Kansas, Oklahoma State watching, waiting on bowls
Tuesday, November 25th 2003, 12:00 am
News On 6
DALLAS (AP) _ Their regular seasons are over, but Kansas coach Mark Mangino and Oklahoma State's Les Miles will be watching games Friday with real interest.
The Jayhawks (6-6) became bowl eligible for the first time since 1995 with their 36-7 win Saturday over Iowa State. That made Kansas the eighth bowl-eligible team from the Big 12, which is guaranteed eight bowls.
But there could be a ninth team in the bowl hunt if Colorado (5-6) can beat No. 25 Nebraska (8-3) on Friday.
``Everybody here is very confident we'll get a bowl bid. You just don't know about those until you have them in hand, so there is a bit of anxiety,'' Mangino said Monday. ``But we feel like it is going to happen. We're excited to be practicing after the season.''
If two Big 12 teams get into the Bowl Championship Series, there will be room for everybody in the bowls, even if Colorado gets its sixth win.
If No. 6 Texas (9-2) beats Texas A&M on Friday, there's still a chance of two Big 12 teams. Texas could join No. 1 Oklahoma (12-0) in the BCS, making No. 23 Oklahoma State (9-3) the front-runner for the Cotton Bowl.
``Without question, our preference would be to play in Texas,'' said Miles, whose school has appeared in the Cotton Bowl just once, in 1944.
Miles knows a Texas win is needed for a trip to Texas instead of to the Holiday Bowl in San Diego. But he won't admit to pulling for the Longhorns _ who beat the Cowboys 55-16 this month.
``I'm not going to root too hard one way or the other,'' he said. ``I don't want to make any enemies.''
And Mangino insisted that he won't be cheering extra for Nebraska, even though a Cornhuskers' win over Colorado would guarantee Kansas its first bowl trip since beating UCLA in the 1995 Aloha Bowl.
Mangino said he's confident the Jayhawks will get a bowl chance regardless.
Kansas had lost four straight games before Saturday, which marked the return of senior quarterback Bill Whittemore from a collarbone injury.
In addition to the one guaranteed BCS spot, the Big 12 will have teams in the Cotton, Holiday, Alamo, Independence, Houston, Tangerine and Fort Worth bowls. The bowl-eligible teams are Oklahoma, Texas, Oklahoma State, Texas Tech, Kansas state, Nebraska, Missouri and Kansas.
HOW TO BEAT OKLAHOMA: Now that the Sooners have completed a dominating run through the regular season, some Big 12 coaches were asked, in retrospect, how to beat the nation's No. 1 team.
``Hijack the bus ... those guys are awesome,'' said Mangino, who was offensive coordinator for the Sooners' 2000 national championship team.
``Are we talking about food poisoning or what?'' Missouri's Gary Pinkel said. ``The proof is in what their doing. Look at some of the teams that they've just dismantled. That's the evidence right now.''
Oklahoma, the South Division champion, will play No. 14 Kansas State in the Big 12 championship game Dec. 6. Those two teams didn't play in the regular season.
``Unless Oklahoma beats themselves, I don't see anybody having a very good opportunity to beat them,'' said Iowa State coach Dan McCarney. ``I can't imagine a team in history that has played better than them week-in and week-out.''
SOLICH RESPONE: Nebraska coach Frank Solich isn't dwelling on reports that he could be forced in to retirement. He said that hasn't even crossed his mind.
``I don't spend any time dwelling on it,'' he said. ``You can spend time with it and react to it, but I chose not to do that.''
The Cornhuskers (8-3) have rebounded from last season's 7-7 record, the first non-winning season in 40 years.
Still, the Lincoln Journal Star, citing three unnamed sources identified as Nebraska boosters, reported Sunday that the 59-year-old coach could be forced into retirement after Friday's game against Colorado.
Fellow Big 12 coaches find such rumors hard to believe.
``I don't think they're true. Nebraska is one of the classiest places in the country, and Frank Solich is doing a great job as their coach,'' Texas coach Mack Brown said. ``Frank's been so loyal to Nebraska all of these years. I think we're talking about rumors, not truth.''
Added Kansas State coach Bill Snyder: ``That's hard for me to understand. Frank has meant so much to the University of Nebraska. I'm hard-pressed to see that's anything more than just a rumor.''