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Opponent Preview Series: Kansas Jayhawks

The Frogs are traveling to Lawrence this year for game five on the schedule.

NCAA Football: Big 12 Media Days Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Our opponent preview series continues into week 6 where the Frogs will take on the Kansas Jayhawks in Lawrence. Since joining the Big 12, the Frogs are 9-1 against the birds with the one blemish occurring on the road in 2018. With a tough round 1 of Big 12 play against Oklahoma, this is a matchup coach Sonny Dyles and co. will want to lock down.

2022 Outlook

  • Project Win Total: 2.5
  • Odds to win Big 12: +25000
  • Odds to win National Championship: +200000
  • Overall Preseason SP+ Rank: 109th

The Jayhawks have seemed to built a fair level of hype heading into the 2022 season. Whether or not this newfound public affection is thanks to last year’s 57-56 overtime upset in Austin or due to actual improvement within the program is still to be determined. After going winless in the 2020 COVID-riddled season, the Jayhawks finished 2-10 with one-possession wins over Texas and South Dakota. It’s no secret, so I’ll be blunt: the Jayhawks struggle to find success in an elite conference like the Big 12. Even surpassing their Division-1-low win total of 2.5 would be a huge step in the right direction for the Jayhawks. They’ll be entering the second season with head coach Lance Leipold at the helm, which does point towards some sort of improvement in 2022 as he is the man that engineered the program’s first win after a 22-month drought last year. He turned Buffalo into a winning team over the course of five years, so who’s to say he’s not the savior of Lawrence? Based on what was said at Big 12 media days last month, it appears Leipold and his guys are feeling confident heading into 2022. After posting 706 passing yards, 90 rushing yards, and 9 total touchdowns in three starts to end the season last year, quarterback Jalon Daniels may have good reason to walk with a bit of swagger. With Daniels under center to end the year, the Jayhawks beat Texas and suffered CLOSE one-possession losses to TCU and West Virginia.

History vs TCU

Weird stuff has happened against Kansas in the past. Just last year, the Frogs squeaked by at home with a 31-28 win thanks to a Griffin Kell last-second field goal. Although the 2021 season wasn’t much to be proud of as a whole, a close game at home against the Jayhawks felt like a slap in the face.

Over the past decade, four of the Frogs’ nine wins against KU have been decided by six points or less, with another two being within 14. Really the only time TCU has met expectations on the road in this matchup was the 59-23 win in 2020, when the Frogs posted a monstrous 337 yards on the ground. Other than that, I’ll say it again: weird stuff happens in Lawrence.

Overall, the Frogs are 25-9-4 in the all-time series with the most recent loss occurring on the road in 2018 (27-26).

Key Departure:

Kwamie Lassiter II, WR

Kwamie Lassiter II finished his 5th year of eligibility as the Jayhawks leading receiver, posting 653 yards and 3 touchdowns in the process. Following the 2022 season, Lassiter signed as an undrafted free agent with the Cincinnati Bengals. Although 653 yards may not seem all that impressive to lead the team, that accounts for 29.4% of the Jayhawks passing offense last year. Considering KU had 116 more rush attempts than pass attempts last year, that’s not too shabby. QB Jalon Daniels loses his most reliable target here.

Key Newcomer:

Lonnie Phelps, DE

Lonnie Phelps is one of the premier players in the Jayhawk’s 21st-ranked transfer team heading to Lawrence this season. He’s a 6-3, 245 lbs edge rusher that transferred from Miami (OH). Phelps broke out in his third season with the Redhawks last year as he finished the season with 30 tackles and an absurd 9.5 sacks. He brings a great combination of speed and power to the table and will certainly give Kansas an immediate upgrade on defense.

Even though he’s been with the team, you can make a case for QB Jalon Daniels as the team’s “key newcomer.” Expected to take over as the starter this season, Daniels will be a big part of any potential success for the Jayhawks.

Matchup vs. TCU

If history repeats itself, we’re in for an unexpected close call in Lawrence. Then again, the mantra of 2022 seems to be “only time will tell” considering the Frogs’ new coaching staff. No one really knows exactly what TCU team is going to come out of that locker room in week 6, but here’s to hoping Dykes gets his guys ready to play regardless of how intimidating (or unintimidating) the opponent might be. We know the Jayhawks like to run the football, but QB Jalon Daniels is no slouch through the air. I expect the Jayhawks to lean on their RB duo of Devin Neal & Minnesota transfer Ky Thomas for the majority of the game, which will call for a big performance from the guys up front on the D-Line. Even when Kansas goes to the air, they aren’t much of an “air raid” threat, so one might expect a lot of DB blitz packages in Gillespie’s 3-3-5 formation. Offensively, the game speaks for itself. Score points against an inferior defense, plain and simple. Whether it’s through the air or on the ground, the Frogs should have little to no problems moving the football against the Jayhawks defense that gave up 486.9 yards per game last season.