Let’s back a surprise 3-0 team to continue its run in Week 4

Coach Lance Leipold and the Kansas Jayhawks are on a roll to start the year. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)

The Kansas Jayhawks are 3-0 for the first time since 2009 and are now 7-point favorites at home to Duke in Week 4. This is a Kansas team that has been favored just twice in the last two seasons, going 0-2 ATS in those games. However, in neither of those games was quarterback Jalon Daniels the starter.

Public perception: It’s the Jayhawks. Surely, this hot streak must be coming to an end. At least that’s how I interpret the line move with the opening spread dropping from 9 to 7. — finishing 1-1 — but I like just a single favorite this week.

Why you should back the Jayhawks -7 in Week 4

It’s Duke. The Blue Devils are also on a 3-0 streak for the first time since Week 2 of last season and that included a 52-33 win over Kansas in late September. Daniels did not play in that matchup, and Duke proceeded to lose eight straight to close the season 3-9.

Last year, Duke went 0-5 SU and ATS on the road, losing by an average of 30 points while being outscored 210-59. But with a 3-0 record, this must be an improved team, right? Could be, yes, but as always you can’t just look at the scores or at the win-loss record and call it a day. The details matter.

The Blue Devils so far have defeated an FCS team, Northwestern and Temple — two offenses that ranked 113th and 126th last year with two defenses that ranked 113th and 86th in the FBS, respectively. In those five road losses last season, Duke’s rushing defense allowed 297 yards (7.2 yards per rush) in a 48-17 loss to Virginia Tech and 266 rushing yards (6.3 yards per rush) in a 45-7 loss to Wake Forest.

This early in the season, stats can definitely be misleading. Currently through two FBS games, Duke has a top-10 defense against the run. But those opponents, Temple and Northwestern, ranked 112th and 84th in rushing offense last year; this year it’s 124th and 77th, respectively.

The strength of schedules don’t compare. Daniels and this Kansas offense have faced tougher opponents in West Virginia and Houston. As it stands, the Jayhawks have a top-10 rushing unit with Daniels, Devin Neal, and Daniel Hishaw Jr. that’s seventh in yards per rush with 11 total rushing scores.

A problem we haven’t seen yet but could: Duke was bottom 10 in giveaways last year, and perhaps due to the competition faced that doesn’t appear to be an issue so far. Unfortunately for the Blue Devils, the Jayhawks are top 30 in takeaways, forcing two turnovers each in wins over the Cougars and Mountaineers. Duke is in a “prove it to me” situation.

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