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Sunday, September 16, 2012

Keegan

Upset NIU? You bet

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Upsets happen when a football team feels disrespected. They happen when an underdog realizes what it does well and has the confidence to do it repeatedly, stubbornly believing it will work.

No reason Kansas University should not pull off the upset Saturday in DeKalb, Ill., against a Northern Illinois squad favored by 10 points. A Mid-American Conference team isn’t supposed to be favored by a touchdown and field goal against a Big 12 squad, but that’s where the betting line opened, the oddsmakers not-so gently slapping the Jayhawks across the face.

The Huskies, coached by former Mark Mangino assistant Dave Doeren, whose desire for the KU job after Turner Gill’s firing was unrequited, are coming off a 41-40 victory against Army in West Point, N.Y.

Army pretty much blows off the forward pass, attempting just three against NIU. The Black Knights, pummeled 42-7 by San Diego State in the opening week of the season, didn’t need the forward pass to score six touchdowns. The Northern Illinois defense allowed 486 rushing yards in that one.

In leading Iowa to a Week 1, 18-17 victory against Northern Illinois, Damon Bullock rushed for 150 yards.

The KU offensive line has the strength to get the better of the NIU defense and consistently open rushing lanes for big-play back Tony Pierson, relentless Taylor Cox and returning James Sims, the team’s leading rusher the past two seasons.

Running the football is what Kansas does best offensively, and creating turnovers is the strength of the defense. KU, Alabama and Mississippi State all have a national-best 12 turnovers gained. The Crimson Tide and Bulldogs are a combined 6-0. KU is 1-2 because its offense hasn’t clicked, particularly in the red zone.

Look for that to change Saturday and look for never-shy Charlie Weis to throw some different twists into the running game. He calls his Wildcat offense the Jayhawk, for obvious reasons, and hasn’t shown much of it yet. Nobody should be surprised if Pierson and Sims take direct snaps now and then, with quarterback Dayne Crist watching some plays from the sideline.

Army dared Northern Illinois to stop the run, and Kansas can do the same. The difference: KU can build toward a play-action pass home run or two with Crist finding Daymond Patterson or Andrew Turzilli open down the field.

The Huskies’ rush defense ranks 115th out of 124 Football Bowl Subdivision teams, allowing 229.3 yards per game.

Pounding Cox, Sims and Pierson all day also keeps NIU quarterback Jordan Lynch off the field. Lynch ranks 19th in the nation with 304.7 yards in total offense, a third of it coming on the ground, the rest through the air.

The Huskies make for a tough opponent, but there is no reason to believe Kansas can’t be tougher.

Comments

pepper_bar 2 years ago

One more stat that Mr. Keegan left out: KU hasn't won a road football game in over three years. Let's keep the expectations at a reasonable level for now.

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kuguardgrl13 2 years ago

They beat UTEP in 2009. They haven't won on the road the last two years.

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pepper_bar 2 years ago

September 12, 2009. Are you really this bad at math?

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Sam Brockert 2 years ago

I think you guys are thinking of time in two different ways. You, pepper are thinking of calendar years while kuguardgrl13 is thinking of how many football seasons we have gone without a road win. I too sometimes say years when I mean seasons and think people mean seasons when they actually mean calendar years.

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Eric Dawson 2 years ago

Exactly, chiefs386. And to be fair to kuguardgrl13, pepper_bar did write "in over three years". Granted, Sept 15 2012 is 3 days over 3 years from Sept 12 2009, but it's essentially just 3 years, so I can understand someone throwing a flag on the use of that phrase.

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pepper_bar 2 years ago

3 years and 3 days = "over 3 years."

I realize I'm posting some Harvard-level arithmetic here, but I would have thought Jayhawks could keep up. It's weird that people are challenging me on this.

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Eric Mitchell 2 years ago

It is not a challenge of you look closely. Get your panties out of a bunch.

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pepper_bar 2 years ago

chiefs: If I had meant "seasons" I would have said "seasons." Instead, I indicated how much time had passed. Why is this complicated?

