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November 1, 2005Every Sunday during the season, Gary Pinkel delivers a fairly consistent message to his football team.
"It really is no different than the Nebraska game last week," said Pinkel. "After the Nebraska game on Sunday we have our team meeting and I said to the players that Nebraska's over, we move on and it's no different here. Kansas is over and we move on to Colorado."
But even the coach admits, this week, that's easier said than done.
"I'm not saying that it doesn't affect, won't stay with some players," Pinkel allowed. "Obviously, a loss like that's very difficult, but any wasted thought on what we could have done or what could have happened isn't going to help us prepare for the next game."
By now, you likely are aware Missouri dropped a 13-3 decision to Kansas on Saturday. It was the Jayhawks' third straight win over Pinkel and the Tigers. Despite a pledge to forget about the game 24 hours later, some players haven't been able to do so.
"That loss is gonna stick with me probably for the rest of year, just cause it's a rival game and as hard as our defense played and as hard as our offense played, we just couldn't get it done," said defensive end Brian Smith. "You just have to stick with the fact that they outplayed us. That's our rival game and it gives me a sick feeling."
No Tiger appeared more sick leaving the field than junior safety David Overstreet, one of many Tigers who has never beaten Kansas. Overstreet was venting loudly as he headed for the locker room and didn't much tone down his comments when he spoke with the media. The word "hate" was sprinkled liberally throughout his commentary. It hasn't gotten easier.
"I just try to shake it off and let it roll off my back when I watch film and all that," he said on Monday. "But I'm not going to feel better until we start playing on Saturday."
The Tigers know they can't afford to worry about Kansas anymore. They won't see the Jayhawks until sometime next fall. But the Colorado team that awaits on Saturday in Boulder is currently the Big 12 North leader. If Mizzou can pull out a win, the Tigers get back on top of the division standings.
"We will not place a lot of emphasis on that," Pinkel said. "We'll place emphasis on just trying to prepare and play well. Obviously the players will know about it. Obviously it's a big football game for many reasons, but certainly that's one of them."
Pinkel admitted on Monday that even he has a hard time forgetting about a loss so quickly. But he continues to hammer home the message to his team.
"We have another opportunity to play and that's what you do," said the coach. "There's a lot out there and you can't, it just doesn't do any good to carry that with you. You're talking to the worst guy in America to say that to. I'm trying to get better at that myself. It doesn't do any good to carry it with you. It's over, let's move on."
As they move on, the Tigers will carry with them one thing from a week ago.
"We definitely know that we have to win the rest of these games. We have to win out," Smith said. "It starts with focus and playing harder than we did last week."
In the end, there's only one cure for what is ailing the Tigers.
"What's going to make us feel better," Pinkel said, "is to win a football game."
It would also put them back in control of the still wide open Big 12 North.