Look, there’s no easy or diplomatic way to put this. The Kansas Jayhawks are simply an absolutely terrible team.
It’s hard to praise a team that’s riding a 12 game losing streak, dating back to last season. Likewise, it’s hard to out a positive spin on a program that’s lost 37 straight road games, and hasn’t seen a road victory since September 2009.
For those keeping track, yes, that does mean that there’s not a single player on the current Kansas roster has ever experienced a road victory as a Jayhawk.
Needless to say, the Horned Frogs host the Jayhawks as 45-point favorites as Kansas is three games away from likely becoming the first winless Power-5 team since the Washington Huskies in 2008.
Here’s what’s needed to know about TCU’s next opponent:
THE KANSAS JAYHAWKS OFFENSE
In order to understand the struggle of the Kansas Jayhawks, look no further than their roster.
After several shocking developments, the Jayhawks have a total of 60 total scholarship players on the team - less than the FCS school they lost to in their season opener. To make matters worse, nearly all of Kansas’s 2013 recruiting class has left the team due to the recruiting of JUCO players, players being removed from the team, injuries or even just becoming disinterested in football.
Because of that, it’s no wonder that Kansas leads the FBS right now with 39 first-time players used this season. (Incidentally, TCU's comes in second with 37). The Jayhawks have also used 33 first-time starters, which is tied with Central Florida for the most this season.
One of those freshmen first-time players is currently running Kansas’s offense. Quarterback Ryan Willis - who is battling several injuries of his own - came up to lead the team after Michael Cummings, Montell Cozart and Deondre Ford were lost to the season early in first-year head coach David Beatty’s tenure.
Now, Willis has shown some glimpses of talent. He’s thrown for a touchdown in five consecutive games, and six on the season. He has a 55 percent pass completion percentage for 1,174 passing yards, but that’s about the end of the happy news for the Jayhawks. His six INTs - contributors to the nine overall interceptions thrown by Kansas quarterbacks on the year - tie for the second worst in the Big 12.
His offensive line hasn’t given him much to work with either. Willis has negative 86 rushing yards, all stemming from the 18 times he’s been sacked so far this season, which certainly leads to the fact that the Jayhawks haven’t been able to get much of a running game going.
Junior Ke’Aun Kinner, a JUCO transfer from Navarro junior college, is the other bright light for Kansas, who’s rushed 108 times for 457 yards and five touchdowns. Not bad for a former Texas 4A Offensive Player of the Year, but still not great when compared to the Big 12’s standards when it comes to explosive offense.
Kansas ranks dead last in the conference for rushing, averaging just 117 yards per game on the ground. The Jayhawks also have just nine rushing touchdowns - the only Big 12 team to not yet be in the double digits for that category.
Beyond those two young men, there’s not much to praise for the Kansas offense, which just barely has gained 3,000 total yards on the season, and averages under 17 points per game.
Unfortunately for the Jayhawks, there’s not much to look forward to on the defense either.
THE KANSAS JAYHAWKS DEFENSE
Name a defensive category in the Big 12, and Kansas is likely to be at the bottom or close to it.
Kansas has been outscored 436-152 this year, and has given up at least 58 points in their last three games. They’ve also given up an average of 584 yards per game, which again, is dead last in the league.
There is a bright side though to the Jayhawks though in the wonderfully named Fish Smithson. The sophomore safety has 88 tackles on the season, including a conference leading 68 solo tackles. Defensive end Ben Goodman is also a bright spot, bringing in 4.5 sacks on the season for the Jayhawks.
Additionally, Kansas’s defensive coordinator is a man with TCU ties that is forcing the Horned Frogs to prepare a bit differently. Kansas co-defensive coordinator Kenny Perry spent multiple years at TCU, serving as a defensive backs coordinator and director of high school relations.
Due to that relationship, TCU will be changing sideline signals for play calling, head coach Gary Patterson said this week. Still though, it should be plenty enough for TCU’s offense to roll out their Air Raid offense to a win.
Although Kansas is on pace to have one of the worst seasons in recent college football history, there’s no reason for TCU to lose focus, especially after a loss that likely destroyed the Horned Frogs’ path to a playoff berth.
In the past three games against the Jayhawks, games have been far too close for comfort for TCU.
In 2012, the Frogs turned the ball over four times in the red zone as they stumbled their way to a 20-6 win. In 2013, TCU beat Kansas 27-17, with the Jayhawks within one touchdown of the Frogs in the fourth quarter. And of course, KU gave TCU its biggest scare of the season last year, keeping a lead largely though out a game where TCU squeaked out with a 34-30 victory.
This game sees TCU at home against one of the more hapless teams seen in FBS football in quite a while, and ideally, TCU should win similarly to how they won against Stephen F. Austin.
After a week to cope with a heartbreaking loss, expect the Frogs to come out angry and ready to get revenge.
Because of that, the Frogs should cover, and cover big.
PREDICTION: TCU 66, Kansas 14