In July of 2007, Kansas was picked to finish fourth in the Big 12 North, failing to receive a single first-place vote, all of which went to Missouri or Nebraska. K-State was also picked to finish ahead of the Jayhawks. We all know how that turned season turned out.
I will admit, Kansas has no shot of going to an Orange Bowl this year. Of course, we thought that in the summer of 2007, but as much of a longshot as that was, multiply that by 100 or maybe even more to for this squad. It ain’t happening.
But sometimes a season unfolds perfectly - every bounce goes your way and every close games ends in your favor. If that were to happen to Kansas in 2019, what would the season look like? Here’s a guess.
The Jayhawks cruise to a season opening win over Indiana State. The offense and defense are pretty vanilla, but KU’s athletes are bigger, faster, stronger, and able to get the job done against a lower-level opponent. The following week, Coastal Carolina is dispatched by a surprising margin, say, four or five touchdowns.
Game three is where Kansas starts getting attention. KU makes a trip out east to Boston College, who S&P+ has ranked in the pre-season as the third-worst ACC team, just ahead of Georgia Tech and Louisville. The Jayhawks somehow manage to get their second road win in two years in a game that is an absolute shootout.
Coming back home to open Big 12 play with West Virginia, who is themselves breaking in a new head coach, Les Miles gets his season off to a perfect 4-0 start after jumping all over the Mountaineers in the first half and holding on for dear life in the second half.
Riding high, Kansas heads to TCU, where a stout Frogs defense grinds KU’s offense to a halt, bringing an end to KU’s fast start. A home date with Oklahoma doesn’t go much better; as we’ve already seen, Pooka magic alone can’t save the Jayhawks against the Sooners. Then, a road trip to Austin brings KU’s record to 4-3.
A home date with Texas Tech gets the Jayhawks out of their funk, however, as the Red Raiders continue to search for an offensive identity under their new head coach. Now at 5-3 and staring a bowl berth in the face, K-State comes to Lawrence without Bill Snyder. Do you really think the Jayhawks are losing that one in that situation?
Neither do I.
Road games at Oklahoma State and Iowa State go about like they have the past several years, except maybe Kansas hangs around for a half before getting blown out now.
Then Baylor comes to town for the season finale over Thanksgiving break, with Kansas sitting at 6-5 and looking to improve its bowl position. Unfortunately, the Bears are just too much for the Jayhawks after returning nearly everyone from last year, and KU falls to an even 6-6.
Kansas accepts a bid to the Cheez-It Bowl in Phoenix, Arizona, where Kansas meets up with old foe Colorado, knocking off the Buffs and finishing 2019 at 7-6.
In the midst of the fray, Pooka Williams gets a slow start after putting his legal troubles behind him but is still able to garner first team All-Big 12 honors while becoming a dark horse Heisman candidate for 2020.