Lawrence, KS – After winning on the road for the first time since 2009 last weekend against Central Michigan, Kansas comes home to play Rutgers before Big 12 play opens. The victory snapped an NCAA-record 46-game true road losing streak. Now, Kansas has an opportunity to win back-to-back games for the first time in the David Beaty era, and since 2011.
Coming into the game, however, it’s hard to tell which Kansas team will show up. Will we see the team we saw against Central Michigan, led by freshman running back Anthony ‘Pooka’ Williams Jr., who tore through the Chippewa defense? Or will we see the team we saw against Nicholls State, which struggled against the run and couldn’t make plays when it mattered it most?
Against Rutgers, however, the former should be expected. On the offensive side of the ball, there is a lot to look for. Through two games, senior quarterback Peyton Bender has thrown for 317 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. Expect Kansas to throw some passes to take pressure off Pooka, who is coming off of a productive 125 yards of rushing last week. He will likely continue to receive touches against a weak Rutgers defense until they prove that they are able to stop him.
KU has the advantage on the offensive side of the ball, as Rutgers’ starting quarterback, freshman Artur Sitkowski, has thrown for 243 yards, one touchdown against four interceptions, as well as acquiring a shoulder injury versus Ohio State last week. Kansas should be able to take advantage of the below average, injury-prone quarterback play to turn the tides in their favor.
On defense, Kansas has the momentum. KU is coming off a six turnover performance last week, (last season, Kansas forced nine turnovers all season) as well as allowing only 177 passing yards and 103 yards on the ground. Look for the Jayhawks to put their efforts in stopping the run and forcing the banged up Sitkowski into passing situations to pick the ball off.
Rutgers is coming off of an abysmal defensive showing from last week, granted it was against one of the top offenses in the country. Rutgers fell flat on their face against Ohio State, allowing 354 yards in the air and four passing touchdowns. In addition, the Scarlet Knights only caused three incompletions all game.
The run defense wasn’t much better, allowing 225 yards rushing and three touchdowns, across a total of seven rushers. Expecting the same kind of success for Kansas that Ohio State had against this Rutgers defense would be foolish, however, expect Kansas to still have some success going up against this defense, and there is every reason to believe the Jayhawks can come out on top.
The weather should be a non-factor, with sun all day and a high looking to be in the mid to upper 80’s. It’s also family day, so there should hopefully be some extra fans in the stands to cheer on the Jayhawks Saturday afternoon.
Fans can tune in to the KJHK Sports pregame show on 90.7fm with Logan Fricks and Braden Shaw at 10am. Kickoff is slated for 11am, and Jack Nadeau and Patrick Norton will be on the call, live from David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium.