2007 Colorado Buffaloes

Posted Dec 31, 2007

2007 Colorado Buffaloes Season, Game Recaps, Scores and Reviews

2007 Colorado Buffaloes

Recap: The Buffaloes' four-game improvement from 2006 and 15 additional practices that came with an Independence Bowl berth were exactly what Dan Hawkins needed in his second year in Boulder.  Colorado finished a respectable third place in the Big 12 North, showing some life on offense, and beating Oklahoma and Nebraska in the same year for the first time since 1990.  Just when the offense started to click in the second half, however, the defense sprung unexpected leaks, allowing an average of 36 points over the final seven games.          

Offensive Player of the Year: QB Cody Hawkins

Defensive Player of the Year: LB Jordon Dizon

Biggest Surprise: The Sept. 29 upset of No. 3 Oklahoma was a blockbuster win for Hawkins and the entire Colorado program.  The Buffs stormed back with 20 unanswered points in the second half, leaving the Sooners stunned after Kevin Eberhart booted a 45-yard game-winning field goal as time expired.    

Biggest Disappointment: The Buffaloes had absolutely no business losing to Iowa State on Nov. 10, particularly after opening up a 21-0 halftime lead on the 2-8 Cyclones.  Colorado disappeared in the second half, getting outscored 31-7 in a collapse that cost the program a winning season.

Looking Ahead: Colorado will be looking to build on last year's momentum by adding another win or two to the final record.  While a winning season for the first time since 2005 will be another brick in the wall, a Kansas-like leap into prominence isn't likely in 2008 with a schedule that includes trips to Florida State, Missouri and Kansas, and visits from West Virginia and Texas.

- 2007 Colorado Preview
- 2006 Colorado Season

2007 Schedule
CFN Prediction:
2007 Record: 6-7

Sept. 1 Colorado St W 31-28 OT
Sept. 8 at Arizona St L 33-14
Sept. 15 Florida State L 16-6
Sept. 22
Miami Univ. W 42-0
Sept. 29 Oklahoma W 27-24
Oct. 6
at Baylor W 43-23
Oct. 13 at Kansas St L 47-20
Oct. 20
Kansas L 19-14
Oct. 27 at Texas Tech W 31-26
Nov. 3
Missouri L 55-10
Nov. 10 at Iowa State L 31-28
Nov. 23 Nebraska W 65-51
Independence Bowl
Dec. 30 Alabama L 30-24

Dec. 30
2007 Independence Bowl
Alabama 30 ... Colorado 24

Alabama was unstoppable early on as QB John Parker Wilson hit 13 of his first 15 passes with a 15-yard touchdown throw to Keith Brown, and 34-yard play to Matt Caddell, and a 31-yard strike to Nikita Stover on the way to a 27-0 lead early in the second quarter. And then the Tide took its foot off the gas as Wilson went ice cold for the rest of the first half allowing the Buffs to get back in the game with two Cody Hawkins touchdown passes. Colorado pulled within ten on a 39-yard Kevin Eberhart field goal, but Alabama got up 13 on Leigh Tiffin's third field goal of the game coming with just under five minutes to play. Colorado wouldn't go away as Hawkins hit Tyson DeVree from 14 yards out for his second score of the game. The Buff D held, but there was only one second left on the clock. Alabama had to sweat out a few laterals on a final play, but got out with the win.
Offensive Player of the Game: Alabama QB John Parker Wilson completed 19 of 32 passes for 256 yards and three touchdowns with an interception, and ran four times for 24 yards
Defensive Player of the Game: Alabama S Rashad Johnson made 13 tackles and broke up a pass, and DE Wallace Gilberry made eight tackles, a sack and five tackles for loss
Stat Leaders: Alabama - Passing: John Parker Wilson, 19-32, 256 yds, 3 TD, 1 INT
Rushing: Glen Coffee, 19-72. Receiving: Matt Caddell, 4-76, 1 TD
Colorado - Passing: Cody Hawkins, 24-39, 322 yds, 3 TD, 2 INT
Hugh Charles, 14-69. Receiving:
Tyson DeVree, 9-94, 2 TD
Thoughts & Notes ... For about 20 minutes, Alabama QB John Parker Wilson showed why he has the potential to be one of the SEC's best offensive weapons, and then for the last 40 minutes he showed why there might be a big battle for the starting job going into next year. Consistency is his problem, but when he's on, the Bama offense hums. ... Colorado QB Cody Hawkins wasn't always sharp, but he's a gamer, and was tough as nails against a good Tide pass rush, which showed up with decent pressure for one of the few times this year. He did a fantastic of spreading the ball around and taking what the Tide defense gave him. He'll be an interesting player to keep an eye on over the next few years. He's only a freshman. ... This is a young Buff team that's still rebuilding, and while ending the season with a loss is never a positive, it was a good showing after a rough start. ... Nick Saban can breathe a big sigh of relief. Of course he's not an any sort of a hot seat, but after the way the team finished out the regular season with four straight losses, including the gaffe to UL Monroe and the defeat at Auburn, this would've been a disaster had the Tide blown a 27-0 lead. Saban hand the coaching staff had the best of all possible worlds getting the win, but being able to rail on the team all offseason for not putting it away earlier.

