By: Matt Blanchette
With so many local teams, I do not even know where to begin, so let's start with what I know, or what I think I know. Kansas will not be good.
Even the Jayhawks faithful should know, it's not your season. Not only is there the typical growing pains that come with a coaching transition, but KU also lost it's four best offensive players (Sharp, Reesing, Briscoe, Meier). In addition, Turner Gill has been crippled by injury, losing no less than 3 of the starters he DID inherit to injury in the fall. If I am watching KU this year, I am simply looking for improvement, not wins, as there will not be many. On offense focus on #24 Bradley McDougald, who I think is going to have a breakout year at WR for KU, and Chris Harris, who should be solid on defense.
Prediction: 4-8, though 5-7 is possible.
In Manhattan, optimism should be higher, but not too high. Look, Snyder-ball works, it's been proven, but there is only so far it can take you. Last year it was almost to a bowl, and almost to a Big 12 North Title. I think Nebraska will be as good, if not better, than it was a year ago. I said it. The Huskers do come to Manhattan for the final time, unless you think Snyder will schedule them in non-conferenece (He won't), but I think the North goes to the Huskers in a walk. Carson Coffman gets the nod again at QB, but has yet to prove he can win on the NCAA Division I level. His two career wins are against bowl subdivision teams. I do think K-State could find itself and go on a roll.
Prediction: 7-5, because I have a hunch UCLA will win, but if the Cats take that one, I could see them going 8-4, either way, bowling.
Simply put, the Chiefs motor is heading in the right direction, unfortunately it is still in first gear. Sure Jamaal Charles and Thomas Jones figure to be one of the best tandems in the league, but Matt Cassel has still not shown much in KC, and Dwayne Bowe is wildly inconsistent. I think the offense will struggle, period. But not as much of the defense. I am very high on Eric Berry and he is definitely a solution, but the rest of the defense scares me a bit. The linebackers have decent depth, but I think it is going to be a tough task to decide who starts and who sits. The front 3 is what terrifies me. I mean these guys (Jackson, Dorsey, Edwards) should be dominating, yet you hardly hear their names during the game. The schedule favors the Chiefs no doubt, but not enough.
Prediction: 6-10, and at best case scenario 8-8. I have heard a lot of predictions of higher than that, but I do not see it at all.
I am not going to go deep into this here, because it is obvious. Washburn will be near the top, ESU near the bottom. I think the Ichabods have the best chance they've had to win the league, as all four games against the other ranked MIAA teams are at Yager Stadium. They also host #6 Abiliene Christian.
Again, to me, it's a three team race with Junction City, Manhattan and Hayden. Strange I know. I really do not have any science on this, but call it a hunch from going to preseason practice and looking at who returns what. I think it will come down to Hayden and Manhattan, which oddly enough face off in week 1. Crazy to think the league could come down to a game so early in the season. I am going to go with Manhattan because they are at home. Honestly I could flip a coin on this one, but I guess the point here is to make bold guesses, so there you go. I also like Seaman to be a higher end team and maybe make some noise come playoffs. I think they were just so dang young last year that the experience may pay off.
Prediction: Manhattan wins the league.
I hope you all got some degree of entertainment from this and I am sure many of you disagree, which is great. Please respond with your comment and we will see what happens. Gotta love football season!