Then-freshman Tyler Lockett looked like a veteran against Kansas, racking up 251 all-purpose yards in the Wildcats’ seventh straight win of 2011.

Overview: Last season, the Jayhawks went 0-9 in the Big 12 and finished last in total offense and last in total defense. It would not matter if Kansas had hired Bill Belichick to coach this team; a transformation is going to take time, and not a little bit of it. With Charlie Weis taking the reigns as head coach and Notre Dame transfer Dayne Crist at quarterback, the offense might look a bit better. Junior college transfers and true freshmen will create competition for returning defensive players, but it is unlikely that a roster in any way resembling the one from last season will be able to stop the kind of offenses Kansas will face in this league.

Schedule: “KU’s schedule looks harder than any other team’s because the Jayhawks don’t play themselves.” I read it as a joke last week, but for Kansas, it is not very funny. On the contrary, it is a sobering fact. Even the other teams that struggled in the Big 12 last season (Texas Tech went 2-7, Iowa State went 3-6) seem much, much better equipped for the grueling season that lies ahead.

The Jayhawks begin their conference schedule with TCU on Sept. 15, and then they play back-to-back road games against Northern Illinois and Kansas State. Following a home game against Oklahoma State, Kansas plays Oklahoma in Norman. (If college football ever implements a mercy rule, this game might be the cause of it.) After playing Texas in Lawrence, the Jayhawks might have a shot at an upset win or two toward the end of the season as they play at Baylor, at Texas Tech and at home versus Iowa State. They finish the season at West Virginia.

Last time versus Kansas State: Kansas actually put up 21 points in the game on Oct. 22, 2011, but the Wildcats scored 59. Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein and his teammates carved up the Jayhawks, amassing 466 yards of offense in the game. Then-freshman Tyler Lockett caught five passes for 110 yards and a touchdown and returned a kickoff for another score. The Wildcats look even better offensively this season, and while the Jayhawks should be making some progress as well, it would be very surprising if the outcome of this year’s matchup differs from last season.

Projection: Kansas might take a few steps in the right direction, but considering that the Jayhawks struggled in this league before it added two Top 25 teams during the offseason, improvement will be difficult to discern. Kansas could steal a Big 12 game and win four games this season, but even that is probably optimistic.

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