Josh Klingler is the co-host and update anchor of "Fescoe in the Morning," heard weekdays 6a-9a on 610 Sports Radio. Perhaps the busiest sports personality in Kansas City, "Kling" also hosts pregame and postgame for KU Football and Men's Basketball broadcasts on the Jayhawk Radio Network and does morning sports updates on News Radio 980 KMBZ. He brings you his insight each Thursday on 610sports.com
Time to chat some college hoops, with conference season just around the corner it's time to play a little 'what I think I know / what I need to know' with the 3 locals.
What I think I know
-Ben McLemore is freaky good. I'm usually hesistant to put much on newbies, but this kid is for real. I'm also not one to think about or even care how ready players are for the NBA. But don't plan on 23 being here after April. He's only going to get better.
-It's good to be Jeff Withey. Shot blocking fool, who does not have the reputation as a fouler, and will get the benefit of the doubt from refs.
-KU could full court press more if they wanted. Bill Self is always leery to admit that a team presses, but he''s got the horses to do it. They won't, but will throw it out effectively in spurts.
What I need to know
-If KU can get away with not having a true point guard. The last couple of games it looks like Elijah Johnson has turned the corner in his new primary ballhandler role. Can that continue? And can KU show more signs of improvement offensively in the half court?
What I think I know
-Rebounds are aplenty in Columbia. It's been a complete personality overhaul from a season ago and it looks like more muscle should lead to better post D & being able to thump teams on the glass.
-Phil Pressey is a bit too showy. We know you can pass, but not every one needs the mustard. I'd love to see him continue to work on being the all around top guard. That being said, if I started a team at the point, I'd be hard pressed to find someone I'd rather have.
What I need to know
-If MU can overcome the loss of Mike Dixon. It seemed they were playing the waiting game of “when Dixon returns ….” But now that it's not going to happen they need to find other outside options.
What I think I know
-K-State's gonna need more O. This team looks like it's going to labor to score at times. Rodney McGruder is the clear leader, then what? And when he struggles, look out. Angel Rodriguez & Wil Spradling should be 2 & 3, but where is any inside play? What happened to Jordan Henriquez?
-The Wildcats will still defend and rebound. There's some solid leftover attitude and 'want to' from Frank Martin's regime.
What I need to know
-the what I think and what I need are the same, I need to know what the Cats think they can get done inside. Will anyone step up? Bruce Weber's offensive plan is getting knocked by some national pundits, can't say the results would disagree.
The CFB final weekend is upon us with both Kansas and Kansas State playing their final game of 2012, which will be a head to head matchup in 2013. Heading into this one I am 26-7 on the year.
Kansas at West Virginia, 130pm on 610 Sports Radio.
The Jayhawks have their final opportunity to prove that they are better in 2012 despite finishing with either 1 or 2 wins. This type of game in the past as been a whitewash .. I'm thinking of the 55-7 at Baylor or the 61-7 at Texas A&M type of beat downs. So play this one better and there may be some hope.
Reality of doing that? Against this offense? I'm not very optimistic. As if Tavon Austin didn't scare me enough, KU coach Charlie Weis has been raving all week about his speed and playmaking ability he brings them on O & special teams. #1 cannot run wild for KU to be in this game. Also digging an early deficit could make this a run away.
The offense needs to be steady and put up points and give the D a chance to not tire out in the 3rd quarter and into the 4th. Admittedly this one troubles me.
WV 48 – KU 20
#6 Kansas State hosts #18 Texas, 7pm on ABC.
I feel bad, we should be all celebrating a really really good season for the Wildcats, but it feels like more of “what might have been?”
The Wildcats are coming off the upset loss at Baylor with an extra week to think about it heading into Senior Day vs the Longhorns. Now, National Championship aspirations are gone and they may not even have to win the game on Saturday to clinch the Big 12. Oklahoma plays earlier in the day at TCU and a Sooner loss gives the title to the Wildcats.
Scoreboard watching Saturday would have to be inevitable, or as Romeo Crennel says, human nature. Maybe either way it will bring the best out of the Cats, an OU win means they have to perk up and play, an OU loss could allow them to play with a free mind and maybe respond that way.
I still believe in the Wildcats and an 11-1 season with a Big 12 title should be celebrated.
