Kansas (6-4, 3-3 in Big 12) and the No. 4 Longhorns (9-1, 5-1) kickoff at 11:30 a.m. at Memorial Stadium on Senior Day. The game will be televised on FSN.
This senior class has certainly made its mark on Kansas football. Some
of the group’s accomplishments include:
•Producing a combined 31-16 record with two regular-season
games left to play. (The 31 wins are the second-most in a four-year
period in KU history behind the 32-6 record from 1896-99.)
•Recording at least six wins in four straight seasons for the
first time since 1903-06.
•Seeing home attendance average records set in each of the
last four years.
•Posting two undefeated home seasons (2005 and 2007).
•Recording a 23-3 home record in their four years.
•Playing in first January bowl game since 1969 with last
year's FedEx Orange Bowl victory.
•Returning to the national polls in 2007, the Jayhawks' first
ranking since 1996.
•Ranked a school-record 19 straight weeks in the Associated
KU coach Mark Mangino is certainly proud of this senior class, which
includes such stalwarts as linebackers James Holt, Mike Rivera and Joe
Mortenson, defensive ends Russell Brorsen and John Larson, cornerback
Kendrick Harper, wide receiver Dexton Fields, center Ryan Cantrell and
offensive guard Adrian Mayes.
“This is a senior class that has several fifth-year players
and some kids that have played a lot of snaps,” Mangino said.
“They have been through some really good times and have had
to fight through some (tough) times. We see them as a group of kids who
have been here and weathered some storms and have had some really big
highs. We expect that they will continue to compete and fight here
until the end.”
The seniors want to leave a lasting legacy these last two
regular-season games against Texas and Missouri. They’d love
nothing more than to shock the college football world and upset the
powerhouse Longhorns. KU is playing to keep its slim Big 12 North title
hopes alive and secure a guaranteed bowl berth, while Texas needs a win
to stay in the hunt for a national championship.
Kansas is coming off a 45-35 loss at Nebraska last week, while Texas
heads into Lawrence after its 45-21 victory over Baylor. The Longhorns
feature a Heisman Trophy candidate in junior quarterback Colt McCoy,
and one of the best defensive ends in the country in senior Brian Orakpo.
“Texas is a very talented, very athletic, and very large
team,” Brorsen said. “They have about everything
you want in a football team and they are going to be a very tough
UT is averaging 44.3 points per game (No. 5 in NCAA) and posted at
least 400 yards of total offense in nine of its 10 games. McCoy has
completed 244 of 313 passes (nation-leading 78 percent) for 2,879 yards
and 28 touchdowns. He also leads the Longhorns in rushing with 449
yards and seven TDs.
McCoy will look to take advantage of KU’s struggling
secondary with potent receiving targets Jordan Shipley and Quan Cosby.
“He is one of the most improved quarterbacks from last
year,” Mangino said. “Whoever works with him in the
off-season has done a magnificent job. He is way ahead of where he was
at this time last year. He has a lot more poise, he is throwing the
ball better and he is running the ball better.”
On defense, Texas boasts the nation’s sixth-best rushing
defense, allowing opponents just 86 yards per game on the ground.
Orakpo spearheads the defensive line with nine sacks, 15 tackles for
loss, and 23 quarterback hurries.
The ‘Horns also feature a talented linebacking and secondary
“Defensively, they are very stout,” Mangino said.
“They have a very athletic defensive line with very quick,
athletic guys who can move around. Their linebackers seem to be the
heart of their defense. They are an outstanding group of linebackers.
Their secondary is very athletic as always.”
KU junior quarterback Todd Reesing certainly won’t have it
easy back in the pocket. He was sacked five times by Nebraska last
week, and found himself scrambling most of the game. Reesing, who
became KU’s all-time leader in passing yardage, must get
better protection from the offensive line against the fearsome
“They present a lot of matchups that are problems from top to
bottom,” Reesing said. “I think that our offensive
line is going to look to bounce back and put in a big performance. I
know those guys will be excited to step up to the challenge. I know the
coaches have worked hard to get a good game plan together and give us
the best opportunity we can to win.”
KU has won 14 of its last 15 home games and is 4-1 in its final home
game in the last five years. That lone loss came to Texas in 2004
(27-23) in Lawrence. The Jayhawks fell, 66-14, in their last meeting
against Texas in 2005 at Austin. UT wound up winning the national
championship that season.
Overall, Texas holds a 6-2 edge in the series, including a 3-2 record
in Lawrence. KU last beat Texas in 1938 (19-18 in Lawrence); the teams
didn’t meet again until the first year of Big 12 play in
1996. The Longhorns has won all six games since.
KU would like to stop the streak on Saturday and make a memorable swan
song for its 18 seniors.
Senior linebacker James Holt is certainly primed for the challenge.
He’s become KU’s best defensive player this season,
ranking second on the team in tackles (80), first in tackles for loss
(13), second in sacks (five) and tied for first in the country in
forced fumbles (six).
He’d love to add to his statistics come Saturday and propel
Kansas to a victory in his last home game at Memorial Stadium.
“There is a lot of history in that stadium,” Holt
said. “I will always remember the first game that I played in
it. It will mean a lot to all of the seniors and hopefully we can play
a good game and just leave it all out there and give the people a good
“Definitely with it being senior day and getting to go
against No. 4 ranked Texas, a real powerhouse team, (it) would be great
to go out and pull an upset. That would be a tremendous statement for
the senior class.”
*Texas will be the second top-10 opponent to come to Lawrence this
year. (Texas Tech was ranked No. 8 when the Red Raiders beat KU 63-21
on Oct. 25.) No. 4 Texas is the highest ranked opponent to
play in Lawrence since Nebraska was ranked second on Nov. 3, 2001. The
Cornhuskers whipped KU, 51-7, in coach Terry Allen’s last
game at Kansas. He was fired after the loss.
*KU has 28 players from the Lone Star State, the most players from
Texas than any other state. Jayhawk starters from Texas include
Reesing, Cantrell, Fields, wide receiver Dezmon Brisoce, offensive
tackle Jeremiah Hatch, cornerback Daymond Patterson, and wide receiver
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