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August 30, 2007

Big 12 Breakdown: Early test for Cowboys

MORE WEEK 1 BREAKDOWNS: ACC | Big East | Big Ten | Pac-10 | SEC

Buchanan's Big 12 picks
Thursday's Game:
Iowa State 24, Kent State 17
Saturday's Games:
TCU 31, Baylor 20
Colorado State 17, Colorado 14
Central Michigan 27, Kansas 24
Auburn 21, Kansas State 17
Missouri 31, Illinois 17
Nebraska 28, Nevada 17
Oklahoma 42, North Texas 7
Georgia 31, Oklahoma State 28
Texas 56, Arkansas State 7
Texas A&M 49, Montana State 14
Texas Tech 45, SMU 24

Best matchup: Oklahoma State at Georgia appears to be a shootout waiting to happen. Cowboys quarterback Bobby Reid, running back Dantrell Savage and wide receiver Adarius Bowman are all coming off big years. Freshman receiver Dez Bryant has already turned some heads. They will test the Georgia defense. The Bulldogs' defense ranked eighth nationally last season, but returns only one player from its front seven. Sophomore quarterback Matthew Stafford led Georgia to victories in its final three games of 2006. Meanwhile, Oklahoma State's defense - which returns seven starters - allowed at least 24 points in its last 10 games of 2006. The Cowboys surrendered more than 30 points seven times.

The pressure is on: The Kansas pass defense, which allowed an average of 269.08 yards per game to rank last in the nation in 2006. The Jayhawks, who are expected to start true freshman Chris Harris at cornerback, get tested immediately against Central Michigan quarterback Dan LeFevour. The sophomore threw for 3,031 yards a year ago and still has top receiver Brian Anderson, who caught 73 passes in 2006.

Newcomer who could have an impact: Oklahoma redshirt freshman quarterback Sam Bradford will be at the throttle of the Sooners offense. The last time a redshirt freshman quarterback played significantly for OU in the opener, the Sooners lost to TCU in 2005. Rhett Bomar, who did not start, in that game struggled against the Horned Frogs. The good news for the '07 Sooners: North Texas isn't as good as TCU was that season.

Key stat: Texas has faced a Sun Belt Conference opponent in its last three season-openers and has outscored them 181-10. The Longhorns open against Arkansas State, which is a Sun Belt member.

They said it: "He still looks fat."
-- Texas A&M tight end Martellus Bennett on Aggies running back Jorvorskie Lane, who lost 15 pounds.

Injury update: Nebraska offensive lineman Matt Slauson (shoulder) missed a week of practice but returned last Sunday and will play in the opener. Junior running backs Cody Glenn (hamstring, foot) and Marlon Lucky (head) are probable. Missouri defensive back Hardy Ricks (dislocated shoulder) and running back Marcus Woods (high ankle sprain) missed most of camp, but they are expected to be available Texas receiver Limas Sweed (wrist) will play, while receiver Billy Pittman (shoulder) is out. Colorado freshman receiver Josh Smith (bruised kidney) it out. Baylor offensive tackle Thad Boatner (knee) and linebacker Chris Francis (knee) won't play against TCU.

Worth noting: Nebraska receiver Maurice Purify is suspended for Saturday's game against Nevada because of an alcohol-related incident in the offseason. The Kansas defense has allowed just one individual 100-yard rushing performance in the last two seasons. Kansas State's Leon Patton reached triple digits against the Jayhawks last season. Texas A&M quarterback Stephen McGee was one of four QBs who passed for at least 2,000 yards and rushed for at least 500 last year. Texas Tech kicker Alex Trlica has converted 166 consecutive extra points and has never missed a PAT in his collegiate career. Colorado redshirt freshman Cody Hawkins is 59-0 as a starting quarterback dating back to sixth grade. Division I-AA Montana State, Texas A&M's first opponent, opened last season with a 19-10 upset of Colorado.

MORE WEEK 1 BREAKDOWNS: ACC | Big East | Big Ten | Pac-10 | SEC

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