Southeastern Louisiana football coach Mike Lucas seems to be bracing for a bad day in Lawrence, even if he's not throwing in the towel before today's 6 p.m. game with Kansas begins.
"It is a challenge," Lucas said. "We've got such a young club that we've got to make sure we stay positive and really try to extenuate the good things and not dwell on the bad things that happen. It's tough for us to turn around and go to Kansas. It is a very good Kansas club."
And a Kansas team that's expected to roll to its second straight victory today. Southeastern Louisiana (0-1) is a struggling program in the Championship Subdivision (formerly Division I-AA), and even the best teams in that tier would have trouble against the Jayhawks.
The Lions have lost 14 of their last 17 games, mostly against other FCS teams. They played a Bowl Subdivision team last week in New Mexico State and lost 35-14 in large part because its offense wouldn't budge.
Besides running back Jay Lucas, a Texas A&M; transfer, the Lions are lacking any sort of threat on offense. Mike Lucas was quoted as saying that the SE Louisiana defense - which had four interceptions, one returned for a score - prevented the New Mexico State game from getting really out of hand.
The mission for today's game, then, is simple: Hang around long enough to suck the energy out of Memorial Stadium. Then see what happens.
"We've got to try to get the momentum away from the crowd and keep it on our sideline as long as possible," Lucas said. "We've got to gather up and try to fight against those odds."
Within its own conference, the Lions find hope. While FCS team Appalachian State dominated college football headlines over the weekend with its 34-32 victory over No. 5 Michigan, Southland Conference titan Nicholls State had success of its own against the big boys. It beat Rice, 16-14, in its season opener.
Yet another reminder that David can knock over Goliath. Every once in a while.
"We're so proud of what Nicholls did," Lucas said. "That excited our kids. We were proud that a conference squad went out and did something like that.
"There's always an opportunity," he added, "to win every time you step out on the football field."