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It’s For Real, ‘Horns Fans

It’s about time. No one ever wants to see wholesale changes in a coaching staff, especially one that has been together as long as Mack Brown’s Texas Longhorns staff. But, after the first losing season for Texas football since Brown’s arrival in 1997, it is time for some change.

Early reports indictate that several coaches have either resigned, or at a minimum told their players that they won’t be returning next season. The key departure (good or bad depending on your alliances) is offensive coordinator Greg Davis, who has been with Brown for all 13 years at Texas, not to mention his tenture at North Carolina and Tulane before coming to Austin.

In addition, offensive line coach Mac McWhorter, defensive line coach Mike Tolleson, have confirmed they are resigning, and wide receiver coach Bobby Kennedy is rumored to also be leaving the staff (although that has not yet been confirmed). That leaves a lot of holes to fill on the coaching staff, but they were all areas where the Longhorns have struggled the past 2-3 years. You can find more on the departures here, and it appears as though Mack Brown will not try to fill the positions until after the bowl season concludes. The resignations will also not be effective until August 31, 2011, when each of the coach’s contracts expire, although they could leave sooner if they are hired away by other teams.

Who are the likely candidates to fill some of those roles, you ask? Let’s pontificate, based on some rumors circulating Longhorn nation. Keep in mind, current defensive coordinator and future Texas Longhorns head coach Will Muschamp will also have some pull in hiring the new coaches, so he might help Brown and the staff dig in to SEC coaching talent as well. No doubt, with some top coaches departing, the ‘Horns will have some money to spend in the off-season to get top-notch talent.

Dana Holgorsen (Oklahoma State offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach): Lead the nation’s #1 offensive juggernaut in 2010, and made a former Major League Baseball pitching prospect one of the best quarterbacks in the Big 12. It could be tough to grab Holgorsen, though, as he’s an in-conference coach, and Cowboys alum and millionaire Boone Pickens has plenty of money to donate to keep a winning staff together in Stillwater.

Bob Bostad (Wisconsin running game/offensive line coach): When you think of the Badger’s offense, the first thing that comes to mind is a stout running game that is based on the success of an offensive line that can run block with the best in the counry year-in and year-out. The downside is Bostad hasn’t called the plays and would have to learn on the fly or defer to another member of the current Texas offensive staff (see also: Major Applewhite). Would be a solid hire as an offensive line coach, but that might not be the type of “promotion” or long-term growth opportunity that is attractive to a successful assistant coach.

Major Applewhite (Texas running backs coach): A natural progression for Applewhite, and more the likely one of the reasons he took a demotion from previous roles to come to Texas in the first place – to be Greg Davis’ replacement. As a former quarterback, he can help groom future talent, and he’s also called the offensive plays for Rice and Alabama (under none other than Nick Saban) in previous stints. He’s young – yet experienced, more than capable, repsected by the players, has name recognition and in-roads to Texas-state talent, and it is a guarantee that he wants the job.

Mark Helfrich (Oregon offensive coordinator): As much as EyesOfTX despises all things Ducks, this might be a great hire. Helfrich has only called the plays for the “Zeroes” for two years, but their offense has been prolific during that time – and he’s got the Ducks playing in the national championship game the year after his starting quarterback transferred and his best running back went off to The League. Not bad. This one comes down to how much Nike, er…Phil Knight, er…the university is willing to pay to keep him around.

Bryan Harsin (Boise State offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach): This would be an interesting hire, but might be difficult given Harsin’s a Broncos graduate. It’s hard to get talent out of Boise, as head coach Chris Petersen has a well-oiled machine under his helm. The question remains whether Boise State talent can climb up the rungs and be successful at the next level – see also: former head coach Dan Hawkins, who floundered in his attempt to translate his success in Boise to Boulder and the Universityof Colorado.

Stacy Searels (Georgia line coach): There is some history with Searels and Will Muchamp, and the SEC connection might help draw him to the Lone Star State. While Searels has seen success at Georgia in previous years, the past several years have been struggles for the Bulldogs. Is that what Brown and Muschamp want to bring to town?

We’ll see how things pan out, but expect some big changes in the next month or two.

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Filed under Big 12, Longhorns, NCAA Football

NCAA Conference Re-Alignment Begins…

There’s been a lot of talk about conference realignment in the college ranks – even more so in the last week, given the Big 12’s deadline to Nebraska and Missouri to make a commitment to stay or go in the conference by this Friday.

