Kansas University football coach Terry Allen doesn't want to overstate the importance of the Jayhawks' game Saturday against San Diego State.
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"It's hard for me to call any game a must win," Allen said Wednesday at his regular weekly press conference. "But this is a very important, pivotal game for the future of our program."
Coming off a humiliating 51-17 loss at Colorado last Saturday, the Jayhawks need a victory Saturday against SDSU -- kickoff is 6 p.m. at Memorial Stadium -- to keep alive any hope for a postseason appearance.
The trouble, Allen said, is that SDSU is better than the casual fan might assume. The Aztecs went 7-5 last season and capped the year with a 20-13 loss to North Carolina in the Las Vegas Bowl.
They'll carry a 1-2 record into Saturday's game. SDSU is coming off a 24-21 loss at No. 17 Southern Cal.
"The tough thing with San Diego State," Allen said, "is everybody goes, 'That's a team you should line up and beat.' In reality, that's a very good football team that could do very well in this league. San Diego State has the respect of our players."
It has the respect of one player in particular -- cornerback Muhammad Abdul-Rahim, whose older brother, Aazaar Abdul-Rahim, is a starting cornerback at SDSU.
"They have a good team," Muhammad said. "I don't have to tell the team that. They saw San Diego State play North Carolina in the Las Vegas Bowl. I don't have to get 'em up. They're getting themselves up."
And they got their coach up in the process. No one took the CU loss harder than Allen, and few had as much trouble bouncing back as Allen did.
"We need to put the Colorado game to bed," Allen said. "But college student-athletes are more resilient than coaches in that regard."
The players bounced back with a vengeance Tuesday, Allen said, and they proved it with a spirited, physical practice. That started to buoy Allen's spirits, and the tape from that practice brought them up even more.
"As you feed off other people, the best thing that helped me was watching yesterday's practice," Allen said. "It came from the players -- thank God. You can beg and yell and scream all you want. If it's not there, it doesn't make a difference. But they got after it."
Injury update: Allen reiterated Wednesday that wideout Byron Gasaway (broken jaw) would not play Saturday, and wide receiver Termaine Fulton (high-ankle sprain) is almost certainly out. Running back David Winbush (ankle sprain) and offensive tackle John Oddonetto (sprained shoulder) should play, while cornerback Chad Coellner (hamstring pull) is questionable.
KU in the stats: Kansas holds some lofty positions -- at least in special teams -- in the NCAA ranks. Punt returner HenrÃ- Childs leads the Big 12 and ranks seventh nationally with his 17.33-yard average. Carl Nesmith and Mitch Bowles rank 1-2 in the league in kickoff returns with averages of 40 and 26 yards, respectively. Nesmith is second nationally, while Bowles is 25th.
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