Preview of Big 12 Football Games, Week Of 9/12/2020

The 2020 college football season begins in earnest this week for most of the Big 12 Conference teams. 

Seven of the eight teams are slated to kick off their seasons, while Oklahoma State’s scheduled game at home against in-state foe Tulsa, has been postponed one week. The delay was announced Sept. 7.

Oklahoma, which has won the conference title in each of the past five seasons, will look to extend its dominance by entertaining Missouri State. Texas and Iowa State, which are gaining plenty of attention as a threat to the Sooners’ streak, play host to UTEP and Louisiana, respectively. 

Other games involving Big 12 members will see West Virginia playing host to Eastern Kentucky, Baylor taking on Louisiana Tech in Waco and Kansas tangling with Coastal Carolina in Lawrence. 

EASTERN KENTUCKY (0-1 overall) at WEST VIRGINIA (0-0 Big 12/0-0 overall)

When: Saturday, Sept. 12
Time: Noon (ET)
Where: Milan Puskar Stadium (60,000), Morgantown, WV (No fans in attendance)
Television: FS1
Radio: 100.7 FM (Eastern Kentucky), MSN 100.9 FM (West Virginia)

Last Time Out: There was some buzz circulating that Eastern Kentucky was going to be among one of the top teams in the Ohio Valley Conference once the 2020 season got underway.

That buzz was silenced as Marshall ran all over the Colonels 59-0 on Sept. 5 in Huntington, WV.

Now the Colonels need to regroup. But it doesn’t get much easier.

EKU travels to Morgantown, WV on Sept. 12 to tangle with West Virginia of the Big 12 Conference. It will be the season opener for the Mountaineers.

Eastern Kentucky, under first-year coach Walt Wells, had trouble getting its offense untracked all day against the Thundering Herd.

Quarterback Parker McKinney was held to just 7 of 10 passing for 71 yards in the game and running backs Quentin Pringle and Alonzo Booth combined for just 72 yards on the ground. Pringle accounted for 39 of those yards on six carries while Booth was limited to just 33 yards on 15 carries on the day.

Keyion Dixon paced the Colonels receiving corps with three catches for 34 yards and teammate Jackson Beerman chipped in with one catch for 28 yards in the game.

Redshirt freshman Grant Wells completed 16 of 23 his 23 passes for 307 yards and four touchdowns in leading the Thundering Herd to the victory against the Colonels. He threw for a pair of TDs in the first period to help his team to a 21-0 lead. Wells threw for two more scores in the second quarter as Marshall extended its advantage to 38-0 at the intermission.

Brenden Knox carried the ball 18 times for a game-high 85 yards on the ground and scored one touchdown on the afternoon.

COLONELS OUTLOOK: The Colonels return nine starters on the offensive side of the football this season.

Parker McKinney (6-3, 208, RS, So.) returns to lead EKU from his quarterback position. He threw for 1,371 yards last season after completing 116 of 221 passes. Seven of his throws went for touchdowns, but nine other pass attempts were intercepted by the opposition. That ratio must drastically improve if the Colonels are to enjoy a successful season in 2020.

Keyion Dixon (6-3, 185, RS, Sr.) is the top pass catcher returning for the Colonels. He caught 34 passes for 497 yards and one touchdown a year ago. 

Alonzo Booth (6-1, 250, RS, Jr.) played in all 12 games last season and established himself as one of top rushers in the OVC. He finished the season with 673 yards on 140 carries (4.8 ypc) and scored 14 touchdowns. Booth was named to the OVC second-team at season’s end.

While the EKU offense may struggle in the early going while adjusting to a new coach, the return of plenty of talent along the offensive front should ease that transition.

Tucker Schroeder (6-4, 295, RS, Jr.), an honorable mention All-American last season returns at left guard and teammate Graham Ashkettle (6-6, 300, RS, Jr.), who was selected to the OVC second-team last season, also returns at his right tackle position. 

Jackson Bardall (6-3, 301, RS, Sr.) and Chris Anthony (6-4, 300, RS, Jr.) also return up front for the Colonels.

