Here is everything you need to know about the Jayhawks’ next game in our Kansas vs. Central Michigan Preview.
3 p.m. Central Time, Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017, Memorial Stadium, Lawrence, Kansas
TV: Fox Sports Net (Brendan Burke, David Anderson, Christian Steckel)
Radio: Jayhawk Radio Network; Sirius 112/XM 200
QB Shane Morris. The graduate transfer — at one time one of the hottest QB recruits in the country — wraps up his college career trying to lead the Chippewas back to another bowl game.
RB Jonathan Ward. Coming off a 147-yard rushing performance against Rhode Island, Ward appears entrenched as the starting running back heading into the Kansas game.
S Josh Cox and CB Amari Coleman. The defenders each had two interceptions last week for the Chippewas. They’ll be the top defenders to watch in the passing game.
QB Peyton Bender. Bender set the Jayhawk passing game afire last week with 364 passing yards and 4 touchdowns. Have the Jayhawks finally found the quarterback that can move the needle for their offense?
LB Joe Dineen Jr. The Jayhawks felt the pain when he missed nine games due to injury in 2016. With Dineen back, the unit is already appreciably better and he’s on course to become the All-Big 12 player he could have been last year.
WR Steven Sims Jr. The most consistent playmaker the Jayhakws have had in quite some time has a reception in 24 straight games and is on course to tie the all-time record in the category by season’s end.
CMU, of course, was last year’s Big 12 giant-killer, beating Oklahoma State at the end of the game (with a bit of unintended officiating help, of course). But the Chippewas hung in there with OSU when they hosted the Cowboys in 2015. So they’re not intimidated by Power 5 competition. Morris is the key to making the offense go like it did last year with QB Cooper Rush, especially with Corey Willis (72 receptions in 2016) back. The defense has a great balance between line-of-scrimmage penetrators like Malik Fountain and Joe Ostman (9 sacks last year) and turnover creators like Josh Cox (3 interceptions last year). CMU is not a pushover.
Bender has to prove he can build on last week’s great performance. The Jayhawks have to prove they can put away a quality Group of 5 team. Beating Southeast Missouri was relatively easy for this team. With new offensive coordinator Doug Meacham calling plays, it will be interesting to see how the Jayhawks react to higher-quality competition. DT Daniel Wise is going to be a big key on defense, coming off a game in which he had three tackles for loss. The Jayhawks will need penetration to pressure Morris.
Kansas 37, Central Michigan 34
I’ll take the Jayhawks, though I’m not completely confident they’ll get the win. But if they do, it’s a big jolt for the program this early in the season.