This week marks the beginning of Big 12 play for the Jayhawks and with it a two and even three game stretch that could help define the season. A road trip to Baylor followed by two home games against Kansas State and Texas A&M means there is a golden opportunity for Kansas. It's certainly not an easy opportunity and I doubt any one of those three fanbases is overly concerned with Kansas, but there are circumstances that make this a potentially season changing stretch for Kansas.
First up the Jayhawks head to Waco to take on Robert Griffin and the Baylor Bears. This is the second road trip for Kansas and a game that presents a big challenge for the Kansas defense in facing a mobile quarterback and an athletic spread attack. But it's still a winnable game.
Baylor is a good team, but they aren't an upper echelon team in the Big 12. If the Kansas offense can carry over the momentum from a strong performance against New Mexico State and find a way to slow down the Baylor offense, they can get a win. Again, it's not easy and Kansas enters as over a 9 1/2 point underdog, but if Kansas can pull the upset they begin to gain some major momentum.
That brings us to the following game on a Thursday night against Kansas State in Lawrence. First off there should be no problem getting motivated for this one and Kansas has been pretty good in stopping the run which is the Wildcats strength. Bill Snyder has laid some pretty big beatdowns in Lawrence but the Wildcats are hosting the Huskers a week before. Kansas on the other hand has a bye week. Kansas will have four extra days to prepare for Kansas State and while it certainly doesn't assure a victory, it does provide a bit of an edge IF the team takes advantage.
Final game of the stretch? Texas A&M. Again with the Sunflower Showdown being on a Thursday, Kansas get's extra time to prepare for this one. Thursday to the following Saturday as opposed to a standard Sunday to Saturday.
A&M might be the toughest of the three in this series of games but they are also coming off what I would consider a fairly brutal stretch of football. The Aggies travel to Stillwater this week then welcome Arkansas and Missouri into College Station on back to back weeks before heading to Lawrence. Those are three good teams that could help or hurt the morale of the Aggies depending on how things shake out.
Kansas will again most likely enter this one as an underdog, but if the Jayhawks can manage to take the first two in this stretch I wouldn't put it in the category of a definite loss. So what if the Jayhawks do manage the highly unlikely and end up 5-2 three games into conference play? I suppose they start turning some heads and Turner Gill's colossal hiccup in game one might just be forgotten.
Obviously this is a huge IF, and maybe it's not the most plausible scenario considering the ups and downs of the first four games, but you can't deny that it's at least a little intriguing. If you were setting up the beginning of the Big 12 schedule for a young team this isn't a bad way to do it. I can think of better, but sometimes you have to look at the brightside. A middle-low tier opening road contest followed by two long a weeks to prepare for a pair of potentially season changing home games. None of them are easy, but college football and the Big 12 appear pretty wide open this year so maybe, just maybe Kansas can sneak back and surprise a few.