LAWRENCE, Kan. — This is a football team Nebraskans would take pride in.
One that would make them forget at the end of the day it went three-and-out on its first offensive series.
One that absolutely destroyed their once 4-1 Huskers (another fact that’s long been forgotten).
And so it was that at the end of Kansas’ 76-39 waltz past the once-feared neighbor from the north, the folks dressed in blue calmly shuffled out of Memorial Stadium as if the result was not that big a deal.
As if they expected the Jayhawks would, as they ran their record to 9-0, make Bill Callahan feel as if he still was the coach of the dumbest team in America.
Kansas could be one of the smartest — and the Jayhawks have a few big-time athletes, too.
“We’re saying ‘Good day’ because you can always improve,” KU quarterback Todd Reesing said after passing for a school-record six touchdowns. “But, yeah, that was a pretty great effort.”
The Jayhawks probably did as much running around Memorial Stadium on Saturday as you’ll see at next spring’s Kansas Relays.
So much so that Reesing, a rather normal-looking 5-foot-10 sophomore out of uniform, is about to become the fifth straight player to be named Big 12 Conference Offensive Player of the Week following a game against Nebraska.
Forgive coach Mark Mangino if he fails to make too much of his quarterback being the first Jayhawk to receive that honor this season.
Not that he doesn’t put stock in having some guys who can pack more horsepower, but one gets the sense that Mangino loves that this team, which leads the league in eight statistical categories, is truly a function of the sum of its mostly ordinary parts.
“You can’t discount Reesing — and we have two or three other kids that media and people that evaluate players say they’re outstanding,” Mangino said. “But, for the most part, it’s kind of an ensemble cast.
“It’s kind of a group of kids that are pretty smart, tough as nails, play hard, smart. We have some guys that you would call intellectuals. … We have two defensive ends who have 4.0 (GPAs). Not many people can say that — with the exception of maybe some Ivy League schools. But because they’re smart, we don’t beat ourselves.”
Having an offense score 76 points is like acing a test and getting all the extra-credit questions right, too.
Taking away a possession that began with five seconds left in the first half (and a colleague suggested that might have still been enough time for the home team to score), Kansas marched to touchdowns on 10 straight drives Saturday.
In 90 snaps, the Jayhawks committed just one penalty, had no fumbles and gave up no sacks.
“I still thought, eventually, there’d be some stops,” Mangino said. “But the kids really played well — played smart, sharp football.”
KU’s defense, which looked baffled early by some unexpected passing formations, made enough adjustments to come up with four straight turnovers after Nebraska had marched for a touchdown on its opening possession of the second half.
By then, the only thing Jayhawk fans could possibly be grumbling about was over referee Randy Christal’s late-first half announcement that Kansas State had called a timeout.
To a loud chorus of boos, Christal righted himself as quickly as the Jayhawks did each of the two times they fell behind Nebraska. In those cases, it took them just seven and six plays to drive for scores.
No one knows where KU’s ride will end. But with three games left in the regular season, you can see the excitement Mangino feels from knowing on every corner in this Midwestern college town people are saying “Can you believe that?”
“I’m not going to tell you I thought we’d be 9-0. That’s be foolishness,” Mangino said. “But I thought … if some kids step up, and if the quarterback settled, and some defensive positions settled, and if the interior of the offensive line settled that perhaps we’d have a chance to have a pretty good football team.
“Those kids have stepped up. They have developed and here we are.”
A football team the envy of Nebraska.
Reach Curt McKeever at 473-7441 or email@example.com.