North Dakota St @ Kansas Saturday, September 4
The University of Kansas football program is facing a rebounding process this upcoming season as they look to improve upon their 5-7 record last season. After starting the season 5-0, the Jayhawks’ fell apart losing their final seven games and in the process their head coach Mark Mangino. While his firing was not solely due to poor results, Mangino’s poor treatment of his players led to the ultimate decision to be let go.
Now a new season, the Jayhawks start their new run with a new head coach, Turner Gill. The Jayhawks do have much of the same team returning from last season to make it less of a transition, with 17 starters coming back including Tanner Hawkinson, Huldon Tharp, and Lubbock Smith all of whom earned Freshman All-America Honors last season. The Jayhawks high powered offense will also be in effect despite losing Dezmon Brisco and Kerry Meier to the NFL with some new talent ready to step up and assume their roles.
The North Dakota State Bison are coming off a rare losing season as they went 3-8 last year with some disappointing losses in conference play. This upcoming season, the Bison are looking to improve upon last year with some new faces at new positions including tailback D.J. McNorton and quarterback Jose Mohler. Head coach Craig Bohl is going into his eighth year with the Bison, accumulating a record of 52-25 and helping bring out the talent in several players that have gone on to play in the NFL. This season may be his biggest hurdle, as the Bison face a rebuilding process with a group of players not used to the exposure that comes with winning. While the pressure and expectations are mild and not overwhelming, Bohl and the rest of the Bison know they must improve from their 2009 season in order to become relevant again in the Missouri Valley Football Conference.
Going into the match up on September 4, both Kansas and North Dakota State know how important it is to start the season off with a victory. Before the 2009 opening game loss, the Bison had reeled off multiple opening season victories in rout to successful seasons, while the Jayhawks too posted victories in their first game all the way back to 2004. According to the Big 12 Conference Media Poll, the Jayhawks are projected to finish fourth in the north division, an unflattering prediction for a program that just a few seasons back went 12-1 and won the BCS Orange Bowl against Virginia Tech. If this program is going to get back to that, coach Gill must set the expectations within reach and guide his team.
With the 2010 upcoming season on the horizon, both the Jayhawks and the Bison are preparing for a much improved season where every game will be a battle of wills and determination to carry not just their own pride but their school’s pride as well. Come September 4, all the practicing and preparing will be complete and both schools will step onto the field to start their season. Tune into Fox College Sports to watch the Jayhawks from Kansas take on the Bison of North Dakota State in this anticipated match up on Saturday, September 4.