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2007 Kansas State Wildcats

CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Jan 21, 2008


2007 Kansas State Wildcats Season Game-By-Game Recaps and More

2007 Kansas State Wildcats

Recap: While it sort of got overshadowed by Nebraska’s meltdown, Kansas State was a major Big 12 disappointment in 2007.  Coming off a momentum-building bowl season, and littered with young talent, the Wildcats failed to reach bowl eligibility four weeks in-a-row, losing to Iowa State, Nebraska, Missouri, and Fresno State.  What’s worse, head coach Ron Prince appeared to lose his kids down the stretch, meaning the honeymoon is officially over for the second-year coach.               

Offensive Player of the Year: WR Jordy Nelson

Defensive Player of the Year: DE Ian Campbell

Biggest Surprise: For the second time in under a year, Kansas State sucker punched Texas, 41-21, on Sept. 29.  Last November, the ‘Horns played in Manhattan and without QB Colt McCoy for most of the game.  This season, however, the game was in Austin, and McCoy was healthy, but the ‘Cats were just better, picking off four passes and scoring two special teams touchdowns.    

Biggest Disappointment: Kansas State’s inability to finish meant there were plenty of disappointments in 2007, but none bigger than a 30-24 loss to rival Kansas.  Considered an upset at the time, the Wildcats relinquished a fourth quarter lead, losing at home to the Jayhawks for the first time since 1989.   

Looking Ahead: All of the goodwill amassed by Prince in 2006 has been replaced by a growing feeling of concern and discontent around Manhattan.  With Mizzou and Kansas on an uptick, Kansas State needs to patch up the defense, and regroup quickly around franchise QB Josh Freeman.

- 2007 KSU Preview
- 2006 KSU Season

2007 Schedule
CFN Prediction: 6-6
2007 Record: 5-
7

Sept. 1 at Auburn L 23-13
Sept. 8
San Jose St W 34-14
Sept. 15 Missouri St W 61-10
Sept. 29 at Texas W 41-21
Oct. 6
Kansas L 30-24
Oct. 13 Colorado W 47-20
Oct. 20 at Oklahoma St L 41-39
Oct. 27
Baylor W 51-13
Nov. 3 at Iowa State L 31-20
Nov. 10 at Nebraska L 73-31
Nov. 17
Missouri L 49-32
Nov. 24 at Fresno State L 45-29

Nov. 24
Fresno State 45 ... Kansas State 29
Kansas State got up early with a 67-yard James Johnson touchdown dash and a 45-yard Leon Patton run, and then the wheels came off as Fresno State scored 28 straight points with Tom Brandstater throwing two touchdown passes and running for another. The Wildcats got back into the game with two seconds to play in the first half on a three-yard Jordy Nelson touchdown catch, but Fresno State came out dominating the second half with scoring drives from 91 and 71 yards out. The Bulldogs cranked out 549 yards of total offense and held on to the ball for 41:32.
Player of the game: Fresno State QB Tom Brandstater completed 23 of 29 passes for 313 yards and two touchdowns
Stat Leaders: Kansas State - Passing: Josh Freeman, 27-41, 256 yds, 2 TD
Rushing: James Johnson, 9-71, 1 TD. Receiving: Jordy Nelson, 15-165, 1 TD
Fresno State - Passing: Tom Brandstater, 23-29, 313 yds, 2 TD
Rushing:
Will Harding, 22-115, 1 TD. Receiving: Marlon Moore, 9-134, 2 TD

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ...  What the heck happened to the defense? Getting torched by Missouri is one thing, but making Fresno State look like, well, Missouri is another. The Wildcats had four shots at bowl eligibility and blew it badly with three winnable games against Iowa State, Nebraska and now Fresno State going into the tank because the defense couldn't come up with a stop. The secondary was awful because there wasn't any semblance of a pass rush. A brilliant season by WR Jordy Nelson, and a great second year from Josh Freeman, were completely wasted.

