2007 Nebraska Cornhuskers

Posted Jan 21, 2008

2007 Nebraska Cornhuskers Season Game-By-Game Recaps and More

2007 Nebraska Cornhuskers

Recap: Long before the Huskers narrowly escaped Ball State at home, and skidded to a 1-6 finish, they were actually seriously considered contenders for the Big 12 title.  However, instead of a return to glory under Bill Callahan, Nebraska was just plain gory throughout October and November, yielding an unimaginable 428 points over the final 10 games.  The high-profile collapse of the once mighty Huskers brought legendary former coach Tom Osborne back into the fold as interim AD, while Callahan was ushered out after four unremarkable seasons.            

Offensive Player of the Year: RB Marlon Lucky

Defensive Player of the Year: LB Steve Octavien

Biggest Surprise: Although the toe tag had been on the Huskers for weeks, they somehow mustered up the energy on Nov. 10 to obliterate Kansas State, 73-31.  The irony of the rout was that just seven days earlier, it was Nebraska that allowed more than 70 points in a loss to Kansas.  At least for one afternoon, Husker fans got a glimpse of Callahan's spread offense at its finest, producing a school-record 510 yards and seven touchdown passes from QB Joe Ganz.   

Biggest Disappointment: Losing to Missouri, 41-6, on Oct. 7.  At a time when they were still considered a threat in the Big 12 North, the curtain got pulled all the way back on the Huskers in front of a national TV audience.  Chase Daniel & Co. lit up Nebraska for more than 600 yards of total offense, setting off the worst second-half stretch in Big Red history.       

Looking Ahead: Could Nebraska have attracted a more proven commodity at head coach than LSU defensive coordinator Bo Pelini? Yup.  However, while no one knows for sure how Pelini will fare in his first head job, you can bet that his teams will be far more physical and tighter on defense than the last few playing in Lincoln.  

- 2007 Husker Preview 
- 2006 Nebraska Season

2007 Schedule
CFN Prediction:
2007 Record: 5-6

Sept. 1 Nevada W 52-10
Sept. 8 at Wake Forest W 20-17
Sept. 15 USC L 49-31
Sept. 22
Ball State W 41-40
Sept. 29 Iowa State W 35-17
Oct. 6 at Missouri L 41-6
Oct. 13
Oklahoma State L 45-14
Oct. 20 Texas A&M L 36-14
Oct. 27 at Texas L 28-25
Nov. 3
at Kansas L 76-39
Nov. 10 Kansas State W 73-31
Nov. 23 at Colorado

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? ...  The Nebraska offense certainly didn't have a problem over the last several weeks, and even though Joe Ganz threw too many interceptions against Kansas and Colorado, he showed that he could turn into the type of passer who could lead the program out of the doldrums next year. The big problem was the defense that got no production from the line. Where was the pass rush on the Buffs? Where was the big stop against the run? The next coach has to first address the defense and work from there. The offense will be more than fine next year.

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
Marlon Lucky, 16-103, 2 TD. Receiving:
Maurice Purify, 6-108
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ...  So did the offense wake up because Joe Ganz was under center, did things finally start to click in, or did the players decide to start playing? Whatever the answer, after obliterating Kansas State, Husker fans have to be wondering where this production was all year long. Now, with a win over Colorado next week, Nebraska would actually be bowl eligible. Does hanging up 73 points with 702 yards chance anything for Bill Callahan? Probably not, but if the offense does this again, there might be some pause before canning him. The defense still didn't do anything.

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? ...  If Bill Callahan's fate wasn't already sealed, it is now. Struggling to get the groove back in a tough year is one thing, but to give up 76 to Kansas, Kansas, proves once and for all that this isn't the Nebraska program that Tom Osborne left several years ago. On the positive side, Joe Ganz and the passing game were nearly unstoppable, outside of the times they screwed up themselves with four interceptions. At 4-6, the Huskers now have to win out against Kansas State and Colorado just to be bowl eligible. If the defense continues to be as horrific as it's been over the last few weeks, forget about it.

