63-21 Beatdown Changes Tone of KU's Season

Saturday's match-up with #6-ranked Texas Tech (8-0 overall, 4-0 Big 12) was one of a handful that I said before the season Kansas (5-3, 2-2) needed to win to make an average season good and a good season a really good season.

The Jayhawks now find themselves 0-2 in those kinds of games, having also lost to South Florida earlier this season, 37-34.

I wouldn't even be mentioning this had the Jayhawks (5-3, 2-2) won. I probably wouldn't be saying anything if KU had played well enough to stay in the same time zone.

But they didn't, and it does. Frankly, this game wasn't as close as the score would indicate.

You can call Graham Harrell a “system quarterback” all you want, and feel free to say Texas Tech's offense is “gimmicky,” but the Red Raiders were bigger, stronger, tougher and better in every way Saturday. If you're a KU player, coach or fan, that's really not what you needed to see as college football hits the 2008  homestretch.

We're eight games in now, and KU's offensive line still can't open holes, the defensive line still can't get any pressure on an opposing quarterback, the secondary gives up a ton of passing yards and sometimes one wonders if anyone on defense can tackle.

Suddenly what was supposed to be a guaranteed win next week against Kansas State's Josh Freeman and a cast of thousands isn't such a done deal anymore. Oklahoma drilled the Cats Saturday, but the Kansas State offense gained a lot of yards against a defense that's far more athletics than KU's.

What should be another one of those “gotta have it games” comes up November 8th when Kansas travels to Lincoln. I'm still not convinced that Bo Pelini has the Huskers turned around, and they followed up a big 35-7 win over Iowa State with a dogfight against Baylor. These are not your father's Baylor Bears, but they're still, well, Baylor. Nevertheless, Corn QB Joe Ganz can still carve up an opposing secondary like a fat kid carves up a cake.

Then Texas visits Lawrence's Memorial Stadium. At the beginning of the season, I said that this was a game KU could win. I thought KU matched up well with the Longhorns, and fans around these parts wanted to exact some revenge after the “Dollar Signs” game. Well, I can't say that anymore. Texas QB Colt McCoy will throw early and often. It won't be pretty.

The season ends with the Border War at Arrowhead. You can talk about throwing the record books out because it's a rivalry game all you want, but I won't. Missouri will be fighting for the privilege of winning the Big 12 North and getting pummeled by #1-ranked Texas in the conference title game. For whatever reason, they're excited about that, so they'll come ready to play. Yet another of the Big 12's elite QBs, Chase Daniel, will likely have a big passing day on November 29th.

From the outside looking in, KU could lose five of their last six. That's a pretty big comedown for an experienced squad that was in the rarefied air of national title talk just a year ago.

KU could easily end up 6-6 and bowl eligible. Just because you're bowl eligible, however, doesn't mean you get to go to a bowl. Kansas fans should remember that all too well. Jayhawks head coach Mark Mangino says it himself: we're still Kansas. KU football has a higher profile than they used to, but I'm not sure a 6-6 Jayhawks squad draws too many bowl invitations.

The tone to the season took a drastic left turn Saturday afternoon. KU hasn't lost three in a row in a couple of years. They're not dead yet, but they're on life support. This slide has started to remind some of us of Kansas Football, circa 1989. And the only people who can fix the Kansas Jayhawks are the Kansas Jayhawks.

After Saturday's embarrassing loss, look for Mark Mangino to question the manhood of a few dozen young men this week. He should. Expect a lot of soul-searching among the Jayhawks. They should.

The Jayhawks haven't experienced this kind of adversity in a long time. The Jayhawk Nation will learn a lot about this football team – coaches and players – next week when Kansas State comes to town. I just hope we all like what we learn.

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