Is there bad blood between distant rivals Kansas and Northern Illinois?
Probably not, but first-year Kansas coach Charlie Weis likes to be prepared and while he wasn't at the game, he uncovered motivational material from last year's 45-42 win by the Jayhawks in Lawrence, Kan.
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Apparently, it has to do with NIU coach Dave Doeren complaining about his team's performance that day.
"We've read that we didn't win the game, they lost the game," Weis said at his weekly news conference. "So we'll use that a little bit. Obviously, it wasn't because you played good, it was because they played bad. It wasn't because you made plays at the end of the game, it was because they didn't play well at the end of the game."
Weis said that's one of two messages he'll share with this team this week. The other is Kansas' 13-game road losing streak. NIU, on the other hand, has won 16 in a row at Huskie Stadium in DeKalb, where the rematch will be held Saturday at 2:30 p.m.
Weis, of course, is the former Notre Dame head coach and New England Patriots assistant. He experienced brief success with the Irish, but it didn't last. After a season as offensive coordinator for the Kansas City Chiefs and another at the University of Florida, Weis is once again a head coach.
"He does a nice job calling the game," Doeren said of Weiss. "You can see his plays within a play. He's always looking for the next thing off it. He is a good offensive coach."
NIU (2-1) is coming off a wild 41-40 win at Army, in which the Huskies built an early 15-point lead, then had to rally twice in the fourth quarter. Receiver Martell Moore scored the game-winner on an 8-yard pass from Jordan Lynch with 4:29 remaining.
Army piled up 486 rushing yards, while attempting just 4 passes. Needless to say, Weiss' offensive attack, with former Notre Dame quarterback Dayne Crist behind center, will offer a much different look.
After opening with a win over San Diego State, Kansas suffered a disappointing home loss to Rice. Last Saturday, as a 26-point underdog, the Jayhawks were competitive in a 20-6 home loss to TCU.
At the start of summer practice, Weis was blunt when talking about his goals for this season.
"I was really disappointed when I finally went back and watched the games from last year, the number of times they just got the crud kicked out of them," Weis said. "That just doesn't cut it.
"I understand about talent discrepancies. I got it. One team's got a lot more talented guys than the other team. But to have games get away from you that quickly and by that wide a margin -- if I was one of those fans, I would have left at halftime and not come back myself."
Weis changed the roster significantly. One report had 23 players with eligibility left departing Kansas by midsummer. As TCU was taking a knee and the clock wound down in the fourth quarter, Weis called time out and addressed his players.
"It was a teaching moment about turning the corner," Weis said after the game. "That was to let them know, 'Hey, everyone came in here today thinking you were gonna get the crud kicked out you. That didn't turn out that way, did it?'"
As the losing team in last season's shootout at Kansas, Northern Illinois feels it has a fair share of motivation this week, as well.
"We were a young, young team on defense," Doeren said. "I think any time you lose and get to play that team again, you probably have that chip on your shoulder that you want to make things better. I haven't had that conversation with anybody, but I know this is a game that our players wish they could've played again last year."