Oct. 27
Texas 28 ... Nebraska 25
Down 17-3 late in the first half, Texas came up with Ryan Bailey field goals from 47 and 49 yards out, and then Jamaal Charles went ballistic. The Texas back tore off touchdown runs from 25, 86 and 40 yards out as part of a 25-0 run before Nebraska got within three on a four-yard Maurice Purify catch. Texas recovered the on-side kick and ran out the clock, thanks to Charles, who ended up with 290 yards, ran for 216 yards in the fourth. Nebraska got its early lead thanks to tow Nate Swift touchdown catches.
Player of the game: Texas RB Jamaal Charles ran 33 times for 290 yards and three touchdowns
Stat Leaders: Texas - Passing: Colt McCoy, 12-28, 181 yds, 1 INT
Rushing: Jamaal Charles, 33-290 yds, 3 TD. Receiving: Quan Cosby, 5-113
Nebraska - Passing: Sam Keller, 23-35, 298 yds, 2 TD
Marlon Lucky, 24-111. Receiving:
Nate Swift, 6-112, 2 TD
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ...  
The Husker run defense has gone from bad to worse. Just when it seemed like Nebraska was about to come up with the type of program-changing, season-defining win Bill Callahan so desperately needed, Texas and Jamaal Charles turned on the running game switch and tore up the fourth quarter. Is Joe Ganz going to take over for Sam Keller? Will Marlon Lucky start to get even more work? Now on a four-game losing streak, the Huskers need to find some fight going into next week, or they'll be eaten alive by Kansas.

Oct. 20
Texas A&M 36 ... Nebraska 14
Texas A&M rumbled for 359 yards with Stephen McGee and Jorvorskie Lane each going over 100. Nebraska held an early lead on a three-yard Quentin Castille touchdown run to answer a two-yard Earvin Taylor scoring run with a blocked extra point. And then it was all A&M and its running game, with Lane rumbling for four touchdowns from one yard, two yards, four yards and a yard out. The Huskers made it close in the second quarter on a ten-yard Maurice Purify touchdown catch, but wouldn't get any closer. The Aggies held on to the ball for 21:03 in the second half.
Player of the game: Texas A&M QB Stephen McGee completed 13 of 22 passes for 100 yards and a touchdown and ran 35 times for 167 yards
Stat Leaders: Texas A&M - Passing: Stephen McGee, 13-22, 100 yds, 1 TD
Rushing: Stephen McGee, 35-167. Receiving: Pierre Brown, 4-49
Nebraska - Passing: Sam Keller, 26-44, 275 yds, 1 TD
Quentin Castille, 9-60, 1 TD. Receiving: Marlon Lucky, 13-125

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... Time to back up the bus and start from scratch. What, if anything, is working? At the moment, not much. At this point, the run defense has gone bye-bye, and things aren't going to get much better over the next few weeks, so it's time to start punching the ball deeper. Sam Keller threw it 44 times, but only came up with 275 yards with not nearly enough yards coming after the catch. Marlon Lucky was used as an outlet target, but he wasn't able to do much with his 13 grabs. With the season now in the tank, and changes certain to come after the end of the year, it'll be interesting to see how the team responds, and it's probably a good thing to get out of Lincoln and go on the road to deal with Texas and Kansas.

