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Picking the Big 12 Schedule: Week One. Also, Mountain East and MIAA previews.

Looking for predictions? Our staff has you covered - if you can trust them.

Can the Jackrabbits overcome KU's massive one-scholarship advantage/
Can the Jackrabbits overcome KU's massive one-scholarship advantage/
Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Over the next two weeks, this space will be taken up with a daily look at each week of the Big 12 schedule, courtesy of your friendly and hard-working BotC Staff. Nine staffers took part -- Jon, Pan, Luke, Derek, JT, KSUEMAW, wildcat00, PurpleBrunette, and Nugget. (Bracket's also participating, but we don't have his picks in yet.) In the case of a tie, we go with your Benevolent Despot's pick, because that's the entire purpose of power or something.

Most of week one was a pretty straightforward exercise, with only two games having more than one staffer in disagreement with the rest.

OKLAHOMA STATE at Central Michigan (THU 9/3, 8pm CT, ESPNU)

It won't be the easiest opener for the Cowboys, as they go on the road to the frozen wilds of Southern Occupied Canada to take on the Chippewas. But our staff unanimously agrees that Mike Gundy's troops will escape with a victory.

TEXAS CHRISTIAN at Minnesota (THU 9/3, 8pm CT, ESPN)

The Frogs also venture into the tundra to take on the Minnesota Gophers. All of our staffers save one expect a TCU victory, and I think you all know who that one is. Homer.

Southern Methodist at BAYLOR (FRI 9/4, 6pm, ESPN)

This is going to be a rout, and the staff is in unanimity on the result. Bears in a landslide.

South Dakota State at KANSAS (SAT 9/5, 11am, FSN regional)

And now, things get interesting. Here are the two most important facts you need to know: South Dakota State is an FCS playoff team, and has 63 recruited players on scholarship. Kansas is a bad FBS team, and has 64 recruited players on scholarship. (They may have promoted some former walk-ons since our last count, but do we really treat those the same, mentally, as recruited athletes?) This isn't even trolling or hateful mockery. It's a real, concrete situation for the Jayhawks. Their current situation is that they are essentially, by definition, an FCS team this year. They'll get better, but recovering from the damage done by The Charles is not a thing that happens overnight.

The staff is split on the outcome of this game. Luke, JT, KSUEMAW, and 00 picked Kansas. Jon, Derek, Pan, PB, and Nugget picked the Jackrabbits. That means that even with Bracket's picks, it would at worst be a tie, and since Jon picked South Dakota State, that means tears in Lawrence.

Update 1: Due to a clerical error, KSUEMAW's pick was accidentally put in the wrong column, meaning it wouldn't have been a tie even if Bracket had picked Kansas; Bracket informs us that his pick is South Dakota State, so the Jackrabbits take the staff pick 7-3. We'll leave the paragraph as is rather than correcting, so that the commentary remains intelligible.

Sam Houston State at TEXAS TECH (SAT 9/5, 2:30pm, FSN regional)

There is no question here, although Sam Houston State is another FCS playoff team. Tech is expected to win by everyone (although it wouldn't be a surprise if the Bearcats were at least competitive).

South Dakota at KANSAS STATE (SAT 9/5, 6pm,

Another unanimous call here, and there's really no homering going on. South Dakota is probably the worst team in the Missouri Valley. That means they're only sort of decent, just like Arkansas in comparison to the SEC West. But this is not going to be a North Dakota State situation for the Wildcats. Eastern Kentucky, on the other hand... well, let's just hope Bill Snyder and company find some answers between now and then, or we're going to walk away from this one with a win which feels an awful lot like a loss.

Akron at OKLAHOMA (SAT 9/5, 6pm)

There's no doubt about this one. Akron's not even a particularly good MAC team, and there's really no level of hatred whatsoever which could allow anyone to pick the Sooners to lose.

TEXAS at Notre Dame (SAT 9/5, 6:30pm, NBC)

And here we have the Big 12's only clear and nearly undisputed loss of the opening weekend. KSUEMAW thinks the Longhorns will steal a win under the gaze of Touchdown Jesus, but everyone else is on the side of the papists. Notre Dame should handle this.

Georgia Southern at WEST VIRGINIA (SAT 9/5, 6:30pm, FSN regional)

The Mountaineers should have no trouble at all with the reigning Sun Belt champions.

