Squaring off: South Dakota

The question we’ve all been asking ourselves: “is it finally the year for Kansas Football to step up and become a competitor in the Big 12?” Throughout the past four seasons Kansas hasn’t had much to say being a bottom-feeder in the conference (2-32 in Big 12 Conference play from 2009-2012). However, it is time for the Jayhawks to make a return with a different team and to put the past behind them. This team may finally have the potential to spring the Jayhawks out of the basement. It all starts Saturday versus the South Dakota Coyotes in front of the Jayhawk faithful at Memorial Stadium.

The potential for the Jayhawks has been highly regarded by Coach Charlie Weis. The start of the season will be the first in-game look at transfer QB Jake Heaps in 618 days. No doubt all eyes will be on the BYU transfer. However, the major lift in the offense will need to come on the ground. Senior RB James Sims proved his worth last year by rushing for over a thousand yards in the 2012 campaign. Sims missed the first three games last season from a suspension, but showcased how explosive he can be. The senior rushed for 176 yards at Texas on 28 attempts, including a 64-yard-long breakaway. Sims won’t be shy in attempting to breakdown the sizable South Dakota offensive line. If Sims can produce on third downs and keep the Jayhawk offense on the field, Heaps and Sims are determined to score.

Now critically speaking, South Dakota isn’t exactly a threat to light up the Kansas defense. South Dakota lacks versatility as QB Josh Vander Maten connected to only three targets for a dreadful 91 yards passing. With a more than struggling offense, South Dakota is more than likely to struggle on thirrd down conversions (3-12 vs. UC Davis). Kansas will be able to keep their offense on the field for the majority of the game, giving Weis the opportunity to test plays with Heaps. Don’t expect Weis to reveal all of the tricks he has set aside for Heaps this season, but expect a more than pleasing showing from the transfer.

Predictions:

Kansas is returning to Memorial Stadium with a more than talented offense. With a strong offensive line, Heaps will have plenty of time to find connections through the air. Expect multiple touchdown completions from Heaps. In Scott Chasen’s preview he predicts Kansas to leave Memorial Stadium victorious 35-9. Agreeably, I don’t think Kansas will give up anymore than 14 to the Jackrabbits. I’d say to see Kansas rack up more than 30 wouldn’t come as a surprise.

Official Score Prediction :

Kansas 31 – South Dakota 13