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Thursday, July 21, 2011

Tait

Jayhawks’ schedule not kind

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We’re approaching the end of July — like it or not — and now is the time that many fans start seriously scouting the season ahead and gearing up to make their predictions that can make or break their status as true sports fans with their friends.

Seeing how the Kansas University football team has yet to report to preseason camp and still has unanswered questions about which players will be on the field, I’ll save my official prediction for a little later this summer.

But for those who can’t wait that long or need help formulating your picks, here’s a quick look at a few facts that might help.

Warning: The following information may help you make a sound prediction but won’t do much for your hopes of a strong season from the Jayhawks this fall. Proceed with caution.

By now, you’re surely aware that the Jayhawks will play all nine other schools that remain in the new-look Big 12. No more North against North or South against South. From here on out, it’s everybody against everybody, winner take all. For the most part, I love that. For the Jayhawks, I don’t.

Sure we know that KU will have to play Oklahoma and Texas and Oklahoma State and Texas A&M and, well, you get it. But add to that a good Northern Illinois team in Week 2 and a road game against Georgia Tech in Week 3 and you’re staring at the 26th toughest schedule in the country, according to college football analyst Phil Steele.

One quick note before diving in further: Steele makes sure to point out in his breakdown that his strength of schedule numbers are based on the make-up of this year’s teams and not the records from 2010. More on that a little later.

Amazingly, KU’s standing at No. 26 in the nation only comes in at No. 7 in its own conference. Iowa State (2), Baylor (3), Oklahoma State (18), Missouri (19), Texas A&M (22) and Oklahoma (25) all rank ahead of KU. Get this: KU barely avoided finishing eighth in the Big 12, as K-State landed just one spot behind them in 27th.

Texas (31) and Texas Tech (50) round out the rest of the conference on Steele’s list, putting all 10 Big 12 teams in the Top 50 in terms of toughest schedules in the country in 2011. How’s that for an indication of how good the league is this year? Yikes.

For a quick comparison, consider that KU’s 2010 schedule ranked as the 48th toughest in the country, good for eighth in the 12-team league.

Now, about that distinction between the strength of this year’s teams versus last year’s records, Steele addresses that, as well. On his list of schools facing the toughest schedule in terms of the opponents’ win-loss records from 2010, KU ranks third in the country.

KU’s 2011 opponents combined for 97 victories and 57 losses in 2010, good for a winning percentage of 63 percent. Only Clemson (104-54, 65.8%) and Baylor (96-56, 63.2%) are facing a bigger bunch of winners.

It’s hard to know what to make of this in late July. Things change, breaks happen and a couple of teams almost always show up and surprise people.

One thing that won’t come as much of a surprise for the Jayhawks this year will be staring down talented teams on the opposite sideline. They’ll be doing it just about every week.

Comments

haydenhawkco 2 years, 9 months ago

Well...games aren't played on paper. I'll await for the outcome

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texashawk10 2 years, 9 months ago

I said this somewhere else on here earlier this year, but KU could be a significantly better team this year than last year and still have the same record as last year or worse. KU will be favored in 1 game for sure this year (McNeese St.) and possibly the KState and ISU games depending on how those three teams look this season.

McNeese St. is not nearly as good as NDSU was last year and KU should handle this one with little drama.
Northern Illinois won 11 games last season and returns a lot of starters from last year, but is going through a coaching change which provides a little hope, but NIU is a more talented team than KU right now. Georgia Tech was terrible after Josh Nesbitt went down with an injury last year and with him gone, that should make this another fairly competitive game but GT gets the advantage with the game being in Atlanta. Texas Tech's defense was about as bad as KU's last year and they are replacing their QB so this is a game to watch for early on to see if KU could pull an early upset. OSU and OU should both handle KU very easily this year. KSU is one of the two games to circle as a potential win. KState's offense will be worse than last year as Bryce Brown is not nearly as good as Daniel Thomas and their passing game will be non-existent and their defense will be not be much better than last year. If UT is as bad this year as last, KU could hang around long enough to make this game interesting, but UT should still beat KU easily. ISU is the other game to circle as a potential win as ISU will be horrible this year with the losses they suffered from graduation this past year. Baylor depends on whether or not Griffin is playing or injured at that point. If he's healthy, Baylor will roll but if he gets hurt at some point prior to this game, KU could have a chance but I would still give an edge to Baylor. A&M should beat KU soundly in College Station as a tune up for UT a few days later. Missouri will have a very good defense and a good running game. Their passing game will depend on Franklin's development as their receivers and TE are among the top pass catching units in the country.

Best case scenario for KU is to go 7-5 sweeping the non-conference and beating Tech, KSU, Baylor, and ISU. A more realistic season has KU going somewhere between 4-8 and 1-11 and a lot more questions about Turner Gill and people calling for his head despite not realizing it will cost KU at least $10 million total to fire Gill and his staff and bring in a new coach and staff and KU simply can't afford that right now without major help from donors.

