When Kansas has the ball
Kansas rush offense vs. NIU rush defense
In rushing for 301 yards on 55 carries last week, the Jayhawks topped the 300-yard mark for just the second time in the last 10 seasons. The way they did it was the fun part. Four backs got meaningful carries, and KU ran inside, outside and over McNeese State. That’s the game plan again this week, and if the blocking holds up, KU should succeed.
Kansas pass offense vs. NIU pass defense
Evaluating NIU on last week’s performance against Army isn’t fair considering Army prefers to run the ball more than 50 times a game. The Black Knights threw the ball 16 times vs. NIU, which is six more times than KU QB Jordan Webb threw it, but managed just 106 yards. Webb will be without two of his top targets in Daymond Patterson (groin injury) and Christian Matthews (suspension) but should still have enough weapons in Kale Pick, D.J. Beshears and Tim Biere, provided KU’s running game continues to open up the pass.
When NIU has the ball
NIU rush offense vs. Kansas rush defense
The Jayhawks stuffed the run last week against McNeese State to the tune of 95 yards on 28 carries. Part of that was because the Cowboys threw it 41 times. This week, the Jayhawks will face a much more potent rushing attack, one that rumbled for 289 yards on 47 carries, including 94 yards and a TD from quarterback Chandler Harnish. Containing Harnish will be the key.
NIU pass offense vs. Kansas pass defense
NIU didn’t throw it a lot last week — 19 attempts — but when they did it was effective. Harnish finished with 12 completions, 195 yards and five TDs. Considering that the KU pass D was torched for 325 yards and two TDs against an FCS opponent, this matchup could be this week’s most critical for both teams.
Edge: Northern Illinois
Neither team did much in the way of special teams last week and both feature a mixed bag of young and experienced players. For Kansas, kick returner D.J. Beshears tallied 86 yards on five tries with a long of 32 yards. In addition, freshman place kicker Alex Mueller was 6-for-6 on extra points. He did not attempt a field goal.