Opponent: Texas Tech
Opponent’s Record: 4-2 (2-1 in Big 12 play)
Location: Jones AT&T Stadium in Lubbock, Texas
Game time: Saturday, October 20, 2018 at 2:30 PM
TV channel: Fox Sports 1 or Fox Sports Go
Radio: 810 WHB
Line: Texas Tech – 18.5
Hello and welcome back, Kansas football fans! A lot has happened since the West Virginia game, and it could significantly impact the outcome in Lubbock this Saturday.
As I am sure you’ve heard by now, David Beaty has dismissed his offensive coordinator, Doug Meacham. Rumors of a rift between the two gained ground after Beaty was seen shouting into a headset during a timeout. These rumors were confirmed when KU football made the announcement on Twitter on Wednesday. Beaty takes over as play caller and now coaches the quarterbacks. Based on past history, I am not so sure that is a good thing. Luckily for KU, Texas Tech might be handicapped a bit on offense, depending on the health of their quarterbacks. Saturday should be an interesting game, and it should provide some answers about the offense for the Jayhawks.
When Texas Tech has the ball
Usually, there isn’t a lot of mystery about Texas Tech’s offense. They’ve basically ran the same offense since 2000 (except for those funky Tuberville years). We know they are going to throw the ball. The difference in this matchup is we don’t know who will be throwing the ball for the Red Raiders. Kliff Kingsbury said in his weekly press conference that he wasn’t sure who was going to be behind center on Saturday for Texas Tech. I think that points to Sophomore Jett Duffey getting the nod as the only healthy Red Raiders quarterback heading into this week. Duffey rushed for 83 yards and a score against TCU last Thursday. He rushed for 86 yards and a touchdown against WVU the week before. He is dynamic and adds another dimension to Kliff Kingsbury’s high-powered offense.
Duffey turns the ball over a lot. He has appeared in 3 games this season and has thrown 4 interceptions. This bodes well for the ball hawks in the secondary. If KU can force Duffey to make poor decisions and take advantage of some of his mistakes, the Jayhawks can keep this one close. Tech has leaned on their running game more the last two weeks with Duffey in as the starter. I think they will go to the ground early and often, much the way Oklahoma State did against the Jayhawks. The blueprint for beating KU is to control the ground and not turn the ball over through the air.
I thought KU’s defensive backs played a lot better last game against West Virginia after being embarrassed by Taylor Cornelius two games ago. That’s encouraging, because in the Big 12 if the defensive backs can’t contain over the top then the team is basically dead in the water.
When Kansas has the ball
David Beaty fired Doug Meacham during the bye week. There are rumors and message board theories as to why this happened, but it could just be the offense simply wasn’t performing well. Quarterback play has been a mixed bag. Bender is starting this weekend, but I have serious doubts that he will finish the game. I don’t expect David Beaty to change the offense too much considering him and Meacham come from the same offensive background. What I will be watching this week for KU’s offense is how do they get their best players the ball in space? Secondly, how are they protecting the quarterback? The line play hasn’t been discussed much, but KU’s line has only improved marginally in 2018. Kevin Feder, the Ohio State transfer, has looked too slow against edge rushers. Antione Frazier has been just as leaky on the left side. With Peyton Bender back in the starting role, protection will be vital.
Texas Tech has the 95th ranked defense in the country according to S&P+, but that doesn’t do the Red Raiders justice. Dakota Allen shines for the Red Raiders out of the linebacker position. I imagine defensive coordinator David Gibbs will have Allen in the box to take away the threat of KU’s talented running backs. Speaking of Gibbs, his defenses historically rely on taking the ball away from their opponents. The Red Raiders are going to jump passing lanes, go for the strip, and bait Bender all afternoon. If KU commits a few turnovers, this game can get away fast.
Coming off a bye, KU boasts an average scoring margin of -32 during Beaty’s tenure. Coach Beaty has only coordinated one offense that finished higher than 100th in S&P+. That was the 2011 Kansas Jayhawks who finished 94th. This season hasn’t been all bad. Bruce Feldman listed Pooka Williams as his midseason true freshman of the year (check it out on The Athletic). The defense forced 3 interceptions from a legitimate Heisman candidate. KU snapped their historically long road losing streak. Despite all of these things, this season has always had a feeling of impending doom. KU currently only has 1 commit for their 2019 recruiting class. More ink is spilled on who will replace Beaty than how Beaty is doing. It just feels like 2018 ended the second the clock hit zero against Nicholls.
Anyways, I think Texas Tech wins and covers.
Texas Tech 42, Kansas 22 (TTU -18.5)
Season record: 3-3, 1-5 ATS
Last week’s prediction: West Virginia 55, Kansas 24 (actual West Virginia 38, Kansas 22)