Kansas has proven that last year’s success was no fluke and that they are building a legitimate program over in Lawrence. Even with quarterback Jalon Daniels missing time with injury, the Jayhawks sit in third place in the Big 12 and enter their matchup with Texas Tech this weekend on a two-game winning streak. With all the momentum on their side and home-field advantage, I think the Jayhawks can avenge their loss to the Red Raiders from last season in a big way.
If there was ever a team that needed a bye week following week eight, it was the Texas Tech Red Raiders. After losing outright as favorites in two straight weeks, the Red Raiders were able to use their bye week to reset and come out with a nice 35-28 win over TCU last weekend. The bye week also allowed quarterback Behren Morton to get healthy after missing their game against BYU, as he came out against TCU and threw for 282 yards and two touchdowns.
Morton will lead an offense onto the field this weekend that ranks 37th in EPA, and while he’s played well this season, the true reason for their strong ranking is their running game. Behind running back Tahj Brooks, the Red Raiders are 36th in offensive success rate on run plays. Brooks ran for 146 yards against TCU, giving him six games in which he’s broken the 100-yard mark.
This weekend, Brooks takes on a Jayhawks defense that is 99th in yards allowed per carry and 98th in rushing yards allowed per game. While they come into this week with a 7-2 record, it’s hard to give the Kansas defense a lot of credit for the team's success. The 21 points the Jayhawks allowed last weekend to Iowa State was the lowest total they’ve allowed to an FBS opponent this season.
Due to stats like that, the Jayhawks are currently 101st in the country in defensive success rate. Luckily for the Kansas defense, their offense has been able to offset a lot of those issues by averaging 423.3 yards and 33.3 points per game. The status of quarterback Jalon Daniels is still up in the air for this week, but from the looks of it, Jason Bean will likely be back under center this weekend with his 10:4 touchdown-to-interception ratio.
Kansas is currently listed as (-4.5) point favorites, and regardless of Jalon Daniels’ injury status, I still think they can cover for the third straight game. The Jayhawks are 5-0 SU and 4-1 ATS at home this season, and I think they can attack a weak Red Raiders secondary.
Texas Tech is currently 85th in defensive success rate on pass plays, and they are coming off a game in which they allowed 353 passing yards. While Kansas is more of a run-heavy offense, they possess an explosiveness in the passing game that could lead to issues for Texas Tech. The Jayhawks average 9.4 yards per pass, which is a top-ten average that has helped them rank 12th in success rate on pass plays.
When it comes to the other side of the field, the Red Raiders rely primarily on their run game, and even though they may find success with that game plan, I don’t know if it will be enough to keep them in the game. Kansas is 61st in EPA per rush play on defense, and while that may not be the best ranking, I still think it will be enough to get a few timely stops that allow the offense to build a lead. That game plan has worked for them all season, and it should work again Saturday.
Kansas Jayhawks (-4.5)