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Saguaro_Jayhawk 2 years ago

Zero wins in last 13 true road games. Ignores last 3 games at neutral site Arrowhead.

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pepper_bar 2 years ago

When did we start talking about neutral site games?

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79ictjhawk 2 years ago

Not only a good shot at winning this one, but probably the last & best shot at winning another game this year. Lose this one & it's start the countdown for Late Night in the Phog. .

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Dirk Medema 2 years ago

My recollection from the NIU-Army gamecast was that the Huskies didn't have much of anything in the way of sustained drives.It was feast on a big play or bust. Limit the big plays, and this is quite doable. NIU isn't as good as the road opponents the last 3 yrs.

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Danny Hernandez 2 years ago

I have our Jayhawks winning by 21

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rtwngr 2 years ago

Running the ball will be the only way they win. If they have to depend on Crist's accuracy, they'll come home 1-3.

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Chayse Patrick 2 years ago

Boy it's a no-brainer, run the ball to Cox, Peirson and now Sims. That keeps NIU offense off the field, it wears down there D and it also keeps Crist off the field as well except when Weis wants to throw NIU's defense a curve. It has a excellent chance to work!!!!

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Lucas Town 2 years ago

Well we know we can run the ball well in the first half and then for some reason or another abandon the run and throw all second half and find a way to lose another one.

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johnnyhrdwd 2 years ago

Excellent point, something tells me we "throw" the game away.

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ccarp 2 years ago

I like our run game and am excited about the turnovers, but the countdown started after the national championship game. 26 days to go.

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Andy Tweedy 2 years ago

I was at the game Saturday, and it wasn't as bad as it could have been. But Crist just isn't very good IMHO. He made a couple really nice passes, but that shouldn't be such a pleasant surprise from a guy with his size and experience. He was under 50% and I still think he's too indecisive to be effective. There was a play, in the second quarter I think, where I could see Patterson come open in the endzone from all the way in the south end of the stadium, but for some reason Crist could not. I just don't see this ending well for him. Hope I'm wrong!

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nuleafjhawk 2 years ago

I hope you're wrong too, but I think you are right on the money.....

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Micky Baker 2 years ago

his experience? He's started 11 games, no even a complete season yet.

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Bud Stagg 2 years ago

I think Crist has a good arm, poor vision and is indecisive. If his first choice is covered, (which everyone knows who is first choice is, #telegraphed) he freaks out and cannot see anything else. He has no ability to "make" something happen.

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Jim Jackson 2 years ago

We should beat these guys.

Crist showed improvement against a more talented TCU team albeit he is very immobile.

Addtionally, I like our Oline. Dayne had plenty of time and I also think we have some pretty good backs.

Would like to see more of Anthony Mcdonald out there, hopefully he can stay healthy.

I thought Heeney was solid but he's clearly not in the upper echelon of Big 12 LBs, there were numerous occasions to where he was in place to make a tackle but could not execute.

I love the progress. Rock Chalk!

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clevelandjayhawker 2 years ago

I hope we are actively recruiting a kicker

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Eric Dawson 2 years ago

If we are, it is subrosa. To date I have found no kickers with KU offers on either Rivals.com or Scout.com. Would be glad to get news of one we are pursuing. It's worth a scholarship or two -- and many more games -- to have a strong, accurate kicker. (Duh!)

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HD_Hawk 2 years ago

From what I understand there is a kid (Eric Kahn 6'5') sitting on the bench as a transfer from Mid-America Nazarene. The talking heads on the radio that I heard said he has a heck of a leg.

Having said that I have no idea how good he is.

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kugrad93 2 years ago

Having seen KU lose on the road against powerhouses like UNLV, Northwestern and Baylor (before RG3), I'm not going to get overly optimistic. The Hawks have been terrible on the road dating back (at least) to Terry Allen.

