Big 12 Fearless Predictions, Sept. 1
Posted Aug 27, 2007

Previews and Predictions for the Week 1 Big 12 Games.

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Big 12 Week One Fearless Predictions, Part 2

Big 12 Fearless Predictions Sept. 8 | Sept. 15Sept. 22 | Sept. 29 
 Oct. 6Oct. 13 | Oct. 20Oct. 27 | Nov. 3Nov. 10 | Nov. 17Nov. 24Dec. 1

Big 12 Game of the Week

Oklahoma State at Georgia  6:45 PM ESPN2
Why to Watch: This falls under the category of mega-statement games for two very good programs that'll be sleepers (if that's possible for Georgia) in their respective division races, and for two power conferences. Oklahoma State is loaded with the type of speed and athleticism that SEC fans like to brag about on a regular basis. This is the ultimate feast-or-famine, home run hitting team that can put up points in bunches, and it's a team Georgia needs to be really, really scared off. The Dawgs are solid on both sides of the ball, but they might have to be spectacular to avoid the upset. If Georgia wins this game easily, it means it'll be a major contender for the SEC title. For the Cowboys, this is the game that could put the Mike Gundy era on the national map.
Why Oklahoma State Might Win: Georgia's secondary isn't exactly a weakness, but it'll certainly be a question mark to start the year, while defensive starting experience is a major problem at all spots. A number one corner has to emerge right away after the loss of Paul Oliver to academic issues, and that means future NFL starting WR Adarius Bowman should require way too much attention from the safeties. The more the defensive backs have to hang back, the more openings for the OSU ground game.
Why Georgia Might Win: Is Oklahoma State the real deal? Yeah, there are more than enough athletes to run with Georgia all day long, and it was able to beat Alabama rather easily in the Independence Bowl, but this is still the type of team that can beat anyone, but can lose to anyone. The Cowboy defensive line is average, the secondary is questionable, and there's no sure-thing number two receiver on the other side of Bowman. If Georgia's young and inexperienced O line is ready to roll, the Bulldog ground game should equal the OSU production.
Who to Watch: SEC fans, get ready to see the best twosome of backs you might see all year (or at least a close number two behind those guys in Fayetteville). 5-9, 195-pound Dantrell Savage averaged 6.5 yards per carry last year and has the warp-wheels to crank out yards in chunks. Keith Toston is a bigger back who can also hit the home run from anywhere on the field. These two need to shine, and QB Bobby Reid has to take his rushing yards when he can get them, to have a shot at pulling off the upset.
What Will Happen: If Oklahoma State can keep its head for a full sixty minutes and doesn't panic when Matthew Stafford and the Bulldog offense gets the momentum on its side, it can pull off the upset. The Dawg O line is still too green, the receiving corps too average, and the secondary too suspect to beat a team as good as OSU if it's playing up to its capability.
CFN Prediction: Oklahoma State 27 ... Georgia 20
... Line: Georgia -6.5
Must See Rating: (5 Hef wants you to take his place on The Girls Next Door, but you can’t because you have to watch this game - 1 Cavemen) ... 4
Final Score: 

