Wednesday, October 18, 2017


Tom Keegan: TCU brings out best in Kansas football

KU coach David Beaty, left, pleads his case to officials in the Jayhawks' 23-17 loss to TCU on Saturday, Nov. 14, 2015, in Fort Worth, Texas.

KU coach David Beaty, left, pleads his case to officials in the Jayhawks' 23-17 loss to TCU on Saturday, Nov. 14, 2015, in Fort Worth, Texas.


It’s one of the great mysteries of our time, ranking right up there with the location of Jimmy Hoffa’s corpse, the success of unwatchable reality shows and a giraffe only needing 30 minutes of sleep per day.

Why does Kansas compete way better against TCU than vs. any other Big 12 school? It defies explanation.

It’s not as if the Horned Frogs are a lower-division team. They are 28-20 in conference games since joining the Big 12. Kansas is 3-45 over the same period. Yet, when they meet, it’s usually difficult to tell which school is the nationally ranked one.

TCU has won all five of its conference games with Kansas, but by an average margin of just seven points.

David Beaty’s teams have lost to TCU by scores of 23-17 and 24-23. Every other school has beaten Beaty’s Jayhawks by 31 points or greater at least once.

What accounts for the difference?

“Man, I really don't (know),” Beaty said. “I mean, I don't understand why you would play better against one team than any of the others. But we have in the past. That doesn't mean that you're going to this time. You've still got to go earn that, right? They're one of the best teams in the country. So we better have everything ready to go and hitting on all cylinders.”

The oddsmakers don’t think it will last and have made the Horned Frogs (6-0, ranked No. 4) 37-1/2-point favorites for Saturday night’s 7 p.m. kickoff in Fort Worth.

TCU has been a big favorite against Kansas in the past and narrowly escaped with a victory.

“I do think that the fact that a lot of our guys hail from that area, which gives them the potential to be recruited by them, right, some of which don't get recruited by them,” Beaty said. “I’m sure there is a natural chip on people's shoulders.”

What else?

“The other thing is they're playing in front of their family a lot when we go there. There is something about that,” Beaty said. “Whether it's a free meal or whatever you're going to get after the game, sometimes it's just a hug and seeing your mom, your dad, your sister and brother. There is just a pride factor when the name's on the back of that jersey and they're sitting in the stands. It makes a little bit of a difference, I think.”

Red-shirt junior defensive tackle Daniel Wise, recruited by Iowa State and Missouri, is from the Dallas area.

"I was not recruited by TCU, so I guess there’s a chip on my shoulder,” said Wise, who has been coached by four different defensive line coaches in four years at KU. “Being a kid from Texas and you get overlooked by Texas schools, so that plays a role I guess.”

Quarterback Carter Stanley said he thinks that’s a factor and listed another.

“The last two years I’ve been able to look at them and, just personnel-wise, we have very similar bodies for the most part, more fast teams than bigger-built teams,” Stanley said. “We base our schemes off of speed and tempo, offensively and defensively.”

Kansas will face a highly motivated TCU squad because it wants to show a prime-time, national audience it merits its No. 4 ranking. Horned Frogs coach Gary Patterson can use the fact that KU has scored just 11 fewer points in losing to TCU the past three years combined to ensure his players don’t take the Jayhawks lightly. Every game is an opportunity to impress the committee that selects the four schools that will participate in the national-title playoff. The more points the Horned Frogs score each week, the more dominant they’ll look to the committee.

Nothing about the way this matchup has gone down the past few seasons makes sense on paper, so it’s conceivable Kansas will make a game of it, even though the Jayhawks were outscored, 110-19, the past two weeks.

In 2014, the year TCU finished No. 3 in the final poll, the Frogs beat KU, under interim head coach Clint Bowen, 34-30. Nobody predicted that. In 2015, TCU was seventh in the final poll and Kansas went 0-12, yet the Horned Frogs won by just six points.

A look at the rest of the Big 12 members' average margins vs. KU in the past five-plus seasons, starting with TCU’s first season (also Charlie Weis’ first at KU), makes the Horned Frogs’ seven-point average advantage all the more puzzling: Texas (+17 points), Iowa State (+18), Oklahoma State (+24), Texas Tech (+24), West Virginia (+26), Kansas State (+30), Oklahoma (+41), Baylor (+44).

Seeing whether this mystery continues or Kansas continues its slide into oblivion is a reason to tune in.


John Fitzgerald 2 years, 1 month ago

Hmm...Beaty doesn't know why we compete with TCU but get destroyed by other teams in the conference? I could tell him why but it's not appropriate for this site. Also, I think TCU lays it on us Saturday. And if I had a million dollars I'd even put all of it down with confidence that TCU will beat us by at least 40 points. There's no reason to believe this team won't embarrass us on live TV like they have the last few games, or really the entire season. I have a feeling I'll be watching the Michigan-Penn State game by mid 1st quarter.

Robert Brock 2 years, 1 month ago

KU will put up a valiant effort and lose only 39-0. 😎

Ian Ballinger 2 years, 1 month ago

"As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another." - Proverbs 27:17. Call on my fellow believers in Jayhawk nation to pray for our guys. That God gives them strength and clear minds and keeps them safe from injury. This is our team, and I refuse to quit on them.

Joe Ross 2 years, 1 month ago

I have this sinking feeling that this year, out of step with years past, Kansas won't play TCU close.

If that's the case, it could be a bellwether in itself that the wheels are falling off the bus and the program is slipping in the wrong direction.

Brad Sherp 2 years, 1 month ago

TCU is going to be out to prove that they belong in the playoff. KU will get crushed.

Len Shaffer 2 years, 1 month ago

The closest thing to a theory that makes sense is the one from Carter Stanley.

The rest of the comments are ridiculous. If playing in Texas (or against Texas teams) was so important, then the games wouldn't be close only against TCU and not against the other Texas teams in the conference.

I think the thing that makes the most sense is that it's simply been a fluke. We're not talking about a huge number of games, and I don't think there's enough evidence to support a pattern. If KU keeps it close this year, maybe I'll start to believe there really is something to KU playing better against TCU than the other conference teams. But I think reality will get in the way this year and we'll lose by something like 67-13.

That score has a special meaning to me because when I was a student at KU, I managed to bet $20 with someone on KU + 57 1/2 against Nebraska. KU scored a TD with 20 seconds left to lose "only" 67-13 -- the most exciting destruction of KU that I've ever experienced.

Tony Bandle 2 years, 1 month ago

My theory is that, unlike teams that have been killing Kansas for decades i.e.Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas [most years], K-State, TCU is a relatively new team that we have played hard from the beginning so there is no such preset onus in the minds of the Hawks.

Also, TCU must take KU lightly, as they should, and probably play down to our level. The one big elephant in the room is, THEY HAVE STILL WON ALL FIVE GAMES!!!

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