Big 12 Fearless Predictions, Sept. 1, Part 2
Posted Aug 27, 2007

Previews and Predictions for the Week 1 Big 12 Games, Part 2.

Big 12
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South Baylor | Oklahoma | Oklahoma State | Texas | Texas A&M | Texas Tech

Big 12 Week One Fearless Predictions

Big 12 Saturday, September 1

Arkansas State at Texas  7:00 PM
Why to watch: Texas gets a tune-up against a good-running Arkansas State team before dealing with TCU. The Longhorns have the overall talent, as always, to be in the mix for the national title, and with a pillow-soft early slate, outside of the date with the Horned Frogs, there will be plenty of time to get the kinks worked out before the Big 12 season. But first, the Horns have to stretch their legs against an ASU team that should be among the best at pounding the ball in the Sun Belt. There's enough talent on the ASU defense to keep this from being brutally ugly for a quarter or two.
Why Arkansas State might win: Don't laugh; ASU might have the best safeties in this game. Tyrell Johnson and Khayyam Burns are All-Sun Belt caliber playmakers, with Johnson possibly the best defender in the conference, while the cornerbacks might grow into the strength of the team. Yeah, it's easy to look great when no one's throwing the ball (NO ONE throws in the Sun Belt), but these guys really can play and they should be just good enough to keep the fantastic Longhorn receiving corps from exploding.
Why Texas might win: ASU has to run to win, and it's not going to be able to run. The O line is undergoing an overhaul, and this Texas front seven, especially up the middle, isn't exactly going to be pushed around. The ASU receiving corps is strong, but the offense isn't geared to get them the ball. If things go as planned, expect a lot of third and longs, and a lot of big plays made by the Texas secondary.
Who to watch: Over the next month, Texas needs its offensive line to go from decent to dominant. By no means is this a bad line, but it doesn't appear to be the type of line you'd expect at Texas. A steady rotation has to emerge, and depth needs to be developed. This is a perfect game to do a little of both. For ASU, Reggie Arnold is the best of a good running back corps that has to be at least average to keep Texas from winning by 50.
What will happen: Texas will take about two drives to heat up, and then it'll be able to call its shot. Arkansas State is a good Sun Belt team that won't be able to move the ball at all if the Longhorn defense is trying.
CFN Prediction: Texas 48 ... Arkansas State 6 ... Line: Texas -39
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) ... 1.5
Final Score: 

North Texas at Oklahoma  7:00 PM
Why to watch: The last time we saw Oklahoma, Boise State was pulling out every gimmick play ever invented to pull off a miraculous David win over Goliath in the Fiesta Bowl. Now OU might be a bit of a national afterthought considering the loss to the Broncos, the lack of a proven starting quarterback, and the loss of Adrian Peterson to the Minnesota Vikings. Don't shed any tears, this is one of the best teams in America and it'll look to prove it ... next week. Miami comes to Norman in a fun non-conference matchup, but before we can all get on to bigger and better things, OU has to dispose of a North Texas team with a new head coach, Texas high school coaching legend Todd Dodge, and a little more attitude after a few disastrous seasons.
Why North Texas might win: OU could fall for all the trick plays again. The only chance North Texas has of keeping this in the stratosphere is if OU completely falls apart. The Mean Green defense has good experience and a nice linebacking corps that should keep the Sooners from running wild in the first half. If new Sooner quarterback Sam Bradford is struggling, UNT will have to take advantage of every opportunity.
Why Oklahoma might win: Set off the fireworks if North Texas has more than 75 passing yards before the fourth quarter. Jamario Thomas and the running game won't go anywhere thanks to a rebuilding offensive line that'll struggle in the Sun Belt, much less against Oklahoma, while the Sooner secondary will erase the awful UNT receiving corps. The UNT defense doesn't have nearly enough of a pass rush to make Bradford sweat.
Who to watch: It's not like Oklahoma has had Peyton Manning, Tom Brady and Drew Brees in the program over the last several years. All the Sooner quarterback has to do is be efficient, make the throws that are there, and relax behind a fantastic offensive line. Bradford was a scout team star last year and should be more than just a caretaker for the offense, and in time, he could grow into the face of the program if he's allowed time to work through his mistakes. OU can beat North Texas without throwing a pass, but it'll need to bomb away a bit to see what it has in its new starter.
What will happen: OU might be playing North Texas, but it'll be trying to beat Boise State in the first half. Expect a lot of pent up frustration from that Fiesta Bowl to come out against a ridiculously overmatched Mean Green team that won't get a chance to see what its new offense can really do until the fourth quarter.
CFN Prediction: Oklahoma 52 ... North Texas 7 ... Line: Oklahoma -41
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) ... 1.5
Final Score: 

