The Kansas Jayhawks believe they're for real.
Now, they're hoping the rest of the country will start to as well.
"We stepped up again and showed the world what we can do," cornerback Aqib Talib said.
This time, it wasn't the Jayhawks' high-powered offense that came to the rescue, but the defense. No. 15 Kansas forced three turnovers and stopped Colorado on downs twice in the fourth quarter, escaping Folsom Field with a 19-14 victory on Saturday -- its first win in Boulder since 1995.
Kansas (7-0, 3-0 Big 12) has won seven straight to start the season for only the second time since 1968. The team also started 7-0 in 1995.
"We're excited, we're happy," said running back Jake Sharp, who had a 2-yard scoring run in the third quarter. "We're 7-0, and it's where we want to be."
The Jayhawks had to withstand a late charge by Colorado to become the first Big 12 North team since Nebraska in 2002 to begin league play 3-0.
Not that they're thinking about it -- much.
"We've got a one-track mind," linebacker Joe Mortensen said. "We're not looking ahead. We're trying to win every game and see what happens at the end."
With every win, the Jayhawks' confidence soars. However, Talib doesn't want that confidence to be confused with arrogance.
"You never feel unbeatable. Once you feel unbeatable, that's when you get upset," Talib said. "We're just prepared."
The Buffaloes scored with 3:42 remaining on Cody Hawkins' 5-yard pass to Byron Ellis to draw within five, 19-14.
Suddenly, it was a game again.
After the Jayhawks' offense went three-and-out, the defense stepped up. Colorado lost three yards on the final drive before turning it over on downs.
"They were confident, I was confident," Kansas coach Mark Mangino said. "When they jogged out there on the field, even though they were a little tired, I thought they had a little swagger to them."
The Jayhawks had gained at least 400 yards and scored 30 or more points in every game coming in, but the Buffaloes limited them to 333 yards of offense.
But now Kansas realizes that on a day when the offense isn't sharp, the defense can save a game.
"I have all the confidence in the world in our defense," sophomore quarterback Todd Reesing said. "There's never been a time when they needed to make a stop or make a play that I've doubted that they will."
The Buffaloes (4-4, 2-2) couldn't put the clamps on Reesing, who made things happen just as much with his legs as his right arm.
Reesing gained 84 yards on seven carries, including a 53-yard scamper in the first half to set up one of two field goals by Scott Webb. He also completed 20 of 29 passes for 153 yards, with a 4-yard touchdown pass to Derek Fine in the fourth quarter. He has thrown a touchdown pass in a school-record seven straight games.
Colorado is going to get awfully sick of him before his career is over.
Reesing made his college debut last season against Colorado after he was thrust into the game at halftime to rescue the faltering Jayhawks, burning his redshirt in the process. He led the team to a 20-15 comeback win.
"He's a good player, very competitive," Colorado coach Dan Hawkins said.
Colorado linebacker George Hypolite was still marveling at Reesing's 53-yard run on Saturday. Reesing had a 63-yard scamper against the Buffaloes last season as well.
"Point blank, we have to get that guy to the ground and we had some opportunities and we didn't," Hypolite said. "We just didn't keep him contained."
Cody Hawkins was 27-of-44 for 287 yards, and had two touchdowns and two interceptions. He was also sacked three times.
"I was about three plays away from walking in here with a big, cheesy grin on my face, acting like it's the last day of school," Hawkins said. "They played harder than any team we've played so far."
The Jayhawks were wary of the Buffaloes' recent success against ranked foes at Folsom Field.
Colorado stunned fourth-ranked Oklahoma 27-24 at home earlier this year, and a little deception in the third quarter made it look like the Buffaloes would take down another ranked unbeaten. Hawkins acted like he had tripped, then suddenly popped up and threw a 27-yard strike to a wide open Tyson DeVree that gave the Buffaloes a 7-3 lead.
But with the game on the line at the end, the Jayhawks' defense showed their mettle.
"It feels good to win any way," linebacker James Holt said. "But to win like that? Yeah."
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