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2007 Kansas Jayhawks
Posted Dec 31, 2007

2007 Kansas Jayhawks Season, Game Recaps, Scores and Reviews

2007 Kansas Jayhawks

Recap: In a season surprises, Kansas was one of its poster children, counting an Orange Bowl victory over Virginia Tech as one of its school-record 12 victories.  Ranked an unthinkable No. 7 in the final polls, the Jayhawks relied on a diverse offense and a no-name defense that led the Big 12 in total defense, scoring defense, and turnover margin.  The absurdity of Kansas’ success was encapsulated in first-year starter Todd Reesing, an undersized, lightly-recruited quarterback that parlayed 36 touchdowns and 3,683 total yards into one of the greatest seasons in school history.           

Offensive Player of the Year: QB Todd Reesing

Defensive Player of the Year: CB Aqib Talib

Biggest Surprise: The season was basically a wire-to-wire shocker, but the Nov. 3 win over Nebraska still looks like a misprint.  No, a Jayhawk win over the Huskers no longer qualified as an upset, but the 76-39 final score looked like something that belonged at Allen Fieldhouse.  Kansas racked up 572 yards and six Reesing touchdown passes, nearly eliminating decades of frustration against Nebraska in one afternoon.  

Biggest Disappointment: Losing the Border War to Missouri on Nov. 24 ended the Jayhawks’ perfect season, and quests for a Big 12 and national championship.  Although Kansas rallied in the second half to make the game more palatable, Mizzou dominated, never looking back jumping out to a 21-0 lead.         

Looking Ahead: Gushing with goodwill after last year’s magical 12-1 season, Mark Mangino needs to capitalize on the recruiting trail right now.  While there’s enough momentum and returning starters to think big again in 2008, losing Talib and LT Anthony Collins early to the NFL Draft are substantial hits.

- 2007 Kansas Preview
2006 Kansas Season

2007 Schedule
CFN Prediction:
2007 Record: 12-1

Sept. 1 Central Mich W 52-7
Sept. 8 SE Louisiana W 62-0
Sept. 15 Toledo W 45-13
Sept. 22 FIU W 55-3
Oct. 6 at Kansas State W 30-24
Oct. 13
Baylor W 58-10
Oct. 20 at Colorado W 19-14
Oct. 27 at Texas A&M W 19-11
Nov. 3 Nebraska W 76-39
Nov. 10 at Oklahoma St W 43-28
Nov. 17
Iowa State W 45-7
Nov. 24 Missouri (in KC) L 36-28
Orange Bowl
Jan. 3 Virginia Tech W 24-21

Jan. 3
2008 Orange Bowl

Kansas 24 ... Virginia Tech 21
In a strange game, Kansas started off the scoring with a 60-yard interception return for a score from Aqib Talib, and held a 17-0 first half lead after Marcus Henry caught a 13-yard touchdown pass. And then Virginia Tech found a groove, going 68 yards in 13 plays at the end of the half by running Branden Ore, who scored with a one-yard touchdown run. The Hokies got rolling in the second half on an 84-yard punt return for a score from Justin Harper on a reverse, but a blocked field goal and an interception gave the Kansas all the momentum as Todd Reesing scored on a two-yard run early in the fourth for the winning touchdown. Tech came up with a 15-play, 78-yard drive with a 20-yard touchdown grab from Harper, but KU recovered the onside kick and ran out the clock.
Offensive Player of the Game: Virginia Tech RB Branden Ore ran 23 times for 116 yards and a touchdown
Defensive Player of the Game: Kansas P Kyle Tucker punted five times for 250 yards, averaging 50 yards per kick, putting three inside the 20
Stat Leaders: Virginia Tech - Passing: Sean Glennon, 13-28, 160 yds, 1 TD, 2 INT
Rushing: Branden Ore, 23-116, 1 TD. Receiving: Justin Harper, 4-64, 1 TD
Kansas - Passing: Todd Reesing, 20-37, 227 yds, 1 TD, 1 INT
Brandon McAnderson, 15-75. Receiving:
Dexton Fields, 7-101
Thoughts & Notes ... 5 Thoughts on the Orange Bowl ... Orange Bowl Stream of Consciousness Quarter By Quarter Game Notes ... Virginia Tech survived several bad breaks and great Kansas field position by fighting back into the game, but down three, it lost all the momentum by not going for it on a key fourth and short deep in Jayhawk territory in the third quarter, got the field goal attempt blocked, and it was all KU the rest of the way. ... Kansas not only matched the Virginia Tech pass rush, it bettered it five sacks to four. Give a little credit to the mobility of KU QB Todd Reesing, but also credit the Jayhawk defense that showed up with an attitude. ... While Tech came up with some big special teams plays, including a touchdown on a punt return, it lost the battle. KU got the key blocked field goal, got a first down off a fake punt, and got a whale of a game from punter Kyle Tucker, who pinned the Hokies deep time and again. The Hokies didn't connect on their two field goal attempts, and that was the difference.

