News and Notes: KU vs. McNeese State

A season opening edition of news and notes, while confident the home opener upset of 2010 was a blip on the radar screen.

• The Jayhawks will kick off the 121st season of football on Mount Oread Saturday against the McNeese State Cowboys at 6 p.m.

Kansas returns 41 letter winners, including 15 starters, from last season's 3-9 team. We'll find out soon whether returning a lot of players from a bad team is a good thing.

• This is the first time KU and McNeese State have ever met.

• The Kansas football Jayhawks are 570-559-58 (.505) all-time.

• KU is 67-47-7 (.583) in season openers.

• The Jayhawks are 86-31-4 (.727) in home openers.

• Kansas is opening its season at home for the ninth-straight year (6-2 in last eight home openers) and has won six of their last seven season openers dating back to 2004.

• KU has won 22 of its last 24 non-conference home games dating back to the start of the 2003 season.

• The Jayhawks went 3-4 last season in the friendly confines but are still 21-7 in their last 28 home games.

• KU is 22-4 in its last 26 games against non-Big 12 opponents, including bowl victories against Houston (2005), Virginia Tech (2007 season) and Minnesota (2008).

• The Jayhawks are 1-1 all-time in games played on Sept. 3 with a 2005 win against Florida Atlantic and a 1983 loss to Northern Illinois.

• Kansas has never faced McNeese State but is 3-3 all-time against current Southland Conference members. KU owns a 1-1 mark versus Northwestern State, Sam Houston State and Southeastern Louisiana.

• Saturday marks the start of Turner Gill's second season as KU coach. The former Nebraska All-Everything quarterback took over a team that had lost its last seven in a row and guided them to a 3-9 record, including a 28-25 upset over then-#15 Georgia Tech and a huge 52-45 comeback victory against Colorado.

• McNeese State comes into Memorial Stadium ranked #20 in the Football Championship Subdivision Coaches pre-season poll. This will not be a cakewalk, kids.

• Heading up a list of 48 lettermen returning from last year's team are all-Southland Conference returnees OG Miguel Gauthreaux, TB Andre Anderson, K Josh Lewis, DE Desmund Lighten and S Malcolm Bronson. Those five were also named to this year's pre-season all-conference team as selected by league coaches, while OG Jonathan Landry, DT Pat Williams and DB Darrell Jenkins were named to the second team.

• The Cowboys are coming off a 6-5 season and a second-place finish in their league (5-2).

•Texas will be very well represented Saturday: 66 players from the Lone Star state will suit up Saturday (39 for Kansas, 27 for McNeese State).

• Jayhawk captains this season are C Jeremiah Hatch; TE Tim Biere; LB Steven Johnson and DE Toben Opurum. All are upperclassmen; Opurum is the lone junior.

• KU will field one of the youngest teams in the country this season: 71 Jayhawks are underclassmen (true freshmen, redshirt freshmen or sophomores). That's 70 percent of the squad.

• Seven Kansas starters are underclassmen, including DT Kevin Young, DE Keba Agostinho, LB Darius Willis, QB Jordan Webb, RB James Sims and FB Nick Sizemore along with S Keeston Terry.

• On the tube: Kansas-McNeese State will not be televised, but their next two games will. KU-Northern Illinois can be seen at 6 p.m. on Fox College Sports, and the Jayhawks will kickoff at 11:30 a.m. on September 17 on Fox Sports Net.

• The depth chart says several Jayhawks may make their first career starts Saturday, including FB Nick Sizemore, DE Keba Agostinho, LB Darius Willis, LB Tunde Bakare and FS Keeston Terry.

• True frosh Alex Mueller tops the depth chart at K and could be seeing his first action of his Kansas career.

• Many happy returns: Jayhawk WR D.J. Beshears had an outstanding sophomore season handling the kickoff return duties for the Jayhawks. Beshears finished the 2010 season with 36 returns for 922 yards, both of which rank as the top single-season mark in KU history. Beshears earned Big 12 Special Teams Player of the Week honors versus New Mexico State after returning a kickoff 96 yards for a touchdown. He went on to earn All-Big 12 Honorable Mention honors as a kickoff return man and was named to the Phil Steele Magazine All-Big 12 Third Team as a kick returner.

• September 3rd in sports history: Grover Cleveland pitches complete game wins in both ends of a doubleheader, 1917… Warren Spahn sets a record for career shutouts by a lefty with his 41st, 1957… …Legendary NFL coach Vince Lombardi dies of cancer in Washington, DC, at the age of 57, 1970… NBA legend Oscar Robertson retires, 1974… Japanese slugger Sadaharu Oh hits his 756th dinger, surpassing Henry Aaron as the all-time professional baseball home run leader, 1977… Helen Hudson sings the National Anthem before a Padres game in San Diego, marking the 26th major league park in which she's sung the Star Spangled Banner that season, 1990… Andre Agassi retires from professional tennis after losing a US Open match to Boris Becker, 2006.

• Happy gameday birthday to… The Flying Tomato, Shaun White (25)…US women's softball player and fabulous babe Jennie Finch (31)… Former talented actor and self-destructive boob Charlie Sheen (46)… former MTV back-when-they-actually-played-music-videos VJ and current internet radio host Adam Curry (47).


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