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Kansas Football 2012: Key Opponent Update

A look at KU's key opponents, and how we stack up

Matt Kartozian-US PRESSWIRE - Presswire

It's getting harder to look at any one remaining game as more "key" than another, given how hopeless our landscape looks at the moment. Still, who would have thought last year's team would take Baylor to overtime? No matter how bleak things look, we'll still soldier through the weekly reviews in hope that we start looking more like a football team.

Oklahoma State (2-2) - October 13
Last Week: Bye week

Notes: The most important thing to note with regard to OSU this week is the quarterback situation. Mike Gundy's depth chart this week puts JW Walsh OR Wes Lunt as the starter. It's probably much ado about nothing, since JW Walsh stepped in against Texas two weeks ago and threw for over 300 yards, and just over 11 per attempt. As a Kansas fan, I'm probably rooting for Lunt to play, since he's a true freshman with only one road game under his belt, a game where he threw three picks and OSU lost by 21.

What I'm Watching: Like I said last week, this one will come down to OSU's offense. If Pierson's healthy, I feel confident that we can move the ball a bit on this team, but if OSU's offense is clicking, we simply aren't capable of outscoring them. Every unit on the defense will have to be firing on all cylinders Saturday to stop this multi-faceted attack, and even then it's going to take some turnovers (i.e. luck).

This Week: How many fans will be in Memorial's stands for this one? And how many will be wearing orange?

Baylor (3-1) - November 3
Last Week: Bye week

Notes: Nick Florence averages 10.1 yards/attempt, and 5.5 yards/carry. Not quite RG3 numbers, but did anyone foresee what Florence and this offense would be capable of after losing four starters to the NFL draft last year? Add to that Terrence Williams (34 rec, 667 yards, 6 TDs) and Tevin Reese (19, 424, and 4), and you have Baylor offense that is still stocked with weapons.

What I'm Watching: The other side of the ball. I believe that Baylor has the worst defense in the Big 12, and for what it's worth, Football Outsiders agrees with me. In their Defensive S&P+ ratings, KU is 85th in the country, compared to Baylor's 101st. They rank 91st against the run and 96th against the pass in this measure, and Baylor is likely our best bet for putting up some numbers on offense this year if our key players can stay healthy.

This Week: Baylor hosts a reeling TCU team that lost their quarterback and their first game last week. I would look for the Bears to win this one fairly easily.

Texas Tech (4-1) - November 10
Last Week: Texas Tech lost their first of the year, falling 41-20 to Oklahoma.

Notes: Texas Tech nearly equaled the Sooners in total yards, but a good chunk of those were in garbage time. Three interceptions were ultimately their demise here. You can't cough up the ball against Oklahoma and expect to win. Seth Doege had by far his worst game of the year, throwing for just 203 yards and an atrocious 2.31 adjusted yards/attempt before being replaced in the fourth quarter.

What I'm Watching: The offense had a rough night against one of the top defenses in the conference, and I'm not going to write them off for that. We know what the Tech offense is at this point. I'm continuing to watch the defense. They didn't exactly shut Oklahoma down, but did hold Landry Jones to just 6.5 yards per attempt, and the offense to just 4.2 yards per carry. Pretty solid numbers against an offense with some talented players. I continue to think this may be a team that Kansas really struggles to move the ball against. Tech ranks #22 in the country on defense according to the S&P+.

This Week: Things don't get any easier as Tech's defense is put to what is likely their toughest test of the year, with West Virginia rolling into Lubbock.

Iowa State (4-1) - November 17
Last Week: Iowa State righted the ship after the Texas Tech loss, beating a Paschall-less TCU by two touchdowns.

Notes: Iowa State finally made a change from the turnover-prone Steele Jantz at quarterback, and Jared Barnett had an efficient starting debut. He only had to throw 21 times, but tossed three TDs, all to senior receiver Josh Lenz (18 rec, 279 yards, 4 TDs on the year). The Cyclones' run-first attack generated just 350 yards (105 less than TCU), but the defense forced turnovers and ISU never even trailed.

What I'm Watching: I've been noting ISU's struggles in the turnover department, but if the TCU game was any indication, they may have addressed that issue with the QB change. The Horned Frog team that repeatedly coughed it up in the red zone against us had similar issues against ISU, with 5 giveaways. Iowa State's overall trend for the year is still one of more giveaways than takeaways, but perhaps that part of the team's identity will fade now. I hope not for our sake, because ISU has a stout defense, and simply outscoring them likely won't be an option.

This Week: Iowa State gets no time to celebrate Saturday's victory, as they host an undefeated KSU team this weekend, in a battle of two teams with similar mindsets in terms of gameplanning.