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Are the Kansas Jayhawks the Real Deal?

For over a decade, the Kansas Jayhawks have been the laughingstock of the Big 12 conference, the Power Five, and college football as a whole.

Since 2010, the Jayhawks have not put out a football team that has won more than three games in a single season. Over the last 12 seasons, the Kansas football program burned through five different coaches who combined for a 23-118 overall record, including a 7-99 conference mark.

The post-Mark Mangino era in Lawrence was one of the worst stretches of football by a division one program in the history of the sport. The boosters, fans, and even the brass inside the athletic department had seemingly focused their efforts completely on the elite Kansas men’s basketball program.

It was going to take a special kind of coach paired with a tremendous on-field talent to turn around the fortunes of the Kansas Jayhawks’ football program.

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Lance Leipold And Jalon Daniels Inspire Change In Kansas

After posting a record of 24-10 in his final three years at the University of Buffalo, Lance Leipold was hired in April of 2021 to be the new leader of the Jayhawks. Leipold was renowned for his workman-like attitude that he practiced and preached from the top down throughout his program. Leipold teams are well-coached, disciplined, and willing to fight tooth and nail on every down.

Although it was a rough transition for Leipold in Lawrence, Kansas picked up what could be categorized as a program-changing victory on November 13th of last season in Austin.

Leipold and the Jayhawks have certainly carried the momentum of that 57-56 overtime victory over Texas into the 2022 season.

The Jayhawks are 4-0 for the first time since Mark Mangino’s final season in 2009. Two of their four wins have come against Power Five opponents while two have also come during true road games. Of the 21 current undefeated teams in college football, only three have a resume that matches that.

The Jayhawks’ success is no fluke. The aforementioned workman-like, disciplined attitude has been put in place by Coach Leipold. On top of that, Leipold has one of the most explosive quarterbacks in the country at his disposal.

Ranked as the 2,305th recruit in the class of 2020, Jalon Daniels has turned himself from a low three-star recruit to a Heisman contender in a breakout 2022 season.

Daniels started nine of the Jayhawks’ 21 games in 2019 and 2020. He showed signs of explosiveness but was ultimately too inconsistent to ever garner real success.

Fast-forward to 2022 and any doubt about Daniels’ abilities are out the window.

Through four games, Daniels has completed 71 percent of his passes for 890 yards and 11 touchdowns (with only one interception). He has added 326 yards and four scores on 38 rushing attempts.

In fantasy terms, Daniels is averaging 33.5 points per game. The combination of his passing and rushing ability has made Daniels one of the hardest quarterbacks in the country to game-plan against.

While there is no doubt the Kansas football program is trending in the right direction, what is the ceiling for this team in 2022?

Making a bowl game for the first time since 2009 would be a major step forward for Lance Leipold and this Kansas football program. This may not seem like a tough task, especially given the 4-0 start, but we are talking about a Kansas team that has just seven Big 12 victories over the last 12 seasons.

Looking down their schedule, I would expect them to be favored in just one game going forward (vs TCU on October 8th).

This Jayhawk bunch is an incredibly frisky football team that will give every team they play fits. Do not expect Kansas to compete for a Big 12 title this season, but they should be competitive in most of the final eight games on their schedule. If anything, the aforementioned Jalon Daniels is a must-watch every Saturday.



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