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Jayhawks react to program's first ever College Football Playoff ranking

Win over No. 6 Oklahoma vaults KU into CFP stratosphere

3 min read

A hundred things would have to fall right for the Kansas football team to wind up playing in the College Football Playoff this season, but the Jayhawks are officially on the CFP radar.

When the first CFP rankings of the year were released on Tuesday night, Kansas, which is ranked No. 22 in the current AP Top 25 and No. 23 in the current coaches poll, landed at No. 21 in the CFP rankings.

The top four teams in the final CFP rankings will move onto to the playoff, where two wins will crown a national champion. Right now, those top four spots belong to Ohio State, Georgia, Michigan and Florida State.

A little lower on the list, as the third of five Big 12 programs included in the initial rankings, was Kansas. It marked the first time in program history that KU has been included in the CFP rankings — the Jayhawks did appear in a handful of BCS rankings back in those days — and it pulled Kansas off of the list of power five conference programs that had never felt the glow of the CFP sun.

That list now includes: Cal, Maryland, Rutgers, Vanderbilt and Big 12 school Texas Tech.

Needless to say, KU is much happier being included on a list with those perennial powerhouse programs and title contenders than the five names mentioned above.

“It’s huge,” KU quarterback Jason Bean told R1S1 Sports on Wednesday. “I think that’s more for the fans and stuff to look at. It’s obviously where we want to be at and it’s pretty cool, but I don’t think that’s the end goal, to be ranked No. 21 in the College Football Playoff rankings. But it’s cool just to see our names up there and see that people are starting to recognize what this program is doing.”

This latest ranking means a little more for KU linebacker Craig Young.

See, when Young left Ohio State to come to Kansas, Buckeyes fans hit social media and message boards with questions about why he would leave a football power for a down-in-the-dumps doormat.

Young saw all of them and those words stuck with him.

“It means a lot,” Young said of the KU program’s latest honor. “I remember when I first got to Kansas and I would look on Twitter and my old school fans used to talk about why is he going to Kansas, ain’t nothing there in Kansas, Kansas is a basketball school. But, as you see now, we’ve changed that around and it feels good to be noticed by the country.”

Kansas joins Big 12 programs Texas (No. 7), Oklahoma (No. 9), Oklahoma State (No. 22) and Kansas State (No. 23) in landing on the first list of the season. And, as Bean said, the goal from here is to climb higher.

Wins will take care of that, and adding to their current 6-win total is exactly what the Kansas players expect to do during the final four games of the season.

“It’s great just being able to be in that category, with the history behind it,” KU linebacker JB Brown said of the CFP ranking. “This KU program is changing and people are noticing that it’s changing, too. I’m just glad that we’re taking the next step. As the season’s gone on, we all noticed that we could be in those (CFP) talks, so it was kind of expected.”

The same went for being ranked in the weekly polls. What was a pipe dream and an unrealistic goal during the 10+ years prior to Lance Leipold’s arrival is now the norm. KU has been ranked multiple times during each of the past two seasons and the Jayhawks are happy — but not too happy — to add this latest achievement to the list of rankings.

“I think they’re just numbers and I think it doesn’t really matter until you get up there in that top six, top four really,” Bean said. “Just being up there, though, it’s good to see that people are recognizing our play and where this program’s going.”

Added Young: “We still got way more work to do. The season’s not over what. There’s (several) teams fighting for the conference championship right now, so we’ve just got to stay focused and play together and keep it on course.”

The 6-2 Jayhawks (3-2 in Big 12 play) will travel to Ames, Iowa, this weekend for a showdown with the first-place Cyclones (5-3 overall, 5-1 Big 12).

Kickoff is slated for 6 p.m. on ESPN.

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