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KU’s Les Miles reveals his blueprint with 2020 class featuring exclusively high school players

Kansas head coach Les Miles watches from the sidelines during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Iowa State, Saturday, Nov. 23, 2019, in Ames, Iowa. (AP Photo/Matthew Putney)

Kansas head coach Les Miles watches from the sidelines during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Iowa State, Saturday, Nov. 23, 2019, in Ames, Iowa. (AP Photo/Matthew Putney) by Associated Press

In a lot of ways, this was Les Miles’ first true recruiting class since becoming the head coach at Kansas.

Sure, the history books will say that 2019 was his first class, a group that ultimately ranked No. 70 overall in team rankings on Rivals. But that class was put together on the fly, with Miles taking over after the 2018 season and finalizing the 19-player group by Feb. 6, 2019.

This time around, Miles had more than two months to land all 30 of his 2020 signees. And he revealed a blueprint for what he’s trying to do in the process. All 30 of KU’s pledges in this class are high school seniors, including four preferred walk-ons.

“This is what I want to do, period,” Miles said on his "Hawk Talk" radio show Thursday evening. “It’s where we want to stay.”

Now, of course, that type of bold proclamation is easy to say after the fact. We know that the Jayhawks would have liked to land former Florida quarterback Feleipe Franks, who ultimately chose to transfer to Arkansas.

But understanding the historical significance of this class is eye-opening. Rivals’ recruiting rankings go all the way back to the 2000 season. This is the first time KU hasn’t had at least one junior college player or transfer in its class.

Texas is the only other Big 12 program to not have a junior college player in this year’s class. Kansas State, meanwhile, leads the way with six such players. KU’s 2020 class is also ranked No. 47 overall on Rivals, which is the team’s highest overall ranking since it had the 43rd-best class in 2013.

“Ultimately, you want to get the opportunity to get that player on your campus and make him better,” Miles explained on "Hawk Talk." “If you go for a two-year junior college guy, you (have) two years to make him better. So what you see on film is really what you are going to get. You don’t really have the opportunity to invest in them, and make them more talented.”

Kansas has certainly pursued the junior college route before. Between 2012-18, five of the seven classes featured double-digit junior college players. David Beaty, who was the head coach before Miles, brought in 35 junior college players in his four years at the helm.

While Miles’ approach is refreshing, it certainly doesn’t bode well for KU’s success in the near future. And, for a fan base of a program that hasn’t won more than three games in a season since 2009, that might be a tough pill to swallow.

Looking at KU’s 2019 class alone, it is obvious that the team’s best contributor last fall was a junior college prospect. Receiver Andrew Parchment, who started at Northern Illinois and came to KU after one year at Iowa Central Community College, paced the team with 831 receiving yards and 65 receptions.

The other two junior college players, quarterback Thomas MacVittie and receiver Ezra Naylor II, were not as productive in their debut season with the Jayhawks. But Parchment’s play made a bigger impact than even the most lauded freshman prospects.

Steven Parker, who was a four-star prospect out of Dallas, played in four games and made one solo tackle in his rookie campaign. Linebacker Gavin Potter was forced into action after a season-ending injury to Dru Prox and finished with 56 total tackles in a year that featured plenty of learning moments for the freshman.

But just like it is still too early to determine the fate of the 2019 class, it will take some time to see the impact of the 2020 prospects. Still, developing those particular players will be the key to eventually turning this thing around.

“With those players that are playing three years and four years, it makes a tremendous difference how they finish their technique,” Miles said. “They will be a much better athlete and more competent competitor.”

It just might mean that the on-field product could get worse before it gets better at David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium.

Reply 8 comments from Jim Stauffer Brett McCabe Dirk Medema Dane Pratt Michael Maris Layne Pierce

Getting to know: Baylor football

Baylor head coach Matt Rhule looks to an official during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Kansas, Saturday, Sept. 22, 2018, in Waco, Texas.

Baylor head coach Matt Rhule looks to an official during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Kansas, Saturday, Sept. 22, 2018, in Waco, Texas.

On the surface, there isn’t much at stake when Baylor and Kansas square off in the final weekend of the 2019 regular season.

Baylor (10-1, 7-1 Big 12) already has its ticket punched to the Big 12 championship game, while KU’s bowl hopes were shattered well before this weekend. Still, the Jayhawks would like to send their seniors out with a memorable performance and the Bears must avoid an upset to help their postseason fate.

In addition, both teams can accomplish a significant feat with a win on Saturday. Kansas (3-8, 1-7 Big 12) could win more than three games in a season for the first team since 2009. Baylor, meanwhile, would match a program for wins in a season with a victory over Kansas.

Yet this matchup hasn’t been particularly close as of late. The Bears have won nine straight meetings with KU, including the last four trips to Lawrence. BU has outscored the Jayhawks, 425-109, since 2010 with an average margin of victory of 35 points per game.

