Run and Shoot: KU-A&M: Leaders of the Pack

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KU-A&M: Leaders of the Pack

COLLEGE STATION, Tex. -- A couple of months ago, I sat down with the Big XII schedule and put a big circle around October 27th, because that was the day the top team in the North would visit the top team in the South.

Technically, I was correct. Honestly though, I was off by about a hundred miles. While Texas and Nebraska have hit serious ruts in the road, Texas A&M is an unlikely co-leader in the South, and Kansas is not only looking to go 8-0 for the first time since 1909 (1909?!?!?!), they're also ranked ninth in the BCS. What in the name of Phog Allen is going on here?

No one expected Mark Mangino's Jayhawks to be flying this high at the end of October, and in truth, they have taken advantage of a baby-soft non-conference slate (Central Michigan, SE Louisiana, Toledo, and Florida International). But they've beaten all comers, led by a tough defense and a quarterback from Texas who was too short to draw any interest from his own state.

The Kansas defense ranks in the top 10 nationally in all four major statistical categories (rushing, passing, scoring, and total defense). They're one of only four units in the nation that can make that claim, joining heavyweights Ohio State, LSU, and USC. They've also done their part in the turnover category, as the Jayhawks' +1.43 average ranks fourth in the county.

That outstanding turnover margin is helped by the steady play of QB Todd Reesing, who has thrown only four interceptions while racking up 17 TDs and over 1800 yards. Reesing, who played high school football near Austin, is listed at only 5'11", and number is pretty much exactly what scared away recruiters from A&M and the University of Texas. Mangino happily snatched Reesing out of the Lone Star State, as he has with a big chunk of his roster -- 26 Jayhawks attended high school here.

Given that recruiting strategy, a win here would not only keep the Jayhawks undefeated, it would also be a big recruiting tool for Kansas.

Texas A&M is a curious co-leader in the Big XII South. The Aggies are 6-2 and 3-1 in conference, but Dennis Franchione has been on the hot seat for several years, and his recent involvement in the preposterously stupid VIP-Gate has convinced nearly everyone that he'll need to win out to save his job. The Aggies' 6-2 record is deceiving -- they've peed the bed in the only two major tests on the schedule (Miami and Texas Tech) so far, and today marks the start of a murderous closing stretch -- Kansas, at Oklahoma, at Missouri, and Texas.

The Aggies run an old-school offense, with QB Stephen McGee and RBs Jorvorskie Lane and Michael Goodson leading a ground attack that averages 260 yards per game, 5th in the nation. Unfortunately, the Aggies are allergic to the pass on both sides of the ball. The offense ranks 111th in passing yards, and the defense has allowed 265 ypg and ranks 96th in passing efficiency defense. Reesing had to enjoy watching the game films this week.

Kickoff will be a little after 6pm local. The weather has been perfect today, with clear skies and temps in the 70s, which should drop into the high 50s by the end of the game.

Back with updates at the end of the first quarter, or when action warrants...

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