A quick survey of the 2024 KU football schedule, Part 1
photo by: Nick Krug
The Kansas football schedule has been out for days now, and while much of the focus has remained on the home venues, there will indeed be at least 12 games — yes, two of them at Children’s Mercy Park and four at Arrowhead Stadium — to be played in the fall of 2024.
The loss of Oklahoma and Texas will deprive the Big 12 Conference of two of its traditional powers, but the league has managed to grow its numbers in response by adding Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado and Utah.
KU plays two of those newcomers this season as part of a potentially favorable conference schedule featuring games against nine teams who had a cumulative .441 win percentage in 2023, following a nonconference slate that includes matchups against a lower-division foe and a pair of teams that the Jayhawks beat by double digits last season.
With copious returning talent on offense — though some holes to patch on defense — the Jayhawks have a chance to make a run in their new-look league.
Here’s more on each of the first six programs they will face in 2024. Check back tomorrow to learn about the rest.
Lindenwood (Aug. 29, Children’s Mercy Park, Kansas City, Kansas)
Last year’s record: 3-7, 1-5 Ohio Valley Conference
Last meeting: These teams have never met. In fact, Lindenwood has never met any Football Bowl Subdivision team. This will be the St. Charles, Missouri-based Lions’ first game against an FBS foe since joining Division I in 2022.
One guy you should know: Linebacker Ethan Stuhlsatz is a Wichita native and Butler Community College product who will be back playing in his home state, and earned second-team all-OVC honors after tallying 70 tackles. He had 10 or more in four games and forced a pair of fumbles on the year.
What’s new: Wide receiver Reece Thomas. Yes, that Reece Thomas — the former KU walk-on, a Lansing native who was the first Jayhawk to announce that he was entering the transfer portal this year (on Nov. 28), will open the next chapter of his career by playing against the team he just left.
photo by: AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast
Illinois (Sept. 7, Memorial Stadium, Champaign, Illinois)
Last year’s record: 5-7, 3-6 Big Ten Conference
Last meeting: Sept. 8, 2023. Jalon Daniels returned from injury (for the moment) and was a sharp 21-of-29 for 277 yards, the KU front tallied six sacks in a game for the first time in 14 years and the Jayhawks made things a little more interesting than they needed to be but held on for a 34-23 victory in Lawrence.
One guy you should know: Quarterback Luke Altmyer has already played a lot in three seasons between Ole Miss and Illinois. Against KU last season he threw for 202 yards and ran for 70 more with three total scores, though he also threw a pair of picks — an issue that dogged him all year as he totaled 13 passing touchdowns to 10 interceptions. After suffering an injury late in the season, he found himself relegated to a backup role behind John Paddock, but should return under center with another offseason of development in 2024.
What’s new: Tight end Cole Rusk, a transfer from Murray State. The son of a former Illini wrestler, Rusk comes to Champaign after earning third-team AP All-American honors in the FCS.
photo by: AP Photo/Rick Scuteri
UNLV (Sept. 14, Children’s Mercy Park, Kansas City, Kansas)
Last year’s record: 9-5, 6-2 Mountain West Conference, lost Guaranteed Rate Bowl
Last meeting: Dec. 26, 2023. It might not be hard to remember this one from a little under six weeks ago. Jason Bean threw for 449 yards and six touchdowns in a penalty-laden 49-36 victory, KU’s first bowl win since 2008.
One guy you should know: Wide receiver Ricky White III had seven catches for 97 yards and a touchdown in that game on his way to an eye-popping 1,483 total yards and eight touchdowns on the season.
What’s new: Safety Jalen Catalon stripped Bean in Austin, Texas, last season on a play that led to an improbable touchdown by Daniel Hishaw Jr. Catalon is now playing for this third school in UNLV, following Arkansas (where he also played for Barry Odom) and Texas.
photo by: AP Photo/Chris Carlson
West Virginia (Sept. 21, Milan Puskar Stadium, Morgantown, West Virginia)
Last year’s record: 9-4, 6-3 Big 12 Conference, won Duke’s Mayo Bowl
Last meeting: Sept. 10, 2022. Cobee Bryant intercepted JT Daniels in overtime to seal the win in Morgantown and complete a KU comeback.
One guy you should know: In a small sample size, running back Jahiem White was immensely effective as a true freshman in 2023, as he averaged 7.7 yards per carry and amassed 967 yards from scrimmage on just 114 touches.
What’s new: Offensive lineman Xavier Bausley, who played for onetime WVU coach Rich Rodriguez down at Jacksonville State, was a second-team freshman All-American as assessed by The Athletic after starting 11 games at right tackle.
photo by: AP Photo/Julio Cortez
TCU (Sept. 28, GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City, Missouri)
Last year’s record: 5-7, 3-6 Big 12
Last meeting: Oct. 8, 2022. It was a fateful battle of two undefeated teams, with ESPN’s “College GameDay” present, in which KU lost Daniels to a shoulder injury and Max Duggan threw a game-winning touchdown to Quentin Johnston with 1:36 to go. TCU eventually went to the national title game.
One guy you should know: TCU is losing a lot of players, but it does retain receiver Savion Williams, its leading receiver with just 574 yards who had 164 of those against Texas on Nov. 11.
What’s new: A whole defensive staff, as head coach Sonny Dykes fired defensive coordinator Joe Gillespie and replaced him with former Boise State coach Andy Avalos. Ken Wilson, who faced KU in 2023 as the head man at Nevada, is now the linebackers coach.
photo by: AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin
Arizona State (Oct. 5, Mountain America Stadium, Tempe, Arizona)
Last year’s record: 3-9, 2-7 Pac-12 Conference
Last meeting: Never. One of four new additions next season to the Big 12, and one of the less familiar ones for KU.
One guy you should know: ASU returns the anchor of its offensive line in center Leif Fautanu, a UNLV transfer who started every game in 2023.
What’s new: Oregon transfer Cole Martin, a former four-star defensive back who went to high school in Chandler, Arizona, is back at home in the Valley of the Sun, and will hope to bolster a Sun Devils pass defense that allowed an average of 263.3 yards per game (120th in the nation of 130 teams).