Nov. 24
Missouri 36 ... Kansas 28
Missouri got out to a 28-7 lead after three quarters and held on for dear life as Kansas scored 21 points in the fourth quarter only to see the comeback attempt fall short after not getting the onside kick after a five-yard Marcus Henry touchdown catch with 2:03 to play, and a last-gasp drive getting stopped on the first play with Missouri's Loren Williams sacking Todd Reesing to end the drama and win the Big 12 North title. Chase Daniel was brilliant with three touchdown passes, and Jimmy Williams ran for a one-yard score for a 21-0 Tiger lead. KU moved the ball, but two missed Scott Webb field goals and two interceptions killed first half drives. Mizzou outgained Kansas 519 yards to 391.
Player of the game: Missouri QB Chase Daniel completed 40 of 49 passes for 361 yards and three touchdowns
Stat Leaders: Kansas - Passing: Todd Reesing, 28-49, 349 yds, 2 TD, 2 INT
Rushing: Brandon McAnderson, 14-41, 1 TD. Receiving: Dexton Fields, 8-116, 1 TD
Missouri - Passing: Chase Daniel, 40-49, 361 yds, 3 TD
Tony Temple, 22-98. Receiving:
Jeremy Maclin, 10-69
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ...
Kansas is going to look back on the loss to Missouri and kick itself over and over again. The offense didn't get the running game going, but Todd Reesing had few problems getting the ball down the field and there were several opportunities to take control of the game. The defense couldn't handle Chase Daniel and the Tiger offense, but that didn't seem to matter. The KU offense took too long to hit its stride, and while Missouri was playing not to lose in the fourth quarter, the 21-point Jayhawk outburst showed just how strong the team really is.

Nov. 17
Kansas 45 ... Iowa State 7
Kansas apparently wasn't looking ahead to Missouri as the offense cranked out 566 yards and was never threatened. Todd Reesing threw touchdown passes from 17 and 16 yards out to Dexton Fields for a 14-0 lead, and then connected with Marcus Henry for a 51-yard score to all but put it away. Iowa State got its only points on a six-yard Alexander Robinson run in the second quarter, and then the Jayhawks reeled off 24 unanswered points with Kerry Meier catching an 18-yard touchdown pass and throwing a four-yard score to Derek Fine. The two teams combined for 19 penalties for 202 yards.
Player of the game: Kansas QB Todd Reesing completed 21 of 26 passes for 253 yards and four touchdowns, and ran for five yards
Stat Leaders: Kansas - Passing: Todd Reesing, 21-26, 253 yds, 4 TD
Rushing: Jake Sharp, 15-83. Receiving: Dexton Fields, 11-109, 2 TD
Iowa State - Passing: Bret Meyer, 16-28, 103 yds
Alexander Robinson, 20-54, 1 TD. Receiving: Alexander Robinson, 6-15

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... How on is the Kansas offense? Back up quarterback, and part time wide receiver, Kerry Meier not only caught three passes for 41 yards and a touchdown against Iowa State, he completed nine-of-nine passes for 101 yards and a score. The offense remains ultra-efficient with all the parts working week after week, while Todd Reesing isn't missing. Now the attention and focus can all finally be on the task at hand knowing that it'll take just two wins to play for the national title. Are all these stats and is all the production for real? We'll finally find out

