Archive for Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Chinstraps and mouthpieces: Jayhawks miss out at K-State

October 12, 2005

I nearly felt 11 years old again on Saturday at KSU Stadium in Manhattan.

That was my age in 1989, the last time Kansas defeated Kansas State in football in Manhattan.

Forget student loans. Instead of wondering when I'll finish paying the government back for those college years, I wondered whether Zack Morris or A.C. Slater would end up with Kelly Kapowski on "Saved by the Bell."

For much of Saturday's game in Manhattan, I had visions of a better time -- when the Berlin Wall was about to come down and Milli Vanilli wasn't yet exposed as a fraud.

In that disastrous fourth quarter, though, the time machine quickly switched course and brought me back to reality.

Throughout a good portion of Saturday's game, Kansas handled Kansas State. For more than a decade, that's a sentence no one dare type -- unless it's the middle of January and not early October.

During the KU-Kansas State basketball game in Lawrence last winter, KU led late in the game. KU students chanted "just like football."

What a refreshing three words. Instead of the worn-out "wait until basketball" excuse that has followed the football Sunflower Showdown since 1992, Jayhawk fans sang a different tune after last year's thrilling 31-28 victory in Lawrence.

Almost never had I been so excited before a KU football game. After Saturday's game in Manhattan, never had I been so frustrated after a football game.

KU's defense held K-State's offense to 182 total yards. In addition, the Jayhawk defense recorded 16 tackles for losses. Sure, KU had just 236 yards of offense itself, but the team had several drives in or near the red zone.

Never has the goal line been so close, yet so far away.

Kansas missed out on a golden opportunity. The Jayhawks were in the second week of a four-week string of road games.

Sure, Kansas will play Oklahoma on Saturday at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, but it's still not Lawrence. And, they'll be playing on a grass surface in Kansas City. KU usually plays on artificial turf; Oklahoma's home field is a grass surface.

Maybe Saturday's game also felt like 1989 because it was ugly -- most KU and K-State games throughout the 1980s were ugly because they were two of the worst programs in the nation.

Times, though, have changed.

There's room for improvement in Lawrence and Manhattan, but both are competitive.

As the clock expired on Saturday's 12-3 Wildcat victory, K-State students chanted "back to normal."

If it actually were "back to normal," Kansas State would have won 52-3.

Despite KU holding an advantage of 62-36-2 all-time in the series, K-State is 13-2 in the last 15 years.

As lopsided as those two statistics are, it's clear the two teams are on a level playing field these days.

As for winning again in Manhattan, I'll have to wait until 2007 to party like it's 1989.

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