News and notes: KU-North Dakota State

With the start of the Turner Gill Era at the University of Kansas less than a week away,'s Jim Williamson is here with the first Gridiron News and Notes of 2010.

News and notes while hoping for a great Labor Day weekend crowd to roll out the red carpet for new Kansas coach Turner Gill and his staff.

· Kansas opens its 121st season of football against the North Dakota State Bison Saturday at 6 p.m. in KU's Memorial Stadium.

· This is the eighth straight season KU has opened at home. The Jayhawks are 6-1 in home openers the past seven years. Since losing to Northwestern in 2003, the Jayhawks have won six straight lid-lifters. KU has won those six contests by an average score of 40 to 10.

· KU has won 20 straight noncon games since losing to Northwestern.

· Kansas is 18-3 in their last 21 home games but is currently riding a two-game losing streak, losing its last two to Oklahoma and Nebraska last year.

· The Jayhawks are 3-0 all-time when playing on September 4th. Wins came over Oregon State (1976), Western Carolina (1993) and Tulsa (2004). I've got 100 bonus Scout points for anyone who can tell me the Western Carolina mascot without googling it. Keep reading for the answer.

· KU has won 20 straight night games at home.

· Big 8 legend Turner Gill makes his debut as Kansas coach. Only one of the last seven Jayhawk coaches won his inaugural game, that being – no, I am not making this up – Terry Allen (a winner over UAB in 1997).

· Only one Kansas coach has assembled a winning record in his rookie season: Bud Moore went 7-5 in 1975.

· KU may be the only team in the country to have two Heisman finalists on its coaching staff. Gill was fourth in the Heisman balloting in 1983 behind winner and Nebraska Cornhusker teammate Mike Rozier, runner-up Steve Young and third-place finisher Doug Flutie. Offensive coordinator Chuck Long was a terrific quarterback at Iowa in his playing days and was Heisman runner-up behind Bo Jackson in 1985.

· KU's 10 full-time coaches have a combined 187 seasons of coaching experience and 77 bowl appearances.

· Saturday will be the first time the Jayhawks and Bison have played each other on the football field. KU is 9-0 all-time against members of the Missouri Valley Football Conference. The last time Kansas played a Mo Valley team was 2002 when they beat Missouri State, 44-24.

· North Dakota State is located in Fargo, yah you betcha.

· Both coach Gill and NDSU head coach Craig Bohl played their college ball at Nebraska. Bohl was a defensive back from 1977-79.

· KU senior DB Chris Harris will make his team-high 30th career start Saturday.

· Four Jayhawks bring 12-game starting streaks into Saturday: Harris and O-linemen Tanner Hawkinson, Brad Thorson and Sal Capra.

· Sixth-year senior RB Angus Quigley should see his first carries since 2008 when he rushed 59 times for 309 yards. Quigley was moved to linebacker last season.

· K Jacob Branstetter has made five of his last six field goal attempts. His five makes have all been inside of 50 yards. The miss was a 50-yarder.

· QB Kale Pick – what a brutal name for a quarterback – will likely attempt his first pass since completing one of two for six yards at Texas Tech in game eight last season.

· Pick's start Saturday will be the first time someone not named Todd Reesing has taken the first snap of the game since Kerry Meier did so in the 2006 finale against Mizzou.

· Statistically, the biggest game a first-time KU starting QB has had was freshman Adam Barmann's debut in 2003. Kansas lost to Texas A&M, 45-33, but Barmann was 25 of 37 for 294 yards and four TDs. He also rushed for a score and threw four INTs.

· The Jayhawk depth chart indicates several players could be making their first starts Saturday, including Pick, OG Duane Zlatnik, H-back AJ Steward, FB Steven Foster, LB Steven Johnson, NB Tyler Patmon and S Olaitan Oguntodu.

· Among the 25 starters, KU lists nine seniors, eight juniors, six sophomores and two freshmen. Of the top 50 on the two-deep, 13 are seniors, 15 are juniors, eight are sophomores and 14 are freshmen.

· If you can't be at the stadium, you can watch the game on Fox College Sports. Former WIBW sports guy Steve Physioc and former USC assistant coach Yogi Roth will make the call from the booth, and Samantha Steele will cover the sidelines.

· September 4th in history: 1951, a speech by Pres. Harry Truman is televised nationally, making it the first time a television program was broadcast coast-to-coast… 1957, Arkansas governor Orval Faubus violated a federal court order and called out the National Guard to prevent nine African-American students from entering Little Rock's Central High School… Mark Spitz won a then-record seventh gold medal in swimming at the 1972 Munich Olympics… 2002, Kelly Clarkson won the first American Idol competition… 2005, evacuees were finally being flown out of New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

· Steve Irwin, The Crocodile Hunter, left this world September 4th, 2006.

· September 4th celebrity birthdays: Beyonce Knowles (29), former MLB beefcake Mike Piazza (42); Welcome Back Kotter sweathog Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs (57); and Kansas City's third professional sports franchise, Tom Watson (61).

· Others who would be celebrating birthdays if they weren't quite so dead: actor Richard Castellano (Clemenza in "The Godfather"); Dick York (the first Darrin on "Bewitched"); and conservative radio commentator and pioneer Paul Harvey.

· The mascot for Western Carolina University is… the catamount. Merriam-Webster says a catamount is "any of various wild cats such as a cougar or lynx." Cats of the catamount variety, including bobcats, inhabit the southern Appalachian Mountains, where Western Carolina University is located. Top Stories