This will be no gimme putt for Kansas football.
The Jayhawks — in their first game under new coach Les Miles — should expect a challenge at Booth Memorial Stadium. Not only is Indiana State ranked 16th in the preseason FCS coaches poll, but early Vegas lines have KU as only a 4 1/2-point favorite.
KU will be short-handed. All-Big 12 first-team running back Pooka Williams will serve a one-game suspension following an offseason domestic battery charge and subsequent diversion agreement, while defensive lineman Malcolm Lee also will be sitting out after he was arrested last month on suspicion of DUI.
Add it all up, and oddsmakers don’t see the Jayhawks as overwhelming favorites. In fact, if you consider the current money odds line for KU (-189), Vegas would say that the implied odds for the Jayhawks winning is roughly 65%.
That figure is likely lower than many KU fans would expect, especially with all the optimism that Miles has brought this offseason.
Here’s a look at the game.
Kickoff: 11 a.m. Saturday
Where: Booth Memorial Stadium, Lawrence
TV: Fox Sports KC
Radio: WHB (810 AM) in Kansas City, KFH (1240 AM) in Wichita
The line: KU by 4 1/2.
Five things to know
Winning streak: Indiana State, which finished 7-4 last season, won its last five games under coach Curt Mallory before missing out on the FCS playoffs. This year, the Sycamores were preseason picked to finish fourth by coaches in the 10-team Missouri Valley Conference.
Michigan connection: Malloy and Miles have some previous history; Mallory played linebacker at Michigan from 1988-91 during the same time that Miles was an offensive assistant coach with the Wolverines.
- Bring on the beer: The season opener will be the first game where alcohol will be available for all ticket-holders at Booth Memorial Stadium. KU becomes the sixth Big 12 school to allow beer sales at its home football stadium.
- QB mystery: Miles said Monday that KU will not be announcing a starting quarterback before the game. Juco transfer Thomas MacVittie and returner Carter Stanley have been battling for the position in the preseason, and Miles said there’s a possibility both will play Saturday.
- FCS history: KU has only been OK against FCS teams in recent home openers, going 6-3 in its last nine meetings against the lower level. Previous coach David Beaty went 2-2 in his four tries, losing his debut against South Dakota State in 2015 (41-38) and also last year to Nicholls (26-23).