“It’s probably getting a little more crazy,” said junior offensive lineman Ryan Cantrell. “We spent about 15, almost 20 minutes in my Western Civ class talking about the Nebraska game from my teacher. It’s picking up a little bit more. Micah Brown (sophomore wide receiver) is in my class as well. We walked in around the same time together and she’s like, ‘Oh, great job.’ I just kind of sat back there and got ready for class and she just kept talking about it. Everybody else started talking about it, and I was still trying to write down stuff to get ready for class. It’s fun.”
The Jayhawks (No. 4 in BCS) are indeed having fun and aiming to go 10-0 this Saturday for the first time since 1899. After walloping Nebraska, 76-39, last week, the 'Hawks remain one of just three teams in the Football Bowl Series who are undefeated. However, KU coach Mark Mangino knows his squad will have to come up big against Oklahoma State (5-4, 3-2).
"Oklahoma State is a very good football team,” Mangino said. “On the offensive side they have a lot of capable, quality players. (Quarterback) Zac Robinson’s thrown the ball for over 2,000 yards and has run the ball for 400 or maybe 500 (yards). Dantrell Savage, their tailback, is a very talented, quick, speedy guy. On defense they have some really good schemes and good athletes. Their defensive line is physical and jumps the ball, their linebackers are very, very active and their secondary is good. I think this is a really good football team. They've had a tough, tough loss to deal with after the Texas game (38-35), but we are prepared to go into Stillwater and play well."
The Cowboys have one of the best wide receivers in the nation in Adarius Bowman. He set a school record last year against KU and recorded the 11th best game in NCAA history with 300 receiving yards (and four touchdowns). OSU beat KU in Lawrence, 44-32, on Nov. 2 after roaring back from a 17-0 halftime deficit by scoring 42 points in the last 23:19 of the game.
"We definitely want to wrap him up,” said junior linebacker James Holt. “The main thing is to try to keep him from getting the ball. We know that he is going to make plays, but it comes down to how we are going to bounce back after he makes a play."
Mangino knows Bowman will be tough to stop.
"Adarius had a great day on us last year,” Mangino said. “But that was last year. We have great respect for him. He's big and strong, but he's also fast. He has great athleticism and great change of direction. He is very, very talented."
But so are these Jayhawks. KU unleashed an offensive attack for the ages against Nebraska by setting several school records while scoring 76 points, the most points ever allowed by the Cornhuskers. Combining a lethal passing and running attack with a powerful defense (KU ranks No. 2 in the nation in scoring offense and defense), Kansas seems primed to compete for a Big 12 championship, and dare we say, perhaps a national title.
While the wins keep coming, national media attention has exploded over the Jayhawks. Reporters from national publications like Sports Illustrated want to know who these ‘Hawks are and just how good can they be. However, the coaches and players continue to prepare and focus on the biggest game of the year this Saturday, and are not distracted by all the hype.
"It's great when you have a lot of people ( interested) in your program because it means that the kids and everyone are doing something right,” Mangino said. “But we are not going to be taken off track. We have a smart bunch of kids here that see what is taking place. They are enjoying it, but they are not caught up in it. As a coach, you're focused on the day's work, the challenges, and the preparation. I think coaches tend to reflect on winning seasons after they are completed."
If the Jayhawks have anything left to prove to the remaining doubters who question if KU is national championship material, they can perhaps silence their critics for good this Saturday night. Yes, indeed, this KU team could become the most memorable squad in school history.
And that gives Cantrell’s Western Civilization teacher and the entire Jayhawk Nation plenty to talk about as KU continues to strive for greatness and set new records.
"Trends and rules are meant to be broken,” said sophomore safety Darrell Stuckey. “Records are meant to be shattered. It is one of those things where we are an evolving team. And we are evolving into a team that KU has never seen and accomplished."