Cornerback Aqib Talib was named to the CBSSportsline Halfway-All-American first team and SI.com Mid-season All-American first team. Linebacker Joe Mortenson and place-kicker Scott Webb were also honored as Phil Steele’s Mid-season All-Big 12 first-team selections.
When the team wins, individual honors usually follow. And KU hopes to keep on winning in Boulder this Saturday for a 4:45 p.m. nationally televised showdown versus Colorado (4-3, 2-1) on ESPN. If there’s still some doubters about whether Kansas is for real, the Jayhawks can definitely silence any remaining critics with their seventh straight win, which would match its best start since 1995.
A win would give KU back-to-back road victories in the same season for the first time since winning at Colorado and Oklahoma in 1995, and also give Kansas two road wins in the same year since 1996.
KU coach Mark Mangino knows it won’t be easy winning in Boulder, where CU posts a 23-8 series advantage. Mangino is concerned with the Buffs on both sides of the ball. He singled out Jordan Dizon and Brad Jones at linebacker, and running back Hugh Charles and improving redshirt freshman quarterback Cody Hawkins.
“They have some outstanding players,” Mangino said. “Watching Colorado on tape, they have a fine football team. Their defense is outstanding. I really think they have some of the most talented defensive players in the conference (Dizon and Jones). Their defensive line is very big, physical and quick.”
“(Charles) runs the ball very well,” Mangino added. “He is a quick, dangerous guy who can make big plays. ...Hawkins...you can see him getting better. He stays poised, he makes plays, and he’s a smart player.”
Colorado is coming off a 47-20 loss at K-State last Saturday. So they should be hungry, flying around the field, and energized to knock off Kansas, which beat Baylor, 58-10, a week ago.
But the Jayhawks will be hungry, too, and wanting to show the nationally televised audience they are one of the elite teams in the country. While the ‘Hawks are bowl eligible at 6-0, Kansas won six games last year and wound up staying home for the holidays. KU certainly doesn’t plan on that happening this season.
“(Six and 0), it’s not good enough,” said sophomore safety Darrell Stuckey. “None of us are boasting around or happy. We still know there is work to do.”
Sophomore quarterback Todd Reesing can attest to that. “Sparky” was the hero in last year’s KU-CU game in Lawrence. After Mangino pulled his redshirt at halftime, Reesing led KU to a thrilling 20-15 comeback victory, passing for two touchdowns and running for one score. While KU didn’t end up going to a bowl, Reesing revived KU’s season.
Now at the halfway point in 2007, Reesing will again lead the charge in Boulder. The sophomore has had a remarkable season. He needs three touchdown passes to break the season school record of 18 held by current KU graduate assistant coach Bill Whittemore, and just 79 passing yards to break the school’s sophomore passing yardage record, held by Chip Hilleary (1,730 yards in 1990).
Reesing said he doesn’t take any credence that Kansas should beat the Buffaloes simply because KU beat KSU (30-24 on Oct. 6), while the Wildcats whipped Colorado last weekend.
“If you start looking at the scores and thinking that you’re going to win just because you beat somebody else, then that’s when you’re going to go out and get beat,” Reesing said. “We have to go into this game just like any other game and get prepared as best we can. We’re going to do that and we’re excited about the opportunity we have.”
And Kansas has a golden opportunity this Saturday to keep its winning streak alive, climb higher in the polls, gain some more national respect, lock up a bowl bid, and take one step closer to winning the Big 12 North.
So what about that No. 15 ranking? Will that intimidate the Buffaloes? Stuckey waxed philosophical regarding the question.
“We are ranked so that means we have more to live up to,” he said. “To whom much is given, much is required. We are required to go in there and fight and win.”