Editor’s Note: The following comes to you from a good buddy of mine and JHT Contributor, @TheLachmanTest. Give him a follow on Twitter for some solid KU Football discussion.
It was a cool December night when a few friends and I exited Milan Puskar Stadium, with John Denver’s “Take Me Home, Country Roads” still ringing in our ears. The kind hill folk of Morgantown thanked us for visiting and apologized for the lopsided scoreboard. The 2012 KU football season was finally at an end.
Nine months after that night, we’re finally a few days away from the start of the 2013 season. A lot has changed since last year: a new QB, new uniforms, an influx of JUCO talent, and a new defensive scheme are all part of the excitement as we get ready for the new season.
Year 1 of the Weis era involved 6 close losses. If 2 or 3 of those had gone our way, fans, media members and prognosticators would all have a different view on the upcoming season. Arguably, KU has upgraded several positions including QB, WR, DL, the secondary, and perhaps most importantly, kicker. Add a second season under S&C coach Scott Holsopple, and I feel KU is ready for a big jump in Year 2.
Here is my take at a season long prediction, as a way to get warmed up for September 7th.
Couple of things:
1) These predictions won’t be objective or unbiased; I am a KU fan, after all. At the same time, I’m not going to predict a Big XII or national championship either. I mean, what are the odds of that happening?
2) I had most of the following written up a little while ago, so the Addendum will contain a few notes following the games on opening weekend.
Sept 7th vs. South Dakota: I wasn’t even going to bother looking up any information on the Coyotes, but curiosity won out. They have a couple of bad things in common with KU: They finished last in their conference last year, going winless in their league, and are predicted to finish last this year as well. No matter, this better be a tune-up game where the result isn’t in question after the first quarter.
Addendum: I’m sure the KU coaching staff will emphasize KSU and ISU’s losses to FCS teams over the weekend to make sure the team doesn’t take the win for granted. The Coyotes, meanwhile, won a 10-7 showdown against UC Davis.
Sept 14th @ Rice: We all remember last year where KU missed a couple of field goals, Dayne Crist threw a late interception, and the Owls kicked a field goal to pull out the win. This year, they have most of their team back, including a senior QB, while KU travels to Houston for the first road game of the year. This will be a tough road test. Rice gets two weeks to prepare following their opening week game against #JFF, and they’ll be ready. Having said that, KU still has a chance to pull off its first road win since the 2009 season. The result of this game will impact the rest of the season.
Prediction: TOSS UP (leaning towards loss)
Addendum: The Owls’ offense looked dynamic, at least in the first half. No idea if their defense has improved because A&M is going to put up points on almost every team they play. Rice showed enough to make me really uneasy about this game. Here is hoping Rice did “this” against A&M, and comes down to earth in a couple of weeks.
Sept 21st vs. La Tech: The Bulldogs had a pretty good year last year, finishing at 9-3. But what followed was a series of unfortunate events. It started with declining a bowl bid (that’s right), losing their head coach to Cal-Berkeley, and an exodus of talented seniors, leaving at most 7 returning starters. The cherry on top: In comes Skip Holtz, recently fired from USF. I think they are in for a big rebuilding year which is good news for KU.
Addendum: La Tech lost on the road to NC State, while committing several turnovers and playing at a slightly slower pace than last year’s breakneck offense.
Oct 5th vs. Texas Tech: Last year, KU took Tech to double OT, while almost exclusively running option plays on offense. This year, Tech’s prodigal son returns home as former QB Kliff Kingsbury takes over as head coach. His most recent achievement is coaching up #JFF last year as A&M’s offensive coordinator. He believes in playing without thinking and not issuing playbooks. We’ll soon find out if that particular approach works. Tech’s biggest question is who will play QB, which is good news for KU. How does it end? Tech sleep walks into its first Big XII road game under Kingsbury, KU is rested and prepared after a bye week, and the crowd is fired up for Homecoming. Enough to give us a fighting chance to pull off a squeaker.
Prediction: TOSS UP (leaning towards win)
Addendum: Tech started a true freshmen walk-on QB and rolled SMU on the road. So much for uncertainty at the QB position. I still think KU’s change in defensive scheme, along with Weis’ plan of keeping KU’s offense at a slower pace to keep the other teams’ fast paced offenses on the sidelines will give us a chance. Also, Tech’s defense is still AWOL, not seen since prior to the Mike Leach days.
Oct 12th @ TCU: TCU was a young team last year, and kept getting better as the year went on. Last year KU kept it close with an opportunistic defense, but turnovers and poor special teams play led to a loss. This year I expect TCU to challenge for the league title. Looking at the schedule, TCU has road trips to Norman and Stillwater with the KU game sandwiched in between. Can KU catch them looking ahead? KU will keep it close, but will fall on the wrong side of the scoreboard.
Addendum: TCU lost to LSU on Saturday night. There is no shame in losing to the Madhatter and the ultra talented tigers. TCU showed a lot of speed/athleticism on the field, and unveiled their 2 QB system. No change in my prediction, but the slight chance for an upset special still looms.
