Kansas has had a hard time maintaining momentum this season.
Following the win over Indiana State in the season opener, KU suffered a 12-7 loss to Coastal Carolina in Week 2. The Jayhawks then scored 48 points in a lopsided road win over Boston College before falling to West Virginia in the Big 12 opener.
Now, the Jayhawks are coming off a 50-48 road loss to Texas, but it was still an impressive feat. They were considered three-touchdown underdogs in that game, which ultimately came down to the final play. It was a strong debut by Brent Dearmon, who was promoted to offensive coordinator during the bye week.
But now the pressure is on. KU (2-5, 0-4 Big 12) is expected to compete in a homecoming tilt with Texas Tech, and anything short of that would be a disappointment. The Red Raiders (3-4, 1-3) are favored by six points, though the line has been all the way down to three points in some places this week.
KU has performed well when counted out, but hasn’t had that same level of success when the betting line is this low. Will that trend continue or will the Jayhawks have a shot at their first conference win of the year? Let’s get to know the Red Raiders to see how this game might play out.
BREAKING DOWN TEXAS TECH:
Quarterback — Jett Duffey has recorded a pair of 350-yard passing performances since being named Texas Tech’s starter prior to the Oklahoma State game. It marks the first time a Red Raider quarterback has thrown for at least 350 yards in consecutive Big 12 games since Patrick Mahomes did so against both Texas and Oklahoma State in 2016.
Running backs — Redshirt freshman SaRodorick Thompson ran for a career-high 153 yards and two touchdowns on the ground against Baylor. Thompson has led the Red Raiders in rushing in five games, and has a team-high 469 yards and seven touchdowns.
Receivers — Junior T.J. Vasher, who is 6-foot-6, has hauled in 16 receiving touchdowns in his career, which is six shy of entering the Texas Tech career record book. He is the leading receivers in catches, yards and touchdowns for the Red Raiders. Vasher has a reception in 23 straight games. Redshirt freshman Erik Ezukanama netted seven catches against Iowa State.
Offensive line — Senior left tackle Terence Steele leads the team with 42 career starts, and has even filled in at both tackle positions and right guard this season. Left guard Madison Akamnonu has started all seven games at left guard, while Dawson Deaton has started all seven contests at center.
Defensive line — Junior defensive end Eli Howard has been in on a sack in three of four Big 12 games. The Red Raiders have employed both Nick McCann and Jaylon Hutchings at nose tackle this season. Senior defensive tackle Broderick Washington leads the defensive line in tackles.
Linebackers — Senior Jordyn Brooks enters this weekend among the national leaders in several defensive categories, ranking fourth in tackles for a loss per game (1.9), sixth in total tackles per game (11.1) and 10th in solo tackles per game (6.1). Riko Jeffers, who is third on the team in tackles with 38, is the other starting linebacker.
Secondary — The move from cornerback back to safety has paid off for senior Douglas Coleman III, who leads the FBS with six interceptions this season, all of which have come in the past five games. Zech McPherson, who is a Penn State transfer, has started all seven games at corner and ranks fourth on the team in tackles.
SPECIAL TEAMS — Redshirt freshman Trey Wolff is the first Red Raider kicker dating back to 2000 that was successful on his first seven career field goal attempts. Punter Austin McNamara leads all FBS freshmen in punting average at 44.8 yards per punt.
FUN FACT — Texas Tech head coach Matt Wells and defensive coordinator Keith Patterson were both on staff with Kansas defensive coordinator D.J. Eliot at Tulsa in 2006. Wells was the tight ends coach, Patterson was the team’s defensive coordinator and Eliot was serving as linebackers coach for Tulsa.
VEGAS SAYS… This line got all the way down to three points earlier this week, but it has slowly climbed back up in Texas Tech’s favor. As of Saturday morning, the Red Raiders were favored by six points via FanDuel’s Sportsbook.
This is a tough game to predict, because Kansas hasn’t performed well in these situations this season. Kansas is 3-0 against the spread this season as a three-touchdown underdog or more, which includes last week’s narrow loss at Texas. When the line is two touchdowns or less, however, KU is actually 0-4 ATS.
I’m choosing to believe that the Brent Dearmon factor is a real thing, and will help KU maintain momentum. I took this line when it was down to three points in this week’s Pick 6, and I’m more than happy to do it with three more points. I think Kansas wins this game outright.
