Nonconference preview: Texas Tech

Let's move on with our look at each Big 12 team's nonconference slate. Next up: Texas Tech.

at SMU, Aug. 30

  • Coach: June Jones, sixth season (31-34)

  • 2012 record: 7-6 (5-3 Conference USA)

  • Returning starters: Six offensive, three defensive

  • Offensive headliner: Quarterback Garrett Gilbert's debut after transferring from Texas wasn't great, but he racked up 2,932 yards and 15 touchdowns, though he also threw 15 interceptions. His top target should be senior receiver Jeremy Johnson.

  • Defensive headliner: Senior linebacker Randall Joyner is the team's leading returning tackler, with 93 stops a year ago.

  • The skinny: Texas Tech hasn't lost to SMU since all the way back in 1986, spanning a total of 14 meetings. SMU's program has improved since Jones' arrival, and with a new coaching staff and a road atmosphere, this could be a bit shaky for the Red Raiders. Still, Tech just has to play solid to earn a win here.

vs. Stephen F. Austin, Sept. 7

  • Coach: J.C. Harper, seventh season (34-26)

  • 2012 record: 5-6 (4-3 Southland)

  • Offensive headliner: Running back Gus Johnson (!!) rushed for 954 yards and 14 touchdowns, and quarterback Brady Attaway threw for 29 scores and 3,671 yards, though he had 21 interceptions.

  • Defensive headliner: Linebacker Collin Garrett made 96 stops a year ago, including 9.5 tackles for loss, an interception and a forced fumble.

  • The skinny: SFA returns most of its core from a year ago, but this is the same squad who lost to SMU 52-0 in its only meeting with an FBS team in 2012. It's hard to see Tech losing this game, barring a meltdown or barrage of turnovers.

vs. Texas State, Sept. 21.

  • Coach: Dennis Franchione, third season (10-14)

  • 2012 record: 4-8, (2-6) WAC

  • Returning starters: Six offensive, seven defensive

  • Offensive headliner: The Bobcats are a run-heavy offense, but lost the top two rushers from last season's team, including quarterback Shaun Rutherford. Receiver Andy Erickson caught 39 balls last season for 482 yards and three touchdowns.

  • Defensive headliner: Safety Xavier Daniels made 66 tackles a year ago, including a forced fumble and five pass-breakups.

  • The skinny: Texas State scared folks when it upset Houston to start the season, but Tech brought the Bobcats back down to earth with a humbling 58-10 win in San Marcos. It's hard to see Tech having a serious chance to lose this time around, especially against a team losing so much talent in the running game.

Chances of going 3-0: 62 percent

Wrapping up: Tech's nonconference schedule is one of the worst in college football, and outside of Baylor and Kansas State, it's hard to find one in the Big 12 that's going to be more yawn-inducing. The opener against SMU will be interesting, but even on the road, the Red Raiders will be favored. Losing that game is very possible, but if Tech plays well and leaves Dallas with a 'W', it should coast into Big 12 play at 3-0.