Friday, November 24, 2017
— Kansas (1-10 overall, 0-8 Big 12) at No. 18 Oklahoma State (8-3, 5-3) • 11 a.m. kickoff at Boone Pickens Stadium in Stillwater, Okla. • Game-time forecast: 59 degrees, mostly sunny, 0 percent chance of rain • TV: FOX Sports 1 • Radio: KLWN, FM 101.7 / AM 1320
— Log on to KUsports.com for our live game blog and follow our coverage team on Twitter: @KUSports, @BentonASmith, @TomKeeganLJW, @NightengaleJr and @ChasenScott
1. Play like the past 10 games never happened
A lengthy list of flaws, showing up on offense, defense and special teams to varying degrees this fall, has kept the Kansas football team in a losing rut since defeating overmatched FCS opponent Southeast Missouri State in the season opener.
A one-win season awaits the Jayhawks unless they score an upset on the road at Oklahoma State, considered at least a 40-point favorite over wobbling KU.
So what is the mindset for this Kansas team, which has only beaten one Big 12 or FBS opponent in David Beaty’s 35 games as head coach? Redshirt sophomore quarterback Carter Stanley explained how the supreme underdogs have to approach their latest challenge.
“It’s our last game, so we’re going to give it everything we’ve got for this last week, send those seniors off with a win, hopefully,” Stanley said. “Really, it’s our Super Bowl, essentially. It’s our last game and we’re going to give it all we’ve got.”
On this episode of the KU Sports Hour, hosted by KU football beat writer Benton Smith, the KUsports.com staff discusses KU’s 41-3 loss to Oklahoma. Topics include: recapping OU-KU (open-8:10), the on-field antics (8:10-23:20), injuries and other leftovers (23:20-30:30), and the KUsports.com football mailbag — discipline, birthday presents and Mark ...
Asked to identify KU’s defining characteristic, Beaty called his group, which has lost six of its eight Big 12 games by 22 or more points, resilient.
“Resiliency is the thing that sticks out to me because they continue to come out each week and they practice as hard as any team I've ever had,” Beaty said. “They continue to work toward developing, and they block out distractions, and they continue to see the vision, and they continue to march towards it.”
The Jayhawks need to disregard the trends that led to their dead-end season as they attempt to finish on a positive note.
2. Beware of James Washington
One of college football’s elite receivers, 6-foot senior James Washington leads all FBS players with 119.7 receiving yards per game. His 11 touchdown receptions on the year are just one behind KU’s team total of 12 in that category. Every time the ball is snapped, Kansas cornerbacks Hasan Defense and Kyle Mayberry, as well as safeties Tyrone Miller Jr., Shaq Richmond and Mike Lee (if cleared to play) will have to be locked in on Washington.
Some individual achievements are on the OSU wideout’s radar, too, so Washington will give Kansas all it can handle in his final college home game. One of three finalists for the Biletnikoff Award, Washington is second on OSU's career receiving yards list, with 4,240, and needs 175 to pass Rashaun Woods.
"It never crossed my mind that I could break that when I got here,” said Washington, the FBS active leader in career receiving touchdowns (37) and yards. “Every time I step on the field, I just try to do my job. My coach always says, 'You do your job and good things happen.' This is just one of those good things. It would be nice to break it. Whatever I'm able to do and however I'm able to help is the best way I can assist my teammates.”
Washington needs 347 receiving yards to become the Big 12's all-time career leader, a distinction held by Oklahoma’s Ryan Broyles (4,586 from 2008-11).
3. Rediscover offensive success
Oklahoma State has enough weapons that even if KU can somewhat slow down Washington, the Cowboys are bound to put up points. That means the Jayhawks can’t afford yet another touchdown-less day from their offense, as has been the case in half of their Big 12 games this season.
Beaty described the frustrations that come with such offensive struggles and how his players and coaches have dealt with them.
“You know, we talked a little bit last week about being consistent, right, not going up and down,” Beaty said. “We put 27 points or so against Texas (Nov. 11), and coming back and doing that this week (instead of scoring 3 points in the home finale versus Oklahoma) would have been a nice deal for us. We've just got to find a way to get consistent, right. I know Steven (Sims Jr., leading receiver) was hurt and he's a big part of what we do, but we also have some other very capable guys. We had some unfortunate things happen the other day (against OU) that we just simply can't have happen. We had a tip that turned into a pick that was a big, big play in that ball game. We've just got to make those plays.”
Since holding Texas to 10 points in October, the OSU defense has surrendered 39 or more points each of the past four weeks in its games against West Virginia, Oklahoma, Iowa State and Kansas State. The Jayhawks need to score a touchdown early to create some momentum for their offense against a Cowboys defense that has dealt with some issues of late.
Mason Rudolph vs. Kansas defense
The winningest quarterback in program history, Oklahoma State senior Mason Rudolph enters his final game at Boone Pickens Stadium leading one of the country’s best offensive attacks. The Cowboys rank second among FBS teams in total offense (567.9 yards per game), trailing only Oklahoma (588.7), and own the nation’s top passing offense (383.1 yards per game).
Oftentimes, those yards come in huge chunks, with Rudolph (33 touchdown passes this year) hitting Washington, Marcell Ateman, Jalen McCleskey, Dillon Stoner, Justice Hill and other Cowboys. Rudolph leads the nation in passing yards (4,115) because OSU picks them up in bunches. The 6-5 senior leads the country in completions of 10-plus yards (156), 30-plus yards (36), 40-plus yards (21) and 60-plus yards (nine).
“Man, you know, you just get done playing one of the best quarterbacks you've ever seen in your life,” Beaty said, referring to OU’s Baker Mayfield, “and you go and play another one that's really, really good.”
Rudolph’s coach, Mike Gundy, who played QB for OSU from 1986-89, has seen the current Cowboys quarterback set 32 program records.
"He will leave here as the most decorated player since Barry Sanders, in my opinion,” Gundy said. “That's based on Barry playing back when we played and there was no social media. You'd be surprised at how many people in the country didn't even know he played or didn't actually see him play or know how good he was.”
It will take the KU defense’s most complete showing of the season, with pressure coming from defensive linemen Dorance Armstrong Jr. and Daniel Wise, smart play at the linebacker level from Joe Dineen and company, and sound technique from every single defensive back who steps on the field for the Jayhawks to limit the impact of Rudolph and his various playmakers.
Kansas just caught the college football universe’s attention this past week against Oklahoma for all the wrong reasons, when their captains preemptively decided not to shake hands with Oklahoma QB Mayfield at the pregame coin toss. It was a bad look, especially for a team that has won just one game this season and perennially finishes last in the Big 12.
With the third year of the Beaty era coming to a close, KU needs something far more positive defining its last game of 2017. For a program that has the undistinguished major college football record of losing 45 road games in a row, an upset at No. 18 OSU seems farfetched to those outside the Kansas football facility.
What the Jayhawks must do to enter what figures to be a long offseason — considering preseason internal expectations of being far more competitive this year — with some momentum is put up a legitimate fight on the Cowboys’ home field. A 1-11 record won’t feel anywhere in the realm of satisfying, but if they somehow can hang around and make it interesting, at least they would have something tangible to use as a jumping-off point while preparing for 2018.
KU ….. OSU
KU run D vs. OSU run game √
KU pass D vs. OSU pass game √
KU run game vs. OSU run D √
KU pass game vs. OSU pass D √
Special teams √
Oklahoma State 55, Kansas 20