Nov. 23
Colorado 65 ... Nebraska 51
In a wild shootout with Nebraska cranking out 610 yards of total offense to Colorado's 518, the Buffs got three Hush Charles touchdown runs, a 31-yard Jimmy Smith interception return for a touchdown, and a ten-yard Scotty McKnight scoring grab in a 34-point second half run to turn the game around. Maurice Purify caught two of his three touchdown passes in the final 2:08 of the game, but to no avail. Joe Ganz bombed away for 484 yards and four touchdowns for the Huskers, and an for a score, but he also threw three interceptions. Colorado's Jordon Dizon made 18 tackles.
Player of the game: Colorado RB Hugh Charles ran 33 times for 169 yards and three touchdowns and caught a pass for 33 yards.
Stat Leaders: Colorado - Passing: Cody Hawkins, 17-29, 241 yds, 2 TD
Rushing: Hugh Charles, 33-169, 3 TD. Receiving: Tyson DeVree, 4-51, 1 TD
Nebraska - Passing: Joe Ganz, 31-58, 484 yds, 4 TD, 3 INT
Marlon Lucky, 12-69, 1 TD. Receiving:
Maurice Purify, 11-136, 3 TD
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ...  
Consistency has been a problem all season long for Colorado. Beat Oklahoma, get waxed by Kansas State. Play well in a loss to Kansas, get blasted by Missouri. Lose to Iowa State, obliterate Nebraska with a breathtaking offensive performance, especially after making halftime adjustments. With near-perfect balance and without making the key mistakes Nebraska did, the Buffs were able to come up with the type of offensive game everyone was expecting out of the Dan Hawkins' team. Going ten of 16 on third down chances, while holding the Huskers to 2 of 11 certainly helped matters. Of course, it came against a dying Nebraska, but whatever; CU is bowl eligible.

Nov. 10
Iowa State 31 ... Colorado 28
In a strange and wild game, Iowa State rallied from a 21-0 deficit with Todd Blythe touchdown catches from 12 and 55 yards out and Alexander Robinson touchdown runs from 13 and nine yards out. But Colorado would come back with a nine-yard Scotty McKnight catch to make it a three-point game, and then the craziness kicked in. The Buffs got the ball back and got in a position for Scott Eberhart to try a 50-yard field goal. He nailed it, but Colorado got hit with a delay of game penalty. Eberhart hit the 55-yarder, but the officials ruled that time had expired and that the snap didn't get off in time.
Player of the game: Iowa State WR Todd Blythe caught four passes for 124 yards and two scores
Stat Leaders: Colorado - Passing: Cody Hawkins, 23-40, 262 yds, 2 TD
Rushing: Hugh Charles, 21-83, 1 TD. Receiving: Scotty McKnight, 5-54, 1 TD
Iowa State - Passing: Bret Meyer, 9-19, 149 yds, 2 TD, 1 INT
Rushing: Alexander Robinson, 29-127, 2 TD. Receiving: Todd Blythe, 4-124, 2 TD
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... Alright, so Colorado sort of got screwed on the final field goal attempt against Iowa State, with the officials and the clock operator a bit too quick on the draw, but that's the least of the team's problems. It had a 21-0 lead and blew it against an anemic Cyclone offense. If the Buffs can't handle Iowa State's passing game in the clutch, how's it going to deal with Nebraska's air show next week? With four losses in five games, a near-certain bowl season might now be gone unless the team rallies and plays a sharp game when it travels to Lincoln in two weeks.

Nov. 3
Missouri 55 ... Colorado 10
Missouri QB Chase Daniel's first pass was picked off, and Colorado took advantage getting a two-yard Byron Ellis touchdown run. That would be Daniel's only mistake of the day, as he hooked up three times with Chase Coffman for scores from 25, 23 and five yards out, and threw two other touchdown passes, highlighted by a 46-yard play to Jeremy Maclin as the Tigers overcame an early 10-7 deficit to score 48 unanswered points. The Tigers rolled up 598 yards of total offense to Colorado's 196, and forced the Buffs to punt 11 times.
Player of the game: Missouri QB Chase Daniel completed 26 of 44 passes for 421 yards and five touchdowns with an interception, and ran six times for 24 yards
Stat Leaders: Missouri - Passing: Chase Daniel 26-44, 421 yds, 5 TD, 1 INT
Rushing: Derrick Washington, 8-48, 1 TD. Receiving: Jeremy Maclin, 6-108, 1 TD
Colorado - Passing: Cody Hawkins, 12-25, 100 yds
Hugh Charles, 14-55. Receiving: Dusty Sprague, 4-43
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... The Buffs didn't have any hope of keeping up the pace with Missouri once things started to get ugly. This was a horrible all-around game, with five fumbles (losing two of them), 12 penalties, three of 17 third down conversions, and little production from a secondary that was so brilliant the week before against Texas Tech. There's still time to close out strong with Iowa State and Nebraska, the lightweights of the North, to close out the regular season, but to win those, Cody Hawkins has to throw far, far better than he has over the last few weeks. He needs more help from his receivers to make more plays.

