It's time for our weekly check on the Jayhawks' key opponents of the 2012 season. I'll grant that it's tough to put any games in the winnable column after a home loss to Rice, but I'll plunge forward with hope that the team may look better as the year goes on and we may end up challenging some of these opponents. Remember, even Turner Gill's teams found themselves in some games in the fourth quarter!
TCU (1-0) - September 15
Last week: TCU started the season a week later than most, but seemed to have put the extra week of practice to good use. The Horned Frogs dismantled FCS opponent Grambling State to the tune of 56-0.
Notes: Seeing next week's opponent pitch a shutout is unnerving as a Kansas fan given our offensive struggles. As always with FCS foes, you have to bear in mind the quality of the opponent, but TCU held the Tigers to just 70 yards of total offense and 5 first downs, despite forcing only one turnover. Also noteworthy is that TCU scored two non-offensive touchdowns (one kick return and a pick 6). Kansas will have to be effective in all phases of the game to keep this one close.
Next week: As previously mentioned, TCU will travel to Lawrence this week for their first conference game as a Big 12 member. In the offseason, this was viewed by some as an outside shot at welcoming a new member to the conference with a loss, but it would take an incredible rebound from last week's performance, as we opened as 21 point home underdogs.
Northern Illinois (1-1) - September 22
Last week: The Huskies followed a narrow loss to Iowa with another solid performance Saturday, taking out FCS opponent UT-Martin 35-7 in Dekalb.
Notes: Just one week after shutting down Iowa's offense, NIU allowed UT-Martin just 1.9 yards per carry. The Huskies calling card has been offense in recent years (we put up 42 points on them a year ago), but early results indicate this team may have a pretty stout defense. Athletic quarterback Jordan Lynch once again had an impressive ground performance, running for 3 TDs and 60 yards in just 11 tries. He'll be one to keep an eye on, particularly if he can pass well (he followed up a sub 50% completion performance against Iowa by going 19-25 last week).
This week: NIU's final game before hosting Kansas will be a road trip to play a weak Army squad. Northern Illinois has a good chance of coming into our game in Dekalb a 2-1 team boasting three strong performances to start the year.
Kansas State (2-0) - October 6
Last week: Maybe this game should be taken off the list. If the Wildcats didn't scare you before, they likely do now after dismantling Miami 52-13. These aren't exactly the glory days of The U, but still an impressive victory.
Notes: Miami was never even a factor in this one, down 24-6 at halftime. The Wildcats ended up with nearly 500 yards, including Colin Klein's 210 through the air on just 11 attempts. Naturally, Klein contributed on the ground as well with 3 TDs, which complemented Jon Hubert's 100+ yard performance. As always seems to be the case, K-State won the turnover battle as well, taking three and giving only one. Once again, Bill Snyder is proving people wrong.
This week: Kansas State plays host to North Texas and should round out their non-con slate 3-0.
Baylor (1-0) - November 3
Last week: Baylor had a week off after playing SMU the Sunday before.
Notes: Baylor doesn't really get a test until September 29 when they go on the road to play West Virginia. Their two upcoming games against Sam Houston State and La-Monroe should serve as little more than warmups for their conference opener. The Bears will likely put up big offensive numbers in both, and may do the same against the Mountaineers' defense, which is still unproven as well. Baylor's October 13 matchup against TCU looks to be the first time this year's version of the Bears' offense will really be put to the test, which should allow Baylor to get themselves into a serious rhythm over the next few weeks.
This week: Baylor hosts Sam Houston State
Texas Tech (2-0) - November 10
Last week: The Red Raiders followed up a strong week one performance with a solid blowout of FBS newcomer Texas State. Tech has now won their first two games by a combined 102-16 score.
Notes: Texas Tech still hasn't played a decent team, but their defensive performance is noteworthy. A year ago, the defense collapsed and was one of the worst in BCS level football. In 2012, Tech averages just 178 yards allowed per game. Yes, it's against two weak offenses, but the Raider defense has definitely improved from a year ago. I don't think anyone doubted their offense, which rolled Texas State for about 600 yards, so Tech may be a little better than expected this year. Given that we play them in Lubbock, this is especially bad for a Kansas team looking for someone to leapfrog on their way out of the Big 12 cellar.
This week: Another cupcake comes to Lubbock in the form of New Mexico, who was blanked 45-0 by Texas last week.
Iowa State (2-0) - November 17
Last week: Paul Rhoads and the Cyclones once again silenced their doubters last week by knocking off Iowa for the CyHawk Trophy. Iowa State won 9-6 in true Iowa Sate fashion. It wasn't pretty, but it was effective.
Notes: It's been a slow start out of the gate for Iowa, and this win may not look special by the end of the year, but you can't say enough about the Cyclones, who could easily be 0-2 right now after playing two solid teams to start the year. The Cyclones turned the ball over four times, which is something they aren't talented to get away with in most games, so Rhoads may need to tighten things up as the conference schedule looms. Outside of the score, ISU can't really point to much of anything to be excited about offensively, as they averaged just 2.5 yards per carry and threw two picks in the passing game.
Next week: Iowa State gets by far the easiest of their non-conference opponents, a Western Illinois team who, for what it's worth, has opened the season 2-0.