Ok so first of all, a confession. If you think the countdown is going a little slowly, you aren’t just seeing things. I was a week off when I started. I thought I was starting at 68 days, but I actually started at 75 days... if that makes sense. But it is correct now - I’m sure of it - and we are rightly 66 days away from the football season opener for 2021.
Today we’ll just take a quick look at the schedule in general.
9/3 (Fri) vs South Dakota
9/10 (Fri) @ Coastal Carolina
9/18 vs Baylor
9/25 @ Duke
10/2 @ Iowa State
10/16 vs Texas Tech
10/23 vs Oklahoma
10/30 @ Oklahoma State
11/6 vs Kansas State
11/13 @ Texas
11/20 @ TCU
11/27 vs West Virginia
First thing that sticks out to me is the two Friday night games to open up the season. Personally, I don’t hate it, particularly for the opener - it gives me the rest of a long weekend (Labor Day) to do whatever.
Secondly, holy smokes the difficulty level is off the charts. Sports Betting Dime says the Jayhawks have the second-toughest strength-of-schedule in the NCAA. This is due, I think, mostly to three reasons. Reason #1, of course, is just how bad KU has been the last 10 seasons. Reason #2 is due to just how strong the Big 12 is - out of the Big 12 teams, Oklahoma ranks last in strength-of-schedule, but still 38th-toughest nationally. And finally, Reason #3 is the strength of KU’s noncon opponents. South Dakota was just 5-7 last year, but returns a lot and is a fringe FCS Top-25 squad. Then, KU hits the road for games against Duke and Coastal Carolina, and despite a good showing in Chestnut Hill a couple of years ago, going on the road has not been a recipe for success for KU.
Speaking of Coastal Carolina, that game is the final matchup of a 2-for-1 deal, and boy I hope we never see them again. The game will be televised on ESPN2. I saw somewhere where their QB (Grayson McCall) is a darkhorse Heisman guy - I think you can get him at +10,000 right now at some books. That’s similar odds to Max Duggan and Jarret Doege, but Coastal is going to win a lot more games than TCU or West Virginia... anyway, this is definitely a scary game that I expect to lose by about 100 points, give or take a touchdown.
It’s difficult to look too much into the rest of the schedule. Home or away, KU is going to be a big underdog to everyone except South Dakota and maybe Texas Tech (although they’ll still be dogs against the Raiders). If KU is going to cover the 1.5 win total that’s been put out there, they’ll have to jump someone at home (Tech, KSU, WVU) or catch someone napping on the road late in the season (TCU, UT) - all after taking care of business against South Dakota, who is going to come to Lawrence looking for a win.
Reminder that Kansas hasn’t won a conference road game since 2008. That’s 54 conference road losses in a row. With Leipold as well as a new athletic department administration in town, let’s hope they can get that culture flipped, play well early, and surprise everyone.