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Thursday, July 11, 2013
Best- and worst-case scenarios: Kansas

By David Ubben

Time for the next in our series on the best- and worst-case scenarios for each team in the Big 12.

Kansas has only won six games over the past three seasons, and has won fewer games than the previous season for each of the past five. Let's have a closer look.

Other best- and worst-case scenarios.

Best-case scenario

LAWRENCE, Kan. -- The juco revolution was televised, and it officially classified Charlie Weis' efforts to reboot Kansas football a success.

Beating Rice on the road ended a four-year losing streak away from Memorial Stadium and moved the Jayhawks to 2-0. Jake Heaps threw three touchdown passes in a win against an inexperienced Louisiana Tech team, sending Kansas to 3-0 for the first time since 2009.

But what about that 21-game losing streak in Big 12 play? You knew it would end in Lawrence, and KU ended it with its first opportunity of 2013. Texas Tech looked like an untested team still learning a new defense, and its inexperience at quarterback showed. Kansas finally did what it couldn't on multiple occasions in 2013: Win a tight game in the fourth quarter. Texas Tech survived in Lubbock in overtime last year. Not this time, and Jayhawks fans celebrated with a much-deserved storming of the field.

At 4-0, the Jayhawks were one of the biggest stories in college football's first month. Justin McCay looked like the receiver Oklahoma thought he would be when they originally signed him, and Marquel Combs was wrecking offensive lines up front. Rodriguez Coleman looked like a wiley veteran helping out Heaps in the passing game, and Cassius Sendish was well on his way to an All-Big 12 season. KU's big transfers all matured into the players the Jayhawks hoped they'd be.

KU stayed competitive in losses to TCU and Oklahoma, though Baylor's offense was too much in a 20-point loss. The Jayhawks matched Texas' running game punch for punch in Austin, but the Longhorns escaped with a long touchdown pass from David Ash to Mike Davis to send Kansas to 4-4. KU looked tired a week later in a lopsided loss to Oklahoma State, its sixth consecutive week playing a Big 12 game.

West Virginia sent KU to a sixth consecutive loss and a disappointing result after the strong start, but the Jayhawks bounced back with a gutsy win in Ames to break a lengthy Big 12 conference road losing streak. That set up a game that felt like the Super Bowl in Lawrence: Playing Kansas State for a chance to play for a bowl. Charlie Weis compared his program to Kansas State and Mizzou when he first took it over, and got over a big hump on the final weekend of the season: He shocked everyone and beat the Wildcats, sending Kansas to the Heart of Dallas Bowl. Big 12 play began with a field-storming in Lawrence, and ended in the exact same way.

Final record: 6-6

Worst-case scenario

LAWRENCE, Kan. -- Just like last season, Kansas looked solid in an opening win against an FCS team, even though South Dakota is one of the worst in college football's lower division.

Just like last season, that was the bright spot in another forgettable season in Kansas' history. Kansas replaced much of its roster with juco transfers, but the new faces produced the same old results.

Blown early leads against Rice and Louisiana Tech sent the Jayhawks to 1-2, but a blowout home loss to Texas Tech foretold the pain that would later come.

Kansas made it interesting on the road against TCU, but Aaron Green and Waymon James were too much in the second half, and the Frogs' defense held James Sims to less than two yards per carry.

Oklahoma's trip to Lawrence was another step back for the Jayhawks, as they turned it over four times in a 30-point loss. That gave Charlie Weis no choice but to yet again turn away from a transfer he hoped would turn the program around and give Michael Cummings a starting nod at quarterback. It didn't change much against an improving Baylor defense a week later in another blowout loss.

In the interest of our younger readers and common decency, I'll refrain from describing any of the events of Kansas' road trips to Texas and Oklahoma State. Suffice to say, it wasn't pretty.

Kansas held a double-digit lead in the fourth quarter against West Virginia a week later, but replicated last season's results against Northern Illinois, Rice, Texas and Texas Tech: Kansas found a way to lose a game it should have won. A road trip to Iowa State had predictable results, then Kansas State coach Bill Snyder finished off another season proving yet again how much he enjoys beating Kansas.

Weis is feeling the heat, but Kansas didn't fire him. Doing so would have made Weis Kansas' second straight coach cut loose after two uninspired seasons. Still, 2014 will be a tough year for the Jayhawks after Weis' attempt to revitalize the program with junior college transfers did nothing but ensure Kansas would be a young team with little talent yet again.

Final record: 1-11