Oct. 27
Colorado 31 ... Texas Tech 26
Colorado picked off Texas Tech's Graham Harrell four times with Terrence Washington getting three, and Jordon Dizon taking one 42 yards for a score. Hugh Charles started off the scoring with a 31-yard touchdown run, and all but put the game away late in the third on a six-yard scoring grab. The Red Raiders rallied with a 19-yard Michael Crabtree scoring catch and with two minutes to go, a seven-yard Edward Britton scoring grab, but the Buffs held on. CU outgained Texas Tech 217 yards to 39 on the ground.
Player of the game: Colorado RB Hugh Charles ran 20 times for 121 yards and a touchdown, and led the team with five catches for 26 yards and a score, and CB Terrence Washington made 3.5 tackles, three interceptions, and broke up a pass.
Stat Leaders: Colorado - Passing: Cody Hawkins, 15-26, 123 yds, 2 TD
Rushing: Hugh Charles, 20-121, 1 TD. Receiving: Hugh Charles, 5-26, 1 TD
Texas Tech - Passing: Graham Harrell, 46-62, 431 yds, 3 TD, 4 INT
Aaron Crawford, 2-31 Receiving: Michael Crabtree, 12-131, 1 TD
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... Colorado pulled off a strong win over Texas Tech with good defensive pressure and excellent offensive balance. Cody Hawkins threw just well enough to keep the Red Raiders on their heels, while Hugh Charles showed why he might be worthy of First Team All-Big 12 consideration. With Missouri ahead, this was a huge win to keep bowl hopes alive. Beat the Tigers, and then it'll be time to make plans for a nice 13th game with Iowa State and Nebraska, both likely wins, to finish.

Oct. 20
Kansas 19 ... Colorado 14
Kansas didn't get the offense consistently working, but it capitalized on almost every opportunity, with two Scott Webb field goals, a two-yard Jake Sharp run, and early in the fourth quarter, a four-yard Derek Fine touchdown catch for a 19-7 lead. And then Colorado bombed its way back into the game with Cody Hawkins finding Byron Ellis for a five-yard touchdowns with just under four minutes to play. The Buffs got one last shot, but couldn't get out of its own end. CU outgained KU 353 yards to 333.
Player of the game: Kansas LB James Holt made 15 tackles with two tackles for loss
Stat Leaders: Kansas - Passing: Todd Reesing, 20-29, 153 yds, 1 TD
Rushing: Todd Reesing, 7-84. Receiving: Jake Sharp, 6-18
Colorado - Passing: Cody Hawkins, 27-44, 287 yds, 2 TD, 2 INT
Hugh Charles, 11-39. Receiving: Tyson DeVree, 7-90, 1 TD

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ...
It's hardly a moral victory for a team that beat Oklahoma, but the Buffs gave Kansas a nasty time. The defense did a great job of preventing the big play and letting the game get out of hand, and the offense was able to get back in the game late with a chance to pull it off at the end. The final drive never got going, but this was still a good showing in a loss for a young offense. Cody Hawkins can certainly bomb away, and now he has to do a better job of moving the chains. With a trip to Texas Tech coming next week, he'll have to rest his arm and make sure it's ready.

Oct. 13
Kansas State 47 ... Colorado 20
Kansas State got up 10-0 helped by a five-yard James Johnson run, but Colorado hung around in the first half on a one-yard Jake Behrens touchdown catch and two Kevin Eberhart field goals. But the Wildcats kept the Buffs at bay in the second half, with Deon Murphy catching a 28-yard touchdown pass and Courtney Herndon returning a blocked punt for a score. Johnson put the icing on the cake with a 68-yard scoring dash. Colorado's Jordon Dizon mad 11 tackles, while Kansas State's Justin McKinney led the way with 12 tackles and an interception.
Player of the game: Kansas State RB James Johnson ran 20 times for 159 yards and two touchdowns
Stat Leaders: Colorado - Passing: Cody Hawkins, 19-41, 223 yds, 1 TD, 3 INT
Rushing: Hugh Charles, 22-171, 1 TD. Receiving: Scotty McKnight, 6-63
Kansas State - Passing: Josh Freeman, 15-27, 214 yds, 1 TD
James Johnson, 20-159, 2 TD. Receiving: Jordy Nelson, 4-93

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... The Buffs are going to have games when things don't quite work right on offense. Cody Hawkins is still learning on the fly, and while he struggled against Kansas State, he had a few decent moments to compliment a fantastic day from Hugh Charles. Now he has to learn how to cut down on his mistakes on the road against aggressive defenses, and he'll have to be more accurate for CU to have a chance against Texas Tech in two weeks, and Kansas this week. He'll be consistent in time.