Nov. 17
Missouri 49 ... Kansas State 32
Chase Daniel threw four touchdown passes, with two to Martin Rucker, and Jeremy Maclin was unstoppable as Missouri opened up a tight game with a 14 point fourth quarter run. Maclin caught touchdown passes from eight and 44 yards out, and answered a first quarter Wildcat field goal with a 99-yard kickoff return for a score. Kansas State took a first half lead with a blocked punt for a score and a 66-yard James Johnson touchdown run, but the Tigers took the lead for good on their next drive with a nine-play, 81-yard march with Rucker making a scoring catch from eight yards out. Mizzou outgained Kansas State 427 yards to 406.
Player of the game: Missouri WR Jeremy Maclin caught nine passes for 143 yards and two touchdowns, ran two times for eight yards, returned two punts for 15 yards, and returned six kickoffs for 194 yards and a score.
Stat Leaders: Kansas State - Passing: Josh Freeman, 26-44, 320 yds, 2 TD
Rushing: James Johnson, 16-129 yds, 1 TD. Receiving: Jordy Nelson, 9-125, 1 TD
Missouri - Passing: Chase Daniel, 28-41, 284 yds, 4 TD
Rushing:
Tony Temple, 16-75, 2 TD. Receiving:
Jeremy Maclin, 9-143, 2 TD
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ...  The KSU defense did a better job against Missouri than it did against Nebraska, but that's not saying a whole bunch. The problem was the offense with Josh Freeman and the passing game failing to get on track until the fourth quarter, and by then the Tigers had the game in hand. Now a win over Fresno State is a must to be bowl eligible, but the chances of getting a 13th game are unlikely without a little bit of help.

Nov. 10
Nebraska 73 ... Kansas State 31
Nebraska turned on the offense big-time, rolling for 702 yards with 510 coming from the arm of Joe Ganz, who threw seven touchdown passes including three to Frantz Hardy. Kansas State cranked out 528 yards of its own and scored first on a 21-yard Jordy Nelson catch, answered by a 94-yard Cortney Grixby return for a score, and had a 10-7 lead with a 31-yard Brooks Rossman field goal. And then the roof caved in, as the Huskers scored 45 straight points with all three Hardy scores, a five-yard Marlon Lucky run, and a 23-yard Todd Peterson catch. Josh Freeman threw two touchdown passes and ran for a score for the Wildcats.
Player of the game: Nebraska QB Joe Ganz completed 30 of 40 passes for 510 yards and seven touchdowns, and ran for 18 yards..
Stat Leaders: Kansas State - Passing: Josh Freeman, 26-44, 320 yds, 2 TD
Rushing: James Johnson, 16-129 yds, 1 TD. Receiving: Jordy Nelson, 9-125, 1 TD
Nebraska - Passing: Joe Ganz, 30-40, 510 yds, 7 TD
Rushing:
Marlon Lucky, 16-103, 2 TD. Receiving:
Maurice Purify, 6-108
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ...  
All of a sudden, an extremely promising season has gone into the tank with Missouri coming up next. The Kansas State secondary was nowhere to be found against Nebraska, even though there was a little bit of a pass rush, and even though the offense did a decent job. KSU ran into a buzzsaw, with the defense unable to stop Nebraska from doing whatever it wanted. On the plus side, Josh Freeman had a solid day bombing away once the game got out of hand, and Jordy Nelson once again solidified his All-America status.

