Well it’s time to make some (probably really bad) predictions for the upcoming football season. We’ll use Bill Connelly’s S&P+ preseason rankings and make some predictions about six weeks too early.
For reference, the Jayhawks come into the season at #113 (out of 130 teams). They are the lowest-rated P5 squad, with Vanderbilt not too far ahead at #108. The closest Big 12 team to KU is Texas Tech at #70. The Big 12 has six teams in the S&P+ top-35.
Get the kool-aid ready.
vs South Dakota
Per S&P+, Kansas has a 78% win probability against the Coyotes, who went just 1-3 this past season after four games were canceled due to Covid. The 2019 season featured a 5-7 record. The Coyotes have knocked off a P5 team before, beating Minnesota in the 2010 season, although there’s still little doubt they’d like to add another P5 notch in that belt.
I assume the Covid waiver applies to FCS teams as well, so they’ll be returning most of their roster unless they lost guys to transfers. Still, I think you have to give Kansas the benefit of the doubt here. The Coyotes aren’t among the contenders in the Missouri Valley, and they’re not a top-25 FCS squad. While the Jayhawks will be new all over the field (not to mention the sidelines), they should still have the advantage in raw talent. It will be up to Leipold to get his tenure at KU off to the right start, even if it’s not the blowout we want.
Kansas 28, South Dakota 14
@ Coastal Carolina (#37)
Three years ago, who would have ever guessed this would be one of the biggest mismatches of the 2021 season? Not only did the Chanticleers smoke Kansas 38-23 last year, but they finished the season at 11-1. They’re now a top-40 team that’s projected to get double-digit victories for the second consecutive year. It’s a program on the way up, while KU will likely spend the next year or so simply stabilizing from its 10-year free-fall. S&P+ gives Coastal a 94% probability of victory in this one. A KU win here is, unfortunately, very unlikely.
Coastal Carolina 45, Kansas 24
@ Duke (#102)
According to the numbers (or more specifically, S&P+), the Blue Devils are KU’s next-best chance at a win in 2021, with “just” a 66% probability of victory for Duke. Notice that this is a squad that is only 11 spots higher than KU in the overall rankings. However, the game is in Durham, and Chestnut Hill aside, going on the road hasn’t exactly been a good thing for Kansas recently.
Duke is just 7-16 over the last two seasons, but it’s still too early to tell if this is the end of the David Cutcliffe era or if the Devils are just building back up to the 8+ wins teams of the mid-2010s.
Duke’s QB issues are eerily reminiscent of KU’s, so if the Jayhawks can slow down the Devils’ run game, they may have a chance in this one. I for one am prepared for a frustrating punt-fest.
Duke 16, Kansas 9