Last month, ESPN.com’s Brad Edwards revealed that he picked Kansas University’s football team to play in the New Era Pinstripe Bowl this December.
You heard correctly. Now, let’s see if we can figure out why.
It’s been well documented that people expect three or four wins to be the ceiling for this year’s team. Naturally, the Jayhawks themselves believe it’s higher.
Remember, coach Turner Gill says his goal is to win every game. He means it. And he doesn’t care if it says Oklahoma or McNeese State on the opponent’s helmet.
The players also think winning is possible this year. Many have targeted six wins and bowl-eligibility as an attainable goal. Believe. It’s not just a slogan any longer.
KU’s facing a tough schedule, and, no matter how talented or confident the Jayhawks may be, they’re incredibly young. It’s one thing to think you can hang with Texas, OU and Oklahoma State. It’s another to go out and do it.
I’m not saying they will, and I’m not saying they won’t. What I am saying is I can see why they think it’s possible. Here’s how it could happen.
It sets up like this: In the opener, the Jayhawks welcome an FCS team to town for the second straight season. With the haunting memories of last year’s embarrassing loss to North Dakota State still fresh in the Jayhawks’ minds, you can bet McNeese State will have KU’s full attention. KU won’t win 50-7, but it won’t lose 6-3 either. The way I see it, the schedule sets up for the Jayhawks to pick up a feel-good win right out of the gate.
Next up, a tough Northern Illinois team comes to town. The Huskies had a great 2010 and return a lot of talent. But they’re also going to battle with a new head coach — former KU assistant Dave Doeren — and we’ve all seen how tough that transition can be on a team. KU might not be favored in that one, but it can win. Just like that, the Jayhawks are 2-0 and heading into a road game against Georgia Tech, whom they beat a season ago.
KU’s better than last year. Georgia Tech’s a little worse. Winning will be tough with GT having the revenge factor and home-field advantage, but you have to at least see that the Jayhawks will go down to Atlanta believing they can win — especially if they’re sitting at 2-0.
Remember, you’re thinking like a Jayhawk here, one of the guys who actually suits up on Saturdays. Imagine, if they walk away from their nonconference schedule 3-0 and head into their bye week on Cloud 9. That would do wonders for the rest of their season and would give them a real shot in their Big 12 opener against Texas Tech after the bye week. From there, six wins are at least possible.
As for my prediction, I’m going with 4-8. I think KU wins its first two games and goes on to beat two of the following four teams — Georgia Tech (Week 3), Texas Tech (Week 5), Kansas State (Week 8) and Iowa State (Week 10).
We’ll find out soon enough, but the first step in the process kicks off at 6 p.m. Saturday against McNeese State.