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Archive for Friday, November 25, 2005

Wood: Big play will decide if KU goes bowling

November 25, 2005

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By now, the most up-to-date bowl projections actually come with a free prediction of Saturday's Kansas University-Iowa State football game.

What do the outsiders think? Well, being Kansas, facing a lava-hot ISU team and coming off a 52-point loss, what do you think they think?

I've browsed the Internet all day looking for a bowl-projection list that includes Kansas. And though I've learned, through all the pop-up ads that came up, I can refinance my home with ridiculously low rates, I was chosen to receive a free Wal-Mart gift card and I can find the cheapest airfare on the web at (insert name here), I was yet to find a list that lists Kansas as bowl-bound.

Hmmm.

So do the outsiders know something, or nothing? It's hard to say. It's even harder because, as a beat writer of the Jayhawks, I have no clue who's going to win this game Saturday.

If I don't, the national services and publications who watch from afar don't, either. That's where looking at record, who's winning, who won last year and, of course, the outdated reputation factor comes in to play.

Advantage? Iowa State.

It's easy to see. Reputation goes a long way in outside forecasting.

Collegefootballnews.com, a wonderful site I visit every day, picked the Jayhawks to go a combined 3-20 in 2003 and '04. They went 10-13.

Why? Partly because 2002 was horrendous. And the whole Terry Allen era wasn't much better.

The bowl projectors filling the Fort Worth Bowl with an at-large team aren't completely off base. Iowa State is really good, and, even more importantly, is playing very good football right now.

This season, the Cyclones have beaten Iowa, Oklahoma State, Texas A&M, Kansas State and Colorado by more than two touchdowns. Meanwhile, two of their three losses were in overtime.

But something has to be said for KU's play at Memorial Stadium, particularly the last two games there against Missouri and Nebraska.

Something has to be said for KU's defense, still among the nation's best. Something has to be said about the a team fighting when its season's continuance depends on it.

All of those factors add up to a complete wash in my mind.

When it's that close, the outcome of the game sometimes can be pointed to one big second-half play: A horribly timed turnover, a shanked punt, busted coverage or a field goal plunking off an upright can make all the difference in the world.

Who will be the beneficiary of such a play? Who knows?

To sum up my thoughts, I'll go to a Texas Hold 'Em analogy: Kansas is all-in, the cards have been turned over, and it's a coin-flip situation.

The Jayhawks are the slight underdog, and need to catch something on the board Saturday in order to come out on top.

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