It’s mid-October, 2009. The Kansas Jayhawks have crushed their first three opponents, as expected, followed by winning a pair of squeakers against Southern Miss and Iowa State. The #17 ranking sits in front of their name as they head to Boulder, Colorado. Todd Reesing strains a hammy, Dez Briscoe can’t haul in the hail mary, and the Jayhawks spiral to a 5-7 finish that ends with the dismissal of Mark Mangino.
Expectations aren’t nearly as high for 2019 as they were 10 years ago, but let’s face it, it’s still possible for Kansas to fall well below expectations. Let’s take a look at what that might look like.
Indiana State comes into Lawrence for the opener, but fortunately, the Sycamores aren’t nearly as talented as the Nicholls State squad that knocked of KU last year. Kansas wins it, but it isn’t a very comfortable win. Then, Coastal Carolina comes in a pulls a 2012 Rice imitation, winning on a last-second field goal. Suddenly, the Jayhawks are just 1-1 and facing a road trip to Boston College.
The Eagles easily handle the Jayhawks, putting up 40+ points on KU’s retooled defense. Kansas shows a little more fight against West Virginia at home the following week, but ends up falling by two touchdowns.
After another running clock at TCU, Oklahoma really lays the wood to Les Miles’ fledgling program, and Kansas fans turn their attention to the hardwood.
The bye week doesn’t help the Jayhawks slow down Texas, who easily covers a 28-point spread. Then, Texas Tech comes to Lawrence and absolutely throttles the Jayhawks. KU hangs with K-State for three quarters before the Wildcat run game finally wears out the defense, and KU loses yet another Sunflower Showdown in the fourth quarter.
Stillwater and Ames go about as well as you’d think based on the season so far, and by the time Thanksgiving rolls around, Baylor finds a near-empty Memorial Stadium and rolls to a five touchdown victory.
That’s about as bad as I’ll let my imagination get - I really don’t think its very likely that Kansas loses its opener. Hopefully, we’re also done having seven of nine conference games as blowouts. I assume Miles would have a plan if things went terribly wrong, but I’m not really sure how he would recover from something like this.
But before we go completely doom and gloom, remember that Mark Mangino struggled in his first year. He had a bare-bones roster in terms of talent, but still managed to win two games and be competitive in a couple more.
The Big 12 is a tough league, and Kansas has a lot of work to do. Let’s just hope things don’t become as dire as what was just described.