Matchup Breakdown: Kansas vs. Texas A&M

I shouldn't, but for some reason I have this odd feeling about this game.  I don't know if I expect us to win necessarily, but a 30.5 point line seems awful large in this one.  Maybe Kansas can take advantage of a slightly off game by A&M and catch a few good breaks and give us a reason to watch four quarters of football again this week. 

A game in College Station is never easy so I suppose I won't hold my breath, but I guess when you set the bar at 30.5 it gives you a four+ touchdown cushion for optimism.

Kansas Offense vs. Texas A&M Defense

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Kansas turned up the production level on the offensive side of the ball again last week after having several weeks where they struggled.  That's certainly the good news.  The bad news is that we knew that was a likely occurrence because Baylor was a bad defensive team.

The somewhat good news is that Texas A&M isn't great either.  They rank 90th in total defense which would help lend a little bit of positivity to this matchup heading into Saturday but the biggest concern has to be the fact that they are good at stopping the run.  A&M ranks 20th in rushing defense and the Kansas production on offense really boils down to their ability to run the football.

So where does that leave the Jayhawks?  Kansas is currently 40th in the country in terms of rushing offense and they are coming off a game where the offensive line looked as good as they have all year.  This is going to be a huge test and Kansas will need to keep the ground game fresh, but we're talking about a 30 point spread and I think the Kansas offense can win this matchup enough to offset that. 

The key to this one is absolutely going to be the offensive line's ability to perform at the level that they did last week.  If they do that and Kansas can stay creative with Miller, Sims and even a splash of Christian Matthews, we should have some positive takeaways here.

*quick note.  I've used size of logo to indicate the size of the edge.  I don't want anyone looking at this and thinking that I believe this is a dead even matchup.  I think Kansas has a slight edge on offense (if things continue on last weeks path) and a slight edge in special teams.  But A&M has a sizable advantage when their offense is on the field and in terms of the coaching staff and what they have proven capable of accomplishing.

 

Kansas Defense vs Texas A&M Offense

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Different week, same story. The A&M offense is a very productive offense.  This is the Big 12, apparently we like offensive football.  Take that either way you like. 

A&M ranks 6th nationally in total offense and it is a very balanced offensive attack.  Quarterback Ryan Tannehill has almost 3000 yards passing through 10 games and the Aggies are approaching the 1000 yard rushing mark with TWO different running backs.

This isn't a matchup where one guy scares you if you're Kansas.  This is a matchup where the collaborative whole of the Texas A&M offense has the ability to wear down Kansas and bully them around the field.  Gameplan will be critical from Vic Shealy's perspective and Kansas will need to catch a few breaks, but you can expect a healthy dose of the Aggie running game because Mike Sherman has the horses and he'll surely use them.

 

Special Teams

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Both teams are fairly mediocre here but the Jayhawks have had several weeks where they have shown improvement in this area after bottoming out early during the conference schedule. 

DJ Beshears does a nice job in the return game. Ron Doherty handles most of the kicking responsibilities and minus the occasional shanked punt he is productive.  And when he's not, the Kansas coverage teams are filled with the best defensive starters and talented freshman.  It's been a pretty good recipe for the Jayhawks this year as this phase of the game hasn't been a huge problem like it was a year ago.

Overall the matchup looks to favor Kansas but that's not to say I expect Kansas to make a miraculous game changing play in the special teams phase.  It's a steady consistent production that makes up this are for the Jayhawks.


Coaching

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Both of these coaches are a bit on the hot seat for different reasons.  Turner Gill probably more so, but Mike Sherman is also finding himself and his team falling short of expectations. 

That said, Mike Sherman has been at the highest level and he has also won in the Big 12.  Turner Gill hasn't done either of those things so we'll give the coaching edge to the Aggies here.

I will say though that Vic Shealy and Chuck Long did step up their game in these last two weeks and that has been refreshing.  It is far from fixed, but thing have moved in a positive direction for the first time in long time.

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