Football: Preview vs No. 6 Oklahoma

Austin Eckert | @AustinCEckert

Kansas football plays host to No. 6 Oklahoma on Saturday for Homecoming weekend. The Jayhawks return to action after being on a bye, while the Sooners held on late at home and defeated the UCF Knights on Saturday, 31-29.

For the second time this season, the Jayhawks will play their final game against an opponent for the foreseeable future. The Sooners, alongside the Texas Longhorns, will move to the Southeastern Conference next summer.

Kansas faces their biggest challenge of the season on Saturday. After the win, Oklahoma earned their No. 6 ranking in the top 25 poll, and remain at the top of the Big 12 conference. The Sooners have won 18 straight games against the Jayhawks. They have not defeated the Sooners since October 4, 1997, when they won by three in Lawrence, 20-17.

Senior quarterback Jason Bean is expected to make his fifth start of the season on Saturday, with starting junior quarterback Jalon Daniels continuing to deal with a back tightness issue.

In regards to Daniels’ health, head coach Lance Leipold shared Tuesday on 810 Sports Radio, “He’s (Jalon) making progress, still not where it needs to be.” Daniels has been dealing with the problem since this past offseason, and a flare-up that began at Texas. Leipold has shared his optimism of a return this season for Daniels, and expressed “great hope.”

“Right now, I would expect Jason Bean to be the starting quarterback,” Leipold said Tuesday. “That’s the direction we’re heading.”

Bean has thrown for 913 yards, a 65% completion percentage, and nine touchdowns this season.

FOX’s Big Noon Kickoff will be making an appearance in Lawrence this weekend. This will be the first-ever appearance for the Jayhawks on Big Noon Kickoff, however, this is not the first time they have hosted a national pregame show. Kansas hosted ESPN’s College Gameday for football last season when they took on TCU on October 8, 2022.

The opportunity with Big Noon Kickoff coming will hopefully motivate the Jayhawks to play their best in front of a national audience. The game will also be televised on FOX directly after the pregame show.

Keys To The Game and Prediction:

Kansas only needs to do two things: get around blocks and protect the football. This Oklahoma team does not beat themselves and will make opponents pay the price for turning the ball over and other self-inflicted mistakes such as penalties and missed execution on big plays.

The Jayhawks will have to find a way to slow down the running game, especially with how elusive OU quarterback Dillon Gabriel is with his legs. Limiting the big plays and creating turnovers will be the biggest test for the Jayhawk defense on Saturday.

Oklahoma might have seemed off this past weekend, but they will be coming to Lawrence ready to play. This will be a chance for the Jayhawks to pull off a major upset and snap the 18-game losing streak to the Sooners before they head to the SEC.

On paper, Oklahoma is the better team and is currently favored by 10 (according to FanDuel) points over the Jayhawks. This game realistically will come down to the team that wins the turnover margin. Oklahoma and Kansas have played it very close the past two games, so it should shape up to be an interesting battle.

This game will be close with it being in Lawrence. Both offenses are explosive and have the potential to put up many points on Saturday. It also could be a game where the team that has the ball last ends up as winners.

I have Oklahoma coming out on top on Saturday, however, I will not be surprised if Kansas finds a way to pull off the upset. The Jayhawks have a realistic chance to do it with Big Noon Kickoff coming, it being Homecoming weekend with hopefully a great crowd to play in front of, and an opportunity to get their sixth win of the season to become bowl eligible.

Final Score Prediction:

No. 6 Oklahoma: 41 Kansas: 34

The Jayhawks take on No. 6 Oklahoma at 11 a.m. on Saturday. The game will be broadcast live on KJHK 90.7 FM, with Gus Baylow and Caleb Kalcich on the call. Live coverage will begin at 10 a.m. with the KJHK Kansas football pregame show.