Central Michigan at Kansas   7:00 PM
Why to Watch: The last time Kansas played a MAC team, it got tagged in a stunning double-overtime loss to Toledo. Now the Jayhawks have an even tougher task against the defending MAC champion with enough talent to not only repeat, but to give KU a nightmare of an opener. CMU new head coach Butch Jones has a loaded team with 14 starters back including the league's best group of skill players. If Kansas can get by the opener, and doesn't get tripped up again by Toledo, it'll almost certainly be 4-0 going into the Big 12 opener at Kansas State. CMU has to face Toledo next week, while anything less than a great performance this week will be a big disappointment for the MAC, as well as the Chippewas.
Why Central Michigan Might Win: Is the KU pass defense going to be any better? The Jayhawks allowed way too many yards and only gets a few starters back in the back seven. CMU has the receivers to test out 2006's worst pass defense from the start, while the speedy running combination of Ontario Sneed and Justin Hoskins should be effective. Basically, QB Dan LeFevour and the boys should make this a shootout.
Why Kansas Might Win: Central Michigan's defense wasn't anything special last year, and even though it'll be decent at times throughout this year, it'll bend and bend and bend some more. If the KU offense can click right away, which isn't a given considering all the turmoil in the depth chart up until this week, it should be able to put up points and yards in bunches. Defensively, the small, quick KU linebacking corps should be able to generate decent pressure into the CMU backfield.
Who to Watch: Is the KU backfield finally settled? The much-publicized quarterback battle between Todd Reesing and Kerry Meier was won by Reesing, but head coach Mark Mangino has never been afraid to switch around his quarterbacks if the results aren't there. Meier has all the skills, but has been mistake-prone throughout his career. Reesing isn't big, but he can run and has a decent arm. Also getting a starting nod will be sophomore Jake Sharp as the team's tailback. He's a speedster who could potentially crank out home runs, but the power will come from Brandon McAnderson, the starting fullback who was also in the hunt for the starting tailback job.
What Will Happen: Don't expect much in the way of defense. Central Michigan will get just enough from its veteran D, especially up the middle with a big game from the tackles, to pull off the upset. Expect plenty of fireworks, lots of home runs, and momentum swing after momentum swing. This might be a case of the last team with the ball getting the win.
CFN Prediction: Central Michigan 34 ... Kansas 31
... Line: Kansas -7.5
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
Final Score: 

Montana State at Texas A&M  7:05 PM
Why to Watch: Montana State is no pushover. The Bobcats are coming off a good year, losing to eventual national champion Appalachian State in the playoffs, but on a national scale, they're known more for being the team that beat Colorado 19-10 in season opener. This is a solid, ranked team that'll need everything in the bag to have any shot of pulling off the shocker, but it has a good run defense and a potentially dangerous passing offense. A&M needs to come out roaring to kick off a light first three weeks of the season before traveling to Miami. Anything less than a blowout will get the Aggie nation grumbling.
Why Montana State Might Win: The Texas A&M pass defense will be merely average early on, and MSU will be more than happy to bomb away. Jack Rolovich, a former Hawaii Warrior, threw too many picks after taking over late last year after starter Cory Carpenter went down. They can both throw deep and they're both good enough to come up with a scoring drive or two if and when A&M gets up. The Aggies won't be able to relax even if they get out to a big lead.
Why Texas A&M Might Win: The MSU run defense might have been great last year, but facing the Aggie ground game is a completely different story. The O line appears to be the best yet in the Dennis Franchione era by far, and it'll take eight men in the box to deal with the running tandem of Mike Goodson and Jorvorskie Lane. QB Stephen McGee should be able to crank out short to midrange passes to his heart's content.
Who to Watch: Everything appears to be in place for A&M to have a big year, but there will be several close games and
sophomore Matt Szymanski has to produce. Layne Neumann was a rock-solid kicker, while Szymanski waited his turn despite being a highly touted recruit and missing several attempts early on last year. The coaching staff wants to see what the kicking game can do and if it can be relied on. There won't pressure situation in this game that Szymanski will have to deal with later on in the year, so if he misses, the panic sirens will go off.
What Will Happen: The Aggie ground game will keep the time of possession in its favor in a workmanlike, unspectacular win. Montana State will come up with a few big passes to get everyone squirming, but A&M will always respond.
CFN Prediction: Texas A&M 27 ... Montana State 14
... Line: No Line
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) ... 1
Final Score: 