Big 12 Thursday, August 30

Kent State at Iowa State  8:00 PM 
Why to watch: Iowa State played Toledo in last year’s apparently no-big-deal opener, and it turned out to be one of the most exciting games of the first half of the year. This might not be a triple-overtime thriller, but it will be a great duel between Iowa State’s Bret Meyer and Kent State’s Julian Edelman, a pair of underrated playmakers who might just be the best quarterbacks in their respective conferences.  Despite limited support, Meyer begins the year as the Cyclones’ all-time leading passer, while Edelman was a sparkplug in his first year out of the College of San Mateo (Calif.), throwing for 1,859 yards and ten touchdowns, and rushing 658 yards and seven scores.  The game also marks the debut of Iowa State head coach Gene Chizik, who had a wildly successful career as a defensive coordinator and brings some much-needed energy to Ames.  Don’t, however, expect miracles right away, or at least until the coach can upgrade the level of talent, especially along the lines.  Kent will be seeking stability this fall after being maddeningly schizophrenic a year ago.  Edelman is the clear-cut catalyst for the Flashes, but needs more help if the program is going to pick off a major conference opponent for the first time since 1987.
Why Kent State might win: Iowa State has a very beatable defense that just might be the Big 12’s worst heading into the season.  Besides tackling machine Alvin Bowen, this is a painfully pedestrian crew that’ll labor to contain Edelman and mighty-mite RB Eugene Jarvis.  Defensively, the Flashes are just feisty enough with DE Kevin Hogan and DT Colin Ferrell to frustrate a patchwork Cyclone offensive line.
Why Iowa State might win: Although Kent State’s defense may hold up against MAC opponents, it lacks the speed, size and depth to shut down Iowa State’s playmakers, namely Meyer and his favorite target, Todd Blythe.  Kent CB Jack Williams is a good one with blazing speed, but at just over 5-8, will be giving away almost nine inches and a lot of upper body strength to the 6-5 Blythe.  Against an undersized Kent front, the Cyclones will also establish a ground presence with…
Who to watch: J.J. Bass, one of the highest rated JUCO backs in the nation last year and a big coup for Iowa State.  He’ll share carries with Jason Scales, but Bass has the 4.4 speed in a 215-pound frame that’ll make it impossible to keep him off the field as the season develops.
What will happen: Expect a pre-season feel, as both schools search for consistency and starters in key areas.  Much like last season, poor play on special teams will cost Kent State a game that’s it’s capable of pulling out. 
CFN Prediction: Iowa State 27 … Kent State 20 ... Line: Iowa State -3.5
Must See Rating: (5 Hef wants you to take his place on The Girls Next Door, but you can’t because you have to watch this game - 1 Cavemen) ... 2

Big 12 Saturday, September 1

Colorado State at Colorado  12:00 PM
Why to watch: A pair of intense rivals coming off awful seasons would like nothing more than a fast start and to add to the other program’s misery.  This is supposed to be a bounce-back year for each team, but that’ll end with a crashing thud for the loser. After Colorado reached bedrock with a 2-10 record last year, it’ll slowly begin the climb back toward prominence with head coach Dan Hawkins leading the way.  While the defense will carry the team in the early going, the biggest strides will be seen with an offense that couldn’t get out of its way in 2006.  The coach’s son, Cody, will be behind center, and despite being young and just 5-11, will prove to be a much better fit for the attack than Bernard Jackson was last year.  Colorado won’t be a favorite often this year, so this is close to a must-win situation.  Over the last 40 games, Colorado State has gone 16-24, and been a shell of the program that rocked from 1994-2003.  Optimism for a return to prosperity comes in the form of 18 returning starters and the re-emergence of RB Kyle Bell, who missed all of last year with a knee injury.  A 6-2, 230-pound hammer, he’ll be looking to regain the form that led to 1,288 yards rushing and ten touchdowns in 2005.
Why Colorado might win: Lost in the Buffs’ implosion a year ago was the fact that defensive coordinator Ron Collins laid the foundation of a solid unit that stopped the run and created takeaways with its aggressive style.  Much of that group returns, including tackles George Hypolite and Brandon Nicolas, outside backers Jordon Dizon and Brad Jones, and Terrence Wheatley is a true shutdown corner.  Colorado will corral Bell in his return to action, turning mistake-prone QB Caleb Hanie into the focal point of the Ram offense.
Why Colorado State might win: Can the Buffaloes score enough to win this game? Hawkins will eventually be an upgrade at quarterback, but not this early in his career, or in front of 75,000 insane fans at Invesco Field.  Like Colorado, Colorado State can play a little D as well.  The Rams welcome back nine defensive starters and crackerjack punter Jimmie Kaylor, who’ll give the Buffs a long field to navigate all afternoon.  Even if Bell doesn’t crank out huge numbers, his presence alone is going to an emotional jolt to Colorado State.
Who to watch: Bell’s return from a serious knee injury will make headlines, but the main storyline will be Hawkins’ debut as Colorado’s starting quarterback.  He’ll have his baptism under fire in front of a rabid audience and in the face of a hostile opponent.  Hawkins has been running this offense since he was in diapers, but will need help from an average line and a vanilla set of receivers.
What will happen: As always, the intensity in Denver will be a mile high.  Offensive execution, however, will not.  In a nip-and-tuck defensive struggle, Colorado will make a late stop to preserve an emotional and poignant victory.
CFN Prediction: Colorado 23 … Colorado State 19 ... Line: Colorado -3
Must See Rating: (5 Hef wants you to take his place on The Girls Next Door, but you can’t because you have to watch this game - 1 Cavemen) ... 3

