The Kansas Jayhawks have the lowest win total on this year's NCAAF odds list at 1.5 games. Can the 'Hawks possibly be that much worse than last year's 3-9 team?
If you're a handicapper of a certain age, you might remember the 2007 Kansas Jayhawks. They crushed the Big 12 at 12-1 SU and a mouthwatering 11-1 ATS, including a thrilling 24-21 Orange Bowl victory over the Virginia Tech Hokies (–3). It was the best football Kansas had played since World War One. Life was good in Lawrence.
Ah, those salad days. Head coach Mark Mangino, whose program was already under the microscope for academic fraud, was forced out in 2009 after multiple instances of verbal abuse against his players and KU staff. The Jayhawks were already on the decline by then, and things only got worse under Turner Gill, and Charlie Weis after that. Now it's up to David Beaty to turn this ship around, and the college football odds aren't in his corner. Kansas has a win total of 1.5 (OVER –185) on the board at 5Dimes. That's the lowest of any of the 128 teams in the FBS this year. Can the 'Hawks win two games for us?
The pessimism is understandable. There have been some brief moments of success over the past century, but for the most part, Kansas football hasn't just taken a backseat to basketball – it's been strapped to the roof. Recruiting football players to come to Lawrence only got more difficult after Mangino's indiscretions, and the Big 12 itself has lost prestige in recent years, losing Nebraska, Texas A&M, Missouri and Colorado.
This could be a good thing for our purposes. The new Big 12 isn't as strong as it was before; Texas is still there, but the Longhorns only have a total of 6.5 wins (UNDER –195) this year. Oklahoma State and Kansas State are looking at seven wins, and Texas Tech has a total of six. Even better, Iowa State's total is sitting at three wins as we go to press. The Cyclones were in the Big 12 basement last year at 2-10 SU (4-7-1 ATS) with zero conference wins. If the Jayhawks can just beat ISU, and win one of their three non-conference games, voilà.
If only it were that easy. The schedule makers have Kansas playing Iowa State on the road, along with Texas and Oklahoma State. In the grand scheme of things, it's a forgiving away schedule for the Jayhawks (TCU notwithstanding), but if we narrow our focus to the Cyclones game on Oct. 3, hitting the road makes it more difficult for Kansas to win that specific game.
We can't brush off those three non-con opponents, either. The South Dakota State Jackrabbits (Missouri Valley) went to the second round of the FCS playoffs last year. The Memphis Tigers won the American Athletic Conference at 10-3 (8-4-1 ATS) and finished No. 25 in the AP poll. And the Rutgers Scarlet Knights went 8-5 SU and ATS in their first year as a Big Ten program. That'll be a road game for Kansas, too.
Gone till November
It gets worse. Beaty is taking over a program that has lost just about all the notable talent that got the team to 3-9 (5-7 ATS) last year. That includes RB Corey Avery and WR Rodriguez Coleman, who were dismissed earlier this month for undisclosed violations of team rules. LB Jake Love retired for medical reasons, and QB Michael Cummings tore up his knee during the spring game.
We're inclined to take the OVER anyway. As well as the Jackrabbits played last year, they're still an FCS team. And even if Kansas doesn't beat the Cyclones, there are two home games at the end of the season against West Virginia (eight wins, UNDER –180) and Kansas State. The Jayhawks may have improved enough by then to steal a win – and Cummings might even be back by November. It's a classic “buy low” opportunity for a team that can't get much lower.