Kansas’ schedule is one that is fairly favorable for a team entering a new era.
The Jayhawks were picked to finish last in the Big 12 preseason media poll once again, but there are several teams on Kansas’ schedule that are ideal matchups for Kansas.
1. vs. Indiana State
Game one for the Jayhawks is a favorable one. Last year, Indiana State finished with a 7-4 record, which included a 31-7 blowout loss to the only FBS school on its schedule, Louisville.
Right now, ESPN has Kansas as a six-point favorite, largely due to past performances — more specifically last year’s season opening loss to Nicholls State.
Indiana State was an inconsistent team last year but finished on a high note, winning its last four games. This year, they enter as the No. 16 ranked team in FCS.
Senior quarterback Ryan Boyle is back after a 12-touchdown, three-interception season. The Sycamores also returned most of their starters from a year ago.
This game, the Jayhawks will be without star sophomore running back Pooka Williams Jr. as he serves his one-game suspension. Despite their loss, the Jayhawks are the far more talented team.
2. vs. Coastal Carolina
Coastal Carolina brings another ideal matchup for Kansas.
A year ago, the Chanticleers found themselves on the wrong end of several blowouts. They finished with a 5-7 record but lost the last four games of their season.
With 2018 being the first year that the team was eligible to compete for a bowl game in the FBS, Coastal Carolina just hasn’t established itself as a consistent winner yet.
3. At Boston College
Boston College is going to be the first true test for Kansas.
The Eagles made several changes this offseason. Offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler left the program to become the coach of Bowling Green. Boston College hired Mike Bajakian to fill his place and promoted Bill Sheridan to defensive coordinator.
Last year, Boston College won five of its seven home games with losses coming at the hands of the national champion Clemson Tigers and the ten-win Syracuse Orange.
4. vs. West Virginia
West Virginia experienced a lot of change this offseason.
With Dana Holgorsen taking over as the head coach for the University of Houston, all eyes are on coach Neal Brown, who previously served as Troy’s head coach.
Star quarterback Will Grier and the receiver combo of David Sills and Gary Jennings are now in the NFL. The Mountaineers also lost the reigning Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year, linebacker David Long Jr., as well as All-Big 12 safety Kenny Robinson Jr. Many expect Brown’s first year to be a bumpy ride.
This may be a winnable game for Kansas.
5. At TCU
Last season was tough for TCU but several expect a bounce back year.
TCU was the one Big 12 team that lost to Kansas in 2018. The Horned Frogs faced a lot of adversity last year, being forced to dismiss receiver KaVontae Turpin and losing quarterback Shawn Robinson to injury before he transferred to Missouri.
With junior Jalen Reagor emerging as one of the best receivers in the country and starting running back Darius Anderson returning, coach Gary Patterson’s squad was polled to finish fourth in the Big 12.
6. vs. Oklahoma
Oklahoma has established itself as one of the most consistently dominant programs in college football.
The Sooners have had the most offensive firepower of any team in the conference for years and that likely won’t change. Running backs Trey Sermon and Kennedy Brooks combined for 2,003 rushing yards with an average yards per carry of 7.1 in 2018, and both are returning this year. On top of that, electrifying junior receiver CeeDee Lamb is coming off an 11-touchdown season.
Last year, Oklahoma was led by Heisman trophy winner quarterback Kyler Murray and found itself in the college football playoff. This year, they will turn to former Alabama Crimson Tide quarterback Jalen Hurts.
In last year’s high scoring affair, the Jayhawks lost to the Sooners 40-55, despite a career performance from Williams.
7. At Texas
After facing Oklahoma, Kansas will travel to Austin, Texas, to take on the Longhorns.
Quarterback Sam Ehlinger is once again at the helm and looking to build off his 25-touchdown, five-interception performance last season.
Kansas beat Texas in 2016 and have played close games with them in other recent years. Last year, Texas finished second in the conference and are polled to finish No. 2 in the Big 12 once again.
8. vs. Texas Tech
Texas Tech is another team that may face some growing pains under a new coaching staff.
After a disappointing season in 2018, the Red Raiders decided to move on from coach Kliff Kingsbury and hired former Utah State coach Matt Wells.
Texas Tech does have a promising young quarterback returning, sophomore Alan Bowman, who is fresh off a 2,638-yard, 17-touchdown passing season. Although the quarterback position is set, the Red Raiders don’t have many other proven offensive weapons returning.
The Red Raiders have been an average to below average Big 12 team for a majority of the last decade and are predicted to finish seventh in the conference preseason poll.
9. vs. Kansas State
Nobody knows what to make of the Jayhawks’ rivals this year.
Like Kansas, Kansas State will also be under new management this year. Longtime coach Bill Snyder retired at the conclusion of last season. In his place, K-State hired Chris Klieman — a perennial national championship-winning coach at FCS powerhouse North Dakota State. This will be Klieman's first job at the FBS level.
This offseason, K-State also lost its top receiver Isaiah Zuber to a transfer, sophomore receiver Hunter Rison to a season dismissal then a transfer, senior linebacker Justin Hughes to a season-ending injury and would-be senior running back Alex Barnes to the NFL Draft.
The Wildcats are predicted to finish second to last in the Big 12 — one spot above the Jayhawks, per the conference media preseason poll.
10. At Oklahoma State
Despite last season’s struggles, Oklahoma State has consistently been atop the Big 12 year in and year out.
Coach Mike Gundy’s squad will turn to either freshman Spencer Sanders or redshirt senior Dru Brown to take over the quarterback spot now that Taylor Cornelius has graduated.
The Cowboys also lost running back Justice Hill, who they’ve relied heavily on for the last three years, evident by the over 3,500 rushing yards in his Cowboy career. Sophomore running back Chuba Hubbard and junior receiver Tylan Wallace were productive last year and will likely shoulder an even heavier load this year.
Although the Cowboys have several new faces, Kansas still doesn’t match up well against them.
11. At Iowa State
Iowa State has been on the rise since hiring Matt Campbell in 2016.
The Cyclones have finished the previous two seasons at 8-5 and consistently challenge the top teams in the conference.
In his freshman season, quarterback Brock Purdy improved throughout the year but will be put to the test this year. The Cyclones lost their top two playmakers, Hakeem Butler and David Montgomery, to the NFL Draft.
The Big 12 media preseason poll has the Cyclones picked to finish third in the conference.
12. vs. Baylor
Kansas will close out its season at home against Baylor.
Last season, the Bears were the most improved team in the Big 12, going from 1-11 to 7-6.
Now, Baylor is bringing back a majority of its starters, including junior quarterback Charlie Brewer, senior receiver Denzel Mims, junior running back John Lovett, senior linebacker Clay Johnson and senior safety Chris Miller.
A team that for the last several years has been one of the younger teams in the conference, Baylor could be ready to take another step forward in 2019.
The Big 12 media preseason poll has the Bears finishing sixth in the conference.
Writer Prediction: 4-8
Kansas has the luxury of facing the two worst opponents of the schedule in David Booth Memorial Stadium to start the season. With Miles in his first year at Kansas, there will be growing pains throughout the season, but the timing of the change may play in the Jayhawks’ favor.
Three other conference foes — Kansas State, West Virginia and Texas Tech — are in a similar scenario.
Kansas doesn’t have much of an excuse not to start the season with wins over FCS opponents Indiana State and Coastal Carolina. Realistically, Oklahoma, Texas, Oklahoma State, Iowa State and TCU are likely to beat Kansas. After that, several of Kansas’ conference opponents are unproven.