Monday, November 13, 2006

Keegan: Kansas squads even


Oddsmakers give three points off the top to the home team, so in making the opening line Kansas University by three points against Kansas State, oddsmakers essentially are saying the state's two Division I football teams are equals.

That's a tough one to figure, considering K-State upset Texas and did it with a quarterback getting so much better by the week.

The best team KU has beaten this season remains the University of South Florida (7-3), which is coming off consecutive victories against Pittsburgh and Syracuse. The week after losing to KU by six, USF lost to still-undefeated Rutgers by just two points.

Colorado (2-9, 2-5 in the Big 12) qualifies as the second-best team KU has defeated. For K-State, that would be Oklahoma State (6-4, 3-3).

Baylor is the worst team to defeat K-State. The other three Wildcats losses were to teams ranked at the time they played them.

Kansas lost to Toledo, which has lost to three schools from the state of Michigan. None of those three schools plays against Ohio State on Saturday. Western Michigan, Central Michigan and Eastern Michigan have defeated Toledo by a combined 45 points.

Certainly, KU has come a long way since that loss to a bad Toledo team, just as K-State has progressed a great deal since scoring all of three points in Waco.

In the past three weeks, Josh Freeman, the Wildcats' freshman quarterback out of Kansas City, has completed 71 percent of his passes and has thrown six touchdown passes and two interceptions. Before that stretch, he had completed 41 percent, had not thrown a touchdown pass and had been picked off eight times.

Unlike most young quarterbacks, he doesn't lock in on one receiver. He already scans the field like a veteran. In flight, his passes look like Carson Palmer's, and he's an inch taller and eight pounds heavier.

The Sagarin computer rankings predictor column computes K-State at 75.61 and KU at 71.19, which means about a 41â2-point difference on a neutral field and therefore would make K-State a 11â2-point favorite on the road.

None of that takes into account that the Jayhawks will be coming off a bye week, so that must figure into the Las Vegas oddsmakers favoring KU by a field goal. Skipping a week can't hurt, especially this late in the season when aches and pains mount.

Jon Cornish, the toughest puzzle for the K-State defense to solve, should be at his best considering he has been running much of the season with a sore leg. KU's best hope of winning the game at Memorial Stadium lies in K-State having as difficult a time stopping the rushing efforts of Cornish and quarterback Kerry Meier as the Jayhawks will have in trying to slow down Freeman.

Too bad what figures to be a high-scoring game can't be hyped with a better nickname than The Sunflower Showdown.

Some suggestions to replace the lame moniker e-mailed from readers, in the order they were received: Prairie Fire, Wheat State War, Free State Fracas, The Desolation Bowl, Farmland Fury, Wheat State Wallop, Range War, Battle of the Breadbasket, Pillow Fight on the Prairie.


sevenyearhawk 13 years, 2 months ago

I've got one word for the Mildcats:


They're going to have a let big down, and the Hawks will capitalize on it ...

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