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Big 12 CONFERENCE
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COLORADO BUFFALOES O:5 D:8

The Colorado Buffaloes started the season with a great 7-2 record, but were then humiliated by Iowa State, Nebraska, and then Texas in the Big 12 Championship Game. In their last game of the year the Buffaloes lost their fourth straight when all-time career passing leader, quarter back Joel Klatt, was injured in the Champs Sports Bowl. Head Coach Gary Barnett was let go and was replaced by Dan Hawkins who is the former Boise State HC. Hawkins is expected to reshape the entire program which has been tainted with negative press, labeling the program dirty. Coach Hawkins? offenses usually put up superb numbers, and this year takes on an offense that is returning 5 starters, so look for the Buffs offense to at least match or better their 23.5 points per game. Both the defense and special teams of the Buffaloes is very good this year with eight starters returning. Last season?s defensive line allowed 2.8 yards per carry and had a total of 27 sacks on opposing quarter backs. The back seven is also solid, and the secondary returns 7 of 8 contributors. Coming back for his senior finale is K. Mason Crosby, and this year hopes to get some award recognition, as he has been spectacular throughout his career and boasting a touchback percentage of 67 last year. The squad got to the Big 12 Championship Game for the second consecutive year and to the conference big game in 4 of the last 5 years. They will get better as the season goes, and be in top shape come October when they play the majority of their divisional games.

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IOWA STATE CYCLONES O:10 D:4

Iowa State had a chance to get to the Big 12 Championship at the end of last year but could not make it happen in overtime vs. Kansas during their last game of the season. Disappointing for the Cyclones and for Head Coach Dan McCarney, but they are looking to improve on their 7 win season of 2005 and only 4 starters returning. This will be tough because most of the guys coming back have had very little action on the field. The fresh talent brought in this year is anticipated to make an impact in the front seven. The secondary has only 1 player coming back but the offense is returning 10 from last year and they are going to need to put up lots of points this year in order to make a Bowl week appearance. Returning for his junior year is quarter back Brett Meyer and running back Stevie Hicks is returning for his senior performance and he must stay healthy for this squad to have a chance. The wide receiving unit has several players that are not known, including Austin Flynn, Todd Blythe and a solid TE Ben Barkema. All of which are great players. Ryan Kock is set to come into the game in goal line situations. The offensive line is the best the program has had in a long time. They should be able to pass the average of 28 points per game they set last year. Even though the stop unit lost seven important players this year there shouldn?t be a drop in stats. The offense is great and will keep them in the game for many of the tough match-ups. The schedule is tough, but another Bowl appearance is very possible.

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KANSAS JAYHAWKS O:7 D:3

The Kansas Jayhawks had a great 2005 season winning 7 games, and toppling Houston in the Fort Worth Bowl under the guidance of Head Coach Mark Mangino. Not too long ago prior to HC Mangino taking over the Jayhawk program in 2002, the Jayhawks were the Big 12 s whipping boy. Not anymore. Last year?s team was driven by its defense that only allowed 22 points per game and a little of 300 yards per game. The defense will not be as good this year with only 3 returning players, but the offense on the other hand should improve their 22 points per game averaged last year. Four quarter backs saw action last year and it looks like Adam Barmann and Kerry Meier will compete to be the #1 Chief. Canadian running back Jon Cornish is back for his senior finale, and he is looking to become the first 1000-yard rusher since 1997. The offensive line looks like the best it has ever been under Coach Mark Mangino and should unleash both the air attack and ground attack. The defensive and secondary units both have starters coming back this year but the line backing unit loses its 3 best guys and best sack man. The defensive line?s numbers are expected to drop but the coaching staff has done a great job recruiting so that should help. Special teams look great with 2 talented kickers in K. Scott Webb and P. Kyle Tucker. Coach Mangino has taken this program 2 out of the 4 years he has been there. The schedule is much easier this year and the Jayhawks get to play 3 of the not so top teams from the South. Another bowl game might be in the cards for the Kansas Jayhawks as long as the defense can hold their own and the offense lives up to it?s expectations.

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KANSAS STATE WILDCATS O:9 D:8

Head Coach Bill Snyder said his final goodbyes last season to the Kansas State Wildcats. What coach Snyder did for Kansas State will not soon be forgotten, with 136 wins in 17 years, which is 3 times more than the second winningest coach at Kansas State. He is replaced head coach Ron Prince, formerly the Offensive Coordinator at Virginia. The Wildcats offense is bringing back 9 starters, who will implement Coach Prince?s passing game strategies. Lots of quarter back talent available to the Wildcats and running back Thomas Clayton returns for his Senior finale. With 9 of 10 coming back for the Wildcats? Offensive line, the O-line will have to learn new blocking techniques. The defense brings back 8 starters which is the most since 2002. Special teams come back intact, and should improve on their numbers. Coach Bill Snyder has leaves not only a legacy but some great talent. They will be expected to adjust to the new system and if they do accordingly they have a good shot at being undefeated once their divisional games start.

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MISSOURI TIGERS O:8 D:7

The Missouri Tigers pulled off the biggest comeback win at the Independence Bowl in more than 65 years. They came back from a 21-0 deficit to win their 2nd Bowl in the last five trips. Head Coach Gary Pinkel gets 15 starter back this year which gives them a lot of experience and a deep squad on both offense and defense. Quarter back Chase Daniel will lead this squad since QB Brad Smith now plays on Sunday with the big boys. Daniel has a lethal offense and a very seasoned offensive line to protect him. With their career passing/rushing leader gone, it is hard to believe that they could match or better their 30 points per game average of 1 year ago, but it can be done. The defense is what really stands out, with 7 starters coming back. The front seven look very good and a young secondary should figure things out as the season goes on. The defensive stats should improve greatly, from last seasons 29 points per game, some even think by %50. The special teams unit is returning unchanged from last year?s squad which had a second winning year under Coach Gary Pinkel. He has lots of experience coming back and great playmakers on both ends of the field. The schedule is tough this season, but there are high expectations, and some say, if an unfortunate, unexpected .500 season happens for the Tigers, it could be the end of the Gary Pinkel era.

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NEBRASKA CORNHUSKERS O:8 D:7

The Nebraska Cornhuskers won the Alamo Bowl last year beating the Michigan Wolverines and handing head coach Bill Callahan his first ever Bowl victory. In 2006 the Cornhuskers return 15 players from last year?s squad and could have the best team since 2003, and be a major player in the Big 12 . Back for his senior performance is quarterback Zac Taylor, and with a lot of offensive weapons at his disposal, he is expected to have a huge season. An offensive line that gained valuable a lot of experience last year will be protecting Taylor and opening holes for the offense. This year we will see why the Patented Option Attack is no more, and replaced with the West Coast Offense. Nebraska is looking to put up much more point totals then the 24 points per game they produced a year ago. Seven players come back from last year for the defense, which allowed 21 points per game. A lot of these guys have been around since the inception of the Callahan/ Cosgrove takeover, and they have improved every year since. Big red has the best defense this new regime has seen so far. Special teams look great, but someone has to be found to take care of punting duties. Texas and Oklahoma have taken so much of the spotlight these past 5 years, that the powerhouse that once was the Nebraska Cornhuskers has been forgotten. That is about to change, as head coach Bill Callahan reaps the rewards from the work and planning of the last few seasons. Big Red should have an exciting season in 2006.

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