Close losses aside - or behind, they hope - players and coaches on Kansas University's football team still are focused on earning that bowl bid with three games to go this regular season.
"I don't think that has to be said on my part," KU coach Mark Mangino said. "The kids understand what the goals are for themselves. They want to play in postseason play."
With a 4-5 record, Kansas needs to win two of its final three games to be bowl-eligible. It starts Saturday at Iowa State, followed by a week off, then two rivalry games against Kansas State and at Missouri to wrap up the regular season.
It's similar to one year ago, when Kansas had to win three of its final four in 2005 to go bowling. That squad pulled it off, beating Missouri, Nebraska and Iowa State in the last four weeks. One year later, the motivation is identical, and the goal is the same, too. Kansas got off on the right track with a 20-15 victory over Colorado last week.
Now, the next three games will show whether the finish is identical to last year's, too.
"We put ourselves in this hole just like we did last year," receiver Brian Murph said. "We've got to dig ourselves out of it."
Right now, 11 of the Big 12 Conference teams still are shooting for a bowl bid, with 1-8 Colorado the only team mathematically out of the picture. In all likelihood, between seven and nine teams will be eligible by season's end. The Big 12 has tie-ins with eight bowl games, though nine probably would get a bid because of unfulfilled tie-ins and at-large bids that are up for grabs.
Five teams already can wonder about where they're heading, having hit the magical six-victory plateau. Kansas certainly isn't one of them yet, thanks to a four-game losing streak to start Big 12 Conference play.
"We think we are ready to go to a bowl," receiver Jeff Foster said. "We have high hopes for the rest of the season. We are not down and out, depressed or feeling sorry for ourselves. We know that we are turning things around. We are going to do what it takes to win."
Really, the Jayhawks have no choice - not that the players aren't aware by this point.
"I don't have to bring that up," Mangino said of postseason goals. "That's kind of obvious. It's sitting right in the middle of the room, and everybody knows it's there."