Oct. 6
Colorado 43 ... Baylor 23
Kevin Eberhart hit field goals from 41, 44, 54, 42 and 30 yards out, and Cody Hawkins threw two first half touchdown passes as Colorado rolled to an easy win. The Buffs got up 17-0 early on a seven-yard Demetrius Sumler touchdown catch, and answered a Baylor field goal with a three-yard Sumler run. Sumler also added a two-yard score  in the second half to help CU go up 40-9, before the Bears got a few late scores. The two teams combined for 21 penalties for 176 yards.
Player of the game: Colorado QB Cody Hawkins went 17-of-26 for 293 yards with two touchdowns and an interception.
Stat Leaders: Colorado - Passing: Cody Hawkins, 17-26, 293 yds, 2 TDs, 1 INT
Rushing: Hugh Charles, 20-122. Receiving: Dusty Sprague, 5-95, 1 TD
Baylor - Passing: Blake Szymanski, 36-60, 410 yds, 1 TD, 2 INTs
Brandon Whitaker, 11-26, 1 TD. Receiving: Brandon Whitaker, 11-166
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... Colorado did exactly what it was supposed to do to a team like Baylor, and impressively managed to come out rolling after the huge win over Oklahoma. There were too many penalties, two turnovers, and the secondary gave up 410 yards, but it was an easy win thanks to good offensive balance and an effective day from Cody Hawkins. For Colorado, it's not just about winning the big games; it's also about winning the games it's supposed to. Now another statement needs to be made against Kansas State next week.

Sept. 29
Colorado 27 ... Oklahoma 24
Kevin Eberhart nailed a 45-yard field goal as time ran out to cap a run of 20 unanswered Colorado points to stun Oklahoma. The Sooner offense came up with two Allen Patrick touchdown runs, from 34 and 17 yards out, and started off the scoring with a 13-yard Juaquin Iglesias grab, but the high-powered attack was held to just 230 yards of total offense with three turnovers. The Buff defense helped give the offense great field position over the final 20 minutes, with scoring drives of just 50, 62, 16 and 23 yards. Cody Hawkins connected with Tyson DeVree for a four-yard score, and Dusty Sprague for a 15-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter.
Player of the game: Colorado LB Jordan Dixon made 7.5 tackles and a sack
Stat Leaders: Colorado - Passing: Cody Hawkins, 22-36, 220 yds, 2 TD, 2 INT
Rushing: Hugh Charles, 24-110, 1 TD. Receiving: Hugh Charles, 5-48
Oklahoma - Passing: Sam Bradford, 8-19, 112 yds, 1 TD, 2 INT
Allen Patrick, 18-96, 2 TD. Receiving: Juaquin Iglesias, 2-15, 1 TD
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... Talk about a program-changing win, the upset over Oklahoma has just raised the bar. The offense did its part, with a gutty performance from RB Hugh Charles, and a tough game from QB Cody Hawkins, but this win was all about the defense. Jordon Dizon and company stuffed the Sooners time and again in the second half, setting things up for the offense to come through. Hawkins is a true gamer, finding ways to make plays time and again to keep the positive momentum going, but the tone was definitely set by the D. Now it's on to Baylor, and there can't be a letdown at this point. The team is playing too well.

Sept. 22
Colorado 42 ... Miami University 0
Colorado got two passing touchdowns and a rushing score from Cody Hawkins, and Hugh Charles ran for a 17-yard score in the blowout. The Buffs outgained Miami 634 yards to 139, and allowed just six first downs. The second quarter proved to be the end for the RedHawks, with CU getting three touchdowns, including a three-yard Patrick Devenny catch with 15 seconds to play in the first half. Brian Lockridge closed things out with a 43-yard touchdown run early in the fourth .
Player of the game: Colorado QB Cody Hawkins went 19-of-30 for 275 yards, two touchdowns, and two interceptions, while running twice for eight yards and another score.
Stat Leaders: Miami University - Passing: Daniel Raudabaugh, 11-32, 95 yds
Rushing: Austin Sykes, 9-29. Receiving: Eugene Harris, 3-22
Colorado - Passing: Cody Hawkins, 19-30, 275 yds, 2 TDs, 2 INTs
Hugh Charles, 17-123, 1 TD. Receiving: Scotty McKnight, 3-60
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... The program desperately needed an easy, blowout win just to get things flowing after struggling for the last two weeks. The defense was stifling against Miami University, but it was the offense, with 359 rushing yards and 275 through the air, that controlled the game throughout, holding the ball for 40:24. That's what the Buffs have to try to do against Oklahoma next week. Limit mistakes, get the running game going, and control the clock. This isn't an explosive enough team to come up with many, if any, home runs.

