Jayhawks whack ‘Cats to begin ’03 season

This just in: Michigan football coach Lloyd Carr has asked fans to stop the tradition of throwing marshmallows because they’ll melt and stick to Michigan Stadium’s new artificial playing surface.

Apparently those are the marshmallows you buy at the store and not Kansas State’s nonconference opponents.

Anyway, I’m back at it again this year, predicting Big 12 Conference football games and giving you an opportunity to whack me and win a “We Whacked Woodling” T-shirt that comes in any color you want, as long as it’s gray.

You can enter on the Web at kusports.com. Remember, I’m easy to whack because my picks are usually wacky.

All 12 league schools will be in action this weekend, but only one is a conference game — Oklahoma State at Nebraska. Ten of the 11 games are Saturday. Texas is playing Sunday. I’m not sure why — it’s probably because of television — but then again maybe Mack Brown had a golf game scheduled Saturday.

Here are this week’s picks:

Missouri 37, Illinois 25 — Mizzou is the only school in country to have two A.J.’s playing center — A.J. Ricker in football and Arthur Johnson in basketball. But quarterback Brad Smith is the difference-maker against Illini.

Nebraska 26, Oklahoma State 15 — Frank Solich rolled a pair of sevens last season, but seven wins and seven losses won’t cut it in Cornland. The Cowpokes probably have more talent than the Huskers, but I can’t see them winning in Lincoln.

Alabama-Birmingham 16, Baylor 0 — You have to admire UAB. The school keeps scheduling Big 12 Conference schools figuring they’re bound to win one eventually. Attention Alabama and Mike Price, wherever you are: That time has arrived.

Oklahoma 30, North Texas 14 — Swell-headed Sooners, thinking they’re they greatest thing to hit Oklahoma since the land rush, eventually will prevail over Mean Greenies.

Iowa State 44, Northern Iowa 29 — Cyclones seem to have a penchant for meeting former Terry Allen schools in opener. Last year it was Kansas where Allen, now associate head coach at ISU, was head coach in 1997-2001. And now it’s NIU, where he was head coach from 1989-1996.

Texas Tech 30, SMU 11 — For the first time in what seems like nine years, Kliff Kingsbury won’t be slinging passes for the Red Raiders. Tech might even run the ball for six or seven plays a game now.

Kansas State 52, Troy State 12 — Bill Snyder’s four-game powder-puff parade begins. Two certainties: The ‘Cats can name the score, and Snyder will find something he didn’t like.

Colorado 18, Colorado State 16 — If Colorado and Colorado State can meet in Denver, Colorado’s largest city, why can’t Kansas and Kansas State meet in Wichita, the Sunflower State’s largest city? Oh, that’s right. Wichita doesn’t have a big enough football facility.

Texas A&M 45, Arkansas State 11 — Dennis Franchione high-tailed it out of Alabama for Ampersand State, where all he really has to do is beat Texas every year. He won’t have any trouble beating Arkansas State. Texas is another story.

Texas 60, New Mexico State 4 — No longer a pushover, New Mexico State won seven games last year. But George Bush will become a Democrat before the Aggies win in Austin.

Kansas 34, Northwestern 30 — After years of floggings by Wildcats wearing purple, Jayhawks find Northwestern is a different cat than Kansas State. Both teams had dreadful defenses last year, but KU has made the bigger upgrade.