It's ironic Kansas State probably faces the most challenging opener in the Big 12.
Over the years, K-State coach Bill Snyder has been criticized for soft nonconference schedules. The Wildcats recently got out of a two-year series with Oregon. They might try to get out of future series with Miami, Auburn and Virginia Tech that were brokered during his brief retirement.
Snyder doesn't hide the fact he's not ecstatic to open this season on Saturday with UCLA.
"My feeling about scheduling has never changed over the years," Snyder said. "It doesn't make it right or wrong. But it's our preference to open with a schedule to build into your conference. I'm not a big fan of playing nationally prominent programs."
Many Big 12 coaches are starting to agree with Snyder. Last season, Oklahoma State opened with Georgia. Oklahoma played BYU and Miami.
Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy said: "It can be debated forever, but most schools in your major conferences see a tremendous amount of competition week to week. I don't know many coaches that are fired up about playing difficult nonconference schedules."
First-year Texas Tech coach Tommy Tuberville has stressed being more physical. He said the Red Raiders will be balanced offensively. Does Tuberville feel pressure replacing Mike Leach's high octane offense that was successful?
"I've been coaching 31 years," Tuberville said. "I think this approach will win just like any approach. I'm here to win championships. I'm not here to win six, seven or eight games. I feel this approach will get us to the championship game sooner or later, hopefully win a championship...
"The players have been very receptive to what we've been doing. There's more than one way to skin a cat. I know one way. This one way has done a pretty good job for me in terms of winning games, so I'm not going to go by somebody else's philosophy."
Texas' running game
Junior Cody Johnson will be the Longhorns' starting running back after beating out Fozzy Whitaker and Trey Newton, last year's starters. Johnson, having lost 5 percent body fat, weighs 250 pounds. Coach Mack Brown said Texas will still throw it 50 percent of the time, but the goal is to be balanced like the Ricky Williams era.
"Fozzy and Tre didn't do anything differently," Brown said. "It's just the power that Cody brings. And he can pass protect and catch the ball out of the backfield. With the power running attack we're looking at, and the downhill runs, he's just a real load."
Following fall competition, most Big 12 coaches announced their starting quarterbacks for the season opener: Texas Tech (Taylor Potts), Kansas State (Carson Coffman) and Kansas (Kale Pick). Nebraska coach Bo Pelini said he still hasn't decided whether he will start incumbent Zac Lee, redshirt freshman Taylor Martinez or sophomore Cody Green.
Missouri coach Gary Pinkel said the program is taking steps to avoid off-the-field incidents after the Tigers recently dealt with three alcohol-related arrests.
"I'm kind of embarrassed," Pinkel said. "We've worked real hard to build a program that has a very good reputation for being first class and disciplined. We've taken a few hits. The only way you're going to get that back is (build) it back. That's what we intend to do."