The defensive unit also returns seven starters from last season and should be led by linebackers Steven Crowder (6-2, 225, Sr.) and Daulson Fitzpatrick (6-1, 193, Jr.) Crowder recorded 63 total tackles last season, including 9.5 for loss while Fitzpatrick tallied 36 total stops and intercepted three passes.

Two standouts also return in the secondary for EKU in the form of cornerback Josh Hayes (6-0, 185, RS, Sr.) and safety Joseph Sayles (6-1, 187, Jr.). That tandem each tallied 41 total tackles on the year and each picked off two passes in 2019.

MOUNTAINEERS OUTLOOK: Young and untested might be the two best words to describe West Virginia as the Mountaineers prepare for the season opener.

Jarrett Doege (6-2, 208, RS, Jr.) tops the depth chart at quarterback ahead of Saturday’s game. Doege, who transferred to West Virginia from Bowling Green prior to the 2019 season, appeared in four games (3 starts) for the Mountaineers last season and finished the year with 234 passing yards after completing 20 of 30 passes.

Leddie Brown (5-11, 210, Jr.) and Alex Sinkfield (5-9, 193, RS, Jr.) are listed as the top two running backs after combining for just over 400 yards last season. Brown led all WVU rushers last season with 367 yards on 107 carries (3.4 ypc) in 10 games (3 starts). Sinkfield rushed for 41 yards on 17 carries in a limited role in the 12 contests he appeared in.

Doege and the Mountaineers will likely go to the air often, at least in the opener while the running attack finds it niche. Sam James (6-0, 184, RS, So.) returns as the team’s leading receiver from a year ago. He caught 69 passes for 677 yards and a pair of touchdowns as West Virginia finished 5-7 on the season.

T.J. Simmons (6-2, 198, RS, Sr.) also had a solid season in 2019 by hauling in 35 passes from 455 yards and four scores. Teammate Bruce Ford-Wheaton (6-3, 218, RS, So.) added 12 receptions for 201 yards and two touchdowns in his first season.

The WVU defense is expected to be led by lineman Darius Stills (6-1, 205, Sr.) who has been named to the preseason Watch Lists for the Outland Trophy, the Nagurski Trophy and the Bednarik Award. He was also recently chosen as the Big 12 Preseason Defensive Player of the Year.

Stills, the son of former NFL player Kenny Stills, had 47 (28 solo) tackles last year, including seven sacks, which tied him for the team lead in that category.

His younger brother, Dante Stills (6-4, 280, Jr.) also returns along the line after netting 24 (14 solo) tackles as a sophomore last season.

LOUISIANA (0-0 Sun Belt/0-0 Overall) at IOWA STATE (0-0 Big 12/0-0 Overall)

When: Saturday, Sept. 12
Time: 11 A.M. (Central)
Where: Jack Trice Stadium (61,500), Ames. Iowa (No fans in attendance)
Television: ESPN
Radio: KHXT 107.9 FM (Louisiana), ESPN 1420 AM (Louisiana)

RAGIN’ CAJUNS OUTLOOK: Louisiana may have one of the most balanced offenses in college football this season with the return of several key players at the skill positions.

Levi Lewis (5-10, 184, Sr.) will operate that potent offense from his quarterback position. He threw for 3,050 yards last season after completing 243 of his school-record 378 passes. He also tossed 26 touchdowns and was intercepted just four times on the season.

Elijah Mitchell (5-11, 218, Sr.) and Trey Ragas (5-10, 230, RS, Sr.) both return at running back and both already have 1,000-yard seasons to their credit. Mitchell rushed 198 times for 1,147 yards (5.8 ypc) last season and scored 16 touchdowns for the Ragin’ Cajuns. Ragas, meanwhile, gained 820 yards on 116 carries (7.1 ypc) and scored 11 times. Ragas, who rushed for 1,410 yards in 2018, already has 12 career 100 yard games and will be looking to add to that total this season.

While Mitchell and Ragas will be featured heavily in the Louisiana offense, so will Jamal Bell (6-0, 207, Sr.) , Peter LeBlanc (6-2, 190, So.) and Johnny Lumpkin (6-6, 260).

