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Thursday, June 24, 2021

KU football expected to play one of FBS’ most difficult schedules in Lance Leipold’s 1st season

Kansas safety Ricky Thomas (3) tries to tackle Coastal Carolina wide receiver Jaivon Heiligh (6) during the first half of an NCAA college football game in Lawrence, Kan., Saturday, Sept. 12, 2020. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)

Kansas safety Ricky Thomas (3) tries to tackle Coastal Carolina wide receiver Jaivon Heiligh (6) during the first half of an NCAA college football game in Lawrence, Kan., Saturday, Sept. 12, 2020. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)

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The Big 12 won't be offering Lance Leipold a friendly initiation process this fall, when the path toward victories figures to be onerous for Kansas football during Leipold’s debut season as the head coach.

According to various projections, including some posted this week by Sports Betting Dime, the Jayhawks are expected to play one of the most difficult slates in all of the FBS.

SBD’s strength of schedule formula calculates that KU is set to encounter the second-toughest calendar among the 130 FBS teams in 2021. Only Arkansas’ schedule, which includes matchups with Texas A & M, Georgia, Texas, Auburn, LSU and Alabama, is expected to be more difficult.

Per SBD, its rankings take into account opponents’ efficiency ratings from the 2020 season while also factoring in the production lost from each team’s roster. The formula also incorporates recruiting rankings, transfers added and whether games are played at home or on the road.

KU football’s season kicks off this year with the Jayhawks’ most winnable game on the calendar, when FCS program South Dakota visits David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium on Sept. 3.

But both of KU’s other two nonconference games are on the road, with the first of those coming at Coastal Carolina (Sept. 10), which currently sits at No. 35 in the country in ESPN’s Football Power Index.

Based on the preseason FPI rankings, the Jayhawks’ other road nonconference foe, Duke (Sept. 25), would be the worst FBS opponent on KU’s schedule, as the Bule Devils are ranked 74th.

The computer models at both SBD and ESPN expect many teams in the Big 12 to play some of the most demanding schedules in the country. Six of the conference’s 10 teams appear in the top 14 of SBD’s strength of schedule rankings: KU, Texas (4th), Oklahoma State (5th), Baylor (6th), Kansas State (8th) and TCU (14th).

ESPN’s FPI strength of schedule rankings, meanwhile, have every Big 12 team except Oklahoma ranked in the top 15 — and OU is 17th.

What could be a loaded Big 12 this fall includes seven teams in ESPN’s FPI top 25: No. 2 OU, No. 4 Iowa State, No. 9 Oklahoma State, No. 12 Texas, No. 19 TCU, No. 21 Texas Tech and No. 24 West Virginia.

Kansas, at 109 in the FPI, is the lowest ranked Power Five team.

Las Vegas oddsmakers aren’t expecting the Jayhawks to win many games a year after going 0-9, either. At VegasInsider.com, win total odds from five different sportsbooks are listed, and four of them placed KU at 1.5 wins. Draft Kings has the Jayhawks’ win total even lower, at 1.0.

2021 KU football schedule

Sept. 3 — South Dakota, 7 p.m. (ESPN+)

Sept. 10 — at Coastal Carolina, 6:30 p.m. (ESPN2)

Sept. 18 — Baylor, 2:30 p.m. (ESPN+)

Sept. 25 — at Duke

Oct. 2 — at Iowa State

Oct. 9 — Bye week

Oct. 16 — Texas Tech

Oct. 23 — Oklahoma

Oct. 30 — at Oklahoma State

Nov. 6 — Kansas State

Nov. 13 — at Texas

Nov. 20 — at TCU

Nov. 27 — West Virginia

Comments

Brett McCabe 3 months, 3 weeks ago

Here’s hoping that Goff will get future schedules straightened out.

We are playing two teams from places we don’t recruit and, outside of conference, zero teams in places we do. Forget about the development of CCU into a quality football program, there was no good reason to ever have them on the schedule.

When you have developed the worst football program in America, you must do everything right to fix it. Scheduling is critical, and the Zenger/Weis/Beaty nightmare did as poor of a job as could be done in this area, along with all other areas.

There are limits, of course, but one way you win is by scheduling effectively. We have to start getting things right. Miles helped to start the process of getting away from the Beaty devastation to the roster, I’m confident we have an AD and a coach who can build on that.

Dirk Medema 3 months, 3 weeks ago

Duke is really the crucial game this season. Recent seasons have shown that we can’t assume a W in any game but this one will show if we are even in sight of the rest of the pack. I’m recalling one of the listed references not only having us last among FBS but 30 places from the next FBS team which might be Duke.

We were one of the youngest teams last season so maybe there will be some good year 2 growth across the board. Just the OL improvements should go a long way in that direction.

Jeff Coffman 3 months, 3 weeks ago

0 - Disappointing

1-2 - Expected

3-4 - Above Average

5 - Outstanding

6+ - Build a statue already.

David Robinett 3 months, 3 weeks ago

Jeff, at this moment in time, I'd call 3-4 wins Outstanding :)

Dirk Medema 3 months, 3 weeks ago

I think Duke-KU is part of a contract that goes back a decade and predates any of even the previous administration. I’m recalling it going back to the KSTATE Cupcake Schedules, when teams were still playing multiple FCS teams, and the outcry for good teams to play P5 opponents in non-con. Remember back when we thought we might be good. Duke was a reasonable foray into P5 opponents at the time. Crazy that CCU is now projected to be better than half the conference.

Kent Gaylor 3 months, 3 weeks ago

Future schedules don't look any better. Besides an FCS school TBD, 2022 has Duke and Houston while 2023 has Houston and Illinois.

Brian Wilson 3 months, 3 weeks ago

I like Houston actually. KU gets some recruits out of Texas so Houston makes sense.

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