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Jayhawks must find Nebraska motivation

The Capital-Journal

LAWRENCE -- As big as it was in an otherwise disappointing season, Kansas' win over Missouri really doesn't mean much with Nebraska coming to town.

Because the KU-MU series is unique, so was coach Terry Allen's approach to last week's game, which the Jayhawks won, 21-0.

With former KU coach Jack Mitchell's teams holding a reunion in Lawrence, Allen had All-Americans John Hadl and Gale Sayers address the team on Friday night. Former coach Don Fambrough, who can develop more vitriol for the Tigers than about anyone, talked to them,too.

When Kansas took the field, the team ran through a tunnel formed by, Allen estimated, more than 200 ex-players.

Making such a big deal out of the game ran counter to Allen's typical methods, which is to straighten the curves and smooth the bumps so each week is routine.

"Emotions play such an instrumental part in the game of football," KU coach Terry Allen said. "I've been leery of trying to get too much emotional pump from outside entities. I think those things do lead to a teeter-totter effect."

But what the heck. This was Missouri, and KU's end of the teeter-totter had been down most of the season.

So Allen let the emotions flow, and it worked.

The Tigers had gone to consecutive bowl games by beating people with a bruising ground game. But on Saturday, Kansas, stoked on adrenaline for the Border War, whipped them at the line of scrimmage.

Mizzou managed all of 44 yards rushing and just 217 total.

"The defense having some emotional things go for them and having people riding on an emotional high changes the perspective on things," Allen said.

KU's win cut Missouri's lead in the oldest series west of the Mississippi River-- and, at this point, in both teams' biggest rivalry-- to one game, 50-49-9.

It would have been a great way to end a season, but Missouri-Kansas isn't the last game of the year anymore. Now the Jayhawks have to find a way to get up for Nebraska.

The rivalry approach probably won't work. Whatever rivalry exists between KU and NU went into hibernation long before the Huskers won their 30th in a row in the series last season.

In the last two years, they've outscored Kansas 76-zip, and over the last four years it's 180-10.

Allen laughed when he was asked during the Big 12 coaches' teleconference how he could get the Jayhawks up for Nebraska the way they were against MU.

"That's the odds-on question," he said.

It's an even-money bet that nobody is going to remind the Jayhawks about the history of this series, which Nebraska leads 81-21-3. And if Gale Sayers were in town for a second straight week, Allen wouldn't have him talk to the team.

"We'd probably suit him up," he said.

Updated 3:06 p.m.

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