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Week 1 Fearless Predictions - Big 12 Friday
Posted Aug 30, 2013

Week 1 Fearless Predictions - Big 12 Friday. Texas Tech-SMU, NDSU-Kansas State

Texas Tech (0-0) at SMU (0-0) Aug. 30, 8:00, ESPN

Why You Should Give A Hoot: It’s the old guard among offensive innovators versus one of the new kids on the block, as SMU hosts one-time Southwest Conference rival, Texas Tech.

Former Red Raiders QB Kliff Kingsbury makes his debut as a head coach at his alma mater. Predecessor Tommy Tuberville left on his own volition, but Texas Tech may prove in time to have upgraded on the sidelines. The program had become kind of stale since Mike Leach had been fired, and the locals hope that the 33-year-old Kingsbury can provide some fresh energy and ideas in Lubbock.

June Jones is back for his sixth season on the Hilltop, and his first as a coach of an American Athletic Conference squad. Jones and his Mustangs have sort of hit a wall of late, hovering around the .500 mark as a member of Conference USA. Forward progress will not be easy at SMU since the team lost a ton of productive players to graduation and the schedule is the thorniest the school has faced in decades.
Why Texas Tech Might Win: Tech is going to be the much tougher team at the point of contact. Back on defense is the entire front seven, namely linemen Kerry Ryder and Dartwan Bush, a stark contrast to the depleted SMU D-line. The Mustangs also lack the size and the experience on their O-line to prevent Gilbert from being flushed from the pocket. The Ponies better be dramatically improved in pass defense this week, because the coach is different, but the guns are still up in Lubbock.
Why SMU Might Win: The Red Raiders lost their entire defensive backfield to graduation; not exactly an ideal situation with a June Jones-led team first on the schedule. Yeah, Mustangs’ QB Garrett Gilbert lacked consistency in 2012, but he’ll be tighter in his second year in the Run N’ Shoot. He’ll also benefit from the returns of two of his top receivers from a year ago, Jeremy Johnson and Der'rikk Thompson.
Who To Watch Out For: Kingsbury’s first triggerman at Tech will be sophomore Michael Brewer, a talented young distributor poised to pile up monster numbers. First, though, he has to shake a back injury that’s sidelined him this month.

- Zach Line is no longer in Dallas, but the SMU ground game remains in capable hands now that Traylon Shead is eligible. The 6-2, 225-pound Texas transfer is a battering ram coming off a great offseason.

- Brewer, or whoever, gets the call from Kingsbury must get the ball in the hands of WR Eric Ward and TE Jace Amaro, easily Tech’s most consistent targets.

- If SMU gets torched through the air Friday night, don’t blame CB Kenneth Acker. He’s an NFL-caliber defensive back and special teamer, who’ll do something really special at least once or twice against Tech.

What Will Happen: Lots of uncertainty and new starters will make for a sloppy opener in Dallas. Neither team is close to being a finished product, so the staffs will feel their way through the game, making substitutions on the fly. The Red Raiders will lean on their edge in the trenches, winning the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. Turnovers will be the key, with Tech turning one of Gilbert’s sailed throws into a crucial quick-six. Kingsbury will open with a win and a lengthy to-do list to take into Week 2.
Prediction: Texas Tech 38 … SMU 28
Line: Texas Tech -6 o/u: 59.5
Must See Rating: (5 Hard Knocks – 1 ‘N Sync on the VMAs) … 2

North Dakota State (0-0) at Kansas State (0-0) Aug. 30, 8:30, FOX Sports 1

Why You Should Give A Hoot: This isn’t your normal Kansas State preseason cupcake. If North Dakota State isn’t the best team in the FCS, it’s in the top five coming off two straight championships. The Bison went 14-1 last season with a win over Colorado State and dominant performance after dominant performance before finishing up with a 39-13 win over Sam Houston State. The music isn’t going to stop this year with a tremendous running game and a dominant defense that led the nation in yards and points allowed. NDSU doesn’t make mistakes, doesn’t turn the ball over, and controls the clock and the tempo. Sound familiar?

Kansas State isn’t being talked about in the Big 12 title chase, but it has the make-up and the skill of a typical Bill Snyder team. The pieces are there to do it all again, but don’t get caught offside thinking the team is slipping if it struggles with NDSU; it’s that good.

Why North Dakota State Might Win: The Bison has the defense to keep the score low and make it a battle deep into the fourth quarter. The line is decent will be decent at getting into the backfield, but it’ll be at its best when it gets to hold up at the point of attack against a power running team like Kansas State. The pass defense finished second in the nation last season, but the strength is at linebacker with all the top playmakers returning. This is a loaded team from top to bottom, and it’s not going to be fazed by playing a big boy in its own stadium.
Why Kansas State Might Win: Kansas State and North Dakota State basically do the same things, but Kansas State does them at a higher level. You know exactly what you’re going to get out of the Wildcats, and it’s not going to chance. NDSU will have a decent, efficient passing game, but its goal is to run the ball effectively. The Wildcat front seven sees what the Bison will try to do every day in practice. The key offensively will be the play of …

Who To Watch Out For: Jake Waters, a 6-2, 215-pound JUCO transfer from Iowa Western CC who earned the 2012 NJCAA Offensive Player of the Year honors hitting 73% of his passes for 3,501 yards and 39 scores with three picks. While he’s not Daniel Sams or Collin Klein as a runner, he’s mobile enough to take off from time to time to go along with his solid, accurate passing arm.
What Will Happen: This should be a really, really fun game between two strong, sound teams that won’t screw up. The defenses are good enough to keep the score low, but the Kansas State offense will be more efficient and more effective with Waters coming up with a break out game. NDSU will key on KSU running back John Hubert, but Waters will step up.
Prediction: Kansas State 23 … North Dakota State 14
Line: Kansas State -13
Must See Rating: (5 Hard Knocks – 1 ‘N Sync on the VMAs) … 3