Yesterday, all eyes were squarely on the Cornhuskers, as athletic director Tom Osbourne was deflecting questions like only a former politician-hopeful can, was he referred to leaving the Big 12 and joining the Big 10. In public relations terms, he confirmed nothing. Of course, the kicker was that the Big 10 claimed they hadn’t even extended invitations, but nonetheless Nebraska was chomping at the bit, akin to inviting themselves to the party in high school. Would Nebraska be the surprise team to make the first move? If so, who would follow the Big Red Machine?

Well, hold your horses. The PAC-10, meanwhile, had swung the doors wide open earlier this week when they approved expansion, even going so far to say the group didn’t need to reconvene before extending invites to prospective teams – in other words, they already had a good sense for who they wanted on board. Rumors flew – just Colorado? What about adding six teams, or nearly the entire Big 12 South division? Would Texas, and thus A&M, go? Who would be the odd teams out if the Big 12 disintegrated only 15 years after its inception?

Today, the dominoes started to fall, but not with the universities initially thought to make the first move. The PAC-10 offered, and Colorado accepted. With it, Colorado brings to the Premier Athletic Conference (yes, that’s really what “PAC” stands for) a football program in shambles, an athletic budget in more need of an economic stimulus package than the government’s, and a typical 6-year graduation rate (at least that’s what they told EyesOfTX at a campus visit 10+ years ago). In fact, earlier this week, the NCAA released their academic progress reports (APRs), and Colorado was one of the schools that made the “naughty” list. It’s not a good start to help the PAC-10 keep up their academic standards. Where are Stanford and Cal to stand up and complain about that? Will this academic debacle lead to another Dan Hawkins lecture YouTube sensation?

All told, this the beginning of the end for the Big 12. With Colorado out, and Nebraska apparently on the brink, the bricks are crumbling. Even TMZ is now reporting from a source that Oklahoma State is heading to the PAC-10, and are just waiting to make the official announcement. What we know from football coach Mike Gundy is that we should talk to him, because “…he’s 40 and he’s a man…” Who else is in line? Will Texas and Texas A&M hold out as long as possible, to see if other bidders (like the SEC, perhaps?) come calling or get something locked up sooner than later?

Who’s “out” in all of this? The biggest loser from the Big 12 might very well be Kansas, followed by Baylor, Iowa State, and Kansas State – maybe even Missouri, as the Big 10 sounds like it’s gone cold it’s thinking for the Columbia crew. Let’s take a look at some specifics:

Kansas
Are Kansas and Kansas State a joint deal, similar to Texas and Texas A&M? Could the Jayhawks end up in Conference USA, or even the Big East (as that conference potentially try to fill gaps from Big 10 thieves as well)? Kansas will likely look for a conference that has strong basketball ties, so that probably rules out the Mountain West. If KU ends up anywhere other than a top 4 conference, it will be sad day for the history of their basketball program akin to North Carolina being part of the Southern Conference and playing Appalachian State and Citadel every year. Sad. It’d also be a tough day for football coach Turner Gill, who in EyesOfTX’s opinion, deserved a chance to make a name for himself in a big-name conference after building a great program at Buffalo. Gill might be bringing his new team right back to a mid-major conference.

Baylor
Baylor’s another big loser in this discussion, especially given they’re on the brink of reviving their athletics program from a years-long fallout from incidents from the men’s basketball program. With their football team on the rise, and both men’s and women’s basketball making significant impacts in recent years, a move to a new, lesser-known conference could be both good and bad. Wait, why aren’t they in the “Big 12 South” package that PAC-10’s exploring? Quite honestly, rumors have been circulating that Cal-Berkeley has major issues with the religious affiliation of the university, and secondly, Baylor lacks the political prowess in the Texas state legislature to drive a deal these days (like they did when the Big 12 was formed).

For a new conference affiliation, however, Baylor’s got to see the good: they might finally be able to compete in football. Let’s face it, although they had a lot of hype this last season, Baylor football is a bottom-dweller of the Big 12 (and South division specifically) every year since the league’s inception. In a new, less-“loaded” conference, they have a chance to put themselves on the map and go bowling for the first time in many, many years. The bad: they lose the clout of being in a major conference for the first time since pre-Southwest Conference days, not to mention they still aren’t allowed to dance on campus.

