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Open Game Thread :: Game #2 :: #13 Kansas 2-0Â (0-0) @ #19 South Florida 2-0 (0-0)

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Here it is.

The first vindication opportunity of the year. Sure, the first two wins were nice-and-well, but they mean little in the eyes of the nation. No, everyone was waiting for this game to say "I told you so" about the Jayhawks; planning on using this without-a-doubt beatdown that the Jayhawks would take at the hands of the Bulls as proof that last season was a fraud. Or a one-year fluke. Or simply a whole bundle of luck wrapped up and gifted to the Jayhawks.

In any case, most expect us to be much worse this year. Sure, a decent percentage are picking us to win, a majority even. But that has more to do with the people's lack of respect for the Big East (deserved or undeserved), and despite South Florida being their best team, most likely, they don't seem all that appealing.

In all honesty, the two teams seem to be awfully similar. Two former Stoops-assistants who both effectively built programs starting around 2002 (Leavitt physically started the program himself from scratch and, while being their Coach since 1997, didn't reach 1-A status until around 2002), who are considered some of the better coaches in the country. Both teams are coming off a miracle season of sorts last season, although South Florida's ended after 7 games, right about when Kansas' was getting started. Both teams are led by two make-things-happen QBs who always seem to find a way to get things done, and who rarely make mistakes. They are both kind of spunky, kind of against-the-grain and both were overlooked coming out of HS. Both have some running back issues, with the position being unknown at both schools. Both teams have fairly veteran offensive lines (3 senior starters for us versus 4 senior starters for them), and both have a deep receiving core, although theirs is not quite as deep. Both teams have crazy-strong LB units, although ours is, again, quite a bit stronger. Both have some damn good safeties, but our corners our better. Of course, their D-Line is considerably better, particuarly All-American George Selvie, who has a decent shot at being a Top 10 pick in the NFL Draft next April.

All of these similarities in the teams has created an interesting matchup. There is immense pressure on South Florida to win to save face for the Big East and to take the next step of being a potential BCS contender (save auto-bid which, honestly, should be revoked). But then there is the pressure on Kansas to validate last season's miraculous run, finally having received a chance to prove how 'legit' they are as a football team.

Questions and similaritise abound about the two teams, but one thing is clearly answerable. This game is huge for both programs (and conferences, in a way) and should be a lot of fun to watch.

That being said, I expect George Selvie to get a half-a-dozen QB hurries but not pick up a sack, with Todd Reesing getting the ball away just in time every time. I expect Reesing to relatively pick apart the USF defense, but I also expect Angus Quigley and the running game to struggle yet again, although it will be better than it has been the prior two weeks. On the other side of the ball, I expect our D-Line to get occasional pressure, just enough to force Grothe out of the pocket more than desired for the Bulls. I expect our LBs to play a fantastic game, making up for the handful of mistakes that Isiah Barfield figures to make, with him making his first ever start and all (unless it is Phillip Strozier, of course, which is a substantial possibility. Should have covered that much more in-depth this year).

In any case, I predict that, down by 4 with under 2 minutes to go, we are presented with the ball. Todd Reesing takes the ball, drives the ball down the field and, with 0:13 left on the clock, fires a ball into Dezmon Briscoe's hands for a game-winning TD.

31-28 Kansas.

ROCK CHALK!