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2021 Kansas college football preview: This could be ugly

Kansas should be the worst team in the Power Five by quite a margin. How historically bad will it get?

Offensive lineman Ronaldo Sigers of the Kansas Jayhawks walks to the locker room before the college football game against the Texas Tech Red Raiders at Jones AT&T Stadium on December 05, 2020 in Lubbock, Texas. Photo by John E. Moore III/Getty Images

The 2021 season could be a nightmare for the Kansas Jayhawks. And considering their history, that’s a large standard.

Les Miles was fired on March 8th, meaning he did all the recruiting, but Lance Leipold will be in charge of the poisoned chalice this season. Leipold is about as good a coach as you can get considering the situation KU was in, with six D3 national championships at Wisconsin-Whitewater, and three straight bowl games plus a 2020 MAC division championship at Buffalo.

KU played 27 true freshmen last season, more than any other team in America. But the system they learned and much of that coaching staff is gone, so it’s starting from scratch again. Leipold was hired April 30th, and the Spring Game was May 1st.

If anyone can get this team turned around it’s Leipold, who signed a six-year contract for an average of $2.75 million per season. That’s a dead-last salary in the Big 12, and considering his reputation in coaching circles it’s a bargain. However that’s not going to help this season, where one win could be defined as success.

2020 Season Review

  • 0-9, 0-8 Big 12
  • Fired head coach Les Miles not for losing, but for sexual harassment charges during his time at LSU. He was 3–18 in two seasons at KU.

2021 Talent

2021 247Sports Composite Ranking: 66th
ESPN Returning Production: 64% overall (86th): 61% offense (85th), 66% defense (78th)
Returning Talent Index: Negative, 10th in Big 12
Returning starters: ??/11 offense, ??/11 defense
* All rankings out of 130 FBS schools

Normally we list returning starters here, but with six Buffalo players following Leipold to Lawrence, including two senior D-linemen in Eddie Wilson and Ronald McGee, do we count starters at KU or BU? We don’t know either.

Key Players

Quarterback: Jalon Daniels (Sophomore)

Daniels was fully unleashed as a true freshman last season, but that of course did not go well. He played in seven games with a 50% completion rate, and 718 yards with one touchdown and four interceptions. He did add three scores as a rusher.

Offense (non-QB): RB Velton Gardner (Junior)

Had 72 carries for 325 yards and four TD’s in his sophomore season, which led all Jayhawks despite playing just six games.

Defense: CB Kenny Logan Jr. (Junior)

It’s not great when your leading tackler is a cornerback, but Logan Jr. had 58 tackles last season to pace the team. Added two interceptions and a forced fumble, and as a returner ran back a kickoff for a touchdown.

Team Stats Projections

2020 SP+ final: 121st overall: 122nd offense, 107th defense, 82nd special teams
2021 SP+ projection: 113th overall: 116th offense, 103rd defense

Odds from DraftKings Sportsbook

To win national title: +100000
To win Big 12: +15000
Win total: 1 (Over -195, Under +150)

2020 Against The Spread: 1-8
2020 Point Total: Over 7-1-1

2021 Kansas Schedule

2021 Kansas Jayhawks schedule

Date Opponent Time (ET)/TV Spread/Total
Date Opponent Time (ET)/TV Spread/Total
Friday, Sep. 3 vs. South Dakota 8:00 p.m./ESPN+ N/A
Friday, Sep. 10 at Coastal Carolina 7:30 p.m./ESPN2 N/A
Saturday, Sep. 18 vs. Baylor 3:30 p.m./ESPN+ N/A
Saturday, Sep. 25 at Duke TBA N/A
Saturday, Oct. 2 at Iowa State TBA N/A
Saturday, Oct. 9 BYE TBA N/A
Saturday, Oct. 16 vs. Texas Tech TBA N/A
Saturday, Oct. 23 vs. Oklahoma TBA N/A
Saturday, Oct. 30 at Oklahoma State TBA N/A
Saturday, Nov. 6 vs. Kansas State TBA N/A
Saturday, Nov. 13 at Texas TBA N/A
Saturday, Nov. 20 at TCU TBA N/A
Saturday. Nov. 27 vs. West Virginia TBA N/A