LAWRENCE, Kansas — The first opportunity for Kansas to play on the road this season may also represent the Jayhawks' best chance of ending a 31-game losing skid in games played away from Memorial Stadium.
The suspension of Rutgers coach Kyle Flood for three games, along with the arrests of seven players, not only leaves the Scarlet Knights short-handed for Saturday's game, it may prove to be enough of a distraction to make the winless Jayhawks the favorites come kickoff.
Not that new Kansas coach David Beaty is counting on it.
"You saw guys straining on every play on the tape all night," he said of watching game film of Rutgers-Penn State, the first game of Flood's suspension. "You saw accurate execution. ... Those guys did not look different to me."
The Jayhawks (0-2), who were off last week, are most certainly aware of the trouble going on with Rutgers (1-2), though.
"You see it every time you turn on ESPN, but you try not to pay attention to it," Jayhawks quarterback Montell Cozart said. "Everyone around the country has something going on with them in their locker room. Those guys are kind of going through something right now, but on Saturday when 11 o'clock comes around, they're going to be ready to play football."
Besides, Kansas has had plenty of problems of its own.
Start with a loss to lower-level South Dakota State to open the season, when a botched spike cost the Jayhawks a shot at a potentially tying field goal. That was followed by a blowout loss to Memphis.
Both of those defeats were at home, too. Kansas hasn't won on the road since beating UTEP 34-7 on Sept. 12, 2009. That was four head coaches ago, if you count the current one.
Beaty was on the coaching staff for that game at UTEP, but the first-year head coach insisted this week that he's not thinking about how long it's been since that victory.
"Almost half the team, if not more, don't know anything about the past," he said. "The truth of the matter is, the past doesn't determine the future for us. That was what it was. ... So that's not going to determine how we play in this football game. It's going to matter when we show up and we execute accurately and we do it with great effort and we outplay them."
Offensive coordinator Rob Likens wasn't even aware of the drought until Tuesday, though players who have been around long enough to contribute to the losing streak are certainly cognizant of it.
"Every time when we go on the road is usually when it comes up," Cozart said. "As a team, that's something we look to every time we get the opportunity to go on the road. This week is an opportunity for us to take advantage of that."
Defensive end Ben Goodman said he isn't necessarily tired of hearing about it. Instead, he chose to put a slightly different spin on what could be considered a monumental embarrassment.
"Because one day, we're going to come in here and y'all are going to ask me, 'How does it feel to break the losing streak?' And I'll be happy to talk about that," Goodman said.
Goodman, a senior captain, is optimistic that the streak will end this season, perhaps at Iowa State or Texas. Perhaps even this weekend at Rutgers.
"It's pretty stressful," he said, "but I'm looking forward to partying on the plane coming back from somewhere."