Prediction: Kansas 38, Texas Tech 35
This year’s record ATS: 4-3
Overall record ATS: 11-7
This might have been the toughest week to come up with over/under prop bets.
It would be easy to buy completely back in and believe KU's offense won't ever be stopped. The reality is that Texas had a depleted defense and didn't have any tape on a Brent Dearmon-led offense at Kansas.
Now there is film, and eye-opening tape at that. Texas Tech won't be overlooking the Jayhawks, and this should be a very good game this weekend. KU hasn't performed well in these situations this season, while thriving when counted out like last week.
Will that trend continue? This week's prop bets help give you an idea of how we believe this game will go. Check out our answers in this week's podcast. You can also participate by voting in the polls on my Twitter account.
Sports editor Matt Tait still leads the way, while Twitter is in second place.
Matt: 19-15-1 (4-1 in Week 8)
Twitter: 17-17-1 (3-2 in Week 8)
Shane: 16-18-1 (3-2 in Week 8)
Kickoff is slated for 6 p.m. Saturday at David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium.
Polls for this week's over/under prop bets:
Best bet: Texas (-1.5) at TCU
TCU opened as a slight favorite, so I hope you got the early line for better value. I’m still willing to take Texas at this latest line, as the market might be overreacting to a 50-48 win over Kansas last week. The Longhorns might be struggling on defense, but this offense is potent and will make enough plays to win this game.
Long shot: California (+21) at Utah
California (4-3, 1-3 in Pac 12) has dropped three consecutive games, including a 21-17 loss to Oregon State last week. While I don’t think the Bears will win this game, their defense is legit enough to cover a three-touchdown spread. California is giving up just 18.7 points per game this season, and the total for this game is set at 36.5 points.
Over of the week: Wisconsin at Ohio State (49.5)
Playing an over in a Big 10 contest can be a dangerous game, but this total is a bit too low for me. Wisconsin (6-1) has a strong defense, but Ohio State (7-0) quarterback Justin Fields is leading an offense that averages 49.7 points per game. He has 30 touchdowns and only one turnover this year. Give me the over in this one.
Under of the week: Oklahoma State at Iowa State (63.5)
My pick for this game is below, but I feel more confident in the under. Much like my over pick, playing an under in a Big 12 game can be a silly suggestion. But ISU’s defense has been playing much better as of late. In Big 12 play, Iowa State is giving up just 21.3 points per game. Oklahoma State, meanwhile, is averaging 29.5 points per game in league play.
NFL action: Seahawks (-7) at Atlanta Falcons
I’d like this line a lot more if it was closer to the opening line of 5.5 points, but you couldn’t pay me enough to bet on the Falcons. Atlanta’s pass defense is really bad, and Russell Wilson will be able to get back on track this week after making some mistakes in a wet loss to the Ravens.
Notable nugget: Fading KU as a slight underdog has been smart
Instead of a sixth bet suggestion, I’m including a relevant piece of information about this week’s game. Kansas is 3-0 against the spread this season as a three-touchdown underdog or more, which includes last week’s narrow loss at Texas. When the line is two touchdowns or less, however, KU is actually 0-4 ATS. But you can see if our crew believes in this trend in our picks below.
KU sports staff picks against the spread
Kansas vs. Texas Tech (-3)
Matt Tait: Kansas
Benton Smith: Kansas
Braden Shaw: Kansas
Shane Jackson: Kansas
Auburn at LSU (-10.5)
Matt Tait: LSU
Benton Smith: LSU
Braden Shaw: LSU
Shane Jackson: LSU
Oklahoma State at Iowa State (-10.5)
Matt Tait: Iowa State
Benton Smith: Oklahoma State
Braden Shaw: Oklahoma State
Shane Jackson: Iowa State
Notre Dame at Michigan (-1)
Matt Tait: Michigan
Benton Smith: Notre Dame
Braden Shaw: Notre Dame
Shane Jackson: Michigan
Denver Broncos (+6) at Indianapolis Colts
Matt Tait: Colts
Benton Smith: Colts
Braden Shaw: Colts
Shane Jackson: Broncos
Green Bay Packers (-4) at Kansas City Chiefs
Matt Tait: Packers
Benton Smith: Packers
Braden Shaw: Packers
Shane Jackson: Chiefs
Shane Jackson: 27-21 (4-2 in Week 8)
Benton Smith: 23-25 (1-5 in Week 8)
Matt Tait: 22-26 (4-2 in Week 8)
Braden Shaw: 17-31 (1-5 in Week 8)
Coming off a bye week, Kansas has the potential to look much different at Texas this weekend.
