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Kansas vs. Duke Prediction: Has the Jayhawk Love Gone Too Far?

Should the Jayhawks be on upset alert this weekend?

Devin Neal (4) of the Kansas Jayhawks celebrates after scoring a touchdown against the Oklahoma Sooners in the first quarter at David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium on Oct. 23, 2021, in Lawrence, Kansas. (Kyle Rivas/Getty Images/TNS)
Devin Neal (4) of the Kansas Jayhawks celebrates after scoring a touchdown against the Oklahoma Sooners in the first quarter at David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium on Oct. 23, 2021, in Lawrence, Kansas. (Kyle Rivas/Getty Images/TNS)Read moreKyle Rivas / MCT

One of the cold realities of betting is that you’re going to have to wear the black hat more often than not. That is to say that, if you’re in this for the long-term and want to have success -- one thing you’ll have to get used to is going against Cinderellas, feel-good stories and the public at large.

The Kansas Jayhawks are one of the best stories of the college football season so far. Rock Chalk is 3-0 for the first time since 2009 and it’s not like they’ve just rolled over some cupcakes. Kansas started the season by rolling Tennessee Tech, 56-10, then followed that up with an overtime win at West Virginia and then an impressive 18-point victory at Houston.

Duke vs. Kansas Prediction: Duke +7.5 | Duke +235 (Caesars)

Now, the Jayhawks return home for a 12 p.m. ET kick-off against the Duke Blue Devils. The crowd should be hyped and you know that bettors will be, too. Everybody wants to bet a darling.

(Odds are courtesy of Caesars Sportsbook, reflective of the time of writing and subject to change.)

But if you told someone three weeks ago that Kansas would be laying more than a touchdown against a Power 5 opponent, even one as pedestrian as Duke, they’d probably call you crazy and then ask if you’d book their action. Of course, things change quickly in college football and Kansas’ on-field success looks legitimate, but remember that this team came into the year with an Over/Under set at 2.5 wins. They already cleared that number and have won outright as underdogs twice in a row.

Anytime you win as an underdog you need some breaks to go your way and that’s exactly what’s happening with the Jayhawks. They’re 24-for-35 (68.6%) on third downs this season, which is an unsustainable number. Last year’s best third-down team (Coastal Carolina) was just north of 53%. That number should come down over the course of the season and could start to do so against a Duke defense that does a great job at limiting explosiveness on the ground, which is how the Jayhawks have been building their success on offense.

The Duke offense isn’t anything to write home about, but they play at a slow pace and should have success against a Kansas defense that has allowed 72 points over its last two contests. Those games were see-saw battles, so there is some necessary context needed there, but it doesn’t change the fact that the Jayhawks aren’t expected to pull up trees on defense.

Collin Wilson’s Action Network College Football Model projects this spread close to a pick’em, so there’s plenty of value on Duke and it’s worth putting Kansas on upset alert in a tricky spot after two huge wins on the road.

Duke vs. Kansas Odds:

  1. Duke: +7.5

  2. Kansas: -7.5

  3. Over/Under: 66

The Inquirer is not an online gambling operator, or a gambling site. We provide this information about sports betting for entertainment purposes only.