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Lucas Town 2 years ago

That's what I thought too, now we are wanting a team that is having trouble on offense to go on the road and try to beat a team that has a descent offense. We are having issues on offense because 2 1st half field goals and nothing in the second half leads me to believe we still don't make descent half time adjustments. This should be a shoot out though, no defense here. We can create turnovers but to me, TCU didn't take care of the ball and looked to be going through the motions. If TCU doesn't turn the ball over on those 3 fumbles we lose 41 - 6.

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Micky Baker 2 years ago

Three of the turnovers weren't because TCU wasn't taking care of the ball. One, hit the QB as he was about to throw the ball, forced fumble. The other, Operum forced the fumble as the QB as 6 inches from scoring a TD(that was because Operum didn't give up on the play). The third one, MacDougald laid his pads right on the ball, it squirted out.

All three of these occurred deep on KU's end of the field. We also had three plays inside the 10, only one of which was Crist's fault, that led to no points on the board. Two of them were perfect passes our guys should have caught. He gave our guys a chance to make a play and they didn't.

Don't put this on Crist's back.

There was another play where it looked like Omigie was going to take it to the house, and he got tripped by a finger.

There were also opportunities for Pierson to cut back on plays that probably would have resulted in Touchdowns. KU left 35 points on the field.

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Lucas Town 2 years ago

Agreed, the bad snap and the fumble Operum forced never should have happened. Miscommunication on the center - qb exchange, the snap was low and Pachall wasn't paying atttention and on Operum's forced fumble Pachall was moving the ball from his right arm to his left. Had he not moved the ball, no fumble. Hypotheticals aside, if everyone plays a perfect game and KU scores their missed points and TCU scores theirs then we are heading to overtime at 41 a piece.

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bad_dog 2 years ago

The only reason the ball was moving from Pachall's right arm as he approached the goal line was because Opurum hit the arm as he was tackling him. If you watch the replay from the right hand side of the offensive line you can see it was because of the tackle, not switching hands 1 foot from the goal line.

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Micky Baker 2 years ago

There was no way TCU would have scored. Operum's hit on the QB as he was going into the endzone was just a play Operum made because he didn't give up on it. The other fumble by the QB was our defense making the play. The hit by MacDougald, he forced the turnover.

The only thing that didn't work in our favor is that it was deep in our own territory.

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John Randall 2 years ago

Our second half adjustments (offensively, at least) do seem reflect quite a bit of DESCENT - even if the are barely DECENT. What I see is a failure to anticipate the easily predicted adjustments of the opponent and take advantage of those.

Defensively, our adjustments are fine, not just decent, but pretty good.

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KGphoto 2 years ago

Riding our stable full of horses to a victory sounds great, it looks possible on paper, and I'm sure it would work. I just don't see Weis doing it.

Charlie knows something about our passing game that we don't. He was moving the ball on the ground last week, only to totally abandon the run in the second half. He want's to get the passing game on track. For Charlie, it's TIME to get the pass on track. It seems very calculated, which is no surprise. In retrospect, last weeks offense looked more like a scripted game plan, than adjusting on the fly, playing to our strengths, and giving us the best chance to win.

I'm okay with this if he's right about Crist and the talent on hand. Remember it's a chess match for Charlie. He might be willing to lose that game if it meant Crist finally got tracked in the process, giving KU a better chance down the road.

I think he IS looking down the road, which is really good for KU. He has a way he wants to play football and, to some degree, he views all games as practices until they are playing football the way he wants. This Saturday will be no different. Don't expect him to sell out for the win. He'll make frustrating decisions in the name of becoming a better team heading into the following week.

Worst case scenario: Crist has maxed out. We don't improve on Saturday. Weis continues to push the pass in order to get Dayne tracked, even though it isn't working, and we get our a$$ handed to us by our former coach.

Best case scenario: KU actually DID turn the corner last week because of all the reps. Crist and his receivers have stirred together enough chemistry, and scraped off enough rust, to start playing Charlie ball and scoring touchdowns. No more practice necessary, and it's time to start using what we've built, and selling out for wins in the Big 12.

