After last week's drubbing of the real-life Jayhawks, the only appropriate place to play the Journal-World's PlayStation 2 NCAA Football 2002 Challenge was in a dimly lit bar.
But even the black lights couldn't keep the Jayhawks from losing to Iowa State, 13-7.
Kelly Corrovan, an employee at Love Garden Sounds, faced off against friend Scott James, a graduate teaching assistant at Kansas University in philosophy, in the comforting black lights at the Replay Lounge. Neither player claimed to be an expert at the new PlayStation 2, so a coin was tossed to decide who would represent Kansas. Corrovan won the toss, and chose to be Kansas.
"We can drink alcohol while we're playing, right?" Corrovan asked.
"If we can't, I don't know how you're going to get through this," James replied.
The two agreed that they could imagine the Replay Lounge as the scholarship suites, where alcohol is permissible. A round was ordered, and the ball was kicked off.
"Iowa State is ready, they're pumped up," James warned. "This is a big game for them. Coach gave them the pep talk. What's Kansas got to play for? Nothing. You're in trouble."
Corrovan let his play do the talking, and marched the Jayhawks 72 yards down the field for an amazing touchdown on their first possession. Zach Dyer spotted an open Roger Ross in the end zone, but under threw the ball. An Iowa State defender tipped the ball into the air, enabling Ross to make the catch at his shoelaces.
"That was a dramatic catch!" Corrovan said, arms signaling a touchdown.
"We've got another word for that kind of catch where I'm from, and it sure isn't 'dramatic'" James grumbled.
The Jayhawks had the early lead, 7-0 in the first quarter.
The Jayhawks had all running lanes locked down, preventing any progress on the ground. The only success Iowa State saw was in its passing game.
An early mistake almost cost Kansas. On third down, Corrovan sent his punt return team onto the field. Luckily, before James could hike the ball, time expired on the first quarter and gave Corrovan a chance to call a better defensive set.
"Wow, that's some poor coaching on my part," Corrovan said. "You can tell this team needs Terry Allen back."
The Jayhawks showed later frustrations when a Kansas defensive back purposefully plowed into the Iowa State waterboy on the sideline.
"Hey, leave the waterboy alone," James scolded. "He works hard for the team."
Evidently the tackle on the waterboy inspired the defense, as the Jayhawks made Iowa State settle for a field goal. The score was 7-3 Kansas going into halftime. Iowa State had minus-15 rushing yards in the first half.
The Cyclones started off the second half hot. ISU coach Dan McCarney evidently had gotten through to his running back, as Ennis Haywood suddenly began gobbling up yards like Thanksgiving dinner was a week early.
Haywood scored the only other touchdown on a botched play. ISU's quarterback made a bad pitch to Haywood. Haywood ran forward while the ball rolled around on the ground, then Haywood decided to go back and retrieve it.
Haywood had time to pick the ball up, look around for the opening, do a quick spin move and then run 23 yards for the touchdown. The Jayhawks had lost their slim lead, and were trailing 10-7 with a quarter left in the game.
"I think the fans are chanting for Terry at this point," Corrovan said. "What happened to the dumb luck I had in the first half?"
Iowa State kicked one more field goal before it was over. Kansas had a chance to win it at the end, but threw an interception in the end zone.
Corrovan, disappointed with the loss, sent his linebacker after the quarterback before he could down the ball.
"You just can't take the loss in stride, can you?" James asked.
"This was a big game for Iowa State," James said. "Kansas played tough, but in the end, we just wanted it more."