LAWRENCE -- Remember San Diego State? Remember how bad Kansas was? Remember how the KU fans booed the Jayhawks after their 41-13 thrashing was
Nobody knew where Kansas went from there. Nobody knew if Terry Allen could survive as coach. Nobody knew anything.
Today, we know something. KU has heart. KU still doesn't have many victories, but KU has heart.
The Jayhawks put up their biggest fight in years Saturday against Nebraska only to lose in the end, 24-17.
Nobody knew how to react to Allen after it was over. Do you shake his hand? Do you pat him on the back? Do you tell him you're sorry?
David Lawrence, who interviews Allen on the radio after every game, started to congratulate him. Allen cut Lawrence off.
"You don't give congratulations," Allen said. "We came to play today and we came to win."
But kids believe in the tooth fairy, too. Eventually, they find out the truth.
Kansas found out the truth.
Nebraska, coming off a loss last week at Texas, still resides outside of KU's league. The Jayhawks haven't beaten the Huskers since Lyndon Johnson was president in 1968.
And they were in no mood to celebrate a near-upset because they think they should have won the game.
"Nebraska was beatable," KU receiver Harrison Hill said. "We had them on the ropes so many times."
The Jayhawks dominated Nebraska in the first half, and how many times has that happened? It was 9-0 at the half. Nebraska had 69 yards of offense and three first downs.
KU, which had blanked Missouri 21-0 last week, suddenly was playing defense like the 1985 Chicago Bears. Nebraska couldn't breathe.
"But we knew the critical part of the game would be in the second half," Allen said. "We knew Nebraska would come out and make a run."
Nebraska picked things up offensively in the second half. And the Huskers' special teams became special.
Former quarterback Bobby Newcombe returned a punt 86 yards for a touchdown that gave Nebraska its first lead at 10-9.
Crouch ran in from eight yards with 12:09 to play in the fourth quarter. It was 17-9.
This is when KU was supposed to fold up like a cheap suit. Nebraska would go on to win by three or four touchdowns.
Except the Jayhawks didn't stop believing.
An improbable sideline pass from Dylen Smith to Mike Chandler turned into a 77-yard touchdown. Those two hooked up again for the two-point conversion.
Nobody believed what they were watching. Except, allegedly, the Jayhawks. Remember, they believed.
Ultimately, though, the Kansas defense ran out of gas. Nebraska was more like Nebraska in the second half, rolling up 297 yards of offense.
Crouch passed for 158 yards in the second half. Correll Buckhalter, held to 35 yards on nine carries in the first 30 minutes, had 81 yards on 13 carries after halftime. Matt Davison caught two passes for 70 yards in the second half.
And Crouch's 49-yard scoring strike to Newcombe, which looked a lot like some of the passes San Diego State completed against the Jayhawks a month ago, was the difference.
Kansas had a lot, just not quite enough.
"This is just another bad loss," Chandler said. "There's nothing good we can say about it."
Sure there is, and Chandler and the rest of the Jayhawks know it.
Of course, you never feel good about losing. Especially since KU can make a strong case for why it should have beaten Nebraska on Saturday.
"I came out for this game and looked in the stands and I saw all these people in red," said KU tight end David Hurst, who caught a 22-yard touchdown pass in the first half. "And I said to myself that we needed to give our faithful something to cheer
There was plenty for the KU fans to cheer about. There is plenty of good to take away from Saturday's game.
It's not protocol for the KU coaches and players to say so, though. Losing stings, even when it's expected.
"I think we responded well to the adversity we knew we were going to face," Allen said. "I think we're getting better each and every week. These players have shown an awful lot of pride. When the fans booed us off the field here a month ago, that
stuck in these players' minds.
"But," Allen summed up, "you shouldn't be congratulated when you don't win."