The Northern Colorado Bears kick off Year 2 with Earnest Collins Jr. at the helm, and they will certainly hope for better things. The Bears went 0-11 during Collins' inaugural year, certainly a product of playing in one of the FCS' top conferences, the Big Sky. It will only get tougher in 2012 with three new teams in the Big Sky. However, first the stop this season is in Salt Lake City to face the Utah Utes.
The Utes feature one of the top defensive linemen in the nation, Star Lotulelei, who should become a household name by the end of the season. Lotulelei, a senior, is 6-foot-4 and 320 pounds. He picked up 44 tackles, nine tackles for a loss and 1.5 sacks as a junior. The offense features the return of Jordan Wynn at quarterback, having missed most of 2011 following shoulder surgery, and John White IV at running back. He picked up 1,609 yards and 15 touchdowns on the ground in 2011.
Northern Colorado's defense features one of the top linebackers in the nation, Clarence Bumpas, a Buck Buchanan Award Watch list entrant. Junior quarterback Seth Lobato will look to improve upon the 2,448 passing yards he had as a sophomore.
This contest will be the first football game the Pac-12 airs on its new network.
Game time/date: 5:15 p.m. MT, Thursday, Aug. 30
Location: Rice-Eccles Stadium, Salt Lake City, Utah
TV Schedule: Pac-12 Network
Odds: No line available