Oct. 13
Oklahoma State 45 ... Nebraska 14
Oklahoma State scored on its first six possessions, with Zac Robinson hitting Seth Newton for a 41-yard touchdown pass, and running for a three-yard score, and Julius Crosslin running for two one-yard touchdowns, on the way to a 38-0 halftime lead. The Huskers didn't get on the board until the first play of the fourth quarter on a 13-yard J.B. Phillips touchdown catch, but didn't get back on the board until the final minute on a one-yard Thomas Lawson catch. OSU ran for 317 yards and gained 551 yards of total offense.
Player of the game: Oklahoma State RB Dantrell Savage ran 24 times for 212 yards and a touchdown, and caught a pass for ten yards
Stat Leaders: Oklahoma State - Passing: Zac Robinson, 12-19, 234 yds, 1 TD
Rushing: Dantrell Savage, 25-212, 1 TD. Receiving: Adarius Bowman, 6-100
Nebraska - Passing: Sam Keller, 10-18, 129 yds, 2 TD, 2 INT
Quentin Castille, 20-102. Receiving: Terrence Nunn, 4-24
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... The Oklahoma State loss wasn't even as close as the 45-14 score would indicate. Where the passing from Sam Keller? Isn't the passing game supposed to be able to bomb its way back into games like this? Where's the production from the lines? The defensive line hasn't even been close over the last two weeks to doing anything right, while the linebackers haven't been the difference makers they're supposed to be. With the run defense having so many problems, the last thing the team needs is to see Texas A&M coming to town.

Oct. 6
Missouri 41 ... Nebraska 6
606 yards of total offense to 297. 32 first downs. Only two field goals allowed. Missouri dominated Nebraska in every way possible, as Chase Daniel threw two touchdown passes and ran for another, highlighted by a 48-yard play to Danario  Alexander late in the third quarter that made the blowout an epic rout. The Huskers could only manage Alex Henery first half field goals from 26 and 39 yards out. The Tigers got their final points off a fake field goal, with Martin Rucker taking it in from ten yards out.
Player of the game: Missouri QB Chase Daniel completed 33 of 47 passes for 401 yards and two touchdowns, and ran 11 times for 72 yards and two scores.
Stat Leaders: Nebraska - Passing: Sam Keller, 25-43, 223 yds, 1 INT
Rushing: Marlon Lucky, 17-67. Receiving: Marlon Lucky, 7-56
Missouri - Passing: Chase Daniel, 33-47, 401 yds, 2 TD
Chase Daniel, 11-72, 2 TD. Receiving:
Martin Rucker, 9-109, 1 TD
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... Is this rock bottom for Nebraska? It's one thing to get blown out by USC, it's another to struggle to get by Ball State and Iowa State, and it's another to get annihilated by Missouri in such a crushing fashion. The Huskers weren't even close, with nothing of note from the passing game, no chance to get the running game going, and a lifeless effort from the defense. It'll be interesting to see the fallout. The program isn't going to stand for many more of these.

Sept. 29
Nebraska 35 ... Iowa State 17
Iowa State jumped out to a 10-0 first half lead, helped by a three-yard Jason Scales touchdown run, and then Nebraska took over with 28 straight points, with Sam Keller throwing a six-yard touchdown pass to Thomas Lawson, and Marlon Lucky running for a 41-yard score and throwing a 20-yard touchdown pass to Sean Hill. The Cyclones were marching, and appeared to be on the verge of turning things around, but Bo Ruud picked off a pass and took it 93 yards for a score. Keller and Lawson hooked up against from four yards out late in the fourth to put the game well out of reach.
Player of the game: Nebraska RB Marlon Lucky ran 16 times for 107 yards and a score, caught four passes for 16 yards, and threw a 20-yard touchdown pass.
Stat Leaders: Iowa State - Passing: Bret Meyer, 26-51, 281 yds, 3 INTs
Rushing: Jason Scales, 31-115, 2 TDs. Receiving: Marquis Hamilton, 6-72
Nebraska - Passing: Sam Keller, 18-28, 219 yds, 2 TDs, 1 INT
Marlon Lucky, 16-107, 1 TD. Receiving: Nate Swift, 4-59

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... It's not like the Husker offense is humming, but it's effective enough to beat the bad teams like Iowa State. The big concern was how it took so long to put away an inferior opponent for a second straight week, after having so many problems with Ball State. The defense forced four turnovers and did a good job of generating pressure, while Sam Keller was efficient, if not sensational. The team needs to be far more explosive to come up with a win in Missouri next week, and it has to do a far better job of controlling the clock, having only held on to the ball for 20:17.