And why not?

Bell, a wide receiver, caught 34 passes for 445 yards and one touchdown last season while LeBlanc, another wide receiver, added 28 catches of his own and scored four touchdowns on the season.

Lumpkin, meanwhile, was named to the Mackey Award Preseason Watch List in 2019 before missing the season with an injury. A former standout at Hutchinson Junior College, Lumpkin was rated the No. 4 junior college tight end.

CYCLONES OUTLOOK: An also-ran in the Big 12 no longer Iowa State has made tremendous strides during Matt Campbell’s tenure in America’s Heartland. So dramatic has the turnaround been that one national prognosticator recently tabbed ISU as a darkhorse to advance to the College Football Playoff this season.

How deep the Cyclones go in that direction will depend largely on the continued progression of Brock Purdy (6-1, 212, JR.) at quarterback. 

And Purdy is a special quarterback who will go down as the greatest signal caller in ISU history whether he returns in 2021 or opts for the NFL after this season.

Purdy, a highly recruited prepster out of Arizona, burst onto the scene in Ames in 2018 by engineering an upset of then-No. 6 ranked West Virginia at home, completed 312 of 475 passes for 3,982 yards and 27 touchdowns as a sophomore in 2019. His 66 percent completion ratio is eye-popping. 

He can also run the ball effectively as proven by his 249 rushing yards last season as the Cyclones finished 7-6 after a loss to Notre Dame in the Camping World Bowl.

Breece Hall (6-1, 215, So.) and Johnnie Lang (5-8, 185, Jr.) provide Campbell and the Cyclones a tandem of electric running backs this season. Hall led the Cyclones with 897 yards on 186 carries (4.8 ypc) last season while scoring nine touchdowns. Lang, meanwhile, rushed 50 times for 238 yards (4.8 ypc) and scored three times. He will likely get more touches this season.

The Cyclones also return a pair of players who have proven to be outstanding at catching the football.

Wide receiver Tarique Milton (5-11, 188, Jr.) was second on the team last season with 722 receiving yards after catching 35 passes. He scored three touchdowns for the Cyclones. Tight end Charlie Kolar (6-6, 257, Jr,) is one of the top players in the nation at his position. He caught 51 passes last season for 697 yards and seven touchdowns.

The ISU defense is expected to be led by the return of linebacker Mike Rose (6-4, 245, Jr.) who recorded 77 (39 solo) tackles last season. He was credited with 9.5 tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks, along with one interception and one forced fumble.

ARKANSAS STATE (0-0 Sun Belt/0-1 Overall) at KANSAS STATE (0-0 Big 12/0-0 Overall)

When: Saturday, Sept. 12
Time: 11:00 a.m. (Central)
Where: Bill Snyder Family Stadium (50,000), Manhattan, Kansas (25% fan capacity)
Television: FOX
Radio: EAB Red Wolves Sports Network (Arkansas State)

LAST TIME OUT: Arkansas State opened the revamped 2020 season with a tough 37-24 loss to Memphis on Sept. 5 at the Liberty Bowl.

Memphis scored twice in the third period to build a 34-17 lead heading into the final period of play. The Tigers extended the advantage to 37-17 on a 26-yard field goal from R. Patterson with 11:43 left in the game.

The two teams combined for 926 yards of total offense in the game. Memphis racked up 502 yards, including 275 through the air. A-State, meanwhile, accounted for 424 yards on offense. Logan Bonner and Layne Hatcher split time at quarterback. Bonner completed 14 of 23 passes for 133 yards and one touchdown while Hatcher threw for 166 yards after completing 13 of his 20 passes in the game.

Jamal Jones had 64 yards on 15 carries to lead the Red Wolves on the ground and Dahu Green was the top receiver in the game for A-State. He caught five passes for a career-high 99 yards.

Brady White completed 26 of 36 passes and threw four touchdowns to lead the A-State passing attack. Rodrigues Clark led all rushers with 105 yards on 20 carries.

