Big 12

August 20, 2006

Players toWatch

Top performersfrom unranked teams in the conference

COLORADO

MARK FENTON,C

A converteddefensive lineman, this 6'4", 295-pound senior dominates his foes bygetting into his blocking stance so quickly after the snap. Agile and smart(he's a political science major), Fenton has allowed one sack in threeseasons.

TEXAS TECH

JOEL FILANI,WR

He had abreakthrough season in 2005, leading the Big 12 in receiving yards per game(87.3). A senior, he has NFL size (6'3", 222 pounds) and is the RedRaiders' best receiver at gaining yards after a catch.

MISSOURI

BRIAN SMITH,DE

Frighteninglyquick off the edge, this undersized (6'4", 230 pounds) senior has gone froma situational pass rusher into an every-down force. His specialty, though, ishunting quarterbacks: He's the Tigers' alltime leader in sacks, with 24.

IOWA STATE

BRET MEYER,QB

Dangerousthrowing from the pocket or on the run, the 6'3" 208-pounder passed for2,876 yards and 19 TDs as a sophomore. If he cuts down on his tendency to forcethrows, defenses will have difficulty slowing the ISU offense.

TEXAS A&M

JUSTIN WARREN,LB

Asideline-to-sideline terror with NFL speed, strength and size (6'3", 245pounds), Warren led the Big 12 in tackles last year (91/2 per game). Hislateral quickness will be an even bigger asset in the Aggies' new 4-2-5alignment.

CAN'T-MISSGAMES

SEPT. 9

OHIO STATE ATTEXAS

A year aftertheir epic in Columbus, these heavyweights with national-title hopes meetagain. This time look for the Buckeyes to make a statement, turning the tableson the Horns, who will find out how much they miss Vince Young.

OCT. 7

TEXAS VS.OKLAHOMA

Last year theLonghorns ended a five-year drought against the Sooners with a 45-12 win inDallas. With Oklahoma's offensive line in disarray, Texas should make it twostraight, though this victory won't come as easily.

OCT. 7

NEBRASKA AT IOWASTATE

Last year theCyclones led the Cornhuskers in the fourth quarter before losing in doubleovertime. Nebraska will be looking to pick up a big road victory in this earlyNorth Division showdown, but the Huskers haven't won in Ames since 2000.

EXTRA POINTS

With seniors atquarterback and the receiver positions, BAYLOR has had a smooth transition tothe Texas Tech-style offense of new offensive coordinator Lee Hays. QuarterbackSHAWN BELL capped a strong spring with a 239-yard, three-touchdown day in theGreen and Gold game. The new offense and last season's resurgence (Baylor's 5-6record was its best since 1995) have the Bears thinking bowl game. "Baylorcan beat anybody now," says one Big 12 coach.... The quarterback situationat KANSAS was expected to be unsettled going into fall camp with four playersvying for the starting job, but Kerry Meier, a redshirt freshman fromPittsburg, Kans., was so impressive during spring practice that coach MarkMangino named him the starter. Jayhawks players have already dubbed the6'3", 210-pound Meier "the man" and "franchise." ...Coaches at OKLAHOMA STATE expect a big season from junior wideout AdariusBowman, a transfer from North Carolina. Two years ago Bowman was thesecond-leading receiver for the Tar Heels through six games before he wassuspended because of a marijuana possession charge. (The charge was dismissed,but Bowman never returned to the team.) The presence of the 6'4"220-pounder should force opponents to stop double-covering All-Big 12 receiverD'Juan Woods, who last season caught 56 passes, eight for touchdowns.... Whohas the fastest set of receivers in the conference? KANSAS STATE. Jordy Nelson,a 6'2" 213-pounder, runs a sub-4.4, and 5'11", 173-pound senior YamonFigurs clocks in at 4.29.

[This articlecontains a table. Please see hardcopy of magazine or PDF.]

HOW THEY'LL FINISH

NORTH TEAM CONFERENCE:
W-L
PCT. OVERALL:
W-L
PCT.
NEBRASKA 6-2 .750 9-3 .750
IOWA STATE 5-3 .625 8-4 .667
COLORADO 4-4 .500 6-6 .500
MISSOURI 3-5 .375 7-5 .583
KANSAS 2-6 .250 4-8 .333
KANSAS STATE 1-7 .125 3-9 .250
SOUTH TEAM W-L PCT. W-L PCT.
TEXAS 8-0 1.000 11-1 .917
OKLAHOMA 6-2 .750 9-3 .750
TEXAS A&M 5-3 .625 9-3 .750
TEXAS TECH 5-3 .625 9-3 .750
BAYLOR 3-5 .375 6-6 .500
OKLAHOMA STATE 0-8 .000 3-9 .250


CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIP GAME

DEC. 2 IN KANSASCITY, MO. TEXAS OVER NEBRASKA

SIX PHOTOSAL MESSERSCHMIDT/WIREIMAGE.COM; BOB ROSATO; G. NEWMAN LOWRANCE/WIREIMAGE.COM (2); GARRETT ELLWOOD/WIREIMAGE.COM; BILLY HEFTON/ICON SMI SIX PHOTOSHELMETS THROUGHOUT PREVIEW COURTESY OF CAL SPORTS INFORMATION; DAVE KLOTZ/LOUISVILLE; IOWA STATE UNIVERSITY ATHLETICS; NEVADA MEDIA SERVICES; ONLINESPORTS.COM; OREGON MEDIA SERVICES; SCOREHERE.COM; SCOTT WALSTROM/NIU MEDIA SERVICES; SIDELINEMVP.COM; USF ATHLETICS

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)