September 2: Preview and Prediction

The media projects South Dakota State will finish fifth in its conference. That doesn't matter. The difference between the bottom third of the FBS and all of the FCS is minimal. Besides, the Kansas Jayhawks have played South Dakota State before.

I sat on that end of the field for that play. What FCS teams might lack in depth and elite athleticism, they surpass in fundamentals and in the case of many Missouri Valley schools, pure strength. That was Charlie Weis' first game. Kansas still won the game (their only win). But that embarrassing play is now part of the K.U. record book.

The Jayhawks don't have the luxury of depth, top-end athletes, or experience. As such, they are only favored by three, purely for playing the game at home. It is, essentially, an FCS matchup on both sides. Tempo and mistakes will determine the winner.

David Beaty is coaching his first collegiate game as the head man. Our offensive coordinator is doing the same at his position on the BCS level. The Jayhawks return almost no production from last year on either side of the ball. Mistakes are likely to hinder Kansas, especially in the first half, as they adjust to yet another new offense. South Dakota State is experienced and sound.

David Beaty's tone has been enthusiastic, but also cautious.

For tempo, the Jayhawks and Jackrabbits bring opposing styles. South Dakota State favors power and strength. Their linemen are bigger than our linemen and will likely punch us in the mouth. Kansas will hurry the tempo more than any team South Dakota State will see on its schedule. If Kansas can sustain drives at a high pace and prevent SDSU from substituting, perhaps the Jackrabbits will wear down. If Montell Cozart proceeds to lead the team one three-and-out after another, it will be a long day for Kansas.

I choose to think positive, in a limited and realistic way. I was in the stands when Kansas lost 6-3 to North Dakota State. I watched as Cozart led Kansas to a 28-0 lead against Southeast Missouri State, then nearly lost in the end. But I think the Jayhawks are excited, not only for the most-winnable game on the schedule, but to prove they are not the worst team in FBS as everyone expects. That said, mistakes will be common. I would not be surprised if we see two quarterbacks play. I think Kansas puts just enough together to escape with a win.

Prediction: Kansas 28, South Dakota State 24