Brent Dearmon was promoted to offensive coordinator last week, and his resume speaks for himself. This week’s matchup might be his debut as a Power 5 play caller, but the Jayhawks should show some improvement on the offensive side of the ball.
It remains to be seen how much of an impact Dearmon’s presence will make for an offense that has been stagnant during a 2-4 start to the season. Texas, which is 4-2, is coming off a loss to Oklahoma and is dealing with a number of injuries on the defensive side of the ball.
The Longhorns are 15-3 all-time against the Jayhawks, including a 2-0 clip under Tom Herman.
BREAKING DOWN TEXAS:
Quarterback — Through six games in 2019, Texas quarterback Sam Ehlinger has thrown for 1,658 yards and 17 touchdowns, and accounted for 22 touchdowns (17 pass). All of those rank as the best six-game start to a season by a Texas QB in school history. Ehlinger’s 22 touchdowns on the year are equal to or better than 67 FBS schools’ team total for the season.
Running backs — Sophomore Keaontay Ingram has carried the ball 68 times for 322 yards (4.7 yards per carry) and three TDs in the 2019 season. Ingram rushed for 708 yards on 142 attempts in his true freshman season last year, becoming just the 10th freshman in school history to post a 700-yard rushing campaign.
Receivers — Devin Duvernay was a midseason addition to the Biletnikoff Award’s watch list. Through six games, he has racked up 53 catches for 517 yards and scored four TDs. Duvernay leads the country in receptions (53) and receptions per game (8.8). Freshman Jake Smith has snagged 16 receptions for 173 yards and four touchdowns.
Offensive line — Texas has started the same five (Samuel Cosmi, Parker Braun, Zach Shackelford, Junior Angilau and Derek Kerstetter) on its offensive line in all six games this season. The Longhorns’ five starting offensive linemen have combined to make 117 career starts among them.
Defensive line — The big story on the defensive line is that senior Malcolm Roach will miss the first half of the game against KU. This season, Roach has 15 total tackles and one tackle for loss in 2019. The Longhorns have scored 45 points off of 12 forced turnovers this season.
Linebackers — Sophomore linebacker Joseph Ossai currently leads Texas with 37 total tackles, 26 solo stops and four quarterback hurries. He also is tied for the team lead in tackles for loss (6.0), sacks (2.0), interceptions (2) and forced fumbles (1). Juwan Mitchell, who transferred from Butler Community College, is the middle linebacker for UT.
Secondary — Leading the secondary is senior defensive back Brandon Jones. He has racked up 34 total tackles, including three for a loss, broken up three passes in the secondary and notched one interception. Eight different Longhorns have intercepted passes through the first six games of the season.
SPECIAL TEAMS — Sophomore kicker Cameron Dicker has made 24 of his 33 career field goal attempts. He is 6-for-8 on field goal tries in 2019. His 18 makes in 2018 were the most by a freshman in UT history.
FUN FACT — Texas is 9-2 in games following losses in three seasons under head coach Tom Herman. In the three seasons prior to Herman’s arrival at Texas, the Longhorns were 9-10 following a loss.
VEGAS SAYS… Texas is favored by 21.5 points as of Friday afternoon. The Longhorns are 4-2 against the spread, while the Jayhawks are 2-4. Maybe I’m being foolish, but I believe the Dearmon factor will be enough to keep this game within three touchdowns. Well, that and the fact that Texas has to deal with so many injuries on the defensive side of the ball.
Prediction: Texas 38, Kansas 24
This year’s record ATS: 3-3
Overall record ATS: 10-7
Sports editor Matt Tait has taken the lead in this year's over/under prop bet series.
For four of the first six weeks, Twitter voters led the way in this series. I took the lead after Week 1, and have been at the bottom ever since. This is Matt Tait's first lead in the series, as we head into the second half of the season.
I have included the season standings in this blog to show how close this competition is with six games remaining.
Matt: 15-14-1 (4-1 in Week 6)
Twitter: 14-15-1 (2-3 in Week 6)
Shane: 13-16-1 (2-3 in Week 6)
Kansas (2-4) is traveling to Texas (4-2) at 6 p.m. Saturday in what is Brent Dearmon's debut as the offensive coordinator.
Vote in this week's prop bets by participating in the polls that I posted on Twitter. As always, feel free to offer me any suggestions for prop bets that you'd like us to debate. This week's podcast will be posted on Saturday.
