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51 Days Until Kansas Football: What if Kansas were in C-USA?

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Forget everything, basketball included: What if KU were in Conference USA?

Rice v Houston Photo by Thomas B. Shea/Getty Images

We’ve looked at the MAC. We’ve looked at the Sun Belt. We’ve looked at the Mountain West. We’ve even looked at the Missouri Valley, an FCS league, and the MIAA, a D2 league.

But today, back to D1, and we’ll continue our trek through non-P5 conferences.

Once again, we’ll use the F+ ratings available at FootballOutsiders.com. If you read up, it does appear that yes, the two components of F+ (S&P+ and FEI) both adjust for opponents and strength of schedule, so this should theoretically give us a pretty good idea of how well Kansas would fare outside of the Big 12.

For 2018, CUSA will be a 12-team league divided into two divisions, obviously with a conference title game at the end. As usual, we’ll do our best to ignore the divisions for this exercise.

KU in C-USA

School 2017 2016 2015 2014 2013
School 2017 2016 2015 2014 2013
KANSAS 123 108 127 99 101
Charlotte 126 121 124 n/a n/a
Florida Atlantic 14 115 96 100 73
Florida INTL 90 123 112 96 125
Marshall 54 120 58 17 52
Middle Tennessee 81 95 82 87 85
Old Dominion 117 71 117 108 n/a
Western Kentucky 94 15 15 50 77
Louisiana Tech 72 54 57 35 112
North Texas 78 109 126 125 51
Rice 128 119 123 86 69
Southern Miss 63 79 56 110 120
UAB 89 n/a n/a 79 115
UTEP 129 125 125 90 119
UTSA 68 85 111 109 67

If we break it down by the numbers, Kansas would have finished 10th in 2017, 7th in 2016, last in 2015, 9th in 2014, and 8th in 2013. Not exactly impressive.

There have been only two head-to-head matchups in the past five years. In 2013, Kansas (101) lost at Rice (69) by a 23-14 score. That same year, the Jayhawks knocked off Louisiana Tech (112) by just three points in Lawrence, 13-10 on a last-second 52-yard field goal.

I get the feeling that in 2013 KU could have handled Florida International (125), Southern Miss (120), UTEP (119), and possibly UAB (115), but with the divisions, wouldn’t be likely to play all four. Besides, is there that much difference between the #101 team in the country (Kansas) and the #120 (Southern Miss)?

If we go back a little farther, we see 2012 KU (85) losing at home to Rice (84), and 2010 KU (115) losing at Southern Miss (54).

That makes KU 0-4 in its most recent matchups with current members of CUSA.

As noted, the best case scenario is a possible 7th place finish (in 2016); that would give the Jayhawks a decent shot at six plus wins and a bowl bid. As rough as things are in the Big 12, most of us would take a 6+ win season.

I just hope it doesn’t have to come in C-USA.

And hey, that home-and-home with Rice looks like it came just a few years too early; play those games in 2015-16 and anything could have happened!