Before the start of this year’s college football season, my hopes, along with many other Kansas Jayhawk fans, were for a measly three-win season.
Although seemingly a joke, these low expectations for KU’s beyond-subpar football program has been an accepted reality for fans, where the program racked up a record of 23 wins and 118 losses over the last 12 years. However, against all odds, we see the Jayhawks among the best in the Big 12 Conference in the middle of October with a solid 5-2 record with some impressive wins. Lance Leipold’s hiring before last season was an early rendition of this year’s success despite the 2-10 record.
As KU put together an impressive upset over Texas, overall competitiveness increased and the Jayhawks began to see some of the pieces come together.
Though with great coaching, the star-studded talents across the roster are what have grabbed the national media’s attention. Quarterback Jalon Daniels has begun a Heisman level season in these first six games, becoming one of the best all around QB’s in the nation, leading the national QBR rating with 98 and also leading the Jayhawks in rushing all at the same time.
The pieces around Jalon Daniels, who suffered a shoulder injury against Texas Christian, have not disappointed either. Players like wide receivers Luke Grimm, Lawrence Arnold and Quentin Skinner, and tight ends Jared Casey and Mason Fairchild have all made clutch plays that the Jayhawks have needed in all of these close games this season.
In fact besides the Tennessee Tech wub, the Jayhawks have only had two games where they have won by more that eight points, with one of those being a walkoff pick six by cornerback Jacobee Bryant against West Virginia in overtime. The Jayhawks defense has been the late game decider in a majority of their games where they find a way to get a timely stop in the fourth quarter.
In addition to that, the Jayhawks also found themselves down by 14 in half of their six games, a type of comeback playstyle rings similarly to Bill Self’s squad, as KU basketball set the NCAA record for largest deficit overcome in the championship game just this year.
This football season is just now getting to the halfway mark and Kansas still has plenty of ranked opponents left on their schedule and will have to still continue to earn this magical season that they have put out so far. With Lance Leipold’s excellent play calling and known success everywhere he goes, this doesn’t look like a fluke.
Colton Fast is a Nickerson sophomore studying journalism.