Routs happen when one team has no trouble scoring and the other can't find the end zone. In the past, routs generally happened when Kansas University played either Texas or Oklahoma. That was then. This is now: Quarterback Todd Reesing, program changer, is at his best when a play breaks down and when his team trails. Both of those factors figure to happen a lot Saturday in Norman.
Reesing has the sort of physical and mental durability suited for the underdog role. He has shown that repeatedly during his KU career while building a 17-2 record as a starter. Body-slammed to the turf against Virginia Tech in the Orange Bowl, Reesing got back on his feet, pulled the hunk of grass out of his helmet and went back to work. Kansas won that game, 24-21, spurred by Aqib Talib's interception return for a touchdown.
That Virginia Tech defense was even better than the Oklahoma defense Kansas faces Saturday in Norman. Kansas had trouble running the ball in the Orange Bowl and didn't shred the Hokies' secondary, either, but the Jayhawks scored enough to win the game.
Reesing and his talented group of receivers should be able to put points on the board against the Sooners, which would put KU halfway to an upset.
"I guess we're already talking upsets now," Reesing said Tuesday, his words the equivalent of rolling eyes. "OK. I'm going to be into the game. I'm high-intensity. I'm emotional on the field. I love playing football. I'm going to be excited Saturday. I'm going to leave it all on the field, so you get what you get."
The oddsmakers have it at Oklahoma by 191â2 points, a figure no doubt based on the Sooners' explosive offense and a KU defense that at times looked speed-challenged against South Florida, a team neither as skilled, strong, nor quite as fast as Oklahoma. It's on the KU offense to be the equalizer. If Kansas can keep on scoring, the Jayhawks can hang in the game. And if they hang in the game and get a break here or there, anything can happen.
"I don't know what we feel like," Reesing said to the underdogs question. "We're just trying to play football. We don't worry about what the papers say, if we're underdogs if we're expected to win, anything like that. Every team we play is going to be good, and we always approach every game that we expect to win, and if you don't have that attitude, then you shouldn't be playing."
Reesing's confidence and consistent ability to live up to high expectations has a way of spreading throughout the team.
"He seems like he comes in clutch whenever we need him," middle linebacker Joe Mortensen said of Reesing. "If we really need to get a first down or if we really need a spark, Todd, he wills us there. I definitely think that's what makes him a great quarterback. I'm not comparing him to Joe Montana or Tom Brady, but they're clutch quarterbacks and that's Todd. He's a great quarterback."
He's a great quarterback who doesn't fumble and doesn't throw many picks. He gives his team a shot, even against the best teams in the nation. There are four teams remaining on the schedule that fit that description, Oklahoma being the first and toughest challenge.