Late in a strange season with not much at stake for either team, motivation figures to be a challenge when Kansas visits Texas Tech on Saturday in a matchup of teams ready to turn the page to 2021.
However, there is some fuel in that particular tank for both the Jayhawks (0-8, 0-7 Big 12) and RedRaiders (3-6, 2-6).
"I feel like it's motivation just to go out with a bang, create momentum for next season and be able to look back and be a team that had a winning record at home," Red Raiders receiver Erik Ezukanma said.
There is actually a little more for Texas Tech to ponder.
Last fall, amid a series of games that slipped through the Red Raiders' fingers in the closing minutes, a loss to Kansas stung at a different level.
After leading 17-0 in the first half and 34-27 midway through the fourth quarter, Texas Tech blocked a Jayhawks field-goal attempt in the closing seconds, and Red Raiders defensive back Douglas Coleman recovered. He started downfield with the return before inexplicably trying to lateral to a teammate who wasn't close enough to accept the pitch.
Kansas long snapper Logan Klusman covered the loose ball at the 14-yard line with two seconds remaining to give kicker Liam Jones a second chance, and this time Jones connected from 32 yards for a 37-34 Jayhawks victory.
Kansas hasn't won since then, losing 12 in a row, and the means to the outcome that night isn't something either team will forget any time soon.
"Put on the tape from last year," second-year Red Raiders coach Matt Wells said during a weekly media session on Monday. "We remember. We remember that game in Lawrence really good."
There is some notable inspiration for the Jayhawks as well.
With a roster built around 26 freshmen -- the most in the country -- Kansas has been battered and bruised in head coach Les Miles' second season. The Jayhawks have allowed 38 points or more in every game this season and 47 or more in six of their seven league contests. This week and next at home against Texas are the last chances for Kansas to avoid the program's second winless season since 1955.
In a 59-23 loss against TCU last week, six freshmen started on offense and Kansas used three quarterbacks. Junior Miles Kendrick was at the wheel the entire second half and produced 166 passing yards and two touchdown passes with on interception. Freshman Jalon Daniels had started six of the previous seven games but never got back on the field against TCU after Kendrick took over.
"I think this week will be a week of practice that we'll enjoy the competition between those two guys," Miles said during his weekly media session.
Texas Tech got plenty of spark on offense as well last week in a 50-44 loss at Oklahoma State that punctured the Red Raiders' bid for a .500 season.
Buoyed by big plays, especially in the running game, Texas Tech torched the Cowboys' defense for 639 total yards. Quarterback Alan Bowman passed for 384 yards and three touchdowns, but the most encouraging signs came on the ground, where SaRodorick Thompson ran for 133 yards and two touchdowns while Xavier White added 98 yards and a score.
The big offensive day bodes well with the Red Raiders set to face Kansas. The Jayhawks rank last in the Big 12 in rushing defense, allowing 5.7 yards a carry and 229.1 yards per game.
--Field Level Media