LAWRENCE, Kansas — Kansas coach Charlie Weis may not know exactly how long it's been since the Jayhawks last won on the road, but he has a decent grasp of the drought.
"We haven't won on the road in an eternity," he deadpanned.
To be exact: It's been 1,827 days, or just about five years exactly.
When the Jayhawks, who head to Duke this weekend, were busy routing UTEP 34-7 on Sept. 13, 2009, Weis was preparing for a game in what would be his final season at Notre Dame. Everybody on the current Kansas roster was still in high school — or middle school.
Certainly, none of them would have taken much notice of that game in El Paso, Texas.
These days, though, everybody in the program is aware of it.
"That's the whole focus this week is just win on the road," senior linebacker Ben Heeney said. "We know everyone's talking about that and I haven't won a road game since I've been here and this is my fourth year playing here. We're putting all of our energy and all of our focus into winning this game and to be as well prepared as we can be."
It's not as though the Jayhawks haven't come close over the years.
They lost two road games by a touchdown or less in the 2009 season. They lost by a field goal at Iowa State two years later. And perhaps the most frustrating was a double-overtime defeat at Texas Tech during the 2012 season, the first for Weis in Lawrence.
The preparation for Saturday's visit to Duke began the moment after Kansas wrapped up a victory over Southeast Missouri State. Weis even felt compelled to remind his players after the lackluster victory to at least spend a few minutes enjoying the fact that they were 1-0.
"When we got done with our game this weekend, there was a whole bunch of signs," sophomore quarterback Montell Cozart explained. "One of the main ones was in front of the locker room saying 'win on the road.' It hasn't happened around here for a long time.
"That's definitely number one on our list," Cozart said. "Number one of many."
The lists of goals have been posted around the team's facility, a ploy this week to motivate the Jayhawks to end their road drought. But in a larger sense, those signs are supposed to help the Jayhawks take a big step toward respectability.
"It's literally been everywhere," safety Cassius Sendish said. "It's in the locker room, the weight room and we got fliers hanging up. It's constant reminders of something we can do and a goal that we're trying to reach as soon as possible. Not only wait until the next chance that we get to win a road game, but to actually step up and do it now this week"
When the game was agreed upon a few years ago, it seemed like it would be a good opportunity for Kansas to snap the streak. But the Blue Devils are coming off one of the best seasons in school history, losing to eventual national champion Florida State in the ACC title game.
Last week, Kansas raced out to a 24-0 lead by the time the first quarter was over, a new spread offense piling up yards and a veteran defense making things tough on the Redhawks. But Kansas was outscored the rest of the way in the 34-28 victory. The Jayhawks needed to recover an onside kick to put away the victory.
"If you tell me we're going to show up for a quarter and just be out there for three quarters, then we don't have a chance," Weis said this week. "That can't happen. They should go down there with the anticipation to win, not just hoping to win."
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