Kansas University's football team couldn't help but wonder what might have been while watching Oklahoma defeat Florida State in the national football championship game last season.
The Jayhawks, who will play host to the No. 3-ranked Sooners on Saturday night, held a 16-10 second-quarter lead last year in Norman, Okla., before bowing to OU, 34-16.
"We looked back and we were like, 'Wow, we really played with those guys,'" KU senior offensive right tackle Justin Hartwig recalled Wednesday. "We really had a chance to beat them. I know even the Oklahoma players after the game were telling us, 'Wow, you guys were a lot better than we thought.'"
Although the Jayhawks amassed an impressive 377 yards total offense the most by any OU foe last season seven turnovers by former quarterback Dylen Smith (five interceptions and two fumbles) led to their demise.
"I thought we played pretty well," Hartwig said. "Defensively, I thought we had a really good scheme against them last year. Offensively we came ready to play. We just couldn't hold on to the ball."
That hasn't been a problem so far this season, as KU hasn't had a turnover since sophomore quarterback Zach Dyer was intercepted in the third quarter of the Jayhawks' 41-17 loss to UCLA, a span of 136 minutes, 29 seconds of game time.
Not only has Kansas not had a turnover during conference play a 27-16 loss at Colorado and last weekend's 34-31 victory at Texas Tech but also hasn't coughed up the football on the road. In their two home games, though, the Jayhawks had seven miscues.
The secret to their success of late?
"We don't talk about it," KU coach Terry Allen quipped. "That's something that we've really strived for. We haven't turned the ball over in the Big 12, and that's something we've really hit upon with our players. On Sunday when we put the Tech game behind us, that's the first thing we talked to our football team about, 'A year ago, you turned it over seven times. This year you've had good ball security.'
"If you want to say, what's the key to the victory? I think it would be if we can stay away from turning the ball over."
While the Jayhawks seem to be brimming with confidence following their come-from-behind double-overtime thriller against the Red Raiders, the Sooners certainly are no slouches, either.
Oklahoma owns the longest winning streak in the nation at 18 games dating to a 38-28 loss to Texas Tech in Lubbock, Texas, two seasons ago during OU coach Bob Stoops' first year.
Kansas is hoping to catch the Sooners off guard this weekend as OU is coming off emotional wins against Kansas State (38-37) and Red River rival Texas (14-3).
"Nobody's caught Oklahoma in the last two years at a good time," Allen said. "But if you were to draw it up, a good time to play them, sure. They've obviously had two very emotional games the two times defeating K-State a year ago and then to play Texas. That's probably a good time to catch them."
Let's make a deal: Allen was wheeling and dealing during his weekly press conference Wednesday.
"I told the Oklahoma media we would trade our Roy Williams for their Roy Williams if we could have Texas' Roy Williams also," he quipped. "I told that to coach Williams and he just kind of nodded and chuckled."
KU's Williams, of course, is the men's basketball coach, Oklahoma's is an All-Big 12 strong safety and the Longhorns' was the Big 12 Offensive Freshman of the Year last season at wide receiver.
Who's line is it?: The Jayhawks' maligned offensive line earned redemption against Texas Tech, helping sophomore running back Reggie Duncan to career highs for carries (38) and yards (227).
"It was huge for us," Hartwig said. "We had been struggling as an offensive line and as an offensive unit all season pretty much up until the last game and our rushing never really got off the ground.
"Our offensive line took it upon our shoulders to go out there and get a big day for Reggie and establish our running game."
After the game, red-shirt freshman quarterback Mario Kinsey revealed he had promised the line "something good will happen" if Duncan rushed for 100 yards.
The linemen still are waiting.
"No, we never saw anything," Hartwig quipped. "Maybe if we get a few more 200-yard rushing games or something. We'll see what happens. Maybe we need 300 this week."
Beck bummed: KU freshman kicker Johnny Beck admitted he was mad after missing his first career field goal last weekend. The Kansas City Piper product had been 7-for-7 before his 48-yard attempt drifted and drilled the left upright.
"I've got a temper," Beck said. "The bad thing is I was sitting there after I made the first two kicks and it took the crowd out of the game. I was going back and forth with them and then I missed that one so they let me hear it. Once we got to overtime, I started running my mouth real bad.
"Then when I made that kick, they weren't around anymore."
Beck connected from 44 yards during the Jayhawks' fourth-quarter comeback and hit the game-winner from 37 yards in the second overtime.