KU vs. Ohio: Week 3 Football Preview

Image by David Reber on Flickr

After stumbling against Central Michigan 45-27, Kansas looks to bounce back when they play the Ohio Bobcats on Saturday.

The Jayhawks lost to Frank Solich’s Bobcats last season 37-21 in Memorial Stadium. KU hopes to avoid a 1-2 start to the season as they play their second MAC opponent in as many weeks.

David Beaty’s bunch has struggled on the road, failing to win a game outside of Lawrence during his time as head coach. Kansas has lost 41 straight games on the road, with their last win coming against UTEP in 2009.  That streak is second all-time behind Western (Colo.) State, which lost 44 straight between 1926 and 1936, according to College Football Reference.

A win against Solich – the former Nebraska head coach who is 7-0 in his career against KU – on the road would remove the sting of last week’s lost to the Chippewas while overcoming a monumental obstacle on the road to rebuilding this program.

In order to end non-conference play on a high note, the defense will have to improve defensively. Last week, the Jayhawks surrendered 590 total yards, with 467 passing yards and five touchdowns coming from CMU quarterback and Michigan grad transfer Shane Morris.

However, Ohio will present a different challenge. Through two games, Ohio has averaged 210.5 rushing yards per game. Solich rotates a stable of running backs, including A.J Ouellette, who leads the team in carries and yards, Julian Ross, and Dorian Brown. Kansas has given up 103 rushing yards per game, 42nd in the FBS.

Ohio starting quarterback Nathan Rourke has rushed for 86 yards and three touchdowns this season as well. The sophomore has also completed 66.7 percent of his passes, while establishing a 148.7 quarterback efficiency rating.

Peyton Bender intends to move forward from last week’s performance. The junior quarterback completed 32 of his 62 passes for 323 yards, but failed to throw a touchdown and threw two interceptions. Kansas did not have top wide receiver Steven Sims Jr., who didn’t play last week due to an ankle injury. Sims expects to play on Saturday.

Having the big play wide receiver should help Kansas sustain drives and convert third downs. Last season, the Bobcats had the ball for over 43 minutes, compared to 16 minutes for Kansas. KU also went 0 for 9 on third downs last year, while only picking up nine first downs the whole game. Kansas went 5-18 on third down against the Chippewas defense last week.

Dom Williams led the team in rushing last week with 18 carries, 46 yards, and two touchdowns. The true freshman from McKinney, Texas leads the team in carries and yards this season.

Ohio is 1-1 on the season, recently losing to Purdue 44-21 in West Lafayette, Indiana. Ohio’s lone win comes against Hampton of college football’s FCS division.

You can listen to the game on 99.3 the Eagle and 1440 KMAJ as part of the Jayhawk IMG Sports Network. The pregame show starts at 9:30, kickoff from Ohio at 11.