We've taken a look at the best KU football teams in history. We've taken a look at the worst KU football teams in history. Now let's really have some fun and take a look at some of the worst non-conference opponents the Jayhawks have ever faced.
This coming fall will not be an easy one for David Beaty and the 'Hawks. Even South Dakota State, KU's season-opening FCS foe, advanced to the second round of the FCS playoffs last year. Memphis finished 10-3, winning a bowl game, and Rutgers went 8-5 and won their bowl game. There's no cupcakes coming up this fall.
The past is a different story. The Jayhawks have played some really bad teams in the past. The Jayhawks have also themselves been really bad in the past. The real question is - did KU win all those games against their "worst" opponents? Let's examine.
6. 2002 Tulsa (1-11, -18.40 SRS, #166 Sagarin)
Interestingly, 2002 saw the second-worst KU football team in history. In Mark Mangino's first year, the Jayhawks went 2-10 (-14.87 SRS, #132 Sagarin). This matchup was a road game at Tulsa, and I'm sure you all are well aware of KU's track record in road games. Well, this one turned out differently than you might think. KU sauntered down to Tulsa for their fifth game of the year and came home with a 43-33 victory in a game that was just as exciting as the score makes it sound. Bill Whittemore went crazy, passing for 218/1/0 and adding 177 rushing yards and 3 TD's on the ground.
The 2002 Tulsa squad gave up 34.8 points per game that year, including 49 to San Jose State and 53 to what would end up being a 4-8 Louisiana Tech team. Tulsa's only win that year was over equally bad UTEP (-18.11 SRS, #170 Sagarin), who went 2-10.
5. 1995 North Texas (2-9, -19.02 SRS)
One of the top-10 best Kansas teams of all-time went on the road to face a newly-minted Division-1 North Texas team. Of course, the Mean Green would struggle in their first season (back) in Division 1 football. UNT gave up an average of 38.5 points per game, even losing to UAB who at that time was not a D1 team. The Jayhawks didn't necessarily dominate on the scoreboard, but came out of the Dallas Metroplex with a 27-10 victory.
4. 1984 Wichita State (2-9, -19.70 SRS)
Three years before a plane crash scuttled the Shocker football program, WSU was in the second year of what would end up being four years of sub-.500 football (in their last four years as a football program). In 1984, WSU's two wins came against Drake and West Texas A&M. Wichita State suffered losses to I-AA members Texas State and Texas-Arlington as well (both games at home). These Shockers allowed 29.5 points per game while only scoring 15.3 ppg. The Jayhawks would beat both numbers, taking a 31-7 decision in Lawrence.
3. 1968 New Mexico (0-10, -24.32 SRS)
This matchup saw the best team in KU history (according to the SRS) pitted against the worst team in New Mexico history. That would show on the scoreboard as well, as KU put up over 500 yards of offense behind QB Bobby Douglass. Coach Pepper Rodgers reportedly even pulled the starters in the first half of what would end up being a 68-7 game. These Lobos would finish next-to-last in points allowed per game (40.3), thanks in no small part to KU. Three other teams that year would also put 40+ on UNM: UTEP, San Jose St, and Arizona State.
2. 1988 New Mexico State (1-10, -24.55 SRS)
The fourth-worst team in NMSU history took on the worst team in KU history (-15.45 SRS). This time, it didn't go the Jayhawk's way. The Aggies waltzed into Memorial Stadium in Lawrence and picked up their only win of the year, a 42-29 affair. Five times that season, the Aggies failed to break double digits on the scoreboard, and they allowed an average of 34.3 points per game. Despite the awfulness of Kansas football in the late 1980s, this is a game that KU probably should have won, but, you know, "Any given Saturday" and all that jazz.
1. 1989 Kent State (0-11, -29.75 SRS)
In the second year after Glen Mason left Kent State for Kansas, Kent State was back to being awful again. The Jayhawks didn't exactly demolish the Golden Flashes this year, however, because KU was in bad shape as well in 1989 (-8.68 SRS), although at least the Jayhawks were starting to show some progress. The Flashes were the worst team in Division 1A that year (per SRS), allowing an average of 34.3 points per game. Kansas sent Kent State home with a 28-21 loss, Kent State's third-closest loss of that season.
Honorable mention goes to 1999 Cal State Northridge, whom the Jayhawks smoked 71-14 in Lawrence. There is no SRS available for the Matadors, I assume because of their D-1AA status. CSU-N discontinued football after the 2001 season.
The Jayhawks went 5-1 versus the six-worst teams non-conference they've ever played. The 1989 Kent State team was by far the worst team Kansas has ever played, and the Jayhawks only won that game (at home) by a touchdown. Of course, the 1989 Jayhawks were a top-10 worst team in the history of KU.
There's some really bad teams on this list - sometimes, both the opponent and the Jayhawks were, well... bad.