Based off the betting line, the Bears shouldn’t have much trouble in their latest tilt with the Jayhawks. Baylor is considered a 14-point favorite via FanDuel’s Sportsbook as of Friday afternoon.

Kickoff is slated for 2:30 p.m. Saturday at David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium.

BREAKING DOWN BAYLOR:

OFFENSE

Quarterback — Junior quarterback Charlie Brewer has played in 32 games in his career, including 27 career starts. He has thrown for 7,334 yards in his career, which ranks third in Baylor history. This season, Brewer has thrown for 2,753 yards and 19 touchdowns while completing 211-of-317 pass attempts.

Running backs — Nine different players have scored a rushing touchdown for Baylor in 2019. Junior running back John Lovett (588 yards, 5 touchdowns) and senior JaMycal Hasty (510 yards, 4 touchdowns) have shouldered much of the rushing attack for the Bears this season. TCU is the only other team in the Big 12 with a pair of 500-yard runners this year.

Receivers — Denzel Mims is the only FBS player with at least eight receiving touchdowns in each of the last three seasons. Mims currently ranks sixth in Baylor history with 177 career receptions. He has 27 scores in his career, a mark that ranks fifth in program history. This season, Mims has 57 catches for 892 yards and 11 touchdowns.

Offensive line — No Baylor lineman has started every game this season. Blake Bedier, Baylor’s starting right tackle, has started in all but one game to lead the way. Prior to his time at BU, Bedier played at Snow College in Ephraim, Utah. He was a second team JUCO All-American and the No. 2 JUCO player in Utah after not even playing football in high school.

DEFENSE

Defensive line — Baylor’s 38 sacks in 11 games is the second-largest season sack total in program history, trailing a team-record mark of 40 in 1992. Junior defensive lineman James Lynch ranks first in the Big 12 and eighth nationally with 10.5 sacks in 2019. He is third in the conference with 14.5 tackles for loss, a total that ranks 21st nationally

Linebackers — Sophomore linebacker Terrel Bernard has stepped up following the loss of Clay Johnston to a season-ending knee injury in the victory over Texas Tech. Since moving to middle linebacker, Bernard has averaged 13 tackles per game over the last four contests with 4.0 sacks, 7.0 TFL, one fumble recovery and one interception.

Secondary — Baylor’s secondary has shown tremendous growth in three seasons under Matt Rhule. The Bears are first in the Big 12 with a +7 turnover margin through 11 games, after a combined turnover differential of -23 in 2017-18. Grayland Arnold leads the team with five interceptions, which is the most by a BU player since 2016.

SPECIAL TEAMS — The Bears have blocked nine kicks in the last 16 games. They actually have 14 blocks since the start of 2017, a mark that ranks second nationally.

FUN FACT — Baylor is the first Power 5 program to win 10 games within two seasons of winning one game or less. An 11th victory on the season would match the program record for wins in a season, which was set in 2013 and 2014.

VEGAS SAYS… The spread has stayed the same all week, as Baylor is considered a 14-point favorite on most sportsbooks. This number seems low, considering where things were just a week ago. Baylor beat Texas by 14 and KU was about a 24-point underdog against Iowa State.

Baylor has only won three Big 12 games by at least two touchdowns this year, but I’d guess that marks improves to four following this weekend.

Prediction: Baylor 35, Kansas 20

This year’s record ATS: 6-5

Overall record ATS: 13-9

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Pick 6: Best bets for Week 14 of college football

Kansas head coach Les Miles, left, congratulates Kansas running back Pooka Williams, right, after a touchdown by Williams during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Iowa State, Saturday, Nov. 23, 2019, in Ames, Iowa. Iowa State won 41-31. (AP Photo/Matthew Putney)

Kansas head coach Les Miles, left, congratulates Kansas running back Pooka Williams, right, after a touchdown by Williams during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Iowa State, Saturday, Nov. 23, 2019, in Ames, Iowa. Iowa State won 41-31. (AP Photo/Matthew Putney) by Associated Press

With it being a holiday week, and plenty of games taking place on Friday, this will be a shorter version of the Pick 6 blog.

The entire KU sports staff still picked against the spread in six games, including two NFL contests, for this weekend’s slate.

This is the final week of the Pick 6, but there is an opportunity for some serious movement. I’ve managed to lead the season standings all year, but Benton Smith is inching closer and could even take the lead in the final week.

In this shortened version of Pick 6, I will give you three betting tips ahead of rivalry week. It has been a blast doing this blog over the course of the season, though I’m sure I will manage to write gambling-related content during the basketball season.

All of these lines are presented by FanDuel’s Sportsbook. Sign up today on FanDuel using this special promotion.

Best bet: Minnesota (+2.5) vs. Wisconsin

I got this line earlier in the week when the Gophers were getting a field goal, but I’m still good with this number. Minnesota getting points is surprising, given that the team’s lone blemish came on the road at Iowa. Minnesota’s offense is more than capable of doing some damage against one of the better defensive teams in the Big 10.