After last week's round of games I'm now 25-4 picking the local-3 on the year including taking Missouri win at Tennessee (although not like that!) .. so it's onto what I think is a must win weekend for K-State, MU & KU
#1 Kansas State at Baylor, 7pm on ESPN
The newly annointed #1 seems to be handling this week like all other weeks, ho hum. The spotlight doesn't seem to be any brighter on Manhattan at least from our perspective in KC, it's sounding like 'one game at a time' continues.
Boring, yes, effective? Hella yes. Keep doing what you are doing Cats. Style doesn't even matter, zero losses matters.
Could the Wildcats use a little pick me up after a flat performance in last weeks win? Sure. Especially on offense to help their QB get back to Heisman favored status. Collin Football is my guy.
Baylor has been suspect all year on D so I think K-State get back to rolling on O and despite my man crush Ty Zimmerman likely being out on D, they have enough horses to absorb the loss.
K-State 38 Baylor 20
Kansas hosts Iowa State, 6pm on 610 Sports Radio.
The Jayhawks are throughly due for a W, before the season and even several weeks ago I would have said that not even Iowa State provided a chance. It does seem like they may be losing steam, but the Cyclones need a W to get to 6 wins and bowl eligibility.
I think KU should treat this like their bowl game. Charlie Weis is buying every student who wants one a ticket to the game hoping to drum up a crowd .. and it's a potential jumping off point for next year.
Iowa State has struggled on offense and can't find a QB. Steele Jantz is the guy unless he starts throwing into trouble as he's been prone to do. KU needs to get him taking needless chances.
ISU's D isn't quite the same since the loss of Jake Knott and ground and pound is the method that has to be.
Due – Kansas 27 Iowa State 24
Missouri hosts Syracuse, 6pm on 98.1fm KMBZ.
No Sheldon Richardson it seems as I type, so that does change the attitude of the Tiger D, but with the final home game and the potential of a 6th victory .. I think they get it done.
Syracuse did play well last week with the win over previously unbeaten Louisville. But so did Missouri in the 4OT thriller at Tennessee. It seemed like something clicked in James Franklin and the mental hurdle of the knee injury may have been erased. Maybe.
This is probably more gut than anything concrete. It just feels like this is a must for bowl qualifying and the extra practice time they could use for next year.
It's not the how but the result for my college football picks, and a 3-0 week is an unbeaten week. So I picked Missouri to get roughed up at Florida and Kansas to hang at Baylor?? .. the final pick was the final pick. So much for last week's confidence that I should start picking vs. the spread.
Kansas at Texas Tech, Saturday 11am on 610 Sports Radio.
For the first time this season I thought KU really lost it in the second half at Baylor. They finally looked like a team that was beaten down. Did Charlie Weis do enough to bring them back up this week?
The good news is that Tech coach Tommy Tuberville says his team is hitting the wall too after back to back losses he felt on Monday that his team was out of energy and needed to pick it back up. Will that be enough?
Despite the results, the eye test says Kansas' defense has improved, but will be tested by Seth Doege and the Red Raiders pass game. The back end of the D still has some question marks.
On the flip side and offense that has struggled to score and get any QB play to brag about .. so much so that the only QB question asked this week involved a guy not eligible until next year.
Texas Tech 38 Kansas 20
Missouri at Tennessee, 1121am on 98.1fm KMBZ.
The Tigers D are playing their tails off. Keeping them very much in the game at Florida last week. The O? Not so much. Regardless of rust, lack of practice time, injury, etc. you want to put as the excuse for QB James Franklin, four picks is four picks. Four interceptions in a 14-7 loss is on the offense. I do not discount that only one offensive lineman has played in every game this season, but you've got to try to figure it out.
This week the Tigers have a more than winnable game at Tennesee. A Volunteers squad that had to hang onto a 55-48 home win over Troy. (nowhere near the Troy that upset the Tigers a few years back) The Tigers bowl hopes are also on the line, gotta get one here.
Missouri 21 Tennessee 17
#2 Kansas State at TCU, 6pm on FOX.
I'm going in with the assumption that Collin Klein will play. That being said, with K-State's 'no injuries' policy we can't say for sure until Saturday. But I'll go with Klein as 'in' for these purposes.
So there's still no reason to bet against the Cats. Trevone Boykin has settled in as the QB and the Horned Frogs showed major cajones in the overtimes last week at West Virginia. But now he faces the still underrated Wildcats D who have become a turnover machine. With the way the D is playing and turning people over and if even Daniel Sams is under center, I'd still take the Cats.
