Archive for Thursday, October 26, 2000

Jayhawks hope to finish strong

KU needs to win two of its final four football games to qualify for postseason bowl

October 26, 2000


Just weeks ago Kansas University's football team had all but abandoned hope for reaching the postseason.

Now the Jayhawks are getting picky about which bowl they'd like to attend.

"You gotta shoot for something, and 7-4 is where we want to be."

KU lineman Marc Owen

Keep in mind, KU still needs to win half of its final four games just to become bowl-eligible, and two of those final four games will come against top-25 teams.

But the Jayhawks well aware that a 6-5 record wouldn't guarantee a bowl bid even though the Big 12 has a record seven bowl tie-ins this season aren't content with the bare minimum.

"You gotta shoot for something, and 7-4 is where we want to be," KU senior offensive guard Marc Owen said Wednesday at the Jayhawks' regular weekly press conference.

Kansas will carry a 4-3 overall record and 2-2 Big 12 mark into Saturday's game against Texas Tech (5-3, 1-3). To get to Owen's 7-4 mark, the Jayhawks, who haven't played in the postseason since 1995, would have to win three of their final four games.

So, which one's the loss?

"Nebraska's a good team," Owen said. "It would be nice to go 8-3, too. But if you say 7-4, that's definitely a bowl game, and a good bowl game, too. Seven-and-four just brings you out of the pack. But 8-3 would be amazing, especially since we'd have to beat a couple of top-10 teams.

"It'd just be nice not to be around home for Christmas. (A bowl) is all we talk about. You look one game at a time, but all we do is talk about a bowl game. That's why you play college football. That's what our motivation is for the next four ball games."

After Texas Tech, the Jayhawks will travel to top-ranked Nebraska, play host to No. 22 Texas, then end the season at Iowa State.

Kansas, a four-point favorite over the Red Raiders, likely won't be favored again this season.

But KU senior running back David Winbush who, like the rest of the Jayhawks, has never been bowling thinks Owen's 7-4 goal is too low.

"In my mind, we're out to win every game," Winbush said. "People looking in from the outside can say, 'You can beat Tech, but you have to go to Lincoln. People don't win in Lincoln.' You can never count a team out, and you can never say a team is going to beat you, because then you're defeating yourself. The best we can do is go 8-3, so that's the goal I'm shooting for."

First, the Jayhawks must get to 5-3 against a team they've never beaten.

Texas Tech is 6-0 all-time against the Jayhawks. Tech, the only Big 12 team KU has never beaten, has more wins against no losses than any other Kansas opponent. Louisville, Michigan and Pittsburgh all are 3-0 all-time against the Jayhawks.

But KU coach Terry Allen isn't as concerned about history as the near future, and Saturday's game might be KU's best chance for a victory the rest of the way.

"Now, every game with win makes the next one that much bigger," Allen said. "The win over Colorado makes the Texas Tech game very important for the rest of our season."

Allen won't admit to playing the numbers game. But his players have.

"Remember," he said, "all college kids can count."

The certainly can count to five. That was the point differential in the Red Raiders' 28-23 loss at Kansas State on Saturday, a game that caught the KU coaches' eyes. Kansas lost to the Wildcats, 52-13, prompting Allen's declaration of a new season. KU is 2-0 since the do-over.

"They got our attention," Allen said. "I don't think we have an overconfidence problem."

KU's season-opening loss to Southern Methodist took care of that.

"Before the season, I thought we'd be 11-0," Owen said. "Realistically, I was shooting for 8-3. But everybody has a bad day like we did against SMU. That hurts in the long run. But anybody can have a bad day. Nebraska can have a bad day against us like we had against SMU."

Assault update: Douglas County Dist. Atty. Christine Kenney Tonkovich is reviewing police reports about an alleged sexual assault outside a Lawrence club in February that allegedly involved two KU football players and a KU soccer player. Tonkovich said her office would decide by the end of the week whether charges would be filed. One of the two football players failed to maintain academic eligibility over the summer and Allen subsequently announced he would not renew the player's scholarship. The other player is a starter. "If those individuals were charged, they would be suspended," Allen said.

Band on the run: The KU marching band will sit on the east side of Memorial Stadium adjacent to the Hawks Nest section near midfield for the remainder of the season. The band had been seated in the northeast corner of the stadium all of last season and through the first four home games this season. KU athletics director Bob Frederick said the move was a response to the "overwhelming sentiment" that the band be seated in the student section.

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