Matchup breakdown for Colorado v Kansas amounts to what many consider the Jayhawks last hope of getting a win in conference. Do that and you're no longer in the basement, you've got something to build off of and then you focus on being competitive against a brutal stretch of Oklahoma State, Nebraska and Missouri.
Colorado is still the favorite, they have a team that has put together more "quality" football throughout the course of the season, but they are a team that Kansas can at least hope to have a shot against. At the same time, I'd say Iowa State and Kansas State should have provided that same opportunity and for the most part Kansas didn't get it done.
Colorado comes to Lawrence and two teams are looking for just a little bit of hope.
Kansas Offense vs. Colorado Defense
In my opinion this is the toughest matchup for the Jayhawks and the critical one if Kansas wants to win. Colorado has some solid athletes on defense and they do try to bring pressure and force mistakes. At times they'll pull that one down lineman and 6 guys standing at the line formation only to bring three and other times they'll bring all seven. It's been very effective at times, it's also struggled at times.
In a lot of ways Colorado is a fragile group much like Kansas, but in the games I've watched there seems to be less of that role over and die mentality.
For the Kansas offense to prove effective they will need to be able to open things up a little more than they have. If CU can pack the line of scrimmage and let two very capable corners play press coverage it could be a pretty slow day at the office. Yes CU has struggled against the pass, but it feels a little overblown at times. That and it's not as if Kansas is very good at doing it to begin with.
How or if Kansas opens it up is the question. They haven't done it in weeks but they have to find a way if they want to do enough to win on Saturday.
Kansas Defense vs. Colorado Offense
Colorado is at it's best when they can run the football. If Rod(ney) Stewart get's going, then they'll be tough for Kansas to beat. First and foremost Kansas has to stop that aspect of the Buffalo offense.
After that, they can begin to worry about whether or not Cody Hawkins can effectively manage an offense with more weapons at receiver than he's ever had the privilege to work with. It's hard to believe because no one gives them much credit but Colorado has some talent.
Ultimately the fate of Dan Hawkins lies in the fact that he's never found a quarterback that is worthy of a Big 12 scholarship. CU has an offense that much like Kansas tends to fall apart when things start going wrong. The snowball effect. For the Kansas defense to get a win in this matchup, they need to be the ones watching the snowball roll downhill instead of standing there waiting for it to hit and that starts with forcing the game into the hands of Cody Hawkins.
Colorado has a decent return game and Kansas returns DJ Beshears. Last week against Iowa State the Jayhawks played solid in this area during the first half and it helped in getting some easy points.
It can't be stressed enough how far the Jayhawks have to go in this area, but in a game that has at least the hint of winnability the Jayhawks MUST stay on the right side of the field position battle. It just isn't even an option to lose the battle and still win the game or this matchup.
Is this a matchup where anyone can win? Headed into this one you've got two teams with a fragile psyche. Kansas knows the season is pretty much over and the rebuilding project is a big one.
Colorado sits on the brink of a new staff, a new conference and a fresh start. Who can motivate their team better in a situation where it sometimes seems easier to just give up? It's a big question without an easy answer from either side right now.
Dan Hawkins has just 2 wins on the road that anyone can remember during his career with Colorado. Turner Gill has to take advantage of another team having that "here we go again" mentality stuck in the back of their head. Start fast, play physical and take some chances. I'm not talking 4th and inches, I'm talking throw the ball downfield, tee off and pressure the quarterback. Somebody is walking away from this one more demoralized than they already were. Might as well set out to make it the guys standing on the other sideline from the get go.