Shouldering the emotional high of beating its first Power Five school on the road in 11 years, the Kansas football team embarks on a new challenge of conference play this coming weekend.
On Saturday, the Jayhawks will open up at home against West Virginia, who showcased an offensive onslaught in its win over North Carolina State, 44-27. Ahead of the matchup, head coach Les Miles is predicting a rowdy atmosphere from the Kansas faithful following the win over Boston College.
“There’s not a question that this home crowd is going to be loud,” Miles said. “It’s going to be fun.”
Infused with the momentum heading into Big 12 play, it’ll be determined on Saturday just how many fans buy into the enthusiasm. Memorial Stadium hasn’t seated over 40,000 in a home game since Nov. 30, 2013, in a game against Kansas State (43,610). And to be honest, that tally is the result of a large population of people in purple attire making the hour and a half trip from Manhattan.
Although the beatdown of the Eagles on Friday reeled the interest of the team back in, senior quarterback Carter Stanley is already on to the next opponent.
“It’s a whole new week. Nothing we did on Friday night is going to affect us on how we play Saturday,” Stanley said. “It’s all about preparation, film room, and practice every day. It’s all about getting ready for West Virginia this week.”
At the same point last season, Kansas entered Big 12 play on the heels of two consecutive wins over Central Michigan and Rutgers by a combined margin of 86-21. In the conference opener at Baylor, the Jayhawks were thumped, 26-7, and accumulated just 271 yards of total offense.
Erasing all the positivity it had the week prior, Kansas proceeded to win only one if its remaining eight games. Playing behind former Jayhawk quarterback Peyton Bender for the majority of the 2018 campaign, Stanley believes it’s different this time in riding the high into Big 12 play.
“It’s kind of a similar situation, both being 2-1,” Stanley said on comparing the two seasons. “But this year, it definitely has a different feel because this is the coaching staff’s first year.”
Though posting the same record through three weeks in both the 2018 and 2019 seasons, the path to this point hasn't been the same. In the case of David Beaty’s team, Kansas dropped the home opener and then rebounded against two mid-major programs.
In year one of the Miles’ era, the Jayhawks opened on a high note and then sank to the lowest point imaginable. In the aftermath, Kansas stunned its own fans, the nation, and even Miles on how resilient his team proved to be on Friday.
“I have never been around a team that accomplished what they accomplished,” Miles said. “They didn’t have a lot of positive momentum going into the next game, and I was just as surprised as I could be.”
The Jayhawks open up as a 4.5-point underdog on Saturday against the Mountaineers, according to Odds Shark. Heading into the game, Kansas has the edge in points per game at 26.3 to 23.7. The team also ranks higher in rushing yards per game at 201.7 to 79 and yards per game at 397 to 303.3. Kickoff is set for 3:30 p.m. CST at Memorial Stadium.