Northern Iowa at IOWA STATE (SAT 9/5, 7pm)

And here's our other point of contention for week one, a decision which came down to the wire. JT, Pan, 00, KSUEMAW, and Nugget picked the Cyclones to survive the lesser of their two in-state rivals. Jon, Derek, Luke, and PB picked the Panthers to pull the mild upset. Without Bracket's pick, this is a win for Iowa State. But if Bracket's on the side of the Panthers here, we have a tie, and that means we swing toward Northern Iowa. An executive decision has been made, and we're just going to go ahead and go with Northern Iowa anyway (for now). That's what Iowa State gets for having fans call Bill Snyder punchable.

Update 2: Bracket's pick is Iowa State, which means Iowa State carries the vote 6-4. The standings are adjusted accordingly. The rest of Bracket's picks all aligned with the staff majority.

BotC's Projected Big 12 Standings after Week One
Baylor 1-0 (0-0)
Iowa State 1-0 (0-0)
Kansas State 1-0 (0-0)
Oklahoma 1-0 (0-0)
Oklahoma State 1-0 (0-0)
TCU 1-0 (0-0)
Texas Tech 1-0 (0-0)
West Virginia 1-0 (0-0)
Kansas 0-1 (0-0)
Texas 0-1 (0-0)

Mountain East Conference Preview

2014 Standings and Info
5 Concord University Mountain Lions Athens WV 10-0 13-1
rv Shepherd University Rams Shepherdstown WV 8-2 8-2
University of Charleston Golden Eagles Charleston WV 7-3 8-3
Notre Dame College Falcons South Euclid OH 7-3 7-4
West Liberty University Hilltoppers West Liberty WV 6-4 6-5
Glenville State College Pioneers Glenville WV 5-5 5-6
West Virginia Wesleyan College Bobcats Buckhannon WV 4-6 4-6
Fairmont State University Falcons Fairmont WV 3-7 3-7
Urbana University Blue Knights Urbana OH 2-8 3-8
University of Virginia's College at Wise Highlanders Wise VA 2-8 2-9
West Virginia State University Yellow Jackets Institute WV 1-9 2-9

The Mountain East enters its third season as the successor-in-spirit to the disbanded WVIAC, and in the process qualifies for automatic bids to the postseason. Of course, that's less relevant in Division II football, but it does mean that the MEC now qualifies for an earned access bid if their champion is within the top eight teams in the region. Then again, that in turn isn't really relevant because the MEC champion is almost always going to be in the top six anyway.

Concord is the undisputed favorite to repeat, receiving every first place vote in the coaches' poll except for their own; Garin Justice gave his first-place vote to Shepherd, the clear number two. Charleston is also expected to at least contend, while UVA-Wise and Urbana bring up the rear. The conference plays a full 10-game round robin over the regular season's 11 weeks, with each team having one bye week; eight of the eleven teams will use that bye to play a non-conference game. Concord, Shepherd, and Fairmont State will not.

Concord didn't end their season until losing to Minnesota State-Mankato in the national semifinals. The Mountain Lions completely dominated the All-MEC squads, and relatively speaking don't lose much at all. OLs Rustin Mayonga and Cody Parker, DLs Will Greathouse and Keith Ferguson, and DB Mike Carey (4 INT) graduated, along with honorable mention selections DL Silas Agyemang and DB Mishawn Cummings. Seems like a lot, but considering we absolutely need a paragraph break, it's not that bad.

Returning are all-MEC and All-American RB Calvinaugh Jones (1,736 yards/12 TDs), the MEC Offensive Player of the Year, Offensive Freshman of the Year WR T.J. Smith (1,157/13), WR Ryan Stewart (657/12), OLs Coleman Osborne and Paul Smith, LBs Auston Dotson and Nick Ortiz (82 tackles, 16 TFL), DBs Jeremiah Johnson (4 INT) and Derrick Johnson (7 INT), and K Andy Ellington. Also, honorable mention TE Dalton Brindo, OL Josh Cottle, and DLs Darryl Johnson and Ervin Moore (5 sacks) will be back.

Oh, and QB Brian Novak (3,744 yards, 33 TDs/14 INT), RB Jamal Petty (626/6), and WR/KR Jermeil Douse (600/2, 491/2 on punt returns) return after not even receiving any post-season goodies. Outside the losses of Mayonga and Parker, the most severe blow to the Concord offense is the loss of FB Ben Nester (212/7).

Yeah, Concord's in good shape to make another run at the national title.

