I’m not thinking there is much of a reason to give an all out preview as the media coverage has been pretty overwhelming this week. However, I couldn’t possibly let tomorrow go by without getting my opinion on record. Since Methzou fans are the only ones in the nation who can’t recognize that these teams are evenly matched, we’ll go ahead and start with that assumption. And from there, I would have to say that despite all of the big play ability, this game will be decided on more of a facet than a single play. Either team could fall behind 14-3 and not be in any sort of trouble. With that said, the team that wins this game is going to be the one that takes away at least one thing the other wants to do.
Kansas Offense v. Missouri Defense
Obviously this is a very favorable matchup for the Jayhawks. First off, Hot Toddy should have no problem dissecting this unit with meticulous short routes and/or longer shots down the field. Long story short, Methzou simply does not play great defense. They have played good defense a total of 3 times all year. Right now, two of them looked damn impressive – but don’t be fooled. They held Nebraska to 6, Tech to 10 and Colorado to 10. Given the offense we have seen from the first two as of late, one would be impressed. But don’t be. Against Tech they simply got pressure on Harrell and he proceeded to act as if they were girls with cooties. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still an accomplishment – just not nearly to the extent that the Methzou fans seem to believe. As for Nebraska and Colorado, you just never know about those teams. One day theylook great and the next they look terrible. I'm much more impressed with the win over CU, but as I said, you just never know what you're gtting with these teams so it's hard not to take them with a grain of salt. In their other 8 games they have ranged anywhere from putrid to pitiful. They have yet to have a disastrous day and I doubt they ever will, because as bad as they are, they aren’t Nebraska.
However, we have not yet truly discussed the run defense, which is in one word: porous. If you watched the Purple James Johnson run for 172 yards last week, you know what I’m talking about. Yes, the same Purple team that doesn’t believe in running the football and couldn’t do it nearly this well any other week ran all over Methzou. They have a relatively average rank nationally, yielding 122 ypg, but that number is skewed due to the fact that most teams have been playing from behind. That should not be an issue this week and this could prove to be a huge advantage for the Jayhawks. If both offenses are scoring at will, then the one that can continue to move the ball while burning some clock on the ground will gain the advantage, as their defense will be able to rest. This could also be an even larger advantage if Kansas is able to build up an early lead. If so, they can work the clock and keep the Methzou offense off the field. Edge: Kansas
Kansas Defense v. Methzou Offense
Again, advantage offense. The Methzou offense is unquestionably better than the KU defense. I will be absolutely shocked if Methzou is held below 28 points. However, as I alluded to earlier, I think the team that wins is the one that can take away one thing from the other. And Kansas should be able to take away the Methzou running game. Even without being able to run the ball, Methzou can score some points - But I don’t think they can win the game. Not only will their defense suffer, but also their 3rd down conversion rate. Methzou leads the nation in the all important 3rd down conversions. Part of it is their tight ends, but another part is their balance. Teams cannot load up on any one thing so Methzou has plenty of options. However, if Kansas is stuffing their running game, they will be able to better defend 3rd downs. With an offense as good as Kansas’ if they can make Methzou one-dimensional, they will win the game. Edge: Methzou
This is about as even as they come. Maclin is getting all of the attention and hype – and deservedly so. And he is definitely the best punt returner on the field. However, Marcus Herford has proved just as explosive (having taken 2 back) and even more consistent on kick returns. As for punting, Kansas has a definitive edge with Tucker having the much stronger and more accurate leg. The place kickers are also strikingly similar, both with a long of 48 and having displayed an accurate leg on field goals and are basically automatic on PATs. Webb does have many more touchbacks and given the aforementioned Maclin and Herford, could prove beneficial. Edge: Even
I think I have made myself pretty clear here. And even so, I’m not sure what to think. These teams are incredibly similar. Both are efficient and explosive offensively. Missouri seems to have the more explosive and dangerous unit, but Kansas shows much better balance and ability to adapt. And both have questionable defenses, better equipped to stop the run than the pass. Kansas’ unit has been indisputably better all year, but has also shown a vulnerability to the pass. As long as they keep it to just that and don’t allow Temple any lanes, they should be in good shape. Kansas 37 Methzou 31