Schedule analysis: Kansas Jayhawks

The Big 12's schedule is set, and this year, we didn't have to wait until just a few months before the season to see it.

We'll take a closer look at each Big 12 team's schedule with some analysis over the coming weeks. Next up: the Kansas Jayhawks.

Full schedule:

  • Sept. 7: South Dakota

  • Sept. 14: at Rice

  • Sept. 21: Louisiana Tech

  • Oct. 5: Texas Tech

  • Oct. 12: at TCU

  • Oct. 19: Oklahoma

  • Oct. 26: Baylor

  • Nov. 2: at Texas

  • Nov. 9: at Oklahoma State

  • Nov. 16: West Virginia

  • Nov. 23: at Iowa State

  • Nov. 30: Kansas State

Non-con challenge: Louisiana Tech. Tech returns just six starters from last season's nine-win team. No team in college football returns fewer starters, and new coach Skip Holtz has a lot of work to do before the season. Still, Sonny Dykes built a strong program before leaving for Cal, and Kansas hasn't proved the ability to beat much of anyone lately. Kansas' only win in 2012 was over an FCS squad. Winning this one would be a great step for the Jayhawks.

Eyeing revenge/Haven't we seen this episode before? at Rice. The Jayhawks absolutely should have won this game against the Owls last season, but blew a two-possession lead late in the game, aided by poor defense and turnovers in the fourth quarter. It was Rice's first win over a Big 12 team since the Southwest Conference's breakup, and it was a little shocking to see the Jayhawks go down on a last-second field goal. KU has to be better this season, and it'll be hard to convince anyone that's happened if the Jayhawks can't beat Rice. This is a must-win for Kansas.

Good luck with that: at Oklahoma State. The Jayhawks hung tough in a rainy, ugly matchup in Lawrence last year, but slowing the Pokes' offense has more often been a struggle for KU. Barring crazy weather, it's hard to see KU competing with one of the Big 12 favorites on the road. KU got some help on the front line of the defense, but the secondary will be sorely tested in this one. The last time these two teams played in Stillwater, it was 56-7 at halftime -- and KU lead 7-0 with nine minutes to play in the first quarter.

Gut-check game: at Iowa State. KU played very poorly, especially on defense, against the Cyclones last season, but nearly knocked off ISU in Ames back in 2011. We might see something similar here. KU's got a decent chance to surprise someone early in the season, but it's also very possible that KU carries a 28-game losing streak in Big 12 play into this game. It might be its best chance to end it in the season's penultimate game.

Chance to impress: Kansas State. Getting to a bowl game seems a bit ambitious for the Jayhawks, but this game might have a similar impact going into the offseason if KU can find a way to win it. Bill Snyder loves beating his in-state rival, but the Jayhawks end the season with the Sunflower Showdown, and even a 3-4 win season would taste a lot sweeter with a win over their rival to chew on over the offseason.

Final analysis: Kansas' first goal needs to be winning a conference game, and playing just four conference games on the road helps their odds a little bit. The Jayhawks haven't beaten a current Big 12 team since its conference opener against Iowa State all the way back in 2009. KU's nonconference schedule isn't super easy, but we'll see if those early tests help KU once conference play arrives.