Kansas Football: Can Jayhawks Become Bowl Eligible in 2014?

Andrew Doughty@adoughty88Correspondent IIJune 6, 2014

Kansas quarterback Jake Heaps (9) passes to a teammate during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Kansas State in Lawrence, Kan., Saturday, Nov. 30, 2013. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)
Orlin Wagner

Kansas football has not been bowling since the 2008 season, and it feels like decades ago since that year's Insight Bowl victory over Minnesota.

The Jayhawks' 27-game conference losing streak was widely publicized and the brunt of many jokes in Big 12 country, but other mind-boggling numbers include the following:

Last road win: September 12, 2009 at UTEP.

Last road Big 12 win: October 4, 2008 at Iowa State.

The Jayhawks have gone just 9-46 since starting 5-0 in 2009—only three more victories than what is required to become bowl eligible in just one season.

A quick and novice review of Kansas' 2014 schedule reveals a chance, albeit very slim, of reaching six wins for the first time since 2008.

A loss to Southeast Missouri State in the season opener would be more shocking than Turner Gill's ingloriously pathetic debut loss to North Dakota State in 2010. A second victory should come when a mediocre Central Michigan team arrives in Lawrence two weeks later, but the assumed wins stop there.

Those nonconference games are sandwiched with an unexpectedly difficult road test against a suddenly fired up Duke program. But is it winnable? Yes. Especially with some roster turnover and changes on Dave Cutcliffe's Duke coaching staff among unrealistic expectations for their second straight upper-tier bowl appearance.

The Blue Devils will enter as a double-digit favorite, but an upset victory is certainly feasible.

However, Kansas will not win at Baylor or Oklahoma in 2014, and, therefore, there is no sense in wasting our time in analyzing those matchups.

The winnable conference games include home dates with Iowa State and TCU along with a road game at West Virginia—a team that graciously snapped KU's infamous 27-game Big 12 drought in 2013. Improved QB play and responsible defensive decision-making makes the Jayhawks competitive in each of those three games. A 2-1 record would be ideal—leaving Charlie Weis at four wins if we count out Duke.

Kansas outplayed Texas for 59 minutes at Memorial Stadium in 2012 before an odd meltdown (triggered by a blown 4th down on defense and an odd use of timeouts) gave the Longhorns an unimpressive victory.

Expectations remain cloudy for Charlie Strong's first year in Austin, but coaching changes routinely bring a baffling egg or two during the first campaign. A tired Jayhawks fanbase needs to hope Strong lays the first egg in Lawrence during the Big 12 opener on September 27.

This leaves us sitting at four-to-five wins with a home date versus Oklahoma State and road games at Texas Tech and Kansas State.

Kansas will undoubtedly enter each of those contests as heavy underdogs (likely double-digit spreads), but one victory could spell B-O-W-L for Charlie Weis if they wiggle an upset against Texas.