Although the season is looking more and more in doubt, until we get official word, we will faithfully continue counting down the days until KU’s (currently) scheduled season opener.
Since the Boston College and Coastal Carolina games appear to be all but kaput (even though as of publication they still appear on KU’s official schedule), we’ll skip them for now and take a look at KU’s first (currently) scheduled Big 12 opponent, the Bears of Baylor.
Kansas has a (rather embarrassing) 4-15 overall record against Baylor. If KU wouldn’t have blown possible victories in 1998, 2002, 2006, and 2011, an 8-11 overall record would be much more palatable, especially considering the state of Kansas football over the last 10 years. Obviously, Baylor has just completely dominated the Jayhawks recently.
Outside of a fluke 1-point game in 2011 (in which KU led 24-3 in the fourth quarter before losing in overtime), the next-closest margin of defeat for Kansas was 19 points (2018), with the average score since 2010 being 49-12 (rounding up). Keep in mind, that’s with KU scoring more than 14 points just once in a 10-year span. And last year, the Bears ended the regular season in Lawrence with a 61-6 thumping of the Jayhawks.
Kansas @ Baylor
Sat, Sept 12, 2020, Time TBA
Waco, TX: McClane Stadium (45,140)
About the BU Offense
Baylor returns 70% of its offensive production from last season in the form of eight starters. QB Charlie Brewer returns for his senior season. Although he’ll miss his top back and top WR from 2019, Baylor has plenty of depth behind them to make up for it if the 2020 season ever gets rolling. Keep your eyes on WRs Tyquan Thornton and RJ Sneed, as well as RB John Lovett, who averaged 6.4 ypc on 103 rushes last season.
About the BU Defense
This is where Baylor will be searching for a lot of answers, as the Bears return just 32% of their defensive production from last season in the form of three starters, the lowest mark in the Big 12. Baylor does return its top tackler from last season in LB Terrel Bernard, but he’s the only one of Baylor’s top-8 tacklers from 2019 to return.
Despite all of the turnover on defense, per preseason S&P+ projections released back in February, Baylor is ranked #33 out of 130 teams, good for 5th in the Big 12, well ahead of #113 Kansas.
Kansas hasn’t scored in double figures against Baylor since 2014, a game they lost 60-14. This has not been a good matchup for Kansas, and with KU still in the middle of rebuilding its roster, that looks to continue should these two teams end up meeting in 2020. Yes, Baylor is losing a ton on defense, but if they meet up early in the season, Kansas may still be working out some kinks in its offense due to whoever ends up being the starting quarterback.
Baylor has a new head coach following Matt Rhule leaving for the NFL, and coaching transitions sometimes result in a weird year 1 (cough cough 2019 West Virginia). However, Matt Aranda comes very highly regarded, and as a defensive-minded coach, I find it unlikely that he’ll be messing around with the offense too much.
If this game is played in September as scheduled, it will be either KU’s first or second game of the season. No fans in the stands would probably help the Jayhawks immensely, as communicating with their new QB would be much easier without crowd noise. So, I look for the Jayhawks to put up some points, but I’m not sure that it will be enough to hang with what is likely to be another explosive Baylor offense. Baylor 52, Kansas 41.