Shepherd has spent many years as the power in this league and its predecessor. Only a crazy 35-34 loss to Notre Dame last year kept them from joining Concord in the playoffs. The Rams will have to patch up the offensive line after losing All-American Isaiah Shelton, Hussam Ouri, and Dameon Hairston; DL Bernard Wolley, LBs Levi Barber and De'Ontre Johnson, and DB David Carter (4 INT) are also gone.

But like Concord, a host returns. QB Jeff Ziemba (2,246, 18/2), FB Jon Hammer, RBs Allen Cross (601/8) and Jabre Lolley (767/12), WR Billy Brown (676/6), DLs Shanell Jenkins (7.5 sacks/10.5 TFL) and Myles Humphrey (8.5/13), LBs Octavius Thomas and James Gupton (team-leading 69 tackles), and DB/KR C.J. Davis (5 INT and one TD each on punt and kickoff returns) will all be back. Every last one of them earned all-MEC nods last year. Nobody on this team has eye-popping numbers outside of Ziemba, but that's because they're so deep that it all gets spread around. Shepherd will again contend.

Charleston (WV) took a major hit on defense, losing All-MEC DLs Demetrius Reddick and Rockford Stone, LBs Justin Avery (91 tackles) and Matt Duncan, and DB Ike Gibson, as well as OL Kyle Revin. HM DL Tucker Shaffer also graduated. RB Marvin Elam (1,021/16), OL Justin Johnson, and DB/KR Torie Wagner (4 INT and 3 TD returns) will be back with All-MEC honors. Three quarterbacks split time last year, and they all return. Head coach Pat Kirkland is going to have to decide between junior Jermaine Kelly (549, 6/3) and seniors John Knox (525, 3/4) and Jordan Paul (572, 6/1). Leading receiver Joey Augustin (625/8) also returns, as does DB Logan Cox (5 INT). Charleston will be decent, and perhaps even good; the defense is shattered, but has players to work with.

Glenville State had an uncharacteristically awful year, but they're expected to bounce back. QB Sean Steele (2,146, 19/5) and All-MEC DL Gary Henderson (99 T/14 TFL/10.5 sacks) are the only really important losses. Glenville will welcome back senior RBs Rahman Lee (1,120/12) and Tevin Drake (842/4), WR Dante Absher (854/6), OLs Leon Hill and Jonathan Dupree, and LB James Johnson (84 T). Backup QB Dante Roberts also graduated, so the Pioneers need an answer there. But the lack of major losses and an extra year of experience has things looking up in Glenville.

West Liberty lost only LB Alec Wood (94 T) and P Griffin Yocum from last year's All-MEC squads, but several honorable mention recipients are also gone: FB Lukas Turley, WR Dylan Potts (438/9), and DB Marco Richetti. DL Darnell Vickers is the only returning All-MEC player, but honorable mention went to returning QB Dakota Conwell (1,965, 22/15), OL Jake Turley, and DBs D'Andre Muhammad and Miles Young. The gist of this: last year, West Liberty had a bit of talent; it just didn't quite measure up to the better teams in the league. Conwell (386/3) is the team's leading returning rusher, as RB Isiah Moody (501/2) is gone. Anton McCallum (534/7) was the team's leading receiver by yardage, and he'll be back; he'll also be the return specialist, and brought a kickoff back to the house last year. This is not the high-flying West Liberty offense of previous years, and the defense isn't any better than it was back then when the Hilltoppers had to score lots of points just to win games.

Notre Dame (OH) will be without first-teamers QB Ray Russ (3,757, 36/18), TE Ray Brown, and OL Doniel Gambrell. Leading rusher Kenneth Butler (614/5) is also gone. But the Falcons return All-MEC WR Mitchell Shegos (1,153/8) and his partner WR/KR Emmanuel Smith (392/4 and two TDs on kickoffs), DL Derrick Bavol (6.5 sacks), LB Onslow Williams, and DBs George Berry (99 T) and Marlon Oden (76 T). OL Jeremy Glass and DL Jalon Avent (15 TFL, 7 sacks) also return after earning honorable mention. Alec Torgerson (331/0) is the leading returning rusher, while junior Malik Grove should take over at quarterback after only seven pass attempts in 2014. The real question for the Falcons, aside from the backfield, is at linebacker; Berry and Oden were the team's top two tacklers last year, so they clearly need some help in the middle.

