Kansas and UConn are a combined 17-1. What else is new, right? Think again.

We’re talking football.

With the college basketball season beginning this week and the college football regular season in its latter stages, several schools across the country are in an unfamiliar place. Most years, come the start of November, Jayhawk and Husky fans can turn their attention from the gridiron to the hardwood. This year, however, they must split their time between the two squads. Of course, at Georgetown, no such problem exists.

“For now, basketball has taken a back seat to football,” said Travis Robinett, sports editor of the University Daily Kansan. “Sure, it’s great that basketball season is back, but this football team is unreal. For the students here now, Kansas has always been bad to mediocre at football, so this is something almost no one has experienced, and it’s an exciting situation.”

Robinett’s No. 4 Jayhawks (8-0) are one of the nation’s three remaining undefeated teams (Ohio State and Hawaii are the others). With a trip to 5-4 Oklahoma State on tomorrow’s docket and a date with lowly Iowa State a week later, barring an upset, Kansas should run its record to 10-0 before it faces No. 6 Missouri in its final regular season contest. Win or lose, the Jayhawks should advance to a Bowl game in late December or early January. Kansas has only played in two bowl games since 1995, neither of which came after Christmas.

By then, the men’s basketball team – also ranked fourth – will have played nearly half of its games.

“Everyone is just really excited that Kansas is succeeding and that the rest of the country is talking about us. The more sports, the better,” Robinett said. “Most people understand the situation and are kind of just reveling in the glory of being great at both basketball and football.”

Meanwhile, in Storrs, Conn., the University of Connecticut’s football team – in just its sixth year at the Division I-A level and fourth season in the Big East – checks in at 8-1 (4-0 Big East). The Huskies downed No. 10 South Florida on Oct. 27 and beat a serviceable Rutgers team last weekend. If Connecticut wins at least two of its final three games, it will match in one season its league win total from the previous three combined.

“There is room for another good team at UConn,” said Kevin Meacham, associate managing editor of the UConn Daily Campus. “It’s a little strange to call yourself a football school after being a basketball school for so long.”

The men’s basketball team, which has won two NCAA titles since 1999 and is among the winningest programs of the past decade, is coming off of a 17-14 (6-10 Big East) letdown of a season. Head Coach Jim Calhoun’s squad missed the postseason for the first time since 1987.

With an underwhelming performance against Morgan State in its first game (albeit a 69-65 win), there is no telling if this year will be any different.

“The only reason [fan support of basketball] may be different is because of how last year went for us,” Meacham said.

Three thousand miles from Storrs, the University of Southern California finds itself out of the hunt for a football national title at the start of the basketball season for the first time in five years. Pete Carroll’s squad, labeled before the season (somewhat irrationally) by Stanford Head Coach Jim Harbaugh as potentially the best college football team ever, promptly lost to the lowly Cardinal 24-23 on Oct. 6. The Trojans fell against three weeks later, all but eliminating them from the national title hunt.

As if on cue, however, the Trojans’ men’s basketball team has begun to elevate itself to elite status. Last season, USC advanced to the Sweet 16. This year, with a top-three recruiting class that features the much-ballyhooed O.J. Mayo, Tim Floyd’s squad has its sights set on a repeat performance, at the least.

“There is definitely more of a buzz around the basketball team,” said Pete Simones, sports editor of the USC Daily Trojan. “The football team [being out of contention] has something to do with it, but people were excited about basketball anyway.”

Simones said that last season for the first time, USC began selling out Pac-10 games. So far this year, USC has sold 7,500 season tickets, most in program history, according to Dave Tuttle, a USC assistant sports information director.

According to Simones, Floyd, in his third season at USC, is largely responsible for making USC basketball relevant.

“People think of Tim Floyd in a basketball sense in the same way they think of Pete Carroll for football,” he said.

And, Mayo may be the other piece to the puzzle.

“O.J. makes people curious,” Simones said. “In L.A. you need star quality. O.J. has that name recognition.”

Yet at Georgetown, most Hoyas won’t have any trouble deciding whether they will spend Saturday afternoon watching the No. 5 men’s basketball team begin their title pursuit against William and Mary or head down to the Multi-Sport Facility to take in the 1-9 football team’s final regular season contest.

Several students working in the Leavey Center last night said they did not know who the football team’s opponent for senior day is. Finding someone who planned to go to the football game instead of basketball was impossible.

“It would take some amazing give-aways,” Pete Forbes (COL ’08) said. Forbes added that he thought even in the Patriot League, a winning football team would draw fans.

Twister Murchison (SFS ’08) said he thought Georgetown students would embrace a competitive football team, but wasn’t sure “if people would swallow the path to getting good,” referring to increased spending and reallocated resources.

Some are not as diplomatic as the former GUSA president.

“I hate our football team,” said Daniel Robles (SFS ’08), a Thursday night cashier at Uncommon Grounds. “It takes a team that wins a game to sell tickets. Look at the basketball team my freshman year.”

Still, many Georgetown students clamor for a big-time football team on the Hilltop. Or at least one that wins more than a single game.

“Do you think Florida complains that they have two national champions,” mused Murchison.

Added Robles: “I’m a little jealous of my friends that go to Florida and Notre Dame. They’re always at fun games. Ours only happen from November to March.”

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