Long shot: Arizona (+13.5) at Arizona State

Arizona State is coming off a big win against previously sixth-ranked Oregon, but could be in for a letdown this week. ASU has only covered the spread in four games this season, so I could easily see this being a win by single digits. Arizona’s offense is averaging 445.3 yards per game, meaning I think this offense can cover this big of a number.

My favorite: Notre Dame (-16.5) at Stanford

It has been a rough year for Stanford, which will miss a bowl game for the first time since 2008. The Cardinal currently rank 69th in offensive efficiency and 88th in defensive efficiency, according to ESPN. Notre Dame, which has won four games in a row, should roll in this one to help put this program in position for a good bowl game.

KU sports staff picks against the spread

Baylor (-14) at Kansas

Matt Tait: Baylor

Benton Smith: Baylor

Braden Shaw: Baylor

Shane Jackson: Baylor

Alabama (-3) at Auburn

Matt Tait: Alabama

Benton Smith: Auburn

Braden Shaw: Auburn

Shane Jackson: Alabama

Iowa State (-5.5) at Kansas State

Matt Tait: Kansas State

Benton Smith: Kansas State

Braden Shaw: Kansas State

Shane Jackson: Iowa State

Ohio State (-9) at Michigan

Matt Tait: Ohio State

Benton Smith: Michigan

Braden Shaw: Ohio State

Shane Jackson: Ohio State

San Francisco 49ers at Baltimore Ravens (-5.5)

Matt Tait: Ravens

Benton Smith: 49ers

Braden Shaw: Ravens

Shane Jackson: Ravens

New England Patriots (-3.5) at Houston Texans

Matt Tait: Patriots

Benton Smith: Patriots

Braden Shaw: Patriots

Shane Jackson: Texans

Season standings

Shane Jackson: 44-33-1 (5-1 in Week 13)

Benton Smith: 42-35-1 (4-2 in Week 13)

Matt Tait: 40-37-1 (5-1 in Week 13)

Braden Shaw: 34-43-1 (3-3 in Week 13)

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KU football opens as 14-point underdog against No. 11 Baylor

Kansas wide receiver Stephon Robinson, left, celebrates his touchdown with tight end Jack Luavasa, center, during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Iowa State, Saturday, Nov. 23, 2019, in Ames, Iowa. Iowa State won 41-31. (AP Photo/Matthew Putney)

Kansas wide receiver Stephon Robinson, left, celebrates his touchdown with tight end Jack Luavasa, center, during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Iowa State, Saturday, Nov. 23, 2019, in Ames, Iowa. Iowa State won 41-31. (AP Photo/Matthew Putney) by Associated Press

The 2019 season will come to an end this weekend for the Kansas football team.

While it might not seem like the Jayhawks have anything to play for, it could be important for the program to head into the offseason with some momentum. KU will also be honoring its seniors when it welcomes No. 11 Baylor at 2:30 p.m. Saturday at David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium.

According to the early betting line, Kansas will face another tall task this weekend when it squares off with one of the better teams in the conference. The Jayhawks (3-8, 1-7 Big 12) are considered a 14-point underdog against the Bears (10-1, 7-1) in the final game of the regular season.

The early betting line is actually about 10 points better than it was last weekend, when KU eventually suffered a 41-31 road loss to Iowa State. Baylor, meanwhile, is coming off a 24-10 win over Texas. The Bears also have a trip to the Big 12 championship game looming.

Baylor has covered the spread in three consecutive contests. This weekend figures to be just the third time that the Bears have been double-digit favorites in Big 12 play. They failed to cover in both instances against Texas Tech (-10.5) and West Virginia (-18), winning by a field goal in both outings. For the season, Baylor is 7-4 against the spread.

KU is 5-6 ATS this season, which includes a 4-2 clip over the last six games. The Jayhawks have been a double-digit underdog in six games this season, covering the spread on four different occasions.

As of Monday afternoon, the over/under for this game was 53.5 total points on FanDuel. KU has hit the over in three of its five games since Brent Dearmon was promoted to offensive coordinator. However, the under has hit in each of Baylor’s previous two contests.

Baylor has a 14-4 advantage over Kansas in the all-time series, including a streak of nine consecutive wins.

All Big 12 spreads for Week 14

All of these lines are presented by FanDuel’s Sportsbook. Sign up today on FanDuel using this special promotion.

Baylor (-14) at Kansas | Total: 53.5

Iowa State (-4.5) at Kansas State | Total: 49

Oklahoma (-13.5) at Oklahoma State | Total: 69.5

Texas Tech at Texas (-9) | Total: 65

West Virginia at TCU (-12) | Total: 45.5

Reply 4 comments from Shane Jackson Dirk Medema Dane Pratt Dale Rogers

Getting to know: Iowa State football

Iowa State quarterback Brock Purdy (15) finds a receiver to give the Cyclones some breathing room during the first quarter, Saturday, Nov. 3, 2018 at Memorial Stadium.