Nov. 3
Iowa State 31 ... Kansas State 20
Iowa State overcame a 194-yard receiving day from Jordy Nelson with two short touchdown runs from Alexander Robinson in the first half, a 21-yard interception return for a touchdown from Chris Singleton, and a spark from off the bench in Austin Arnaud. Arnaud came in to replace a mediocre Bret Meyer, and he got the offense moving. Kansas State bombed away, for 347 passing yards, and got a 13-yard score from Nelson and a five-yard touchdown run from James Johnson late in the third quarter, but couldn't get on the board again in the fourth. Kansas State was held to 78 yards rushing.
Player of the game: Iowa State QB Austen Arnaud completed five of seven passes for 130 yards, and ran six times for 19 yards
Stat Leaders: Kansas State - Passing: Josh Freeman, 28-44, 347 yds, 1 TD, 2 INT
Rushing: James Jonson, 14-95, 1 TD. Receiving: Jordy Nelson, 13-194, 1 TD
Iowa State - Passing: Austen Arnaud, 5-7, 130 yds
Rushing: Alexander Robinson, 25-61, 2 TD. Receiving: Todd Blythe, 2-91
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... What happened to the running game? The Wildcats all but ignored the ground attack against Iowa State and let Josh Freeman bomb away. While he got his yards, and Jordy Nelson put on yet anther All-America show, the offense wasn't nearly as crisp or as productive as it's been over the past few weeks. This wasn't a letdown game considering last week's win was over Baylor, and now the Wildcats will have to get winning to secure a decent bowl bid, needing one more win. Considering what Kansas pulled off against Nebraska, next week's game in Lincoln should be interesting.

Oct. 27
Kansas State 51 ... Baylor 13
Kansas State forced seven turnovers and got three touchdown passes and two touchdown runs from Josh Freeman in the easy win. Jordy Nelson caught a six-yard touchdown pass and put a cap on the scoring with a 92-yard punt return for a score. The Wildcats scored the first 16 points of the game on a one-yard Freeman run and three Brooks Rossman field goals, and then Baylor made it interesting for a few minutes with a 52-yard Thomas White touchdown catch, the first of two scores on the day. The Wildcats bounced back with a 22-yard Deon Murphy scoring play, and the blowout was on.
Player of the game: Kansas State WR Jordy Nelson caught eight passes for 105 yards and a touchdowns, and returned a punt 92 yards for a score
Stat Leaders: Baylor - Passing: Blake Szymanski, 15-21, 213 yds, 2 TD, 1 INT
Rushing: Jacoby Jones, 6-28. Receiving: Thomas White, 4-118, 2 TD
Kansas State - Passing: Josh Freeman, 22-33, 247 yds, 3 TD, 1 INT
Rushing:
Leon Patton, 17-113. Receiving: Jordy Nelson, 8-105, 1 TD

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... Kansas State beat Baylor with tremendous ease. Seven takeaways, perfect offensive balance, great play from the special teams, it was all there. The only possible knock is the inability to put the Bears away in the first half, settling for three field goals, but that's nitpicking. If the team really is good enough to get into a good bowl, it should with road games at Iowa State and Nebraska before dealing with Missouri. If it plays as well as it did this week, the next two weeks shouldn't be a problem.

Oct. 20
Oklahoma State 41 ... Kansas State 39
In a wild game with 1,039 yards of total offense, a career-high 404 yards passing from KSU's Josh Freeman, and 329 rushing yards from Oklahoma State, it came down to a 26-yard Jason Ricks field goal with two seconds to play to give OSU  the win. Kansas State had scored on an 11-yard Leon Patton touchdown run with just over a minute to go, but rather than go for the extra point and the tie, KSU went for two, got it on a Jordy Nelson catch, and forced the Cowboys to go for the win. Nelson was unstoppable with touchdown catches from 17, 46 and 11 yards out, but the Oklahoma State running game was just as on. It took a Perrish Cox 98-yard kickoff return for a touchdown after the 46-yard Nelson score to spark a run of 17 OSU points, but the Wildcats hung in drive for drive. OSU QB Zac Robinson threw three touchdown passes and ran for 109 yards.
Player of the game: In a losing cause, Kansas State WR Jordy Nelson caught 12 passes for 176 yards and three touchdowns, and he caught a two-point conversion
Stat Leaders: Oklahoma State - Passing: Zac Robinson, 11-25, 181 yds, 3 TD, 1 INT
Rushing: Dantrell Savage, 28-124, 1 TD. Receiving: Adarius Bowman, 6-81
Kansas State - Passing: Josh Freeman, 36-51, 404 yds, 3 TD
Rushing:
Leon Patton, 9-62, 1 TD. Receiving: Jordy Nelson,
12-176, 3 TD
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... Did Kansas State head coach Ron Prince screw up by going for two at the end of the Oklahoma State game? KSU got the two to go up by one, and while OSU likely would've played it conservative to force overtime if it was tied, it had to push down the field to try to win the game after the successful conversion. This was a game the KSU defense should've been able to pull off. All year long it's been strong, but when it had to come through with a big stop late, it couldn't do it. The run defense should've matched up perfectly with OSU, but it didn't matter, getting hammered on for 329 yards. That won't be a problem against Baylor next week.

