LAWRENCE — Kansas is supposed to lose by five touchdowns tonight against Nebraska, so it's probably a good thing that the game's story lines don't have much to do with this year's Jayhawks and Cornhuskers.
Kansas coach Turner Gill is a former Nebraska quarterback and assistant coach who will be bringing an opposing team to Memorial Stadium for the first time. This will likely be the only time, though, because the Huskers are moving to the Big Ten next season — which means tonight could also very well be the last chance for KU to break its 20-game losing streak in Lincoln, dating back to 1968.
At least the Jayhawks (3-6, 1-4 Big 12) know that all of these historical factors won't have a bearing on the outcome.
"We can throw all sorts of things at that game," KU right tackle Brad Thorson said, "about Coach Gill's return there, the last time we're going up there, a game we have to win to be bowl eligible, but at the end, it's game 10. It's another must-win for us. Preparation will stay the same. We can't rely on some emotional swell to beat them."
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KU's players will take the field tonight coming off the greatest quarter in school history. They just beat Colorado 35-0 in 14 minutes, 52 seconds. So much for coming in unannounced.
"We weren't looking at the game," Nebraska wide receiver Brandon Kinnie said, "but we saw the scores, and I looked up and it was like 45-17. And then I looked up again and it was 52 to something, and I thought, 'How did they do that?'æ"
Nebraska players can only assume that Gill had something to do with it, considering he went 28-2 as a Nebraska starting quarterback from 1981-83.
"I'm pretty sure the majority do know," Nebraska backup quarterback Cody Green said. "As you walk through the top forum on the second floor (of the NU facility), it is him and Mike Rozier. They have their pictures up there, and everybody has seen the highlights of him and the plays he made. He is well-respected in our locker room."
Gill is still beloved in Nebraska, which would have made for an awkward annual meeting. But thanks to the big bucks of the Big Ten, Gill won't have to go through this again, and the nation's longest uninterrupted series will come to an end at 105.
"I guess there's probably a little bit of quick sadness," Gill said of the series ending. "I say that because as we go through life, unfortunately there's gonna be changes."
A Kansas win tonight in Lincoln would give the Jayhawks bragging rights for eternity. Certainly, that would be a change. Nebraska leads the series 90-23-3.
"They had to do what they had to do," KU tight end Tim Biere said. "Hopefully, we can send them out with a loss."
Check J. Brady McCollough’s KU blog at blogs.kansas.com/jayhawk. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.