Sept. 22
Nebraska 41 ... Ball State 40
Nebraska's record-setting offensive day almost went for naught as Ball State had a last-second field goal attempt to win the game, but Jake Hogue's 55-yard field goal attempt want wide left to give the Huskers the win. It was close, as BSU just missed on what would've been a sure touchdown pass to go for the field goal attempt. The Cardinals got up 37-28 in the fourth quarter on the third Nate Davis touchdown pass of the day, going 21 yards to Madaris Grant. The Huskers got back in it on a 34-yard Bo Ruud interception return for a score, and later went ahead for good on a 11-yard Maurice Purify touchdown catch. The Husker offense got 398 passing yards from Sam Keller, highlighted by a 73-yard scoring pass to Sean Hill, but Ball State's Davis was even better, connecting with Dante Love for a 58-yards score and Darius Hill for a 20-yard touchdown. In all the two teams combined for 1,162 yards of total offense.
Player of the game ... Nebraska QB Sam Keller completed 36 of 54 passes for 438 yards and three touchdowns with an interception.
Stat Leaders: Nebraska - Passing: Sam Keller, 36-54, 438 yds, 3 TD, 1 INT
Rushing: Marlon Lucky, 21-102, 1 TD  Receiving: Marlon Lucky, 11-81
Ball State - Passing: Nate Davis, 26-43, 422 yds, 3 TD, 1 INT
MiQuale Lewis, 19-122, 1 TD   Receiving:
Dante Love, 10-214, 1 TD
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... This is why you have a Sam Keller. Ball State's offense is more dangerous than you might think, but that's not going to soothe any angered Husker fan worried about how close the Cardinals came to pulling off the win. Fortunately for the Nebraska offense, Keller showed how he can bomb away and keep pace when the defense couldn't come up with a stop. As close a call as this was, if there's a blowout win over Iowa State next week, the ship might be righted before the pivotal showdown with Missouri. The secondary had better get far tighter before then.

Sept. 15
USC 49 ... Nebraska 31
USC rolled for 313 rushing yards in a blowout that was far worse than the final score would indicate. Down 10-7 after a Cody Glenn touchdown run, the Trojans caught a huge break when Malcolm Smith picked up a fumbled kickoff return and took 64 yards to the Husker 45. Five plays later, Stanley Havilii ran for a two-yard score, and the rout was on. USC scored 35 straight points helped by two interceptions and two Chauncey Washington touchdown runs. Nebraska bombed away to make the score look better, with two Sam Keller to Todd Peterson touchdown passes in the final 4:32.
Player of the game ... USC LB Keith Rivers made ten tackles, broke up a pass, and added a quarterback hurry
Stat Leaders: Nebraska - Passing: Sam Keller, 36-54, 389 yds, 2 TD, 2 INT
Rushing: Marlon Lucky, 17-33  Receiving: Maurice Purify, 7-80
USC - Passing: John David Booty, 19-30, 144 yds, 2 TD
Stafon Johnson, 11-144, 1 TD   Receiving:
Fred Davis, 3-38
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... Nebraska appeared to prepare for everything but the possibility of its defensive line getting obliterated by the USC offensive line. The Trojans are far more talented than the Huskers, but the USC skill players didn't necessarily do anything special. The O line opened up huge holes to sprint through, while the defense teed off on the Nebraska running game to force Sam Keller to throw it 54 times. The important thing now for Nebraska is to not be completely demoralized. This is the type of game that kills a program's confidence, especially one like Nebraska that planned on this being a possible coming out party. With Ball State and Iowa State ahead to tune up against before the showdown at Missouri, the season has hardly started.

