The Big Twelve North is the weaker division of the conference through and through but that does not mean they do not have some good teams. Perhaps the best team in the entire Big XII is Bo Pelini's squad of Cornhuskers. They should be able to compete with Texas for conference honors but that is looking just a bit too far ahead. The Huskers will be leaving for the Big X in the not too distant future and that is a shame. Is the money so much better in that conference or is it something else? The AD is a known coward and shies away from scheduling tough non conference opponents. Last years loss to Va. Tech probably scared him more. He refuses to schedule Boise State which is nothing but sheer cowardice. Oh well. I would imagine that Pelini will have this squad ready to compete for a national championship very soon no matter what conference they are affiliated with. Probably they just want to move to the Big X to have a better than even chance of dominating year in and year out. Enough of that. On to the conference prediction.
1. Nebraska: Hands down the best in the Big XII North and just perhaps the best in conference. Pelini will work magic here and these guys are a dark horse in finding themselves in the hunt for the national championship. The non conference schedule is a somewhat of a joke and they miss out on the Sooners this year. They do meet the Longhorns in a preview of the Big XII Championship game. That will be one to watch.
2. Kansas State: In the North there is Nebraska and everyone else. No major publications pick the Wildcats for the number two spot, but Snyder is perhaps the one person who can make things work at this school. Last year they actually were not a bad ball club and were picked to be just dismal. The non conference schedule is not too tough but certainly more challenging than Nebraska's. UCLA comes to town and Central Florida is no pushover.. They miss out on meeting Oklahoma this year which is a plus but do meet the Longhorns. Look for a sweep or a one loss non conference outcome and perhaps losing no more than 2 or 3 in conference play.
3. Missouri: Gary Pinkel has done a very good job at this school which is historically a very hard place to win. The Tigers return a good many players on both offense and D from a squad that was above average last year. Pinkel is a talented coach that may would probably have better luck elsewhere but he seems happy here. The non conference schedule is not difficult with only Illinois and just perhaps San Diego State posing any problem. The do meet the Sooners, Longhorns and Cornhuskers in conference play and that is why I have picked them for the third spot in the north. I may be being a bit to generous here.
4. Iowa State: Last year this team had some success (by Cyclone standards) but are probably not going to be ready to make a serious run at the Big XII Championship. Iowa State returns a decent number of starters but the team is probably just a cut above average. Their non conference slate is pretty tough with an opener with Northern Illinois and games with Utah, Iowa and a good IAA squad; Northern Iowa. They could easily lose them all and going 2-2 in non conference play would be a blessing. In Big Twelve play they meet Oklahoma and of course Nebraska but are spared the Longhorns.
5. Kansas: Turner Gill assumes the position at this basketball school and we will see how he does. Mangino was a very good coach but had to leave apparently because he was "too rough." Sounds a bit strange to me, but be that as it may, there is a new sheriff in town and his name is Coach Gill. Gill had some success at MAC Buffalo which is an exceedingly tough place to win, but I am not sure he is quite ready for the rough and tumble Big XII. The Jayhawks non conference sked is about average with the toughest games being against Ga. Tech and Southern Miss. The also meet N. Dakota State out of IAA, and New Mexico State out of the WAC. With any luck they may go 3-1. They should do no worse than 2-2 in non conference play. They miss out on both the Sooners and the Longhorns which is a plus but will probably have trouble with some of the lesser lights in conference. Look for a possible minor bowl this year. Possible but certainly not assured.
6. Colorado: It is time for Hawkins to go. He is a good coach but this has just not been a good fit for him. They do return some starters but have a pretty rough non conference slate with California, Hawaii and Georgia on the schedule. They also travel to CSU for the rivalry game. Perhaps they will go 2-2 in non conference play but I look for 1-3. Getting swept is not out of the question also. They meet Nebraska and Oklahoma but are spared the Longhorns. A three or four win season is what is in store here. Perhaps they will do better in the PAC10.