Nov. 10
Kansas 43 ... Oklahoma State 28
Kansas appeared to be on its way to an easy win with a 33-14 lead midway through the third quarter on a 12-yard Brandon McAnderson run, but Oklahoma State came back on a 39-yard Tommy Devereaux touchdown catch and a three-yard Zac Robinson scoring run. And then the Jayhawk offense took over, going 89 yards in 11 plays with Marcus Henry catching his third touchdown pass of the game, Henry torched the Cowboys with scores from five and four yards out, and an 82-yard play that took control of the game. Along with his touchdown run, Robinson threw two scoring passes.
Player of the game: Kansas WR Marcus Henry caught eight passes for 199 yards and three touchdowns
Stat Leaders: Kansas - Passing: Todd Reesing, 27-40, 308 yds, 3 TD
Rushing: Brandon McAnderson, 25-142, 2 TD. Receiving: Marcus Henry, 8-199, 3 TD
Oklahoma State - Passing: Zac Robinson, 22-37, 276 yds, 2 TD, 1 INT
Dantrell Savage, 18-106. Receiving:
Dez Bryant, 8-155, 1 TD
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... The national spotlight was glaring on Kansas, and it came through with yet another explosive performance with 529 yards of offense against Oklahoma State. Most importantly, the O came through when threatened late and put the game away. The defense isn't strong enough to handle a decent passing game, and while it came through with a few big plays, it's not a good enough group to win big games with unless the offense is rolling. Now the key will be to maintain focus against a hot Iowa State team before getting Missouri.

Nov. 3
Kansas 76 ... Nebraska 39
Kansas punted on its first drive of the game. That was it for Nebraska's fun, as the Jayhawks cranked out 48 first half points on four of Todd Reesing's six touchdown passes and three of Brandon McAnderson's four touchdown runs. Dezmon Briscoe caught scoring passes from 13, 14 and seven yards out for the Jayhawks, and Jake Sharp added two touchdown runs. Nebraska's offense was effective, with Joe Ganz bombing away for 405 yards and four touchdowns, with three to Maurice Purify, but it was killed by five turnovers and couldn't keep pace once the floodgates opened. The 76 points was the most allowed by Nebraska. KU outgained the Huskers 572 yards to 484.
Player of the game: Kansas QB Todd Reesing completed 30 of 41 passes for 354 yards and six touchdowns, and ran four times for ten yards.
Stat Leaders: Kansas - Passing: Todd Reesing, 30-41, 354 yds, 6 TD
Rushing: Brandon McAnderson, 35-119, 4 TD. Receiving: Marcus Henry, 6-101, 1 TD
Nebraska - Passing: Joe Ganz, 35-50, 405 yds, 4 TD, 4 INT
Roy Helu, 9-56. Receiving:
Maurice Purify, 7-158, 3 TD
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... Yeah, Nebraska stinks, but 76 points and 572 yards is a statement in the national title chase. A major one. Now the Jayhawks can't be ignored. This is an offensive machine with all the parts working led by Todd Reesing, who won't get within 500 miles of any Heisman talk, but has been the leader and main man on the amazing nine game run. The defense wasn't exactly sharp, with a particularly lousy day from the secondary, and that can't happen in two weeks against Missouri.

Oct. 27
Kansas 19 ... Texas A&M 11
Kansas outrushed Texas A&M 227 yards to 74 with Brandon McAnderson tearing off 183 yards with scores from six and three yards out. After a scoreless first half, the Jayhawks scored 19 straight points, helped by two Scott Webb field goals. A&M fought back with a 21-yard field goal and a 32-yard Roger Holland touchdown catch, followed up with a two-point conversion, but were unable to do anything with its final drive.
Player of the game: Kansas RB Brandon McAnderson ran 21 times for 183 yards and two touchdowns, and caught a pass for five yards.
Stat Leaders: Kansas - Passing: Todd Reesing, 21-33, 180 yds
Rushing: Brandon McAnderson, 21-183, 2 TD. Receiving: Dezmon Briscoe, 6-49
Texas A&M - Passing: Stephen McGee, 24-44, 244 yds, 1 TD
Mike Goodson, 9-33. Receiving: Martellus Bennett, 8-91
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... Kansas isn't just winning, it's winning with confidence. Even tied on the road at Texas A&M going into halftime, it seemed like a few tweaks needed to be made to change things around, and the coaching staff came up with them with a fantastic mix of offense in a dominant third quarter to take the lead for good. The defense is stuffing the run and isn't giving up anything big, and while the ground game is working, it'd be nice if there was more from the passing attack. Eventually, Todd Reesing might have to open it up a bit.

