Duke Blue Devils (3-0) @ Kansas Jayhawks (3-0)
Saturday, Sept. 24 @ David Booth Memorial Stadium in Lawrence, KS.
How to watch
11:00 a.m. on Fox Sports 1
Spread: Kansas -7.5
Did anybody have two basketball blue-blood schools going into week four of the college football season undefeated on their 2022 bingo card?
Looking at past seasons, Kansas and Duke’s hot starts to the season have been unexpected, to say the least. The football programs have been known for struggles against Power Five conference teams, but now the two are heading into Saturday’s matchup undefeated. What’s changed for the Jayhawks and Blue Devils?
For Kansas, much can be attributed to head coach Lance Leipold, who has seemingly turned this Jayhawks team around after coming to Lawrence in 2021.
The Jayhawks are currently sitting at their first 3-0 start since 2009, and offensive play has been the star factor for this team. Averaging 51 points per game, their record reflects an in-conference overtime win against West Virginia, and more recently, a strong offensive showing against Houston.
In week three, the Jayhawks responded to the Houston Cougar’s early 14-point lead with 28 unanswered points of their own, and never looked back before securing the win, 48-30. Junior quarterback Jalon Daniels continued to shine against the Cougars, putting up five touchdowns total with three passing and two rushing while going 14-for-23 on passes with 158 yards in the game. For the third week in a row, a Jayhawk took home one of the Big 12 Conference’s Player of the Week awards, and that someone was deservedly Daniels after yet another stellar performance.
Quarterback play isn’t the only thing that’s fallen into place for Kansas, however. The Jayhawks’ offensive line has yet to allow a sack all season, they’ve established a running game that averages about seven yards per carry, and the team has been able to limit penalties throughout play so far, averaging just four per game. The Blue Devils might be the next hurdle for Kansas to overcome, but the Jayhawks have proved that they’re very well up for what’s to come.
Meanwhile, Duke is coming off of a blowout 49-20 win over North Carolina A&T, and sophomore quarterback Riley Leonard was responsible for four of the touchdowns against the Aggies: two passing and two rushing.
The Blue Devils go into Saturday’s matchup as the underdogs — but the exact same thing happened when they traveled to Evanston, Illinois, to take on Northwestern when the Wildcats were regarded as 8.5 point favorites in week two. But of course, Duke found its way on top, and Leonard played a significant role in the team’s win, throwing for 240 yards.
A quarterback like Leonard has what it takes to match up with the play of Daniels, but only one of these teams will get to walk away undefeated after Saturday.
Players to watch
Jalon Daniels, Kansas quarterback
Season stats: 566 yards, ten total touchdowns, seven passing touchdowns, one interception, 67.1% completion percentage
The Kansas Jayhawks have found their quarterback, and it’s Jalon Daniels. Last week’s Big 12 Offensive Player of the Week, Daniels has without a doubt put the Jayhawks on his back, and the team’s early success is a direct result. With five total touchdowns against Houston in the week three win, expect Daniels to continue to move the ball with ease against the Blue Devils on Saturday.
Riley Leonard, Duke quarterback
Season stats: 723 yards, seven total touchdowns, five passing touchdowns, two interceptions, 72.% completion percentage
Coming in at second in the ACC on completion percentage, Riley Leonard’s looking to show off his arm in an effort to keep the Blue Devils undefeated. Leonard had a strong showing against North Carolina A&T last week, so it could be safe to expect the momentum to carry over as Duke travels to Lawrence for week four.
Jordan Moore, Duke wide receiver
Season stats: 13 receptions, 128 yards, three touchdowns
Officially listed on Duke’s roster as a dual-threat quarterback/wide receiver, the sophomore has made his impact on the Blue Devils as one of Leonard’s weapons in the field. Head coach Mike Elko had praised his versatility in the offseason, “He is such a special football player and a special athlete that we’ve tried to figure out how to utilize him. We’re going to be able to use him in a lot of different ways,” and as Moore has collected a receiving touchdown in every game to start the season, the Blue Devils will continue to keep him moving around the field just as long as he’s in.
Lonnie Phelps, Kansas defensive end
Season stats: 14 total tackles, 11 solo, three sacks
Kansas offense has (deservingly) received much of the spotlight in relation to their explosive start to the season, but let’s not forget about the defensive playmakers as well. Redshirt-junior Lonnie Phelps has been a force to be reckoned with within the Jayhawk defense, and after putting up five total tackles against Houston last week, be on the lookout as he defends Kansas’ perfect season.