Nevada at Nebraska  3:30 PM ABC
Why to watch: Don't look ahead ... don't look ahead ... don't look ahead. You'll have to forgive Nebraska fans if they're just a wee bit excited for the coming weeks with a trip to face defending ACC champion Wake Forest coming next week followed up with the showdown that's basically been five years in the making for the Husker program when USC comes to town. In the meantime, there's still a lot to cover, with Sam Keller taking over the quarterback reins and needing to get his feet wet in what could be the most dynamic passing attack in school history. Nevada is in a true transition phase, with a good team that should be far, far better after a few games under its belt. The Wolf Pack won't be a pushover and should keep it competitive for at least a half.
Why Nevada might win: The Wolf Pack should be able to keep the Nebraska ground game in relative check. The Husker offensive line is good, but not a killer, while Nevada's strength early on should be in the defensive front, more importantly, in the linebacking corps. This is a tougher team than Husker fans might realize, and it has the strength to force Keller to be the one to keep the offense moving.
Why Nebraska might win: It's never, ever a good thing when a team is still uncertain about its starting quarterback situation this late in the summer. Nevada's average offensive line should have big problems early on if the Huskers can generate any semblance of a pass rush, while the Pack secondary will have a hard time with the Nebraska receivers if they get on a roll. This might be a good Nevada team that should be in the WAC title race, but it's not quite as strong as its been in previous years, and it's not the same team that gave Miami such a hard time in the MPC Computers Bowl.
Who to watch: Nevada's starting quarterback won't be under the microscope like Keller, but he'll still need to be efficient to keep this from being ugly. Trying to replace long-time starter Jeff Rowe will be either Nick Graziano or Colin Kaepernick, who can both run and who can each lead the offense. Graziano has a little bit of experience with great skills, while the rail-thin 6-6 Kaepernick has to throw like a tall player and has to be consistent. Also not throwing up to his size is Keller, who'll be overanalyzed by the pro scouts as well as the more demanding Husker fans. Keller tends to drop down on his throws, but that won't matter if he's making plays. He has to show that this is his offense and his team from the first drive.
What will happen: Nevada will be plucky, and should be good enough defensively to hang around for a little while, but the Huskers will have too much pop on both sides of the ball. After about 20 minutes, this will start to look like a special Nebraska team.
CFN Prediction: Nebraska 38 ... Nevada 14 ... Line: Nebraska -19.5
Must See Rating: (5 Hef wants you to take his place on The Girls Next Door, but you can’t because you have to watch this game - 1 Cavemen) ... 2.5

Missouri at Illinois  3:30 PM Big Ten Network
Why to Watch: Of all the Big Ten and Big 12 week one games, few are more intriguing when it comes to two programs in search of a 2007 identity. Missouri appeared to finally be on its way to turning the corner and becoming a Big 12 powerhouse, at least in the North, and then it lost four of its final five games, bottoming out with a choke (there's simply no other word for it) against Oregon State in the Sun Bowl. If it's ever going to happen in the Gary Pinkel era, it has to happen this year with the most talented and loaded team Missouri has had in decades. It's a different story for an Illinois program that's won just four games in the Ron Zook era, including a seven-game losing streak to end last year. However, the buzz around Champaign is deafening with a few jaw-dropping recruiting classes yielding as many good young players as anyone in the Big Ten. Basically, if Missouri is as good as it's supposed to be, it wins a game like this without a problem, and if Illinois is as good as it's expected to become, it finds a way to pull off an upset here and announces that things have finally changed.
Why Missouri Might Win: For all the headlines and all the hullabaloo around the Illini, there are still mega-question marks for the young team. The passing game will be an ongoing work in progress, the running game, outside of the scrambling of QB Juice Williams, should be mediocre, and the defensive line should have problems with a good Missouri O line. The Tigers are just good enough defensively to keep the Illini from exploding, while the Mizzou offense should be able to mix it up just enough to keep control of the game throughout. Until Williams, one of 2006's most inefficient passers, can prove he can throw the forward pass with any semblance of consistency, Mizzou should be able to load up against the run.
Why Illinois Might Win: Even with all the expectations on Zook and the Illini, all the pressure is on Missouri, and over the last few years under Pinkel, that hasn't been a positive. You can almost see Mizzou tighten up when the heat is on as it tries to do too much, tries to make too many plays that aren't there, and misses on the plays it needs to make to pull off the tough wins. At least that's been the past for the Tigers. It might be cliché, but the longer the Illini can hang around, the looser it should be, thanks to a playmaker like Williams who can make things happen with his legs and his arm, and a defense that should be able to keep the Tigers from running outside, thanks to J Leman and the great linebacking corps.
Who to Watch: Can the Illinois linebackers handle the Missouri tight ends? The Tigers have a special tandem in Martin Rucker and Chase Coffman, who should allow QB Chase Daniel to dink and dunk to his heart's content against most teams with mediocre linebackers. The Illinois secondary is decent, but nothing special, and if it has to cheat up to help out on the tight ends, Will Franklin should be able to make big plays deep. The 210-pound Antonio Steele is more like a safety playing linebacker, and he has to come through with a strong performance against the pass, while Leman has to be able to focus as much as possible on keeping Daniel from roaming.
What Will Happen: Illinois still has to prove it can win against anyone, much less against a team good enough to contend for the Big 12 title. By the end of the year, the young Illini might be mature enough to pull off a win like this, and it'll certainly tag one of the Big Ten's big boys along the way, but Missouri is simply too good all across the board.
CFN Prediction: Missouri 27 ... Illinois 17
... Line: Missouri -5
Must See Rating: (5 Hef wants you to take his place on The Girls Next Door, but you can’t because you have to watch this game - 1 Cavemen) ... 3.5
Final Score: 