Best bet: Washington (+3) vs. Oregon
Oregon has won five games in a row, but I’m still surprised that Washington is getting three points at home. The Huskies are averaging 36.4 points per game, while running back Salvon Ahmed is averaging 5.8 yards per carry this season. Both Oregon and Washington have struggled on third down, so that could prove to be the difference in this game.
Long shot: Tennessee (+34.5) at Alabama
Tennessee coach Jeremy Pruitt joked this week about going for it on fourth down in order to make things interesting. I’m a fan of the Volunteers being more aggressive in an attempt to cover this lofty spread. Alabama is just 2-2 ATS with spreads of 30 points or more this season, and there are not many options for a long shot bet this week.
Betting a favorite: LSU (-17.5) at Mississippi State
This one is pretty simple: LSU is good, Mississippi State is not. The Tigers could be in for a letdown performance, but I refuse to believe this game won’t be a 20-point blowout. LSU quarterback Joe Burrow is coming off a 293-yard performance against Florida, so it seems unlikely that Mississippi State will slow him down.
Over of the week: Saints at Bears (38.5)
This isn’t a good college weekend, so I’m dipping into the NFL pool for my over. The idea behind the low point total makes sense, as this game features two really good defenses. I’m banking on the fact that this isn’t a division game, so there should be less familiarity between these two opponents.
Under of the week: Boise State at BYU (47)
The under is 6-2 in the past eight meetings in this series, and I expect that trend to continue here. Boise State quarterback Hank Bachmeier (hip) likely won’t be able to go, meaning sophomore Chase Cord will get his first start. BYU’s quarterback Jaren Hall is also working his way back from concussion symptoms.
NFL action: Cincinnati Bengals (+3.5) vs. Jacksonville Jaguars
The Bengals are 0-6, but four losses have come in one-score games. Cincinnati has also played four games away from home, meaning it hasn’t been the easiest schedule to start. Jacksonville is averaging just 19.5 points per game, and I don’t expect this team to score enough to pull completely away.
KU sports staff picks against the spread
Kansas at Texas (-21.5)
Matt Tait: Kansas
Benton Smith: Kansas
Braden Shaw: Texas
Shane Jackson: Kansas
Michigan at Penn State (-9)
Matt Tait: Penn State
Benton Smith: Penn State
Braden Shaw: Michigan
Shane Jackson: Penn State
Baylor at Oklahoma State (-3.5)
Matt Tait: Oklahoma State
Benton Smith: Oklahoma State
Braden Shaw: Oklahoma State
Shane Jackson: Baylor
Arizona State at Utah (-13.5)
Matt Tait: Utah
Benton Smith: Arizona State
Braden Shaw: Arizona State
Shane Jackson: Arizona State
Baltimore Ravens at Seattle Seahawks (-3.5)
Matt Tait: Ravens
Benton Smith: Seahawks
Braden Shaw: Seahawks
Shane Jackson: Ravens
Philadelphia Eagles at Dallas Cowboys (-3)
Matt Tait: Cowboys
Benton Smith: Eagles
Braden Shaw: Eagles
Shane Jackson: Cowboys
Shane Jackson: 23-19 (2-4 in Week 7)
Benton Smith: 22-20 (2-4 in Week 7)
Matt Tait: 18-24 (3-3 in Week 7)
Braden Shaw: 16-26 (1-5 in Week 7)
Vegas doesn’t believe a coaching change will do the trick for the Kansas football team.
KU promoted Brent Dearmon to offensive coordinator during the bye week last week, but it will be a tough test in his debut as a Power 5 play caller. Kansas will travel to Texas at 6 p.m. Saturday.
The Longhorns, who are ranked No. 17 in the nation, are coming off a 34-27 loss to No. 5 Oklahoma. The Jayhawks suffered a 45-20 defeat to the Sooners in the first weekend of October. Entering that meeting, Kansas was considered a 33-point underdog in a home matchup with Oklahoma.
KU opened as a 23-point underdog against Texas, though the line has dropped down to 22 points as of Monday afternoon via FanDuel’s Sportsbook. It would be the second-largest spread for the Jayhawks this season, according to Vegas Insider, if it closed at 22 points.
ESPN’s Football Power Index gives Kansas just a 4% chance of winning this game. KU defeated Texas in 2016 by a 24-21 margin, people forget that. The Jayhawks have also lost the last two meetings with the Longhorns by a combined 22 points.