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
Rushing:
James Johnson, 20-159, 2 TD. Receiving: Jordy Nelson, 4-93

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... The Wildcat offense continues to be creative, especially in the ways it gets its big-play runners in space, while the defense was a rock when it had to be against Colorado, especially on third downs. The Buffs only converted one of 12 third down chances, while the running of James Johnson helped control the tempo. The D could've been a bit better against the run, but that's nitpicking. With Oklahoma State's ground game coming up, the linebackers are going to have to make even more plays before the backs get to the secondary.

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
Rushing:
James Johnson, 11-30. Receiving: Jordy Nelson, 10-137, 1 TD

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ...
The lack of a consistent running game, and three Josh Freeman interceptions, proved to be too much against Kansas. Freeman threw the ball relatively well, throwing for 305 yards, and was accurate, but there weren't enough good drives in the second half. The one great drive resulted in a field goal, and with the momentum shifting back and forth, the Wildcats weren't able to get it back in the final seven minutes. To beat the better teams, KSU has to win the special teams battle and can't turn the ball over. Tim Reyer made sure KSU won the punting game with a phenomenal performance, averaging 47.2 yards per kick with four kicks inside the 20, but the three turnovers turned out to be more costly than KU's three interceptions.

Sept. 29
Kansas State 41 ... Texas 21
Special teams and defense helped Kansas State blow past Texas, with Ian Campbell taking an interception 41 yards for a touchdown, James Johnson returning a kickoff 85 yards for a score, and Jordy Nelson bringing back a punt 89 yards for a touchdown. Texas appeared to overcome early problems with a six-yard Jamaal Charles touchdown run in the third quarter pulling the Longhorns within three, but KSU scored the final 17 points of the game helped by a two-yard Johnson touchdown. The Wildcat offense only gained 272 yards, but the defense came up with four interceptions and held Texas to 330 yards.
Player of the game: Kansas State WR Jordy Nelson caught 12 passes for 116 yards and a touchdown, and returned a punt 89 yards for a touchdown
Stat Leaders: Kansas State - Passing: Josh Freeman, 22-38, 177 yds, 1 TD
Rushing: James Johnson, 19-77, 1 TD. Receiving: Jordy Nelson, 12-116, 1 TD
Texas - Passing: Colt McCoy, 19-39, 20 yds, 1 TD, 4 INT
Rushing:
Jamaal Charles, 17-72, 1 TD. Receiving: Jermichael Finley, 4-51

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ...
It's not like Josh Freeman had a bad game, but the defense and special teams play against Texas allowed the offense to get relatively conservative and not force Freeman to do anything out of his comfort zone. To beat Kansas next week, there will need to be more from the offense, or else the return game will have to be special again. Don't take anything away from KSU, though. This was a phenomenal win against a fired up team, and now, with the defense dominating, this is a legitimate threat for the Big 12 title.

Sept. 15
Kansas State 61 ... Missouri State 10
Jordy Nelson set a school record with 15 catches, threw a 24-yard touchdown pass to Deon Murphy, and James Johnson ran for three scores, as Kansas State rolled at will over Missouri State. The Wildcats scored the first 24 points of the game until MSU got on the board late in the first half on a nine-yard King Washington run. Johnson opened up the second half with two scoring runs, Nelson caught an 18-yard touchdown pass, and Deon Murphy returned a punt 80 yards for a score. KSU outgained MSU 546 yards to 191.
Player of the game: Kansas State WR Jordy Nelson caught 15 passes for 209 yards and a touchdown, and he also threw a 24-yard touchdown pass
Stat Leaders: Kansas State - Passing: Josh Freeman, 26-39, 287 yds, 1 TD
Rushing: James Johnson, 16-114, 3 TD. Receiving: Jordy Nelson, 15-209, 1 TD
Missouri State - Passing: Cody Kirby, 9-17, 62 yds
Rushing:
Kingjack Washington, 10-45, 1 TD. Receiving: Clay Harbor, 4-53