Sept. 8
Nebraska 20 ... Wake Forest 17
Nebraska overcame three turnovers, including a critical interception, and had to hang on late to pull off the tight win. Marlon Lucky's 22-yard touchdown midway through the third quarter gave the Huskers the lead, but it took a Zackary Bowman interception in the end zone late in the fourth to preserve it. The two teams traded scores all day, with Wake Forest getting two short touchdown runs, and a 25-yard Sam Swank field goal, while the Huskers got two Alex Henery field goals along with a 25-yard touchdown catch from Sam Hill.

Player of the game:
Nebraska CB Zackary Bowman made seven tackles and a critical interception in the end zone
Stat Leaders: Nebraska - Passing: Sam Keller, 24-41, 258 yds, 1 TD, 2 INTs
Rushing: Marlon Lucky, 24-90, 1 TD. Receiving: Terrence Nunn, 6-83
Wake Forest - Passing: Brett Hodges, 12-24, 140 yds, 2 INTs
Rushing: Kenneth Moore, 8-116, 1 TD. Receiving: Kenneth Moore, 4-35
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... Don't read too much into the close call at Wake Forest. The Demon Deacons are good, and this was a battle the team needed to fight through to get to the USC showdown. Even so, it has to be a little bit of a concern that it hasn't clicked yet for Sam Keller and the passing game. Keller wasn't needed against Nevada, but he failed to do much against a Wake Forest secondary that got bombed on by Boston College the week before. The defense had way too many problems with the Wake running game, but it held tough when it had to.

Sept. 1
Nebraska 52 ... Nevada 10
Marlon Lucky tore off three touchdown runs and caught a 16-yard touchdown pass as Nebraska overcame an early 10-7 deficit to score 45 unanswered points. Quentin Castille added two short touchdown runs and added 78 yards helping the Huskers roll up 413 rushing yards and six touchdowns. Nevada only managed nine first downs to Nebraska's 35, and got its points on a 36-yard Brett Jaekle field goal and an 80-yard Jonathon Amaya interception return. The Huskers held on to the ball for 40:38.
Player of the game ...
Nebraska RB Marlon Lucky rushed 30 times for 233 yards and three touchdowns, and had three receptions for 33 yards and another score.
Stat Leaders: Nevada- Passing: Nick Graziano, 8-24, 109 yds, 1 INT
Rushing: Nick Graziano, 6-29  Receiving: Mike McCoy, 2-27
Nebraska - Passing: Sam Keller, 14-25, 193 yds, 1 TD, 1 INT
Marlon Lucky, 30-233, 3 TDs  Receiving: Marlon Lucky, 3-31, 1 TD

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ...
All eyes were on Sam Keller in his debut for the Huskers, and outside of an interception returned for a touchdown, he was decent. However, the win over Nevada came from the running game, as Marlon Lucky showed a flash of the greatness many expected from him when he was one of the team's superstar recruits a few years ago. The defense dominated the Wolf Pack from the start, and was especially nasty on third downs. As long as the running game controls the tempo, and the D gets quick stops, this will be a nasty team to beat over the next few weeks in big games against Wake Forest and USC.

Sept. 1 - Nevada
Offense: The offense is going to be a work in progress and should be far better midseason than it will be to start. The biggest question marks are on the offensive line, particularly at tackle, after Charles Manu moved to guard and Dominic Green move to center. The receiving corps is big, faster than last year, and should make more big plays with big-armed Nick Graziano taking over at quarterback. The running backs need Brandon Fragger to be healthy to add a speed option along with Luke Lippencott. The Pistol offense will likely use a little more fullback this year, and will try to push the passing game deeper.
Defense: There will be some new defensive coaches taking over with coordinator Ken Wilson keeping the 3-4 scheme to take advantage of the great linebackers. Ezra Butler, Jeremy Engstrom, and Joshua Mauga are as good as any trio in the WAC, and will be the team's strength. The line is solid, helped by the emergence of nose tackle Matt Hines as a top all-around playmaker. The secondary is fine, but nothing special; the better WAC passing games won't have a problem against it.

