I'm sorry. I really, really am. My plane leaves early tomorrow morning, and I don't have time to finish my game preview. I almost feel bad.
So, here is your Open Game Thread for the most important football game in Kansas football history. It isn't the most important in terms of wins and losses or in terms of soaring or falling up/down charts. No, win or lose this game is a success for the mere fact that we are in a BCS game. Repeat that to yourself...
The Kansas Jayhawks are in a BCS game. Uh-huh. So, no matter how the game goes, remember that we are in a BCS game. And the exposure will be huge, a true chance for the Kansas football program to plant a firm footprint on the landscape of college football.
1) Win the Turnover Battle --> This will be the key. Both of these defenses, specifically the Jayhawk unit, thrive on taking advantage of opportunities and capitalizing, something we couldn't do in Arrowhead against the Tigers. Whoever wins the turnover battle will almost certainly win the game, especially if it is a margin 2 turnovers or more. For sure.
2) Convert Third Downs --> The key to staying on the field, and therefore driving down the field and scoring points, is converting third downs. The key to getting off the field on defense, no matter how prolific or pathetic the offense is, is stopping them on third downs. All of this is magnified when you play a team like Virginia Tech, an offense that struggles at times but has a gamebreaker at QB (Tyrod Taylor), and a defense that is as good as any other team in the country (they are ranked 3rd in 3rd down percentage defense in the NCAAs) at getting off the field when it needs to. Our defense is pretty good as well, ranking 11th in getting off the field, but the difference will lie in the offenses. If we allow "Superman" to scamper for 1st downs on third-and-longs, we will be in big trouble. What killed us against Mizzou was the 3rd down conversions, even when they had third-and-long they still converted them. That can't happen Thursday night.
3) Score Touchdowns in the Redzone --> Virginia Tech is the best defense we have played all season. Guaranteed. And when we get down in the redzone, the last 20 yards between the offense and 7 points, we must actually punch it into the painted area. We never fall way behind Mizzou if we don't come up three times, thrice, with zero points after entering the redzone, or somewhere around there (missed FG, INT, missed FG) and we have a chance to win the Border War. All of that is compounded when we play a defense as tough as Va Tech's, a defense tougher than the unit that held us scoreless in the first half at Arrowhead. Or in College Station.
When: 8:30 Eastern/7:30 Central
Where: Dolphin Stadium (76,500)
TV: FOX --> National Broadcast
I will see you, through words, of course, Saturday night/Sunday morning. I will try and catch up with all of you sometime before and after gametime Thursday down in Miami. If not, though, hopefully you all have a blast win or loss watching our Jayhawks play a nationally televised BCS bowl game.
ROCK CHALK JAYHAWK GO KU!