Kansas State at Auburn 7:45 PM ESPN

Why to Watch: When we last saw Kansas State, it was unable to do much of anything in a lousy 37-10 Texas Bowl loss to against Rutgers. QB Josh Freeman couldn't throw, the defense couldn't tackle, and the team basically looked like it needed to go back to the drawing bowl. A good showing here would change all of that. When we last saw Auburn, it looked underwhelming in a 17-14 Cotton Bowl win over Nebraska. Sort of in the national title hunt all season long, but not really, the Tigers couldn't seem to get their mojo back after a midstretch against a slew of overmatched teams. While an impressive win over the Wildcats wouldn't necessarily mean it's time to start booking tickets for New Orleans, it would do a lot to ease concerns about what the team might be able to do, and a little confidence would be nice before a tough battle with South Florida next week.
Why Kansas State Might Win: The Wildcats have to take advantage of an Auburn offensive line that's still a work in progress. While the Tigers won't be awful up front, they lose four starters and have to deal with a defense that finished sixth in the nation in sacks and 18th in tackles for loss. The new Wildcat 3-4 D should free up Ian Campbell to wreak even more havoc; Auburn QB Brandon Cox could be under pressure all day long.
Why Auburn Might Win: Is the Kansas State offensive line ready to be under attack from Quentin Groves and the Tiger defensive line? Yes, in theory, but all the experience and all the depth doesn't account for much without the tackles to keep Freeman upright for a full sixty minutes. For Kansas State to win, the skill players need room to roam and can't be pressured too much by the speedy Tiger D. That won't happen. Expect plenty of mistakes and just enough turnovers to give Cox and the offense short fields to work with. On the other side of the ball, the KSU defense can be shoved around against the run. Auburn's O line might not be ready for prime time, but it doesn't have to create much room for the speedy backs to produce.
Who to Watch: All eyes will be on the quarterbacks. Cox has to go from caretaker to playmaker, and he has to make his mediocre receiving corps shine. That could be a problem considering the pass rush he'll likely face, and the good KSU secondary that could grow into the team's strength. This is his team now. For the Wildcats, the season, and each game, will depend on the play of Freeman. Can he be the confident bomber who managed to overcome adversity and beat Texas, or will he be the lost passer who completed just ten of 21 passes for 129 yards and two interceptions against Rutgers and was lousy in spring ball?
What Will Happen: Kansas State will get its licks in on defense and should force a few mistakes, but the Auburn defense will make the Wildcats look worse in an ugly, mistake-filled game.
CFN Prediction:
Auburn 27 ... Kansas State 14 ... Line: Auburn -13.5
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
Final Score: 

Big 12 Monday, September 3

Texas Tech at SMU  4:00 PM ESPN
Why to watch
: The game of the week in Conference USA has the potential to be an old-fashioned shootout with major ramifications for the Mustangs.  Long-suffering SMU has been building to this point, where a post-season game is a realistic goal for the first time in almost a quarter century, and beating a team like Texas Tech is more than just a hopeful possibility.  The Mustangs finally have a franchise quarterback to rally around in sophomore Justin Willis and 16 returning starters that are itching to make history.  An upset of Texas Tech would be a post-death penalty milestone, while providing a springboard for the rest of the season.  The sky isn’t falling in Lubbock, but for the first time in the Mike Leach era, the Red Raiders will be doing some rebuilding.  Oh, Tech will be Tech in the passing game, especially with QB Graham Harrell back, but with so many holes to plug on both sides of the ball, a winning season is not the lock it’s been the last few years.
Why Texas Tech might win: This is Texas Tech, so prolific passing numbers are the norm regardless of the personnel.  The Red Raiders are going to be especially prolific through the air against a Mustang defense that has three gaping holes on the defensive line and loads of youth in the secondary.  Without any pressure, Harrell will pick apart the SMU D for 400 yards, turning receivers Danny Amendola and Michael Crabtree into two of the opening weekend’s statistical stars.
Why SMU might win: Heading into the season, the biggest concern for Texas Tech is a front seven that was gutted by graduations and is dangerously short on depth and experience.  Led by Ben Poynter and Caleb Peveto, SMU has a veteran line that’ll give Willis time to do damage on underneath routes and open holes for bruising RB DeMyron Martin.  The Red Raiders are going to score, but the Mustangs know they can keep pace on offense as long as all the parts are working. Defensively, they have to hope Harrell has one of his bounce-pass games, like he had at times last year when the offense simply didn’t work.  With a slew of new receivers, it’s possible.
Who to watch: Willis was outstanding as a freshman despite getting no help from the running game.  If Martin can revert back to his 2005 form when he rushed for 854 yards, the Mustang offense will be downright lethal.  At 6-2 and 230 pounds, he’s healthy, focused, and determined to punish that suspect interior of the Red Raider defense. For Tech, top back Shannon Woods finally appears to be out of the doghouse having worked his way back into the good graces of the coaching staff. While he’s not back as the full-time starter quite yet, he’s no longer fourth string like he was coming out of spring ball. Sophomore Kobey Lewis will get plenty of work.
What will happen: If you’re SMU, now is the time to catch a Texas Tech program that’s clearly in transition with new starters everywhere.  In November, the outcome would be different, but in the opener, the Mustangs will get some late-game heroics from Willis and a defining upset win to start the 2007 season.
CFN Prediction: SMU 37 … Texas Tech 35 ... Line: Texas Tech -9.5
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
Final Score: 


Big 12 Week One Fearless Predictions


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