The Jayhawks made me look good by turning Texas into a winnable game last week, so let's hope that trend continues throughout the rest of the year, since I'm considering adding West Virginia to the list and making every game a "key" one from here on out.
Baylor (3-4) - November 3
Last Week: Baylor had a rough time on the road and lost by two touchdowns to Iowa State.
Notes: Whether you like conventional stats or advanced metrics, Iowa State has about the 90th best offense in the country. They put up 557 yards on Baylor. Steele Jantz, who had at one point been benched this year for being turnover-prone and frankly, bad, was able to pick apart the Baylor secondary for 381 yards and 5 TDs. The Bears turned it over four times and were eaten alive in TOP.
What I'm Watching: The Baylor defense is officially "2011 Kansas" bad. In fact, they may be worse. They rank last in FBS giving up 553 yards per game, more than 50 yards more than the next worst team. Even adjusted for strength of schedule, FO's S&P+ ranks them 99th. Since Baylor's passing game is exactly the type of offensive attack that eats us alive, one 12 yard pass at a time, our only hope is to control the clock, and eat away at a Baylor defense that gives up 195 yards per game on the ground. If Cummings is able to throw the ball at all, this is his chance to do it. The only team worse against the pass is West Virginia.
This Week: Kansas' best remaining shot at a road win lies ahead as they visit Waco Saturday afternoon.
Texas Tech (5-2) - November 10
Last Week: The Red Raiders fell back to earth (as everyone does in Manhattan), losing to the Wildcats by 31.
Notes: The box score in this one is remarkably even except for one category: turnovers. The Red Raiders lost the TO battle 3-0. You can't do that against a team that doesn't make mistakes. Still, Tech managed to rack up 442 yards against one of the more stout defenses in the country. The Tech defense, which has looked very strong for the most part, had no answer for Collin Klein (but then, who does?), and couldn't keep KSU out of the end zone.
What I'm Watching: Which Texas Tech team will we see next week? The one that shut down West Virginia and took out Iowa State on the road? Or the turnover prone Tech with the porous defense that was hammered by OU and K-State, and lucked out against TCU? That's really what our game with Tech boils down to. If they make mistakes and don't bring their A game, this is a pedestrian team. If they show up, we don't have much of a shot.
This Week: The Red Raiders get their shot a claiming home-state dominance, hosting the Longhorns.
Iowa State (5-3) - November 17
Last Week: Iowa State took advantage of Baylor's mistakes to snap a two-game losing skid.
Notes: Consider this game an aberration for the ISU offense. 557 yards and 35 points is a nice performance no matter who you're playing, but the Cyclones have not been able to consistently put together anything close this type of performance. I look for Steele Jantz and the rest of the offense to come back down to earth very quickly this week.
What I'm Watching: The S&P+ still considers their offense 94th in the FBS (just a shade worse than us), and their 18 giveaways is among the worst numbers in the country. It is, however, pretty high on their defense, ranking it #10 (we come in at a solid #35). I would anticipate a tough, ugly game on Senior Day this year, that likely comes down to turnovers, where Kansas and ISU are both +1 for the year.
This Week: Barring a huge surprise (which ISU has pulled off more than once), the 'Clones will drop to .500 this week as Oklahoma comes to town, hungry to avenge their loss to Notre Dame. I don't see anything big in the cards for ISU this time around.