As we continue to look ahead to the 2019 season on a game by game basis, we’re ready to take a look at the early portion of the Big 12 slate.
So far, I’ve got the Jayhawks with a 2-1 record after nonconference play. The (stuff) hits the fan early this year for Kansas, as for some reason the Big 12 schedule makers didn’t give the Sooners and Longhorns late-season de facto bye weeks with the Jayhawks.
vs West Virginia (61/38)
S&P+ has a much rosier outlook for the Mountaineers than most projections, which give the impression that this actually might be one of the more winnable conference games on KU’s schedule. The Mountaineers are in the midst of a coaching change as well, with Dana Holgorson leaving for ::check notes:: ... Houston? Ok then. Not sure what’s up with that. However, WVU brought in one of the hot young coaching names in the country Neal Brown, formerly of Troy.
Something else to consider is that there’s been a lot of roster turnover as well, with WVU returning just 42% of its offensive production. If Kansas is going to jump someone in Big 12 play this year, this has gotta be it. Kansas 31, West Viriginia 27
@ TCU (36/34)
Kansas has unexpectedly given TCU all kinds of problems since the Frogs became members of the Big 12 (with the notable exception of the 2017 running clock game), even knocking them off last year in an admittedly flukey game in which David Beaty didn’t know a very important rule. The Frogs will be looking for a new quarterback, a battle which includes former K-State QB Alex Delton. However, TCU’s defense should still be stout enough for them to control most games, and it’s like that a team in KU’s position won’t be able to muster enough offense to hang for very long. TCU 41, Kansas 24
vs Oklahoma (4/5)
Last year in Norman, Pooka Williams exploded onto the college football scene with 250 yards on just 15 carries. A similar performance will give the Jayhawks a chance, but the Sooners have just reloaded at QB following the departure of Kyler Murray with Alabama transfer Jalen Hurts. Yikes. It seems unlikely that Kansas will be able to go toe-to-toe with the Oklahoma offense, although Les Miles does have a history of unexpectedly beating OU. Oklahoma 55, Kansas 31.
The matchup with Bye should go much better for the Jayhawks this year as compared to last year, as at least KU had enough personnel to muster a spring game this time out.
@ Texas (6/35)
This time it’s Athlon who has the rosy outlook for the Longhorns. No doubt S&P+ is adjusting for Texas returning just 48% of its production (offensive and defensive combined), but even Athlon admits that Texas returns just two starters on defense from last year. No doubt the media will be high on the Longhorns returning their QB off a 10-win season and Sugar Bowl win, but this upcoming season seems to have “Texas is overrated” all over it.
That said, it’s unlikely that the Jayhawks will be able to waltz into Austin and be competitive for four quarters, especially considering the scholarship situation. Texas is still Texas, and still recruits at a top-10 level, and it’s still UT’s four and five-star players against KU’s two and three-star players. If Pooka can have another OU-type game, obviously the Jayhawks could give UT a run for it, but predicting such a thing would be considered what the kids these days call a “hot taek.” Texas 45, Kansas 28
Well, that puts us at 3-4 with five games to go and the Big 12’s top two bullies out of the way. Will Les Miles pick up a signature win in the second half of the season, or will West Virginia have to carry that torch? Stay tuned!