KU passes test, moves to 10-0

Jayhawks improve to 10-0 with victory over Cowboys

The Jayhawks flock to their fans following their 43-28 victory over Oklahoma State.  Kansas improved to 10-0 with the win Saturday in Stillwater, Okla.

The Jayhawks flock to their fans following their 43-28 victory over Oklahoma State. Kansas improved to 10-0 with the win Saturday in Stillwater, Okla.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Reader poll

After Week 11, who do you consider to be truly the nation's best college football team?

  • LSU 16% 659 votes
  • Oregon 15% 614 votes
  • Kansas 64% 2605 votes
  • Oklahoma 2% 109 votes
  • Missouri 1% 54 votes
  • West Virginia 0% 11 votes

4052 total votes.

— This is beyond a nice little run, beyond a cute storyline and into the world of straight-faced seriousness.

Kansas University has one of college football's top teams in 2007. Because, without fail, it has an answer for everything.

A counterpoint for every point. A backup plan for every hiccup. A victory for every challenge.

Ten in all.

KU's magical season continued Saturday down its improbable path, as the No. 5 Jayhawks defeated Oklahoma State, 43-28, at Boone Pickens Stadium.

Kansas now is 10-0, the last unbeaten team among college football's major conferences and, deservedly, one of the first two or three schools tossed out there when brainstorming national-championship possibilities.

It's all surreal, except it's like this every week.

"It's awesome. It's unbelievable," quarterback Todd Reesing said. "To be at this point in the season and be undefeated is beyond our wildest dreams."

Still, KU's players seem fueled by a sense of national disrespect, no matter how much it goes away each week. As the players marched to the locker room as victors, cornerback Aqib Talib bellowed, "But we ain't played nobody yet!" to nobody in particular.

Fullback Brandon McAnderson, meanwhile, declared, "We talking, but nobody's listening!"

Slowly, that's starting to become inaccurate. The nation, anymore, has to start respecting this team's work.

It has no choice.

The intangibles that have made KU great were on full display Saturday with much of the nation watching. When adversity slapped Kansas at times in each half, the Jayhawks answered with a hearty wallop right back in its gut.

The story of the season so far.

Oklahoma State led 14-10 in the second quarter, and Kansas answered in three minutes to take the lead for good. The Cowboys then cut the score to 33-28 in the fourth quarter; the Jayhawks put it away immediately with a long scoring drive.

The perseverance of this bunch is hard to ignore.

"We always seem," coach Mark Mangino said, "to find a way to shut the door."

Part of it is an explosive offense that refuses that make mistakes. Reesing threw for 308 yards and three touchdowns and for the fifth straight week threw no interceptions. His favorite target Saturday was Marcus Henry, a lightly recruited Oklahoma native who had 199 receiving yards. The biggest blow was an 82-yard touchdown catch on a third-quarter post route that put Kansas up 27-14.

All the while, Brandon McAnderson slipped through holes created by the offensive line, running 25 times for 142 yards and three touchdowns.

It was true versatility, and all it needed was a decent defensive effort to pay off.

Oklahoma State (5-5, 3-3) made it tough, but the Jayhawks capitalized on OSU errors in the second half and won the turnover battle yet again.

"When it came down to it," defensive tackle James McClinton said, "we came out and executed."

The true execution came in that fourth quarter, when Oklahoma State drove 89 yards on just four plays to score and cut the deficit to five. The ensuing kickoff was returned only to the Kansas 11-yard line, and the Jayhawks needed an 89-yard answer when they could barely see the pay dirt they were gunning for.

No problem.

A 12-yard run by McAnderson, an 11-yard run by McAnderson, a 24-yard completion to Henry, an OSU penalty, a 13-yard pass to Henry. On third-and-goal and wanting a touchdown badly, Reesing rolled right, bought time and fired the ball to a stretched-out Henry in the end zone.

With 8:26 left - and Talib's pick coming a minute later - it was all she wrote. The fans started to file out, another batch with newfound respect for the team out of nowhere.

Those 89 yards defined KU's season to date. And with two games against Iowa State and Missouri to close out the regular season, the Jayhawks march one step closer to a finish few dared to dream about just weeks ago.

"To be able to score when you have to in tough situations like that," Reesing said, "is a tribute of a great team."

A team with all the answers. A team that has passed every test.