Sept. 15
Florida State 16 ... Colorado 6
Gary Cismesia hit thee field goals and Antone Smith tore off a 36-yard touchdown run as Florida State battled its way past Colorado. The Seminole offense sputtered and coughed all game long, but it appeared unstoppable compared to a Colorado attack that was stuffed for -27 rushing yards and could only manage an 11-yard Tyson DeVree touchdown catch in the final minutes. The two teams combined for a mere 500 yards of total offense.
Player of the game: Florida State DB Tony Carter made seven tackles, picked off two passes and made a tackle for loss
Stat Leaders: Florida State - Passing: Drew Weatherford, 8-18, 126 yds
Rushing: Antone Smith, 19-66, 1 TD. Receiving: Greg Carr, 3-61
Colorado - Passing: Cody Hawkins, 34-53, 306 yds, 1 TD, 2 INT
Demetrius Sumler, 8-14. Receiving: Scott McKnight, 6-62

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... Cody Hawkins threw for a ton of yards against Florida State, but the offense didn't go anywhere thanks to a non-existent running game. Even with Hugh Charles back, but limited, the Buffs weren't even remotely close to establishing anything on the ground. Despite all the problems, the defense did a great job, holding FSU to ten first downs and just 221 yards of total offense. This was an ugly game and an ugly loss, but the Buffs have to focus on beating Miami University, or it'll be a four-game losing streak with Oklahoma coming to town for the Big 12 opener.

Sept. 8
Arizona State 33 ... Colorado 14
Colorado jumped out to a 14-0 lead on a 35-yard Terrence Wheatley interception return for a score and a ten-yard Scotty McKnight touchdown catch, and then ASU took over with a 33-point run over two quarters to coast to the sloppy win. Rudy Carpenter threw three touchdown passes with two to Michael Jones. Kyle Williams caught a 22-yard touchdown pass on a brilliant Carpenter throw at the end of the first half on the drive following a 26-yard interception return for a score from Troy Nolan. Ryan Torian added a seven-yard touchdown run.
Player of the game ... Arizona State QB Rudy Carpenter completed 19 of 37 passes for 269 yards and three touchdowns with an interception
Stat Leaders: Colorado - Passing: Cody Hawkins, 16-43, 162 yds, 1 TD, 1 INT
Rushing: Demetrius Sumler, 16-34  Receiving: Scotty McKnight, 6-63, 1 TD
Arizona State - Passing: Rudy Carpenter, 19-37, 269 yds, 3 TD, 1 INT
Ryan Torian, 17-91, 1 TD  Receiving:
Michael Jones, 6-96, 2 TD
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... The Buffs are going to have to take a few baby steps before becoming a power again, and it's going to take even longer if they have to rely exclusively on the passing of Cody Hawkins. With no ground game to help out, thanks to the absence of Hugh Charles, Hawkins has to be razor sharp, which he wasn't against Arizona State, and the defense has to be stifling. While it's a bit simplistic to suggest the Buffs wilted in the heat, they definitely appeared to run out of gas.

Sept. 1
Colorado 31 ... Colorado State 28 OT
Colorado's Terrence Wheatley intercepted a Caleb Hanie pass in the end zone on Colorado State's offensive possession in overtime, and Kevin Eberhart nailed his 35-yard chance to give the Buffs the win. The two teams traded scores all game long, with Cody Hawkins throwing two first quarter touchdown passes for Colorado and Caleb Hanie responding with three scoring passes to Kory Sperry. Down 28-17, Colorado came back with a three-yard Demetrius Sumler touchdown run late in the third quarter and got a 22-yard Eberhart field goal with 13 seconds to play to force overtime.
Player of the game ... Colorado PK Kevin Eberhart connected on 3-of-4 field goals, including a 22-yarder that sent the game into overtime and the game-winner from 35 yards.
Stat Leaders: Colorado State- Passing: Caleb Hanie, 20-27, 229 yds, 3 TDs, 1 INT
Rushing: Kyle Bell, 40-135, 1 TD  Receiving: Kory Sperry, 8-103, 3 TDs
Colorado - Passing: Cody Hawkins, 18-31, 201 yds, 2 TDs, 1 INT
Demetrius Sumler, 16-85, 1 TD  Receiving: Scotty McKnight, 8-106, 1 TD

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... After last year, Colorado needed to start out with a tough win to prove that this is a new season and a new team. While the defense was far softer than expected against the Colorado State offense, it was solid late and came through when it absolutely had to have stops in the fourth quarter along with overtime. Making the win more impressive than it might appear was the way the Buffs were able to win with top RB Hugh Charles on the sidelines. New starting QB Cody Hawkins didn't have anyone to take the pressure off. To beat Arizona State or Florida State over the next few weeks, Charles needs a healthy hamstring.