Iowa State
Quite honestly, EyesOfTX will miss the opportunity to get the Cyclones on the field so long as Paul Rhodes is coach – he seems like a good guy who’s passionate about where he’s at and brings the best to that program. It’s an exciting time for football in Ames. But, what’s the best move for ISU? Get the Big 10 to come calling…especially if the conference is now cold on Missouri. Plus, it makes sense given their in-state and Big 10-affiliated Hawkeyes are causing trouble in Ann Arbor and Columbus these days.

Missouri
They talked a big game early, and now it looks like it just all might backfire. All signs pointed to the Big 10 initially having some interest in Missouri, but now that well seems to have dried up – something BP could only wish for in the Gulf of Mexico. With Nebraska on the horizon for the Big 10, and as that conference continues to mull over Notre Dame, Syracuse, Rutgers, and Pittsburgh, the Tigers all of the sudden appear in the rear-view mirror. Now’s the time for M-I-Z-Z-O-U to start a nice courting relationship with the SEC.

What about the conference affiliations with bowl games? Well, the Big 12 will definitely give up some nice deals for post-season play if it indeed goes away, but a new conference affiliation also might benefit from a majority of Big 12 schools bringing those bowl games to the negotiating table with the new conference(s). Right now, the Big 12 has a total of eight bowl game affiliations, including: Fiesta/BCS, Holiday, Cotton, Alamo, Texas, Yankees Stadium (new), Insight, and Independence. Compare that to the PAC-10’s six-game (and weaker) bowl pull: Rose/BCS, Alamo, Holiday, Sun, Las Vegas, and Emerald. Both conferences are nearing bowl game negotiations – supposedly with the Big 12 in 2012, and PAC-10 in 2013. Perfect timing for conference re-alignment news.

Lots of moving parts…it will be interesting to see what plays out through the weekend. Expect more blockbuster news later today or Friday, as more conferences and teams get antsy so as not to get left in the dust. Texas, where you headed?

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Filed under Aggies, Bears, Big 12, Conference USA, Cornhuskers, Cowboys, Cyclones, Jayhawks, Longhorns, Mountain West Conference, NCAA Football, Red Raiders, Sooners, Tigers, Wildcats

College Football: Week 13 Viewing Guide

It’s Thanksgiving week, which is also Rivalry Week. We’ll be light on commentary this week, because most of these games speak for themselves. Many of these rivalries are sullied this year with dominant teams facing off against their historic opponents in rebuilding years. However, for those teams with nothing else to play for, these match-ups will be their “championship” because it would bring a team – like Auburn or Texas A&M – no greater pleasure than to spoil the BCS title hopes of their nemeses. So, don’t be surprised to emotional play lead to some surprising upsets this weekend.

Remember to check the TV coverage maps, and note that all rankings are the current BCS standings. Enjoy your leftovers and save room to indulge in your week 13 viewing guide.

Thursday
8:00 PM ET
#3 Texas 49 v. Texas A&M 39
This was…unusually close. Despite the loss, the Aggies might have played their best game of the year – at least offensively. QB Jerrod Johnson looked fantastic, and will continue to be a threat to Texas in the next couple of years. Texas defensive coordinator Will Muschamp will be irate after the way the defense played Thursday night, but my guess is that emotion and momentum kept the Aggies in the game much longer than expected because the ‘Horns offense clicked most of the game. If you’re running behind on Eyes Of TX content, the in-depth game preview can be found here. There is no asterisk as division champs this year, as Texas has plowed their way to the Big 12 Championship game against Nebraska on December 5th.

Friday
11:00 AM ET
Rutgers at Louisville, ESPN2
Exciting! Not. But, football season’s almost over….let’s feast while we still can.

12:00 PM ET
Illinois at #5 Cincinnati, ABC
One final test for the Bearcats. Rumor has it former starting QB Pike will make the start this week. Eyes Of TX says, “why mess with a good thing?” Hope that doesn’t backfire for Cincinnati, but an upset sure would make the BCS happy.

2:30 PM ET
#2 Alabama at Auburn, CBS
Can ‘Bama overcome their biggest rival to give themselves a shot at #1 Florida, the SEC championship and the national championship? We’ll see how Auburn gets up for this game after a killer start, but a late season let-down. If head coach Gene Chizik pulls off the upset, sadly, he will be enshrined as the best coach ever at Auburn.