Oct 19th vs. OU: Last year, this game marked Michael Cummings’ first start, which quickly turned into rotating QBs between him and Crist. It didn’t go well, and the game was a blowout. I really don’t have anything else to say about that game. Fast forward to this year, OU plays Notre Dame, TCU, and Texas 3 weeks in a row prior to arriving in Lawrence. How healthy are they going to be after that 3 week stretch? How hungry are they going to be to win in Lawrence after 3 straight “national spotlight” games? Either they are going to be on a serious roll and brush KU aside, or beat up and tired enough to keep KU in the ball game. I think KU keeps it closer than last year but gets out matched at the end.
Addendum: Trevor Knight looks like another true dual-threat at QB, and the defense posted a shutout against UL-Monroe. Nice way to start the season.
Oct 26th vs. Baylor: KU hung around for a half last year, and then our WRs’ season-long case of the “dropsies” went from severe to life-threatening. Heck, two years ago, even ol’ Turner had RGIII and Co. down 21 points going into the 4th quarter (until an epic collapse and OT loss). This Baylor team should come into Lawrence at 6-0; however, this will only be their second road game of the year. Their schedule is back-loaded starting with a home game against OU after the KU game. Will they get caught looking ahead? Can they handle the cool, crisp late October weather in Kansas? How much Jayhawk Kool-Aid have I ingested at this point? All I’m saying is that we have a chance to pull this off.
Prediction: TOSS UP (leaning towards loss)
Addendum: Baylor beat up on Wofford 69-3, which doesn’t really tell us much. Essentially, they were padding stats on both sides of the ball, which will help their season averages.
Nov 2nd @ Texas: KU was so close to pulling out the win last year, it almost makes me sick enough to regurgitate some of that Jayhawk Kool-Aid I just had. Almost everyone is expecting big things out of Mack Brown’s crew this year, but I’m not. I expect them to have an 8-9 win season, with a close home win over KU as one of them.
Side note: As this, the last year of the BCS, how about a quick look back at the classic Texas/BCS rant? I miss that guy.
Addendum: Texas started slow, but eventually rolled New Mexico State, as expected. If they can win at BYU and beat Ole Miss, the national championship chatter will only get louder.
Nov 9th @ OSU: For the few of us who stuck around after the extended rain delay last year, this was our first glimpse of hope that, just maybe, Weis can turn things around. You could see the team fighting on each play. Unfortunately, this year’s OSU team is better than last year and the game is in Stillwater. I don’t see it going our way this year. If you want to feel better, we can blame Tyler Patmon for giving them a thorough scouting report.
Addendum: OSU looked solid beating a mid-level SEC team at a neutral site.
Nov 16th vs. WV: Dana and his sugar-free Red Bulls come to Lawrence for the first time. I have a feeling West Virginia is in for a long and bad season. What would you expect after a team loses a recording setting QB (Geno Smith), game breaking playmaker (Tavon Austin) and best receiver (Stedman Bailey) to the NFL, along with a few other guys who ran out of eligibility? Those guys beat up on us pretty good last year, but by the time they get to Lawrence this year, there isn’t going to be much of a fight left in that team.
Addendum: The Mountaineers came from behind to pull off a win against the Tribe of William & Mary. Who knew William & Mary had a football team or that they’re called the Tribe?
Nov 23rd @ ISU: These guys always play tough and they always have a card up their sleeve. For example, breaking out their 3rd string QB against us last year, on their way to blowing us out on our senior night. This is our best chance to win a Big XII road game since the 2007 season. It will be their senior night, a good time to get some revenge.
Prediction: TOSS UP (leaning towards win)
Addendum: ISU lost to Northern Iowa at home. The Cyclones allowed 228 yards rushing, with an average of almost 7 yards a carry. Hey, wait a minute! I know a certain team with a lot of good RBs…
Nov 30th vs. KSU: Just like WV, I think the Wildcats are also in for a bad year. Yes, they are always under-rated; yes, they are the defending league champs, but this is not last year’s team. Collin Klein graduated and the defense lost a majority of their starters. We know Snyder finds gems in recruiting, but let’s face it, this isn’t ‘Bama, where the next draft pick is waiting in the wings. This will be KU’s senior night, and we’ll send the seniors out in classic fashion.
Bonus Prediction #1: KU breaks out the all black uniforms for this one.
Bonus Prediction #2: Both KU and KSU will be 5-6 coming into the game; Winner gets the governor’s cup, bragging rights and a bowl bid. Loser moves on to basketball season (well, at KSU they’ll move on to equestrian or soil judging season, because it took only one offseason for Bruce Weber to gut their semi-talented roster.)
Well, there you have it: 4 wins, 4 toss-ups and 4 losses. Can we lose to Texas Tech and ISU? Of course we can. Can we dig deep to pull off the Rice and Baylor games? I think we can.
Worst case: 4-8, Pie in the sky: 8-4
I’ll split the difference with a prediction of 6-6 and a bowl bid.
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