Sept. 1 - Colorado State
Offense: There's no reason for the Ram offense to be far, far better. Nine starters are back, led by the return of power back Kyle Bell from a knee injury to save a ground game that was among the worst in America. Caleb Hanie is a veteran passer with one of the Mountain West's best receiving corps at his disposal. It all comes down to a line that gets the interior back, but has to find consistent tackles who can protect Hanie. Keeping Bell healthy is also vital. There was no rushing production two years ago when he wasn't on, and there was nothing happening last year with him on the sidelines.
A veteran defense returns with everyone back except the two outside linebackers. With all the experience, there has to be more pressure in the backfield and more big plays against the pass after coming up with just 27 sacks and seven interceptions. There aren't any superstars, but there are several very good players who know what they're doing. Undersized tackle Blake Smith might move to end to provide the pass rusher the team desperately needs, and the secondary should benefit.

Sept. 8 – at Arizona State
Offense: Arizona State really wasn't Arizona State in 2006, but with ten starters returning, there's reason to believe that the Sun Devils will score in bunches this year.  Dennis Erickson brings a balanced and unpredictable system that'll use multiple formations and plenty of shotgun, yet still lean heavily on the running game.  The success of the unit hinges on the play of quarterback Rudy Carpenter, who looked destined for stardom as a freshman before suffering through a humbling sophomore season marked by turnovers and lapses in confidence.  His supporting cast is headed by Ryan Torain, one of the nation's best backs that no one outside the Pac-10 has seen.  With six seasoned linemen back, he's destined to become the first Sun Devil in over 30 years to go for more than 1,000 yards in back-to-back seasons.  Although Carpenter's receivers did nothing to help him out of his slump in 2006, they're now awash with the kind of speed and playmaking potential that's customary in Tempe.       
Defense: Six starters return to a defense that improved in 2006, yet still allowed more than 40 points in four of the final ten games.  The Sun Devils will continue to run out of a 4-3 base while asking their linebackers and safeties to freelance and make plays all over the field.  There are building blocks—and question marks—at each unit heading into 2007.  Tackle Michael Marquardt and Dexter Davis have all-league potential, but both are going to need support from a couple of new starters.  Although the linebackers have considerable upside, the man in the middle, Morris Wooten, is a first-year player.  And while safety Josh Barrett and corner Justin Tryon will play on Sundays, the pass defense is in deep trouble if the other cornerback gets routinely exposed.  The net result?  A nice collection of talent that'll still allow plenty of yards to the Pac-10's finer-tuned offenses.

Sept. 15 - Florida State
Offense: After a dreadful two seasons, the offense is under new leadership with new offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher coming in to breathe life into the nation's 70th ranked attack. Step one is to find some semblance of a running game, and that starts with talented junior Antone Smith getting more carries. The offensive line, problem one over the last few years, gets a big upgrade with the addition of line coach Rick Trickett from West Virginia. He's immediately pushed everyone to get into better shape and to get a lot tougher. The passing game won't be forgotten about, with Fisher wanting to bomb away down the field to Greg Carr and DeCody Fagg. Now a steady quarterback has to emerge between Drew Weatherford and Xavier Lee.

Defense: The defense came up with a better year than it got credit for, but it gave up too many points. Now the potential is there for this to be a Florida State defense again with tremendous speed and talent in the secondary and a good enough front seven to come up with a big year. There are question marks. Everette Brown is a good-looking pass rushing end, but he needs help from the other side. The linebacking corps will be special as long as Derek Nicholson and Marcus Ball can quickly return from torn ACLs, otherwise it'll be an undersized group with no depth. As always, there's a slew of NFL talent to work around, highlighted by tackle Andre Fluellen and safety Myron Rolle.

Sept. 22 - Miami University
Offense: It's all about the offensive line. The front five was hit by injuries last season and the whole machine broke down with no running game, an obscene amount of sacks, and not enough of a passing game. Now the line is experienced with decent depth, the running backs should be solid as long as Brandon Murphy is over his ankle problems, and Mike Kokal has the potential to be the MAC's most effective all-around quarterback. And then there's the receiving corps. With Ryne Robinson gone, there's no proven number one receiver, but there's a boatload of speed on the outside in Dustin Woods and Armand Robinson. While they'll make big plays, someone has to become a go-to guy.
Defense: There were huge concerns about the defense going into last season with only two returning starters, but the lumps taken against the run and against way too many mediocre offenses should pay off in a return to the days when MU had one of the MAC's best defenses. While just six starters are back, there are more than enough promising options at several positions to create good overall competition and have more depth than there's been in a long time. The pass rush needs to be better with Craig Mester needing to get back to form to help out junior end Joe Coniglio. Joey Hudson and Clayton Mullins form one of the MAC's best 1-2 linebacking punches, while the secondary should be one of the team's strengths led by speedy corner Jerrid Gaines and veteran safety Robbie Wilson.

