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Revival or Regression? That is the Question

Will the Jayhawks soar with a healthy Jalon Daniels?

NCAA Football: Texas Christian at Kansas Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

It would be easy to get carried away with optimism for the Jawhawks’ season. Last year was such a revelation. The last time they won as many as 6 games in a season was in 2008. So are we to believe they are returning to the heady days of 2007? Are they going to regress to the mean of KU’s lousy recent past? Are they going to tread water?

It would be easy to look at the schedule this season and compare current SP+ rankings and believe it is going to be tough to repeat last season’s success. But then look at last season’s final SP+ ranking and you will see they punched above their weight class all year. Outside of unrated Missouri State to open the season, the only team on their schedule ranking below them is Nevada at 106 compared to KU’s 62. The two closest opponents above them in the SP+ rankings are Cincinnati (53) and BYU (51).

But look at where they were going into the 2022 season, they started ranked 103rd before fighting their way to a season-ending ranking of 60. If you take into account that the decade-plus of futility still weighs down their ranking there is reason for optimism. So how do I see the season going? Well, let’s walk through it.

Missouri State @ Lawrence: This is a win. It may not be as easy as some probably feel it will be, but it is a win nonetheless. The Bears’ defense did a better job against Arkansas last season than KU’s. The defense will be better and KU will get a comfortable win.

Illinois @ Lawrence: I saw the graphic a couple of weeks ago that gives KU only 39.2% chance to beat Illinois. This surprised me. I still think of the Illini as the Lovie Smith-coached bad team. They have been better with Brett Bielema, but a home game for KU where the visitor will be working on a short week, give me the home team.

Nevada @ Reno: If KU loses this game it will be a long season. Another KU win in week three.

BYU @ Lawrence: Home for another win for the good guys. I do not believe the Cougars are as good as their recent records indicate. Playing as an independent in recent years, they have not exactly faced a murderer’s row of opponents. The home team gets another win.

Texas @ Austin: Here is where KU picks up their first loss of the season. I don’t think we get a follow-up win to the Jalon-to-Jared surprise win in Austin.

At the end of September, I see the Jayhawks at 4-1. To start October, KU faces a second new Big 12 foe in three weeks, UCF.

UCF @ Lawrence: Similarly rated to Illinois and similarly surprising at 39. Home field is huge and I think we will see a similar result to the Illinois game. KU gets the home victory.

Oklahoma State @ Stillwater: I don’t think KU will get lucky two years in a row with Cowboy quarterback injuries. On the road, KU loses.

Oklahoma @ Lawrence: It’s homecoming and you know what that means, a patsy on the schedule to beatdown in front of the home crowd. Despite what felt like a beatdown in Norman last year, KU only lost by 10. KU will be coming off a bye week to heal injuries and injuries were a huge factor in last season’s loss. So patsy or not KU uses the rest, home field, and the building advantage it brings to beat the Sooners in their final conference visit to Lawerence.


How many regular-season victories for the Jayhawks?

This poll is closed

  • 1%
    (1 vote)
  • 25%
    (14 votes)
  • 66%
    (36 votes)
  • 5%
    (3 votes)
54 votes total Vote Now

With the win over the Sooners on the last Saturday of October the Jayhawks get to 6-2 and bowl eligibility. Send your kids out in their best KU football costumes for Halloween this fall.

Iowa State @ Ames: After the thriller in Lawrence last season where Iowa State special teams failed them, KU makes the return trip to Ames. Unlike last season when KU dodged bullets to win, Jalon Daniels and the KU offense will be rolling and helping push the Heisman hype that will be coming Jalon’s way. KU is better than Iowa State this time around. Even though the game is on the road, KU wins.

Texas Tech @ Lawrence: Despite keeping it relatively close last season, KU could never get the extra stop from the defense they need to get a shot at taking the lead. This year the defense will be able to give the Jayhawks the stops they need. Texas Tech is a lofty 32 in the preseason SP+ ranking. I think that is too high. KU once again rides the home-field advantage, a superior offense, and an improving defense to another win.

K-State @ Lawrence: As much as I want to pick KU, PTSD set in long ago, and I cannot do it now. Let’s see what the Wildcats are like in November. But I have endured too many beatdowns at the hands of the Cats to call one before this season starts. KU loses to the Cats again.

Cincinnati @ Cincinnati: Going into the final regular season game of the season, the Jayhawks will be looking to pad their bowl resume. It has been 26 seasons since the Jayhawks and Bearcats played and 28 seasons since the Jayhawks beat them. I see the Bearcats taking a step back this season with the loss of Luke Fickell to Wisconsin. KU can get this win and they get this win.

9-3 is their record at the close of the regular season. I think the Jayhawks use last season as a stepping stone towards heights they reached during the 2007 season, not as a regression to the lousy mean of the lost decade-plus since the 2008 season. They may not be the conference champion, but they will be in the fight. If things break right, they may get there. Even if they don’t their bowl game prospects will be much better this December. Maybe a trip to San Diego will be on the card this holiday season.