Big 12: Fran Tarkenton

Reesing hoping to stun his favorite childhood team

November, 13, 2008
11/13/08
1:56
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

Growing up, Kansas quarterback Todd Reesing always was mesmerized by the Texas Longhorns.

Trips to Darrell K. Royal/Texas Memorial Stadium served as a unifying link between Reesing and his father, Steve, a Texas graduate. Those fall afternoons gave father and son a chance to bond as they watched their favorite players like Ricky Williams and Major Applewhite.

Those memories will make Reesing's game against Texas on Saturday even more meaningful for him and his family.

"I grew up in Austin and I obviously watched the Longhorns," Reesing said. "So I'd be lying to you if this game wasn't just a little bit bigger for me. You've got to try not to make it too big. But this is going to be fun for me."

Reesing didn't get a sniff from Texas or most Big 12 schools because of his stature, which is generously listed at 5-foot-11 and 200 pounds. But he's been repeatedly proving those doubters wrong during a career that was capped last week when he became the Jayhawks' career passing leader.

Despite his height, Reesing has been universally praised around the conference. Nebraska coach Bo Pelini likened him to a smaller version of Brett Favre because of toughness, with a dash of Fran Tarkenton and Doug Flutie thrown in because of his improvisational skills.

Reesing blossomed last season after winning the starting job from Kerry Meier. The Jayhawks came from out of nowhere as Reesing directed the team to 11 straight victories, a share of the Big 12 North title, a 12-1 record and the first BCS bowl berth in school history. His season included a school-record 33 touchdown passes.

With a less talented supporting cast and facing a tougher South Division schedule this season, Reesing hasn't matched those statistics during a 6-4 season. But he's still set 32 school records in 26 career games and ranks in the top 10 nationally in completions, passing yards and total offense.

In another conference, it might have earned him all-conference status. But with the Big 12's talented group of quarterbacks, it's almost left him as an afterthought.

The Jayhawks still have slim North Division title hopes. They must sweep remaining games against Texas and Missouri and hope that Nebraska loses one of its remaining two games in order to win a tiebreaker.

But in order to do that, the Jayhawks will have to markedly improve after last week. Reesing was sacked five times as Nebraska convincingly beat them in a 45-35 victory in Lincoln.

"It gets tough at the end of the year," said Reesing, who played most of the second half last week against the Cornhuskers with a noticeable limp. "It becomes a grind at the end of the year and tough to stay healthy. But you've got to be able to do it and finish strong. We've just got to keep fighting."

The Jayhawks are already in place to make back-to-back bowl trips for the first time in school history. But Reesing hopes for a memorable finish, particularly because of who he will be playing against on Saturday.

"I've got a lot of friends and family who will be coming up for the game," Reesing said. "And to get to play them is halfway to the dream I would have had as a kid. As good as they are this year and maybe pulling off an upset would be special for me."

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