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? ... Kansas was able to win a game when things weren't working. The running game was held in relative check by Colorado, Todd Reesing was efficient throwing the ball, but failed to get too many plays going down the field. The team still found a way to win. The defense shut down Hugh Charles and the CU ground game, and got just enough pressure on Cody Hawkins to throw him off a bit. This was a battle of a win, and now the Jayhawks will get an even bigger test at Texas A&M.

Oct. 13
Kansas 58 ... Baylor 10
A lightning storm delayed the game, but Kansas didn't have problems as it got out to a 31-3 halftime lead, highlighted by an 88-yard Marcus Herford kickoff return for a score coming off a 35-yard Caleb Allen field goal. Todd Reesing threw two touchdown passes, including a  54-yarder to Marcus Henry, and Scott Webb added three field goals. The Jayhawk defense forced five turnovers and only allowed three points, with the Bears getting their only touchdown on a 97-yard David Gettis kickoff return for a score late in the third.
Player of the game: Kansas RB Jake Sharp ran 18 times for 110 yards and a touchdown
Stat Leaders: Kansas - Passing: Todd Reesing, 14-31, 186 yds, 2 TD
Rushing: Jake Sharp, 18-110, 1 TD. Receiving: Derek Fine, 4-36
Baylor - Passing: Blake Szymanski, 18-33, 119 yds, 3 INT
Brandon Whitaker, 12-54. Receiving:
Brandon Whitaker, 7-45
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... You can rip on the Kansas schedule all you want, but the team is killing the bad teams. That's what you're supposed to do. Baylor's offense never had a chance, gaining just 202 yards and never getting its passing game going in the rout. Now the defense will have to turn things up another notch with road games against Colorado and Texas A&M up next. Get by those, and it might be a very, very interesting November..

Oct. 6
Kansas 30 ... Kansas State 24
Kansas answered a halfback touchdown pass from Leon Patton to Deon Murphy late in the fourth quarter with nine points in the final 6:27 on a 30-yard Dexton Fields touchdown catch and a 24-yard Scott Webb field goal. Each team made several long scoring drives after Kansas State started out the scoring with a 68-yard Jordy Nelson touchdown catch. Each team responded to the other's big plays, with Todd Reesing throwing three touchdown passes to overcome three interceptions, and Patton running for a seven-yard score to go along with his touchdown pass. KU's Aqib Talib caught a five-yard touchdown pass, and put a nail in the coffin with an interception.
Player of the game: Kansas QB Todd Reesing went 22-of-35 for 267 yards, three touchdowns, and three interceptions, while rushing for 16 yards on seven carries.
Stat Leaders: Kansas - Passing: Todd Reesing, 22-35, 267 yds, 3 TDs, 3 INTs
Rushing: Brandon McAnderson, 12-81. Receiving: Dexton Fields, 6-78, 1 TD
Kansas State - Passing: Josh Freeman, 31-48, 305 yds, 1 TD, 3 INTs
James Johnson, 11-30. Receiving: Jordy Nelson, 10-137, 1 TD

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... Things hardly went smoothly compared to the first four games, but KU showed just how strong it could be against a good Kansas State defense with 437 yards of total offense. The defense gave up passing yards, but it also clamped down when it absolutely had to, picking off Josh Freeman three times. There was balance, clutch plays, and good gut-check moments that might define the season. Now everyone will pay attention to KU, especially after starting out 6-0 with an expected win over Baylor next week.