Sept. 8 – at Wake Forest
Offense: Wake Forest will never come out and outbomb anyone, but it'll run effectively behind a veteran offensive line, get the timely passes when needed, and won't screw up. The attack only averaged 21.6 points per game and was 96th in the nation in offense, but there were only 15 giveaways. QB Riley Skinner is back after helping the offense lead the ACC in passing efficiency, but everything will revolve around the ground game with several good runners and four starters returning up front. The receiving corps will be an issue needing to move 2006's leading rusher, Kenneth Moore, back to his natural receiver position.
Defense: The D could be even better than last year when it was solid at bending but rarely breaking finishing 12th in the nation in scoring defense. There's not a Jon Abbate to rely on, and a few key defensive backs need to be replaced, but there's plenty of experience everywhere and lots of speed and athleticism in the secondary. There needs to be more pass rush from the defensive front and there could stand to be fewer big plays allowed against the pass, but the overall production should be solid.

Sept. 15 - USC
Offense: Does anyone in the country reload faster than the Trojans?  While there'll be new faces on the line, at wide receiver, and at offensive coordinator, the high-powered results that have become commonplace in the Pete Carroll era aren't about to change.  Of course, it helps to have at the controls strong-armed senior John David Booty, one of the early favorites to add a fourth Heisman Trophy to Heritage Hall in the last six years.  He'll be surrounded by an absolutely decadent amount of skill position talent, but most of the receivers lack experience at this level.  In this case, talent will overcome inexperience in a rout.  At 6-5 and 220 pounds, junior receiver Patrick Turner has the imposing size and sticky fingers to conjure up images of Mike Williams and Dwayne Jarrett, and have a breakout year.  Although the line is going to miss the presence of center Ryan Kalil, returning two-time All-American Sam Baker to protect Booty's blindside will help cushion the blow.    
Defense: The Trojan offense is good.  The Trojan defense is scary good.  Backed by a Who's Who of future first-day NFL Draft choices, USC is ready to unleash the nastiest and stingiest unit of the Pete Carroll era.  Led by Sedrick Ellis at the nose, Keith Rivers at middle linebacker, and Terrell Thomas at cornerback, the Trojans boast seven players capable of making a run at All-America honors in 2007.  Yeah, a few more sacks and takeaways would be nice, but this is as close to a flawless unit that there is in the country.  From front to back, they're aggressive, experienced and fast enough to create a swarming effect on the ball carrier.  Although the Trojans will give up yards to teams playing from behind, scoring meaningful points on them in the first three quarters is going to be a year-long nightmare.

Sept. 22 - Ball State
Offense: The offense grew into something special as Nate Davis emerged as one of the MAC's star passers. He should be even better after surviving his true freshman season, and with four starters returning on the line, he should have more time to operate. The receiving corps should be fantastic led by tight end Darius Hill and receiver Dante Love, who's growing into a good number one target. Don't expect too much from the running game even with the expected emergence of quick sophomore MiQuale Lewis.
Defense: Awful for the last two seasons, the defense started to get a little better as last year went on and should make even bigger strides with plenty of experience returning. Six starters are back, and most of the new starters have seen enough time to be ready to hit the ground running. The 3-4 is good at getting into the backfield, but there haven't been enough sacks and not nearly enough consistent production against power running teams. The pass defense has been non-existent for the last two seasons. Corners Trey Lewis and Trey Buice have been around, and can hit, but if they don't cover better, the Cardinals won't be able to take the next step.

Sept. 29 - 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.

Oct. 6 – at 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.

Oct. 13 - 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. 20 - 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.

Oct. 27 – 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.

Nov. 3 – at 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.

Nov. 10 – 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.

Nov. 23 – 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.



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