Are Jayhawks for Real?

By: By PAT GRAHAM, AP Sports Writer
By: By PAT GRAHAM, AP Sports Writer

BOULDER, Colo. (AP) -- Kansas coach Mark Mangino hears the same question over and over: Are his Jayhawks for real?

"I'm not going to say if we're for real or not," said Mangino, whose team moved up to No. 12 Sunday in the latest poll. "You watch the games, you see if we're for real."

The Jayhawks looked for real in a 19-14 win over Colorado on Saturday. It was their first win in Boulder since 1995.

Kansas (7-0, 3-0 Big 12) has won seven straight to start the season for only the third time since the team went 10-0 in 1899. The team also started 7-0 in 1968 and 1995, but lost each time in the eighth game.

The Jayhawks play at Texas A&M on Saturday.

"The mental toughness of this team is unbelievable," quarterback-wide receiver Kerry Meier said. "We answered a lot of questions (Saturday)."

And proved skeptics wrong. The Jayhawks have been hearing how they were simply a byproduct of a weak nonconference schedule.

Now, they're convincing a nation they need to be taken seriously.

"We aren't surprised by the 7-0 start. We have been working hard since January," linebacker James Holt said. "We knew we had the speed and talent to have a big season. The sky's the limit for us right now."

The Kansas defense showed it can be counted on to step up and win a game. Kansas forced three turnovers and stopped Colorado on downs twice in the fourth quarter on a day when the Jayhawks' high-powered offense was kept pretty much in check.

After the Jayhawks offense went three-and-out late in the fourth quarter, the defense did its job, securing the win by stopping the Buffaloes on downs. Colorado lost three yards on the final drive before turning it over.

"We were ready to strap it in and rock and roll," Holt said. "We live for situations like that. We dream for stuff like that."

The Kansas defense has lived in the shadow of the Jayhawks' offense, which averages 489.7 yards and 45.9 points a game.

Not anymore. The defense can stand on its own merit.

"We definitely knew coming in that Kansas had a talented defense," said Colorado quarterback Cody Hawkins, who was sacked three times and threw two interceptions. "They play harder than anyone that we've played this year."

The Jayhawks defense held the Buffaloes to 66 yards rushing, more than 76 yards below Colorado's season average.

Kansas is now seventh in the nation in rushing defense and second in scoring defense, giving up 10.1 points a game.

The Jayhawks have won back-to-back road games for the first time since 1995. It was a big hurdle in the Jayhawks' attempt to gain credibility. They beat Kansas State on the road two weeks ago.

"This team, presented with any challenge, can rise to it and overcome it," said sophomore quarterback Todd Reesing, who set a school record against Colorado by throwing a touchdown pass in his seventh straight game. "All the talk -- we can't win on the road -- that's got to be over now. We've won on the road twice, in two tough places to play."

The Jayhawks are the lone undefeated team in the conference for the first time since 1968.

"It's exciting, crazy," punter Kyle Tucker said. "We are ready to go get win number eight."


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