Iowa State quarterback Brock Purdy (15) finds a receiver to give the Cyclones some breathing room during the first quarter, Saturday, Nov. 3, 2018 at Memorial Stadium. by Nick Krug

It could be a long day for Kansas if the offense continues to struggle at Iowa State.

Don’t let the 6-4 record fool you, the Cyclones can play with anyone in the Big 12 conference.

Iowa State has shown just that, losing by a combined three points in a pair of road meetings against Baylor and Oklahoma. ISU is coming off a 23-21 home win over Texas, and appears poised to end the 2019 regular season on a positive note.

Iowa State’s offense is capable of making this score lopsided if Kansas can’t move the ball for a third straight week. In Big 12 action, Iowa State is second in the league in scoring offense with an average of 33.3 points per game. The Cyclones are outgaining their opponents by an average of 121.4 yards per game as well.

ISU’s defense has allowed just one team (Oklahoma) to score over 30 offensive points this season, tying for third in the Big 12 in scoring defense (24.6). Meanwhile, Kansas (3-7, 1-6 Big 12) has scored a total of 23 points over its last 25 possessions in back-to-back losses.

That should help explain the lofty spread by Vegas for the latest meeting between these two teams. Kansas leads the all-time series at 50-42-6, while Iowa State has the edge in Ames at 23-22-3.

Kickoff is slated for 11 a.m. at Jack Trice Stadium.

BREAKING DOWN IOWA STATE:

OFFENSE

Quarterback — Iowa State signal caller Brock Purdy is 13-6 as the starting quarterback, including a 10-4 mark against Big 12 foes. Purdy is one of four players in the FBS with at least 22 passing touchdowns and seven rushing scores. In the last 19 games under Purdy, the Cyclones are averaging 442.3 yards and 33.1 points per contest.

Running backs — True freshman running back Breece Hall, who is from Wichita Northwest, has emerged as a weapon out of the backfield over the last five games. Hall is averaging 120.4 rushing yards in the last five games, which ranks fifth among Power 5 backs since Oct. 12. He also has seven scores on the year, matching a freshman record for the Cyclones.

Receivers — Senior Deshaunte Jones has had an impressive career with Iowa State. Jones ranks in the top-10 in the following Iowa State career receiving categories: Receptions (3rd, 171), Receiving Yards (6th, 1,923) and TD Receptions (T9th, 12). Jones has a team-high 63 catches for 748 yards this season.

Offensive line — Julian Good-Jones, Trevor Downing, Collin Olson, Josh Knipfel and Bryce Meeker started on the offensive line for the Cyclones last week against Texas. Good-Jones didn’t start the first game of his freshman season in 2016, but he has started every game since for a stretch of 47 consecutive starts. The school record for ISU is 48 career starts.

DEFENSE

Defensive line — Zach Peterson, Jamahl Johnson and Enyi Uwazurike started in Iowa State’s three-man defensive front last week. Ray Lima, the team’s usual starting nose guard, has 22 tackles and 2.5 TFL this year. Lima is wearing No. 58 in honor of former ISU assistant coach Curtis Bray, who passed away in 2014.

Linebackers — O’Rien Vance is holding down the middle linebacker spot for ISU. Marcel Spears (weak-side) and Mike Rose (strong-side) help make up the rest of the linebacker unit for the Cyclones. Rose is third on the team and 15th in the Big 12 in tackles with 62. Vance leads the team and ranks third in the Big 12 in sacks per game.

Secondary — Defensive back Datrone Young has 10 career starts, including eight this season. He has 17 tackles to go along with one pass breakup on the year. Lawrence White has 16 career starts and leads the squad with two interceptions this season. He is second on the team in tackles with 70, which is good for sixth in the Big 12.

SPECIAL TEAMS — Kicker Connor Assalley is 27-of-38 on field goal attempts and 79-for-82 on PATs in his career. He is 11-of-15 on field goal attempts this season. Punter Joe Rivera is averaging 40.9 yards per punt and has downed 17 punts inside the 20.

FUN FACT — ISU has played in six one-score games this season. Iowa State’s four losses are by a combined 11 points to teams ranked in the CFP poll.

VEGAS SAYS… Iowa State is favored by 25 points over Kansas as of Friday afternoon. Picking ATS for KU this season has been especially tough. KU’s offense was stellar for the first two games under Brent Dearmon, but it has been anything but that over the last two games. The offense needs to be closer to the former to stay within the spread this weekend against Iowa State’s offense.

I’m choosing to believe the Jayhawks will be better on offense than they have the last couple weeks. If it doesn't happen this weekend, though, the spread for Baylor will be ridiculous.

