In today's mailbag, we discuss what team should be on upset alert Week 1, Baylor's front seven, Oklahoma's linebackers, Kansas' running backs and "College GameDay" possibilities this year for the Big 12.
As an aside, the season starts next week, which means we'll be looking to select our first guest picker of 2014. Click here and sell us on why you should be the Week 1 guest picker. And, as always, creativity counts.
Now, to the 'Bag:
— Ryan Hurd (@Hurdo5) August 21, 2014
Trotter: Iowa State. The Cyclones face the three-time defending FCS champs in North Dakota State, which toppled Kansas State in Manhattan last year. The Bison lost their coach, Craig Bohl, to Wyoming. Several key starters from last year are gone, too. But North Dakota State opened No. 2 in the FCS polls for a reason. Don't forget, Iowa State lost to Northern Iowa last season, as well. This is not a game the Cyclones can afford to play poorly in.
@Jake_Trotter do you think UT/A&M will ever schedule a permanent OOC game between them? College football would be a better place for it...
— Kevin Collins (@kevinkwc) August 21, 2014
Trotter: Eventually, yes. When, who knows? But it will happen.
— Rock Chalk Blog (@RockChalkBlog) August 21, 2014
Trotter: Yes. Brandon Bourbon and Taylor Cox reportedly performed well this preseason, but so have De'Andre Mann and Corey Avery. I think the Jayhawks will be fine at running back -- provided nobody else there gets injured.
@Jake_Trotter What can we make of the teas leaves that point to Boykin starting at TCU? How bad must of the OCs been last year!
— Geoffrey Mitchell (@geoffmitchell) August 21, 2014
Trotter: This has more to do with Trevone Boykin -- and the work he's put in this offseason -- than it does anyone else. Obviously Boykin has responded well to having Sonny Cumbie as his position coach. But Boykin has gotten into phenomenal shape and really focused on becoming a better quarterback. As result, it appears that he has.
— Ryan Chapman (@ryan_chapman08) August 21, 2014
Trotter: Oklahoma is going to be fine at linebacker. Obviously the depth took a hit. But Jordan Evans showed as a true freshman last year that he can play at a high level. The Sooners would be better with Shannon on the field. But they're not going to be that much worse off without him, either.
@Jake_Trotter Will Baylors defensive front seven really be that good?
— Spencer Smith (@smith1_spncr) August 21, 2014
Trotter: I'm not sure Baylor is going to have the best front in the country, as Art Briles suggested in the spring. But it has a chance to be one of the three-best in the Big 12. Andrew Billings is one of the best young tackles in the league. Shawn Oakman has the ability to become a star. And Bryce Hager is one of the most proven linebackers in the conference. This has the potential to be a special group.
@Jake_Trotter I believe the hype this year about OU. But if 1 loss to lets say Baylor could we still get into playoff?
— Rocket Raccoon!!! (@Samy_III) August 21, 2014
Trotter: That would be tough. The Baylor loss would happen late in the season. It would rob Oklahoma of its best chance for landing a marquee win. And Baylor, by defeating the Sooners, would theoretically surge ahead in the Big 12 playoff pecking order. So I don't see Oklahoma making the playoff without a win over the Bears.
@Jake_Trotter Do you foresee a way in which two Big 12 teams could make the playoffs, possibly facing off against each other?
— Nick Lawton (@NickLawtonKTVE) August 21, 2014
Trotter: I can't see it, not this year at least. This isn't the Big 12 of 2008. Let's assume that the playoff would at the least include Florida State and the SEC champ. The Big 12 then getting two teams in would entail the playoff committee leaving out the champs from the Pac-12 and Big Ten, plus a potential second team from the SEC. There are a couple scenarios, however, where it might be feasible. Say Kansas State beats Auburn, loses at Oklahoma, but beats Baylor in the season finale. An 11-1 K-State would be an attractive second Big 12 playoff possibility (along with, say, an undefeated Oklahoma) because of the marquee non-conference victory over Auburn and the marquee win at the end of the season in Waco. So it's not impossible. Then again, it's probably more likely that the Big 12 gets left out completely than it gets two teams in.
@Jake_Trotter Besides Tyler Lockett, who do you see emerging as another playmaker in Wildcats' offense?
— Laura Forster (@LauraBForster) August 21, 2014
Trotter: Deante Burton is the player to watch. He had a big spring, and has the size and strength to go up and get the ball downfield. With every defense focused on containing Lockett, Burton should get plenty of one-to-one opportunities.
@Jake_Trotter What Big12 games do you think could possibly be GameDay?
— Garrett Purcell (@GarrettPurcell2) August 21, 2014
Trotter: Some possibilities include: Baylor-Oklahoma on Nov. 8; the Red River Showdown on Oct. 11; Kansas State-Oklahoma on Oct. 18; Baylor-Texas on Oct. 4; and Oklahoma-Texas Tech on Nov. 15.
— Pete Nicklin (@PeterNicklin) August 21, 2014
Trotter: The fact that neither DeMarcus Robinson nor Charles Jones nor Jarvis Leverett seized the job in the spring gives Dalvin Warmack the chance. It's been radio silence in Manhattan the last week or so. But if Bill Snyder (who likes redshirting his freshmen) announces before the opener he's not going to redshirt Warmack, that will be the sign that Warmack is going to play a lot.
@Jake_Trotter what would be a successful season for WVU?
— Sam Fisher (@sfisher46) August 21, 2014
Trotter: If West Virginia gets back to a bowl game facing such a difficult schedule, I would consider it to be a successful season. Especially with what the Mountaineers would have coming back for 2015.
@Jake_Trotter Keeping on the alternative uniform track: Why doesn't Texas have alternative uniforms? What will it take to change this?
— Mike Elias (@MikeEliasC) August 21, 2014
Trotter: Texas has one of the most iconic looks in all of college football. Many schools need alternate uniforms to grab the attention of recruits and generate energy in their programs. Texas is not one of them.