A couple of weeks ago, we took a look at the top 5 non-conference opponents KU fans wanted to see in basketball. I had to go outside of the RCT staff to find most of the voters for football, but came away with 19 ballots in the end. Responses were a lot more varied than the basketball poll, which I suppose is to be expected. However, similar to the basketball poll, some clear-cut favorites emerged above the cluster.
Once again, teams were ranked 1 through 5 and given points similar to the way the Top 25 polls work. Without further ado, here are the results (first place votes in parentheses):
1. Nebraska, 32 points (2)
*Series record: Nebraska leads, 91-23-3
Last meeting: Nebraska 20, Kansas 3 - 11/13/10, Lincoln, NE
As of 2010, the Kansas-Nebraska "rivalry" was the longest annually played matchup in the country (1906-2010). But then Nebraska took their ball and went home (thanks, Texas). Kansas never had much success against their former conference foes from the north, dropping 36 in a row at one point (1969-2004). Only four of those games during "the streak" were even close (21-17 in 1969, 10-9 in 1973, 21-20 in 1993, 14-8 in 2004) with "close" being defined as 14 points or less. KU's longest winning streak against NU was five only games (1957-1961).
But that was all washed away and forgotten in 2007, when Mangino and Reesing teamed up to put up the most points EVER on a Nebraska football team. (I still maintain that KU stopped trying midway through the third quarter, and could have easily put up 100 points that day.) From 2004 to the he-who-shall-not-be-named-on-this-site era, the KU-NU games were interesting, compelling, and yes, they were actually fun. KU has some catching up to do again, but despite all this, Nebraska was the runaway leader in our little exercise, appearing on 10 of the 19 ballots.
2. Colorado, 24 points (2)
*Series record: Colorado leads, 43-24-3
Last meeting: Kansas 52, Colorado 45 - 11/6/10, Lawrence, KS
Another former conference foe that KU historically struggled with, Colorado owns a decisive all-time edge against the Jayhawks, but from 1995-2010, the Buffs only led the series 9-7. The last matchup between these two was Dan Hawkin's last game as the Colorado head man, as his Buffaloes managed to blow a 45-17 fourth quarter lead in a game that I left at halftime. Ugh.
Anyway, Colorado is currently awful, having not had a winning season since 2005, and at this point in time might actually be a game that the Jayhawks should win. (Yes, I know, there's not a lot of teams you can say that about, especially so-called P5 teams.) Lots of history combined with current awfulness apparently makes this an attractive matchup for KU fans, as Colorado appeared on 8 of the 19 ballots cast.
3. Notre Dame, 23 points (4)
*Series record: Notre Dame leads, 4-1-1
Last meeting: Notre Dame 48, Kansas 13 - 8/28/99, South Bend, IN
Not a lot of history here. Fun fact, Notre Dame has played in Lawrence twice in their history (1904, 1932). The other four games were played in South Bend. Personally, I had Notre Dame as my first place vote, because, well, it's still Notre Dame. It would still be a big deal were the 'Hawks to get them on the schedule, be it Lawrence, South Bend, or anywhere else. Unfortunately, in terms of "schematic advantage" they're not the Charlie Weis-era Domers anymore, as current head coach Brian Kelly has seemingly found himself one of those "destination jobs." At this point in time, it's not a winnable game for KU, but then again, it wasn't a winnable game back in 1999, either, and that was still fun. (Well, I thought it was.) Notre Dame appeared on five on the 19 ballots.
4. Missouruh, 21 points (4)
*Series record: Missouruh leads, 57-54-9
Last meeting: Missouruh 24, Kansas 10 - 11/26/11, Kansas City, MO
For the uninitiated, this is the most fierce rivalry in the country. As of 2011, this was the most-played rivalry in the nation (and as of 2014, still sits at #2 on that list). After Missouruh turned tail and ran to the "cultural fit" of the SEC, the open-aired hostility only slightly cooled to a slower-burning cold war (especially in the KC area). It seems silly when you think about it, but this stuff really does go back to the 1850s and things that are much more important than some athletic competition. Save me your Duke/Carolina, 'Bama/Auburn, or even Michigan-Ohio State. Child's play, I tell ya. (See, even Abe Simpson hates Missouruh.) Missouruh has been decent since their move to the SEC, I suppose, but I believe they've only defeated one other conference team that had a winning record? I think that means that KU could win the SEC East at this point. Yeah I said it. But go ahead and try to defend it, RMN. Whatevs.
Apparently KU fans still want a piece; luckily for us, Gary Pinkel has given KU an "open invitation." Yeah, well. I've got an invitation for Gary, too. It's not very nice, though, and my mother taught me that if I didn't have anything nice to say, I shouldn't say anything at all. (This isn't my mother, but I do believe she's right.) Moving on... Missouruh appeared on five of the 19 ballots.
Oh, one more thing... Touchdown! Touchdown! Touchdown! Kerry Meier!!
5 (tie). South Florida, 12 points (2)
*Series record: Tied, 1-1
Last meeting: South Florida 37, Kansas 34 - 9/12/08, Tampa, FL
Not much to talk about here. I was at the 13-7 snooze-fest in Lawrence in 2006 and I sure remember that awful third quarter in Tampa in 2008. I assume this one mostly made the list due to our voters who live in Florida and would like to see a KU game without having to get on a plane for four hours. I can understand that. Plus, the Bulls haven't exactly been great in recent years, going without a winning record since 2010. So, I could see the Jayhawks actually having a chance in this matchup. USF appeared on three of the 19 ballots.
5 (tie). Kentucky, 12 points (0)
*Series record: Kansas leads, 3-0-1
Last meeting: Kansas 13, Kentucky 13 - 9/25/82, Lexington, KY
I'm just wondering if the voters got confused and thought we were doing basketball again. Not really a lot to dig into here, as the two teams have played a pair of home-and-home sets and Kansas has absolutely OWNED Kentucky.
Anyway, Kentucky is getting better under soon to be third-year head coach Mark Stoops and are doing some impressive things on the recruiting trail. Admittedly, it could be a fun matchup. Hey, maybe they could do a split basketball/football matchup like the one I totally made up last month. UK appeared on four of the 19 ballots cast.
Others receiving more than one vote: Alabama 9, Hawaii 9, Liberty 9 (1), Iowa 6, Michigan 6, Southern Cal 6, UTEP 6, Boise State 5, Illinois 5, Arkansas 4, Florida 4, Air Force 2, Penn St 2
Other schools that received first place votes were: Auburn, New Mexico St, Northern Arizona, UNLV
27 other schools appeared once across the 19 ballots.
I was sad that Liberty didn't get more votes.
*Series records courtesy of College Football Data Warehouse