None of that matters, of course. What does matter is that Texas is dealing with injuries, especially on the defensive side of the ball. Defensive end Malcolm Roach will also miss the first half due to an ejection against Oklahoma.
Oh, and Texas is giving up an average of 4.24 rushing yards per attempt. So this could be a big week for KU’s rushing attack. I’m taking the points at this current line. With that, let’s look around the rest of the Big 12 to see if there is any value in the opening lines:
Iowa State (-7) at Texas Tech
People wanted to bury Iowa State after a loss to Baylor in the Big 12 opener, but this team has won two in a row. FPI gives the Cyclones (4-2) at least a 62% chance of winning every game in the second half of the season, except the game against Sooners. Don’t sleep on ISU, I’m fine with laying the points.
Pick ATS: Iowa State
West Virginia at Oklahoma (-33.5)
FPI gives the Sooners a 74.7% chance of winning the Big 12 after a 6-0 start, which included a 34-27 win over Texas last weekend. OU even has a 30.7% chance of winning out, per FPI. Still, the Sooners haven’t covered in each of their last two Big 12 games. If you made me, I’d take the points in this game.
Pick ATS: West Virginia
TCU (-2.5) at Kansas State
FPI gives Kansas State a 52.5% chance of winning this game, but TCU is the favorite. This feels like a big contest for both teams in terms of bowl-game implications. K-State will be without its top receiver, Malik Knowles, and that is a big deal. The Wildcats haven’t run for more than 150 yards in a game since the second week of the season. I think TCU can win by at least a field goal.
Pick ATS: TCU
Baylor at Oklahoma State (-3.5)
Baylor outlasted Texas Tech in overtime to stay undefeated, but will be tested against Oklahoma State. FPI gives the Bears just a 40% chance of winning this week’s matchup with the Cowboys, who fell to the Red Raiders two weeks ago to drop to 4-2 on the year. Maybe I’m a sucker, but I believe in Baylor and will take the points.
Pick ATS: Baylor
Best bet: Tennessee (+7) vs. Mississippi State
I think we are going to look back at Kansas State's win over Mississippi State, and realize that neither of those teams are that good. I’ll take a touchdown against a MSU defense giving up 230 passing yards in four of five games this season. The Volunteers (1-4) are coming off a 43-14 loss to Georgia, so they could be more desperate for a win in this one.
Long shot: South Carolina (+24.5) at Georgia
The options for long shot are pretty limited, but I’m taking the Gamecocks off a bye week. South Carolina’s defense has allowed 24.4 points and 391 yards per game, while recording 12 sacks and five interceptions. Georgia should win, but there is a good chance that South Carolina’s defense is strong enough to cover.
Underdog of the week: Arizona (+6) vs. Washington
Washington is coming off a 23-13 loss at Stanford to drop to 4-2 on the season, while Arizona (4-1) is on a four-game win streak following a 35-30 victory at Colorado last weekend. The Wildcats are putting up 37.2 points and 539.2 yards per game, so I expect this offense behind Khalil Tate to make this game.
Over of the week: Washington State at Arizona State (Over 59.5)
The Sun Devils have been strong against the run this year, but the defense has allowed opposing teams to record big plays through the air. Washington State, meanwhile, only wants to go through the air. At the same time, Washington State allowed UCLA to average 8.4 yards per play, so Arizona State should be able to move the ball in this game.
Under of the week: Maryland at Purdue (Under 53.5)
Both teams will be without their respective starting quarterback, meaning the under on the total was the easiest bet of the week. Purdue has been hit with a number of injuries, and I don’t expect this banged-up offense to score much. Maryland, which is coming off its first Big Ten road win since Sept. 30, 2017, is averaging 40 rush attempts per game this season.
NFL action: Philadelphia Eagles (+3) at Minnesota Vikings
This one seems too good to be true, which means I fully expect Vegas to get the best of me on this one. I do think this is going to be a great game, and the Vikings could absolutely win this one. But I would have expected the Eagles to be favored, and I’m more than willing to take the points since they should bottle up the Vikings’ run game.
