A win against Coastal Carolina would have put the Jayhawks in an unfamiliar position: 2-0 with hype building around Les Miles and the program. Instead, Kansas is 1-1 after dropping a home game to a Coastal Carolina team it was favored over by a touchdown. As a result, the hype has stalled.
Kansas hasn’t started a season 2-0 since 2011, and it will have to wait another year to try again. Les Miles’ first loss was also almost assuredly the last time the Jayhawks will be favored in a game the rest of the season.
That doesn’t mean the Jayhawks are destined to go 1-11. The nature of the upset is that the team not expected to win defies the odds. But determining where exactly another win will come from becomes an interesting challenge.
Vegas doesn’t have lines out on all remaining KU games—for obvious reasons—but there’s another source that can give us somewhat of an idea of how Kansas is perceived in each remaining matchup: ESPN’s FPI (Football Power Index). FPI is a predictive metric that measures, as ESPN states on its website, “team strength that is meant to be the best predictor of a team’s performance going forward for the rest of the season.”
Basically, a team’s FPI is an indication of how many points above or below average that team is considered. Kansas is currently (as of Wednesday) ranked 118th out of 130 teams with an FPI of -15.6. That’s the worst placement of any power-5 program.
So that’s not great. But it’s also not the only part of FPI I want to focus on. ESPN’s computers run 10,000 simulations of the season factoring in FPI, results that have already happened, and looking at the remaining schedule. These simulations provide not only a team’s chances to win out and win the conference (KU’s is 0.0 for both), but also breaks down the percentage chance to win in each of the team’s remaining games.
Here’s how the FPI rates KU’s chances the rest of the way.
Boston College (away): 7.1%
West Virginia (home): 27.5%
TCU (away): 7.2%
Oklahoma (home): 2%
Texas (away): 2.8%
Texas Tech (home): 10%
Kansas State (home): 7.7%
Oklahoma State (away): 3.2%
Iowa State (away): 4.9%
Baylor (home): 6%
Unsurprisingly, a home game against West Virginia is seen as the most favorable matchup left on the schedule by a long shot, while Texas Tech is the only other game in which Kansas is given at least a 10% chance. If you’re curious, WVU is ranked 82nd with a -4.2 FPI (right behind Houston and Southern Miss) while Tech is 40th (between North Carolina and Stanford) with a 5.4 FPI.
It’s worth pointing out again that these percentages will continue to evolve throughout the season, as game results impact placement. The game-results aspect is also why it is even a little more difficult to judge TCU and Iowa State’s predictors as they’ve each only played one game and thus have less to go off.
But if you trust what the computers are saying, mark September 21 against the Mountaineers down on the calendar as the Jayhawks’ best shot at earning another W this year.