Betting odds indicate further proof Kansas football has come a long way very quickly

The Kansas football team is gearing up for a season with much higher expectation than in the past. It shows just how quickly the program has improved
Kansas football coach Lance Leipold
Kansas football coach Lance Leipold / Jay Biggerstaff/GettyImages

Three years ago, the Kansas Jayhawks hired Lance Leipold as their head football coach. It was hard to drum up more than a modicum of enthusiasm, despite Leipold's background. Afterall, Kansas had hired Charlie Weis, a coach with multiple Super Bowl rings as an offensive coordinator with the Patriots, and a national championship coach in Les Myles, who won a title at LSU.

At the same time Kansas was nose-diving into college football purgatory at historical levels, Leipold was winning big at Wisconsin-Whitewater. In eight seasons there, he won 109 games and lost six. He had as many championships as he did losses. He then worked some magic at Buffalo, turning that program around fairly quickly.

But Kansas was a different beast. The Jayhawks play in the Big 12 had won only 21 games in 11 seasons, including none in the COVID-shortened 2020 season. No one had been able to win there. The fanbase barely existed and hope had been drummed out of it.

It wasn't going to be easy, and it wasn't. In 2021, there wasn't much change on the surface. Early on, the Jayhawks looked like the same band of misfits they'd been for over a decade. Slowly, there were signs of change. In game seven, KU was competitive in a game against Oklahoma, only losing by 12. Then they had two more rough games before shocking the college world with an upset, overtime win at Texas. The final two games of the season were losses, but Kansas lost them by only nine total points.

Suddenly Kansas was at least competitive in Big 12 games.

Betting odds show incredible improvement by the Kansas football program

Despite the big win against Texas and some close games to close out the 2021 campaign, fans were still wary, but hopeful. Vegas, not so much. When the over/under odds came out for the upcoming 2022 season, the number was set at 2.5 wins for the Jayhawks. Basically, they didn't know if Kansas would be one win better than they were in 2021.

They were! Kansas roared out of the gate, winning their first five games, including two conference tilts. Then they stumbled. Star quarterback Jalon Daniels got hurt, and Kansas limped to a 1-6 finish. Still, it was enough to qualify them for the Liberty Bowl against Arkansas. That game turned into as entertaining of a game as anyone could ask for before Kansas lost 53-55.

Vegas had noticed the improvement though, and the over-underline for wins was 6.5 to start the 2023 season. Could the Jayhawks continue to show improvement and surpass the over again?

They could! They won their first four, but this time when Daniels got hurt, the Jayhawks didn't crumble. They went 4-4 the rest of the way, and in only one loss was it by more than one score. The Jayhawks were being competitive.

The Kansas football team was invited to the Guaranteed Rate Bowl against UNLV. Daniels was still out, but Jason Bean, who had been fantastic at times throughout the season, had a magnificent game and KU won their first bowl since the 2008 season. The nine wins were the most for KU since 2007, and only the second time since 1995 they'd won at least nine.

Now, expectations are high. The program is expecting continued growth and success. The fanbase is fully engaged now, and even Vegas has raised their expectations. Bet MGM places the over/under number for the 2024 campaign at 8.5 for wins for Kansas. Vegas wants to know if the Jayhawks can do it again.

That number, though, seems unbelievable if you think back to just two years ago when it was 2.5. Or if you consider Kansas was 2-19 in 2020 and 2021. Now, the expectations are that it is possible Kansas can win nine games for a second time in a row.

It is amazing how much positivity and energy a good football team can bring to a university and its community and fans. Even now, still months away from the start of the season, excitement is growing. Expectations are a great thing!