Archive for Monday, November 27, 2006

Bowl outlook bleak; KU plays waiting game

November 27, 2006

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It might be six days before Kansas University's football team knows anything for sure about bowl possibilities. And though the prospects don't look good at all, the Jayhawks will have a blindfold on this week with so much uncertainty.

"I don't know if the term is strange" KU coach Mark Mangino said regarding the feeling of not knowing if the season is over. "We'd certainly like to play another game. We feel like we deserve the opportunity to play another game. But we don't have control of the situation."

Without knowing, the Jayhawks are left to play an anxious waiting game. Saturday's 42-17 loss to Missouri threw a heap of doubt in KU's postseason plans.

A victory would've given KU a 7-5 record and guaranteed a bowl invitation. But at 6-6, and with the Big 12 Conference having more bowl-eligible teams than bowl tie-ins, it's not looking so rosy anymore.

"We knew going in that if we won, we controlled our own destiny," center David Ochoa said. "We didn't capitalize on that chance. It's out of our hands, and now we're going to sit back and wait."

The Jayhawks met Sunday, but this will be a week of rest for the players - just as it would be if a bowl was guaranteed.

Mangino said the staff was looking into whether the Jayhawks could practice with a postseason situation so hazy. If they can, they probably will work this weekend before most of the bids are passed out Sunday.

As for the Big 12 teams, the seven with winning records will be taken care of by the eight Big 12-affiliated bowls. The eighth team probably is going to be 6-6 Oklahoma State, though the Cowboys don't necessarily have to go to the Texas Bowl, which picks last. It's believed the Independence Bowl wants Oklahoma State, and that's acceptable as long as the Texas Bowl understands it has to take a seven-win team instead of Kansas.

"We've seen Kansas play a couple times, and we're very impressed," Texas Bowl manager David Brady said. "But it may not work out this year."

After Saturday's game, the Jayhawks seemed pretty clueless about what the future holds, and it's certainly understandable. A lot still has to play out, and there's still one more week of regular-season games for some teams that can make a difference in KU's possibilities, specifically in obtaining a scarce at-large berth.

In particular, Kansas fans should root against Troy and Louisiana-Lafayette on Saturday, so that a possible at-large bid isn't forced to be given to either Sun Belt Conference team, which would be 7-5 with a win.

That'd increase the dim hopes slightly. But in all likelihood, KU's last memory of 2006 may be a 25-point loss to its Border War rival, which sent KU's postseason aspirations crashing down to Earth.

"That'd be very disappointing," running back Jon Cornish said. "I'd rather go out on a better note."

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