A nine-game home winning streak is at risk, the toughest opponent on the home schedule is coming to town, and the young Kansas University football team is coming off a near-miss against a school that was supposed to win by three touchdowns.
If ever a college football team needed and deserved a shockingly huge turnout, Saturday's game against Texas A&M; is the time for it.
The outcome of this pivotal Big 12 Conferece game is on more than the players. It's on the entire student body. It's incumbent upon every student to look herself or himself in the mirror before heading out Friday night and asking: Do I really care about my school being as good as it can be in football?
If the answer is yes, then there's no excuse not to go to the game. No excuse for anything short of a sellout. At the moment, it doesn't look possible, but that's what KU needs to have its best shot at winning the game: a sellout. The networks take the Jayhawks seriously, as this will be the fourth consecutive televised game.
Opponents take them seriously, given that the Jayhawks went into Nebraska's Memorial Stadium, one of the toughest stadiums in the country to play in, and turned a 17-point deficit into a late lead, only to lose in overtime.
Former coach Don Fambrough watched from his hospital bed, driven there by an infection.
"I'm doing fine," said Fambrough, released Tuesday. "I've got great doctors and great friends."
He'll feel even better if he doesn't see any empty seats Saturday.
"I couldn't be more proud of the players," Fambrough said. "The way they performed in Nebraska, if they don't fill the house, it's not fair to the football team."
If too many students decide to sleep in Saturday morning, instead of throwing back coffee, wolfing down a hot dog at a tailgate party and heading to the football stadium to make some serious noise, you have to wonder whether they care.
College crowds can sway outcomes. If they couldn't, KU wouldn't be so successful at home, so often the loser on the road. KU needs that edge more than a fan base that doesn't appear juiced up enough for this game seems to realize.
Texas A&M; uses four quality running backs who feature diverse styles. Quarterback Stephen McGee finally had a bad game, against Texas Tech, and it was revealed afterward he played with a concussion.
Mr. Touchdown, Chad Schroeder, doesn't necessarily catch a ton of balls, but he's a serious threat to a secondary prone to surrendering big plays. Schroeder earned his nickname last season, when his first five touches resulted in touchdowns, four by reception, one by rush. Schroeder averages 20.1 yards per reception and has three touchdown catches already this season. A generation ago, announcers would have said of him, "He makes up for his lack of speed with clever route-running," because he's white. Nonsense. He scores touchdowns because he routinely is faster than the guys trying to cover him.
Mr. Touchdown is one of many reasons this will be a difficult game for KU, which needs all the help it can get from its student body.
Come on, KU students, show up and turn up the volume. Make Coach Fam's day.