If there is any positive to be gleaned from a 41-3 loss at Duke, it is this: Kansas was never really expected to win that game. Not before the season. Not when the betting line opened at close to 20 points early in the week.
The final score was ugly, yes — certainly more disastrous than Charlie Weis anticipated. In the days before the game, he stated that he saw “visual evidence” on film that Duke would be a good matchup for his Jayhawks.
OK. Whatever Weis saw, it didn’t surface on Saturday. And after two games, the Jayhawks have the following performances on their resume.
1. They hung on for a 34-28 win against FCS opponent Southeast Missouri State — the same SEMO program that lost 50-23 at Southern Illinois on Saturday.
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2. They were totally outclassed by a Duke team that played in the ACC Championship last season but is not exactly supposed to be a world-beater.
“It’s just one game,” senior cornerback JaCorey Shepherd said after the game. “Yeah we lost, and it was 41-3, but we can always take things and learn from this game.”
Yes, the Jayhawks still have 10 games remaining to show some semblance of progress in Weis’ third season, and the next opportunity comes against Central Michigan on Saturday at Memorial Stadium. The matchup, in fact, looks a little more promising after the Chippewas’ 40-3 home loss to Syracuse on Saturday.
For Central Michigan, 2-1, it was quite the step back after defeating Purdue 38-17 last week. The Chippewas allowed 289 yards rushing and managed just 34 yards on the ground against Syracuse. For Kansas, this is a winnable home game — and you can’t say that about too many games left on the season.
It also follows a similar pattern. For the last two seasons, Kansas has lost its second game of the season.
▪ In 2012, the Jayhawks lost at home to Rice, 25-24, before turning around and losing 20-6 to TCU in its Big 12 opener.
▪ Last season, Kansas stumbled at Rice in week two. The Jayhawks responded by edging Louisiana Tech 13-10 at Memorial Stadium.
So now comes a chance to shift the narrative after a debacle at Duke. So how will the Jayhawks respond against Central Michigan?
“We were kind of down,” receiver Nick Harwell said. “But we just got to pick it up next week.”
Two freshmen make debuts
Barring an unforeseen injury, freshman running back Joe Dineen and freshman receiver Bobby Hartzog won’t be redshirting this season. Both players made their season debuts on Saturday. Hartzog was used in the kick-return game, while Dineen came in during mop-up duty and had six carries for 28 yards.
A couple more numbers and links
Kansas dropped to 2-21 against Football Bowl Subdivision teams during Charlie Weis’ tenure. … Hat tip to Jesse Newell on this one, but out of 108 qualified quarterbacks in the FBS this week, KU sophomore Montell Cozart ranked 107th in QBR’s passing metric, EPA. … USA Today reporter Dan Wolken charted Kansas fans as the second most miserable fan base in the nation this week in his weekly Misery Index column. So there’s that.