Lawrence, KS – What a difference the scope of a week can make. After two weeks that were absolutely dominated by a Kansas defense that looked unstoppable, the Jayhawks came back to Earth, and we saw the same football program that won three games in as many seasons. After losing on the road 26-7 against the Baylor Bears, the Kansas Jayhawks come back home to take on the Oklahoma State Cowboys.
Let’s all be honest with ourselves though. On paper, Kansas loses the football game. The Jayhawks just don’t match up against a team like the Cowboys. Just two weeks ago, they entered the national rankings at 24, and peaked at number 15 in the country last week before a blowout loss at home to Texas Tech. While a win against KU may not push them back into the rankings, you better believe that’s on their mind.
Leading the Cowboys’ offense is senior quarterback Taylor Cornelius, who can light up the scoreboard against anyone. Through four games this year, he has thrown for over 1200 yards, with eight touchdowns against four interceptions. To put that into perspective, the Jayhawks starting quarterback for the first four games of the season, senior Peyton Bender, has only thrown for 490 yards, with four touchdowns and no interceptions. While the no interceptions are a huge advantage, Bender has thrown the ball 50 fewer times than Cornelius has, allowing him to make fewer mistakes.
The defense is also totally different than what we saw just two short weeks ago. KU had been coming off a two week stretch in which they recorded a total of thirteen turnovers. Last week against the Bears, the Kansas defense recorded a total of zero turnovers. Flat out, the defense needs to play better football. While the thirteen turnovers came against lower schools in the country in Central Michigan and Rutgers, the defense showed it can make some plays, and they need to figure out how to transfer that success for when they are playing better offenses.
As I said before, on paper, Kansas loses the football game. However, we all know that this game isn’t played on paper. Crazy things can happen. Injuries can happen and drastically change the game. Maybe the defense we saw against Central Michigan and Rutgers goes on another turnover fest. No matter if a crazy fluke happens or not, expect freshman running back Anthony “Pooka” Williams Jr. to go on a tear again. He has been on absolute fire since his season started in week two. Until anyone can prove they can stop him, there’s no reason to expect him to be stopped. Last week, Baylor was able to slow him down, however, Williams Jr. was still able to break free for a 72-yard run, which set up the only points Kansas was able to score all afternoon. At the level he is playing at, Pooka is a strong point and will be the focal point of what is appearing more and more to be a weak Jayhawk offense.
The Cowboys are currently 17-point favorites against the Jayhawks. After the wake-up call versus Baylor last week, Kansas hopes to prove to their fans that this team is different than in years past. Kansas needs a lot to happen to even have a chance at winning this game. Anything can happen during the 60 minutes of football being played, and who knows, maybe the Jayhawks want to end Homecoming week with a bang.