Who should brace for season-opening loss?

Only two teams in the Big 12 lost on last season's opening weekend. Colorado lost to rival Colorado State, but Oklahoma lost more than just its game to BYU in Dallas. It lost its quarterback, reigning Heisman winner Sam Bradford.

And while those types of factors are impossible to predict, the game's aren't. So here's who should be on the lookout for a letdown when the season begins on Sept. 4:

Heads up:

Colorado vs. Colorado State (at Denver)

Like we mentioned earlier, the Buffaloes lost this game last season, and another loss is a real possibility. Scoff at the Rams' 3-9 record last season all you want, but they know very well which team one of those three wins came against. Of course, that could work for Colorado this time around.

Iowa State vs. Northern Illinois

The Huskies bring back their top passer, receiver and a 1,000-yard rusher from a team that beat Purdue on the road last season and lost to Wisconsin by just eight. But Iowa State needs a win in this game badly, because the nonconference schedule doesn't get any easier with Iowa and Utah awaiting further down the road.

Kansas State vs. UCLA

The Bruins knocked off the Wildcats in week 3 in Los Angeles last season, 23-9. Though UCLA travels to Manhattan this season and is rebuilding its defense, Kansas State needs a solid performance to kick off the season with some good vibes.

It could happen:

Missouri vs. Illinois (at St. Louis)

Missouri has beaten the Illini in each of the past three seasons, and an improved Missouri team should make it out of the Arch Rivalry (side note: perhaps the conference's best-named rivalry) smiling, but the Illini aren't a cupcake and put a scare into a 2008 Missouri team that was ranked in the top 10.

Oklahoma State vs. Washington State

Washington State is not a good team, and my best guess is the Cowboys roll, but with a new quarterback running a new offense, well ... check out the title of the section.

Texas Tech vs. SMU (Sunday)

SMU is underrated and June Jones has his team headed in the right direction after an 8-5 season. Colleague Graham Watson ranks the Mustangs as the No. 4 team from the non-AQ conferences. With a new coach in Lubbock, there's no way to be 100 percent sure what to expect until the Red Raiders take the field, and they'll do it on ESPN a day after everyone else, so they have a great chance to impress or embarrass with a lopsided result.

Please ice the cupcakes before consumption:

Baylor vs. Sam Houston State

Sam Houston State went 5-6 last season and lost 56-3 to Tulsa. The Bears opener should give Robert Griffin a chance to shake off any rust.

Kansas vs. North Dakota State

The Bison were 3-8 last season, and you can't spell cupcake without "F-C-S." Or can you? And what does that have to do with anything?

Nebraska vs. Western Kentucky

What happens when the Huskers, who have never played Western Kentucky, find out the Hilltoppers' mascot is named "Big Red?" In his defense, you can clearly see no other name makes sense, but will he (or perhaps, the Husker fans) be able to handle the existential crisis that's sure to follow? We'll have to find out this September. All I know is, the more entertaining action might be taking place on the sidelines.

Oklahoma vs. Utah State

Utah State should be a lot better than they were when the Sooners beat them 56-3 in 2007, but the Aggies won't be the ones to bring an end to Oklahoma's fearsome win streak at Owen Field. And rest assured, Sooner fans, no amount of injuries will change that.

Texas vs. Rice (at Houston)

Texas' last four results against the Owls? 52-10 in 2008. 58-14 in 2007. 52-7 in 2006. 51-10 in 2005. I'll take the mean and say the Longhorns win this one 53.25 to 10.25.

Texas A&M vs. Stephen F. Austin

The Aggies are riding the hype train this offseason, but the ride won't end against the FCS Lumberjacks, even if they went 10-2 last season. Montana ended their season in the playoffs, 51-0.