EDITOR'S NOTE: This is the 21st in a series of previews on West Virginia and Marshall football opponents.
Checking them out
Since beginning the 2009 season 5-0, Kansas has won just six games in the last 31/2 seasons, only four of them against FBS opponents. The Jayhawks have had two double-digit losing streaks (10 in 2011 and 11 in 2012), along with an eight-game skid spanning 2009-10. And remember, this is a team that as recently as 2007 started 11-0 and won the Orange Bowl.
Can you say free fall?
This season promises to be no different, at least if the Big 12 poll is any indication. Kansas was picked to finish last in the league's preseason media poll nearly by acclimation, and coach Charlie Weis said that doesn't surprise him at all. "We've given you no evidence or no reason to be picked anywhere other than that,'' he said.
That doesn't mean, however, that Weis has given up. Far from it. In his first two recruiting classes he has almost eschewed freshmen in favor of junior college players and transfers. How it works out remains to be seen.
The offensive-minded Weis this year will pin his hopes on former BYU quarterback Jake Heaps, a former five-star recruit, and what figures to once again be a decent running game. In a pass-happy league, Kansas had perhaps the worst passing attack in college football last year, so Heaps has to be an upgrade. James Sims was a 1,000-yard rusher last season and Tony Pierson is one of the most versatile backs around, but the line has issues and the receiving corps is a work in progress.
On defense, well, the Jayhawks are probably just going to plug in the best junior college players they can find and see if that works better than the mess in 2012 (Kansas actually ranked lower in total defense than West Virginia). Linebacker Ben Heeney is the cornerstone, but almost everything around him figures to be new, which is a good thing. Maybe.
Only six schools in the country play at home stadiums older than Memorial Stadium, which was opened in 1921. ... Kansas has lost 20 of its last 21 games and 20 straight against FBS teams. The only win in that span was last year's opener against South Dakota State, 31-17. This year the Jayhawks play South Dakota, another FCS team, one that went 1-10 last season. ... Kansas and Iowa State are the only Big 12 teams that do not have an open date during league play. KU faces nine opponents in nine weeks beginning Oct. 5.