Kansas football is set to face off against Texas on Saturday in what should be the Jayhawks most formidable opponent this season.
Lance Leipold and the Kansas Jayhawks have a chance to complete a monumental upset in four days. A win would put KU in the conversation as a top 10 team in the nation. Media outlets would be going berserk. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves just yet — it’s going to be a daunting task.
Texas (4-0, 1-0) ranks No. 3 in the recent AP Top 25. The Longhorns arguably have the most talented roster in the FBS. They have multiple future NFL’ers on both sides of the ball. From where the skill lands from a recruiting standpoint, UT should dominate every minute of this contest. However, we know that this Kansas team has an insane amount of heart.
The last time Kansas football played a game in Austin, they came out victorious thanks to a 2-point conversion pass from Jalon Daniels to Jared Casey. Although it’s widely considered one of the biggest wins in recent KU history, the coaching staff doesn’t believe it means anything heading into Saturday.
“It’s old news. It doesn’t matter,” Kansas football head coach Lance Leipold said to 247 Sports. “Both teams are significantly better. Honestly, it’s so far in the past, we got to keep moving. Yeah, it helped this program, it helped our players. I hope it’s the last time I have to answer that question this week. Honestly, I do. I really want to focus on our team now and where we’re going because that’s what’s important.”
Texas head coach Steve Sarkisian has a different view on the situation. He thinks the loss helped shape the turnaround of their program.
Unless you’re superstitious, that one game doesn’t mean anything. The fact of the matter is that Texas is a College Football Playoff contender, and the Kansas football program is still digging itself out of a deep hole, even if it looks to be much improved this year.
If KU is going to win this bout, it all starts with Jalon Daniels. We saw him use his legs more last week, which is encouraging. He must play a perfect game for the Jayhawks to accomplish the upset. That means no inaccurate throws on third downs and no interceptions. The offensive line also needs to give him sufficient time to throw. Considering KU’s defense is inferior to Texas’ offense, this game could surpass the century mark if the Jayhawks are firing on all cylinders offensively.
Statistically speaking — if you dismiss the reality that Texas defeated Bama in Tuscaloosa — Kansas is pretty equal to them offensively. The run game has been dynamic, and the two-headed monster of Devin Neal and Daniel Hishaw Jr. could wreak havoc.
One thing I like about the graphic below is where Kansas football ranks on third downs. Top-rated percentage in Division I. That’s a huge number for a game against a team that will undoubtedly record a few sacks and tackles for loss. Daniels and Co. must enable their clutch genes in order to win.
Is it likely that Kansas will beat Texas? No. I’d take a moral victory with the Jayhawks losing by 10 or less points. But the things a win would do for the program and the city of Lawrence make me excited just thinking about it.