The Kansas Jayhawks had a magical season last year. Plagued by strength of schedule complaints from the media, they had two solid chances to prove their meddle. Although they lost to Missouri, they are no longer cellar dwellers in the Big 12.
With the No. 2 scoring offense in the country and the best turnover margin, the stomped on lesser opponents at home, and won solidly on the road.
The 42 points per game were aided by the defensive efforts. Controlling the run game proved critical for them. Allowing less than 100 rush yards per game helped them control the clock. Their defense only allowed an average of 16 points per game.
The possibility of getting the same 12-1 record this year has dramatically decreased, though. They play the toughest Big 12 South opponents. If they can come away with just one win from the Texas, Oklahoma, and Texas Tech match-ups, it should be considered a victory to fans.
They also have to play at South Florida, which may prove too much to face a team trying to make a point—the same point Kansas was trying to make in 2007. It's tough trying to prove you should be considered a top 10 contender every year.
With a returning linebacking corps, they should continue to see success on run support. Unfortunately, they will really miss Talib and suffer with fewer interceptions and/or more passing touchdowns against them. Returning nine defensive starters will ease that burden, and defensive backs will step up to fill the roles, just not enough.
On offense, Todd Reesing is the key. He loses a tackle, running back, wide receiver, and tight end around him. To make up for that is nearly impossible. He's the kind of solid player who can minimize that kind of impact, but he will get knocked down more than the 26 sacks allowed last year.
Durability is the key against a schedule full of national powerhouses and a couple of trap games: Colorado before Oklahoma and going to Lincoln the week before Texas comes to town.
Kansas is likely looking at the type of schedule that could hand them up to seven losses this year. I don't see how they will be competitive for the Big 12 North title against Missouri. By the time they get to Nebraska, they could be beat into submission.
The Huskers should get away with one, maybe edging them out 27-24. KU should still see a bowl game at the end of the year, completing their goal of making it two years in a row for the first time ever and ending the season 8-5 with the bowl game win.