Kansas returns home off a bye week and two away games for the annual Homecoming matchup, which this year features the Red Raiders of Texas Tech.
The Jayhawks (1-4, 0-2) enter the contest having dropped a 59-7 affair at Iowa State the week before the recent bye. Meanwhile, Tech (4-2, 1-2) comes in off a 52-31 home loss to TCU.
Kansas has only emerged victorious in one Homecoming affair in the last 10 years - in 2019 against Texas Tech.
KU has not had consecutive home wins against a conference opponent since K-State in 2006 and 2008.
The Jayhawks lead the Big 12 and are fourth nationally in fewest penalties, with a total of 22 across their five games.
KU’s defense ranks in the bottom 5 in D1 in: Total Defense, Rush Defense, and Scoring Defense.
I’ve said in these previews that Kansas had a so-called “benchmark” game in front of them twice already this season; the Jayhawks performed miserably in both (Baylor, Duke). Perhaps the third time is a charm?
Texas Tech was picked to finish 9th in the 10-team Big 12 this season, one slot ahead of Kansas. That said, Kansas received all 39 last-place votes, putting Texas Tech solidly in 9th (if that’s a thing). Regardless, this is clearly KU’s best chance at a win this season. The stats, the records, and the preseason polls all agree on this.
So, if this is the next-worst team in the conference, it’s definitely a benchmark game. How far is KU from being competitive in the Big 12? Barring something fluky (like 6 turnovers), we should find out on Saturday.
While Texas Tech at its core is still a pass-first team, the Red Raiders have become more balanced under Matt Wells with a 52/48 pass/run split so far on the year. Still, on the surface this appears to be a nice change of pace for the Kansas defense, which has one of the worst run defenses in all of D1. In four games against D1 competition, the Jayhawks have allowed 215, 307, 279, and 290 rush yards. That’s actually impressively bad, and we’ll see if Tech is smart and/or good enough to take advantage.
Turnovers have hurt the Kansas offense the last two times out (although clearly two more possessions against Iowa State wouldn’t have mattered much). Still, KU seems to have found a bit of a stride offensively, as Kansas has gone over 300 total yards in three of its last four games, including a 530 yard output against Duke, whose defense ranks similarly in S&P+ as Tech (mid-80s).
One good thing is Jason Bean is throwing the ball down the field this year, something sorely lacking for a KU offense most of the last 11 seasons:
% of attempts 20+ yards downfield, Big 12 QBs— parker (@statsowar) October 12, 2021
1. Duggan, TCU 25.6%
2. Thompson, TEX 20.7%
3. Bean, KU 17.6%
4. Thompson, KSU 16.9%
5. Williams, OU 16.7%
6. Bohannon, BU 16.0%
7. Doege, WVU 15.7%
8. Colombi, TT 14.1%
9. Purdy, ISU 11.4%
10. Sanders, OSU 9.4%
11. Rattler, OU 8.4%
The threat of a downfield pass attempt helps to open up the run game, so this is a positive development for sure.
So, Kansas should be able to move the ball, but can the Jayhawks keep up in a high-scoring affair? It will likely require converting on third and fourth down, something Kansas has not been very successful with so far this season.
ESPN’s FPI Matchup Predictor is not too much different, giving the Raiders an 88.2% chance of victory.
Meanwhile, Sagarin prefers the Raiders by a slightly less favorable margin, giving Tech “just” an 80% chance to come away victorious. Sagarin has Kansas ranked #135 and Texas Tech ranked #70 (out of 258).
First one to 40 wins?
This certainly seems like another case of stoppable force against moveable object. The Kansas offense has shown some explosiveness at times this year, and will have a chance to do so again this week. But can they keep up in a shootout with Tech? They couldn’t do so against Duke, who profiles similarly to the Red Raiders defensively. And with the KU defense allowing over 8 yards per play on the season, I’m not sure Tech punts or turns it over enough for KU to keep up for four quarters.
Kansas has allowed four straight opponents to put up 45 or more points. Tech has eclipsed the 30 point mark in two of its last three games. Conversely, the Raiders have yet to hold anyone under 20 points, while KU has been kept under that mark in three of its five games - including against an FCS opponent. Take the over (66.5) and thank me later. Texas Tech 59, Kansas 34.
After allowing six sacks in the game against Coastal Carolina, the Kansas offensive line has allowed just one sack over the last 3 games.