3:30 PM ET
Nebraska at Colorado, ABC
Nebraska has clinched the Big 12’s North division and will face #3 Texas on December 5th for the Big 12 conference title. This will be the last opportunity to see what Bo Pelini’s squad has to offer, in particular his offense, and while most thought it will be Colorado’s last chance to help head coach Dan Hawkins keep is job, the university confirmed that he would be coaching in Boulder again next season. The NCAA might as well give CU the “death penalty” because they’ve definitely rolled over this year.

7:00 PM ET
#9 Pittsburgh at West Virginia, ESPN2
Does anyone else think Pittsburgh head coach Dave Wannstedt has a funny mustache?

10:00 PM ET
Nevada at #6 Boise State, ESPN2
Close out the night with this late game. Boise State could be shut out of the BCS this year despite being #6 and undefeated. It’s too bad their weak schedule didn’t allow us to see just how good they can be, and perhaps Oregon helped them look better than they actually are… With #5 Cincinnati and #4 TCU as mid-major schools ahead of them in the BCS, it will be a disappointment for the home of the blue turf.

Saturday
12:00 PM ET
Both of these games are intriguing for the in-state bragging rights implications. Neither matchup is particularly compelling but in the context of Rivalry Week, they’re definitely worth watching.

#18 Clemson at South Carolina, ESPN
The ‘ol Ball Coach tries to make a stand in Columbia against a ranked opponent. Win or lose, they could keep Clemson RB C.J. Spiller from winning some post-season awards if they can hold him to a sub-par performance.

North Carolina at North Carolina State, ESPN2
If a tree falls in the forest, and no one is around, does it make a sound? In the shadows of the Appalachian mountains, its basketball season folks.

12:21 PM ET
#25 Mississippi at Mississippi State, check local listings
If you can find this, see the same reasons as above. If anything, Texas fans can relish in the fact that when the pressure was on to deliver a big year for Ole Miss, former Longhorn back-up quarterback Jevan Snead fell flat in 2009.

12:30 PM ET
#12 Oklahoma State at oklahoma, Comcast Sports Net
Another one that will be hard to find, unfortunately, because it’s always nice to watch ou struggle. With this year’s ‘Pokes team rolling to a potential BCS at-large bid, it’s hard to imagine them dropping this one, even though they’re away from home.

3:30 PM ET
Florida State at #1 Florida, CBS
Florida’s won the last 21 games of this series, if memory serves. For Seminoles head coach Bobby Bowden, the good thing is he’s old enough to forget each game. Florida wins big, and sets up the ultimate SEC Championship match-up of #1 v. #2 Alabama for the right to play in the national championship.

#14 Virginia Tech at Virginia, ESPN
Virginia is an absolute debacle this year. Expect the Hokies to roll the ‘Roos at home.

#17 Miami at South Florida, ABC
This might actually be interesting, as South Florida started out the year strong, as did Miami. We’ll see what the ACC has to offer up the bowl committees besides a surprising Georgia Tech. Can Miami step up?

(Also in this slot on ABC is Arizona at Arizona State, and Missouri at Kansas.)

5:00 PM ET
#21 Utah at #19 BYU, CBS College Sports
A great in-state matchup between two of the best non-BCS conference teams.

7:00 PM ET
Arkansas at #15 LSU, ESPN
LSU has found out they weren’t quite as good as they thought, in part due to horrible coaching by Les Miles last week. Arkansas has been inconsistent, but could pull off the upset. Unfortunately, Death Valley isn’t an easy place to play, especially the week after an LSU loss.

8:00 PM ET
Georgia at #7 Georgia Tech, ABC
Who would have thought the best team in Georgia would be out of Atlanta? Georgia Tech’s triple-option has proven surprisingly successful this year. Go Yellowjackets!

Notre Dame at Stanford, ABC
What could be head coach Charlie Weis’ last game at Notre Dame will be shown in most of the country. Meanwhile, Stanford will try to stamp their ticket with another win against a big-time program.

Thanks again to LilPete for his 2009 season viewing guides.

