No. 16 Kansas grew up in last year's Iowa St game

Oct 9, 2009 - 7:01 AM By DOUG TUCKER AP Sports Writer

LAWRENCE, Kan.(AP) -- As he trudged into the locker room trailing Iowa State by 20 points, Kansas wide receiver Kerry Meier expected a chewing-out with enough fire to make the paint peel in the visitors' locker room.

What he and the rest of the team got surprised everyone. Coach Mark Mangino was calm. And then the Jayhawks went out and pulled off a 35-33 comeback victory that still resonates a year later.

Kansas went on to qualify for their second straight bowl game last year, a program first, and won their 20th game in two years, the finest two-year stretch in school history.

It's been a pleasant memory all week as No. 16 Kansas (4-0) prepares to launch its Big 12 season against the Cyclones (3-2) on Saturday.

"Walking up that ramp to the locker room, all I could imagine was how loud it was going to be in there," Meier said. "But coach was very calm and collected. He was relaxed and under control. We were under control."

With great clarity, Mangino also remembers that game and that halftime locker room.

"When you're down 20 points at the half, it doesn't do any good to kick the water bucket, so the coaches were not going to do that kind of stuff," he said. "We talked about trying to get the kids in the right frame of mind by staying positive."

Meier helped fuel the comeback with seven catches for 125 yards and two touchdowns and he called the game a lesson learned.

"We can't find ourselves digging that deep of a hole, especially in Big 12 play," he said. "Teams are going to be ready to come out and play four quarters and that's what we are going to have to do."

The game was also pivotal for Iowa State, which made a coaching change at the end of a disappointing year and is now under the direction of Paul Rhoads. His first Kansas game figures to be a big challenge with his team a 19-point underdog.

Kansas is coming off a bye week, presumably rested and refreshed, while Iowa State had to go right back to work after losing a one-point heartbreaker to Kansas State. After Austen Arnaud threw a touchdown pass with 31 seconds left, the Wildcats blocked the extra point, preserving the win.

The Cyclones are hoping to get running back Alexander Robinson back from an injury that held him to only one carry against the Wildcats. Robinson had three straight 100-yard games this year before his injury, helping Iowa State get off to a 3-1 start.

The Jayhawks were hopeful of getting their own top running back off the injury list as well. Jake Sharp rushed for 100 yards in each of his first two games before going down with an undisclosed injury.

"If there is any sign that he is not 100 percent or that he cannot play to the best of his abilities, we will not play him," Mangino said.

One of the Jayhawks' strengths this year could also play into one of Iowa State's greatest strong points. The Cyclones have allowed Arnaud to be sacked only once in five games - the fewest of any major college team.

"And that one was on me," Arnaud said. "The offensive line is doing its part."

It's something the big, experienced offensive line is taking a lot of pride in. "It's a testament to the whole unit," right guard Ben Lamaak said. "We're doing our job."

Kansas has greatly improved its pass rush and has 15 sacks in four games, No. 2 in the Big 12.

"They have a very big offensive line, physically. So, they present challenges for us, but we will be ready for those challenges," Mangino said.

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