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Saturday, September 19, 2009

KU vs. Duke Head to head

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When Kansas has the ball

Kansas rush offense vs. Duke rush defense

Improbably, Kansas’ ground game has been even more potent this season than its heralded passing attack. The Jayhawks are ranked first in the Big 12 in rushing offense (291.5 yards per game) behind starter Jake Sharp (second in the conference with a 113.5 yards-per-game average) and backup Toben Opurum (24 carries, 141 yards).

The Jayhawks should have a good opportunity to build upon those numbers today. Duke enters the game ranked ninth in the ACC in rush defense and has given up 195.5 yards per game on the ground this season.

Edge: Kansas

Kansas pass offense vs. Duke pass defense

Coming off a rare off week, in which he threw for 260 yards and a touchdown but looked out of sync at times, KU quarterback Todd Reesing will be looking to rebound today. And with his entire receiving corps now intact — Dezmon Briscoe returned from a one-game suspension to catch eight passes for 154 yards against UTEP — he should have more than enough targets. Duke has allowed only 138 yards per game through the air this season, fourth-best in the ACC, and cornerback Leon Wright is coming off a game in which he returned two interceptions for touchdowns against Army.

Edge: Kansas

When Duke has the ball

Duke rush offense vs. Kansas rush defense

It would be hard for Kansas’ defense to improve upon its performance against the run last week, when the unit held UTEP to just four yards on the ground. Of course, based on the history of this week’s opponent, a similar effort might not be out of the question. The Blue Devils rank last in the ACC in rush yards per game with 44.5 (more than 45 fewer than the league’s next worst team) and have averaged just 1.9 yards per carry. Leading rusher Re’Quan Boyette has just 63 yards on 30 carries, and only one other player on the team has rushed for positive yardage this season.

Edge: Kansas

Duke pass offense vs. Kansas pass defense

Red-shirt freshman Sean Renfree came off the bench to complete seven of eight passes and toss two touchdown passes in Duke’s 35-19 comeback victory over Army last weekend, but Thaddeus Lewis will remain the team’s starter, coach David Cutcliffe has indicated. Kansas’ starting secondary unit, meanwhile, finally might be decided upon following last week’s impressive performance. Using a five-member secondary, the Jayhawks held UTEP to 204 passing yards and kept constant pressure on Miners quarterback Trevor Vittatoe.

Edge: Kansas

Special teams

Kansas kicker Jacob Branstetter struggled after being hit on a roughing-the-kicker penalty in the first quarter against UTEP. He completed two of his next four field-goal attempts, missing from 38 and 33 yards. While Jayhawks coach Mark Mangino wrote the misses off as the result of getting shaken up on the penalty play, Branstetter’s performance is something to keep an eye on today. Duke has had its own share of kicking issues this year. Kickers Nick Maggio and Will Snyderwine have combined to go 0-for-3 in field-goal attempts, and Cutcliffe has said he’ll pick his starting kicker on a week-to-week basis for the time being.

Edge: Kansas

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