Season openers in college football create equal levels of nervousness and uncertainty. There are no preseason games that allow preparation and assessment. With the opening kickoff, every play counts.
Now, that might seem to over-dramatize the angst Big 12 coaching staffs feel before Game One. But since the final game of last season until the first game of 2013, the attention is focused on Game One. The cliché is appropriate and true – you can only play one game at a time.
Winning the first of 12 scheduled games can provide a huge boost. Last season, the Big 12 was the only FBS conference to go undefeated in Week One. It's worth noting that nine of 10 teams went on to play in bowl games.
"It's a huge boost to get the first win," Iowa State coach Paul Rhoads said. "I correlate it to (earning) credibility. You do get heightened credibility with your kids if you come through the first game with a victory."
The threat level provided by Big 12 foes in Week One vary. Oklahoma State and TCU are facing Southeastern Conference teams in neutral site games. Texas Tech is the only Conference team opening with a road game.
Oklahoma opens at home against Louisiana Monroe – a team that upset Arkansas in Week One of 2012. Plus, the Sooners are starting redshirt freshman Trevor Knight at quarterback.
While teams from the Football Championship Subdivision (formerly known as Division I-AA) are typically considered easy pickings, the Big 12 is not exactly facing pushovers.
Kansas State opens at home Friday night against North Dakota State, the two time defending national champions in FCS.
"This is a faster football team than people want to envision," K-State coach Bill Snyder said. "Sometimes on tape you can't visualize that, but they run around. Secondly, they are as aggressive and as tough as a football team as you will line up against. They play with a great deal of confidence."
The Cyclones are at home against FCS team Northern Iowa. Two years ago Northern Iowa lost by one at Iowa State and in 2009 lost by one at Iowa.
Baylor's season opener is against FCS Wofford, a school that frequently is competitive against in-state foes South Carolina and Clemson. The Bears added the Terriers in February when SMU backed out of a scheduled game against Baylor.
All time Central
Texas Tech at SMU
7 p.m., Ford Stadium, ESPN
Scouting Texas Tech: Either Baker Mayfield or Davis Webb (both freshmen) will start at quarterback. The Red Raiders have never had a freshman QB start a season opener. First-year coach Kliff Kingsbury has indicated he expects both QBs to play. The offense is expected to rely on senior wide receiver Eric Ward, junior tight end Jace Amaro and junior running back Kenny Williams.
Scouting SMU: Senior Garrett Gilbert, who started his career at Texas before transferring, is the Mustangs' starting quarterback. Hal Mumme, a former head coach who was an early proponent of spread-the-field passing attacks, has joined SMU as the offensive coordinator. Senior wide receiver Jeremy Johnson is top target for receptions. All three starters up front in the 3-4 defense will be new.
This and that: Texas Tech is 11-15-1 in season openers on the road. … This game renews a rivalry from the old Southwest Conference. The Red Raiders have won 14 consecutive games and the teams have met eight times since the SWC dissolved in 1995. … In five seasons under coach June Jones, SMU has averaged three turnovers per game facing teams from BCS automatic-qualifying conferences.
North Dakota State at Kansas State
7:30 p.m., Bill Snyder Family Stadium, FS1
Scouting North Dakota State: Brock Jensen is in his fourth season as the Bisons' quarterback and has made 37 starts. Last season he passed for 2,331 yards. Running backs Sam Ojuri and John Crockett each gained 1,000 yards rushing last season. North Dakota State returns 18 starters including offensive tackle Billy Turner and defensive back Marcus Williams, both All-Americans.
Scouting Kansas State: Jake Waters, last season's junior-college player of the year, has been named the Wildcats' starting quarterback. His ability to throw the ball is expected to boost the play-making chances of veteran wide receivers Tremaine Thompson and Tyler Lockett. Senior running back John Hubert has potential to break the 1,000-yard barrier. The defense faces the task of replacing nine starters.
