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I have gone two straight weeks without writing about sports in the Sweet Linkage. That just cannot continue!

If you aren't from Kansas or don't like sports, you can skip to the linkage below. But here at Red Nova Labs, we have a number of employees who attended both state schools, and those two state schools just happen to be playing each other in football this weekend. KU, my alma mater, is awful at football this season. The Jayhawks are so bad defensively that two weeks ago Oklahoma State scored 56 points before halftime and OSU pulled its starting quarterback in the second quarter. The second quarter! K-State is 6-0, beat KU 59-7 last year and has a shot at playing No. 1 OU next week at home with College Gameday in Manhattan.

So what I'm about to argue probably sounds like I have my crimson and blue tinted glasses on, but I think the Jayhawks have as good a shot to win on Saturday* as they will have in any game the rest of the season. No, I don't think KU is going to win. However, just like most fans, I'm holding onto a little hope and when someone posted some stats on twitter this week, that little hope turned into cautious optimism.

*And this is me preparing for the slight possibility that it happens, so when and if it does, I can tell my coworkers, I told you so!

Let's start with defense, because that's probably the No. 1 reason anyone would give as to why KU has no shot whatsoever to beat K-State. KU has the worst defense statistically in the country. But when you look at who KU has played, it starts to make sense. Below is a list of where each of KU's FBS opponents rank in total offense.

Team

Rank

Northern Illinois

4

Georgia Tech

2

Oklahoma State

5

Texas Tech

11

Oklahoma

8

Where does K-State rank in total offense? 89th.

K-State has actually been outgained by its opponents this year. K-State's opponents average 5.3 yards per play and 345.7 yards per game; K-State averages 4.8 yards per play and 336.2 yards per game. Granted, K-State has also played some good offenses. Baylor ranks 7th in total offense, Missouri ranks 21st and K-State has also played Texas Tech. However, K-State also played Kent State, the worst offense in all of FBS.

So how does a team whose numbers have been inflated by playing the worst offense in FBS and have still been outgained on the season end up undefeated? Luck.

In a way, you could say that K-State has made its own luck. The Cats have won by winning the turnover battle and making plays on special teams. But look closer at those numbers and there is some luck involved. K-State has fumbled the ball 13 times and only lost four of those fumbles. K-State's opponents have fumbled six times and lost three. K-State's opponents are 4 for 10 kicking field goals this year. In a 41-34 win against Texas Tech last week, K-State blocked two field goals, returned a kickoff for a touchdown and returned an interception for a touchdown.

So why should you believe that K-State's luck - or the ability to make its own breaks - will not continue this week? Well, KU does not have the greatest offense in the world but the Jayhawks do take care of the ball. They have given it up only nine times this season and Jordan Webb has thrown five interceptions. Three of those picks came against Texas Tech and at least two of them were not Webb's fault. They were either tipped or went through his receiver's hands, which is the equivalent of bad luck. KU jumped out to a 20-0 lead on Texas Tech, and if KU's coaches had made better adjustments - that's been the most justifiable criticism of this coaching staff - and if a couple fluky turnovers don't happen, KU, like K-State, beats Texas Tech. K-State had some luck on its side; KU didn't.

And the last bit of optimism comes from the way KU played defense last week. The Jayhawks still gave up 47 points to OU, but KU finally got some stops - OU punted three times, kicked four field goals and KU forced three turnovers. That's progress.

To beat the Wildcats, the Jayhawks need to limit K-State to field goals and score touchdowns when they get in the red zone, and there's a realistic chance that could happen. KU has scored touchdowns on 75 percent of its red zone trips (18 of 24); K-State has scored touchdowns on 60 percent of its red zone trips (18 of 30).

Sure, Bill Snyder will probably outcoach Turner Gill. And yes, KU will probably trip all over itself in the third quarter after Snyder has a chance to make adjustments. The Jayhawks have been so bad in the third quarter this year that they've been taking longer breaks during practice this week to simulate halftime. That does not give me optimism. But the passion and energy KU played with on defense last week does. The passion lineback Steven Johnson showed in his pregame speech (starts at 8:05 on video below) gives me some hope.

So yeah, KU has a chance on Saturday. A win could save Turner Gill's job, and if you can believe Johnson is sincere in his pregame speech, the players want that. And K-State has to run out of luck at some point, right? Right?

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