Prediction: Iowa State 38, Kansas 20

This year’s record ATS: 5-5

Overall record ATS: 12-9

Reply 1 comment from Robert  Brock

Pick 6: Best bets for Week 13 of college football

Fans watch as an air refueled flies over Memorial Stadium prior to kickoff on Saturday, Nov. 2, 2019 at Memorial Stadium.

Fans watch as an air refueled flies over Memorial Stadium prior to kickoff on Saturday, Nov. 2, 2019 at Memorial Stadium. by Nick Krug

Best bet: Tennessee (+4) at Missouri

The Tigers shouldn’t be more than a field goal favorite over anyone. Missouri has scored a total of 27 points over the last four games with no more than seven in any of the last three. Missouri has last four in a row and failed to cover the spread in five consecutive contests. The Volunteers might win this thing outright.

Long shot: Arizona State (+14) vs. Oregon

Arizona State freshman quarterback Jayden Daniels has been playing better as of late. He’s thrown nine touchdowns over the last four weeks, recording at least 267 passing yards in three of his previous four outings. Oregon’s defense, meanwhile, hasn’t played as well over the last four weeks outside of a 34-6 win over Arizona.

Favorite bet: USC (-13.5) vs. UCLA

USC is coming off back-to-back road wins over Cal and Arizona State to win four of its last five games. The Trojans are averaging 31.5 points and 445.7 yards per game this season. The defense continues to get more healthy as well. The Bruins won’t be able to slow down the Trojans’ offense this week, so anything less than two touchdowns is worth taking.

Over of the week: TCU at Oklahoma (65)

I was sweating the under after I recommended taking it in the Baylor-OU game. It might have hit, but I’m switching to the over in this week’s game featuring the Sooners. Oklahoma has put up at least 42 points in every home game this season. The Sooners’ defense has also allowed at least 31 points in three consecutive contests.

Under of the week: Texas at Baylor (58.5)

The under between these two teams has hit in six straight meetings. Last year’s game featured a combined 40 points. Baylor’s defense just held Oklahoma to 10 points in the first half during last week’s loss. I expect the Bears to bounce back with an even stronger showing on the defensive end.

NFL action: Cincinnati Bengals (+6.5) at Pittsburgh Steelers

The Bengals are not a good football team, but the Steelers are closer to their level than a playoff-caliber team. Mason Rudolph has struggled under center, and now he’s without JuJu Smith-Schuster. I think Pittsburgh will have a tough time scoring enough to win this game by a touchdown. Give me the points.

KU sports staff picks against the spread

All of these lines are presented by FanDuel’s Sportsbook. Sign up today on FanDuel using this special promotion.

Kansas at Iowa State (-24.5)

Matt Tait: Kansas

Benton Smith: Kansas

Braden Shaw: Iowa State

Shane Jackson: Iowa State

Texas at Baylor (-5.5)

Matt Tait: Baylor

Benton Smith: Baylor

Braden Shaw: Baylor

Shane Jackson: Baylor

Penn State at Ohio State (-18)

Matt Tait: Penn State

Benton Smith: Penn State

Braden Shaw: Penn State

Shane Jackson: Penn State

Boise State (-7.5) at Utah State

Matt Tait: Utah State

Benton Smith: Utah State

Braden Shaw: Boise State

Shane Jackson: Boise State

Dallas Cowboys at New England Patriots (-6.5)

Matt Tait: Cowboys

Benton Smith: Patriots

Braden Shaw: Patriots

Shane Jackson: Cowboys

Green Bay Packers at San Francisco 49ers (-3)

Matt Tait: 49ers

Benton Smith: 49ers

Braden Shaw: Packers

Shane Jackson: 49ers

Season standings

Shane Jackson: 39-32-1 (4-1-1 in Week 12)

Benton Smith: 38-33-1 (5-0-1 in Week 12)

Matt Tait: 35-36-1 (4-1-1 in Week 12)

Braden Shaw: 31-40-1 (5-0-1 in Week 12)

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KU’s defense shows signs of improvement on 3rd down in OSU loss

Oklahoma State wide receiver Dillon Stoner (17) carries against Kansas in the first half of an NCAA college football game in Stillwater, Okla., Saturday, Nov. 16, 2019. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

Oklahoma State wide receiver Dillon Stoner (17) carries against Kansas in the first half of an NCAA college football game in Stillwater, Okla., Saturday, Nov. 16, 2019. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki) by Associated Press

Just a few weeks ago, KU’s defense had an alarming issue. The Jayhawks couldn’t get a stop on third down.

Entering the final bye week of the season, Kansas ranked 129th out of 130 FBS teams in third-down defense. Opponents were converting 53% of the time against KU, which only led UTEP at the time.

At least for one game, though, the Jayhawks (3-7, 1-6 Big 12) showed signs of improvement in a 31-13 loss to Oklahoma State in Stillwater. The Cowboys only converted on four of their 12 chances on third down last weekend.