Sept. 22
Kansas 55 ... Florida International 3
The Kansas offense rolled up 615 yards while the defense forced five turnovers in the blowout win. The scoring started on a blocked punt for a touchdown, and after FIU pulled within seven on a 42-yard field goal, it was all KU as it scored 45 unanswered points highlighted by a brilliant 100-yard interception return for a touchdown from Agib Talib and two Brandon McAnderson touchdown runs. Todd Reesing threw a 19-yard touchdown pass to Derek Fine and ran for a nine-yard score.
Player of the game: Kansas QB Todd Reesing finished 23-of-37 for 368 yards, one touchdown and one interception, while running eight times for 47 yards and a touchdown.
Stat Leaders: Florida International - Passing: Wayne Younger, 16-33, 133 yds, 1 INT
Rushing: Wayne Younger, 10-58. Receiving: Jason Frierson, 4-42
Kansas - Passing: Todd Reesing, 23-37, 368 yds, 1 TD, 1 INT
Brandon McAnderson, 13-105, 2 TDs. Receiving: Derek Fine, 7-70, 1 TD

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... Yet again, Kansas did what it was supposed to do with an inferior opponent, blowing out FIU without breathing too hard, and once again, everything worked in all phases. The offense could've been a bit sharper on third downs, but that's looking for a problem that isn't there. The running game is cranking out yards in chunks, thanks to the combination of Jake Sharp and Brandon McAnderson, and Todd Reesing has been incredible. Agib Talib has been an All-America defensive back over the first four games. Now the competition gets cranking with a trip to Kansas State in two weeks.

Sept. 15
Kansas 45 ... Toledo 13
Kansas rolled with ease, getting out to an early 17-0 lead, and finally stopping the ugliness with a 26-yard Dexton Field touchdown catch late in the third quarter for a 45-7 lead. Todd Reesing threw four touchdown passes to four different receivers, and Brandon McAnderson added third quarter scoring runs from 26 and three yards out. Toledo's only highlight came on a 21-yard touchdown pass from WR Nick Moore to QB Aaron Opelt on the first play following a KU misfire on fourth down. The Rockets only managed 77 passing yards and nine first downs.
Player of the game: Kansas QB Todd Reesing threw for 313 yards and four scores on 16-of-35 passing, adding 19 yards on 11 carries on the ground.
Stat Leaders: Toledo - Passing: Aaron Opelt, 10-19, 38 yds, 3 INTs
Rushing: DaJuane Collins, 14-102, 1 TD. Receiving: Chris Hopkins, 4-20
Kansas - Passing: Todd Reesing, 16-35, 313 yds, 4 TDs
Jake Sharp, 13-127. Receiving: Marcus Henry, 7-133, 1 TD

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... Has anyone, anywhere been more impressive on both sides of the ball for a three game stretch? Yeah, LSU and Oklahoma, but KU has been beyond dominant so far against two decent MAC teams and SE Louisiana. Todd Reesing and the offense can't be stopped at the moment, and FIU isn't going to be much resistance next week, but it's the play of the defense that's making every game a romp. Toledo, a high-octane passing team, never got its air attack off the ground. The KU offensive line had a little bit of trouble in pass protection, but that was the only minor issue.

Sept. 8
Kansas 62 ... SE Louisiana 0
Kansas didn't have to break a sweat to win as SE Louisiana managed just 75 yards of total offense and was stuffed for -31 rushing yards. Marcus Herford returned a kickoff following a safety 74 yards for a touchdown, and then Brandon McAnderson took over with two second quarter touchdown runs. Todd Reesing threw two touchdown passes, highlighted b a 36-yard pass to Agib Talib. Jake Sharp scored twice in the fourth quarter on a 23-yard pass from Kerry Meier and on a three-yard run.
Player of the game ... Kansas LB Joe Mortensen made nine tackles and 3.5 tackles for loss
Stat Leaders: SE Louisiana - Passing: Brian Babin, 20-30, 89 yds
Rushing: Jay Lucas, 9-12  Receiving: Jay Lucas, 8-20
Kansas - Passing: Todd Reesing, 13-23, 257 yds, 2 TD
Brandon McAnderson, 11-60, 2 TD   Receiving: Marcus Henry, 5-119

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... Kansas isn't Oklahoma and needs all the blowout wins it can get. Don't dismiss the blowout over SE Louisiana; it was a key game to empty the bench and get the backups some meaningful playing time. Brandon McAnderson firmly established himself as the main back, even with Jake Sharp getting the carries in the second half, while Todd Reesing had an efficient passing day. Toledo and FIU won't pose much of a challenge if the Jayhawks continue to play this well, so it has to be all about tuning up for Kansas State in a month.

