This week's big question: What awaits Kansas football at Memorial Stadium in Week 3?
Two games into the 2021 college football season, the Kansas Jayhawks sit at 1-1 and with an equal number of reasons to be encouraged and frustrated.
What that means to the long-suffering Kansas fan base that showed up in force for the season opener two weeks ago will be revealed at 2:30 p.m. Saturday, when the Baylor Bears come to town for the Big 12 Conference opener for both teams.
First-year Kansas coach Lance Leipold knows what he’s hoping to see. So do the players, first-year Athletic Director Travis Goff and the rest of the KU administration.
“It’s a chance for us,” Leipold said Tuesday. “I’m just glad to be at home again, and hopefully our fans — and of course the students — that were so impactful in the first game of the year come back out and watch. And hopefully they see that this group is working hard and that they can be an impactful thing for our conference opener.”
The Bears enter Big 12 play at 2-0, with a 29-20 win over Texas State in Week 1 and a 66-7 shellacking of Texas Southern in Week 2.
Given the opponents, those outcomes are almost as drastically different as KU’s first two outings, which produced a close-call win one week and a 27-point road loss to a ranked opponent the next.
Leipold said Tuesday was the first time he had even considered whether he wished KU had another so-called tune-up game before jumping into Big 12 play. But the numbers show in might not have been a bad thing.
KU will play at Duke (1-1) in Week 4 on Sept. 25, and the Blue Devils enter Week 3 ranked 77th in the FBS in total defense and 22nd in team offense.
KU, meanwhile, is 71st nationally in total defense and 103rd in total offense.
Baylor’s numbers? The Bears rank 16th in total defense and 11th in total offense. So, yeah, maybe that Duke game to close out the non-con schedule this week wouldn’t have been so bad after all.
Then again, this coaching staff and this administration are not wired to determine the health and hope of the Kansas football program by how things look today.
“We’re going to have positive things happening that aren’t always going to show up on the scoreboard that are going to be signs of progress,” Leipold said Tuesday, voicing a popular refrain from the past decade.
But then he added the key part.
“And we have to balance those and keep working on those but not get into moral victories and think that’s going to do it for us," he said.
Win or lose, finding a way to keep the stadium full and rocking the way it was during the opener into the meat of the season would qualify as a moral victory in its own right. And that would be one worth celebrating.
Now it’s time to see if there’s anything the Jayhawks can add to it.