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2017 Kansas Football season schedule preview and predictions

Will the Jayhawks improve on the field and in the standings?

TCU v Kansas Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

With the season scheduled to kick off in just a few short days, it’s time to go down the schedule and make some predictions!

I’ll actually try to keep this as realistic as possible. No Kool-Aid today, boys.

Game 1: vs Southeast Missouri State

2016: 3-8

The Redhawks return four starters on offense from a 3-8 team that had the worst offense in its conference last year (gee that part sounds familiar). Depending on your perspective, that’s either a good thing or a bad thing. But even as bad as Kansas has been since, well, 2010, there’s no way this squad can keep up. This one will be fun.

Mike’s true fact I just made up percent chance of winning: 99.99999999%

Kansas 55, SEMO 7

Game 2: vs Central Michigan

2016: 6-7

This game is pretty much a must-win for David Beaty. Lose this one and the natives are gonna get really restless. Remember the team getting booed off the field in 1999 after getting smoked by San Diego State? Cuz I do. CMU stumbled down the stretch last year but still had enough to “beat” Oklahoma State in Stillwater early on. The Chippewas return nearly everyone on offense, and are expected to be pretty explosive on that side of the ball. Michigan transfer and former five-star QB recruit Shane Morris is expected to helm the Chippewas. I’m honestly worried that we’ll struggle to beat a MAC team at home.

Mike’s percent chance of winning: 50%

Kansas 45, CMU 44

Game 3: @ Ohio

2016: 8-6

Ohio nearly won the MAC last year, falling to Cotton Bowl bound Western Michigan in the conference title game by 6 points. Oh, and they beat KU by 16 in a not-really-that-close game in Lawrence back in September. Ohio returns just 13 starters, but with the way Frank Solich develops players in that program they will always be scary. For example, while they don’t have a single returning starter on the defensive line, all of the projected starters are fifth-year seniors. One of two streaks will end in 2017: KU hasn’t won a road game since 2009 (I believe it is 40 games and counting), and Ohio has never beat a P5 team at home.

Mike’s percent chance of winning: 33.33%

Ohio 31, Kansas 27

Game 4: vs West Virginia

2016: 10-3

The Mountaineers return the third-fewest starters in all of college football, with just 8. Will they be ripe for the picking when they get to Lawrence in late September, or will they have it all figured out? Actually, maybe the real question is, will Kansas have its own offense figured out? Put hope in one hand and crap in the other, and let me know which one fills up faster.

Mike’s percent chance of winning: 20%

West Virginia 35, Kansas 21

Game 5: vs Texas Tech

2016: 5-7

I don’t have a read on what Coach Bro will be bringing to Lawrence in October. I’m guessing an explosive offense and a questionable defense. Did you know that Texas Tech is 17-1 all-time against KU? There have been some fluke games in this series, but criminy that’s awful.

Mike’s percent chance of winning: 10%

Texas Tech 42, Kansas 35

Game 6: @ Iowa State

2016: 3-9

The Hawkeyes finished one game in front of KU in the Big 12 last year thanks to wins over Kansas and Texas Tech. Did you know Iowa State beat Texas Tech 66-10? Neither did I. Maybe I should reconsider my pick for Game 5. (Ok, maybe not.) I figure Iowa State and Ohio are probably pretty similar squads, so the chances should be nearly identical, right? Hopefully we bring the right cleats to this one.

Mike’s percent chance of winning: 30%

Iowa State 30, Kansas 28

Game 7: at TCU

2016: 6-7

The Jayhawks continue to confound TCU, playing them tightly ever since the Frogs joined the Big 12. However, KU has yet to break through, and not that it matters, is just 8-21-4 vs TCU all-time. Maybe adding former TCU OC Doug Meacham to the staff will be enough to push the Jayhawks over the edge. Or maybe this is the year TCU finally opens up a can on Kansas.

Mike’s percent chance of winning: 24.2424%

TCU 50, Kansas 35

Game 8: vs Kansas State

2016: 9-4

K-State is a dark horse candidate for Big 12 champ and college football playoff final four. It seems like they return everyone, but Phil Steele says it’s just 14 starters. Regardless, Bill Snyder is 21-4 vs KU all-time, and three of those losses came in the first four years of his first tenure. Kansas is getting better, but for some reason, these games aren’t. Last year’s final was 34-19, but the outcome was never really in doubt. I expect something similar this year.

Mike’s percent chance of winning: 4.76%

Kansas State 34, Kansas 24

Game 9: vs Baylor

2016: 7-6

Ugh. Just thinking about Baylor makes me sick. They need to lose every game 156-0, but I’m afraid even then they wouldn’t learn a lesson. They return 14 starters, and Matt Rhule won 20 games over his final two years at Temple. Unfortunately, it’s entirely possible that Baylor doesn’t suck this year.

Mike’s percent chance of winning: 20%

Baylor 42, Kansas 30

Game 10: at Texas

2016: Texas lost to KU in football and finished 5-7.

Of course Texas is everyone’s sleeper pick. New coach, new culture, yadda yadda yadda. Oh, and the third-most returning starters in all of college football with 17. Yikes. Add in revenge and #Motivation and you have yourself the recipe for a beatdown of epic proportions.

Mike’s percent chance of winning: 1.1111%

Texas 63, Kansas 21

Game 11: vs Oklahoma

2016: 11-2

Oklahoma also returns a ton of starters, 16 per Phil Steele. They are also expected to be in the Big 12 title and Final Four hunt. Don’t let the departure of Bob Stoops fool you, this squad is still loaded and Kansas hasn’t played them close very often.

Mike’s percent chance of winning: 2.2222%

Oklahoma 48, Kansas 24

Game 12: at Oklahoma State

2016: 10-3

OSU is another one of those dark horse final four picks. Though they return just 12 starters, everyone loves Mason Rudolf and they definitely have a lot of talent on both sides of the ball. With a favorable schedule, the Cowboys definitely have a chance for the playoff.

Mike’s percent chance of winning: 2.2221%

Oklahoma State 49, Kansas 20

Conclusion

That’s a second-straight 2-10 season, with just the final three games as blowouts in an extremely back-loaded schedule. I’m OK with 2-10 as long as progress is shown on the field and on the scoreboard. Get blown out by any of Central Michigan, Ohio, Iowa State, West Virginia, or Texas Tech, and my tune will quickly change.

If you’re heavy into the kool-aid, those are all winnable games. The ceiling for 2017, if EVERYTHING goes right, is 7-5, or possibly, maybe you could sell me on 8-4. The floor is 1-11 with more than three blowouts, because come on, there is no way we lose to SEMO.

I think two wins is the bare minimum for Beaty this year provided there are other signs of progress. There’s probably a Big 12 upset (or two!) on that schedule somewhere, but you can’t really in your right mind go out and predict it at this point. Three wins is acceptable, and anything above that is definite progress.