During the next two weeks, we’ll preview the upcoming schedules for each Big 12 team.
The series continues with Kansas:
Nonconference opponents (with 2016 record)
Sept. 2: Southeast Missouri State (3-8)
Sept 9: Central Michigan (6-7)
Sept. 16: at Ohio (8-6)
Big 12 home games
Sept. 23: West Virginia (10-3)
Oct. 7: Texas Tech (5-7)
Oct. 28: Kansas State (9-4)
Nov. 4: Baylor (7-6)
Nov. 18: Oklahoma (11-2)
Big 12 road games
Oct. 14: at Iowa State (3-9)
Oct. 21: at TCU (6-7)
Nov. 11: at Texas (5-7)
Nov. 25: at Oklahoma State (10-3)
Gut-check time: Kansas owns one win in its past 30 conference games. Where’s the next Big 12 victory on its schedule? While evidence of the improvement made under coach David Beaty is substantial in recruiting and the Jayhawks’ overall competitiveness, their victory total must reflect growth to extend momentum moving forward. Barring a bigger upset on the road, KU needs to find a way to beat Texas Tech or Baylor in Lawrence.
Trap game: Kansas has progressed to the point that it should win at home over Central Michigan in Week 2. The Chippewas reached five wins -- four, according to Mike Gundy -- by Week 7 a year ago, then struggled to get bowl-eligible and lost in spectacular fashion to Tulsa in December. KU should pounce on the opportunity to start 2-0, but will it? Unfortunately for Kansas, CMU has as much recent experience winning in Big 12 venues as the Jayhawks.
Snoozer: The Big 12 should ban the scheduling of FCS opponents. Even for Kansas, mired in rebuilding mode, little to gain exists from a win over Southeast Missouri State, which finished last year with losses to Jacksonville State, Tennessee-Martin and Tennessee State. If you want to play an Ohio Valley team, go join that league. Otherwise, find an FBS opponent for the opener and allow your team to prepare for upcoming challenges against a foe equipped to provide a test.
Final analysis: KU should find a way against this schedule to exceed its two-win total from a year ago. Small steps, Jayhawks. The problem here, after nonconference play, is that Kansas goes on the road to face three of four Big 12 opponents who finished last season with a losing record. Kansas is not likely to beat West Virginia, Oklahoma or Kansas State in Lawrence, so the chances are minimized to show progress and ultimately escape the league cellar.