Return of Ralphie - 2007 Big 12 North Preview
Let the record show that I certainly would not take the picks to Vegas. Thanks to the quitters at Iowa State last year, my sexy dark-horse pick ended up being quite possibly the worst selection of the year. (Unless you count the Troy over Nebraska prediction a few weeks later.) With that being said, I've turned a corner and I shall give you the spin-free breakdown of what REALLY is going to happen this year in the mighty Big 12 north:
Kansas - 200 to 1 winning the North. 4 Projected wins.
I'm not sure why everybody is saying that Kansas has the easiest schedule in the nation. Central Michigan and Toledo are MORE than capable of knocking Mark Mangino's club in 2007. It seems like I can cut and paste the same preview for KU just about every year. They have a couple of nice players. They'll play somebody tough, but they'll get bludgeoned by everybody else. Home games against Iowa State and Baylor might be their only saving grace to a respectable season, but even that isn't a given, since Iowa State still has some expiernece on their team. Kerry Meier was one of the worst QB's I've ever seen in my life last season. Perhaps he's improved? Probably not.
Iowa State - 199 to 1 winning the North. 4 Projected wins.
Something tells me ISU isn't going to be as bad as people think this year. Unfortunately for them...like last year...their schedule is brutal and they've continued to develop their very Missouri-esque "woe is us" complex that allows them to melt down during games. Bret Meyer is still a pretty good QB and 8 starters return on defense..but who the hell are they going to beat? They struggled with Toledo last year, as the Rockets should be improved. Mighty Northern Iowa is also on the schedule, so there's another dogfight. However, surely the prospect of having a new head coach won't help either right? This team isn't going to be real good...but something in the back of my head says they have way too much talent to be 5th place in a crappy division like this.
Nebraska - 75 to 1 winning the North. 6 Projected wins.
Yeah, that's right, I said it. All this hype about "getting back to where they belong" blah blah blah is nothing but a front to the cold-hard fact that Nebraska doesn't have a damn thing going for them. Yes, the greatest hype machine since Joseph Gerbles is telling you that everything is in place behind an unproven cancer of a QB, a running back who's never been a feature back and a wide receiver who can't stay out of the back of police cars. And that's not to mention a mediocre defense that lost their best 4 players last season. Husker fans are in for a rude awakening this season if you've got visions of a made-up trophy once again dancing through your hollow skull. The thing is, I'm not doing this to be funny. I'm dead serious. this is going to be a train wreck of epic proportions, with the wheels coming off right around the 7th of October. Don't say I didn't tell you so. Order restored indeed. Remember, they're not saying, "Ruuud", they're booing.
Kansas State - 99 to 1 winning the North. 7 projected wins.
I know the chic thing to do these days, if you're not a Gopowercat.com subscriber is to bash the hell out of Ron Prince for being in way over his head. Truth be told, the cupboard wasn't THAT bare when old man Snyder left two years ago. Granted, things are a far cry from the late 90's, where K-State was the pride of the division. However, the bottom didn't fall out quite as much as people think, as proven by the cat's trip to a bowl game last season. Unfortunately for Texas, K-State didn't piss away the game with a late fumble, as KSU showed definite signs of improvement. Josh Freeman is the real deal, but this team is still a couple years away from getting back into the fold. If the running game can keep Freeman from getting killed, KSU is going to surprise some people. Oh, and my upset of the year special? K-State over the Hicks in Lincoln. Book that.
Missouri - 3 to 1 winning the North. 9 Projected wins.
I'm not stupid. I'm well aware of what Gary Pinkel can do to an offense. With that being said, there are so many weapons for Chase Daniel to choose from, even Pinkel can't mess it up. (At least I don't think). The key for Mizzou is not the Nebraska game on 10/6 (which they will win by double digits), but the trips to Manhattan and Colorado. Pinkel and company have proven to be deadly at home when facing teams not named Oklahoma. However, late games on the road have been the death blow to this team, and this season is no different. Look for the Tigers as usual to win a game they shouldn't, and blow a game or two they should win. Early candidates are the trips to Oxford and Texas A&M at home, who has proven that power running is the way to beat Mizzou. (Not swing passes and fake punts). Mizzou's defense may have lost 5 starters, but two of those five starters missed significant time due to injury, thus allowing backups to get lots of playing time. This is the most confident I've ever been about a Mizzou team in my lifetime, and that scares the shit out of me. However, I'm well aware of the fact that God hates Mizzou and their fans like no other. Someday I'll be wrong. Someday the Lord above will say, "They've had enough". Will this be the year? You would think so, but only fate will tell. An early November afternoon in Boulder will tell the tale.
Colorado - 2.5 to 1 winning the North. 9 projected wins.
OK, I realized Colorado won 2 measly games last year. I know they lost to Baylor and Montana State at HOME, but hear me out. For the exact same reasons Nebraska fans blow off their horrible play against Maine, I shall explain to you that Dan Hawkins is one hell of a coach. CU's problem last year was scoring points, especially early on. But did you realize their three biggest scoring outputs of the year were their last 3 games? Did you know the Buffs lost 4 games by 5 points or less? Did you know their defense remains nearly intact and they get both Missouri AND Nebraska at home? Crazier shit has happened than a 2-10 team winning the division the following year. But if anybody can do it, it would be the Big 12 North's most successful school over the years. If they can settle on a QB early enough in the season, look out and don't forget I told you so.
So in order:
1. Colorado 9-3
2. Missouri 9-3
3. Kansas State 7-5
4. Nebraska 6-6
5. Iowa State 4-8
6. Kansas 4-8
South Champion: Texas
Big 12 Champion: Texas
Bowl teams: Texas, Oklahoma, Texas Tech, Texas A&M, Oklahoma State, Colorado, Missouri, Kansas State, Nebraska.
Dark horse: Texas A&M
Coach of the Year: Dan Hawkins, Colorado
Newcomer of the Year: Patrick Gates, Colorado
Hate E-mail from Husker fans: 153,330