The odds-makers might want to have their eyes checked.
Because if they see what I’ve been watching the last few weeks, they’re being beyond kind to the Kansas Jayhawks.
The odds-makers have installed Kansas State as just a 24-point favorite when the alleged Sunflower State rivalry is renewed on Saturday in Lawrence, but judging by the expected purple in the stands it’s going to feel like a road game for the Jayhawks.
Kansas has not come close to scoring the last two weeks in lopsided losses to TCU and Iowa State. It has not even totaled 10 first downs in those two games and last week against TCU managed just 21 yards of TOTAL offense in the one of the most inept offensive performances in college football history.
Injuries have ravaged the Jayhawks’ offensive line and quarterbacks Peyton Bender and Carter Stanley don’t even have time to set their feet. The so-called “Air Raid” offense hasn’t gotten off the ground and the only good offensive performance for KU in the Big 12 was against West Virginia when it ran the ball for more than 300 yards.
Since then, KU has run into a wall and the ground game has dried up. Injuries, too, have hurt it in this area, but also the Jayhawk coaches have given up on the run early in games because they fall behind so quickly.
The KU defense plays hard, but can’t defend the pass. And the special teams are the stuff of blooper reels. The Jayhawks give up 14 to 21 points a game just in field position with bad snaps, fumbled punts and lack of kick coverage.
Maybe the odds-makers are buying into the fact that Bill Snyder may be the most sympathetic coach in the country. Snyder has been known for writing notes to opposing players if they play well against his team and is a champion for sportsmanship. He never wants to do anything to embarrass the team he plays, even if Kansas is thought to be the Wildcats’ rival.
Kansas State has not lost since Snyder began his second stint in Manhattan. Before he came back, Mark Mangino had a perfect record against Ron Prince, perhaps one reason the Wildcats didn’t keep him around.
Kansas State has a massive offensive line and a crushing ground game. With temps expected to be brisk on Saturday, I truly believe if the Wildcats ran the ball ball every single play, the Jayhawks wouldn’t be able to stop them. K-State is tremendous in its execution and this week reportedly has Jesse Ertz back at quarterback, though Alex Delton did well in his stead.
The expected outcome also could signal some changes at KU. While I think coach David Beaty is probably safe because he inherited an impossible situation, the man who hired him — AD Sheahon Zenger — has got to be feeling the heat. I can only imagine how the big brass at KU is going to feel when they see a stadium awash in purple, which goes back to Zenger. His hires of Charlie Weis and Beaty have been head scratchers and all that probably keeps him in the good graces is the continued excellence of Bill Self.
But football is, and always will be, the athletic department’s cash cow. Since KU has played before crowds that make it a ghost town, somebody is going to be held accountable. And the buck stops with Zenger.