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BYU Enemy Scouting Report: Kansas Jayhawks

BYU travels to Lawrence for their first Big 12 conference game. How can BYU start 1-0 in Big 12 play?

NCAA Football: Missouri State at Kansas Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

Game location: David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium, Lawrence, Kansas

Game time/channel: 3:30 PM ET/ESPN

Spread: Kansas (-9.5)

Most Recent Matchup: 1992 Aloha Bowl

The only matchup between the Cougars and Jayhawks came on Christmas Day 1992. Kansas came out victorious on a last second field goal, winning 23-20.

Head coach: Lance Leipold

2023 Season Thus Far

Kansas and BYU have had similar starts to the 2023 season. The Jayhawks have a blowout win over an FCS team (Missouri State), an underwhelming win against a Group of 5 squad (Nevada), and one Power 5 victory (Illinois). Kansas is coming off of one of their most exciting seasons in recent memory in 2022 and they seem to be building off of that momentum.

Their game against Nevada last week was puzzling, as it was tied late into the fourth quarter despite Nevada being a winless team who had just been throttled by FCS Idaho. Nevertheless, Kansas’ offense found a rhythm and kept their perfect record in tact.

ESPN’s SP+ metric actually has Kansas lower (55) than Arkansas was the week they lost to BYU (26).

When BYU Has the Ball

Kedon Slovis and company seemed to find more success against Arkansas than they did against weaker competition. It seems like the offense is getting more comfortable in their roles within the system after a rocky start against Sam Houston.

Kansas thus far has been really good against the pass, allowing just 152.7 yards per game, 11th in all FBS. However, they rank 109th in red zone defense. When BYU gets into the red zone, they need to cash in to avoid falling behind in what might become something of a shootout. Isaac Rex needs to have another big game.

What BYU needs is for the run game to show up. LJ Martin can’t do it by himself. The offense ranks 113th in rushing via Pro Football Focus. The interior line, with guards Connor Pay and Weylin Lapuaho, need to show marked improvement in run blocking. That is the best way to keep Kansas’ explosive offense at bay.

Watch out for Kansas CB Cobee Bryant, a Preseason First Team All-Big 12 selection.

When Kansas Has the Ball

BYU’s defense faces their best test yet. The Jayhawks boast the Preseason Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year pick in QB Jalon Daniels. He is more agile than Arkansas’ K.J. Jefferson and has a deeper set of weapons at his disposal. Against Nevada, he had a near perfect game, going 21-for-27 with 298 yards and a 170.5 passer rating.

Pro Football Focus grades Kansas’ offense as the fourth-best in all FBS. Running back Devin Neal averages 7.6 yards per carry. Lawrence Arnold, Luke Grimm, and Quentin Skinner all have over 150 receiving yards through three games.

BYU’s defense is lightyears ahead of last season. The pressure they put on Arkansas was nothing short of refreshing. They will need a repeat performance against a speedy Kansas attack.

How BYU Can Win

BYU’s run game needs to emerge for them to win this game. Kansas will come out guns a-blazing on offense and BYU either needs to keep up, or keep Daniels on the sidelines for as long as possible with sustained drives. BYU being plus-one in turnover margin may also be a necessity.

Even the best defenses can get worn down by fast-paced offenses and when their own offense is sputtering. BYU can’t afford that in Lawrence. Stay aggressive on defense and keep improving on offense and it should be anybody’s game late in the fourth quarter.

Prediction: Kansas 33, BYU 30