Most likely scenario: Just what you think. Right down the middle. We run effectively but don't stick with it, like most of us will want. Crist gets plenty of chances and increases his chemistry and production with the receivers. We score more points, but fail to make a statement. Pulling out a win, while getting closer to Charlie's goal. Being competitive in the Big 12.

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Jonathan Allison 2 years ago

I hope that you're right on the "Most-likely scenario." I'd definitely settle for the win because I don't see us making a splash in the bulk of our Big 12 schedule.

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KGphoto 2 years ago

I just hope he eventually is right about the Beshears/KR decision. Beshears is stinking up the joint right now, and Weis continues to play him. He finally put in Pierson at the end, but I have no idea why he has waited this long. By the way I don't want Pierson back there either, he's not expendable. Parmalee is somewhat expendable and apparently he is really good. Can't figure this one out at all.

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Micky Baker 2 years ago

KG, we only had about 80 yards on the ground in the first half.

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KGphoto 2 years ago

To be more specific, we had most of that in the first quarter. We had a drive that spanned from 1st to 2nd quarter. During that drive we abandoned the run and the drive stalled.

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Micky Baker 2 years ago

You either want to build an offense, or let the opponents stack the box. What would you say when the opponents learn to stack the box, still say Crist's fault, even though he may have thrown the ball 10 times a game because of what your game plan would be?

I also know we got alot of that in the first quarter. If we were playing a different opponent last week, I'd be a little more receptive, but I'm not.

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KGphoto 2 years ago

Hmm. Maybe you missed my first comment. Of course you need a balanced offense. Weis is getting there in a slightly strange way to me. Last week it was all run. Then he just switched to all pass. Balance would be a fluid mix of the two. Hopefully we see that this week.

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Mark Lindrud 2 years ago

Weis wants Crist to succeed like the rest of us do. He won't abandon the pass, but with the success of the running game he needs to utilize them all in the passing game. We can put them in together as decoys, use screens, dump offs and such, which will also help the passing game. My hope is Crist looks for them because they've been ignored too much already as receivers. We do have weapons for Crist and yes in some ways he has improved, but he still can keep raising the bar. Our defense has shown improvement, and that was a huge concern, but now we need our offensive general to take another positive step. I know I've bad mouthed him, but it's mostly for his indecisiveness, along with locking onto receivers and not making dump offs. He needs to trust himself and those Round him. Time to take another positive step.

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gardenjay 2 years ago

As a true blue KU football fan, I have to believe. It's a difficult sport, but I'm thinking KU by 3 points against NIU. Also, I am very upbeat about the season ahead, you can't just change a program overnight. Mangino sure didn't. How did he get his players, anyway? That was a separate topic.

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Mike Barnhart 2 years ago

KU should win this game. Our arrow is pointing up, NIU's arrow pointing down. Big 12 vs. Mid-America. Hopefully turned a corner last Saturday. This will be a good measuring stick for the program.

FYI: Less then 3 years ago KU stood at 3-0, outscoring opponents 127-26! LESS - THEN - 36- MONTHS - ago! Wow!!

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kugrad93 2 years ago

Northern Illinois has won two in a row. KU has lost two in a row. Please explain your arrow system.

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Mike Barnhart 2 years ago

A very young offense and a defense that just gave up 40 ... to Army!

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97jhawk 2 years ago

"Pounding Cox..."? Hmmm, seems like a better choice of words could've been picked there with that sentence.

Do they sell Crimson & Blue Kool-Aid at Dillion's? They must be sold out cause Keegan has all of it in his cupboard. Usually Keegs is first to be devil's advocate with all things KU Athletics. Oh wait, maybe he's using reverse psychology devil's advocacy. Very interesting. Now we're cooking with butter!

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hucking_fawks_rock 2 years ago

"Pounding Cox................... all day also keeps NIU quarterback Jordan Lynch off the field"

I hope other people found the humor in this.... Well done Keegan. Taking notes from your own playbook eh? YOU BET!