RED WOLVES OUTLOOK: Quarterback Logan Bonner (6-1, 215, RS, Jr.) appeared in four games last season and finished the year with 1,052 yards passing after completing 91 of 154 passes, 10 of which went for touchdowns. 

The Red Wolves should be solid at running the football with the return of Marcel Murray (5-11, 197, Jr.), who carried the ball 176 times for 820 yards (4.8 ypc) last season and scored six touchdowns. Jamal Jones (5-9, 193, RS, Sr.) added 375 yards on 84 carries (4.5 ypc) and had three touchdowns of his own.

Jonathan Adams (6-3, 209, Sr.) is the leading receiver returning for A-State after finishing second on the team with 62 receptions for 851 yards and five touchdowns last season.

The top defensive player returning for the Red Wolves is linebacker Caleb Bonner (6-1, 229, RS, Sr.) who finished fifth on the team in tackles with 65 (35 solo) last season. He was credited with 5.5 tackles for loss and one interception.

WILDCATS OUTLOOK: Chris Klieman has a winning pedigree dating back to his five seasons in leading FCS powerhouse North Dakota State to a 69-6 record in five seasons before bringing his infectious optimism to Manhattan.

It worked nicely as the Wildcats finished the first year under Klieman with an 8-5 record.

The challenge for Klieman and the rest of the Wildcats is to continue to ‘win the dang day,” which has become a familiar mantra for the Wildcat coach.

K-State returns one of the steadiest signal callers in the Big 12 in Skylar Thompson (6-2, 223, Sr.) who threw for 2,315 yards and 12 touchdowns last season. He completed 60 percent of his pass attempts (177-297) which helped KSU average 29.6 points per game.

Thompson will likely begin the season looking to move the ball downfield in a hurry with the return of a pair of talented receivers in Malik Knowles (6-2, 200, So.) and Wyken Gill (5-10, 184, Sr.). Knowles finished second on the team last season with 397 yards after hauling in 27 passes, including three for touchdowns. Gill, meanwhile, was not far behind with 273 yards on 16 catches and a pair of scores.

Harry Trotter (5-11, 202, Sr.) is expected to carry the load in the running attack for the Wildcats. He rushed 66 times for 264 yards (4.-0 ypc) last season and scored three touchdowns. 

Fullback is a position that is often overlooked, but K-State has one of the best at that position in the Big 12 in Mason Barta (6-1, 239, Jr.) who did not get a carry last season, but played a huge role in helping the Wildcats tally 29 rushing touchdowns on the season.

The Wildcat defense will be led by returning starters Elijah Sullivan (6-0, 215, Sr.), Wayne Jones (6-0, 208, So.) and Jahron McPherson (6-1, 200, Sr.).

Sullivan, a linebacker, led the team in tackles last season with 65 (46 solo), including five tackles for loss. He also had one interception.

Jones and McPherson will anchor the K-State secondary. They combined for 93 tackles last season for the Wildcats. Jones led that duo with 57 (37 solo) tackles while McPherson added 36 (24 solo) tackles. He also had one interception. 

MISSOURI STATE (0-0 Overall) at OKLAHOMA (0-0 Big 12/0-0 Overall)

When: Saturday, Sept. 12
Time: 6 p.m. (Central)
Where: Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium (86,112), Norman, Okla. (25% fan capacity)
Television: Pay Per View (see www.soonersports.com for details)

BEARS OUTLOOK: When the Missouri Valley Football Conference elected to postpone the 2020 season it opened the door for Missouri State to find new opponents.

The fact there is only some 302 miles that separate Springfield, Mo. from Norman, Okla. is the only positive thing from MSU scheduling Oklahoma.

Missouri State, which finished 1-10 last season, will likely struggle once again in 2020. 

The Bears are expected to start Dalton Hill (6-2, 200, Jr.) at quarterback against the Sooners. Hill appeared in just three games last season and attempted only three passes (0 completions).

Missouri State does return its top three rushers, but that trio combined for just 515 yards and three touchdowns. Myron Mason (5-9, 200, Jr.) leads that trio with 247 yards on 66 carries (3.7 ypc) and one touchdown while Jeremiah Wilson (6-1, 216, Rs, So.) added 161 yards on 15 carries (11.0 ypc) and three touchdowns. DJ Frost (6-1, 202, So.) chipped in with 107 yards on 47 carries (2.3 ypc).