3-3 last week and now 19-4 on the year we head to another Big 12 & SEC football weekend .. I'm feeling like next year I need to pick with the spread, I've got to be honest I have been pretty good. So on that note #humblebrag .. look for an 0-3 week.
#2 Kansas State hosts #24 Oklahoma State, 7pm on ABC.
Ho hum, another week another ranked foe for the Wildcats. Any other team I would be concerned about overconfidence as the lights just keep getting brighter and brighter, but not Bill Snyder's Cats.
For the last several weeks we've been talking about K-State's D trying to stop big time Qbs and they've passed every test. This week is more about the run game and stopping Joseph Randle. OSU can put up points, but like many a Big 12 team they can also surrender them, although they've held their last three opponents to 20pts or less.
A couple of interesting stats courtesy of footballoutsiders.com – K-State limits opponents to just 11 possessions per game, 4th nationally. They only trails Alabama and LSU in giving up fewest plays of 20 yards or more. And K-State's special teams put them in great shape .. their drives start five yards closer ot the opponents endzone on average five yards closer than any other team. They are simply good.
Why wouldn't I pick another K-State rout? Because it can't be always so routine, can it?
K-State 42 - OSU 28
Missouri at #7 Florida, 11am on 98.1fm KMBZ.
James Franklin seems to be back in good graces with Gary Pinkel. It seemed from our interview this week and his weekly press conference that there's a rejuvinated confidence in Franklin. If only that were enough. Still Pinkel is optimistic that the 'real' Franklin can be back healthy and confident.
The bad news is Florida had their meltdown game. They turned the football over a bunch last week which has been against their norm. The Gators are still alive for the SEC title game and should be plenty mad and eager for a bounceback. Just a week ago they were near the top of the polls and title contender. Missouri hasn't been in that discussion all year long. There will be no new t-shirt printed this week in Columbia.
Florida 38 - Missouri 13
Kansas at Baylor, 230pm on 610 Sports Radio.
Another moral win last week for KU in fighting another Big 12 foe at home, but Texas is the latest one to be let off the hook. The Jayhawks have to win one of these types of games. The 'close but not enough' isn't going to cut it much longer.
This week, something has to give .. 0-5 Jayhawks vs 0-4 Bears. Yuk. You'd like to say Baylor is a pretty unlucky 0-4 Big 12 team. They score a tons of points, but turnover problems have been deadly.
Charlie Weis has been terribly committed to the run, which has been great. He knows where the bread is buttered offensively. James Sims has been one of the most underrated backs in the Big 12 this season and if Tony Pierson is closer to 100%, there's no reason to not keep the ball on the ground in Waco.
Kansas has shown improvement on D especially with their front 7. Keep an eye on injury situation at LB as they'll need all hands on deck to keep pressure on Nick Florence and the Baylor O. I'm not sure I have full faith in the secondary though.
So I missed badly on the K-State – WV score last week, I did say they wouldn't be in shoot out. What is a one sided shoot out? Whatever. Now 16-4 on the season it's back to a full 3 games from the local 3 this week.
#3 Kansas State vs #14 Texas Tech, 230pm on Fox.
We've said on the air many times stop picking against Bill Snyder so clearly I'm going with the Wildcats. K-State has risen to the challenge very week, so why wouldn't you think this would be any different?
Collin Klein according to all reports, is still Collin Klein, and handled all of the new Heisman hype to perfection. Now Seth Doege gets his turn, so it's up to the K-State D to respond. They too have handled all comers all season and have taken huge strides from the unit that looked pretty average to start the season.
Texas Tech's D is much improved as well, probably looking more like the Tommy Tuberville style he envisioned defensively with the leftover gunslinger offensive plan Lubbock apparently loves.
This one though is in Manhattan and K-State isn't frustrated by grind it out, lack of big play offensive drives. I'll stay conservatively close again but...
K-State 30 Texas Tech 21
Missouri vs Kentucky 11am on 98.1fm KMBZ.
This is going to be a great basketball matchup. Oh wait, this is football? Well then Missouri better win in a runaway. This is the game where Tiger fans can join in the “at least we aren't Kentucky” crowd.
Must, must, must, must, must win for Mizzou. You cannot, cannot, cannot lose at home to Vandy and Kentucky in the same season. 0-4 vs 0-5 in the SEC. Yuck, yuck, yuck.
Coming off the bye week, I think we all expect the Tigers to be sharp and focused and as Gary Pinkel told us this week, getting back to winning because “that's what we do here.”
