Kansas football will face Baylor at home this Saturday at 2:30 pm for their first Big 12 contest of the year. This has been a tough matchup for the Jayhawks lately as they haven’t beaten the Bears since 2007, with most of those losses being by four touchdowns or more.
The Jayhawks will look to change that this year, and even though they lost to Coastal Carolina last week 49-22, they have some offensive momentum going into the game.
The Baylor Bears, like Kansas, had a rough season last year, going 2-7 under first-year head coach Dave Aranda. The new coaching staff has switched up their offense, and it’s taken some time for them to get used to it. In fact, per College Football News, the Bears finished 118th in total offense last year, while the Jayhawks finished 2nd to last.
In the midst of their offensive woes, Baylor hired a new offensive coordinator Jeff Grimes from BYU, who has had tremendous success in his career. So far this year, the Bear’s offense has looked much better as their currently averaging 553.5 yards per game, which is better than their 310.2 years per game average just a year ago.
With this said, the Jayhawk’s defense will have another tough matchup against an incredible offense. Against Coastal Carolina last week, Kansas only forced them to punt twice, something they’ll have to improve on if they want to compete in this game.
Like the Jayhawks, the Bears are also running a wide zone run scheme this year per Jesse Newell of the KC Star, but with having more time to prepare for the season, Baylor has had a lot more success. Kansas is currently averaging 3.2 yards per carry, while the Bears are averaging 7.5 yards per carry.
If the Jayhawks want to compete against Baylor, they’ll have to find a way to get some sort of run game going outside of their quarterback Jason Bean. While I see Bean still using his legs, the Jayhawks can’t expect the entire run game to revolve around him. It’s too much risk to allow the quarterback to continuously get hit, especially when the margin for error is so low for this team.
The defense will also need to step up in a big way and either force more punts or create some turnovers. The offense has done a great job not turning the ball over, as they’re one of only 9 remaining FBS teams that haven’t turned the ball over. But the defense will need to create some big plays and help out the offense.
Finally, the Jayhawk’s will have to continue their offensive momentum going into this matchup, but they’ll need to score. Last week they only punted two times but only managed to score 22 points. The offense had some good drives, but they failed to finish them. If Kansas wants to beat Baylor, or at the very least compete with them, they’ll have to finish their drives with points.
If the Jayhawks can find a run game, force the Bear’s offense to punt, create some turnovers and finish on their drives, they could very well have a shot at winning this game. And if the crowd can show up like it did their first home game against South Dakota, that will help even more.