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texashawk10 2 years, 9 months ago

This article is a perfect example of why Matt Tait is a better writer than Keegan. Had Keegan written this article, he likely would've just gone with KU having the third toughest schedule based on last years schedule. Tait did mention this, but the article focused on Phil Steele's (a reasonably credible opinion) SOS and instead of just saying KU had the 26th toughest schedule and also talked about where the other Big 12 school's SOS ranked nationally and I was surprised that KU's SOS was 7th in the conference. Had Tait not brought this point up, I wouldn't have gone and looked at everyone else's schedule. I already knew that OU was playing FSU in Tallahassee, Texas A&M was playing Arkansas at Jerryworld, and ISU was playing Iowa which are three very difficult games, but I didn't realize OU was also playing Tulsa (a good solid team most years), Missouri is playing @ Arizona St. who some think could win the PAC-12 south, KState playing @ Miami, Baylor plays TCU to open the year, ISU also plays @ UConn who played in the Fiesta Bowl last year, Texas plays BYU, OSU plays Arizona and @Tulsa, and A&M also plays SMU, and Texas Tech is playing Nevada. The Big 12 this year has a very solid slate of non-conference games in which it's possible every Big 12 team could lose a game this year. If it wasn't for Tait being such a good writer, I wouldn't have just spent the last 10 minutes looking at the non-conference schedules to see why KU was only 7th in the Big 12 for SOS this year.

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Mike Kendall 2 years, 9 months ago

Brutal, like the consecutive days of 100 heat. We'll see what happens. For right now, I am staying positive. Rock Chalk Jayhawk!

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Phoggin_Loud 2 years, 9 months ago

Sing it with me:

"New coach, new players, new team.

You put it all together, and we're just gonna' believe"

Keep working hard & make plays. That"s all they can control.

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justinryman 2 years, 9 months ago

It seems one of two things happen when you play against better opponents all the time.

  1. You give up and never get better and become a perennial door mat.

  2. You keep working hard to compete and then one day it clicks and you become a very solid team, that others don't want to play anymore.

So what will happen with this KU team and staff?????

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rob4lb 2 years, 9 months ago

I definitely agree with Justanotherfan- At a program like KU's, you need to give the coach 4-5 years to see if he will be effective. He needs to get his players and system in place. I look at this coming season as transitional one. I don't expect alot of success. I would be happy if the team was more competitive than last year. If that happens and Hawks only win 2-3 games, I would not be overly upset. I do have expectations that in 2012, the Hawks will win some conference games and make a run at Bowl Eligibility. If that doesn't happen, then Gill will be on the hot seat going into Year 4.

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BABBOY 2 years, 9 months ago

Yep, the new Big 10 (Big 12 minus CU and NU) means the schedule is not going to be easy for anyone.

Whoever comes out on top will earn their BCS spot.....

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Kevin Kelly 2 years, 9 months ago

I'm excited for the schedule. For the entirety of the Big 12 so far, no one has had to look at KU but only look at KU's schedule. It was a four year cycle of either 'you don't play anyone' or 'it dosn't matter how good you are with that schedule'. Recruiting with this kind of wild schedule swing was doing no one any good. Good teams looked great, bad teams looked horrible, mediocre teams won 6 games and did/didn't go to a bowl, etc.

Now when we recruit someone....they get 4 tries at the same schedule. And as far as what the schedule is now...it simply feels like the 'hard' schedule we had before but with aTm replacing NU and TT replacing CU (while adding BU as a permenant home/away). That isn't neccisarily a step up from our 'hard schedule'. I welcome it. We will have a much better sense of where we are over a 4-5 year stretch now.

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jayhwkr77 2 years, 9 months ago

i think three wins is realistic for next year with an outside chance at four. it just sucks now playing the entire south, i think it's safe to say that were in for a few good beatdowns from the big dogs in texas and oklahoma.

i love the new big 12/10 scheduling and format, but theres no doubt that it definitely kills the north schools such as KU in terms of wins on a yearly basis.

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Ludwig Supraphonic 2 years, 9 months ago

I'm hopeful about our program; though I do note we are the reason Baylor didn't face the toughest schedule in 2010.

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jhwkfan162515 2 years, 9 months ago

It is becoming increasingly apparent that Turner Gill is the wrong guy in the wrong place at the wrong time. A coach in the same league as Bob Valesente/Terry Allen who shows up at one of the conference's traditionally weaker football programs just as it has lost most of its talent from the previous coaching regime, at a time when the Big 12 loses two members and in so doing makes the conference road that much harder for KU. I very seriously doubt that Gill will last past the 2012 season.

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jhawkrulz 2 years, 9 months ago

I guess for some people, if we beat McNeese State than it would be an improvement over last year, since we beat the DII team we play.

I think it is kind of sad that an expectation of 3-9, is basically the best most people are picking.

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minnhawk84 2 years, 9 months ago

7 and 5. You heard it from me first. I believe in miracles.

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KU_Alumn_2000 2 years, 9 months ago

It's gonna be tough getting 3 or 4 wins this season...but it will be fun watching this program get better over the next few years.

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badbrainstorm 2 years, 9 months ago

acronym day: ttwtfsitnwcbnnwajoac

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Funhawk 2 years, 9 months ago

So, our final record for 2011 may be worse than last year's, but I think we will have a better team this year. Better front line, more speed, more experienced players. Hopefully, the games will be closer than they were last year. I think they will be. Just chill out and know our guys do the best they can. Even last year had fun moments, like the Georgia Tech and Colorado games. Those were fun games, so never give up.

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