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Archive for Sunday, November 5, 2006

Victorious visitors

Jayhawks snap 7-game road skid

November 5, 2006

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— They finally did it.

With hostility all around and history working against them, Kansas University's football players went to someone else's house and bullied them right off the field.

It was a long time coming.

Kansas pummeled Iowa State, 41-10, Saturday at Jack Trice Stadium, breaking out of a dreadful losing habit when playing away from Lawrence. A seven-game road losing streak was snapped, and it came on the heels of road losses in incredible fashion that began to define KU's away-from-home reputation.

More importantly than that, though, Saturday's victory put Kansas on the doorstep of bowl-eligibility with two games left.

A road victory was a must after KU's midseason funk dropped it to dark depths. And it got it Saturday, climbing back to .500 with a 5-5 record.

"We felt like we were going to score some points today," KU coach Mark Mangino said. "We felt the challenge was that the defense was going to have to buckle up and see how they responded. They responded extremely well."

That effort on defense took pressure off the quarterback experiment KU tinkered with Saturday. The Jayhawks used both Kerry Meier and Todd Reesing under center throughout the game, though Meier took a large majority of the snaps and ultimately had a more effective showing.

Meier missed last week's contest because of a shoulder injury - and stood on the sideline as Reesing led Kansas to a 20-15 victory over Colorado.

Mangino stayed quiet about the status of the position throughout the week, but Meier was ready Tuesday and took most of the snaps in practice. He certainly didn't look rusty, completing 17 of 22 passes for 199 yards and two touchdowns as the starter. Reesing played just one first-half series, throwing a 29-yard touchdown pass to Derek Fine that put Kansas up 13-3.

Reesing added another touchdown on a one-yard run in the third quarter, but his work was minor compared to Meier's load.

"We didn't script anything for him, but we knew we were going to play him," Mangino said of Reesing. "There was no question we were going to play him, and we'll continue to."

But Meier remains the guy, and except for a first-quarter fumble that led to an ISU field goal, the Pittsburg native did plenty to extinguish the flames of a budding quarterback controversy. He threw no interceptions, orchestrated long scoring drives and was the catalyst to KU's biggest offensive output of the season.

Audio Clips
2006 Football KU vs. Iowa State post game comments

Meier admitted that rhythm can be jeopardized with two quarterbacks playing and that "it kind of hurts" to be on the sideline in favor of Reesing in significant situations. But he played through it with the poise of a veteran.

"That's the coach's decision," Meier said of the rotation, "and I'm all for it."

Reesing, meanwhile, finished with 35 yards passing, 14 yards rushing and two turnovers. His touchdown pass to Fine was vintage Reesing - flushed out of the pocket, the freshman threw a jump ball on the run that Fine came down with in the end zone.

Both Fine and ISU cornerback Jason Harris seemed to have at least a share of possession, but Kansas was awarded the touchdown and went up 10 points. The rout was on.

The Cyclones (3-7, 0-6) spiraled out of control after that score. They fumbled five times and lost three. A perfect snap to punter Mike Brandtner was dropped. A fair catch by punt returner Ryan Baum was flubbed. After they finally had a takeaway in the third quarter, they gave it back to Kansas on the next play.

Depleted by injuries, tough times have run rampant at Iowa State. But this dropped the Cyclones to another dismal level.

"We've got to do a really good job as a coaching staff because these kids are torn up inside right now," ISU coach Dan McCarney said. "This is not what any of us anticipated. We sure didn't anticipate this today."

The two teams are heading in different directions this season, and Saturday's blowout symbolized it. Kansas has won two straight and will be bowl-eligible if it beats either Kansas State on Nov. 18 or Missouri on Nov. 25. Quarterback questions were answered, defensive holes slowly continue to be plugged - and the Jayhawks steadily are climbing out of a hole that seemed destined to swallow them just two weeks ago.

It was different Saturday. The ascension Kansas had to have was delivered on the road - at long last.

"This was great for the inexperienced players on the team because it is giving them a chance to experience success," fullback Brandon McAnderson said. "And that is exactly what we need."

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