West Virginia Wesleyan may have some problems. P/K Jasper Bernild and honorable mention QB Jeff Musselman (1,793m 15/7( are gone; RB Michael Anderson (614/3) and HM WR Zach Schaderman (668/10) return. You may notice the complete lack of defensive players. Well, leading tackler LB Mike Savage (87) does return, along with his partner Desmond Holly (9 TFL). So there's minor quality in the middle, and that's sort of important. Junior Tyler Bolen (596, 7/2) should step in at QB. But depth is an issue here. RB Jerel English (139/0) was the team's second-leading rusher last year. Musselman was third. Bernild was fourth. Junior RB Raymond Myers (29/1), then, is the Bobcats' second-leading returning ball carrier. Woof.

Fairmont State loses All-MEC OL Chris Barfield and leading rusher Daniel Monroe (487/5), but that's really just about all there was to lose. First-team WR Fabian Guerra (822/5) will be back, as will QB Cooper Hibbs (1,769, 13/10), RB Austin White (399/4), and leading tackler LB Marcus Porter (69 T), an honorable mention selection last year as a freshman.

West Virginia State was awful last year, and you might be wondering why they're expected to rebound a bit despite losing honorable mention OL Ricardo Figueroa and DL Wenly Ballard (14 TFL/6 sacks). Fellow HM LB Dennis Gardeck (69 T) will be back, as will second-team DB Kevin Coffie, but the real reason is loads of returning players on offense. QB Matt Kinnick (2,213, 11/13), top RB Tevin Brown (416/1), and leading WR Quinton Gray (459/2) were all freshmen (redshirt or otherwise) last year. The receiving corps is deep, although nobody put up big numbers last year. Junior LB Mitch Rowell led all tacklers with 79 last year.

Virginia-Wise is finally a full-fledged member of Division II this year. They'll celebrate by returning nearly every important player from last year. Only QB Ty Ryans (1,121, 2/10) is missing, and given that TD/INT ratio, does anyone care? First-team LB Zach Blair is back after recording 95 tackles and an absolutely ridiculous 26.5 TFL, as is second-team WR Terence Younger (710/5) and HM OL Randy Kumah, DB Jeff Parker (3 INT), and P Trent Martin. QB Jeremy Eubank (657, 4/4) split time with Ryans last year, and he's back along with leading rusher Carlton Griffith (617/3) and DB Marcus Jones (10 TFL). Depth is a serious issue, as no other returning offensive player accounted for over 250 yards of offense or more than a single touchdown, and the defensive line was utterly unable to pressure opposing quarterbacks last year (only 14 sacks on the entire season). But there's room to improve here, if younger players can insert themselves.

Urbana has been decimated. First-team LB D'Gary Wallace (115 T/18.5 TFL/6.5 sacks) returns along with HM LB Kevin Chapple (17.5 TFL/7.5 sacks), but the Blue Knights lose leading receiver and second-team TE La'Velle Spivey (621/9), leading rusher David Hill (411/1), and the better two-thirds of the three-headed beast at quarterback. Cody Schroder (990, 8/2) and Colby Speice (1,128, 12/4) split time with the returning Cale Burdyshaw (1,030, 7/5). RB Cedric Pressley (357/4) and WR Karim Jones (540/3) will be back. There's no depth on offense, the secondary is weak, and as you can tell by the gaudy backfield numbers of the returning linebackers, the defensive line isn't much either. There's probably more here than that for which the coaches' poll gives credit, but last place still isn't a stretch.

Game of the year: October 24 at Concord when Shepherd comes calling.

Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletic Association Preview

2014 Standings and Info
7 Pittsburg State University Gorillas Pittsburg KS 10-1 11-2
14 Northwest Missouri State University Bearcats Maryville MO 10-1 10-2
University of Central Oklahoma Bronchos Edmond OK 8-3 8-4
University of Central Missouri Mules Warrensburg MO 7-4 8-4
Fort Hays State University Tigers Hays KS 7-4 7-4
Missouri Western State University Griffons Saint Joseph MO 7-4 7-4
Emporia State University Hornets Emporia KS 4-7 4-7
Missouri Southern State University Lions Joplin MO 4-7 4-7
Washburn University Ichabods Topeka KS 4-7 4-7
University of Nebraska at Kearney Lopers Kearney NE 3-8 3-8
Lindenwood University Lions Saint Charles MO 2-9 2-9
Northeastern State University RiverHawks Tahlequah OK 0-11 0-11

The MIAA's first season as a 12-team conference playing no non-conference games wasn't a disaster, but it certainly helped shine a light on the issues that arise with perception when a league has no extra wins available. Pittsburg State and Northwest Missouri State received playoff bids, but every other team lost at least four games. (In fairness, Central Oklahoma only lost four because they lost a bowl game.) In Division I FBS, this would be bad enough, as the media is unable to critically look at the standings and realize that the average number of games the teams in a conference must lose is a direct function of how many games they play against each other. In Division II, where all most people see is the standings, it takes on a whole new dimension.

