It’s hard to identify the point that the Kansas Football team hit rock-bottom, but it’s at least fair to say that years three and four under David Beaty should have been where we saw significant progress. Instead, coaching gaffes and lack of player development led to an early exit for the former coach and yet another reset for this football team.
With Les Miles heading the program, the main question is how well the Jayhawks can do this year. The conference schedule doesn’t do them any favors, but there still appears to be a path for this team to get off to a fast start in the Miles era.
2019 Football Schedule
AUG 31 – Indiana State
SEP 7 – Coastal Carolina
SEP 13 – at Boston College
SEP 21 – West Virginia
SEP 28 – at TCU
OCT 5 – Oklahoma
OCT 19 – at Texas
OCT 26 – Texas Tech
NOV 2 – Kansas State
NOV 16 – at Oklahoma State
NOV 23 – at Iowa State
NOV 30 – Baylor
Despite the loss to FCS Nichols State to open last season, it’s hard to see anything in the non-conference other than a 2-1 start.
The Indiana State Sycamores ended last year on a 5-game winning streak, but with a 7-4 record in FCS, it’s hard to imagine that Indiana State will provide much of a challenge for a Kansas team with a competent coaching staff.
Coastal Carolina is coming off a 5-7 season last year, but again, with Kansas at home and welcoming a fresh Pooka Williams back onto the field, it’s hard to imagine the Chanticleers pulling this game out.
Going on the road to face the Boston College Eagles will be an extremely tough test for this team. While I think they could potentially win this game, only a complete homer can look at this matchup before a single snap has happened and expect a win.
So overall, 2-1 is a reasonable expectation for this team and 3-0 is more likely than 1-2.
The conference schedule is set up about as well as you can expect for a team that is trying to build something. With only one conference win last season, it’s possible for them to struggle in terms of results and still show marked improvement.
The Jayhawks start by hosting a West Virginia team that is also breaking in a new head coach, and having this game early in the schedule allows them to capitalize on any rust or lack of chemistry the team still has. Similarly, while the team has to travel to TCU, the early spot in the schedule coupled with the win last year and the uncertain QB situation at least gives KU a shot at pulling the upset here.
Two of the toughest games on the schedule are sandwiched around a bye week, which gives KU a chance to potentially be competitive in both games. There is literally no reason to think that Kansas can beat Oklahoma, unless OL issues are plaguing the Sooners and KU can capitalize. The bye week gives them some extra time to plan for a trip to Austin.
After what should be a couple losses, Kansas gets to host both Texas Tech and Kansas State in back-to-back weeks, giving them another legitimate shot at scoring a conference win against a new coach. I think they get at least one of these games, with the Wildcats being the most likely.
Going into the final three games, the Jayhawks will just be looking to steal a win to try and set up some positive momentum for next season. Oklahoma State is uneven enough that they could be fighting for bowl eligibility or trying to push into the conference title game at this point, but either way it is tough to see this game being very competitive on the road. Iowa State is legitimately great, so mark this down as a potential WTF game that the Big 12 seems to have every year. And that brings us to Baylor.
Baylor always seems to have the Jayhawks’ number, with the last competitive game between these two schools being the 2011 matchup when #25 Baylor barely sneaked out a 31-30 OT win in Lawrence. Even in 2017 when the Bears were absolutely abysmal, they blew KU out in Lawrence, so I’m having a hard time seeing Kansas ending the year with a win. Doing so would be a good way to exorcise some demons though.
Predicted Wins: 4-5
I realize that this is going to get a weird reaction from a lot of people, as basically every other school seems to be checking Kansas off as an automatic win in conference. But I think the Jayhawks will get at least one of the three home games against West Virginia, Texas Tech and Kansas State, and I wouldn’t be shocked if they surprised TCU on the road. This would be a huge step up for the program and would help to build on the enthusiasm that started when Les Miles was hired to take over the program.
The floor for this team is 2 wins, as I just don’t see how they lose in the first two games on their schedule. There is an outside possibility that they make a bowl game, which would likely require a 4-0 or 5-0 start and a sweep of the other new coaches. But as a Kansas fan, I’d probably be happy with 2 non-con wins, a bunch of competitive games, and some promise for the future.