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Top 25 countdown

August 17, 2008|Chris Dufresne

The Times' Chris Dufresne unveils his preseason college football top 25, one day (and team) at a time:

No. 12 Kansas

Remember that 9-4 season Kansas was building toward last year, before the unimaginable happened, everything clicked, the stiffs on the schedule did their part and Kansas capped a 12-1 dream season that ended with an Orange Bowl win over Virginia Tech?

Well, 2008 is going to be that 9-4 season.

Kansas may be just as good as last year, but there's no way in Topeka that Kansas is going 12-1 again.

No way.

If last year was the harmonic convergence, this year is the off-pitch party.

Last year, Kansas played four empty vessels in non-conference -- Central Michigan, Southeastern Louisiana, Toledo and Florida International -- and beat them by the total score of 214-23.

This year, Kansas plays only three nonconference cadavers, mixing in a formidable Sept. 12 trip to South Florida, which spent about 10 minutes at No. 2 in the polls last year.

Last year, Kansas also missed Big 12 Conference powerhouses Texas, Oklahoma and Texas Tech, which combined to go 30-10.

This year, Kansas plays all three schools plus Missouri, which handed the Jayhawks their only loss in 2008.

Kansas deserved everything it got last year, and will deserve everything it gets in 2008.

"We want to be able to play against all the best teams in our league," Coach Mark Mangino said. "And be able to beat them."

Mangino says Kansas will never "truly get over the hump" in terms of national respect until that happens.

Let's get real: the Jayhawks might not win the Orange Bowl in football and the NCAA basketball championship in the same season for another 100 years, but it happened last year.

And Kansas might never again score 76 points against Nebraska, but it happened last year.

The Jayhawks will be fun to track. Todd Reesing, who last we checked is still short, threw for 3,486 yards and 33 touchdowns in 2007.

If he does it again, bend down and hand him the Heisman Trophy and the Doug Flutie Award.

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The countdown so far:

25. Notre Dame; 24. California; 23. Fresno State; 22. Florida State; 21. Rutgers; 20. Illinois; 19. Penn State; 18. Oregon; 17. Tennessee; 16. Arizona State; 15. Texas Tech; 14. Brigham Young; 13. Wisconsin; 12. Kansas.

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chris.dufresne@latimes.com

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