Kansas is having its best season in nearly a century, but still feels like it has something to prove. That might be why the Jayhawks are in the midst of a completely unexpected run at a national title.
After humiliating a one-time national powerhouse, the fifth-ranked Jayhawks (9-0, 5-0 Big 12) look to avoid a letdown and try to take another step toward the BCS title game when they travel to Oklahoma State (5-4, 3-2) on Saturday.
As inconceivable as Kansas being 9-0 might have been before this season, the Jayhawks' shocking 76-39 pounding of Nebraska last week might have been even more so.
Todd Reesing threw a school-record six touchdown passes, Brandon McAnderson tied a school mark with four rushing TDs and Kansas' offense scored touchdowns on 10 straight possessions to beat the Cornhuskers for just the second time in the last 39 games.
"People continue to look at the past history, and the past records teams have had against us," Reesing said. "That has no effect on us. It's a whole new season. You can't just look in the past. Our team doesn't. We're a whole new team."
The Jayhawks moved up three spots in the Top 25 and are fourth in the BCS standings. They're 9-0 for the first time since 1908, and haven't opened a season with 10 straight victories since 1899.
While Kansas, second in the nation in scoring (46.2 points per game), is a virtual lock for a New Year's Day bowl game, the players aren't satisfied.
"Every week you have to prove yourself. It's not like you're 9-0 and all of a sudden you've got nothing to do," linebacker Mike Rivera said. "We have a lot of work to do and a lot of things to correct on defense. We want to get out there and do it big next week."
The Jayhawks lead the Big 12 in total defense (288.3 yards per game) and scoring defense (13.4), but allowed season highs in points and yards (484) last Saturday.
Plus, the memory of a 42-32 loss to the Cowboys last Oct. 14, during which Oklahoma State gained 603 yards, should be relatively fresh in the Jayhawks' minds. Kansas has lost five straight in the series since a 22-17 win in Stillwater in 1995.
As has been the case all season, however, the Jayhawks won't dwell on their history as a perennial football doormat.
"Coach (Mark) Mangino has instilled an attitude in us this is KU 2007," said McAnderson, who rushed for 119 yards against Nebraska. "Put up against us, there's been a lot of history how, 'You guys haven't won road games, you haven't beaten them, or them.' There's all kinds of stats about when you can't do something. But history doesn't matter.
"This is just one more game for us. We can play better. We have to, because we have Oklahoma State next week."
McAnderson and the Jayhawks will face a Cowboys team that should be eager to get back on the field after a disheartening 38-35 loss to Texas last week.
Oklahoma State led 35-14 after three quarters before allowing the Longhorns to score 24 points in the fourth, losing on a 40-yard field goal as time expired.
"As painful as it is, we still have to correct everything that happened in the game to make us better for the next week and then get back on track," Cowboys coach Mike Gundy said. "The one thing that will work to our advantage this week is it's not every day you get to play a team that's fifth in the BCS or whatever they are.
"I would think that our players would be excited about playing at team that's as highly regarded as they are."
Oklahoma State's Zac Robinson went 30-for-42 for a school-record 430 yards and two touchdowns, and ran for 56 yards and another score against Texas.
Oklahoma State amassed 594 yards last week and boasts the conference's third-best offense at 499.3 yards per game. The defense, however, gave up 589 yards to the Longhorns and is allowing an average of 448.3 yards, second-worst in the Big 12.