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College Football Handicapping

Free College Football Predictions - NCAA Online Betting - Tony George College Pick

2006 Big 12 North Preview

College Football Handicapping By: Tony George
Tony George enters his 14th years a professional handicapper, and is a well known NFL guru. Tony George is a documented member of The Professional Handicappers League. Read more of his articles and get his premium plays here.


tony george handicapping - Big 12 North Preview

Big 12

My specialty conference is back for the 15th year in a row in the handicapping business. Going 66% ATS in 2005 in the Big 12 overall in football, and 68% with Big 12 Bowl teams last year, specialization is truly to the key to success. With a 63% lifetime ATS record in this conference, I look for numerous opportunities again in 2006 from this conference. First up, my Big 12 North report, where my beloved Huskers (I am from Lincoln, NE), look to regain their national stature as in years past as the transition period with ex-Raider head coach Bill Callahan is now complete and many pieces to the puzzle are filled in for Nebraska, including a come from behind Alamo Bowl win last year in dramatic fashion over Big 10 powerhouse Michigan. Some changes are in the wind in the Big 12 North with Bill Snyder out at Kansas State and Gary Barnett gone at Colorado, which was long overdue. Lets rank it and break it down for 2006, from first to worst in the Big 12 North.

Nebraska Cornhuskers Nebraska Cornhuskers PREVIEW

A return to national prominence is in order for Nebraska as Bill Callahan's West Coast offense is settling in at Nebraska, as evidenced by a national ranking of 107th, an unheard of number for the Nebraska rushing record charts, as the Huskers load option offense is long gone and the passing game, led by all world QB Zac Taylor, who set numerous school records in passing in 2005, is at the forefront again in 2006. Passing for over 2600 yards in 2005, weathering 38 sacks, Zac Taylor is the KEY for Nebraska in 2006, and he is a cool customer in the pocket, and this guy is a gamer and leader with experience under his belt, and a monster bowl win too boot. Overall Nebraska returns many starters as well on defense, which led the nation in QB sacks in 2005, with potential All-American Adam Carriker at end leading the way.

On offense the question mark is running back, as 3 year starter Cory Ross is gone and it looks like running back by committee for the Huskers with young talent in the wings as I look for both Cody Glenn (power back) and Marlon Lucky (speed back) to excel with Brandon Jackson as a utility back, and all 3 can catch the ball out of the backfield. Getting former All-Big 12 first teamer Matt Herrian back at tight end is a HUGE plus for Nebraska here, off a year out with a knee injury, and there are plenty of young receivers out there and some upcoming talent to add depth to this position, Nate Swift being the go to guy again this year along with Terrance Nunn. The offensive line is solid and deep led by center Kurt Mann, and improved play here is crucial as they allowed 38 sacks in 2005. Expect this team to average 25-28 ppg on offense this year. They could be explosive and Callahan takes chances to make big plays, so I expect this unit to be better than ever under this system in 2006.

On defense look for a stiff unit this year. The ability to rush the passer and some good defensive back play led by Zach Bowman, the Huskers return the 10th best defense against the pass last year in full strength and the linebackers are deep are solid. With a solid pass rush and a great LB unit, and the ability to rush the passer, this unit will be the strong point of the Huskers and allow the offense a short field more times than not. With solid special teams and excellent speed with return guys, the Huskers are a complete team with confidence in 2006. Scheduling is a problem as the Huskers are the only team in the USA to play both teams, Texas and USC, from the BCS Championship game in 2005. Traveling to USC will be tough for their 3rd game of the season and their first road trip, but they do get Texas in Lincoln later in the season so that will be a huge showdown and possible Big 12 championship game preview. A tough road test at pesky Iowa State is also a concern and will be a big game for Nebraska. If they can go 2-1 somehow in those 3 games, beating Iowa State on the road, look for a sweep of the Big 12 North, a 2 to 3 loss season with a major bowl bid in 2006. Not a national title contender next, but a force out of the Big 12 for sure in 2006.

Iowa State Iowa State PREVIEW

This is a tough call with Kansas looking to have a good year, but QB Brett Meyer is at the helm for the Cyclones, and he is a talented and dangerous guy, who will make big plays and win games for the Cyclones in 2006. Iowa State returns 9 players from a productive offense, which will be the strength of this team, and only 4 starters return on defense, which is a huge concern in Ames this season. They ended the season with a loss to TCU in the Houston Bowl and had losses at Kansas and Nebraska last year on the road, both in overtime, and losing to Baylor in Ames was embarrassing to say the least.

