Will Duke be able to contain Jalon Daniels? Can Kansas get to Riley Leonard?
Kickoff is at 12 PM EST on 9/24 (FS1, FOX Sports app)
Game of the Week: Duke @ Kansas
The number one team in the Big 12 welcomes basketball powerhouse Duke as the defending champions are heavily tested by their undefeated opponents. Oh wait, this is football? That's right, two of the most storied basketball programs clash on the gridiron this Saturday, both maintaining an undefeated record into the fourth week of the college football season. Kansas has already hit the over on their preseason over/under win total, set at 2.5, and the Blue Devils are one win away from doing so themselves, set at 3.5.
This game is the exact opposite of the game we previewed for Week 3. There was no preseason hype, and now that we're here, the college football faithful all have their eyes on this rivalry that traditionally takes place in a gym, on wooden floors.
Kansas football coach, Lance Leipold, is getting a lot of national media attention, as he should. Aside from the upset of Texas in Austin in 2021, which as an Oklahoma fan I greatly appreciate, Kansas has been nothing special on the football field…ever? For perspective, as an Oklahoma fan once again, playing Kansas has always been an extra bye week. I know that's now how you're supposed to think as a fan, and especially not as a player, but Kansas has amounted a mere 11 wins in the past six seasons, not including 2022. That gives them an 11-70 record from 2015-2021, or a .157 winning percentage. Point being, Kansas does not do a lot of winning when it comes to football.
Lance Leipold has stepped in though, and now has his recruits on the field. Kansas is a fun team to watch and a sneaky upset for any team in the Big 12 moving forward. When looking at 2022 offensive efficiency, (the scoring value gained/lost per offensive drive) there are usual suspects in there.
Stetson Bennett and the #1-ranked Georgia Bulldogs at #4, with a 95.85.
Heisman-hopeful C.J. Stroud and the powerful Ryan Day Ohio State offense at #3, with a 96.84.
USC’s new power combo, Lincoln Riley and Caleb Williams, come in at #2, with a 97.17.
But who reigns supreme through the first three weeks? You guessed it: the Kansas Jayhawks, at 97.75.
How does a team go from a .157 winning percentage in a six-year stint to the #1 offense in all of college football? Enter Jalon Daniels, the junior quarterback from Lawndale, California. With a 7:1 TD:INT, 188.7 yards through the air/game, and 79 yards on the ground/game (267.7 total yards/game), Daniels has become must-see TV under center. Although I do not believe he has any hope for a Heisman in 2022, he has become the ideal college football quarterback. He is not going to kill you in an air-raid offense, but he is going to do whatever needed to move those chains, get the first down, and do it over and over until the goal line is in sight. And what has this done for him and the Kansas Jayhawks thus far in 2022? Led them to a 3-0 record that includes upset wins over West Virginia and Houston, both on the road. I expect Leipold and Daniels to continue this offensive dominance at home against Duke on Saturday.
Unfortunately, I cannot put Mike Elko's Duke squad on the same pedestal as Kansas. Kansas has thoroughly excited me throughout the 2022 season, and I have fair reason to believe this is no fluke for the Jayhawks. Not to say Duke’s 3-0 start is fluky; they managed a pretty impressive upset win against Northwestern in Week 2. However, Duke does not put the same spice on display as the Jayhawks do.
Riley Leonard, the Blue Devils' starting QB, has had two very good displays and one not-so-good display in 2022. His two good games produced four touchdowns and an interception with a whopping 83.33% completion percentage, while his worst performance meant going for one touchdown, an interception, and a measly 54.2% completion percentage. All-in-all, we have seen Leonard put up good stats in terms of accuracy in two-thirds of his games so far in 2022, and even when he played poorly, his team still managed to pull out with a win on the road via 31 offensive points.
The Duke defense deserves some credit too. Though they haven't been outlandishly impressive, they've held up enough for a team to hold a 0 in the loss column. The defense is going to really have to take a stand this week if the Blue Devils want to pull off a massive upset in Lawrence on Saturday.
After both Sheehan and I predicted Oklahoma to walk away with a win in Lincoln in Week 3, and boy did they ever, here are the standings so far in 2022:
In this game, I feel like Kansas is the clear choice. Kansas is the 7.5-point favorite (via FanDuel), and I see no reason why they should not cover that.
Yes, Kansas is a 7.5-point FAVORITE against a POWER 5 FOOTBALL TEAM. If you have the time, sit down and watch this one. Kickoff is at 12 EST on Saturday, 9/24. You will likely see an impressive Kansas offense that is boasting an undefeated record in 2022. This offense, and the guys involved in it, is really fun to watch. I don't think this Kansas high will last forever, but I think Kansas can finish in the top half of the Big 12 if they continue their play throughout the course of the season. I do not know if Leipold will remain a Jayhawk for long, but enjoy what he is doing in Lawrence right now while you have the chance, because this could be a special season for Kansas.
Covering Kansas-Duke as your college football game of the week has to be a sign of the apocalypse no? Wild times we're living in.
This is an excellent matchup because these teams have counteracting strengths. Jalon Daniels, as Presley mentioned, is a dual-threat menace at QB, averaging 79 yards on the ground through three games, with three scores. Duke, however, defends the run extremely well. Duke's offense is anchored by their o-line, which has allowed Riley Leonard to thrive. He's been sacked just three times this season. But here comes the Jayhawks pass rush and their nine sacks through three games. There are several unstoppable forces meeting immovable objects in this contest. That makes for some good football.
Give me Kansas to win and Duke to cover. Kansas lost to Duke 52-33 on the road last year. That won't be the case in 2022. Lots of points. Lots of action. And Kansas's first 4-0 start since 2009 (they finished 5-7 that year, but that's neither here nor there).