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... The Wildcats had no problems opening it up on poor Missouri State, but it was a needed blowout with two weeks off before playing Texas. During the time off, the passing game has to come up with a dangerous number two receiver to pick up the slack when everyone from here on out tries to double cover Jordy Nelson. The other thing to work in is slowing down the penalties. KSU committed a whopping 16 sins for 162 yards against MSU.

Sept. 8
Kansas State 34 ... San Jose State 14
Kansas State had few problems getting past the Spartans as Josh Freeman threw a 15-yard touchdown pass to Deon Murphy and ran for a one-yard score in the first half, and James Johnson and Murphy each had scoring runs in the fourth quarter. San Jose State didn't let the game get out of hand until the fourth, but it struggled to put pount on the board as it only managed a 20-yard Jalal Beauchman touchdown catch in the second quarter before getting back on the board late on a 21-yard Jacob French scoring grab.
Player of the game ... Kansas State RB James Johnson ran 15 times for 111 yards and a touchdown
Stat Leaders: Kansas State - Passing: Josh Freeman, 25-36, 272 yds, 1 TD, 2 INT
Rushing: James Johnson, 15-111, 1 TD  Receiving: Jordy Nelson, 6-82
San Jose State - Passing: Adam Tafralis, 16-20, 134 yds, 1 TD
Rushing:
Myles Eden, 7-33  Receiving:
Kevin Jurovich, 10-82
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... Josh Freeman might not have been razor sharp against San Jose State, but he was good enough in what was a nice step forward for a team that came oh-so-close to beating Auburn. The real find was a running game that was non-existent against the Tigers, as James Johnson was effective on his limited work. He only got 15 carries, but he made something happen every time he touched the ball. DE/LB Ian Campbell got a sack, but he still hasn't been the difference maker at his new position that he was last year. The Missouri State game next week should work out all the problems before dealing with Texas.

Sept. 1
Auburn 23 ... Kansas State 13
Auburn got all it could handle, finally getting the lead late on a three-yard Gabe McKenzie touchdown catch with 2:01 to play, and then putting it away with a 34-yard Antonio Coleman fumble recovery for a score after Quentin Groves sacked KSU QB Josh Freeman. The Wildcats used a trick play to take a 10-6 lead early in the third quarter as WR Jordy Nelson threw a 21-yard touchdown pass to Leon Patton, but the offense could only manage two Brooks Rossman field goals for the other points. Auburn got three Wes Byrum field goals.
Player of the game ... Auburn DE Quentin Groves made five tackles, two sacks, three tackles for loss and forced a fumble
Stat Leaders: Kansas State - Passing: Josh Freeman, 32-57, 268 yds, 2 INT
Rushing: James Johnson, 7-14  Receiving: Jordy Nelson, 9-90
Auburn - Passing: Brandon Cox, 17-30, 229 yds, 1 TD, 2 INT
Rushing:
Ben Tate, 23-82  Receiving:
Prechae Rodriguez, 6-73
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... A more experienced team, with a more experienced coaching staff, would've found a way to pull off the win over Auburn. The running game only averaged 1.7 yards per carry, the pass protection in crunch time was nearly non-existent, and the 16 penalties for 141 yards were a killer. Even so, and even with a loss, this was a big day for QB Josh Freeman. He didn't throw a touchdown pass, but for the most part, he kept his poise and gutted it out despite an apparent ankle injury. The defense has to find ways to get Ian Campbell more involved. Now a hybrid of a linebacker and end, he didn't make enough plays.