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Filed under Aggies, Big 12, Buffaloes, Cornhuskers, Cowboys, Longhorns, NCAA Football, Sooners

Game Preview: Texas Longhorns v. Colorado Buffaloes

October 10, 2009
6:15 p.m. Central
ESPN

The ‘Horns have had a bye week, and that’s given Eyes Of TX a chance to make the journey back to Austin for this week’s match-up with Colorado. This week’s game preview will be short, given the priorities of hitting up Chuy’s, Salt Lick, Magnolia Cafe, and of course 2nd, 4th and 6th Streets. For gameday, a little tailgating, Posse East, and good friends and a football atmosphere. And, to be honest, when we’re talking about the Colorado Buffaloes this season, there just aren’t many good things to say.

Going in to the week, Texas remained #2 in the USA Today polls, although Florida gained a first-place vote on their bye week – did they rest better than Texas did? – and Alabama continues to creep up on Texas with their total number of votes. It will be interesting to see the standings after the weekend if Texas and Alabama both win, and #4 LSU pulls off the upset of #1 Florida.

Let’s get in to this week’s match-up of the Longhorns and Buffaloes.

This Week
Eyes Of TX’s Prediction
Texas 56, Colorado 10

Colorado BuffaloesUniversity of Colorado Buffaloes (1-3)
It’s been a tough year already for Dan Hawkins’ Colorado Buffaloes, and this week doesn’t seem to help their cause. The Buffs are 1-3 this year, with their sole victory a shutout of Wyoming the week after Texas played them. Overall, the team averages just over 20 points per game, but with Texas’ defense, Eyes Of TX doesn’t believe they’ll eclipse that mark this weekend. In fact, Hawkins is only 2-16 in road games since he’s been in Boulder, and even worse, his son and starting quarterback, Cody, averages three INTs a game on the road. Ouch. If that’s a sign, then the elder Hawkins is blind in terms of how to fix it.

In theory, Colorado is a line-it-up-and-run-it-at-you kind of team. In game situations, at least so far this year, that has yet to become reality. As mentioned, the Buffs offense is led by the coach’s son, Cody Hawkins, but the running game is keyed with Rodney Stewart and Darell Scott. While the running game should be a strength, the Buffs average under 100 yards rushing per game – in large part probably because their offense has been trying catch-up in almost every game this season.

Stewart is the smaller running back of the two, but he has good speed and vision, and he has taken the reigns as the team’s most productive backfield option. While Scott is the larger, more every-down back, he has yet to show that he can be consistent and produce. Rumor has it he’s had a great week of practice, through, so Texas fans will have to evaluate what that means. Hawkins is small for a quarterback, and so far this year, he’s had to do most of the work for the Buffs offense, as he throws the ball about 47 times per game, but is only completing 52 percent of his passes. The wide receivers are an unimpressive bunch as well; they will do the work, but no one player is elite. Given Texas’ secondary, they should be a non-factor in the game. However, the ‘Horns will need to keep an eye on Colorado tight end Riar Geer, who is a 6’5” 250-pound monster who can get down the playing field, and with excellent hands, make some big catches and free up the other wide receivers. All of these possibilities assume the offensive line is providing adequate blocking – for both the run and pass – and, pure and simple, they just won’t. They’ve given up 10 sacks through four games, two of which were against poor teams, and the lack of rushing yards per game also shows the deficiency there. It will be a long, long day for Hawkins and the offensive line this week.

On defense, the Buffaloes have definitely struggled – maybe more so than the offense. The defensive line also lost it’s best player, when defensive end Lagrone Shields quit the team. The line has given up an average of 201 yards rushing – one of the worst in all of D-I football. However, the linebackers can be solid, and are led in the middle by Marcus Burton who is an absolute beast a 6’0” and 265-pounds. In general, the linebackers might be able to hold their own filling the gaps on defense, but if Texas can run the ball laterally, or even take advantage of the linebackers in the passing game, it will get ugly quickly.

To put the wrapper on it, the Buffs special teams is just as woeful – if not worse – than the rest of the team. Horrible.

Texas Longhorns#2 Texas Longhorns (4-0)
Without going in to all of the details, Texas will win this game. Hands-down. It shouldn’t even be close, and if it is, then Texas is too worried about next week’s match-up with oklahoma, and the coaching staff has done a horrible job getting them prepared for this week.

