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Coastal Carolina Preview

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Jayhawks head to the east coast for their first road trip of the season.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: DEC 26 Cure Bowl - Liberty v Coastal Carolina Photo by David Rosenblum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

For the second week in a row, Kansas will play a Friday primetime game, except this time, it's on ESPN2 for the whole country to see.

So. Yeah. There’s that.

Anyway, Lance Leipold will go for win number two as his Jayhawks travel to visit #17-ranked Coastal Carolina. The Chanticleers piled up 52 points and 614 yards against a clearly overmatched FCS Citadel squad in a 52-14 week one victory, while Kansas squeaked by its FCS opponent South Dakota, 17-14.

PREGAME

Kansas is 0-2 all-time against Coastal Carolina, and the last matchup (last year) wasn’t particularly close.

KU has not defeated a ranked team since Georgia Tech in 2010, and hasn’t won a road game against a ranked opponent since 2007.

KU is just 27-177-2 all-time against ranked opponents regardless of location, and just 9-85 on the road.

Coastal Carolina currently holds an 8-game home winning streak.

This is only Coastal’s fifth year as a full-time FBS program.

FIRST DOWN

Kansas is the first P5 school to visit Coastal Carolina (located in Conway, SC, near Myrtle Beach). So, forget about any chance of being overlooked. The Chanticleers jumped out to a 28-0 lead in Lawrence last year, and will no doubt look to do the same thing again this year. In order to have any kind of a chance in this one, Kansas will need to maintain composure and not get blown out in the first quarter. KU should have plenty of motivation of its own, based not only on how the game went down last year, but in the first matchup as well.

SECOND DOWN

Against South Dakota, KU running backs combined for 30 yards on 25 carries, or 1.2 ypc. If KU is going to have a chance in this one, they’ll have to control the ball and therefore the clock, thereby keeping Coastal’s explosive offense off the field. The Jayhawks will likely need to run the ball at least 30 times, and they’ll need that to go for way more than 30 yards. I’m thinking at least 120 rush yards, and preferably more.

If Coastal Carolina’s defense had a weakness last year, it was with the run defense, as they allowed over 6 ypc against Louisiana, BYU, and Liberty (h/t Bill Connelly) - but yet still went 2-1 in those matchups. Still, the point stands - KU will need to run the ball to have a chance.

THIRD DOWN

About that Coastal offense. Wow. They averaged 11 yards PER PLAY against The Citadel, but, c’mon, that was the Citadel. Like most teams this year, Coastal returns almost all of their starters from last year, which includes the 2020 Sun Belt Player of the Year in redshirt sophomore QB Grayson McCall. McCall leads an option-based offense that gobbles up chunks on the ground then hits you over the top through the air. Last year’s leading rusher, CJ Marable, left for the NFL, but Coastal still has plenty of offensive options.

Kansas will have play fundamental, assignment-sound football and make the Chanticleers grind out drives. That has the added bonus of shortening the game, just like KU will need to do when the Jayhawks have the ball. The more that clock runs, the better for Kansas, who should probably do their best to avoid getting into a shootout with this offensive machine.

FOURTH DOWN

S&P+ ranks Coastal Carolina at #26 this week, with Kansas down at #120. It gives the Chanticleers a 96% chance at victory, and predicts a 44-14 Coastal Carolina win.

ESPN’s FPI Matchup Predictor is in that ballpark as well, giving Coastal a 93.5% chance at victory.

Meanwhile, Sagarin prefers the Chanticleers by a slightly more favorable number, giving Coastal an 81% chance to come away victorious. Sagarin has Kansas ranked #113 and Coastal ranked #55 (out of 258).

PREDICTION

I said to some friends a couple of weeks ago that Coastal’s first two games had 55-14 written all over them, and that they would score 110 points in their first two weeks. Well, I nearly nailed it in week one with CC’s 52-14 win over The Citadel.

The Kansas defense had a solid effort against South Dakota, holding the Coyotes to under 270 yards of total offense, including less than 100 passing yards. That’s impressive regardless of the opponent, however, Coastal is a huge step up. This is Grayson McCall’s second year leading this spread-option offense, and folks, he was nearly unstoppable LAST year.

With this being Coastal’s first time hosting a P5 school, the Jayhawks have a lot to overcome. This is a matchup where, if it’s competitive, we could learn a lot about Leipold and his Jayhawks. If it’s not competitive, like I’m guessing most of us expect, it will simply reaffirm what we already know - that KU still has miles to go. (Sorry, I couldn’t resist.)

I’ll revise my original prediction a bit just so the other one, about Coastal racking up 110 points in their first two games, will be right. Coastal Carolina 56, Kansas 20.

EXTRA POINT

Last week against South Dakota was the first time the Jayhawks held an opponent to less than 100 passing yards since K-State had 99 against KU in 2016 - a game the Jayhawks lost 34-19.