The forecast calls for cold, the kind of bone-chilling cold that can whip in the wind in central Iowa. When Kansas kicks off against Iowa State at 7 p.m. Saturday at Trice Stadium in Ames, the temperature is expected to be below freezing, maybe close to 15 degrees. The wind chill could be even worse.
But the question, of course, is whether the weather could have any impact on the game — whether that’s on game-planning or just the general psyche of each team.
“I’ll address it,” KU coach Charlie Weis said this week. “And (I’ll) say, ‘Look fellas, this is the way it’s going to be and this is the last time I’ll talk about it.’”
Weis believes that wind can wreak much more havoc on a game plan than just plain frigid conditions. But the Jayhawks, built around a run-heavy offense, do appear to be constructed to handle Ice Bowl-like conditions.
Freshman quarterback Montell Cozart threw just 12 times last week while making his first career start. He added 13 rushes for 60 yards, and the KU rushing game dominated West Virginia while snapping a 27-game Big 12 losing streak. Senior James Sims did most of the heavy lifting, finishing with a career-high 211 yards.
“We only threw it 12 times,” Weis said. “We had a couple other passes called that (Cozart) scrambled for good production that I call hidden yardage. I think that it’s not a question of whether Montell can throw the ball, and I think he’ll get better and better because he has all the tools to be a successful passer.
“But, when you’re in a game like that, and you’re running for over 300 yards, and the linemen are controlling the line of scrimmage, why throw it?”
Iowa State, meanwhile, is 1-9 and coming off a 48-10 loss to Oklahoma last Saturday. The Cyclones are ranked 99th in the country in rushing while averaging 128 rushing yards. And Iowa State desperately needs some signs of hope after losing seven straight. But Kansas is finally in decent position to snap a 23-game losing streak on the road.
It promises to be a slugfest — a cold one.
“If we can get up there to Ames and come out of there with a win,” Weis said, “I think that would do wonders for us going forward.”
Kansas coach Mark Mangino was demanding more. Cornish couldn’t get on the field. And Mangino used a few words of motivation that still linger in the recesses of Cornish’s mind.
Mangino threatened to ship Cornish back to Canada. He had no use for a running back that couldn’t cut it.
“He saw that I wasn’t at the level that he needed me to be at,” Cornish said this week. “Maybe he thought that was because I was Canadian.”
Cornish, now a veteran with the Calgary Stampeders of the CFL, was reminded of those words again on Thursday, when he became just the third Canadian, and first since 1978, to be chosen as the Gibson’s Finest CFL Most Outstanding Player.
The award came after Cornish led the CFL in rushing yards (1,813), touchdowns (14) and yards from scrimmage (2,157). He also set records for most rushing yards in a season by a Canadian and most yards from scrimmage in a season by a Canadian.
“It’s funny how you can basically go from the dog house to where I am today,” Cornish said after receiving the award. “… Mangino, he said those things, but he said them because he wanted me to improve as a football player.”
Cornish was also selected the league’s top Canadian for the second straight year. He joins Tony Gabriel (1978) and Russ Jackson (1963, ’66,’69) as the only Canadians to win the CFL MOP award.
“I’m normally pretty good at accommodating new things,” Cornish said. “… really it’s a dream I’ve wanted to accomplish for a long time.”