Texas should be able to control this game through the air or on the ground – really, it’s their choice. Eyes Of TX suspects, however, that Greg Davis will stick to his game plan and won’t get any extra work in for the running backs. Too bad, this is the game to do it. Expect McCoy and Co. to have a huge day on offense, and Sergio Kindle and his defensive juggernaut to continue to dominate – maybe 5-6 sacks and a couple INTs? On special teams, Shipley and Monroe have a huge opportunity to light up the stat books this week.

All in all, stay healthy, get the win, and start the “ou sucks” chants early and often at DKR-Texas Memorial Stadium.

Pre-game Resources
2009 Texas Longhorns Roster
2009 Colorado Buffaloes Roster
University Co-op Gameday Newsletter / Pod casts

Hook ‘em!

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Filed under Big 12, Buffaloes, Longhorns, NCAA Football

NCAA Football: Week 6 Viewing Guide

NCAA FootballAre we really already halfway through the season? It’s week six in the college football season, and this is when things get interesting as conference play is in full effect and the national rankings have begun to sort themselves out. Of course, “now things get interesting” only relates if you’re not a Big 12 Conference fan.

There are a great set of games to check in on this weekend, so here’s your week six NCAA football viewing guide.

Thursday
#21 Nebraska 27 at #24 Missouri 12
If you missed this game on Thursday night, here’s a quick recap – a near-tsunami came through Columbia, Missouri, on Thursday night and it wasn’t either team’s offense for the first three quarters. Special teams mistakes and the punting game were the outcomes of heavy rain, but in the fourth quarter, Nebraska found some magic and scored three TDs in just over 3 minutes to seal the victory. As Eyes Of TX expected, this puts Nebraska and Kansas in the driver’s seat for the Big 12 North title. If you haven’t been watching Nebraska, you should begin thinking about defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh as a Heisman Trophy candidate – he is unbelievable.

Saturday
12:00 PM ET
#17 Auburn at Arkansas, ESPN
Auburn has entered the top 25 with a 5-0 record. Arkansas isn’t likely to stand in their way to a rise up the rankings, but Ryan Mallett – whether he sticks with football or pursues a Major League Baseball career – has the potential to keep the ‘Hogs close. This is a nice way to kick off a great afternoon and see what’s going on in the SEC.

3:30 PM ET
#3 Alabama at #20 Mississippi, CBS
Alabama has been gaining ground on Texas in the polls and Ole Miss was positioned in the top 5 only a few short weeks ago before being exposed at South Carolina. The Rebels could redeem themselves with a victory at home, or the Tide could make a case for themselves as the best team in the country. Either way, this is must watch.

Wisconsin at #9 Ohio State, ABC/ESPN
ABC has a quad-fecta of regional games Saturday afternoon so check your listings for what’s available to you. Wisconsin enters this game unbeaten and unranked, sitting at the top of the Big 10 standings – yet they are still unranked. That is hard to fathom given Washington was ranked earlier this season, but we digress. Tyrelle Pryor has the potential to use his legs to win this one for State, then again, everyone has been saying Pryor can run and Eyes Of TX has yet to see it on display. Maybe Texas offensive coordinator Greg Davis needs to come to town and breathe some life in to the Ohio State offense. It will be interesting to see what both of these teams are made of this week.

#13 Oregon at UCLA, ABC
Oregon still has a lot to prove after their opening week loss to now #6 Boise State, but could make a case for themselves as the best team in the Pac-10. They’ve looked solid the past few weeks, including a beat-down of then-#6 California,and their quarterback could be back from this match-up. Neuheisal’s already got bets on the outcome of this game, from what we hear.

Baylor at #19 oklahoma, ABC
ou is floundering, and Baylor has never beaten the sooners, but there’s no time like the present. After the close loss to Miami last week, the sooners desperately need a win in their final lead up to the Red River Shootout, but Baylor hasn’t had a team as likely to pull off an upset of a top 25 team in a long time. Unfortunately, that Baylor team had a healthy Robert Griffin, and he’s out for the season. ou quarterback Sam Bradford is expected to start his first game since the week one injury, so we’ll see how his recovery has gone over the course of the game.

UConn at Pittsburgh, ABC/ESPN
This game rounds out the four top for ABC and doesn’t add much to the conversation, but the game is on TV whether you like it or not, so you might as well be aware. If anything, it’s a good opportunity to get a chuckle at Pittsburgh head coach Dave Wannstedt’s moustache.

