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TCU Preview

Purple frogs? Purple frogs.

Kansas v TCU Photo by Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images

Kansas hits the road back to the state of Texas, this time to the DFW metroplex to take on the Purple Frogs of TCU.

Kansas (2-8, 1-6) comes into the matchup off a rather surprising - and impressive! - road win at UT-Austin. Meanwhile, TCU (4-6, 2-5) is reeling from a 63-17 beatdown on the road at Oklahoma State.

PREGAME

KU’s 57 points last week were the most the Jayhawks have scored in a single game since hanging 76 on Nebraska in 2007.

After having just 20 points off turnovers all of last season, KU had 21 in the game against Texas last week.

Kansas hasn’t won back-to-back Big 12 games since 2008, and hasn’t won back-to-back Big 12 road games since 2007.

FIRST DOWN

Can Kansas avoid the letdown? Following a win* against Oklahoma, KU hit the road the following week only to lose 55-3 at Oklahoma State. (To be fair, TCU is coming off a similar result against Oklahoma State.) On top of that, recent matchups against TCU have not gone well for Kansas with the Frogs winning each of the last two years by 35+.

The formula for this one is the same as last week, and honestly, what it should have been all year. Yes, once again that means the Jayhawks need to control the ball and the clock, while being aggressive when the situation calls for it. That means converting on third down, and if not, it means going for it on fourth down. A few turnovers would be helpful as well, but at some point, the Kansas defense will need to start forcing some punts as well.

SECOND DOWN

We know that TCU’s top three QBs on the depth chart are all dealing with injuries. We also know that one of them will start, and that it will be either Max Duggan or Chandler Morris. We also know that star RB Zach Evans is hobbled as well, and has missed four of the last five games.

So, I have no idea what to expect from the TCU offense. All I’ll say is that the Kansas defense has been a sieve in every game against an FBS opponent; no one has failed to score fewer than 35 points against KU this year. Although the Frogs rank in the middle of the Big 12 in rush offense, pass offense, and total offense, if ever there was an offense that the KU defense is capable of stopping, considering all of the injuries, this is probably their chance.

THIRD DOWN

Did you think UT-Austin’s rush defense was bad? You’ll be pleased to find out that TCU’s is even worse. The Frogs’ rush defense is 7th-worst in D1, allowing over 226 yards per game. No doubt Devin Neal is looking at going for back-to-back Big 12 Offensive Player of the Week honors.

But the big question is who will play quarterback for Kansas? Leipold has declined to name a starter, but has indicated that Jalon Daniels will play. That said, Jason Bean appears to be available after missing last week with an injury.

Pick a starter and stick with him, Lance. Don’t go yanking guys in and out of the game.

FOURTH DOWN

S&P+ ranks the Frogs at #72 this week, with Kansas down at #124 (out of 130). It gives the Frogs a 92% chance at victory, and predicts a 43-18 TCU win.

ESPN’s FPI Matchup Predictor is not too much different, giving TCU a 93.6% chance of victory.

Meanwhile, Sagarin also prefers the Frogs by a similar margin, giving TCU an 88% chance to come away victorious. Sagarin has Kansas ranked #139 and TCU ranked #60 (out of 258).

PREDICTION

I’ll be honest, I had no idea TCU’s defense was that bad. It really makes me think the Jayhawks have a chance in this one; it really gives me... hope.

Q: How did this team beat Baylor? A: By running up and down the field with the Bears. Baylor had 393 yards of total offense; TCU had 562. Can Kansas win two shootouts in a row?

I know this is anecdotal, but all the talk this week on Kansas City sports talk radio has been along the lines of: Leipold keeps telling us that they’re improving, that the coaches can see it in practice and on film. It’s just that the fans haven’t been able to see it on the scoreboard, that is, until last week.

So what is it, Kansas? Are you improving? Or was last week yet another random, false ray of hope preceding a 40-point beatdown? Unfortunately for Leipold, not only do they have to reset the culture in the program, they also have to reset expectations outside of it. I’ve seen this movie too many times over the last 11 seasons. I know how this ends. TCU 44, Kansas 21.

EXTRA POINT

Kwamie Lassiter’s 8 receptions against UT-Austin last week moved him into a tie for fifth with Willie Vaughn (133) in the KU record books. He needs 22 more in the final two games of the season to tie Mark Simmons (155) for fourth. He has no realistic shot of reaching Steven Sims (214) at third.

Lassiter also ranks in the top-20 in school history in receiving yards. He has an outside shot at moving into the top-10 by the end of the year, but would need 196 yards in the final two games to do so.