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PREVIEW: Jayhawks looking to ride wave of momentum into meeting with Texas Tech

Coming into this season the expectations were low for both the Kansas Jayhawks (2-5 overall, 0-4 Big 12) and Texas Tech Red Raiders (3-4, 1-3 Big 12). When they face off this weekend, though, there will be a lot on the line in terms of both momentum and perception.

Kansas went to the brink against Texas last Saturday and nearly propelled the world of college football memes into a new dimension. In all seriousness, the Jayhawks came out with an almost unbelievable offensive attack a week ago, and it made the college football world take notice of offensive coordinator Brent Dearmon’s scheme (and some of KU’s talent).

Texas Tech, meanwhile, had its one breakout game of the year already against Oklahoma State, but since then has dropped consecutive games against Baylor and Iowa State. Those are both quality teams, but it’s easy to perceive the Jayhawks as having more upward momentum than the Red Raiders right now. Fair or not, that storyline is going to be at the forefront in Lawrence this weekend.

Where: David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium, Lawrence, Kansas

When: 6:00 p.m., Oct. 26

Team Profiles

Kansas Jayhawks

Kansas is apparently an offensive juggernaut, just like everyone expected. They Jayhawks have now put up 48 points twice this season on the road, and both instances featured heavy input from Brent Dearmon. He’s the one calling the plays now and that move paid immediate dividends. Senior quarterback Carter Stanley posted the second-best game of his career, statistically speaking, throwing for 310 yards and four touchdowns. Making him comfortable is a huge factor in KU’s offensive success and Dearmon knows how to accomplish that. He also knows how to put his playmakers in position to succeed, evidenced by a 190-yard, two-touchdown effort from sophomore running back Pooka Williams Jr. last week.

For as good as the offense was against Texas, the defense was equally bad. The Jayhawks aren’t the only team that has given up a lot of yards and points to the Longhorns this year, but that doesn’t excuse the minimal resistance they put up, specifically late when UT put together its game-winning drive. The secondary was torn to shreds by Sam Ehlinger and will have its hands full with Texas Tech. It won’t matter how good the offense is if the defense is a sieve.

Texas Tech Red Raiders

In the last three weeks Texas Tech’s offensive production has declined progressively in a scoring sense, dropping from 45 to 30 to 24 in points. Add in just 16 points against Oklahoma in their Big 12 opener and the Red Raiders are averaging just under 29 points per game. That’s hardly awful, but it’s unusual for Tech hasn’t been enough to keep with teams in the upper half of the conference. Junior quarterback Jett Duffey has had an up-and-down season so far with a couple of his tougher performances back to back. At his best he opens up endless possibilities for Tech’s offense. At his worst, though, the Red Raiders are far less competitive.

The Texas Tech defense has allowed 33 points or more in every Big 12 game this season, which is run of the mill for the Big 12. That unit has done a good job stealing possessions so far this year, though, forcing 13 turnovers through seven games. That’s tied for 22nd in the country. A player to watch for this group is linebacker Jordyn Brooks, one of the best linebackers in the Big 12 and definite NFL draft prospect. He’s a great athlete and sure tackler who will make a major impact against the run game Dearmon wants to employ for Kansas.

Biggest Question

Kansas Jayhawks

Can they do it again? Last week’s offensive explosion was a significant moment for KU, but consistency is vital. The Jayhawks were able to pull off a huge performance from a yardage and point-scoring perspective against a bad Texas defense, but they need to prove they can do it more than once. An optimist would say there’s reason to believe it can be replicated. Dearmon knows what he wants to run, Stanley is comfortable with the system and Williams is electrifying. The pessimist’s viewpoint probably doubts the likelihood that the performance can be repeated because of the last decade of Kansas football data.

Texas Tech Red Raiders

Which Duffey will show up? He’s looked strong in several performances this year, most notably the win over Oklahoma State earlier this month. However, last week against Iowa State Duffey threw for just 4.6 yards per attempt on 52 attempts. That’s untenable in Big 12 play. He’s a talented player as a passer and just as an athlete in general, and he’ll have a chance to put up big numbers against a Kansas secondary that has been exposed more and more in recent games. If he doesn’t play up to his potential, though, it could be a long day for Texas Tech.

Key Player to Watch

Kansas Jayhawks

Daylon Charlot. The senior wide receiver has played better this year than ever before in his Kansas career, and it’s fair to say he still has room to play even better. He made a remarkable catch that grabbed headlines last week and should be a top target again for Stanley and the offense this week. Charlot has the ability to stretch the field and work the boundary, which is valuable alongside junior wide out Andrew Parchment, KU’s other big-play receiver. There are plenty of guys on the roster who can work underneath, but stretching the field and getting the ball in Charlot’s hands could make a huge difference against Texas Tech.

Texas Tech Red Raiders

SaRodorick Thompson. Texas Tech’s stud freshman running back had a breakout game two weeks ago in a double-overtime loss to Baylor, putting up 153 yards rushing and a pair of touchdowns. For the year he’s averaging 5.5 yards per carry and has seven scores. If Duffey is on his game and is able to pick apart the Jayhawks’ secondary then Thompson may not be as much of a focal point. However, should Duffey struggle again, the Red Raiders will need to rely more on the running game to move the ball.

Spread: Kansas +4.5

Pick: Kansas covers

Brendan’s picks ATS to date: 2-5 #FadeDzwierzynski

We finally hit on a pick last week, so of course this week we’re drinking the Kool-Aid. The Jayhawks’ offense is going to push the Red Raiders to the brink this week. If nothing else, it should be a close contest.

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