No Overlooking the Lions Tonight

Don't bet on Kansas overlooking Southeastern Louisiana Saturday night. After all, the Jayhawks are well aware of Division I-AA Appalachian State's shocking 34-32 upset over Big Ten heavyweight Michigan last weekend. And regardless of that game, these ‘Hawks have a chip on their shoulders and on a mission to prove they're an elite team.

KU is ready and prepared to show the crimson and blue faithful and the country that its big opening-game victory (52-7) over Central Michigan last Saturday night was no fluke. Rest assured Jayhawk Nation, the Kansas players are not taking Southeastern lightly, despite the Lions going 2-9 last season and getting blitzed by New Mexico State, 35-14, in its season opener on Aug. 30.

“I do not think our coaches will allow us to be too confident and overlook our opponent,” said KU junior cornerback Aqib Talib. “That is not the type of team that we are. We are going to take this game as if it were any other game.”

The Jayhawks have plenty of momentum coming into Saturday’s 6 p.m. showdown at Memorial Stadium. KU’s offense was brilliant in its first game versus Central Michigan, exploding for 538 yards of total offense. Running backs Jake Sharp and Brandon McAnderson both rushed for over 100 yards, while quarterback Todd Reesing passed for 261 yards and four touchdowns. Marcus Henry led all receivers with seven catches for 103 yards.

On defense, KU allowed just seven points and held Central Michigan to 294 yards of total offense. And yes, the “D” rose to the occasion and limited star quarterback Dan LeFevour to just 172 passing yards (19-of-37 completions).

So now it’s game two of the young season, and the Jayhawks are concerned about a young team hungry for a win.

“On defense they will be speedy in the secondary,” KU coach Mark Mangino said of the Lions. “They will have a huge offensive line and they are working a young quarterback, Brian Babin, who shows a lot of promise. They ran the ball decent against New Mexico State. They are looking for their first victory and it is our job to make sure that it doesn’t happen here.”

Southeastern Louisiana coach Mike Lucas knows his squad is facing a huge battle in Memorial Stadium. Lucas has great respect for KU’s offense and defensive attack.

"Kansas has two absolute monsters who are very athletic anchoring a very good offensive line,” Lucas said. “They have two very good running backs and their quarterback has a very quick release and is throwing to a pair of big, athletic receivers. Their tight end is also very skilled and versatile. The most dangerous player on the field for them is Aqib Talib. He plays cornerback, wide receiver and returns kicks and is the fastest player on the field every time he suits up."

And KU’s defense?

"They've only allowed one 100-yard rusher in the last 26 games and to do that in the Big 12 says a lot about the talent they have on the defensive side of the ball,” Lucas said. “Their defensive coordinator (Bill Young) has been with USC, Ohio State and the Detroit Lions, so they are obviously a very well-coached group. They'll come after us from the get go."

Southeastern appears just too overmatched and too young to beat Kansas. The Lions lost all four defensive line starters from last season and opened the 2007 season with four freshmen on the two-deep roster. On offense, five freshmen are listed on the two-deep. In all, 20 newcomers (13 freshmen and seven junior college transfers) saw action in their first Division I game against New Mexico State, and sophomore quarterback Babin made just his first start of his college career. He completed 14-of-27 passes for 145 yards and one interception.

On paper, this one looks like a solid KU victory. But the KU players and coaches are approaching this matchup expecting the Lions to play the game of their lives. After all, Appalachian State played the game of their lives and defeated the mighty Wolverines last weekend.

“It goes to show that anybody can beat anybody on any given day,” said KU junior guard Chet Hartley. “They (Southeastern Louisiana) look pretty good. They are pretty athletic, so it should be a good game. We hope to keep our momentum going, just like last week.”

The pick here is KU 48, Southeastern Louisiana 10.


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