KU sports staff picks against the spread
Oklahoma (-11) at Texas
Matt Tait: Texas
Benton Smith: Oklahoma
Braden Shaw: Oklahoma
Shane Jackson: Oklahoma
USC at Notre Dame (-11)
Matt Tait: Notre Dame
Benton Smith: USC
Braden Shaw: USC
Shane Jackson: USC
Florida at LSU (-13)
Matt Tait: Florida
Benton Smith: LSU
Braden Shaw: Florida
Shane Jackson: Florida
Memphis (-6) at Temple
Matt Tait: Memphis
Benton Smith: Memphis
Braden Shaw: Memphis
Shane Jackson: Temple
Houston Texas at Kansas City Chiefs (-5)
Matt Tait: Texans
Benton Smith: Chiefs
Braden Shaw: Chiefs
Shane Jackson: Chiefs
Pittsburgh Steelers at Los Angeles Chargers (-7)
Matt Tait: Steelers
Benton Smith: Chargers
Braden Shaw: Chargers
Shane Jackson: Chargers
Shane Jackson: 21-15 (4-2 in Week 6)
Benton Smith: 20-16 (4-2 in Week 6)
Matt Tait: 15-21 (1-5 in Week 6)
Braden Shaw: 15-21 (3-3 in Week 6)
The play call was good. The pass was perfect. But the catch was not made.
Kansas rolled the dice on 4th-and-2 in the second quarter of a 45-20 loss to No. 6 Oklahoma this past weekend.
KU quarterback Carter Stanley motioned tight end James Sosinski to the left side of the line. Stanley took a three-step drop and fired it to Sosinski, who ran toward the left sideline along the first down marker.
Sosinski couldn’t haul in the crucial catch, and the Jayhawks turned it over on downs. Oklahoma scored seven plays later to take a 14-7 lead and never looked back after that.
“I’ve seen him make that catch hundreds of times,” Stanley said. “I would have made that same throw, same decision 100 times over again. It was unfortunate, but I know he will make up for it in the future.”
But it exemplified the oddity of KU’s fourth down struggles through the first half of the 2019 season.
After an 0-for-2 effort on fourth down against the Sooners, the Jayhawks have now failed to convert on all seven of their fourth down attempts through six weeks. It is the most such attempts in college football without a successful conversion.
Sure, Kansas had its fair share of miscues that have ultimately led to whiffing on all seven tries on fourth down. At the same time, though, there is an element of bad luck that is involved in this many missed opportunities. And that is why KU head coach Les Miles wasn’t too concerned by that particular stat after the game.
“I can think of a couple drops,” Miles said. “I think that this is a team that will learn how to catch fourth downs. It's fourth down. It's a little bit more pressure situation, but I think our guys will handle that.”
It wasn’t a drop that kept Kansas from converting its second fourth down attempt against OU, however. On 4th-and-1 from Oklahoma’s 39-yard line, KU lined up in a jumbo formation and appeared poised for a short run attempt.
Stanley faked the handoff to freshman running back Velton Gardner, and tight end Jack Luavasa was wide open on a seam route over the middle of the field. Stanley simply overthrew his man on what was otherwise a solid outing by KU’s signal caller.
Still, that has been the theme of these failed fourth down attempts all year. KU went 0-for-2 on fourth down against Indiana State, though one shouldn’t technically count since the team was trying to run out the clock to finish off a 24-17 win. The other failed conversion came on 4th-and-2 in the third quarter, in which Stanley was hit with a sack/fumble by the Sycamores.
The Jayhawks were also 0-for-3 on fourth down in a 12-7 loss to Coastal Carolina in Week 2, which featured the most memorable failed conversion of the year. Kansas called two timeouts, while Coastal Carolina called one, before the hosts ultimately were stopped on 4th-and-4.
Pooka Williams was the intended target on that play, though he was forced out of action via contact from the defender. Stanley was forced to scramble, and came up well short of the first down marker.
The Jayhawks also came up short on fourth down one drive earlier. They attempted a reverse with Andrew Parchment, who was ultimately stuffed for no gain on 4th-and-1. On the final drive against Coastal Carolina, KU turned it over on downs on 4th-and-3 following a 1-yard run by Williams to end the game.
Since there is no common theme, there might not be an easy solution to fix these fourth down failures. But perhaps it will all even itself out during the second half of the season.
Things don’t get easier for the Kansas football team.
Following a lopsided loss to TCU last week, KU (2-3, 0-2 Big 12) will welcome an even tougher opponent to town in Week 6. The Jayhawks will now have the tall task of trying to contain No. 6 Oklahoma (4-0, 1-0) and its otherworldly offense this weekend.