Corbin Berkstresser will be under center it appears for the Tigers, so another chance for him to try to impress. There's one OL back, now another out. Same old refrain this season for the Tigers. But the show must go on.
Mizzou 38 Kentucky 13
Kansas hosts #23 Texas, 11am on 610 Sports Radio.
The most optimistic Jayhawks fans think this is the only shot left at a Big 12 win. Against Texas? Really? Granted this isnt your 5 years ago Texas, but it's still Texas. Hopefully Charlie Weis has been taking in the 30 minute daily practice feed on the Longhorn Network for help.
We talked with Matt Tait of Kusports.com and asked what he thought would have to happen for a KU win and he said for it to be a game like the TCU one. They didn't win that game, but they'll probably need a TCU-like four turnover in the red zone type happening. Also it would be less of an undertaking if they get much better special teams than a week ago which turned an already tough game at OU into a train wreck in a blur.
RS Fr Michael Cummings is the starting QB this week and has an opportunity to impress for next season with transfer Jake Heaps waiting in the wings. Weis said Cummings knows it will hard to beat out Heaps next season so Cummings might have a huge chance to get into the mix. It's clearly the best option over Dayne Crist who has disappeared when the lights have come on this season.
Texas gives up points, but not sure enough for KU to exploit. The learning goes on, but the results? Maybe not.
What a difference a week makes. We were all talking possible trap game last week for K-State at Iowa State and now to a game which could have National Championship implications? Yep, that's college football.
I'm now 14-4 with the picks as K-State heads to WV, KU has long odds at OU and MU has a much needed bye. (no I'm not picking the bye)
#4 Kansas State at #13 West Virginia, 6pm on FOX.
What a difference a week makes for the Mountaineers too. One week ago it was a national title contender too and now it's about whether they can win the Big 12 and possibly stay in the national picture.
Did Texas Tech show a way to stop Geno Smith and the Mountaineer O? Maybe for some, K-State seems to think it's not necessarily their blue print. They are confident in what they do, get solid play up front, let Arthur Brown roam the LB space, and continue to ball hawk in the back end.
K-State can score and West Virginia still hasn't put the defensive pieces together, so I like the Wildcats chances. They should not have to shoot out with Mountaineers.
K-State 24 WV 21.
Kansas at #9 Oklahoma, 6pm on 610 Sports Radio.
If there are no moral victories, then I guess we need another term for what happened to KU last week. They lost, yes, but looked much better in doing it. They got physical, they didn't quit and hung in big time in the 4th quarter. Whatever you call it, it was better than some recent blowouts.
Ok, so now there's Norman, Oklahoma. Bob Stoops is 78-4 there all time – tell that to K-State of course .. responsible for the 4. Here's hoping for a moral victory.
Charlie Weis will be reaching into his bag of tricks again, going with two Qbs Dayne Crist and Michael Cummings (we think), or it could be one or none, with some Jayhawk formation, who knows? I wish I thought it would be enough, but this one is a longshot.
Now 11-4 on the season after a 1-1 week last week, even though I predicted half of the final 40 pt margin last week in the Sunflower Showdown. I wasn't alone though in incorrectly picking Missouri to get it's first SEC win. Oh Vandy. So it's onto another week of picking the local 3.
#5 Kansas State at #25 Iowa State Saturday 11am on FX.
The Wildcats did what they needed to do last week against Kansas, make it interesting for awhile and then blow the doors off. Mission accomplished, on to another week. Now the talk is if there's going to be a letdown this week at Iowa State. I'm not banking on it, plus Iowa State is a solid team.
Bill Snyder isn't the type to allow massive mood swings, so they'll be ready. A huge matchup looms with West Virginia yes, but tell that to Oklahoma State 2011. That team lost in Ames ruining national title hopes. K-State has won 4x in the series, but they've been close, no more than eight points.
Will ISU's talented LB corps be able to properly shadow Collin Klein and John Hubert? Will Jarred Barnett without the element of surprise of being the surprise starting QB, be able to do it two weeks in a row? Farmageddon should be fun.
K-State 31 - Iowa State 20
Kansas vs Oklahoma State, 230pm on 610 Sports Radio & FSN.
Jayhawk fans probably shouldn't look too much at the schedule from here on out. It doesn't look like too many wins are out there for the taking. So just live in the here and now and see if they can find a way to win each week.
