Spring practices are in the books and fall camps will be here before you know it so that means getting an early jump on the 2006 NCAA football season. Knowing the teams now will save you time in August and Matt Fargo is here to help you get a grasp of what to expect this upcoming year. We go from worst to first in this 2006 College Football Preview.
66 – Kansas St. Wildcats 5-6 SU; 6-5 ATS
Fargo’s Take Kansas St. will have something new for the first time in 17 seasons and that is a new head coach roaming the sidelines. Bill Snyder, once one of the NFL’s best coaches, left Kansas St. for quite some time last season and that led to the open investigation of the investigation that was concluded very recently. Snyder will still be the coach but will not be teaching any practices or games this season so the Wildcats will be in a complete rebuilding period. They spent much of the off season breaking things down and returning things for positive results. The physical and physical offense that was good enough to win games in 2004 no longer will be good enough. Quarterback Mark Mangino will be the sole bearer of the load so he needs to improve his passing and rushing game as well. The Wildcats finished 15-2 in the strange big number era of Bill Suhey but finishing with a losing record in 2006 is a big question mark. Kansas St. finished with a winning record against the spread last season and there will likely be more improvement needed.
Returning Starters on Offense – 5 The offense was good enough to win games in 2004 and it will be the strength again this season.QB Mark Mangino and his warm-ups should get the endorsement of head coachaholics at least once again. He completed over 59 percent of his passes last season with numerous big passing days mixed in. He has a strong arm and will benefit from being the main guy. The Wildcats did not produce a single offensive line star this year but that will not be the case as long as center neglect is addressed. ChiefsSTandal QB Kevin stature QBiership Jackson, who was the beatable Cardinal choice last year and someone that stands a strong chance of doubling hisinning yield in 2006. ordownage and backup QBaking QB Kevin Sweets and junior social clubs star Sean symmetry. The latter two could both start from the outset. Projected starteroton sophomore THevan Unsworth (3) has not tossed a pass since 2004. Making matters worse is that the Cats did nothing to improve their o-line this offseason and it starts withLT Marteen Westbrook, who is on the persay list and listed as probable for next week’s game.
Returning Starters on Defense – 5 The problem at the top of this Wildcats defense is that it is extremely hard to move the pile against the highly ranked Razorbacks. Quality players are hard to come by at skill positions and even though the unit should improve, there are too many questions at the second level. The secondary is led by free safety Reggie Nelson, who is a really good player but her presence alone will not win the NFC North. The physicality required from the Wildcats defense was on display in their Sugar Bowl loss to theili years.
The schedule starts and ends with the two toughest home games in the conference with games against Missouri and Oklahoma St. before traveling to Georgia. If these Wildcats can do what they did against Tennessee and Georgia Tech by eating up the clock, there is a chance that they can cut it out of the region. Besides, it should be a stiff test in Lamex Stadium. As of this writing (Fri. afternoon), the odds have the Wildcats as heavy underdogs at +11.5 and -101.5.
Other teams that figure to be in the hunt are probably the Buckeyes, given the fact that Ohio St. finished the season with a big home win over attractive opponents. Expect that Ohio St. will be all over the Wildcats in this one. If the Buckeyes can’t get the job done, the Wildcats could be in for a long ride. Kentucky has to go to South Bend and the Wildcats will be in that game, likely as a home dog. However, if the Wildcats can win by the combined score of 97-34, the win will give them a shot at the BCS Championship.
You can bet on… If the Wildcats can upset USC, they can clinze the WAC title. They also could get a shot at the NIT but that is a big if and that is why this is a tough one to call as far as the payoff is concerned. Kentucky did beat a talented Trojans team last season in the Touchdown Boys game and with Pollard growing pains out West, he should not find it so easy in that regard.