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justinryman 2 years ago

I was thinking 3 to 5 wins this year, on coaches nad transfers.

Im not sure if KU gets 2 at this point. Love the way the D plays especially after the past two years when they didn't tackle anyone or go for a pick.

this offense is fine in the run game, but if good D's load the box and we have to rely on Charlies boy I'm not sure that KU gets a second hash mark in the win column.

I hope I'm wrong but what has been happening the past three years plus this one on the field at KU, I odn't think I am.

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97jhawk 2 years ago

Did anyone else feel like the officiating for the game wasn't all that stellar? I fee like if I had a quarter for every no-call for holding on TCU I'd be able to do a few loads of laundry over at Duds 'N Suds.

Just watch the 4th quarter around the 6:25 mark. There was clearly holding on TCU which was a huge play for them because it gave them a 1st down on a 4th down play. You could totally see the TCU lineman grabbing the KU defesemen's shoulder pads. This is so cear because you can totally see it over TCU's QB's shoulder when they show the play in slow motion. Also, the goal line play for KU near the end of the 4th quarter when Crist fumbled at the goal line, the TCU left side was clearly off sides. TCU jumped before the ball was hiked.

Probably shouldn't nit pick or blame the game on the refs, but it'd be nice to call it even.

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KGphoto 2 years ago

Oh yeah. Many, many bad calls. As hard as it is to maintain an unbiased viewpoint, I do try, and it was still pretty bad.

The worst call, possibly ever, actually turned into a positive for us though. McDougald gets called for hitting a defenseless receiver (The most ridiculous idea for a football rule.) when clearly he had made a clean hit. I almost ripped the TV off the wall and pledged to quit football! How can they call that?! If nothing else they need to incorporate instant replay to overturn obvious referee gafs.

However, karma is a biatch because on the very next play McDougald caused a turnover and we hold them without a score, when they most certainly would've had at least a field goal, even after McDougald's great hit.

On that topic. The only worse rule to me is the "football move" rule in the NFL, where you are now required to not only get two feet down, but maintain possession for an obscure amount of time before the ball comes out. Tampa got screwed on that one last night.

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John Randall 2 years ago

You certainly must be aware that the phrase "football move" does not appear in the NCAA rule book, but the Tampa Bay Buccaneers don't play in the NCAA ...

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Micky Baker 2 years ago

No doubt, and two of those calls extended drives by TCU down the stretch. Neither call was even close to being accurate. One was just plain missed right in front of the ref, a blatant hold on Operum that clearly beat their blocker and that was direct result in a first down run by TCU on 3rd and long. Then KU would have gotten the ball with about 4 or 5 minutes left at about their own 40. They punch it in from there, and the pressure was all on TCU, and the stadium noise ratchets up to 110 decibels or louder.

I was at the KU/K-State game in 2004. When K-State was in the huddle, it was loud, and then when they approached the line of scrimmage, it made Arrowhead Stadium Envious. That isn't hyperbole either. That was the loudest outdoor stadium I had ever been in. It got so loud that the guy next to me could hear me and I couldn't hear him.

And then the play when Simmons made the one had catch for the TD, he made the play. But he didn't make the play every time early on in his career.

Then Randall with a one of the best college football touchdown plays in recent decades in all of college football, he got the wood put on him on the edge and spun out of that tackle and then ran right down the middle past the safeties who got their hands on him but he ran right through them into the endzone for what ended up being the game winner.

We have better players on this team than we had in 2004. If Mangino was here and we never had Gill, we wouldn't be having this conversation.

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Micky Baker 2 years ago

If NIU gave up 487 yards to Army, and we force just two TOs and hold onto the ball, KU by 21 or more Saturday.

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Robert Brown 2 years ago

I'm not sure I follow your logic. Rice has given up over 600 yards to the two opponent who were not KU- UCLA and La Tech. Our offense wasn't able to take advantage of Rice's porous defense.