This and that: Kansas State has won 20 consecutive season openers with Bill Snyder as coach. … Since 1990, K-State has won 65 of their 72 (.903) regular-season nonconference games under Snyder, including winning 56 of 58 (.966) at home during that stretch. … North Dakota State is the two-time defending national champions in the Football Championship Subdivision and over the last three seasons have won road games at Kansas, Minnesota and Colorado State.
All time Central
William & Mary at West Virginia
11 a.m., Milan Puskar Stadium, FS1
Scouting William & Mary: The Tribe returns eight starters from a 2-9 team that finished near the bottom of the Colonia Athletic Association in scoring offense, total offense and pass offense last season. Fifth-year senior Michael Graham will be the starting quarterback. Junior wide receiver Tre McBride led the team in receptions (55), receiving yards (897) and touchdown catches (10) last season.
Scouting West Virginia: The Mountaineers need to replace the bulk of their offensive play makers. Juniors Clint Trickett and Paul Millard are both expected to see time at quarterback. Running back Charles Sims, a transfer from Houston, could be a workhorse. The defense was disappointing last season but returns seven starters and hopes that experience will help improve the numbers.
This and that: This is the 17th time these teams have played but the first since 1972. … West Virginia's margin of victory in the 28 season-opening wins at Milan Puskar Stadium is 27.5 points. … William & Mary has a history of faring well against FBS opponents. The Tribe defeated Virginia in the 2009 opener and lost to Maryland 7-6 last season.
Oklahoma State vs. Mississippi State
2:30 p.m., Reliant Stadium, Houston, ABC
Scouting Oklahoma State: The 13th-ranked Cowboys plan on playing two quarterbacks – senior Clint Chelf and sophomore J.W. Walsh. New offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich wants Oklahoma State (which averaged 78 plays per game last season) to play at a faster pace. Glenn Spencer takes as defensive coordinator and is emphasizing aggressive play.
Scouting Mississippi State: The Bulldogs went 8-5 last season. Senior quarterback Tyler Russell passed for 2,897 yards and 24 touchdowns but Mississippi State is breaking in new starters at receiver and offensive line. The running game is crucial as the Bulldogs have lost their last 15 games when not breaking the 100-yard rushing barrier. Senior running back LaDarius Perking and junior wide receiver Jameon Lewis are key play makers.
This and that: The Cowboys have won eight of their last nine games against current members of the SEC. … Oklahoma last lost as season opener in 2007 and is 7-1 in in openers under coach Mike Gundy. … In four season openers under coach Dan Mullen, Mississippi Stat has won by an average of nearly 44 points.
Louisiana Monroe at Oklahoma
6 p.m., Gaylord Family -Oklahoma Memorial Stadium, PPV
Scouting Louisiana Monroe: Last seasons he Warhawks upset No. 8 Arkansas last season, lost to Auburn in overtime and lost to Baylor, 47-42. They finished 8-5 and earned the first bowl trip in school history. Louisiana Monroe averaged 432.8 yards per game on offense, led by versatile quarterback Kolton Browning, who threw for 29 touchdowns and 3,029 yards.
Scouting Oklahoma: Trevor Knight, a redshirt freshman, will start at quarterback for the 13th-ranked Sooners. Oklahoma has a number of skilled offensive players to support Knight, including running back Trey Millard plus receivers Jalen Saunders, Sterling Shepard and Trey Metoyer.. The defense was a disappointment last season, but linebacker Corey Nelson and corner back Aaron Colvin are play makers and All-America candidates.
This and that: OU coach Bob Stoops starts the season needing nine victories to bypass Barry Switzer on the school's coaching victories list. … This is Oklahoma's first game against a member of the Sun Belt Conference since 2000. The Sooners defeated Arkansas State en route to the national championship. … Oklahoma junior kicker Michael Hunnicutt is 35 of 39 on field goals in his career.
Wofford at Baylor
6:30 p.m., Floyd Casey Stadium, FSN
Scouting Wofford: The roster lists five running backs, five halfbacks, four fullbacks and seven quarterbacks. Coach Mike Ayers likes to use multiple combinations to operate his wing-bone formation, which emphasizes the running game. The Terriers will try to control the ball and the clock with their ground attack. Last season, Wofford attempted 88 passes, completing 48.