Sept. 29 - Oklahoma
Offense: If a quarterback comes through and shines, this could be the nation's most effective offense. If the offensive line isn't the best in college football, it's number two, the running backs are very fast and very talented, and the receiving corps, led by top pro prospect Malcolm Kelly, is very big and very fast. It all comes down to the quarterback battle between junior Joey Halzle and redshirt freshman Sam Bradford. Whichever one can be steady will get the plum gig with a chance to lead the loaded attack in a national title chase.
Defense: It'll be an interesting defense that has the potential to be a killer, but has some major concerns. The secondary should be among the best in America with enough size, speed, and talent to keep the NFL scouts buzzing. DeMarcus Granger is a rising superstar tackle who should combine with Gerald McCoy, Cory Bennett and Steven Coleman to stuff up everything on the inside. If the unknown ends come though with a halfway decent season, and the untested linebacking corps is nearly as good as last year's, look out.

Oct. 6 – at Baylor
Offense: After making the change to a Texas Tech-like passing attack, the Bears threw well, but did absolutely nothing for the running game, finishing dead last in the nation averaging just 40.17 yards per game. There will be more emphasis on running the ball, but this will still be a passing attack. First, BU has to find someone to throw, and someone to catch. It'll be a three-way battle for the starting quarterback job, with former Kent State Golden Flash Michael Machen the leader in the race, while the two star receivers of last season are gone. Several young players have to turn into reliable targets, while Brandon Whitaker has to try to provide some semblance of a rushing attack behind a line that should be a bit better.
Pass rush, pass rush, pass rush. Baylor didn't come up with any last year, and it affected the entire defense. With only 11 sacks and 51 tackles for loss, BU let opposing quarterbacks spend all day to throw, and the secondary struggled. Worse yet, the run defense was awful. Now, there's hope for improvement in the 4-2-5 alignment with promising tackles in Vincent Rhodes and Trey Bryant, along with tackling machine Joe Pawelek at linebacker. The secondary has more raw talent than last year, but not a lot of experience, so it'll be up to veteran ends Jason Lamb and Geoff Nelson to finally produce some sort of pressure on the quarterback.

Oct. 13 – at Kansas State
Offense: Call this another stepping stone season. The offensive line is ridiculously deep, but without much appreciable talent. The receiving corps has a slew of good prospects coming in, and four good tight ends, but can only count on deep threat Jordy Nelson to deliver. The 1-2 rushing punch of Leon Patton and James Johnson is scary-good, but there's absolutely no one behind them. And then there's the quarterback situation, which was a plus going into last year with several good players in a battle, but now is Josh Freeman and no safety net. Freeman has the talent to be a superstar, but hasn't been remotely consistent. When he's not on, it's over. It's not all doom and gloom. There's a ton of athleticism, and Freeman, Patton, Johnson and Nelson will have games when they're unstoppable, just not enough of them.
Defense: Raheem Morris lasted one year as defensive coordinator before moving on to the NFL. Tim Tibesar will take over and put in a 3-4 scheme, which might, at times, appear to be more of a 4-3 with star Ian Campbell playing outside linebacker and the occasional end. There's a ton of overall experience and depth, even with just six returning starters, with the strength to likely be in the secondary, where safety Marcus Watts leads a veteran cast. While the D likely won't be sixth in the nation in sacks and 18th in tackles for loss, there will be plenty of big plays made in the backfield with all the speed and athleticism across the positions. The overall net result should be better than last year, when KSU gave up 346 yards and 24 points per game.

Oct. 20 - Kansas
Offense: After spending last year running the ball, new offensive coordinator Ed Warinner will try to stretch the field more with a big, experienced group of receivers. The big question will be who the quarterback will be throwing to them. Sophomores Kerry Meier and Todd Reesing are talented, mobile passers who can do a little of everything well, but they'll be in a battle for the starting job up until the opener. The other big question mark is at running back, where Jon Cornish and his 1,457 yards and eight scores will be replaced by Jake Sharp (fast) and Brandon McAnderson (powerful). The line is nothing special, but the tackles are experienced and solid.
The defense had to go through a little bit of a rebuilding phase last season, and while the overall results weren't terrific, and too many yards were allowed, it wasn't as bad as it might have appeared. The secondary gave up more yards than anyone in America, but it gets Aqib Talib back at corner to go along with an upgrade in speed at the other three spots. The linebacking corps, by design, is small on the outside with a slew of safety-sized defenders designed to fly to the ball. They have to hold up better when they're getting pounded on. James McClinton is a star at tackle who should set the tone for the front seven.

