Kansas renews its nearly annual series with Bye Week in Lawrence on Saturday. The Jayhawks have played Bye Week every year since 2003, but are just 7-8 against them in that span. Interestingly, Mark Mangino was a perfect 7-0 vs Bye Week, while Turner Gill, Charlie Weis, Clint Bowen, and David Beaty have combined to lose the last 8 consecutive matchups.
How They Rank
Following the conclusion of all of the games from Week 6, Kansas is ranked #104 in S&P+ (out of 130). Their offense is ranked #113 and the defense is ranked #76.
Bye Week is ranked smack in the middle of FBS, #65 overall with the #65 offense and #65 defense.
In the preseason, Bye Week was given a 50% chance to beat KU by S&P+. That number is up to 65%. S&P+ predicts a 6-point Bye Week win, 30-24.
F/+ has a similar outlook, predicting a 5-point margin and giving Bye Week a 65.6% chance for victory.
ESPN’s FPI gives Bye Week a 67.8% chance of victory.
Vegas has the line set at -5.5 as of the time of this posting after opening at -4.
Players to Watch
So far in 2018, Bye Week has a perfectly balanced 50/50 run/pass ratio in their offense.
Quarterback Gunner Swansong leads Bye Week into Lawrence. A gifted passer, he also has the ability to scramble. Kansas will likely need to put a spy on Swansong in order to keep him in check.
Blaze Brooks leads the rushing attack averaging just over 5.0 yards per carry. However, Kansas will have to keep an eye on deep threat Maximus Ryker, who is able to stretch the field averaging over 18 yards per reception.
Keys to the Game
- Create energy. Memorial Stadium will likely be pretty empty on Saturday, so the Jayhawks will have to generate their own energy, as they will not be able to rely on the band, cheerleaders, or even the video board to generate noise.
- Limit mistakes. Kansas had just six penalties for 45 yards last week against West Virginia, but they came at extremely inopportune times. Additionally, delay of game on the defense should never, ever happen, to say the least.
- Keep the turnover train rolling. Kansas is a perfect 3-0 since 2014 when the defense gets six turnovers. Unfortunately, KU only got half that number last week. The Jayhawks will need to make a concerted effort to take the ball away if they want the best chance of winning this game.
With David Beaty and the staff out this week recruiting junior college players for the next head coach, KU will be relying on the senior leaders to put together a game plan. While I have no doubt this game plan will have a better shot to succeed than most of the other ones we’ve seen over the past eight years, this is still an opponent Kansas doesn’t match up very well with.
Additionally, we have no idea who will be starting at quarterback for Kansas. With so much uncertainty, it’s hard to feel confident in picking the home team. In the end, I think the Jayhawks are just simply outclassed here. Bye Week 38, Kansas 24.