Thursday, November 1, 2007

KU/Nebraska Preview

Well it’s now official – both the Kansas football and basketball (sort of) teams are undefeated at the same time. To reiterate my point from last week, those of us who properly (or obsessively, but that’s semantics) follow Kansas football understood that this team was capable of starting off just as they have. Unfortunately, we did not have much hard evidence to convince us that it would actually occur. Along those same lines, I never really compared schedules either in order to put 2 and 2 together. With all that said, the real question becomes; how long can this continue? Without an Oral Robertsesque collapse, the b-ball team should not even be tested until Nov. 25 v. Arizona. Assuming they make it by the Cats, they will also have a tough time on Dec. 2 @ USC – hopefully Brandon is back. Football, though has its proverbial hands full. This may sound ridiculous, but Kansas being 8-0 makes me more nervous about this game. It sounds crazy, but Nebraska is playing with house money this week – and that’s always dangerous, especially when the team has legitimate (and probably more) talent. With that said, as has been the case in the first 8 games this year, Kansas is the better team in all areas of the game and thus, should win comfortably.

Kansas Offense v. Nebraska Defense: Welllllll, I think there should be some running room for the Kansas backs in this one. After weeks of selling themselves short, Nebraska has proven to be a tremendous slouch. They had been slowly creeping up the ranks and finally – after a 216 yard/ 3 TD quarter by Jamaal Charles – they have become the worst rushing defense in the nation, 119th out of 119. Congrats Blackshirts! That’s right Jayhawk faithful, the Bugeaters are yielding 243 ypg…on the ground. I’m pretty sure there have been a few years when they didn’t allow that as a total. Kansas meanwhile is maintaining their balance and compiling 215 yards with their Thunder & Lightning backfield. So, if by chance Hot Toddy put on that Scooby Doo outfit this week and isn’t ready for the blitz-happy Huskers, the running game should be a suitable contingency plan. I really have no idea what Cosgrove will game plan but I’m sure he won’t be intelligent enough to adapt/adjust/confuse/etc… you know, all the things defensive coordinators are paid to do. At Missouri, he rushed 3 all game (Chase Daniel would later say, “That was like high school stuff.” Zing), against USC they just got out of the way (Pete Carroll told his team they were not going to pass until they scored), against A&M they allowed McGee 167 yards and J-Train his 4 longest runs from scrimmage all year - he would say afterwards, "I could have driven my truck through those holes," and all they did against Texas was blitz (though I’m not sure Mack and Greg have figured out what happened yet, but they accidentally stumbled upon the zone-read play in the 4th quarter and that was that). Though I don’t see it being an issue, I do think Hot Toddy will have some success through the air. He has shown a remarkable ability to know when he can go down the field, when to look for a play, when to check down and when to throw it away. He may not have a Davey O’Brien Day, but he won’t lose the game and with the holes that the running game should be afforded, that should be plenty to win. While on that, I really like to believe that all of these players realize how special and rare all of this is and that they will not take anyone lightly. In case any of you missed it, representatives from the Fiesta, Orange, Sugar and Cotton bowls will all be in attendance this weekend. What What What?! Believe it. I’m not foolish enough to think this is the best team in the nation, but I’m becoming pretty convinced they are the most balanced and have an extremely legitimate shot at winning the Big 12 and ending up in a BCS bowl. Edge: Kansas

Kansas Defense v. Nebraska Offense. Talk about a wild card here in Joe Ganz. The walk-on from Illinois has attempted exactly 17 passes in his time in Lincoln. From what I understand, he is much more fleet of foot than Sam Keller, but doesn’t have near the arm. The pretty much describes every quarterback in the nation though, so we don’t know a lot. I haven’t heard anything about his accuracy, but I can’t imagine it is any worse than Keller’s – he may throw a great ball, but all too often the next one is 5 feet over the head and into the safety’s arms. My guess is Ganz doesn’t have the zip, but he puts it where it should be. Which leads me to my next point, I’m thinking he is also twice what Keller is in the head and the heart. That is what scares me. It sure seems like Nebraska has thrown in the towel – let’s just hope Ganz’ doesn’t have a Rudy like effect and spark this team into caring about their season again – and more importantly ruining the Jayhawks’. I mean, Kansas football is where Nebraska wants to be. Say that out loud, it sounds wonderful. The fact of the matter is, this battle will go one of two ways. 1) Ganz will be serviceable and efficient and Nebraska will be able to move the ball some, but with no real chance to score any more than 20 points; or 2) Kansas gets up early and Nebraska rolls over dead as they have done every other week. Obviously I’m hoping for the latter, but either way, if the Kansas offense does what it should, this won’t matter much. Edge: Kansas

Special Teams: Neither team does anything exceptionally well and I don’t think either has any deficiencies either. What I have counted as a strength all year, Scott Webb, struck more anger into me than any other Jayhawk this year last week. The offense works hard to get it inside the 10 yard line 3 times and come away with 0 points with him missing field goals on all 3 of those trips. Let’s all hope he left those shanks down in College Station, because I can’t handle another Johnny “Big X Leg” Beck fiasco.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – Kansas is the better team in all phases of the game. Add to that a sellout Homecoming crowd and this one has 9-0 written all over it. But we must all hope that KU remembers Nebraska is playing with house money so all the stops could come out in their attempt to ruin this magical season. If KU can do that, take care of the ball the rest should take care of itself. I’ll tell you one thing, I can’t wait to watch a Kansas football team that is undefeated in November! Kansas 41 Nebraska 17

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