May 21, 2007

Big 12 Breakdown: Kansas

Kansas left 2006 with a thud. A 25-point loss at Missouri erased the Jayhawks' first ever three-game winning streak in Big 12 games, and the season's worst loss, coupled with five other defeats by 10 or fewer points, prevented them from posting their first back-to-back bowl seasons since 1994-95. Mark Mangino must decide on a quarterback and find enough yards to replace Jon Cornish for this important season.

BRIEFLY: Where will Kansas be by Nov. 3?

Circle Nov. 3 on those calendars. Whether Mark Mangino admits it or not, the meeting with Nebraska could be the biggest date in 2007 for two reasons: 1) the Jayhawks' got the air knocked out of their 4-1 start a year ago when they lost to the Huskers 39-32 in overtime in Lincoln - the first of four straight losses by an excruciating average of 5.3 points, and 2) Kansas on Nov. 3 will try to beat Nebraska back-to-back times in Lawrence. That hasn't happened since 1958 and 1960, back before a guy named Gale Sayers even entered the picture.

A bulk of the Jayhawks' 12 seniors was around when the team scored a 40-15 blowout of the Huskers in '05. Each of the first eight games this fall will be winnable, and anything less than six wins by Nov. 3 means the Jayhawks will be fighting for a bowl berth. Again.

Eight starters return on defense and seven on offense, but a battle at two pressing spots - quarterback and running back - remains unsettled. Although sophomore quarterbacks Kerry Meier (eight starts in '06) and Todd Reesing both performed efficiently in the spring, Mangino isn't playing favorites and entering the summer took exception to the notion the battle must be "resolved."

"When you say 'resolved,' resolved says it's a problem," Mangino said. "I don't see it as a problem. I've stated in the past and will state it again I'd like one guy to be the No. 1 quarterback and he be the guy. That's the way it'll play out."

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