A Kansas University victory, even an unimpressive one, against Rice would have guaranteed a sellout for Saturday’s 11 a.m. kickoff against TCU in Memorial Stadium.
Instead, Kansas reacted to late-game pressure about as well as Linda Blair’s stomach did to pea soup in “The Exorcist.”
Now the thinking is, it’s impossible to compete against TCU, so why bother going to the game?
Well, for one thing, nothing’s impossible. Kevin Costner can’t act even a little and has been paid tens of millions of dollars to act. William Shatner once thought he could do justice to Elton John’s “Rocket Man,” and millions have watched it on YouTube. You too?
Just two years ago, Kansas defeated Georgia Tech one week after losing to North Dakota State. A year ago, in the midst of a 2-10 season loaded with lopsided losses, the Jayhawks took a three-touchdown lead into the fourth quarter against Baylor and Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III. That would be the same RG3 who in his NFL debut Sunday averaged 12.3 yards per pass play, threw for 320 yards and two touchdowns and led his Washington Redskins to victory against Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints.
It’s highly unlikely Kansas will upset TCU, but it’s not impossible. It’s too early to blow off the football team with 10 games remaining on the schedule. Is it really such an ordeal to show up for a tailgate, eat great food, consume your favorite spirits, share the company of friends and exchange opinions on which players will get better through the course of the season, which will look worse against better competition and which just plain don’t have it?
Is it really a chore to sit outside for three hours with friends, watching Tony Pierson slither through small openings up the middle over and over and then bust a big one running outside? Pierson’s averaging 122 rushing yards a game, and Taylor Cox averages 100 rushing yards. It will be interesting to see which running back’s talents translate to better competition, when blowing open holes won’t come as easily for the offensive line.
Is the view of the hill really such a bad backdrop for three hours in the sun on a day in which the extended forecast calls for a high of 81 degrees and a zero-percent chance of rain (although rain’s not impossible; nothing is).
This team has problems — an inefficient passing game, a stagnant pass rush, a less-than-rugged run defense, a roster that’s a healthy snapper, plus one strong foot and 15 yards shy of a legitimate kicking game — but fan apathy this early in the season isn’t going to make things better.
Kansas has lost its last 11 against FBS foes and its last 12 Big 12 games. Those futility streaks likely will grow Saturday, but that doesn’t mean the number of witnesses has to shrink.