FACTS & STATS: Site: Memorial Stadium (50,071) — Lawrence, Kansas.
Television: FSN. Home Record: CMU 1-1, Kansas 1-0. Away Record: CMU 1-0,
Kansas 0-1. Neutral Record: CMU 0-0, Kansas 0-0. Conference Record: CMU 0-0,
Kansas 0-0. Series Record: Kansas leads, 1-0.
GAME NOTES: In the final test before Big 12 Conference play begins, the Kansas
Jayhawks play host to the Central Michigan Chippewas at Memorial Stadium on
Kansas, which hasn’t won more than three games since 2009, has had a rough
start to the 2014 campaign, the third under head coach Charlie Weis. The
Jayhawks barely survived against FCS foes Southeast Missouri in the opener
before suffering a 41-3 shellacking at Duke last weekend.
Central Michigan also escaped with a win over a team from the FCS in its
opener, topping Chattanooga, 20-16. The Chippewas then logged an impressive
road victory over Purdue (38-17), before being saddled with a brutal setback
at home against Syracuse (40-3).
Todd Reesing threw for four touchdowns as the Jayhawks cruised to a 52-7 rout
of Central Michigan when these teams met for the first and only time back in
Aside from the 38-point effort the Chippewas had against Purdue, there has not
been a lot to like about their offense this season. They are averaging only
20.3 points and 290.3 yards per game. They also have just 10 trips to the red
zone, five of which have resulted in touchdowns.
The unit’s prospect became even bleaker before last week’s contest with
Syracuse as leading rusher Thomas Rawls (276 yards, three TDs) was suspended
indefinitely. Without Rawls the Chippewas managed only 34 yards on 23 carries.
Devon Spalding got the most work, with seven attempts, but he gained only 19
Cooper Rush has felt the ill effects of the weakened running game. The
Chippewas’ quarterback completed just 18-of-34 pass attempts for 183 yards
against Syracuse and was sacked five times. He has a total of 528 yards and
four touchdowns, as well as one interception, on 57.9 percent passing.
Jesse Kroll (nine receptions, 152 yards, TD) leads the team in receptions and
receiving yards. In fact, he is the only player to have reached the century
mark in the first three games. Anthony Rice (seven receptions, 94 yards, TD)
is the next-best option.
Prior to the 40-point eruption they allowed to Syracuse, Central Michigan had
performed admirably on defense. Even including the rough time against the
Orange, the Chippewas are letting up only 24.3 points and 348.7 yards per game
to rank fourth in the Mid-American Conference in both categories.
Justin Cherocci (30 tackles) leads the team in tackles, but Tony Annese (18
tackles, two INTs) has been the more valuable contributor, snatching up two of
the team’s six interceptions. Joe Ostman (17 tackles, 5.0 TFL, 2.0 sacks) has
been a solid player up front, leading the team in tackles for loss and sacks.
Weis, once considered an offensive guru, has not been able to lead Kansas to
much success in that department, especially this season. The Jayhawks are
averaging only 18.5 points and 377 yards per game. Of course, those numbers
are largely tainted by the three points and 297 total yards mustered against
Montell Cozart is currently the starting quarterback, but he didn’t look like
he deserved the job against Duke. He completed just 11-of-27 passes for 89
yards and was picked off twice. Against SEMO he had 196 yards and three scores
on 12-of-24 passing.
Nick Harwell (six receptions, 55 yards, two TDs) and Tony Pierson (six
receptions, 112 yards, TD) are the only receivers that have made much of an
With the lack of a consistent passing game, Kansas has relied somewhat heavily
on running back Corey Avery, who has racked up 178 yards and a touchdown on 35
carries. He had 87 yards on 16 attempts against Duke following a 91-yard
showing against SEMO.
Defensive failings have also been the norm for Kansas, even in good times this
season. The Jayhawks are allowing 466 yards per game, and they still let up 28
points against SEMO, which they limited to 421 yards of total offense.
Ben Heeney (26 tackles) is the only player with more than 20 stops on the
team, although only one has been for a loss. Dexter McDonald has two
interceptions on the year, and Ben Goodman has the squad’s only sack.
Without Rawls, the Chippewas are clearly a much-less effective offensive team.
Fortunately for them the Jayhawks also haven’t shown much flash on that side
of the ball. If Rush can get into a rhythm early, there is a good chance the
Chippewas could pull out the victory.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Central Michigan 27, Kansas 24