Oct. 27 – at Texas Tech
Offense: On the surface, there might appear to be a world of problems. The quarterback situation is allegedly up for grabs, the star running back practiced like he was too secure and got booted to third string, almost all the top receivers are gone, and four starters have to be replaced on the line. Don't shed too many tears. Graham Harrell had a great spring and will be the staring quarterback once again, Shannon Woods will get back in everyone's good graces this fall and be a top back, and Michael Crabtree might be the best receiver the program has had in several years. Of course, it all goes kaput if the line doesn't come together quickly, but Mike Leach and his coaching staff have dealt with worse. There might be question marks, but there's also a whole bunch of talented prospects. This will be one of the nation's five best passing offenses once again, but it might not be consistent.
Defense: This D will be a major part in several shootouts, and not in a good way. The secondary will be the strength, and it's not even close, with a pair of all-star safeties in Darcel McBath and Joe Garcia, along with star corner Chris Parker. The front seven is a major problem, especially the defensive line, with no depth and only one starter returning. The linebacking corps isn't all that big, but it's fast and should be good in time. Expect good running teams to be able to rumble at will.

Nov. 3 - Missouri
Offense: If all the parts are working as expected, this should be one of the nation's five most productive offenses with an embarrassment of riches to work with. Junior QB Chase Daniel is growing into a star leader with more than enough weapons to choose from. The tight end combination of Martin Rucker and Chase Coffman is the best in the nation, Will Franklin can fly on the outside, and Tony Temple leads a small, quick backfield that'll rip through the holes created by a talented, experienced line. The problems? Consistency and proven play in crunch time. The numbers are going to be there, but they have to come against the top teams in the big games.
Defense: The whole will be greater than the sum of the parts. A pass rush will emerge eventually from the outside linebackers as well as end Stryker Sulak, while Brock Christopher has the makings of an All-Big 12 performer at middle linebacker. The secondary will be fine thanks to the return of starting corners Darnell Terrell and Hardy Ricks, but replacing safeties David Overstreet and Brandon Massey won't be easy. There's tremendous speed and athleticism in the back seven, several good young players to get excited about among the backups, and an excellent tackle pair in Evander Hood and Lorenzo Williams to anchor things up front. Now the D has to prove it can come through on a consistent basis against the top teams.

Nov. 10 – at Iowa State
Offense: Bret Meyer might be the Big 12's best quarterback, Todd Blythe is an All-America caliber receiver leading a good corps, and in time, Jason Scales and JUCO transfer J.J. Bass will be strong runners. None of it will matter if the line doesn't go from abysmal to at least mediocre. That might be a problem with four starters gone and no developed depth whatsoever. The team will rely on a slew of JUCO transfer and career benchwarmers to patch together a front five that will try to allow fewer than the 38 sacks given up last year. Expect Meyer to be everything for the offense with the passing game front and center early on. Because of the concerns on the line, Meyer will use his mobility to try to buy time and get the ball out of his hands quicker while on the move.
Defense: A complete and total disaster last season, defensive coordinator Wayne Bolt has his work cut out for him with a mediocre collection of talents and few obvious stars to build around other than outside linebackers Alvin Bowen and Jon Banks. The defensive front should be more aggressive and better at getting into the backfield, but will the lack of size cost them in the running game? For a while, yes. The secondary is the bigger concern after giving up yards in bunches and without a true number one cover-corner to count on. Linebacker is the strength to build around, and it could be even better if Adam Carper returns ready to go from a knee injury.

Nov. 23 - Nebraska
Offense: From possibly losing star receiver Maurice Purify for being a knucklehead off the field, to losing leading rusher Brandon Jackson to the NFL, promising runner Kenny Wilson to a broken leg while moving a TV, and starting guard Matt Huff to a blown out Achilles (though he might be back), it's been a rough off-season for the offense. Even with all the problems, the offense will roll if, and it's a screaming if, the once-promising tackle prospects come through and the starting 11 stays healthy. Top back Marlon Lucky can't be counted on for a full season, while backup Cody Glenn is already hobbling with a foot problem. There's no one of note behind them. The line had to do some shuffling after a variety of injuries, meaning the ground game could struggle at times. Fortunately, former Arizona State mad bomber Sam Keller is at the helm with a speedy, veteran receiving corps to work with. Don't be shocked if the attack becomes one-dimensional at some point this year. That might not be a bad thing.
Defense: Defensive coordinator Kevin Cosgrove is about throwing different looks at offenses over the last few years, and while he loses all four starters off a great front four, he has more talent and depth to work with. The strength is in the linebacking corps, where Bo Ruud, Corey McKeon, Steve Octavien and Lance Brandenburgh will control the defense. There's speed to burn in the secondary, but the defensive backs haven't played up to their potential or athleticism over the last few years. This will be one of the Big 12's better defenses, but it still might not be close to the killer of some of the great Husker teams of the past.



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