Aggies trying to salvage season against Kansas

Updated: October 31, 2003, 2:31 AM ET

COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- There might have been a time that the Texas Aggies would have felt secure playing the Kansas Jayhawks at Kyle Field, but it's no longer a death trap for visitors.

The Jayhawks grew claws this season and beat No. 23 Missouri, almost defeated Colorado and have a 5-3 record going into Saturday's game at Kyle Field.

Texas A&M, 3-5 in its first season under coach Dennis Franchione, must win to keep alive hopes of a bowl game and to avoid losing the first season since 1982.

Senior offensive lineman Alan Reuber has seen how far the Aggies have fallen since his freshman year.

"There was like this protective shield around Kyle Field. Anyone who came in, they lost," Reuber said. "We've lost that mystique about Kyle Field and this year, it's something we wanted to get back."

The Aggies face a tough closing schedule. Kansas is the last unranked team they will face. After Saturday, they play at No. 1 Oklahoma and No. 23 Missouri and host No. 16 Texas.

"For the spirit of the team, we really need a win," Reuber said. "Emotionally, physically, mentally, we need a win. Right now, we're a little banged up, a little battered. We're going back to work and hopefully get it done against Kansas."

The Aggies aren't accustomed to losing. Most of the players, such as quarterback Reggie McNeal, came from winning high school programs and have had to adjust to the downturn.

"This is my first time experiencing anything like this," McNeal said. "Every team I've been on, we've been constantly winning. It's just a learning experience. It teaches you to keep your head up and be prepared for anything."

The Jayhawks have more momentum than the Aggies, even after losing senior quarterback Bill Whittmire with an injury in last week's 42-6 loss to Kansas State.

"We flushed the last game out of our systems like good teams should do," Kansas coach Mark Mangino said. "We are moving on and staying totally focused on A&M."

Kansas State outscored Kansas 35-3 after Whittmire's injury last week. Junior John Nielsen completed eight of 12 passes in his first career appearance. Sophomore Brian Luke, also has played quarterback this season.

"We have a plan for this week's practice and how we are going to handle it. We will prepare all three of those kids in some way, shape or form," Mangino said. "The option is there to play the game as a quarterback by committee."

Luke has played in three games this season, hitting six of nine passes.

"Our quarterback situation is not really a situation," wide receiver Moderick Johnson said. "We have three great quarterbacks at the position and whoever we go with, I know they will be the best man for the job."

This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index