Scouting Baylor: Junior quarterback Bryce Petty will make the first start of his career. The Bears figure to have one of the nation's top running duos in junior Lache Seastrunk and senior Glasco Martin (whose play might be limited as he continues to recover from a broken ankle). The defense sparked last season's surge and hopes to continue that trend in 2013.
This and that: Baylor is opening its final season at Floyd Casey Stadium, the site of its home games since 1950. The school will open the $260 million riverfront Baylor Stadium in 2014. … Wofford is ranked sixth nationally among FCS teams. … The Terriers have played at South Carolina three times in the past eight seasons and lost by the average margin of 11.3 points.
New Mexico State at Texas
7 p.m., Darrell K. Royal Memorial Stadium, LHN
Scouting New Mexico State: The Aggies, who are playing as an independent after the Western Athletic Conference dropped football, will be making their debut under coach Doug Martin. New Mexico State runs a spread offense while the defense lines up in a 3-4 and likes to attack. Junior wide receiver Austin Franklin has big-play capability. Senior quarterback Andrew McDonald has limited experience.
Scouting Texas: After sharing the position the last two seasons, junior David Ash is the clear-cut starter at quarterback for the 15th-ranked Longhorns. Texas returns its top three rushers (Johnathan Gray, Malcolm Brown and Joe Bergeron) plus its top two receivers (Mike Davis and Jaxon Shipley). The defense must replace two of last season's top performers in defensive end Alex Okafor and defensive back Kenny Vaccaro.
This and that: In 120 years of football, Texas is 100-17-3 in season openers. … New Mexico State is 2-16 against current Big 12 teams. The last victory was a 42-29 victory over Kansas in 1988. … The Aggies have been outscored by an average of 35.5 points during an 18-game losing streak versus ranked opponents.
Northern Iowa at Iowa State
7 p.m., Jack Trice Stadium, Cyclones.tv
Scouting Northern Iowa: The Panthers are solid at quarterback with sophomore Sawyer Kollmorgen, who had an outstanding freshman season. One of Northern Iowa's top play makers is junior running back David Johnson, who is also a receiving threat. One of UNI's top concerns is replacing three starters in the secondary.
Scouting Iowa State: The Cyclones are hoping that sophomore quarterback Sam Richardson plus The Pistol offensive scheme will boost its attack. Iowa State has a deep and talented group of running backs but needs to find replacements for its top three receivers last season. The defense is in transition, particularly at linebacker – three-year starters A.J. Klein and Jake Knott graduated.
This and that: Iowa State coach Paul Rhoads is 4-0 in season-openers as a head coach and has won six-straight regular-season games vs. non-conference opponents. … Cyclones offensive coordinator Courtney Messingham is a Northern Iowa graduate (1989) who played quarterback for the Panthers from 1985-88. … Iowa State's defense has gone 20 games holding an opponent to under 40 points, the best active streak in the Big 12.
TCU vs. LSU
8 p.m., AT&T Stadium, Arlington, Texas, ESPN
Scouting TCU: The 20th-ranked Horned Frogs are expected to play both senior Casey Pachall and sophomore Trevone Boykin at quarterback. The defense has nine returning starters; one of those is sophomore defensive end Devonte Fields, who has been suspended for the first two games of the season. Senior running back Waymon James, who has averaged nearly seven yards per carry during his career, is back after missing last season with a knee injury.
Scouting LSU: The 12th-ranked Tigers had eight of their defensive players selected in the NFL Draft and they'll have four new starters on the defensive line. The offense has a number of returning play makers, led by quarterback Zach Mettenberger. LSU is hoping that new offensive coordinator Cam Cameron will help the offense produce more consistently.
This and that: The Horned Frogs are opening in the Cowboys Classic for the second time in the last four seasons. In its first Cowboys Classic appearance in 2010, TCU defeated Oregon State 30-21 en route to a 13-0 season. … TCU's last win over LSU was a 3-2 decision in the 1936 Sugar Bowl, giving the Horned Frogs their first national championship.