It doesn't help that, in the end, the conference went 2-3 against teams outside the conference, and it really didn't help that all three of those losses were to teams from the NSIC. The end result might well be that next year, the MIAA runner-up goes to a bowl game instead of the playoffs while the NCAA selects three NSIC teams.

Northwest Missouri State was picked to finish first, ahead of Pittsburg State, in both the coaches and media polls. Only four points separate the two in the coaches poll; in the media poll, the gap is larger. Missouri Western and the Centrals are in the next group, with the coaches considering Western a step below the Centrals and the media placing UCO quite a bit higher than the Missouri schools. Hays, Emporia, Washburn, and Kearney are next in both surveys, with Emporia and Washburn tied in the coaches poll and very close to one another in the media poll. The bottom three has a similar disparity between the two groups as the 3-5 spots. In the coaches poll, Lindenwood is a clear favorite over both Missouri Southern and Northeastern, separated by a single point at the bottom; the media rates Southern just a bit higher than Lindenwood, with both clearly superior to Northeastern. But with nearly every team in the conference suffering major losses to graduation, a lot of this is all on reputation.

Northwest Missouri State loses a ton for a team picked to repeat. TE Marcus Wright, OLs C.J. Keeney and Cole Chevalier, DLs Kevin Arnold and All-American and Defensive Player of the Year Matt Longacre (12 TFL, 8.5 sacks), LBs Eric Reimer (76 T/12 TFL) and D.J. Gnader (70/11), DBs Jared Fox (3 INT) and Travis Manning, and P Kyle Goodburn -- ten all-conference selections -- have graduated, along with leading rusher Robert Burton (723/9) and the Bearcats top two WRs Korey Jackson (483/3) and Jason Jozaites (456/2). Remaining are QB Brady Boles (2,367, 18/10), OL Shane Smith, DLs Brandon Yost (10 TFL) and Collin Bevins (5.5 sacks), and DB Bryce Enyard. RB Cameron Wilcox (510/6) will be back, too. The only thing really working in the Bearcats' favor is that they're the Bearcats, and that's a pretty weak reason to pick them to win the conference. But then, they're not the only team to be decimated by graduation...

Pittsburg State was also ravaged. Offensive Player of the Year QB Anthony Abenoja (3,871, 32/10), WR Gavin Lutman (1,196/13), OLs Tyler Smith and Ollie Venegas, DL Deaven Jensen (10 TFL/5.5 sacks), DBs De'Vante Bausby (4 INT), Keeston Terry (85 tackles), and Aries Herrion, and Special Teams Player of the Year K Connor Frazell... all gone. WR/KR Marquise Cushion (1,301/8), TE Kyle Swartz, DLs Heath Wilson (11 TFL/6 sacks) and Taye Irvin, and LB Spencer Brown return with All-MIAA honors, as well as RB Jamal Tyler (451/2) and leading tackler LB Spencer Brown (101 T/10 TFL). Senior Ramsay Hamilton and junior Thomas LePage will battle at QB. The Gorillas, on paper, seem to return more than Northwest. The reality is that both teams are fully familiar with reloading, so they have a certain presumption of excellence. Both will be tested this year.

Central Oklahoma was a power in the Lone Star Conference, but the Bronchos had a rough time when they joined the MIAA, but they've started to get it together again. WR/KR Marquez Clark, LB Chass Claspie (92 tackles), and DB Matt Pruitt (91) have graduated, as well as leading receiver Christian Hood (491/1), but Freshman of the Year QB Chas Stallard (2,108, 8/8), RB Jake Gandara (1,121/13), OL Brandon Waggoner, and DL Kenny Allen (7.5 sacks) will be back, as will LB Malcolm Howard, the team's leading returning tackler with 72.

Central Missouri says farewell to QB Hayden Hawk (2,653, 17/9), RB/KR (and leading receiver by catches) LaVance Taylor (1,918/15, 427/2 receiving), DL Ramond Hunter, LB Ricky Spradley (92 tackles), DB Connor Smith, and K Will Mondragon. TE Cullen Rosine (427/3), OLs Brian Berzanski and Tycie Lioneman, and DL Jason Vencious are back this fall. RB Ray Harris (380/4) will try to pick up Taylor's load, while senior QB Garrett Fugate will likely step into Hawk's shoes. WR Kyle Echols (532/5, 21.3 YPC) also returns. The Mules, like everyone else, will be rebuilding.