Baylor at TCU  6:00 PM
Why to watch: If TCU is to remain the trendy pick to be this year’s Boise State, it has to neatly dispose of Baylor and start getting ready for next week’s monumental trip down I-35 to face Texas.  Ranked No. 22 in both major pre-season polls, the Horned Frogs will be playing with a target on their backs throughout the season.  To be sure, there are holes to fill on offense, but RB Aaron Brown has a high ceiling, and the all-to-the-ball defense has the parts to be downright impervious for a second straight year.  Just how special the 2007 season becomes will depend heavily on the development of QB Andy Dalton, a rangy redshirt freshman who’ll be replacing the ultra-steady Jeff Ballard.  For what feels like the 20th year in-a-row, Baylor is rebuilding, and looking up at a very deep Big 12 South.  The situation at quarterback is a mess, a real problem in the spread attack, and the running game will try to pick up the pieces after finishing last in the country in 2006.  Sophomore LB Joe Pawelek is a bright spot, but Baylor would need ten more players like him to get into the bowl discussion.
Why Baylor might win: The Bears get a break by facing a young quarterback that has unproven receivers and will be playing in his first game at this level.  With Pawelek and Nick Moore at linebacker, and Dwain Crawford and Jeremy Williams at safety, Baylor can pay less attention to the pass while focusing on stopping Brown.  Despite being a heavy favorite, TCU doesn’t have the offensive experience to run away and hide in this game.
Why TCU might win: The Frog D is every bit as good as advertised.  Nine starters are back, including the sensational pass-rush tandem of Tommy Blake and Chase Ortiz, from a unit that was No. 2 in total defense last year.  Expect the Bear passing game to sputter and cough under the intense pressure from the outside. With so much uncertainty at quarterback in Waco, and a non-existent running game, no one should be surprised if TCU hurls a shutout Saturday evening.
Who to watch: At least for the time being, Brown will be the most important—and exhausted—member of the TCU offense.  No longer a part of a committee, he’s got the talent as a runner and receiver to explode this fall, and even be a deep, deep Heisman sleeper if the Frogs keep winning. Even with the focus on the running game, all eyes will be on Dalton. His early development will be one of the keys to the Mountain West race. Everything is in place for TCU to be special, but it’ll all fall apart if Dalton isn’t decent.
What will happen: One Big 12 team down, and one to go.  With the defense predictably leading the way and creating turnovers, TCU will never be threatened.
CFN Prediction: TCU 30 … Baylor 13 ... Line: TCU -21
Must See Rating: (5 Hef wants you to take his place on The Girls Next Door, but you can’t because you have to watch this game - 1 Cavemen) ... 2
Final Score:

Big 12 Week One Fearless Predictions, Part 2


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