For years, or at least as far as recent memory allows, Kansas Football has been an afterthought in the eyes of the sports world. Jayhawk Basketball, for good reason, has garnered the lion's share of attention.
Now, coming off of back to back bowl game appearances and their first BCS bowl (a victory over Va.Tech in 2008 Orange Bowl), Jayhawk Football fans and the sports media are taking note of the football team's success.
The 2009 season is just around the corner, here is a look at the non-conference portion of the 2009 schedule for the current version of gridiron greats at Mt. Oread.
First up for KU is Northern Colorado.The Bears from Greely Colorado should pose very few issues for the Jayhawks. Northern Colorado is coming off of a disappointing 1-10 campaign, and lost their best offensive and defensive players to graduation. Result: Jayhawks roll.
Next for KU are the Miner's of Texas-El Paso. The Miner's and head coach Mike Price posted a hard-fought 5-6 record in 2008, but return some key offensive weapons like Jr QB Trevor Vittatoe. Price and the Miner's will test a young Jayhawk secondary with their high-powered passing attack.
KU returns the full arsenal of weapons on offense, including the diminutive Todd Reesing at QB. Reesing and the KU offense set many statistical records in 2008, which should spell another victory in El Paso. Result: KU wins in a shoot-out.
The third game on the 2009 schedule will pit KU against a Duke Blue Devil squad that is also on the road to respect. The Blue Devils showed signs of life in 2008, going 4-8. Even though the results from last season do not bear out the progress Duke made last year, this game will not be a walk in the park for KU.
For starters, Duke will be led by head coach and offensive guru David Cutcliffe. In addition, the Blue Devil's defensive unit kept them in contention for most games last season.
Duke also returns their leading rusher and passer from last season, which again could pose problems for a young KU defense. In the end, KU has too much talent and depth for Duke. Result: KU wins big.
The last non-conference contest will come at an opportune time for KU. The Jayhawks will have played three games and the young defense should be rounding into shape just in time for the wide-open attack of the Southern Mississippi Eagles.
USM was impressive in 2008, winning seven games despite being young on offense at the skill positions. Freshman QB Austin Davis passed for over 240 yards per game, and the Golden Eagles ran for almost 110 yards per contest.
Southern Miss struggled at times on defense last year, giving up more than 24 points per game. This will again bode well for Kansas, as the Jayhawks will score early and often in this one. Result: KU Starts season 4-0.
For KU to have any chance at returning to a bowl in 2009, getting off to a quick start will be key. KU again will face the likes of Texas, Texas Tech and Oklahoma from the south as well as arch-rival Missouri.
Most media outlets have yet to acknowledge the turn of fortune for KU football, with a 4-0 start to the 2009 season, the Jayhawks will find themselves squarely in the top 25 and well on their way to another bowl-eligible season.