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 3-4 record after its first seven contests. The schedule lightens a bit following back-to-back affairs with Oklahoma and Texas; will the Jayhawks be able to take advantage?
Athlon/S&P+ Preseason Ranks in Parenthesis. Kansas is 106/107 out of 130, and the second-worst P5 team (thanks, Rutgers!).
vs Texas Tech (60/55)
Kansas opens up a two-game homestand against the two weakest teams in the league (other than themselves, of course) with the Red Raiders. Did you know that Kansas has only ever defeated Texas Tech once out of 20 tries? Trivia answer: Terry Allen was the KU coach at that time. Like West Virginia (and Kansas), TTU is breaking in a new head coach and likely changing all kinds of schemes and etc. Tech returns most of its offense from last year, however, so if KU is going to pull the upset, it will probably have to be in a shootout. Kinda like in 2001. However... I’m not bold enough to call this one yet. Texas Tech 45, Kansas 31.
vs Kansas State (62/64)
If Les Miles can knock off Oklahoma in Norman in his first year in Stillwater with that Cowboys team, then this “rivalry” game shouldn’t give the Jayhawks much trouble at all. After all, KU steadily closed the gap between themselves and the purple in the David Beaty era, basically losing on a fumble on the last play of the game last year in Manhattan (HOLDING!!). If this was North Dakota State coming in, I might be worried. Kansas 21, K-State 10.
@ Oklahoma State (41/22)
OSU will by this point have the QB and RB situations all figured out, so the Cowboys don’t seem too terribly ripe for an upset, especially on the road. While it would be pretty awesome to see Les get a win on his old stomping grounds, the Cowboys simply reload at this point. Kansas hasn’t come close to the Cowboys in Stillwater since Todd Reesing knocked them off in 2007, and this has all the makings of a blowout. Oklahoma State 48, Kansas 21.
@ Iowa State (22/43)
ISU is favored by many to finish third in the Big 12 this year, and the Jayhawks have had all kinds of trouble with the Cyclones lately, losing nine straight to the tornado-y birds of the corn. Unfortunately for Kansas, Matt Campbell really has it going at ISU, and doesn’t seem to be in any hurry to take a bigger job somewhere else. ISU is at home, and (like most other teams) has dominated Kansas lately. There’s no reason to expect any different. Iowa State 34, Kansas 16.
vs Baylor (37/40)
How big of a crowd would a 4-win Jayhawk team draw for its season finale? If KU is somehow at five wins at this point, I would think it would make for a good crowd despite the game being scheduled for two days after Thanksgiving.
But at this point, five wins is... unlikely. Baylor will likely be looking to solidify a bowl bid, and once again, this is a matchup that just has not been favorable for the Jayhawks lately. No reason to get crazy here. Baylor 45, Kansas 24.
If all goes exactly as I have so expertly(*) predicted, that gives Les Miles a 4-8 record his first season in Lawrence, which includes two Big 12 wins (although both at home; the conference road losing streak continues). That would be good enough for me, all things considered, but I won’t presume to speak for the average KU football fan.
What constitutes a successful season for you?
*I am not an expert.