dizon. If the Buffaloes' first game is any indication, they don't have any worries. Rangy LB Brad Jones was all over the field with seven tackles and a sack in their victory over Colorado State. But most impressive was his play on Colorado State TE Kory Sperry, who was neutralized with only two catches after blistering the Buffaloes for eight catches and three TD grabs last season.