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Archive for Thursday, July 21, 2011

Jayhawks’ schedule not kind

July 21, 2011

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We’re approaching the end of July — like it or not — and now is the time that many fans start seriously scouting the season ahead and gearing up to make their predictions that can make or break their status as true sports fans with their friends.

Seeing how the Kansas University football team has yet to report to preseason camp and still has unanswered questions about which players will be on the field, I’ll save my official prediction for a little later this summer.

But for those who can’t wait that long or need help formulating your picks, here’s a quick look at a few facts that might help.

Warning: The following information may help you make a sound prediction but won’t do much for your hopes of a strong season from the Jayhawks this fall. Proceed with caution.

By now, you’re surely aware that the Jayhawks will play all nine other schools that remain in the new-look Big 12. No more North against North or South against South. From here on out, it’s everybody against everybody, winner take all. For the most part, I love that. For the Jayhawks, I don’t.

Sure we know that KU will have to play Oklahoma and Texas and Oklahoma State and Texas A&M and, well, you get it. But add to that a good Northern Illinois team in Week 2 and a road game against Georgia Tech in Week 3 and you’re staring at the 26th toughest schedule in the country, according to college football analyst Phil Steele.

One quick note before diving in further: Steele makes sure to point out in his breakdown that his strength of schedule numbers are based on the make-up of this year’s teams and not the records from 2010. More on that a little later.

Amazingly, KU’s standing at No. 26 in the nation only comes in at No. 7 in its own conference. Iowa State (2), Baylor (3), Oklahoma State (18), Missouri (19), Texas A&M (22) and Oklahoma (25) all rank ahead of KU. Get this: KU barely avoided finishing eighth in the Big 12, as K-State landed just one spot behind them in 27th.

Texas (31) and Texas Tech (50) round out the rest of the conference on Steele’s list, putting all 10 Big 12 teams in the Top 50 in terms of toughest schedules in the country in 2011. How’s that for an indication of how good the league is this year? Yikes.

For a quick comparison, consider that KU’s 2010 schedule ranked as the 48th toughest in the country, good for eighth in the 12-team league.

Now, about that distinction between the strength of this year’s teams versus last year’s records, Steele addresses that, as well. On his list of schools facing the toughest schedule in terms of the opponents’ win-loss records from 2010, KU ranks third in the country.

KU’s 2011 opponents combined for 97 victories and 57 losses in 2010, good for a winning percentage of 63 percent. Only Clemson (104-54, 65.8%) and Baylor (96-56, 63.2%) are facing a bigger bunch of winners.

It’s hard to know what to make of this in late July. Things change, breaks happen and a couple of teams almost always show up and surprise people.

One thing that won’t come as much of a surprise for the Jayhawks this year will be staring down talented teams on the opposite sideline. They’ll be doing it just about every week.

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