Nine days before Iowa State becomes the first Big 12 team to kick off the season, here are some August story lines from the 10 teams outside of Oklahoma: •Colorado: Darrell Scott, the nation's top-rated high school running back, was projected to give Colorado's running game a huge lift. The surprise has been that three true freshmen running backs have impressed coaches. Ray Polk and Rodney Stewart have run so well the Buffaloes might not redshirt any of their three freshmen backs. Polk, from Scottsdale, Ariz., was another highly ranked recruit. Stewart, from Westerville, Ohio, is undersized and is being labeled the steal of the class. •Kansas: One of the biggest questions in Lawrence was who would replace Brandon McAnderson's 1,125 yards rushing. What's scary for defensive coordinators is that the Jayhawks might have upgraded with Jocques Crawford, the nation's leading junior-college rusher. Jake Sharp ran for 821 yards last year backing up McAnderson. But Crawford provides breakaway speed. Crawford ran for 1,935 yards at Cisco (Texas.). He originally committed to Texas Tech, ran into some legal issues and resurfaced at Cisco. •Nebraska: Coaching legend Tom Osborne went on record this month saying the primary reason he hired Bo Pelini over former Huskers star Turner Gill, the head coach at Buffalo, was Pelini's defensive expertise. Nebraska finished 5-7 last season, only the second losing season in 45 years in Lincoln. Big 12 opponents averaged 512.0 yards and 42.4 points against the Cornhuskers. Nebraska could post the league's biggest turnaround if Pelini can work some defensive magic. •Missouri: Blaine Gabbert, a 6-foot-5 true freshman from St. Louis, was rated the nation's top pro style quarterback by Rivals. Gabbert is projected to be the heir apparent to Heisman Trophy finalist Chase Daniel in 2009 but might not play this season. With senior Chase Patton returning, coach Gary Pinkel might allow Gabbert to ease into the program. Patton has only 13 career pass attempts but knows the system. After suffering a minor injury in fall camp, Gabbert might redshirt. •Texas Tech: Skeptics who scoff that the Red Raiders can't play good enough defense to compete for a Big 12 title haven't seen them play this fall or late last season. After losing 49-45 at Oklahoma State, coach Mike Leach switched defensive coordinators. After Ruffin McNeill took over the following week, Tech led the Big 12 in total defense the last nine games of the season. •Texas A&M: New head coach Mike Sherman named senior Stephen McGee his starting quarterback last week. McGee is viewed as an option quarterback because of how he was used by Dennis Franchione. What's forgotten is McGee threw for 3,579 yards, 47 touchdowns and only three interceptions his senior year in high school. •Kansas State: There will be a lot of new faces in Manhattan. With running back Leon Patton indefinitely suspended, junior Keithen Valentine, who ran for more than 100 yards in the spring game, might start. Six of the 19 junior-college transfers signed — a few failed to qualify — might start the opener, including linebackers Ulla Pomele and Hanson Sekona. •Baylor: New coach Art Briles hasn't announced his starting quarterback. Senior Kirby Freeman, who started seven games at Miami before transferring to Baylor, is competing against junior Blake Syzmanski, who threw for 2,844 yards and 22 touchdowns last season. Freshman Robert Griffin, who had a 56-yard touchdown run in a recent scrimmage, also is in the mix. •Iowa State: The only other school with a quarterback controversy. The top two candidates are sophomores. Austen Arnaud, who was Bret Meyer's backup last season, was considered the favorite, but Phillip Bates has a shot. Bates was considered too good an athlete to redshirt last year, so he played wide receiver. It's a toss-up. Bates is making it a tough decision.
Darrell Scott, left, and Ray Polk, right, are two of Colorado's three impressive freshman running backs. ASSOCIATED PRESS