UM wideout Eric Decker in action / credit: BohPhoto (flickr cc)
Ready for Decker?
Time: Wednesday, Dec. 31, 5:00 p.m. CT
Venue: Sun Devil Stadium
Location: Tempe, AZ
TV: NFL Network, WDAF 4
Line: KU (-9)
1893 UM 12, KU 6
1896 UM 12, KU 0 (in KC)
1966 KU 16, UM 14
1971 UM 38, KU 20
1972 KU 34, UM 28
1973 KU 34, UM 19
All kinds of crazy storylines as KU heads into this bowl matchup. First off, KU is playing in back-to-back bowl games for the first time ever. That won't seem quite as cool if they get upset by a Minnesota team that finished the season with a 55-0 home loss to Iowa.
Also, you have Justin Thornton and John Larson out for the game and Jake Sharp recovering from the flu. Did he infect anyone else? Hopefully, he's been hanging out with the Gophers.
Finally, what do you think of the Big 12 so far? OSU did not represent the "best division in college football" so well last night, so the mighty Spread 12 is now 1-1 this bowl season thanks to an overtime "skin o' the teeth" win by the Tigers. The Jayhawks are under some serious pressure to not let this snowball start running down the wrong side of the hill.
Believe me, the Big Ten would love to take a bite out of the Big 12 this year.
I'm going to have to throw out a few things for this game. Usually, I like to go with pass rush, but I'm thinking the Gophers are going to try to run on us despite the fact that they are a spread team. Can the Jayhawks still play physical football? If they do shut down the UM run game, that brings up key No. 2: Are we going to get good coverage out of Kendrick Harper and Chris Harris?
Obviously, there will be a point when UM will go to its leading offensive threat—wideout Eric Decker. We'll need a good performance by the secondary to keep him in check, and that makes for a good opportunity for redemption for both Harper and Harris.
On the offensive side of the ball, David Lawrence mentioned this morning that the Gophers play the 3-4. Based on the KSU game, we should like that. If Jake Sharp doesn't look full speed tonight, it wouldn't be a bad time for Jocques Crawford to have a big game. I fully expect Todd Reesing and his crew to be "on" this evening.
All kinds of motivation. Really, this kicks off the 2009 season, and the Jayhawks want to get that rolling now. A division title is realistic, but it won't seem so if the Hawks can't handle a Big Ten middleweight.
Another item to consider for KU is the Mangino Era record against non-conference BCS teams (2-4). With Duke on the slate next September, the opportunity to even that record starts tonight.
"I’m kind of disappointed that they’re a spread offense and like to spread out the ball. It’s stuff that we’ve seen all year, nothing too surprising."—James Holt
Link to Photo | BohPhoto Flickr CC