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LJWorld.com weblogs Tale of the Tait

Can KU actually beat Nebraska?

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Kansas defensive end Jake Laptad knocks the ball loose from Colorado quarterback Cody Hawkins during the fourth quarter, Saturday, Nov. 6, 2010 at Kivisto Field. The fumble was recovered by Colorado.

Kansas defensive end Jake Laptad knocks the ball loose from Colorado quarterback Cody Hawkins during the fourth quarter, Saturday, Nov. 6, 2010 at Kivisto Field. The fumble was recovered by Colorado. by Nick Krug

During a third-quarter daze while watching last night’s Atlanta Falcons vs. Baltimore Ravens NFL game on The NFL Network, I began thinking the unthinkable.

What if Kansas won this game on Saturday?

I know, I know. It’s virtually a lock that Nebraska, ranked No. 9 in the nation, is going to win and win big. But is it that hard to envision a scenario in which the Jayhawks pull off the upset?

I know. “Yes” seems like the obvious answer, so while I watched and wondered if the Falcons really were good enough to win the Super Bowl this year, I came up with short list of questions and answers that might help us better evaluate KU’s chances this weekend.

Take a look.

Question 1: How many turnovers would the Jayhawks need to create to have a chance?

Answer: KU coach Turner Gill said the Jayhawks must get three or more. I think he’s right. So far this season, Nebraska has fumbled an astonishing 31 times. The Huskers have lost only 11 of those fumbles, but the mere thought of that many balls bouncing around on the turf in Lincoln made me think that getting three or more turnovers might not be that tough. For the sake of the game, let’s say the Jayhawks get four. Two fumbles, one interception and one fluke takeaway on special teams.

Question 2: How many turnovers can the KU offense give up while still being OK?

Answer: None. No questions asked. When you’re playing a team as talented as Nebraska at their place, you have to be nearly perfect in every aspect of the game to have a chance. But the one area that you absolutely cannot slip up is giveaways. Let’s say Quinn Mecham stays hot, takes care of the interceptions and the KU running backs run hard with two hands on the ball at all times.

Question 3: How many points will the Jayhawks have to score to win this game?

Answer: For Iowa State last week, 32 was the magic number. For Missouri the week before, 32 would have done it there, too. 32 points also would’ve been enough for South Dakota State and for Texas. So, in the last six games — of which Nebraska has lost just one — 32 points would’ve been enough to beat the Huskers four times. Let’s say the KU defense is up to the task of slowing the NU offense down the way it was against Georgia Tech in Week 2. If that happens, 32 points could win this game.

Question 4: How many points can the Jayhawks give up without digging too deep of a hole to climb out of?

Answer: Realistically speaking, this number can’t be any higher than the number from question three, right? So it won’t be. If the Jayhawks can hold the Huskers to 30 points or fewer — forcing a few drives to end with field goals instead of touchdowns — they may have a chance to win this game.

Question 5: What do the guys in Las Vegas think about this week’s KU-NU matchup?

Answer: Oddsmakers set the opening line for this weekend’s game at Nebraska by 32. It hasn’t stayed there. As of Thursday night, the line had been bet up to NU -35 in most spots, with the over/under set at 61. When Nebraska played K-State earlier this year, the line was NU -11 and the over/under was set at 47. The Cornhuskers covered that number by themselves, winning 48-7. If NU’s favored by 35 and the over/under is set at 61, doesn’t that mean that Vegas believes KU might be able to score some points, too?

OK, so what have we learned?

Plug those hypotheticals into the computer and here’s one scenario that might come out. It’s based on nothing more than a simple analysis of few facts and figures that pertain to both teams: If KU can force (or at least get) four Nebraska turnovers, give up none of its own, score at least 32 points and hold the Huskers to 31 or less, KU will have a chance to win this game.

Of course, that’s much easier said than done. But I think this exercise shows that, despite the fact that most people think this is a guaranteed laugher for Nebraska, circumstances do exist that say Kansas could compete.

I think they will, but I don’t think they’ll win. Nebraska 45, Kansas 21.

Comments

ralphralph 3 years, 5 months ago

Nebraska will score as much as they care to score.
KU cannot begin to stop the Huskers' running game.

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password 3 years, 5 months ago

I hope KU wins! and i think they may have a chance! A KU win would be a glorious ending to the longest played f-ball match up ever!

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edjayhawk 3 years, 5 months ago

We have played much better against the run then the pass. That said, I like our chances somewhat. Georgia Tech was a predominantly running team like Nebraska.

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CHEEZIT 3 years, 5 months ago

Did we think that K.U. could ever score 70 against Nebraska regardless of how bad they were?

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Jeff Kilgore 3 years, 5 months ago

If Chaminade can beat Hawaii, then there are odds.

More important to me is whether KU's offense has improved enough to score. It goes without saying that Nebraska should score into the 40s and 50s unless strange things happen. We just aren't very good yet on D. But if our offense can score three touchdowns, that would satisfy me, even if NU was in the 60s.

35's about right.

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Practicality 3 years, 5 months ago

Question 1: How many turnovers would the Jayhawks need to create to have a chance?

8+

Question 2: How many turnovers can the KU offense give up while still being OK?

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Question 3: How many points will the Jayhawks have to score to win this game?

80

Question 4: How many points can the Jayhawks give up without digging too deep of a hole to climb out of?

3

Question 5: What do the guys in Las Vegas think about this week’s KU-NU matchup?

If Martinez plays and Helu doesn't go blind, Nebraska will cover the 35 point spread. Maybe even before half.

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yourworstnightmare 3 years, 5 months ago

Yes, KU can actually beat Nebraska. The chance is vanishingly small, however.

NU 87, KU 13

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consumer1 3 years, 5 months ago

Ha ha ha ha ha ha Ha ha ha ha ha ha Ha ha ha ha ha ha Ha ha ha ha ha ha Ha ha ha ha ha ha Ha ha ha ha ha ha Ha ha ha ha ha haHa ha ha ha ha ha Good one.

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EarthaKitt 3 years, 5 months ago

I thought that was going to be a MUCH shorter story.

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Richard Payton 3 years, 5 months ago

Tait must have had one heck of a party to think of that!

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MarchSadness 3 years, 5 months ago

No.....Turner Gill would need more than heavenly prayers for Jesus to help with this one.

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