NCAA Football: Kansas at Baylor

Sep 26, 2020; Waco, Texas, USA; Kansas Jayhawks running back Velton Gardner (0) is tackled by the Baylor Bears defense during the first half at McLane Stadium. 

Kansas football will welcome the No. 17 Oklahoma State Cowboys Saturday for homecoming weekend with 10,000 fans in the stands. This marks the first matchup for Kansas against a ranked opponent this season.

In the practice week, Kansas has been preparing for Oklahoma State offensive threats like redshirt junior running back Chuba Hubbard and strong-armed redshirt sophomore quarterback Spencer Sanders.

“[Hubbard] is an explosive big physical guy and a tremendous running back,” Kansas football coach Les Miles said during a media availability Monday. “He’s got good vision, he’ll make a cut and make you miss. That will set him apart in my opinion.”

Hubbard averaged 6.4 yards per carry and finished with 2,094 rushing yards and 21 touchdowns in 2019.

The Kansas defense will need to rely on freshman cornerback Karon Prunty and junior linebacker Dru Prox, among others, to stop Hubbard in his tracks. Prox has provided 14 total tackles so far this season for the Jayhawks and is looking to cause more trouble for the Cowboys' offense. Prunty has six total tackles with two pass deflections so far this season.

On the offensive side of the ball, the Jayhawks will look to improve on their dismal 14-point performance against Baylor last week. While the starting quarterback has yet to be named, it will be important for the Jayhawks to find success in the passing game.

So far, Kansas has averaged 8.7 yards per reception and failed to convert big passing plays. If the Jayhawks can improve on this, it will open the running game for junior running back Pooka Williams Jr. Miles said he hopes to make Williams more involved in the offense Saturday. 

“I’d like to give him a few more touches to be honest with you,” Miles said. “We like some of the other options we have to get the ball to them, but keeping Pooka fresh is also a key piece.”

The Kansas offensive line will also look to improve as a group on Saturday. Senior right guard Chris Hughes said the offensive line needs to communicate better in order to stay strong against defenses in the future.

“I think one of the biggest improvements we had from game one to game two was just moving with more speed and creating pace,” Hughes said. “Just having everybody gel a little more. I’ve seen a lot of improvement, but there’s a lot more improvement that can be done.”

An offensive line improvement will be necessary for the matchup against Oklahoma State’s 10 returning starters on defense.

With Cowboy senior linebackers Amen Ogbongbemiga and Malcolm Rodriguez both having 100-plus tackle seasons last year, the Jayhawks will have their work cut out for them. Not to mention Oklahoma State’s defensive line has nearly every player returning from the position last year.

The Jayhawks will look to find their first win of the season against the Cowboys Saturday. The game is slated to kick off at 2:30 p.m.