Missouri Western returns more compared to the teams above them, at least. Gone are All-MIAA selections LB Stephen Juergens (108 tackles, 12 TFL), DB Meshak Kennedy, K John Schmeimeier, and P Scott Groner, as well as WR Stephon Weaver (422/2). RB Raphael Spencer (1,125/7), OL Travis Anderson, DL Arbanas Elliot, and All-American DB Michael Jordan (4 INT, 1 TD) will be back. QB Skyler Windmiller (1,799, 9/11) and WR Dee Tolliver (457/4) are also returning. The presence of Taylor alone is important, and if there's a dark horse candidate to exceed expectations this year in this conference, it's right here.

Fort Hays State returns three All-MIAA selections and loses three. Gone are WR Ed Williams, DL Te'i Joita, and DB Michael Jordan (not the All-American, because that would be weird), as well as leading rusher Ed Smith (667/6). OL Matt Erbert, LB Justin McPhail (108 tackles), and DB Nathan Lindsey are back, and so is QB Treveon Albert (1,589, 13/8).

Emporia State loses All-MIAA WR Austin Willis (757/6), DL Adam Blount, and DB Deveon Dinwiddie (4 INT). WR Kavaski Ervin (532/5) and OL Jarrett Stastny return, along with RB Antonio Brown (680/6), QB Brent Wilson (1,280, 10/5), and LB Jason Tetuan (73 tackles). Yes that's Jesse's little brother.

Washburn had four All-MIAA selections. Only OL Michael Miller returns; gone are RB/KR Vershon Moore (920/8), DB Calvin Kenney (101 tackles, 3 INT), and P Aaron Hummert. QB Zeke Palmer (1,619, 9/11) and leading receiver DaJuan Beard (414/5) are also gone. It's going to be an ugly season for the Ichabods.

Nebraska-Kearney fired Darrell Morris after the season. Morris had been in charge of the program during its highest peaks, but the Lopers have struggled since joining the MIAA. Former Central Missouri offensive coordinator Josh Lamberson takes over. He'll be without OLs Pete Trausch and All-American Cole Manhart and DL Matt Bowman (14.5 TFL) from the All-MIAA lists, and WR Allen Sampson (409/2) has also moved on. RB Romero Cotton (746/4) and LB Tyke Kozeal (136 tackles, 12 TFL) return, as well as QB Bronson Marsh (1,546, 10/8 plus 782/12 on the ground). Lamberson has some work to do.

Lindenwood actually returns all their key talent, although only two earned All-MIAA honors last year, QB Graham Lindman (1,830, 9/16), RB Lavorrie Johnson (378/2), third-team WR Jaron Alexander (485/2), WR Greg Coble (482/3), DL Skyler Suggs (10.5 TFL), first-team LB Connor Harris (152 tackles), and DB Roderick Ryles will try and lead the Lions back to respectability. It's not that likely.

Missouri Southern head coach Daryl Daye resigned after the season to become defensive coordinator at FCS Northwestern State. His replacement is Denver Johnson, former offensive coordinator at Tulsa. Leading receiver Anthony Cannon (554/4) and OL Austin Wolfe are gone, but QB Scott Lathrop (921, 5/4) returns along with RB Giresse Forchu (719/15), KR TyQuan Hayes, and DB Johnquavious McBride, the team's leading tackler with 95. The roster is severely depleted, however, with only 54 players listed as of Tuesday. The other Lions are going to struggle mightily.

Northeastern State had only one All-MIAA selection, third-team DB Chandler Barr. He's gone. The RiverHawks were the more successful of the two Oklahoma teams when they joined the conference together, but have taken a major nosedive. QB Kevin Pantastico (2,166, 8/14) and leading receiver Garrett Powell (728/5) return, as does LB Kevin Davis, who led the defense with 77 tackles and 10 TFL. Nobody on this team ran for more than 300 yards last year. Don't expect much.

Game of the year: Same as it ever was. It's not at Arrowhead this year, but on October 17 Northwest visits Pittsburg State with the conference title almost certainly up for grabs.


We dive into the Big 12's schedule for week two, and preview the Lone Star Conference and Gulf South Conference. Exhale and relax, as we now have two straight days with no conference preview involving more than nine teams. (Whew.)