The only drawback to the beginning of college football season is the relatively boring matchups that dot the national landscape each year. This season is no exception. A quick glance across the Big 12 shows only two legitimate games on the schedule. Fortunately, Iowa State is one of those two teams that chose to schedule someone other then the college equivalent of Mason City High School.
The Iowa State-Toledo game will be
interesting because of the matchups it involves. The Cyclones are breaking in a
brand new defense, while Toledo has nine new starters on their offense.
When Toledo has
the ball, the field will be littered with players getting their first exposure
to major college football.
Whichever unit wins this battle
might be the team that wins this game. If the ISU defense shuts down Toledo, the Cyclones will
win no problem. The Cyclone offense will score their points and a strong
performance from the defense would go a long way to starting the season off 1-0.
At the same time, if Toledo torches the ISU defense, things could
get a little dicey. The Cyclones sometimes struggle getting off the ground in
their opener (see last season's Illinois State debacle). Putting pressure right
away on the offense to win a game might lead to problems.
The Cyclone offense will dominate
some games, carrying an inexperience defense to some wins, but putting that
pressure on Bret Meyer and Co. this early in the season isn't a good thing. The
offense can't afford to get into a mindset that they have to score 45 points
each game to carry a floundering defense. This game is critical for the defense
to show they will be carrying their weight throughout the
Iowa State also needs this game to
springboard their season. Wins against Toledo and
UNLV early will give them confidence going into a tough game at Iowa. If the Cyclones can
start their season 2-1 (or very possibly 3-0 given their proven success against
the Hawkeyes) the inevitable stumbles at Texas
won't seem so bad. A 1-2 start puts the Cyclones in a hole they can't afford to
get in. This season's schedule is tough enough – Iowa State can't be handing out favors to their
While Toledo will put up a fight, Iowa State will come out on top. The defense
will make enough stops to keep the Rockets from lighting up the scoreboard and
ISU's offense will demonstrate flashes of the form that will make them one of
the best scoring groups in the conference. It will be interesting, but the
Cyclones will start the season in the win column.
THE PICK: Iowa State
The only other legitimate game
this week comes courtesy of two teams that gave Iowa State fits last season – Baylor and TCU.
TCU is quickly becoming a
mid-major powerhouse. They handled Oklahoma at
the beginning of last season and their speed gave Iowa State fits during the Houston Bowl. Much
of that bowl champion team returns, giving the Horned Frogs a solid base to make
a run toward the nation's top-15 with.
Baylor is on the rise, coming
close to making a bowl last season. I really want the Bears to win this game,
but I don't think they will. Since the start of the Big 12, Baylor has been the
conference's kid brother. They are relatively harmless, kind of cute and when
you really need to you can beat them up and put them back in their place.
Well, the kid brother is starting
to grow up. Guy Morriss is a phenomenal coach who is rebuilding the program.
Baylor is just a couple years away from a legitimate yearly bowl contender.
Unfortunately for the Bears – a team that still needs to win all their
non-conference games to have a chance for the postseason – this isn't the way to
start. TCU is too good. This will be a great game that could easily go down to
the wire but the Horned Frogs will prove to be too much.
And now the yawners begin.
Forgive me if there isn't much
analysis here, these cupcake games are pretty easy to pick. So let's start in
the Big 12 North, I'll tell a couple jokes and we'll get out of here before
anyone can get hurt.
Louisiana Tech at Nebraska
This could be the year the Huskers
take steps toward returning to their national power status. The only real
question in this game is how many yards the fourth string running back will put
THE PICK: Nebraska
Northwestern State at Kansas
Here's a question. Who will eat
more at the pregame players buffet? The entire Northwestern State team or rotund Kansas coach Mark
THE PICK: Kansas
Murray State at Missouri
While these games should all be
easy for the Big 12 teams, if there is one coach who can blow a non-conference
cupcake, it's Missouri's Gary Pinkel. Brad Smith isn't there
to make him look even mediocre. I hope he enjoys his final season with the
THE PICK: Missouri
Illinois State at Kansas State
Kansas State is in the mist of rebuilding
after the retirement of Hall of Fame coach Bill Snyder. The Redbirds are feisty
State found out in 2005)
but the Wildcats should come out with a victory.
THE PICK: Kansas State
Montana State at Colorado
Of the two teams in the North with
first year coaches, Colorado will take the shortest time to return
to success. Dan Haskins is a great coach and he has many of the athletes needed
for his system to thrive already in Boulder. The Buffalos are this season's sleeper
in the Big 12 North.
THE PICK: Colorado
North Texas at Texas
This isn't fair. Where's the U.N.?
There could be war crimes in this game.
THE PICK: Texas
SMU at Texas
Will Tech be held under 100
points? Maybe, maybe not.
THE PICK: Texas
UAB at Oklahoma
Even though Oklahoma has questions at
quarterback, the Sooners will…I'm done with the analysis. This is going to be a
THE PICK: Oklahoma
Citadel at Texas
I didn't even know Citadel played
THE PICK: Texas
Missouri State at Oklahoma State
At least this is one win for a
gawd awful Oklahoma State team.
THE PICK: Oklahoma State