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Illini Fight Off Huskies

The #25 Illinois defense stifled Washington's star QB Jake Davis as Illinois won a more defensive game 19-17, although QB Jordan Harrison did help with over 300 yards in the air.

SKAGGS SKAGGS SKAGGS SKAGGS SKAGGS SKAGGS

Panthers QB Christian Skaggs throws for 506 yards on 49 attempts, adding 6 TD to 0 INT, as the Panthers rout the Bucs at home 42-12.

Hokie-Pokey Defense Turns Game Around

In a game that was 0-0 at the half, Virginia Tech managed to pull the upset of #12 Ohio State through a stifling defense that held OSU to just 3 field goals.

Sustainable Bills Sneak Past Saints

The Bills scored in every quarter, putting up 35; they nearly lost anyway as the Saints scored 27 in the 4th quarter in a close 35-33 game.
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stormstopper

[2023] Big XII Network Week 1 Weeknight Preview

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Thursday Night

 

:isu: Iowa State (0-0) at :uab: UAB (0-0) (-11)

 

Beating a UAB team that's expected to contend for the Non-Rice C-USA West championship will be no small task for Iowa State, especially on the road. In fact, this may even wind up being their toughest non-conference test if the Blazers perform up to expectation. UAB doesn't necessarily have any one player who stands out, other than left tackle Sam Duvall who is being looked at as a potential early-round draft pick this year or next. Duvall will be blocking up front for returning redshirt senior runningback Lorenzo Deaton, who had 1346 yards and 16 touchdowns on 266 carries (5.1 YPC) last season. They had one of the most accurate quarterbacks in the country in Elijah Currie-Madison, who completed 68.6% of his passes for 3,071 yards, 23 touchdowns, and 4 interceptions along with 388 rushing yards and 2 scores on the ground--and then lost the starting job to junior college transfer Corey Mays. Expect Mays to be just as much of a dual-threat, and expect UAB to run the ball against an Iowa State defensive line that's pretty much Taua Aloese (16 tackles, 4 for loss, 1.0 sack, 1 FF last year) and not much else. What the Cyclones do with Ian Johnson and Paul Bryant will be crucial; last year, Johnson was everywhere with 4 interceptions, 5 pass breakups, a forced fumble, and 63 tackles (just 2 for loss). Bryant added another interception, 3 pass breakups, 2.0 sacks, and 29 tackles. This is to say that they can opt to take the short passing game away by committing their linebackers into coverage, or they can try to use them as reinforcements against the run and deny the blockers up front their greatest strength. Either way they handle it, having Mark Barbour and Laurent Daniel back deep should give them comfort even if their cornerback corps is not likely to be reliable. The Cyclones start five seniors on defense (six depending on their alignment); in contrast, UAB starts four freshmen including true freshman at mike linebacker and strong safety. They're talented players and surrounded by some solid, deep veteran guys as well, but you never know how someone will take to their first game. Expect Iowa State to test them all. Kofi McCullough running behind D'Neal Norris to the outside is a matchup advantage against this defensive line, and if redshirt freshman outside linebacker Austin Hayward and true freshman mike linebacker Andrew Cunningham aren't quick to diagnose the issue then McCullough's explosiveness will quickly become a problem for UAB. If they bite too hard, then it's up to Vaughn Sheppard to make them pay. This publication is optimistic about Sheppard given the progress he's seemed to have made since late last season, and if he can spread the ball out to his generally small and speedy receivers, they can pick on the UAB secondary. I think both backfields are going to largely have free rein behind their respective offensive lines, and I think Iowa State's greater potential for explosiveness will be the difference-maker. I'll take the Cyclones.

 

:isu: Iowa State 34, :uab: UAB 28

 

Friday Night

 

:boise: Boise State (0-0) at :kansas: Kansas (0-0) (-9)

 

Former Texas coach AzulCaballero begins a quick two-game tour of the Big XII as Boise State makes its first-ever trip to Lawrence before going back home to face Baylor. Both teams are looking to improve on losing 2022 campaigns; the Broncos finished 4-8 while the Jayhawks climbed out of a 1-4 start to claw their way to 6-7. And both teams intend to build their offense around their skill players. For Boise State, that means wholesale change. Ian Cannon and Devon Cannon (no relation) are out of the starting lineup; Ian Hansen and CeeCee Henderson replace them. Between the 6-5 Hansen at quarterback and the 6-1 Henderson at runningback, look for the Broncos to go for a bruising style of play. They'll run up the middle, they'll ask Hansen to stand and deliver through pressure (and there will be pressure), and they'll ask senior 6-3 wide receiver Major Linton to out-muscle the 5-10, 164-pound Javier Blount on the outside. He did that well last year, amassing 650 yards and 7 touchdowns on 43 catches; the only receiver to outperform him on the team was tight end Atamu Niumatalolo, another big target at 6-5 who had 770 yards and 8 touchdowns on 52 receptions last year. Expect them to try and pick at a shallow Jayhawk corner set early and often, especially if they can get the run established. And expect Kansas to counter by flooding the pocket. There's a lot of talent in the Kansas front: defensive end Jamari Callahan has an opportunity to break the Big XII career sack record, and junior Abdoul Mayo moves up to #1 on the defensive tackle depth chart beside him. The question is whether the youth on the Kansas defense can hold up. Between Eddy Cuevas at defensive end, Naiquon Crosby and Deon Evans at outside linebacker, and Shaq Stewart and David Finley at safety, nearly half the defensive starters are freshmen. On top of that, inside linebackers Adrian Henderson and Evander Lawton are sophomores. If they hit the ground running, this defense is dangerous to all they face. If they struggle out of the gate, this defense is dangerous only to Kansas. Fortunately for the Jayhawks, they also have Christian Graham. The redshirt senior is on pace to break many of Eric Jennings's school records, and despite losing tight end Jaime Bautista he gains a new primary target of Cameron Bowers. They have to like his matchup against the Boise secondary as it's no deeper than the Kansas receiving corps, but they will have to keep some dangerous Bronco blitzers out of the backfield themselves. They didn't have a lot of guys who got home often, but they have a lot who are capable of it: Javorius McNeil (2.5 sacks, 3 TFL) at outside linebacker, Aboubacar Chester at the same position on the other side, Elijah Aponte and Jon Snell at defensive end, and John Clay up the middle at defensive tackle. Kansas's offensive line is in better shape than it was recently, with Walter Munoz and Armani Bello forming a couple of elite bookends and Kyle Goodson manning the middle. Can they hold up? If so, the Jayhawk passing offense will give them a fighting chance. If not, it'll be a long day in Lawrence. And if Hansen, Henderson, Linton, and Niumatololo all show out, Boise State could be trouble for a lot of their foes on the schedule. I'm taking the Broncos.

 

:boise: Boise State 27, :kansas: Kansas 22

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I'm interested in Vaughan Sheppard.  He's the key to an Iowa State bowl bid.  

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Nice piece as always. I’m just not sold on Ian Hansen yet. I think youre right on the close game but I think it’ll be 27-24 for the Jayhawks 

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