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Micky Baker 2 years ago

This is because everyone erroneously believes a 5th year senior who pretty much didn't play for 4 seasons should be completely refined.

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gdkadjayhawk 2 years ago

Just because we have some good runners doesn't mean we can run on NIU the way Army did. Army may not be a top-tier team, but they do run the option, which is tough to defend. Most defenses have to do a crash course for just 1 week to prepare for it. Obviously NIU had trouble defending it.

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Steve Jacob 2 years ago

Hard game to predict, BCS schools don't go to non-BCS schools that often. And this is the year bottom BCS schools have been beaten regularly by lower tier schools.

Than you have to throw out that Army game stats, you have five days to prepare for 1930's era football.

I say NIU by 7. I will take Jordan Lynch over Crist any day.

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741hawk 2 years ago

I'm advocating recruiting a kicker from small college ranks. I watched the KU game from our tailgate in Gunnison, Colorado, then went to the Western State vs Adams State game. The Adams State kicker kicked it out of the end zone EVERY time. Granted, it was at 7,771 feet elevation, but the Western St. kicker was awful, so I know it wasn't just the altitude.

A proven small college kicker wouldn't have to sit out a year . . . and would be proven. Surely there are a bunch of 'em that would welcome a full-ride at a Division 1 school.

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Lance Cheney 2 years ago

I agree. And kicking ability is one thing that doesn't really change from FBS to BCS to NFL. If you can kick field goals, you can kick field goals, no matter who you play for.

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danmoore 2 years ago

Oh how the mighty have fallen. It's hard to believe how much we've regressed since the Orange Bowl. 10 point underdogs to a MAC team!

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KGphoto 2 years ago

It also says a lot about the parity in college football over the last decade.

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DocPossum 2 years ago

Crist is a big reason you see improvement in the offense. He still has work to do! KU squeaks out a win in Dekalb.

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Jason Keller 2 years ago

KU has the worst kicker I have ever seen in any college game ever in my life. I have seen several NAIA games (Ottawa) and several JUCO games (Butler, Garden) and both of their kickers would put this Dougherty kid or however you spell it to shame. I'm not one to blast a kid but as an adult, if you know you can't kick it past the 15 yard line, you need to understand what you are doing to your team and tell the coaches to find someone else.

Bottom line: KU's kicker, until he is replaced, will cost KU around 10 points every game. Thats obviously a rough estimate but starting at the 40 every drive is hard on a defense. For me, kickoffs have been by far the most embarassing part of this season.

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Rivethead 2 years ago

I can tell you're paying attention.....because Doherty hasn't done kick-offs since game one.

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KGphoto 2 years ago

??? Try Nick Prolago...

And secondly, Doherty is the punter, and a damn good one! He was forced into the kicker role because our big kicking recruit turned out to be a bust. I'll gladly step to the defense of this "kid". He's doing his best for a team who needs him. That's just a douchy comment.

By the way he's 7/7 on extra points and 3/3 inside the 30. He's had one miss under 40 yards, other than that his misses were 40, 45 and 53 yards.

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niueric 2 years ago

C'mon you guys. I am an NIU fan through-and-through, but it's not like you are playing either one of our state's Big Ten teams. We may be better than either one of those teams, but alas, we are only a MAC team. You guys should be lookin at this game as an automatic "W." I am really surprised that you are 10-pt underdogs. I am also really surprised that you are coming to a stadium that only seats 24,000. Face it...We have everything to gain---and you have everything to lose in this game.

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Micky Baker 2 years ago

do you think anyone is buying you're actually an NIU fan?

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niueric 1 year, 12 months ago

NIU Class of '81. I always go to the opposing team's main newspaper site, so that I can get a "feel" for what that team is doing, thinking, etc.. Personally, I hope Jordan Lynch hands you your bacon...

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wats211 1 year, 12 months ago

NIU by 10.....are you serious.....all we have to do is run Sims...Sims....SIMS....and then Dayne with some play action..KU wins outright...so you want to pay for Christmas...this is a gift..KU wins 31-20

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