I’ve covered all the Coyotes’ ventures into major-college football to date, at least during the Division I era. I was that not there for the last game against Kansas, however. That took place in 1900 and the Yotes went down 42-0, at home no less. How do you get a home game with a Big 12 outfit? And then get shut out? USD had a lot to answer for that day. Who was calling the damn plays?
The Coyotes get another crack at KU 113 years later with the circumstances surrounding this game unlike any of the FBS contests preceding it. The reason for this is that Kansas is struggling these days.
When the Coyotes beat Minnesota in 2010, the Gopher program wasn’t exactly on top of the world, but they’d won more games in their recent past than the Jayhawks had. KU has won six games in the last three seasons and are riding an 11-game losing streak. Because Charlie Weis is still relatively fresh in his job and the squad wasn’t exactly ripping it up prior to his appearance on the scene, I wouldn’t say his job is in any real danger. Lose to USD, however, and you’re going to get a lot of questions about the direction of the program, etc.
Those FCS losses tend to leave a mark, as former Minnesota Gopher coach Tim Brewster discovered when he wasn’t permitted to finish out the season the year the Coyotes defeated them. The Gophers did go on to beat the Iowa Hawkeyes that year, remember, so it wasn’t like the team had no talent.
USD appears to be playing a team more vulnerable than the 2010 Minnesota team based on the sheer fact that Kansas is playing its first game with a load of guys who will be playing in their first game for KU.
It is why I don’t see this setting up as a traditional upset scenario. No way is a team that finished 1-11 last year and has a bunch of new guys trying to impress a coach in a first game is going to decide it can loaf its way through a game with an FCS opponent. Especially when two teams from the Missouri Valley beat two teams from the Big 12 last week.
Granted, the Coyotes’ resume going into this doesn’t match up with NDSU’s or UNI’s, but I’m guessing the Kansas coaching staff is in no hurry to draw a distinction as far as their players are concerned.
I do not think lack of motivation will be a factor if the Coyotes are competitive. What will be a factor, however, is that the Jayhawks, who are correctly favored by more than three touchdowns, are about as unproven as a team can get.. The Jayhawks may end up winning by 40, but I’m guessing that coaching staff is not sleeping soundly tonight.