KU's Allen preaches belief

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Posted Thursday, October 28, 1999

By Andrew Hartsock

Journal-World Sports Writer

Terry Allen sounds more like an evangelical preacher than major-college football coach these days.

Rather than dwelling on X's and O's and debating the merits and minuses of zone-blitz schemes, Allen is spending the week preaching belief and faith.

Something about mighty Nebraska -- which will play at KU at 6 p.m. Saturday -- brings out the minister in Allen.

"How do you beat Nebraska?" the Jayhawks' coach asked Wednesday at his regular weekly press conference. "You have to believe you can beat Nebraska."

Maybe suspend disbelief is more like it. After all, Kansas hasn't beaten the Big Red in 30 years. None of Allen's players had been born yet, and Allen was a precocious 11-year-old the last time it happened.

"They do a great job of not allowing people to think they can beat them," Allen said. "How do they do that? They do a great job at the start of the game. They've outscored people 148-13 in the first half this season.

"How does Kansas beat Nebraska on Saturday? We gotta believe we can beat them. We have to make some plays, get on 'em early. If Nebraska comes out and rolls down the field and scores the first couple of times, game over."

Allen points to Texas as the poster child for his theory. UT, which stunned the Huskers, 24-20, last Saturday, has won three straight over NU and is the only league team that hasn't yet lost to Nebraska.

The reason, Allen suggested, was the tradition-rich Longhorns weren't cowed by the Huskers' rich history.

"Texas has beaten 'em the last three years," Allen said. "That hasn't transpired in this league in the last 25 years with Nebraska."

Curiously, Allen thinks UT's victory over NU might do the Jayhawks some good. Rather than fear the Huskers' obvious motive to rebound from that loss, Allen hopes the setback made the Huskers aware of their own mortality.

"In this particular case," Allen said, "they might not believe as much in themselves. Last year, they lost four and they might have thought the world was going to end. They lost that mental edge."

The Jayhawks, Allen asserted, regained their own mental edge with last week's 21-0 victory over archrival Missouri.

In fact, the team -- well aware it needs to win out to qualify for a bowl game -- is openly talking about the possibility of beating NU.

"We're a lot further in that direction than we were a week ago," Allen said. "The attitude in practice has been, 'Hey, what the heck.' They're even talking about it. I don't remember ever hearing talk during the Nebraska week about beating Nebraska. I'm encouraged by that."

So is Moran Norris, the Jayhawks' new-found running threat. Norris attended the press conference decked out in Atlanta Braves garb and likened the Jayhawks to the Braves' trying to rally past the Yankees in the World Series.

"We really believe we can beat them," Norris said. "In years past, there was doubt. But we had that big win over Missouri, a big rival. We want to go into this game confident. Some of them had doubts last year, but this year they're all confident."

For the record, Norris believes in the Braves' chances, too.

"Oh, yeah, Atlanta's going to win," Norris said. "That'd be sweet for us to be Nebraska on Saturday, then have Atlanta win Game Seven Sunday."

-- Andrew Hartsock's phone number is 832-7216. His e-mail address is ahartsock@ljworld.com.

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