Nonconference preview: Kansas

Time to continue our team-by-team look at the Big 12's nonconference schedule.

Next up: Kansas

South Dakota, Aug. 31

  • Coach: Joe Glenn, second year (1-10)

  • 2012 record: 1-10 (0-8, Missouri Valley)

  • Offensive headliner: Quarterback Josh Vander Maten rushed for 495 yards and threw for 1,662 yards and seven scores in his first year as a starter last season. He returns as a junior.

  • Defensive headliner: Defensive back Devin Taverna was second on the team with 79 tackles and intercepted three passes. He broke up five more passes.

  • The skinny: South Dakota is a struggling FCS program that should line up and give Kansas a win, something it hasn't experienced since its 2012 opener. The Coyotes' lone win of 2012 came against Colgate.

at Rice, Sept. 14

  • Coach: David Bailiff (30-44), seventh year

  • 2012 record: 7-6, 4-4, Conference USA

  • Returning starters: seven offense, 10 defense

  • Offensive headliner: Quarterback Taylor McHargue threw for 2,209 yards and 12 touchdowns last season, adding 667 yards and 11 scores on the ground.

  • Defensive headliner: Defensive lineman Cody Bauer was fourth on the team with 51 tackles and made 12 tackles for loss. Almost half of those (5.5) were sacks, and he also had an interception and forced a pair of fumbles.

  • The skinny: Kansas snatched defeat from the jaws of victory last season, blowing a nine-point fourth quarter lead to lose on a last-second field goal against the Owls last season. They were the first Big 12 team to lose to Rice since the Southwest Conference breakup, and that was in Lawrence. KU should be better this season, but winning this game won't be easy.

Louisiana Tech, Sept. 21

  • Coach: Skip Holtz (0-0), first year

  • 2012 record: 9-3, 4-2 WAC

  • Returning starters: two offense, four defense

  • Offensive headliner: Running back Kenneth Dixon racked up 1,194 rushing yards and 27 scores last season. He also caught a touchdown pass.

  • Defensive headliner: Tech's top seven tacklers are gone, but junior defensive back Levander Liggins had 50 tackles and intercepted two passes last season, breaking up 11 more passes.

  • The skinny: This team would have run KU ragged last season but with a whole new look and a new coaching staff after Sonny Dykes packed his bags for Cal, the Jayhawks should be in the mix. It's anything but an easy win, but if the Jayhawks play well, they should have a good shot to win. The Bulldogs will be a little unpredictable this early in the season.

Chances of going 3-0: 19 percent

Wrapping up: Despite not playing a single AQ-conference team, this is actually a pretty challenging schedule for the Jayhawks. Such is life when you've won six games in three seasons and two of those were against FCS teams. The competition level will obviously ramp up in Big 12 play, but if KU can get through this slate 3-0, it's sure to win at least one Big 12 game. It hasn't beaten a current Big 12 team since winning its conference opener against Iowa State in 2009. Reaching a bowl game isn't an impossibility for this KU team, but it is if they lose one of these games.