Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Five Reasons Kansas Could Win

As you know, we're not much ones for dwelling on the bad. And since yesterday we gave you the five reasons Kansas could lose this Saturday, we'd like to follow that up with the five reasons they could win. If you disagree or have others to add, your thoughts are always welcomed.

1. Memorial Stadium: There is one predominant reason that I feel Kansas still has some big wins in them this year; the home field advantage. They've won 12 in a row there (4th longest in the nation, dating back to a 2006 win over CU) and 21 of 23, with both losses coming on inexplicable second half collapses. If last week taught us anything it's not to be over-confident, but any time they're playing in Lawrence as two touchdown favorites, I'll be optimistic.
Will it help? Of course. It certainly won't go out there and win it for them, but the numbers don't lie and they say Kansas is great team within the confines of Memorial Stadium.

2. The Colorado defense: To be honest, I don't think Colorado's defense is bad. And I'm a little worried that they may have some success rushing the passer. But they have faced exactly one legitimate offense (pity sigh for WVU) in Texas last week. Despite that, they have yet to really stop any of them and through five games are allowing over 350 yards and 26 points. Put that defense on the field against this Kansas offense and the Jayhawks are likely to rack up some yards and put up some points.
Will it help? In all likelihood. If I had to pick one other offense that productively mirrored that of the Jayhawks, I would choose Texas. Suspect line (especially at tackle), trouble with the running game, no true game breakers at receiver (but no dropped passes either) and ultimately made go by a quarterback that knows how to make plays. Trust me, there's A LOT different about the two schemes, but ultimately, the strengths and weaknesses are pretty similar. And while I'm not reliant on the transitive property, watching Texas' offense pretty much have its way against Colorado was pretty reassuring heading into this game.

3. Third down: I've always thought third down conversions were especially telling on both sides of the ball because of how deflating it can be to a defense. So far this year, Kansas has done an above average job preventing the pick up and an extremely good job of converting on their side of the ball. If they can keep this up through the conference, they're likely to reap the benefits.
Will it help? The numbers sure say so. Offensively, KU is 4th nationally converting on 3rd down 56% of the time. Meanwhile, Colorado is 76th nationally, allowing conversions over 40% of the time. Defensively, the Hawks have done a good job so far in only allowing a 33% conversion rate, good for 32nd nationally. Conversely, Colorado has converted on 40% of their tries (63rd). Whether or not the results will be this dramatic remains to be seen, but it's reasonable to assume that KU heads in with a sizable advantage on third down.

4. Todd Reesing: I'm going to leave him here until he's anything less than a substantial reason Kansas either won or could have won a game. I would, however, consider modifying it to reflect the Reesing to Meier combo. As great as Todd has been, more often than not the guy he finds is Kerry. And I can only imagine how much that 56% I quoted on #3 would change if Todd didn't have Kerry out there on every third down.
Will it help? Indeed. Todd has only started 18 games in a Kansas uniform and he's re-writing the record back already (2nd in career passing yardage and already first in I don't even know how many others). In addition to his 16-2 record (no home losses), he is completing 70% of his passes and has thrown for 300+ yards in four straight games. Part of that is out of necessity; part of it is being damn good. Enjoy him while you can Jayhawk fans.

5. The first half no-show: I planned on recycling the "they're just better," because I don't think I'll get to use it too many more times. However, I think even more than that, them not showing up for the first half of last week's game will get them focused and ready to play this week. They are better than Colorado, but as ISU proved, Kansas isn't nearly enough better than any league team to coast through the game.
Will it help? I'd like to think so. Now, they don't need to come out with their hair on fire, but they need to come out with at least a semblance of a sense of urgency. Things get pretty damn tough after this week, but Colorado is by no means a pushover.

**Rant**This is completely unrelated, but I have to vent about this article for a quick second. First, let me assure you that Kansas being on the bad end of this has nothing to do with my anger. By his logic, Wake Forest (which just lost to Navy) should be ranked ahead of Florida. After all, both only have one loss and Wake did beat Ole Miss, who beat Florida. The AP vote officially means nothing, but this is the kind of blind, asinine reasoning that should convince everyone that polls have no business deciding the national champion.

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