It was weird to watch the college football season kick off while the Jayhawks started with a bye. This gave them the opportunity to do a little extra scouting on their upcoming opponents and gave me a little more information to help with my prognostication.
Nobody really seems to know what the Jayhawks will put on the field this season, though I tried to predict their offensive and defensive numbers for the season. Now I’m gonna to make predictions on the outcome of the three non-conference games. There is another bye after these games and I’ll use that week to predict the rest of the season. Hopefully we’ll all know more about the Jayhawks by then.
First up are the University of South Dakota Coyotes. They are an FCS team from the Missouri Valley Conference and their 2012 season was every bit as miserable as the Jayhawks with a 1-10 record. In their first game of 2013, they opened with a 10-7 victory over UC Davis. Of South Dakota’s 286 yards, 195 of them came on the ground. Defensively they held UC Davis to 267 yards. It should be noted that UC Davis is also an FCS team so their offense and defense are not the same as that of a Big XII team, even a team as bad as the Jayhawks last season.
It is important for the Jayhawks to have some success in the passing game early so I expect the offense to lean heavily on Jake Heaps arm early. Once they have success in the air, the running game will take over. This is a game the Jayhawks need to win big to build confidence and I believe they will do just that. I’m going to go with a 42-10 Jayhawk victory.
Rice started the Jayhawks 11-game losing streak with a 25-24 win in the 2nd game last season. In the Owls’ first game of 2013, they played against Texas A&M and put up more than 500 yards of offense. To me, there is at least a small asterisk to those numbers as half of the A&M defensive starters were suspended for the game. Even with that asterisk, this is an offense that can move the ball and score. If there was a negative, their QB McHarque threw two interceptions.
Many Jayhawk fans have circled this game as a win would be a huge confidence boost. Remember, the Jayhawks last won a road game four years ago and that streak needs to be broken. I just don’t have a good feeling about this game. While KU will keep the game close, I have the Owls winning 42-38.
Louisiana Tech last visited Lawrence in the 2nd week of the 2008 season and got shut out 29-0. We need to remember they played a team coming off of a miracle season capped off by an Orange Bowl win. Last season they finished 9-3 including a win in their bowl game. In their first game of 2013, they went to North Carolina State and lost 40-14.
I expect the Jayhawks offense to have good success both in the air and on the ground against the Bulldogs. This could be a breakout game for the defense as they will come out angry after the Rice game and force some turnovers including at least one they will take into the endzone. I’ll take the Jayhawks 45-17 in this one.
If I’m on the mark, the Jayhawks will finish the non-conference season 2-1. Let’s look at the bright side as that would be double the number of wins they had last season. Should they prove me wrong and get a win against Rice, Jayhawk fans will have good reason for optimism after the last three seasons of miserable football.