Wednesday, October 10, 2007

KU/Baylor Preview

Wednesday, October 10, 2007
Kansas/Baylor Preview
Greetings, Jayhawk faithful! If there are some new readers this week, welcome. Whether you are a bandwagon fan or not, I'm assuming if you are taking the time to read my incessant rambling, your interest is genuine. Before we get to the analysis, let's take a second to bask in the glory of being ranked ahead of 9 Big 12 teams (including Texas and Nebraska) and illustrious programs, such as: Florida State, Auburn, Georgia, Tennessee, Michigan, Penn State, UCLA and Touchdown Jesus. Furthermore, if the Baylor game goes as planned and Gameday in Norman goes as planned, Kansas will be the lone undefeated team in the Big 12 with a road trip to Colorado looming.

I'm not very convinced my analysis this week will be nearly as in-depth or accurate as it was for last week's game. And for that, I do not apologize. Who in their right mind has the time, energy or the wherewithal to watch a 3-3 team from Waco? Despite Tom Keegan's infatuation with Blake Szymanski, I'm not thinking I missed the boat on this one. Here is a look at Baylor's season to date:
TCU (3-3): Lost 27-0
Rice (1-4): Won 42-17
Texas St.(1-4): Won 34-27
@Buffalo (2-4): Won 34-21
@Texas A&M (5-1): Lost 34-10
Colorado (4-2): Lost 43-23

Right…so against a collective record of 16-18, Baylor has managed to be outscored 169-143 – and that includes their blowout win over Rice. Sometimes stats like this can be misleading, but I don't think it is in Baylor's case. I believe it tells me the two things I want to know about Baylor: 1) How good is their offense? (Not very) and 2) How good is their defense? (Quite the opposite – it's bad). On to the matchups.

Kansas Offense v. Baylor Defense: This one could and should get ugly. Baylor is giving up 28 points a game, while Kansas is averaging 49. Even worse, Baylor is surrendering 420 ypg. (258 through the air, 162 on the ground) while Kansas is averaging 530 ypg. (315 passing, 215 rushing). As I said, if there is no letdown from last week, this match-up should look a lot like the Michigan/Oregon game (or any time Michigan plays against speed). Not only is Baylor's defense bad, buy they are balanced as well. So, if by chance Hot Toddy went out a few times too many this week and isn't reading the coverage or making his throws, they will be able to keep it on the ground with B-Mac and Sharp. I wouldn't even be surprised to see Kerry or CBA get a couple totes this week. If you recall, last year in Waco, Kansas led 35-17 when Kerry went down in the 4th quarter and they had built that lead by almost exclusively running the ball. KU went on to blow this lead and lose, but that's in the past – I don't foresee it being an issue this time. Huge Edge: Kansas

Kansas Defense v. Baylor Offense: Since Baylor's defense is weak; this is the side of the ball that they like to hang their hat on. Unfortunately, they are only averaging slightly less than 24 points per game and racking up less than 400 yards in doing so. Even less impressive, they have an offense entirely based on the pass, making up 307 of those 394 ypg. Needless to say, they do not control the clock all that well. On the flip side, Kansas allows 248 yards per game (161 pass, 87 rush). It's hard to know how much we should read into those stats, but it's safe to say that they stack up very well against Baylor. So basically this match-up will be won on the ends of the line. Baylor drops back to pass about 50 times a game (284 attempts + 6 sacks + some hurries), so the D-Ends will have a lot of chances to sack Szymanski or force him into throwing near Aqib. Edge: Kansas

Special Teams: The only area of special teams in which Baylor excels is Kickoff coverage, so they should be able to limit Kansas' impressive kick return team. They might not be so fortunate in the other main areas: Kick-return (116th), Punt-return (58th), and punt-defense (100th). Basically, if Kansas can shut down the Power Towel special teams, they should be fine this week as well if Raimond Pendleton's doesn't muff the ball all over the field. Also, Kansas has a better place kicker, though I don't think this one will be decided between the uprights. Edge: Kansas

The way I see it is if Colorado can go down to Waco a week after stunning Oklahoma and not have a let down, then Kansas certainly should be able to come home to Memorial Stadium after a week amongst Purple and be just fine. They are definitively better in every phase of the game, have what should be a rowdy home crowd and have all the confidence in the world. Prediction: Kansas 48 Baylor 14

Since this is a rather simple and short analysis, I may be back tomorrow to preview the rest of the Big 12 games.

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