It is something that KU head coach Les Miles was pleased to see, and hopes it is a sign of things to come down the stretch against Iowa State and Baylor to close out the season.

"I know statistically we are not necessarily where we need to be on defense,” Miles said. “We stopped them eight of 12 times, got turnovers in key situations. And so defensively, things like that, if that continues, that's just what we would like to have happen.”

The four successful conversions by OSU ended up being the lowest mark allowed by KU since Coastal Carolina went 1-for-9 on third down in Week 2. Since then, opposing teams have converted at least six times against Kansas until Oklahoma State failed to do so.

Kansas now ranks 125th in the country in third-down defense. The Jayhawks have given up a 50.68% conversion rate, allowing 74 first downs on 146 such chances. Akron, San Jose State, Massachusetts, Connecticut and UTEP are the only teams that rank lower than KU in that category entering this weekend.

It remains to be seen if it was a one-time fluke or if KU’s defense has figured something out coming off that bye week. But let’s take a look at the five third-down stops by the Jayhawks in the first half to see what they did right last weekend:

Situation: 3rd-and-7 from OSU’s 8-yard line in 1Q

On the second drive of the game, Kansas got a much-needed three-and-out.

After a pair of short runs by the Cowboys, redshirt freshman quarterback Spencer Sanders attempted a pass in a tight window along the sideline. His pass was too high against man-to-man coverage by KU’s defense, but it demonstrated the benefit in forcing the opposition into an obvious passing situation.

The Jayhawks ended up getting the ball on the Cowboys’ 25-yard line on the ensuing possession, but were unable to get any points out of the favorable field position.

via GIPHY

Situation: 3rd-and-11 from KU’s 25-yard line in 2Q

Another obvious passing situation resulted in a failed conversion by the Cowboys. But this stop was a credit to KU’s containment.

Entering the final bye week of the season, Kansas ranked 129th out of 130 FBS teams in third-down defense. Opponents were converting 53% of the time against KU, which only led UTEP at the time.

Sanders was unable to bounce his run to the outside, as Kyle Mayberry made the play for a 3-yard loss. Four different KU players were in the area to make the stop as well.

via GIPHY

Situation: 3rd-and-1 from OSU’s 32-yard line in 2Q

Needing just 1 yard, Oklahoma State turned to the nation’s leading rusher.

Oklahoma State handed the ball off to OSU running back Chuba Hubbard in a two-back set out of shotgun. It was a misdirection, as the two backs crossed in front of Sanders. Hubbard was ultimately stuffed just shy of the first-down marker by Gavin Potter and Jay Dineen.

via GIPHY

Situation: 3rd-and-3 from OSU’s 40-yard line in 2Q

After converting on fourth down, OSU faced another third-and-short on that same possession.

Sanders had four receivers out to the left for a screen pass. Dineen immediately ran toward the intended receiver, so Sanders elected to run up the middle. Potter and Azur Kamara were there to make the play at the line of scrimmage.

via GIPHY

Situation: 3rd-and-4 from KU’s 26-yard line in 2Q

The Cowboys had no chance on their final try on third down in the first half.

Kamara came hard off the edge at the same time Sanders handed it off to LD Brown, who was then tripped up by his own blocker. Many KU players filled their respective gap, which prevented any sort of cutback.

Potter was ultimately credited with the tackle, though OSU took a 24-0 advantage on a 44-yard field goal on the very next play.

via GIPHY

KU opponent third downs this season

• Indiana State: 5-for-14 — 24-17 KU W

• Coastal Carolina: 1-for-9 — 12-7 KU L

• at Boston College: 10-for-19 — 48-24 KU W

• West Virginia: 9-for-18 — 29-24 KU L

• at TCU: 14-for-19 — 51-14 KU L

• Oklahoma: 6-for-9 — 45-20 KU L

• at Texas: 9-for-14 — 50-48 KU L

• Texas Tech: 6-for-15 — 37-34 KU W

• Kansas State: 11-for-17 — 38-10 KU L

• Oklahoma State: 4-for-12 — 31-13 KU L

Reply 3 comments from Bee Bee Dane Pratt Dirk Medema

KU football is big underdog for road tilt with Iowa State

(Boston, MA, 09/13/19) Kansas Jayhawks head coach Les Miles, left, talks with punter Kyle Thompson (80) prior to the start of an NCAA football game at Boston College in Boston, Mass., on Friday, September 13, 2019.

(Boston, MA, 09/13/19) Kansas Jayhawks head coach Les Miles, left, talks with punter Kyle Thompson (80) prior to the start of an NCAA football game at Boston College in Boston, Mass., on Friday, September 13, 2019. by Chris Evans

After back-to-back losses, things don’t get any easier for the Kansas football team.

KU will travel to Iowa State this weekend for another 11 a.m. kickoff. ESPN’s FPI gives the Jayhawks just a 4.6% chance of winning, which is their lowest chance of victory over the final three games of the 2019 season.