On offense, this team is as good as any in the Big 12 North, and maybe the Big 12, with QB Meyer being a talented and versatile player, who can also scramble with the best of them. A talented WR unit led by all-Big 12 performer Todd Blythe, and a running game headed up by RB Steven Hicks, this unit will produce ONLY if Barney Cotton, offensive coordinator, cuts loose QB Meyers and lets him roam. In any sense of the word, this is a dual threat unit, with a deep offensive line and talent at every skill position, and they will put up some points and have quick strike capability. Look for Brett Meyers to have a standout season as a senior this season, he is a difference maker.

The defense is a major concern here with only 4 starters remaining from last years unit, and pass defense is a serious question mark, and all 3 linebackers are first year starters, and all but 1 in the secondary graduated, but DeAndre Jackson is a stud in man-to-man coverage. All in all there will be a learning curve and some inexperience here, but the offense is powerful enough to make up some lost ground, and I expect a ton of high scoring games when the Cyclones play this year, so look to the Totals Play with these guys, especially in the low 40's number. Beating Iowa last year 23-3, and now having to play them in Iowa City will be a true test for the Hawkeye's who always give their in-state rivals trouble, but a trip the Texas the following week will be a brutal early season road stretch. They get Nebraska, Texas Tech and Kansas all at home this year as well as Missouri to end the season, so a 3 loss season is not out of the question for Iowa State and they should contend with Nebraska and for the top spot, and having Kansas, who will be a contender, at home avenging a OT loss last year is also a plus. A 9-3 or 8-4 season and a bowl bid for the Cyclones is on tap.

Kansas Kansas PREVIEW

Many think this is the year of the Jayhawks, as they made HUGE strides in 2005, beating both Iowa State and Nebraska along with hated rival Missouri in 2005, with lesser talent than they have now, but the revenge factor in the Big 12 is huge and all 3 of those games will be played on the road, and I do not see KU winning any of them, although Missouri is suspect and always the biggest game of the year for KU. Coming off a Ft. Worth Bowl win, blowing out Houston 42-13 was huge boost to Mark Mangino's squad and they look to build on last season's success with only 9 returning starters, which is my biggest concern overall with Kansas, and that is depth and talent at skill positions. A rash of injuries would devastate this team, which is why I have them in 3rd place overall.

On offense the QB position has been announced and after a great spring game, Kerry Meier is the man. He is a scrambler and has a strong and accurate arm, with plenty of depth behind him at QB as well if he falls to injury. Jon Cornish is touted as a 1000 yard back this season and behind a better than average offensive line, and with the threat of a vertical passing game, they should be consistent on the ground. As mentioned, the offensive line is soiled with all 5 starters returning. The key is the passing game, a good QB but no one to throw to, but TE Derek Fine was the go to guy in the spring game, which I was present at, and he will be a huge part of their offense, especially in key 3rd down situations. Not an explosive team on offense, but they should be able to grind it out and mix it up, and with some good QB play, will make some strides.

On defense this team was awesome in 2005, and then they lose 7 starters from a unit that was hard to run against and did not give up big plays all season with the exception of Texas. Having to replace all 3 starters at linebacker and having only 1 returner in the secondary playing the type of teams they have to this season, especially on the road at Nebraska and Iowa State is a huge concern, and I look for them to get lit up by good throwing teams this season, so stick that in your record keeping book. They have solid special teams and momentum coming into 2006 and Mark Mangino is one of the most underrated coaches in the Big 12, many remember him as the offensive coordinator for Oklahoma when they won their first national title under Bob Stoops. Look for a respectable season with 4 to 5 losses and some tight games, these guys will be a dangerous underdog, especially with some big numbers their way.

Missouri Missouri PREVIEW

A tight call between the bottom 3 in the North, but out of K-State and Colorado, both of which have new coaches and systems, I'll lean towards Gary Pinkel's Tiger squad to remain tough in 2006, despite losing all world QB Brad Smith, who was about 75% of the offense for Missouri for the past 3 years. Some depth on offense and some tough games at home, along with some excellent coaching has me liking Missouri this year as a spoiler late in the season.

On offense the QB position goes to Chase Daniel, a solid player and replacement for Brad Smith. He has some mobility and can run the spread option offense to a great degree, although his 6'0" size is a concern if he takes too many shots. He was the player of the year at QB in Texas running almost the same style offense and can make big plays. The Tigers are deep at RB, but the position is open between Woods and Temple, but incoming frosh sensation Connell Davis is on the radar screen, and they are high on him to contribute this fall. The offensive line replaces only 1 player and are solid and the WR unit is decent, and deep at the tight end position as well. Overall they should be able to put up some points and run it well with the depth they have, but an unproven QB in a complicated system is going to take some time here.