Quarterback Jalen Hurts, who is a transfer from Alabama, has the Sooners rolling to start the season. OU is averaging a nation-leading 668.5 offensive yards per game, which is 100 yards more than the next-highest average in college football. The Sooners are even averaging 10.4 yards per play.
KU, meanwhile, has struggled to get much going on the offensive end during Big 12 play. The defense was without its leading tackler in last week’s loss to the Horned Frogs. Even under the best of circumstances, though, this would be a brutal test for the Jayhawks.
Throw in the fact that it is supposed to be windy in Lawrence on Saturday, and it is hard to envision a scenario where Kansas makes this a game. The betting line certainly suggests that, as Oklahoma has been favored by more than 30 points all week.
Will the Jayhawks be able to cover? Let’s take a closer look at the Sooners to find out.
BREAKING DOWN OKLAHOMA:
Quarterback — It is hard not to marvel at what the Sooners are doing at this position. Hurts could be on his way to becoming OU’s third consecutive Heisman trophy winner, though he’s being utilized differently than Kyler Murray or Baker Mayfield. Oklahoma is relying on his ruhing ability, as Hurts has 47 rushing attempts for 443 yards (110.8 per game) and five touchdowns. Hurts also leads the nation in passing efficiency rating (249.9), yards per completion (19.6) and yards per pass attempt (15.2) thus far.
Running backs — Kennedy Brooks is expected to play after exiting the previous game with a left knee injury. He and Trey Sermon have been a dangerous combination through the first four games. Sermon has 274 yards and three scores on 34 attempts, while Brooks has piled up 206 yards and one score on 25 carries. Rhamondre Stevenson has also been given 25 carries, turning that into 211 yards and four touchdowns.
Receivers — Gone is Marquise Brown, but Oklahoma has another receiver that will be a high draft pick in 2020. CeeDee Lamb, who is 6-foot-2, 191 pounds, will pose a great challenge for KU’s secondary. He has 16 catches for 414 yards and six scores already this season. Lamb is coming off a seven-catch performance against Texas Tech, which netted him 185 yards and three touchdowns.
Offensive line — After losing four players to the NFL from last year’s team, Oklahoma has found a way to reload on the offensive line. Sophomore center Creed Humprhy, who is a captain, is the only returning starter on the offensive line. But the Sooners are still leading the nation in yards per rush (8.0) behind this unit. For comparison, OU averaged 6.6 yards per run to lead the country in that category last season.
Defensive line — Compared to last year, OU has a better defensive line this season even though there is still room for improvement. OU ranks No. 46 in the nation with 27 tackles for a loss on the year. Against Texas Tech, Oklahoma recorded just five tackles for a loss in the win last week. Ronnie Perkins, Neville Gallimore and LaRon Stokes are slated as starters on the defensive line.
Linebackers — Junior Kenneth Murray is anchoring a better linebacker unit this season. Murray finished second in the Big 12 and 13th nationally last season with 155 total tackles and was named Preseason Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year entering 2019. In the season opener against Houston, Murray registered 13 total tackles, 2.5 TFLs, one breakup and one QB hurry.
Secondary — Perhaps Oklahoma’s biggest improvement under defensive coordinator Alex Grinch this season is on 3rd-and-long. According to Eric Bailey of the Tulsa World, opposing teams have picked up a first down on two of its 29 attempts when facing 3rd-and-7 or more in 2019. Some of that can be credited to the team’s play in the secondary, and it doesn’t bode well for a team, like Kansas, which has struggled on third down on the offensive end.
SPECIAL TEAMS — Oklahoma’s offense has been so absurdly good that it hasn’t had to kick too many field goals. The Sooners are just 4-for-6 on field goal attempts, but have converted on all 30 PATs this season. OU has also punted just eight teams on the year.
FUN FACT — This one could be over in a hurry if it is anything like Oklahoma’s previous four games. OU has outscored opponents 55-0 in the first quarter this season and 117-27 in the first half. Oklahoma has run the same number of plays as its opponents this season (258 each) but has outgained its foes by 1,302 yards (2,674-1,372).
VEGAS SAYS… This line is down to 32 points, which seems surprising based off public perception after the line opened up at 35 points. I’ll take the points for the second week in a row, because I think there is a good chance that Oklahoma lets off the gas after getting up five touchdowns. KU won’t score much in the first half, but can cover this spread late.
Prediction: Oklahoma 49, Kansas 20
This year’s record ATS: 2-3
Overall record ATS: 9-7