Can Oky State be the much needed upset? The Pokes can score behind the league's leading rusher in Joseph Randle and whichever QB plays Saturday, but they've also given up points (not including 84-0 over Savannah State) but 59, 24, 41 points allowed in the three games that really counted. But can KU score enough to take advantage? I'd like to say maybe, but I don't like Randle pounding in the 2nd half against a defense we've seen tire late. Also the Cowboys are coming off their 2nd bye week and are itching to play.
OSU 42 - Kansas 24
Missouri vs #1 Alabama, 230pm on 98.1fm KMBZ & CBS.
My how things have changed. This was THE game circled on the 'must watch' calendar when the season began .. the likely #1 team in the country coming into Columbia to face a Tiger team that's already staked it's claim as belonging in the SEC. Bama held up it's end.
This one could get ugly, regardless of the friendship of the two head coaches. Alabama as the #1 team in the country must play the style points game so don't expect the gas pedal to be removed from the floor.
No one is foreseeing a scenario in which Missouri pulls the upset. More offensive line changes, Corbin Berkstresser under center again .. and you know, Alabama on the other side. This doesn't look good. 0-4 in year one of the SEC doesn't look good. I don't like this at all.
Back to the full slate of local college football after the bye week for both Kansas and Kansas State last week. With only Mizzou on the docket last week my season total moved to 10-3 as I even predicted a close Missouri road win at UCF, 24-20 with the actual score being 21-16. Maybe I should start picking vs the spread one of these days.
Kansas at #8/7 Kansas State, 11am on 610 Sports Radio and FX.
The Sunflower Showdown comes in Manhattan after the last two years in Lawrence. The Cats are eager to host, even though L-Town was very hospitable the past two matchups giving up 59 points in each of the past two blowouts.
The Cats are once again a big favorite, up to 24 at last check. And why wouldn't they be? They have the advantage in every aspect of this matchup, offense, defense, special teams, and as KU's Charlie Weis noted “including their head coach (Bill Snyder)”.
I'd like to say there's a way that Kansas can win this game, but I don't see it. Aside from K-State becoming a turnover machine and KU pulling out a bunch of trickery from Weis' play bag, it should be all Jayhawks. K-State hasn't always been on point this season, but KU will need to see the Wildcats version that sleptwalked through Missouri State and North Texas and not the Miami or Oklahoma edition.
Kansas State 41 Kansas 21
Missouri hosts Vanderbilt, 6pm on 98.1fm KMBZ and FSN.
The Tigers are 3-2, but 0-2 in the SEC with a 'must win' type scenario this week. It's a dividing line game, does Mizzou want to be the same sentence as the upper echelon of their new league, or will they be pushed into the also rans like Kentucky, Vandy, etc that are often considered the weak links?
So it may be as much of a identity game as anything, and with #1 Alabama coming next week, you better get that first win.
Despite a close game that did include a punt return TD against UCF, the feel is that the Missouri offense found it's legs a little better in the Florida heat. The run game took some pressure off the pass game, the quarterback question is no more, it's go time.
The suspension of Dorial Green-Beckham for marijuana possession is a news worthy story, but his production has been limited anyhow so it should not be much of a factor / distraction.
I'm 9-3 on the year in the pick em blog, going 2-1 last week by not backing up my faith in Kansas State and picking them to lose at Oklahoma.
I spend a lot of time on the air defending K-State or rather defending that they don't have to defend themselves .. does that make sense? There's enough proof that K-State belongs in the 'known' category but they seem to relish the underdog role so why stop?
Anyway, I don't have to give my prediction for next week's next K-State game hosting KU (although I could) .. both KU and K-State are on their bye weeks, making Mizzou the only game in town.
Missouri at Central Florida 11am on 98.1fm KMBZ.
Just a few weeks ago I was picking the Tigers to upset top ten Georgia, now they seem to be a crossroads. The Tigers are 0-2 in the SEC and are an underdog at Central Florida out of Conference USA ???? What world are we living in?
Coach Gary Pinkel says there's no quarterback controversy but maybe there should be. Pinkel started it by outing James Franklin for not taking a pain shot a few weeks ago and it's snowballed since. Then he pulled Franklin late vs South Carolina for Corbin Berkstresser who leads a TD drive. How can the MU players not be questioning who the better option is?
This feels like a must win and a season changer for the Tigers so I like them over the Fighting George O'Learys. This is inevitably big game for UCF too getting an SEC in their house and they feature a solid pass attack and a D that doesn't give up much through the air. Lower scoring but I'll take the Tigers.