The Kansas Jayhawks have a season win total of 2.5 at DraftKings Sportsbook, with the over priced at -135. And there’s a decent chance they’re going to go over that number by the first day of October.
What KU’s Lance Leipold has done as a head coach in college football is simply unsurpassed. At Division III Wisconsin-Whitewater, he started his career with a record of 109-6, and won six national championships in eight years. From there Leipold moved to Buffalo for six seasons, where his run-heavy style got the Bulls to the MAC Championship in two of his last three campaigns, and a final No. 25 AP ranking before moving to Lawrence for 2021.
In Leipold’s first season with Kansas, the Jayhawks finished with a 2–10 record, going 1-8 in the Big XII. But they might have been the FBS team that improved the most from Week 1 to Week 12 despite the record. After a 57-56 OT thriller win at Texas in Week 10, KU then lost at TCU 31-28, and 34-28 at home to West Virginia. For a team with deservedly zero expectations after the Les Miles Debacle Era, it was a helluva way to finish the season.
But what makes KU so intriguing is the returning talent, which rates as 7th out of 131 teams in the country during an offseason with record-setting roster movement across the NCAA. That includes nine starters on offense, including quarterback Jalon Daniels, who took over during the Kansas State game in Week 9 and was under center for those last three games of 2021.
The route to at least three wins is pretty straightforward for the Jayhawks, with FCS Tennessee Tech to open the season in Lawrence. TTU was 5-6 last season, losing their last three games in the Ohio Valley Conference.
KU will also host a rebuilding Duke team on September 24 under new head coach Mike Elko, who is going to need some time to relaunch the Blue Devils program. On that returning talent stat where KU is 7th, Duke is 121st. It’s going to be awhile until Duke is competitive again, and Kansas should be favored at home.
The other non-conference game is at Houston, which is to be sure tougher sledding. But that means you need just ONE (1) conference win to cash the ticket. The variance in college football is enough where this could happen even without this much talent and a proven winner of a game coach at the helm.
And if you can find two Big XII wins, that’s worth +170 at DraftKings Sportsbook. While this isn’t a lock, we’ll be on it considering the following:
West Virginia is 127th in returning talent, should be coming off a season-opening road loss at rival Pitt, and likely-starting quarterback J.T. Daniels is on his third school and coming off an injury where he hasn’t had much time to get reps. That September 10 game in Morgantown should be a spot where Kansas will have a chance.
Iowa State should be better in 2022, but they play in Lawrence on October 1, and are 128th in returning talent. You’d feel better if you’re a Cyclone fan playing this game later in the season than earlier.
TCU gets a great new head coach in Sonny Dykes, but he inherits talent that doesn’t match well with Gary Patterson’s defensively-minded roster. That game is October 8 at Kansas, and it’s sandwiched around Oklahoma and Oklahoma State for the Horned Frogs.
And it seems pretty likely Texas Tech just straight up might be very, very bad.
As the win at Texas last year proved, anything can happen in college football. But it’s certainly unlikely preseason poll pick and defending champion Baylor goes down, especially with one of the best coaches in the NCAA in Dave Aranda. The same for Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, and Texas, who will need to bring their first string to the stadium, but we’re not counting on finding Win No. 3 against what should be the better teams in the Big 12 this season.
But if you still haven’t found that win on the schedule ...
Kansas State is 95th in returning production, and on Composite Team Talent is 66th in the NCAA, just five slots ahead of KU in 71st. If it comes down to the last game of the season, and it shouldn’t, you’d still have a strong shot to get to three with Kansas. And if you decided to chicken out, you could even hedge some of your wager at what should be a good price.
Will Kansas win the Big XII this year? No. Will they make a bowl game? There’s a slim chance, but it’s unlikely.
But will KU cover over 2.5 wins on the season? Lock it in, lay the price, and count that cash.