On defense the Tigers return 7 players and they should be able to make some stands this season, as they will be tough against the run, with a strong front 4, and some strong play at linebacker. David Overstreet at safety is all-Big 12 material, and led the team with tackles in 2005, but he has no help as all 3 cover corners graduated. Expect opposing teams to expose a weak secondary this season, and Missou has to find some replacements quickly as not to get lit up early in games and be expected to trade punches with the likes of Nebraska and Iowa State on offense. A 5-loss season is not out of the question, but with games against Nebraska and Iowa State on the road in consecutive weeks, and road trips to Texas AM and Texas Tech in back to back weeks as well, Brad Smith will be missed and the Tigers will struggle this season to get another bowl bid, after winning a bowl game last year against South Carolina coming from behind by 21 points behind QB Smith. A learning curve year this year and a brutal road schedule in store. They called for Pinkels job last year at times in Columbia, and that might be the case again in Tigerland, the natives are restless and thought they would contend during Brad Smith's years there, so allot of pressure is on the coaching staff to get to a bowl again.

Kansas State Colorado PREVIEW

After a ton of on field and off field scandals, Gary Barnett was finally fired, and Boise State head coach Dan Hawkins was hired. A great coach, but Colorado's problems are 2-fold. A new offensive system, totally different than what they used to, and replacing a great QB in Joel Klatt. Not a small task and the talent level, especially for this'd type of offensive scheme, is lacking and it is totally a rebuilding year for Colorado without question. They are excited about Buffalo football, they had over 60,000 in attendance for the Spring game, but the fact remains that talent is low and the new system will take some time.

On offense there is a struggle at QB right now, but it looks like Brian White gets the job, a drop back passer type, with Bernard Jackson close behind, as more of a scrambler type QB, but in this offensive system, a pure passer is what coach Hawkins wants. This position is unsettled and could change, which is not a good plan with a new scheme. The WR unit is above average and the tight ends are respectable, but the caliber of receiver needed for this spread offense is not on campus right now, although Dusty Sprague is capable of making some plays and will be the go to guy. A serious learning curve here, and I expect turnovers to be a large part of Colorado's problems in 2006. The running game is solid with Hugh Charles, who is a dangerous back and will work well in this system. He is no doubt Colorado's biggest offensive threat behind an line that has to learn zone blocking, so hopefully they can open some holes to keep defense's honest.

On defense they return 6 starters, the strength being the linebacker unit led by Jordon Dizon. The line is suspect and inexperienced and the secondary is also suspect but they do have depth and a solid cover corner in McKay. This team got destroyed 70-3 in the Big 12 championship, and lost to Clemson is a bowl game. After all that, and losing their best player and leader on offense, and their head coach, Colorado is not a contender in the Big 12 north this season and will look to the future. They travel to Georgia, Nebraska, and Oklahoma this year, I do not expect them to contend in any of those games and have a losing season this season. A go against team on the road against a defensive team without question.

Kansas State Kansas State PREVIEW

After Bill Snyder's turnaround of the century with the Kansas State Wildcats, his era is over, as he retired last year and in steps Ron Prince from Virginia, where he was the offensive coodordinator, and at age 36, and he has some big shoes to fill, with little talent to work with in 2006 for his west coast scheme. A tough job to say the least, and they might be able to contend with Colorado for the next to the bottom spot here with some luck. They have a chance to win their first 3 games against weak sisters, but a 6 to 7 loss season is not out of the question here with games against Colorado, Kansas and Missouri all on the road.

A Quarterback question between Meir and Webb will be answered this fall, both are talented in different ways, but I expect to see Webb make the start, as he can scramble and make bigger plays. The Wildcats landed one of the best QB's in America, from rival Nebraska at the last minute, and I expect Josh Freeman out of Grandview MIssouri to make the top 3 here and be groomed to be a top QB in the country, so seeing a true freshman at years end start will not surprise me. At running back, they have 3 guys led by Alsup and Clayton and are solid here. The line is inexperienced but good, they were nailed huge last year by injury, so expect them to be better, but unproven. A west coast style offense is going to be used and they have some good WR's here, but the west coast offense is tough to learn and mistakes will be made, just ask Nebraska about that.

On defense the Wildcats have a few great players here with Archer at LB and Watts in the secondary, both are all -Big12 type guys, but this defense returns 8 starters from a unit that allowed over 350 yards per game last year. The line is unproven and a weak point, and teams will be able to spread them out and run on them. This is a below average unit that will give up points, and with a new scheme on offense and a learning curve here, look for K-State to have a bad year in 2006, and a go against team in big games, as they simply do not have the defense to keep them in games.

More College Football Previews

Big 12 South Preview
Big 12 North Preview



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