Sept. 1
Kansas 52 .. Central Michigan 7
Kansas shocked the defending MAC champions with a 35-point first half as Todd Reesing threw four touchdown passes to four different receivers and Rain Pendleton returned a punt 77 yards for a score. The onslaught continued in the second half as Jake Sharp ran for a three-yard score and Scott Webb nailed a 34-yard field goal for a 45-0 lead before CMU finally got on the board with a 16-yard Bryan Anderson touchdown catch. Kerry Meier came in for Reesing in garbage time and hit Pendleton for a 21-yard touchdown.  .
Player of the game ... Kansas QB Todd Reesing completed 20 of 29 passes for 261 yards and four touchdowns and ran six times for eight yards
Stat Leaders: Central Michigan - Passing: Dan LeFevour, 19-37, 172 yds, 1 TD
Rushing: Justin Hoskins, 4-27  Receiving: Bryan Anderson, 7-62, 1 TD
Kansas - Passing: Todd Reesing, 20-29, 261 yds, 4 TD
Brandon McAnderson, 16-110   Receiving: Marcus Henry, 7-103, 1 TD

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... Either Central Michigan got really bad in a real hurry after dominating the MAC, of Kansas is humming on all cylinders out of the gate. Todd Reesing showed he was the right man for the starting quarterback job, but Kerry Meier also showed he could move the offense completing all six of his passes for 47 yards and a score. As far as the running game, who needs, Jon Cornish? Brandon McAnderson and Jake Sharp combined for 226 yards cranking out seven yards per carry. If the Jayhawks can really play like this, they're a legitimate North title contender.

Sept. 1 - Central Michigan
Defense: Statistically, the defense struggled throughout last year. Actually, it wasn't that bad as many of the numbers came when the game was already decided. This year's D doesn't have a Dan Bazuin up front, but it has Steven Friend leading a group of good tackles, while there should be a good rotation of ends. The linebacking corps gets better with Ike Brown back from the knee injury that cost him almost all of last year, while the secondary gets three starters back, along with promising corner Chaz West. This won't be a rock of a defense, but it'll be good enough to win another title with.
Offense: Thanks to the emergence of quarterback Dan LeFevour, the offense went from decent to ultra-efficient, leading the MAC in yards and scoring. The passing game became fantastic, and the ground game, while not always getting enough from the backs, hit home run after home run. Now there will be more running from the backs, especially Ontario Sneed and Notre Dame transfer Justin Hoskins, and less running from LeFevour. The receiving corps is good enough for LeFevour to spread the ball around to several different targets. The line won't be as good as last year, after losing two key starters, but it'll be fine.

Sept. 8 – SE Louisiana

Sept. 15 - Toledo
Offense: Injuries hit the offensive line last year and killed the production and the consistency. With John Greco back at left tackle and a slew of big redshirt freshmen, the front five should be better and could be fantastic is David Perkins and Jerry Aguwa return to their pre-injury form. The spread offense should improve with quarterback Aaron Opelt looking better and Clint Cochran healthy again after a knee problem. The receiving corps is big, fast, and so far, disappointing. That could quickly change considering all the interesting targets. Jalen Parmele and DaJuane Collins form a good 1-2 rushing punch that needs to stay healthy with the off-the-field issues of Richard Davis and Scooter McDougle.
Defense: Defensive coordinator Tim Rose has done a good job over the last two years using a flexible 3-4 alignment that occasionally morphs into a 4-2-5. Now it has to be better after getting bombed on by everyone over the first half of last year and only produced once the schedule lightened up. Seven starters return along with plenty of depth, especially up front, and now there have to be more big plays and more pressure into the backfield. Greg Hay and Keith Forestal form a strong 1-2 linebacking punch, while the safety tandem of Tyrrell Herbert and Barry Church is among the best in the MAC.