Damoriea Vick (6-3, 213, Jr.) and Lorenzo Thomas (6-5, 200, Sr.) are the top two pass catchers returning for the Bears. Vick had 39 catches for 422 yards and one touchdown last season, while Thomas tallied 351 yards on 35 catches. He scored four times.

The defense returns five starters, including safety Titus Wall (6-0, 203, Sr.) who had 58 (39 solo) tackles last season to finish the year third on the team in tackles. Tyler Lovelace (6-2, 213, Sr.), a linebacker, also returns after posting 43 (20 solo) stops last year. He also had three fumble recoveries.

Defensive end Kevin Ellis (6-4, 241, Jr.) returns to anchor the line after collecting 38 (17 solo) tackles last season, including 6.5 tackles for loss and four sacks.

SOONERS OUTLOOK: The new normal will have a familiar look this season as Oklahoma appears to have many things in place to continue their dominance in the Big 12 and remain one of the top teams in the nation.

Gone are several players who are now in the National Football League, but Oklahoma seems to always reload.

A new signal caller will be under center when the Sooners kick off the season against Missouri State.

Spencer Rattler (6-0, 199, RS, Fr.) was named the starter last week. He appeared in three games last season and finished the year with 81 passing yards after completing seven of his 11 passes. He threw for one TD in his first year on campus.

Don’t let the lack of many returning starters at the skill positions cause worry for the Sooners.

Oklahoma has no starters returning at running back, but have two players who can make things happen whenever they catch the ball. 

Wide receiver Charleston Rambo (6-1, 175, RS, Jr.) caught 43 passes for 743 yards and five touchdowns, while tight end Jeremiah Hall (6-2, 253, RS, Sr.) added 16 catches for 169 yards and three scores for the Sooners.

The defense is expected to be led by a trio of returning standouts in Nik Bonitto (6-3, 238, RS, So.), Tre Brown (5-10, 186, Sr.) and Pat Fields (5-11, 204, Jr.), a pair of defensive backs. Bonnitto tallied 43 (25 solo) tackles, including 6.5 tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks last season.

Brown had 40 (32 solo) tackles and was credited with 11 pass breakups in 2019. Fields, meanwhile, had 64 (44 solo) tackles, including six for loss.

UTEP (0-0 C-USA/1-0 Overall) at TEXAS (0-0 Big 12/0-0 Overall)

When: Saturday, Sept. 12
Time: 7:15 p.m. (Central)
Where: Darrel K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium (94,113), Austin, Texas (25% fan capacity)
Television: Longhorn Network
Radio: ESPN 600 (UTEP)

Last Time Out: Deion Hankins and Jacob Cowing helped power UTEP to a 24-14 win over FCS foe Stephen F. Austin on Sept. 5 in the season opener in El Paso.

Hankins and Cowing became the first UTEP receiver-running back duo to go over the 100 yards in the same game since Aaron Jones and Ian Hamilton turned the trick in a 2013 game against Rice.

Hankins finished the game with 113 rushing yards and scored a pair of touchdowns. Both were career highs. Cowing, meanwhile, had seven catches for 116 yards, which tied his career high in that department.

Gavin Hardison completed 17 of 28 passes for 212 yards and one touchdown. He completed passes to five different receivers in the first start of his UTEP career.

UTEP rolled up 364 yards of total offense against the Lumberjacks and the Miner defense did its job by holding SFA to just 230 yards on 44 offensive plays in the game.

MINERS OUTLOOK: The Miners return just four starters on offense as they look to improve on their 1-11 record of a year ago. UTEP opened the 2019 season with a narrow 36-34 win over Houston Baptist before dropping the next 11 games.

Jacob Cowing (5-11, 170, So.) is the only player returning at a skill position for the Miners. He caught 31 passes for 550 yards as a freshman last season and scored three touchdowns.

