Kansas football revived its season with a program-altering victory over No. 6 Oklahoma. What is next for Lance Leipold and the Jayhawks?
The Kansas Jayhawks now sit bowl-eligible at 6-2 with a win over the Big 12 favorites, and expectations are soaring for the squad that lost a disheartening contest against Oklahoma State prior to the bye week. With star quarterback Jalon Daniels expected to return from his back injury against Iowa State, we are looking at a potential double-digit win season in Lawrence.
Unlike the team Kansas football fans watched in 2022, Brian Borland’s defense is making plays on the field. A year after yielding 35.5 points per game, the defensive unit is winning games for the Jayhawks. They recovered two fumbles, forced four tackles for loss, and caught a pick-6 to open the gates.
Jason Bean showed up when it mattered most, but the real star of the show is the potent run game led by the two-headed-monster of Devin Neal and Daniel Hishaw Jr. in the backfield. They have combined for 1,259 yards and 15 scores on the ground across eight games, and they complement each other nicely with Neal being a strong receiver and Hishaw serving as the primary pass-blocker.
We are witnessing the most well-rounded Kansas football team since the 2008 Orange Bowl-winning season, and while they likely won’t receive a New Year’s Six bowl bid this year, the team can still make history if they play their cards right.
So… What’s next for Kansas football?
The possibilities are endless. Remaining on Kansas’ schedule are Iowa State (road), Texas Tech (home), No. 25 Kansas State (home), and Cincinnati (road). An argument can be made that all four of those games can be won, even against a Wildcat program that has come out victorious in 14 straight renditions of the Sunflower Showdown.
According to most analytical databases, Kansas is most likely to finish the year 3-1 or 2-2 with losses against the Cyclones and/or K-State. Although they’ve struggled on the road, the closest game to a sure-fire win should come against Cincinnati, who remains winless in conference play. But assuming the team stays healthy for the most part and Jalon Daniels has recovered, finishing the regular season undefeated is very much in play.
So Kansas football fans should prepare for the worst and hope for the best. It is unreasonable to expect a 10-2 finish from a program that was in the gutter a few years ago, though the Jayhawk faithful would open it with welcome arms.
The team just has to take it game-by-game and if they stick to their gameplan, then we could talk about a double-digit win season and a potential Big 12 championship game appearance.