Sept. 22 - FIU
Offense New offensive coordinator James Coley has a lot of work to do with an offense that finished dead last in America in scoring averaging fewer than ten points per game and 116th in the nation in yards averaging 233 per outing. Eight starters return, including the entire offensive line, and there's good potential in the backfield with the 1-2 rushing punch of Julian Reams and A'mod Ned, but the passing game needs work with Paul McCall likely to take over at quarterback and no experience at receiver to rely on. 
Defense: The defense did what it could with no help from the offense, and now seven starters return with a shot to be among the league's best. The secondary gets all four starters back, led by Lionell Singleton at corner. The line is big and good with a pair of strong 300-pounders (Roland Clarke and Jonas Murrell) inside. Now for the problem: the great linebacking corps loses all three starters. The top four tacklers are gone, along with the top pass rushers. Keyonvis Bouie, Alexander Bostic, and Antwan Barnes were stars who won't be easily replaced.

Oct. 6 – 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. 13 - 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. 20 – at Colorado
Offense: Call this a stepping-stone season for the offense before it explodes in 2008. The overall production can't help but be better after averaging a Big 12-worst 291 yards and 16 points per game. There are too many ifs. If a backup can emerge behind top running back Hugh Charles, and if all the problems this spring finding healthy offensive linemen go away, and if the veteran receiving corps can prove that it's better than last season showed, and if Cody Hawkins and/or Nick Nelson can shine right away at quarterback, the Buffs should start to have the offense that Buff fans expected when Dan Hawkins was hired.
Defense: The defense was better than it every got credit for considering the offense provided no help whatsoever. The starting 11, in whatever configuration that turns out to be, should be excellent as long as a pass rush is found from the ends. The linebacking corps will be the strength with tackling-machine Jordon Dizon leading the way. George Hypolite and Brandon Nicolas form an excellent tackle tandem to work around, while Terrence Wheatley is an All-Big 12 corner to handle everyone's number one. Now there needs to be more from the secondary, and the run defense has to be as strong as it was last year despite losing key linemen Abraham Wright and Walter Boye-Doe.

Oct. 27 – at Texas A&M
Offense: Run, run, and run some more. The Aggies finished last year eighth in the nation in rushing, and now the line should be even better with four legitimate All-Big 12 candidates paving the way for the devastating rushing tandem of Jorvorskie Lane and Mike Goodson. QB Stephen McGee was better than anyone could've hoped for last year taking over for Reggie McNeal, and while he might not throw only two interceptions again, he'll be one of the league's best all-around quarterbacks. The tight end tandem of Martellus Bennett and Joey Thomas would get all the conference attention if it wasn't for Missouri's tremendous pair, but the receivers are suspect and could be the Achilles heel if there Earvin Taylor doesn't have a huge season.
Defense: First of all, realize what amazing strides the defense made under defensive coordinator Gary Darnell. The pass defense was the worst in the nation in 2005 and became more than just respectable last season in a 4-2-5 alignment that led to a solid year until the Holiday Bowl meltdown against Cal. There wasn't enough of a pass rush outside of Chris Harrington, but that could change if tackle Red Bryant is healthy again and occupies two blockers on the inside. There aren't any all-stars in the back seven, but it's a good, sound group that will do just enough to get by.

Nov. 3 - 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.

Nov. 10 – at Oklahoma State
Offense: The potential is there for the nation's 16th best offense and seventh best scoring attack to be even better. Quarterback Bobby Reid lived up to the hype last season and proved he could be a star. While he loses a great target in D'Juan Woods, he gets Adarius Bowman back to go along with a slew of speedy but unproven receivers to stretch the field. The 1-2 rushing punch of Dantrell Savage and Keith Toston is among the fastest and most dangerous in America running behind a decent line that has experience, but will be a work in progress to find the right starting combination.
Defense: If nothing else, the defense was certainly interesting with an aggressive style that produced a ton of sacks, plenty of tackles for loss, and gave up too many big plays. New defensive coordinator Tim Beckman will tone things down a little bit while still taking the fight to the offense. The back seven will be terrific with a fantastic linebacking corps, even with top middle man Rodrick Johnson playing end and star Chris Collins trying to get through knee and off-the-field problems, while the secondary will strong as long as injuries don't hit the safeties. Experience on the line, especially at tackle, will be an issue early on, but the starting ends, Marque Fountain and Nathan Peterson, will be all-stars.

Nov. 17 - 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. 24 - 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.


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