The early betting line suggests that this game should be even more difficult for Kansas, which is coming off a 31-13 loss to Oklahoma State in Stillwater. Iowa State is favored by 24.5 points, according to FanDuel’s Sportsbook as of Monday afternoon. The line actually opened at 23 points, so the number has jumped up a bit in 24 hours.

It marks just the sixth time since 2000 that the Cyclones are favored by 20-plus points. It is also the biggest betting number in favor of ISU since the team was laying 23 points against Kansas on Oct. 14, 2017 in what turned out to be a 45-0 win.

Iowa State has been favored in nine of its 11 games this season. The Cyclones (6-4, 4-3 Big 12) are coming off a 23-21 win over then-No. 19 Texas. The Jayhawks (3-7, 1-6) have scored a combined 23 points in consecutive defeats to Kansas State and Oklahoma State.

Saturday marks the 99th meeting between Iowa State and Kansas, a series that began in 1898. KU has a 50-42-6 advantage in the all-time series, but ISU has won the last four matchups. Kansas also hasn’t won a Big 12 road game since 2008.

Kansas is 4-6 against the spread this season, while Iowa State is 6-4. As of Monday, Odds Shark projects the Cyclones to cover the spread and the total score (59 points) to go over.

All Big 12 spreads for Week 13

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Kansas at Iowa State (-24.5)

Oklahoma State (-7) at West Virginia

Texas at Baylor (-5.5)

Kansas State at Texas Tech (-2)

TCU at Oklahoma (-18)

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Getting to know: Oklahoma State football

Oklahoma State running back Chuba Hubbard (30) celebrates with fans following an NCAA college football game against TCU in Stillwater, Okla., Saturday, Nov. 2, 2019. Oklahoma State won 34-27. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

Oklahoma State running back Chuba Hubbard (30) celebrates with fans following an NCAA college football game against TCU in Stillwater, Okla., Saturday, Nov. 2, 2019. Oklahoma State won 34-27. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki) by Associated Press

It has been two weeks since Kansas had a dud performance against Kansas State in front of a sellout crowd at David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium.

The bye week came at an opportune time for the Jayhawks, who fell flat in a 38-10 loss. It gave them an extra week to self-scout and get healthy before the final stretch of the 2019 season, which features two road games and one home contest.

But the problem is that Oklahoma State is coming off a bye week as well, and has more momentum entering Les Miles’ return to Stillwater.

OSU has an explosive offense behind the nation’s leading rusher in Chuba Hubbard. Other than the Sunflower Showdown, KU’s offense has been very effective since Brent Dearmon took over play calling duties. So there should be plenty of points in this game.

Whether or not Kansas can cover the 17.5-point spread remains to be seen, however. Let’s take a closer look at the Cowboys to find out if that is possible.

BREAKING DOWN OKLAHOMA STATE:

OFFENSE

Quarterback — Redshirt freshman Spencer Sanders has made a number of plays through the air and on the ground during his first year as the starting quarterback. He’s already the all-time OSU freshman leader in season passing yards. Sanders also ranked third among Power 5 quarterbacks with 588 rushing yards.

Running backs — For a Kansas defense that struggles to stop the run, this will be a tough matchup. Redshirt sophomore Chuba Hubbard is the FBS leader in rushing yards, yards per game, yards per carry and all purpose yards. In fact, his 178.6 rushing yards per game is 33.1 more than second-place A.J. Dillon of Boston College.

Receivers — Redshirt junior Dillon Stoner stepped in as OSU's top receiver after Biletnikoff finalist Tylan Wallace was lost for the season to injury before the TCU game. Stoner finished the TCU win with a career-best two touchdowns and a season-best 93 receiving yards. Braydon Johnson, Landon Wolf and Jordan McCray are involved in the passing game as well.

Offensive line — Redshirt junior Teven Jenkins, who is from Topeka, Kansas, is slated to start at right tackle. He has made 24 total starts, including every game last season at either right tackle or left tackle. Left guard Marcus Keyes has started 45 games for OSU, which is 11 more than anyone else on the entire roster. Left tackle Dylan Galloway has 10 career starts for the Cowboys.

DEFENSE

Defensive line — True freshman Trace Ford has become a playmaker on this defense at the end spot. He has 18 tackles, two sacks and six quarterback hurries. Ford is the only true freshman to start a game for Oklahoma State so far this season. Defensive tackles Israel Antwine and Cameron Murray are also new starters for the Cowboys this year.

Linebackers — Junior Malcolm Rodriguez leads the team and ranks third in the Big 12 with 8.2 tackles per game. His 168 career tackles paces the squad, and he notched a game-winning pick-six in the fourth quarter at Iowa State. Amen Ogbongbemiga ranks among the top-eight in the Big 12 in tackles, TFL and sacks this season.