Gavin Hardison (6-3, 205, RS. So.) returns after limited experience at quarterback for the Miners last season when he completed 27 of 61 passes for 335 yards and throwing for one touchdown.

The Miners will also have to replace their top two ground gainers. Josh Fields (5-9, 195, Sr.) and Reynaldo Flores (6-0, 205, RS, Jr.) are expected to carry much of the running load this season. Fields finished last season with 59 carries for 312 yards (5.3 ypc) while Flores chipped in with 44 yards on 11 carries. Fields and Flores were both kept from the end zone.

Deion Hankins (6-0, 215, RS, Fr.) figures to play a big role in what UTEP hopes is a much improved ground attack. He saw limited action last season and tallied 41 yards on nine carries.

Guards Bobby DeHaro (6-4, 310, RS, Jr.) and Elijah Klein (6-5, 295, RS, So.) return up front, as does Zuri Henry (6-5, 300, Jr.), a tackle.

Five starters return on defense for the Miners, but only two posted any significant numbers a year ago. Jason Van Hook (6-3, 210, RS, Sr.) and Josh Caldwell (6-0, 170, RS, Sr.) tied for fifth on the team last year with 52 total tackles. Van Hook, a linebacker, had 32 solo stops and was credited with four tackles for loss, while Caldwell, a cornerback, had 36 solo tackles on the season.

LONGHORN OUTLOOK: Texas returns a trio of playmakers who are among the best in the Big 12 at their positions from a team that finished 8-5 a year ago.

Headlining that list is quarterback Sam Ehlinger (6-3, 225, Sr.) who will finish his Texas career as one of the most prolific signal callers in school history.

Ehlinger completed 65 percent of his passes (296-454) last season for 3,663 yards and threw 32 touchdown passes. He was the team’s second leading rusher last season after gaining 663 yards on 163 carries (4.1 ypc) and adding seven TDs on the ground. 

Ehlinger ranks second to former Longhorn great Colt McCoy in virtually every quarterback statistical department.

Keaontay Ingram (6-0, 222, Jr.) ran for 853 yards on 114 carries (7.5 ypc) last season and scored seven touchdowns and is the top returning running back for the Longhorns. Roschon Johnson (6-2, 227, Sr.) also returns after finishing third on the team in rushing with 649 yards on 123 carries (5.3 ypc) and seven touchdowns.

No other Longhorn had more than 63 yards on the ground last season.

 Brennan Eagles (6-4, 229, Jr.) returns as the top wide receiver. He caught 32 passes for 522 yards and six TDs last season. 

Texas’ top defensive player is also one of the top defensive players in the nation. 

Linebacker Joseph Ossai (6-4, 253, Jr.) returns after tallying 90 total tackles last season. He was credited with 13.5 tackles for loss and five sacks on the year.

COASTAL CAROLINA (0-0 Sun Belt/0-0 Overall)at KANSAS (0-0 Big 12/0-0 Overall)

When: Saturday, Sept. 12
Time: 9 p.m. (Central)
Where: David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium (50,071), Lawrence, Kansas (no fans in attendance)
Television: FS1
Radio: Chanticleer Sports Network (Coastal Carolina), Tune In (Kansas)

CHANTICLEERS OUTLOOK: Fred Payton (6-2, 210, Jr.) is expected to be under center when the Chanticleers open the season against the Jayhawks. He completed 119 of 187 passes for 1,421 yards and 12 touchdowns last season while appearing in 10 games (six starts). 

The focus, however, of the CCU offense will be running back CJ Marable (5-10, 200, Sr.) who rushed for 1,085 yards on 204 carries (5.3 ypc) last season and rushing for 11 touchdowns. The talented Marable added 38 catches out of the backfield for 295 yards and three more TDs.

Tight end Isaiah Likely (6-4, 245, Jr.) also returns on offense after finishing with 32 catches and ranking second on the team with 431 yards. He scored five times for CCU.

The strength of the Chanticleers just might be on the defensive side of the ball as they return the top three tacklers from a year ago led by end Tarron Jackson (6-2, 260, RS, Sr.). He tallied 60 (28 solo) tackles last season, while leading the team in TLFs (13) and sacks (10). Jackson was voted to this year’s All-Sun Belt preseason team. 

