KU Trying to Stay Focused
Kansas is in the midst of a remarkable run from nowhere to legitimate national title contender, but coach Mark Mangino doesn't want his team looking ahead.
It might be pretty hard not to.
Mangino hopes to keep his fourth-ranked Jayhawks focused and avoid a letdown against Big 12 basement dweller Iowa State on Saturday when they play their final home game of the season.
Oddsmakers from Bodog have made Kansas -26 point spread favorites (View College Football odds) for Saturday's game (Game Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 58% of bets for this game have been placed on Kansas -26 (View College Football bet percentages).
Following this game, the Jayhawks face No. 6 Missouri on Nov. 24 at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City. If they beat the Tigers, Kansas (10-0, 6-0) will advance to the Big 12 title game and a likely matchup with third-ranked Oklahoma.
Two victories over top 10 teams would likely bump the Jayhwaks into one of the top two spots in the BCS standings and give them a chance to play for the national title. However, Mangino is very aware an upset loss this week would ruin that possibility.
"We've got to play as well as we can every week to win. That's been our hallmark," Mangino said. "There's no games on our schedule here in the Big 12 Conference that we say we can show up and win. We earn our way.
"We know we've got to play hard, play well, play smart to win every week. There's no gimmes in the Big 12."
Kansas, which has never won a conference title, was picked in the preseason to finish fourth in the six-team Big 12 North but has put together its first 10-win season since 1995.
Though a loss this week won't end their Big 12 championship hopes, the Jayhawks would drop out of the BCS title hunt. They are the only unbeaten team left among the six conferences with automatic bids to the BCS after former No. 1 Ohio State lost to Illinois last Saturday.
Kansas defeated Oklahoma State 43-28 last weekend to go to 10-0 for the first time since 1899. The Jayhawks, who moved up one place in the AP poll and one spot in the BCS standings to third, now seek the first 11-0 record in the 117-year history of the program.
"To be at this point in the season and be undefeated and start to get some more recognition for the program is awesome. We're enjoying and loving every second of it," quarterback Todd Reesing said. "But we know what's at stake."
Kansas is led by the nation's second-best scoring offense (45.9 points per game) and second-best scoring defense (14.9 ppg).
Reesing, who has thrown for 26 touchdowns and only four interceptions, completed 27 of 40 passes for 308 yards and three TDs last Saturday. The sophomore has no interceptions in his last five games, throwing 179 passes since his last one, and Kansas has no turnovers in its last three contests.
Senior fullback Brandon McAnderson ran for 142 yards and two scores last week, and is averaging 148.0 yards in the last three games while rushing for eight touchdowns. He averaged 59.3 yards over the previous three games and had only one TD.
"Our whole team has been overlooked, and for us to be performing as good as we can, it's pretty good," said wide receiver Marcus Henry, who had a career-high 199 yards receiving and caught all of Reesing's TD passes last Saturday.
This Saturday, the Jayhawks wrap up their schedule in Lawrence, where they are outscoring opponents by an average of 46 points.
The Cyclones (3-8, 2-5) have been outscored by an average of 14.5 points in dropping all four of their road games.
Iowa State is coming off one of its most impressive victories of the season, however, rallying from a 21-point halftime deficit to beat Colorado 31-28 last Saturday.
Following their 31-20 victory over Kansas State on Nov. 3, the Cyclones have won back-to-back conference games for the first time since winning four in a row in 2005.
"The two-game winning streak lets our team know that, if you do the things that on Saturday make you successful, that we can play against the best teams in the country and be in the game," first-year coach Gene Chizik said.
Freshman Alexander Robinson carried 29 times for 127 yards and two touchdowns last week, and has emerged as a viable running back for Iowa State. After averaging 23.0 total yards and scoring no touchdowns in his first five games, Robinson is averaging 149.3 yards and has scored five TDs in his last three contests.
Robinson and the Cyclones now try to beat a team ranked in the top five for the first time in school history.
The Jayhawks defeated Iowa State 41-10 last Nov. 4, and in the last meeting in Lawrence on Nov. 26, 2005, Kansas won 24-21.
by: Staff Writers - Email Us
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