7:15 PM ET
Colorado at #2 Texas, ESPN
Hopefully, Texas isn’t looking ahead to ou weekend in Dallas. The ‘Horns should be able to put this away early, as Colorado continues to struggle through a four quarter game. Coach Dan Hawkins club just can’t seem to get it together, and with the ‘Horns bye week and the offense hitting its stride against UTEP, this is another scary match-up for the ‘Buffs. On a positive note, if this game gets out of hand early, it allows us all to check out what’s happening in Baton Rouge.

8:00 PM ET
#1 Florida at #4 LSU, CBS
CBS has the game of the week with this top 5 showdown. The storylines for this game don’t need repeating here, this week is all about what takes place in Death Valley. Florida quarterback Tim Tebow has been dealing with the lingering effects of a concussion he suffered against Kentucky, and his play tonight is a game-time decision. If Tebow sits this one out, Eyes Of TX believes there is a huge opportunity for an upset.

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Filed under Bears, Big 12, Buffaloes, Cornhuskers, Longhorns, NCAA Football, Sooners, Tigers

Big 12 Football Predictions: North Division

With the 2009-2010 college football season only days away, let’s take a look at the the Big 12 Conference’s North division and break-down some of the key aspects of each of the six teams and how they’ll fare come January.

As in recent years, Eyes Of TX expects the North division to be the weaker of the two Big 12 Conference divisions. In 2009-2010, Eyes Of TX predicts the Nebraska Cornhuskers as the Big 12 North conference champion, and they will advance to the Big 12 Championship game in December in Dallas, Texas.

Colorado Buffaloes
2009 Pre-season Rank: Not ranked; 5-7 in 2008 season.
Quick Thoughts: Something tells me the Buffs won’t meet Coach Hawkins’ December expectation of “Ten wins and no excuses.” In addition, the team is employing a new offensive coordinator, Eric Klesau. Eyes Of TX believes the Buffs will continue to under-achieve in the weaker Big 12 North division.
Strengths: The team has talent and depth, but no one that continuously steps up the plate; the starting linebackers.
Weaknesses: Quarterback consistency (Hawkins completed 57% of passes in 2008, throwing 17 touchdowns to 10 interceptions); lack of a running game; head coach Dan Hawkins, who is on the hot seat in this his fourth year with the program after posting a 13-24 record during his tenure in Boulder.
Depth Chart: See 2009 Colorado Buffaloes roster here.
Biggest Schedule Threat: 10/10 @ Texas; 10/17 Kansas; 11/19 @ Oklahoma State
Standout Player(s): The linebacker core, they looked good in spring practice – or, maybe the offense continued to just look that bad.
Who You’ll Know at Season’s End: The hope is for a consistent quarterback, potentially Cody Hawkins.
Bowl Projection: None.

Iowa State Cyclones Iowa State Cyclones
2009 Pre-season Rank: Not ranked; 2-10 in 2008 season.
Quick Overview: New coach, new system. More wins? Unlikely. Expect the Cyclones to have a season that is consistent with year’s past. Unsure whether or not Ames will better with or without former head coach Gene Chizik who departed for Auburn.
Strengths: None. Honestly, none.
Weaknesses: A new head coach, Paul Rhoads; a new offensive and defensive scheme; Eyes Of TX assumes the Iowa State players will be able to understand the playbook well enough in one off-season to be somewhat competitive for a game this season.
Depth Chart: See 2009 Iowa State Cyclones roster here.
Biggest Schedule Threat: 10/24 @ Nebraska; 11/7 Oklahoma State
Standout Player: With some experience under his belt, quarterback Austen Arnaud
Who You’ll Know at Season’s End: If Eyes Of TX can name anyone other than Arnaud on the Iowa State roster by season’s end, that must mean they did something right. Or rather, they ended up on Sportscenter’s Top Plays for something ridiculous. I’ll take Vegas odds for the “over” on something ridiculous or embarrassing.
Bowl Projection: Absolutely none.