Also returning are Teddy Gallagher (6-1, 230, Sr.), a linebacker, and CJ Brewer (6-2, 280, RS, Sr.), who plays on the opposite end of the line from Jackson. Gallagher led the team with 88 (43 solo) tackles last season, including 3.5 tackles for loss, while Brewer finished with 54 (16 solo) tackles on the season. He also recorded 7.5 TFLs and three sacks.

Massimo Biscardi (5-11, 200, Jr.) returns as one of the top placekickers in the Sun Belt. He was successful on 15 of 20 field goals attempts and made 34 of 36 PATs.

JAYHAWK OUTLOOK: Kansas has nowhere to go but up in the Big 12 Conference and the Jayhawks, who finished 3-9 overall last season. are hoping a solid performance against a talented FCS program could be the tonic to make that happen and prove the prognosticators wrong when they tabbed KU to finish at the bottom of the conference pack.

A win would also avenge a 12-7 loss to Coastal Carolina last season. That win is the lone victory for CCU against a Power 5 team in the school’s history. 

Pooka Williams (5-10, 170, Jr.) returns as one of the nation’s most electrifying runners and will be counted on heavily as the Jayhawks look to improve on its paltry 377.3 yards of offense per game last season, which ranked 90th in the nation.

Williams rushed for 1,061 yards rushing on 203 carries (5.2 ypc) and scored three touchdowns for the Jayhawks, who managed just 10 TDS all season on the ground a year ago. Williams also added 214 receiving yard on 27 catches. 

The standout player has been named to the Maxwell Award Preseason Watch List and is certain to get plenty of attention for numerous awards at season’s end.

Andrew Parchment (6-2, 186, Sr.) also returns at a wide receiver position after catching 65 passes for 831 yards and seven touchdowns last season. He is also garnering attention for postseason awards and has been added to the Biletnikoff Award Watch List as the nation’s top receiver. 

Defense, as in recent years, will once again be a big question mark. The KU defense ranked 122nd in the nation last season by allowed 475.2 yards of total offense per game and was 120th in scoring defense (36.1 ppg), 124th in rushing defense (225.7 ypg) and was 98th in pass defense (249.5 ypg).

The top two returning players on defense are safety Davon Ferguson (5-10, 197, Jr.) and Gavin Potter (6-2, 215, So.), a linebacker. Ferguson finished third on the team with 57 (42 solo) tackles, including 3.5 for loss while Potter ranked fourth with 56 (37 solo) tackles and was credited with 3.5 tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks.

Postponed Games:

TULSA (0-0 American/0-0 Overall) at OKLAHOMA STATE (0-0 Big 12/0-0 Overall)

Game scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 12 in Stillwater has been postponed until September 19th.

“In attempting to deal with COVID-19 protocols effectively, the Tulsa football team has been limited in practice sessions since the beginning of preseason camp on August 7. Tulsa had a nine-day pause due to multiple positive tests and was limited to seven practices in the 17 days of preseason camp.

“‘The safety and health of our student-athletes is always at the core of all of our discussions and decisions. Without time to properly prepare physically we would be putting our student-athletes at a greater risk of injury,’ said Dr. Derrick Gragg, Tulsa’s vice president & director of athletics. ‘An open date for both schools presented us with the opportunity to reschedule the game for a week later. I’m appreciative of Mike Holder and Oklahoma State University for their cooperation in coming to this decision.'” 

LOUISIANA TECH (0-0 C-USA, 0-0 Overall) at BAYLOR (0-0 Big 12/0-0 Overall)

“Baylor’s season opening football game against Louisiana Tech on Saturday at McLane Stadium has been postponed indefinitely after an outbreak of COVID-19 cases in Louisiana,” The Waco Tribune-Herald reported. “Louisiana Tech had 38 positive coronavirus cases following Hurricane Laura, according to Yahoo Sports. Prior to the hurricane, the Bulldogs had just one positive case in three weeks, according to Louisiana Tech athletic director Tommy McClelland.”

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