Sept. 1 – at Auburn
Offense: Where are the stars? The Auburn offense is full of above-average talents who need to mesh into a better, more consistent attack than the one that averaged just 24.77 points and 321 yards per game while doing next to nothing against the top teams. Only one starter, massive tackle King Dunlap, returns to the offensive line, while the receiving corps could be a problem is no one becomes a reliable number two receiver alongside Rodgeriqus Smith. On the plus side, the running backs are deep and talented, Brandon Cox appears ready to be a more productive passer, and the tight ends are the best in the league by far.
Defense: The whole will likely be better than the parts. Auburn's defensive front has the potential to be excellent thanks to the return of star end Quentin Groves for his senior year and with the emergence of Sen'Derrick Marks on the inside. Getting into the backfield won't be an issue, and coming up with sacks had better not be with a secondary that'll be shaky despite getting three starters back. The loss of corner David Irons will hurt. The linebacking corps isn't experienced, but it should be better than last year's group as the season goes on.


Sept. 8 - San Jose State
Offense: The offense wasn't always explosive, but it was steady, didn't give the ball away, kept the chains moving, and got the job done. Expect more of the same if the offensive line can quickly replace three starters and the new recruits for the receiving corps can play right away. The passing game loses the top three targets and 141 of 181 catches, so ultra-efficient QB Adam Tafralis has to be even better. Yonus Davis leads a small, quick, veteran group of running backs that can take it the distance with a little bit of room.
Defense: The Spartan defense took a giant leap forward giving up yards, but not a whole bunch of points allowing fewer than 24 in ten of the final 11 games. Seven starters are back from the ball-hawking crew led by tackling machine Matt Castelo at middle linebacker and corners Dwight Lowery and Christopher Owens. The defensive front has to do a better overall job, and it will now that it's experienced after cutting its teeth last season. Jarron Gilbert and Justin Cole will be pass rushing terrors. Expect this group to give up plenty of yards, but also come up with more than its share of takeaways.


Sept. 15 – Missouri State

Sept. 29 – at Texas
Offense: This might be the best offense yet under head coach Mack Brown, with one bump in the road: the line. The starting five will be fine, but there's absolutely no depth at tackle. While that's the concern, the skill players will be fantastic with a deep, talented receiving corps that welcomes back the top four targets, Jamaal Charles and a speedy backfield, and Colt McCoy to lead the show. Now a seasoned veteran, McCoy will run more than last year while making more plays on the move. Expect plenty of scoring, plenty of explosiveness, and a top five finish in total offense ... as long as the line holds up.
Defense: Duane Akina goes from co-defensive coordinator to the head man in charge, and there will be changes. Last year's defense was all about stopping the run, and the talented secondary got torched. This year's D will focus on doing everything, with an eye towards being more aggressive and generating more pressure. The strength is at tackle and in the linebacking corps, with NFL caliber talent that should keep the Longhorns among the nation's leaders against the run. The ends will be fine, in time, and they'll get to pin their ears back and go to the quarterback. All the pressure should help out a secondary in transition, with only one starter returning from a group that loses Thorpe Award winner Aaron Ross and All-American Michael Griffin.

Oct. 6 - 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.
Defense:
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. 13 - 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. 20 – 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.


Oct. 27 - 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.
Defense:
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.

Nov. 3 – 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. 10 – at 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. 17 - 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. 24 – at Fresno State
Offense: New offensive coordinator Jim McElwain will pump some life into a stagnant passing game with a wide-open attack featuring some funky, multi-receiver formations while not running quite as much. Call it playing to the strengths, as the receiving corps is lightning fast, but untested, while Tom Brandstater, who struggled mightily last year, is still a talent who appears ready to make a big jump and become a major player. The running game will suffer without Dwayne Wright, but Lonyae Wright and Clifton Smith should be decent. The line is the strength of the team with four starters returning to a group that allowed just 12 sacks.
Defense: After a tremendous 2005 season when the defense dominated, last year was a step back, especially in the secondary. Enough overall experience returns to be better, but the line has to do more to get into the backfield and the corners have to pick off more passes after taking away just three. There's plenty of speed and athleticism in the linebacking corps to swarm to the ball, and there's size and pass rushing ability from the front four, but there have to be more big plays and more takeaways.

 



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