Kansas, K-State show football still belongs in hoops country

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LAWRENCE, Kan. — Kansas State barged into the Top 25 after its win at Oklahoma on Saturday night, and there’s a good argument to be made that the Wildcats’ biggest rival – just down Interstate 70 – deserves to be there, too.

As it stands, Kansas is just outside of the rankings. You read that correctly.

The long-downtrodden Jayhawks are among the 21 of 131 teams in the Football Bowl Subdivision that have yet to lose this season. They knocked Duke from those ranks Saturday, which was enough for Kansas to show up on 43 of the 63 Top 25 ballots – leaving them just a few points behind the 25th-ranked Wildcats.

Asked whether he puts any stock in it, Kansas coach Lance Leipold replied Tuesday: “I have not. Never have.”

There’s a lot of folks in the Sunflower State that do, though.

Only five states have multiple programs in the Top 25. Kansas could become the sixth if the Jayhawks and Wildcats can inch their way one spot higher. Kansas (4-0) plays Iowa State on Saturday at Memorial Stadium in Lawrence – a place that sold out last week for the first time in years, while Kansas State (3-1) hosts Texas Tech the same day.

The schools haven’t been ranked at the same time since Oct. 14, 2007, when the Jayhawks were 15th and the Wildcats No. 25. That was the year Kansas won the Orange Bowl and tied its best-ever finish of seventh in the AP poll.

“National recognition – and recognition as a whole – is something that obviously we strive for,” Leipold said of the rankings, “but we don’t control it, so let’s get back to what we can control. If you spend a lot of time worrying about if you should or shouldn’t, you probably won’t be very long anyway.”

Most Kansas fans typically turn their attention to basketball at this time of the year – to the defending national champion Jayhawks. The football fans that are scattered across the state usually have to pin all their hopes on the Wildcats, who have been to bowl games 10 of the past 12 seasons.

Yet the “house divided” flags waving outside of homes from the Missouri border to the Colorado border are flying proudly for the first time in more than a decade.

Make no mistake: Leipold hears the chatter. He sees more people showing up for his weekly news conference, and it is impossible for him to avoid a schedule that’s rapidly filling with interview requests.

“It makes good stories,” he admitted, “but again, I want to keep this team in a good mindset. Stay focused on Iowa State. We left a lot of things out there Saturday that we have to get better at, and I don’t know if you can keep winning games if some of those things keep stacking up on you at the wrong time.”

It took Kansas State about six hours to move on from its win over Oklahoma: The Wildcats didn’t get home from Norman until about 3 a.m. Sunday, then went through normal treatments and game film before getting back to practice Monday to prepare for Texas Tech.

Much like Leipold, that’s exactly how Kansas State coach Chris Klieman prefers it: Don’t dwell on success. Get right back to work, and keep working to ensure more success.

There are plenty of folks patting the Wildcats on the back after rebounding from a brutal loss to Tulane with their stirring upset of the Sooners. But as Klieman noted Tuesday, as quickly as the Wildcats went from downtrodden to darlings, they could be headed the other way with a loss to the Red Raiders.

“It’s one-week seasons,” Klieman said. “It’s hard to predict what’s going to happen in any conference, in any league, so we’ll play them when we play them, where they ask us to play them. Our guys are just excited to be 1-0 in league play and that’s the most important thing for us, trying to continue to play well in the league”

Missouri linebacker Chad Bailey suspended after arrest

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COLUMBIA, Mo. — Missouri linebacker Chad Bailey was suspended from the team after he was arrested on suspicion of driving while intoxicated, the team said.

The 23-year-old, who was a team captain last season, was booked at about 2:45 a.m. and released after posting $500 bond, according to online records from the Boone County Sheriff’s Office.

“We are aware of the situation involving Chad Bailey,” Missouri coach Eli Drinkwitz said in a statement to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “He’s been suspended according to Department of Athletics policy. We have high expectations for all of our student-athletes, on and off the field, and we will follow all departmental and campus policies.”

Bailey was Mizzou’s third-leading tackler with 57 stops last season. He started all 11 games he played, missing two with an injury. He’ll be a sixth-year senior this fall after opting to return for his final year of eligibility, the Post-Dispatch reported.

The Missouri student-athlete handbook says any athlete who is arrested must serve a minimum one-week suspension.

Bailey was pulled over at about 1 a.m. not far from the Columbia campus for an expired license plate and lane violation, a police statement said. Bailey told the officer he had consumed alcohol and then performed poorly on a field sobriety test, the Post-Dispatch reported.

Nebraska’s leading rusher Anthony Grant suspended indefinitely

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LINCOLN, Neb. — Nebraska opened spring practice with running back Anthony Grant suspended indefinitely to work on academics and other issues, first-year coach Matt Rhule announced.

Grant led the team in rushing with 915 yards and six touchdowns last season. He also caught 18 passes for 104 yards.

“Working on academics and general things. Nothing bad other than just our standards as a program,” Rhule said. “That will be day by day. Good kid. Just have to get him going in the right direction.”

Rhule said kick returner and reserve receiver Tommi Hill also is suspended. He did not specify a reason.

Backup tight ends Chris Hickman and James Carnie and reserve cornerback Tyreke Johnson left the team.