Secondary — Senior cornerback A.J. Green is one of 14 national semifinalists for the Jim Thorpe Award presented to the nation's top defensive back. Cornerback Rodarius Williams is a three-year starter, and is tied with Green for most starts on the Cowboy defense with 35. Safety Tre Sterling has 38 tackles in his past six games.

SPECIAL TEAMS — Kicker Matt Ammendola is third among active FBS players with 331 career points. He has made two 53-yard field goals during his career. Punter Tom Hutton, a 29-year-old true freshman, was recruited through ProKick Australia.

FUN FACT — Les Miles returns to Stillwater to play Oklahoma State for the first time in his career. As the leader of the Cowboys, Miles led Oklahoma State to a 28-21 record, where they reached three-consecutive bowl games after starting 4-7 in his first year.

VEGAS SAYS… The Jayhawks are getting 17.5 points as of Friday afternoon in their Week 12 matchup with the Cowboys. Kansas has typically fared well when it is counted out this much, and I expect that trend to continue this week. KU’s defense won’t be able to stop Oklahoma State’s ground game, but I expect the offense to bounce back.

Prediction: Oklahoma State 42, Kansas 31

This year’s record ATS: 5-4

Overall record ATS: 12-8

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Pick 6: Best bets for Week 12 of college football

Fans watch as an air refueled flies over Memorial Stadium prior to kickoff on Saturday, Nov. 2, 2019 at Memorial Stadium.

Fans watch as an air refueled flies over Memorial Stadium prior to kickoff on Saturday, Nov. 2, 2019 at Memorial Stadium. by Nick Krug

Best bet: Texas (+7) at Iowa State

It is funny how much things change over the course of a season. Earlier in the year, I was constantly fading Texas. Now, I’m backing the Longhorns because I think the market went too far in the opposite direction. This defense is getting more healthy, and a touchdown is simply too much. Plus, betting Tom Herman as an underdog in his career has been quite the money maker.

Long shot: Ole Miss (+21.5) vs. LSU

Those who have followed this blog all year knew this was coming. Especially in college football, I’m a firm believer in letdown games. By now, you have seen what Joe Burrow and No. 1 LSU did to Alabama last week. The Rebels won’t be a pushover either, as they are leading the SEC in rushing. I think that is enough to cover the three-touchdown spread.

Easy favorite: Alabama (-17.5) at Mississippi State

Along those same lines, putting my money in a Nick Saban-led team coming off a loss seems like a strong play. The Bulldogs have also lost four of their previous five games, with their lone win coming against Arkansas. I’m not sure there was a number too high that would have forced me to stay away.

Over of the week: Kansas at Oklahoma State (67.5)

I’m diving back in on the over for KU games. I just believe Brent Dearmon will have a response off a bye after scoring only 10 points in a 38-10 loss to Kansas State just two weeks ago. Oklahoma State has a stellar offense, which is led by the nation’s leading rusher in Chuba Hubbard.

Under of the week: Oklahoma at Baylor (67.5)

There isn’t a whole lot of logic behind this pick, to be honest. It stood out to me because it was the same total at KU’s Week 12 matchup with Oklahoma State. This is more of a gut feeling pick. If Baylor is going to win this game, it is going to come down to getting key stops and limiting possessions.

NFL action: Buffalo Bills (-6.5) at Miami Dolphins

My NFL bet was a dud last week, but I fully expect to get back in the win column. I don’t understand this line at all. The Bills were a 17-point favorite in the first meeting between these two teams, so the market might be overreacting to a pair of fluky wins by the Dolphins. Buffalo will take care of business this week on the road.

KU sports staff picks against the spread

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Kansas at Oklahoma State (-18)

Matt Tait: Kansas

Benton Smith: Kansas

Braden Shaw: Oklahoma State

Shane Jackson: Kansas

Oklahoma (-10) at Baylor

Matt Tait: Baylor

Benton Smith: Baylor

Braden Shaw: Baylor

Shane Jackson: Baylor

Navy at Notre Dame (-9.5)

Matt Tait: Notre Dame

Benton Smith: Notre Dame

Braden Shaw: Notre Dame

Shane Jackson: Navy

USC (-6.5) at California

Matt Tait: USC

Benton Smith: USC

Braden Shaw: USC

Shane Jackson: USC

Houston Texans at Baltimore Ravens (-4.5)

Matt Tait: Ravens

Benton Smith: Ravens

Braden Shaw: Ravens

Shane Jackson: Ravens

Kansas City Chiefs (-4) at Los Angeles Chargers

Matt Tait: Chargers

Benton Smith: Chiefs

Braden Shaw: Chiefs

Shane Jackson: Chiefs

Season standings

Shane Jackson: 35-31 (2-4 in Week 11)

Benton Smith: 33-33 (4-2 in Week 11)

Matt Tait: 31-35 (4-2 in Week 11)

Braden Shaw: 26-40 (4-2 in Week 11)

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