Kansas Jayhawks
2009 Pre-season Rank: Not ranked; 8-5 in 2008.
Quick Overview: Choosing the top North division school was a toss-up between Nebraska and Kansas, and despite Eyes Of TX’s pick, the Fighting Maginos definitely have the offensive weapons to shape their season. They get oklahoma and Nebraska at home in Lawrence, but play Texas on the road.
Strengths: Returning starters at quarterback, with Todd Reesing, and wide receiver, with Kerry Meier and Dezmon Briscoe.
Weaknesses: Pass defense, it remains to be seen whether or not the Jayhawks can get past last year’s 114th national ranking; replacing the linebacker core to keep up their stout rush defense from 2008.
Depth Chart: See 2009 Kansas Jayhawks roster here.
Biggest Schedule Threat: 10/24 Oklahoma; 11/14 Nebraska; 11/21 @ Texas
Standout Player: Quarterback Todd Reesing, with a strong season and some protection up front, he could be a long-shot to make it to New York for the Heisman ceremony.
Who You’ll Know at Season’s End: The offensive line, because they’re giving Reesing time to pick defenses apart, or because they’re giving up sacks like they did in 2008 (97th nationally).
Bowl Projection: Sun Bowl.


Kansas State Wildcats
2009 Pre-season Rank: Not ranked; 5-7 in 2008.
Quick Overview: With strong-armed quarterback Josh Freeman and defensive end Ian Campbell departing Manhattan, the Wildcats have to fill the void with playmakers on both offense and defense. It will take time for Snyder to get his junior college recruits in the program to make a difference, although with a weak non-conference schedule and a couple wins in Big 12 play, and they could be bowl-eligible.
Strengths: Former head coach Bill Snyder is back.
Weaknesses: Where was the running game in the spring? For that matter, where was the defense? New starting quarterback Carson Coffman threw 36 times for 334 yards and 3 scores.
Depth Chart: See 2009 Kansas State Wildcats roster here.
Biggest Schedule Threat: 10/31 @ oklahoma; 11/7 Kansas; 11/21 @ Nebraska
Standout Player: Based on the spring game, let’s say quarterback Carson Coffman.
Who You’ll Know at Season’s End: Wide receiver Attrail Snipe.
Bowl Projection: With a bit of luck in Big 12 play, the Insight Bowl.

Missouri Tigers
2009 Pre-season Rank: Not ranked; 10-4 in 2008.
Quick Overview: The Tigers have a lot of re-building to do, on both offense and defense. Standouts Chase Daniel (QB), Chase Coffman (TE), and Jeremy Maclin (WR) are all gone, in addition to offensive coordinator Dave Christensen (to Wyoming), as are their credible defensive tackle and defensive back. Upsets are possible, especially with three of four key games at home, and if those happen, Miz-zou are a long-shot to win the North division.
Strengths: A fresh start, as there was disappointment in last year’s team; the underclassman have an opportunity to put last season behind them and step up to define their year.
Weaknesses: Replacing the offensive firepower, as the offense was completely dominated by the defense in the spring game.
Depth Chart: See 2009 Missouri Tigers roster here.
Biggest Schedule Threat: 10/8 Nebraska; 10/17 @ Oklahoma State; 10/24 Texas; 11/28 Kansas
Standout Player: Linebacker Sean Witherspoon, perhaps the best LB in the Big 12 Conference.
Who You’ll Know at Season’s End: If the passing game doesn’t come together, running back Derrick Washington will be seen in heavy doses come October.
Bowl Projection: None.


Nebraska Cornhuskers
2009 Pre-season Rank: #22 (USA Today); 9-4 in 2008.
Quick Overview: The Bo Pelini era in Lincoln enters its second year, and Eyes Of TX likes where its heading. The defense should be much improved with seven starters returning, and the offense looks solid under new quarterback Zac Lee.
Strengths: The defense; this is Pelini’s strength and the players seem bought in to the system; the offense has some serious potential, especially with a relatively easy Big 12 schedule (meaning, they’re light on the South division powerhouse teams).
Weaknesses: Wide receiver – someone needs to step-up to be the go-to guy; quarterback Zac Lee looked good in the spring, its up in the air how he’ll do come game time.
Depth Chart: See 2009 Nebraska Cornhuskers roster here.
Biggest Schedule Threat: 9/19 @ Virginia Tech; 11/7 oklahoma; 11/14 @ Kansas
Standout Player: Defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh
Who You’ll Know at Season’s End: Quarterback Zac Lee
Bowl Projection: Big 12 North division title; Holiday Bowl.

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