Just six years ago this weekend, Kansas football headed to Stillwater, 9-0 and ranked in the BCS Top 10 to face Oklahoma State on ABC Saturday Night Football with the entire nation watching. The game was the nation's big introduction to what was becoming the story of the year and the Jayhawks did not fail to impress. Behind quarterback Todd Reesing, who showed shades of Doug Flutie, Kansas rolled to a 43-28 victory and would eventually be ranked as high as number two before going on to win the Orange Bowl.
Fast Forward six years later and so much has changed that it'll make true Kansas fans sad. Meanwhile, the Cowboys have taken off under coach Mike Gundy. Two coaches later, the Jayhawks arrive at 2-6, one loss away from bowl elimination once again and just hoping they can one day end their three year long Big 12 losing streak. Here are five things to watch as Kansas looks to begin a strong finish to the 2013 campaign this afternoon at Boone Pickens Stadium.
1. Which Oklahoma State team shows up?
The Cowboys have scored 58 and 52 points in their last two games respectively in wins at Iowa State and Texas Tech. In the three games prior, they scored 21, 33 and 24 points in a loss and two wins against West Virginia, Kansas State and TCU. If that team shows up, Kansas can hang around. If the increasingly hot Cowboys team shows up, it could get ugly, as the offense has been clicking with quarterback Clint Chelf.
2. Can Kansas not beat themselves?
Last week, the Jayhawks fought Texas for two and a half quarters, though no one will actually give them credit for their work. Then, it came apart with a Jake Heaps fumble that turned into a Texas touchdown. In most of their losses this year, Kansas is in games, sometimes well into the second half before something bad happens, then the bottom falls out.
3. Tony Pierson
It finally appears that Tony Pierson has healed from a concussion he suffered against Texas Tech on October 5th. That's great news for Charlie Weis, the Jayhawks and most importantly for Pierson, who will be a great sight to see for Jayhawks fans. Pierson is one of the most dynamic players you will see and when he's not in there, the Kansas offense is much less likely to generate anything particularly any big plays on offense.
4. Montell Cozart
Since having his redshirt burned against Oklahoma, true freshman Montell Cozart hasn't really shown much other runs and options. It'd be nice to see Weis and staff to unleash him. Whether it happens this week or not remains to be seen. Odds are, we'll see it happen eventually.
5. The Kansas defense against the Oklahoma State offense.
How will the Jayhawks defend the high potent Cowboys offense? They've always been known for slinging the ball around the field, but they also run the ball well with their talented backs Desmond Roland and Jeremy Smith.
Keys To A Kansas Victory
In order to pull the upset, Kansas must sustain drives with consistency and produce touchdowns. If they can control time of possession and avoid negative plays, they can present their defense with the opportunity to create turnovers and have the Cowboys play on their heels a bit.