The W-L Game, KU edition: Looking like more of the same for Jayhawks
JUL 07, 2014 1:26p ET
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- When FOXSportsKansasCity.com posted a story this week about Kansas running icon Jim Ryun's thoughts on the track being removed this summer from the University of Kansas' venerable Memorial Stadium, a reader went to our Facebook feed suggesting -- and we're paraphrasing here -- that the Jayhawk athletic department leave the track alone and remove the football field instead.
Which probably sums up the state of KU on the gridiron right now as well as anything.
Welcome to Lawrence, a drinking town with a football problem. Again. Since 2010, the Jayhawks have averaged 10 losses per year and posted and a 2-33 record versus Big 12 opposition. KU has gone through quarterbacks over the last three years the way Liz Taylor used to go through husbands. The top junior-college defensive recruits in the previous recruiting class either never saw the field or left because of skirmishes with local law enforcement. It got to the point where coach Charlie Weis -- who has never lost his acerbic sense of humor through a combined 4-20 record in 2012 and '13 -- joked that he had to fire himself as offensive coordinator, letting former Rice guru and KU assistant John Reagan take the reins.
There's a new read-option offense with a new read-option, run-pass trigger man (Monzell Cozart) at quarterback. Last fall, the Jayhawks more than doubled their win total (three) from the previous season (one), and got off the conference-victory schneid by routing West Virginia at home. Middle linebacker Ben Heeney and punter Trevor Pardula are among the best in the Big 12 at their respective positions.
That said, they're going to need help. Because the more you break down KU's schedule, the more the forecast -- unfortunately -- calls for more of the same when you play the W-L game.
THE DANCE CARD
Game 1: vs. Southeast Missouri State, Sept. 6
Fun SEMO fact No. 1: New coach Todd Matukewicz is a native of Silver Lake, Kan., and has degrees from Fort Hays State and Pittsburg State. Fun SEMO fact No. 2: He also has as many career bowl wins since 2007 as Weis (one), having served as interim coach for Northern Illinois in a 40-17 victory over Fresno State in the 2010 Humanitarian Bowl. Guesstimate: W
Game 2: at Duke, Sept. 13
It probably seemed like a good idea at the time. Two basketball-first fan bases, two hoops-crazy campuses, two strong academic institutions. One problem: The Blue Devils got good before KU did. And pretty darn good, too. Coach David Cutcliffe's team returns 14 starters from last season's ACC Coastal Division champs, including quarterback Anthony Boone and wideout/return man Jamison Crowder. Just remember, Jayhawk fans, no matter what happens, you'll always have that big win at the United Center over Coach K last November -- and the fact that Andrew Wiggins, not Jabari Parker, was the No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft. Guesstimate: L
Game 3: vs. Central Michigan, Sept. 20
At most places, you'd laugh if somebody told you CMU at home is a "must-win." At KU, right here, right now, though, that's what it is: a must-win. The Chippewas have some nice pieces offensively, but their record on the road versus Power Five-level conference competition in recent years has been spotty, save for a massive win at Iowa's Kinnick Stadium in September 2012, back when a cat named Eric Fisher was playing left tackle for the mighty maroon. Also, there's this: Over the last two seasons, the Chips are 6-0 in games decided by seven points or fewer. KU's mark in such tilts: 1-5. Guesstimate: L
Game 4: vs. Texas (Homecoming), Sept. 27
We know, we know, we know: KU was a cat's whisker away from taking this one on Mount Oread two years ago. Three problems, though: 1) Eight returning starters on the Longhorn D, including cornerback Quandre Riggs and defensive end Cedric Reed; 2) Texas held Reagan's Rice Owls to just nine points during the teams' last head-to-head meeting in 2011; 3) Mack Brown has retired. Guesstimate: L
Game 5: at West Virginia, Oct. 4
Welcome to the 113th annual Hot Seat Bowl, where the loser of this one will have an awful lot of uncomfortable explaining to do. The Fighting Charlies can play with the Mountaineers -- they just can't seem to play with them in Morgantown. Guesstimate: L
Game 6: vs. Oklahoma State, Oct. 11
The good news: The Cowboys are expected to be in a bit of a retooling/rebuilding mode. More good: If there's ever a time to get the Pokes, it's that first conference road game -- Mike Gundy's crew is 4-1 in Big 12 away openers since 2009, but the last three have been decided by an average of just 5.3 points, including a 30-21 stunner of a setback at West Virginia last year. Guesstimate: W
Game 7: at Texas Tech, Oct. 18
If you didn't miss Tommy Tuberville before, you darn well might after this one. Guesstimate: L
Game 8: at Baylor, Nov. 1
Art Briles is still around. So is Bryce Petty. And Antwaan Goodley. And ... oh, hell, you get the point. Over KU's last two trips to Waco, Baylor has averaged 48 points. On the plus side, the men's hoops exhibition opener will be just three days away. Guesstimate: L
Game 9: vs. Iowa State, Nov. 8
Before Jan. 6, this might have been one Big 12 tilt -- maybe the only one -- to pencil in the win column. But that was before Paul Rhoads hired Mark Mangino to be his offensive coordinator. And that sound you heard all up and down K-10 was the locals snapping their pencils in frustration. Guesstimate: L
Game 10: vs. TCU, Nov. 15
Uncle Charlie has been knocking on Gary Patterson's door for two years now. If the Jayhawks are healthy, this just might be the time that knock finally gets answered. Which is good, because looks what's coming 'round the bend .... Guesstimate: W
Game 11: at Oklahoma, Nov. 22
Next! Guesstimate: L
Game 12: at Kansas State, Nov. 29
See Oklahoma. Guesstimate: L
THE FINAL VERDICT: 3-9, 2-7 Big 12
According to our old pal Phil Steele, Kansas faced the 25th-toughest schedule in the nation last fall. But here's the kicker: Steele pegs the Jayhawks as having the 23rd-toughest slate in 2014, featuring seven opponents that won at least eight games the previous year. On the plus side, that darn track will be gone. But if Uncle Charlie can't win more than three contests, you start to wonder if his time in Lawrence might be running out, too.