Kansas Jayhawks Make History in Upset Over Texas Longhorns

Via Last Word on College Football, by  Brendan Dzwierzynski

The last conference win, as well as FBS win, for Kansas came on Nov. 8, 2014. Between that win over Iowa State and Week 12 of the 2016 season, the Jayhawks won one game, a Sept. 3 win over FCS Rhode Island to open this season. The chance of a conference win this season seemed nonexistent after Iowa State beat Kansas last week. But with a perfect storm of late-game execution and luck, Kansas upset Texas 24-21 in overtime on KU’s senior day. The Kansas win over Texas marks a historic point for both programs, in both positive and negative ways.

Defense Reigns Early

The start of the game was a disaster for KU. Texas scored a 75-yard touchdown on the opening play on a pass from Shane Buechele to Jacorey Warrick. Texas didn’t score again in the first half, however. The Jayhawks defense shut down the Longhorns offense in the first half, a trend which continued late.

Kansas’ offense struggled for much of the game, particularly in the first half. Unable to move the ball, KU relied on four takeaways in the second quarter to remain in the game. Two Buechele interceptions and fumbles by Tyrone Swoopes and D’Onta Foreman led to just 10 Kansas points. Despite only scoring 10 points off the four turnovers, seven of which came on a pick-six by senior Brandon Stewart, the Jayhawks took a three-point lead into halftime.

Foreman Shines, Kansas Rebounds

After a quiet first half, Foreman exploded for Texas in the second. The Longhorns controlled the time of possession in the second half, allowing Foreman to wear down the Kansas defense. After gaining just 61 yards in the first half, Foreman ran for 189 in the second, scoring a touchdown in both the third and fourth quarters.

Despite Foreman’s strong performance, Kansas’ defense never completely broke down. After forcing a Texas punt 4:24 into the fourth quarter, Kansas put together its best drive of the afternoon. Freshman Khalil Herbert scored a one yard rushing touchdown to cap the drive, followed by a successful trick play two-point conversion by receiver Steven Sims Jr., narrowing the score to 21-18.

After forcing another Foreman fumble and stopping Texas on downs, Kansas had 58 seconds to assemble a game-tying drive. Quarterback Carter Stanley led the Jayhawks into Longhorns territory with speed and precision unseen through the first three quarters. Aided by a targeting penalty against Texas’ Jeffrey McCulloch and a heads-up play by Sims to prevent an interception, Kansas made it into field goal range. Senior kicker Matthew Wyman, who entered the game just 8/13 on field goals this season, made a clutch one to send the game to overtime.

Stunning Conclusion

The Jayhawks defense continued its phenomenal play in overtime. Kansas won the overtime coin toss and elected to play defense first. The decision ended up looking brilliant, as freshman safety Mike Lee intercepted Buechele two plays into the period. Offensively, KU relied on senior running back Ke’aun Kinner to handle the ball and set up a makeable field goal. Wyman returned to nail a 25-yard field goal and seal the massive upset victory for Kansas.

It was a historic win for a beleaguered Jayhawks team. Their FBS and Big 12 losing streaks (23 and 19 games, respectively) both mercifully ended with the victory. It was the first win for Kansas versus Texas since 1938, which sounds worse without context; the two teams did not play again after that 1938 meeting until the Big 12 formed in 1996. Even so, this was the first win in the series as Big 12 rivals for the Jayhawks. The victory also signifies the first FBS and conference win for coach David Beaty. It’s an important milestone for the young coach after an arduous road to reach this point.

For Texas, this loss is another example of the relatively disastrous tenure of coach Charlie Strong. Owning the worst winning percentage in program history, Strong has been on the hot seat all season. Losing to the worst team in the conference, however, may be the last straw for the struggling coach.

The Longhorns have plenty of young talent to build around for the future. Despite a poor showing Saturday, Buechele is undoubtedly the quarterback of the future for Texas. Stud defenders Malik Jefferson and Breckyn Hager each have at least one more year in Austin. Nonetheless, the loss is a painful, brutal one for UT, one which won’t be forgotten anytime soon.

A Necessary, Relieving Win

One win doesn’t indicate immediate upcoming success, but the victory for Kansas is a positive sign. Despite struggling for three quarters, Carter Stanley showed late-game poise in the second start of his career. Stanley’s success in the fourth quarter was invaluable to KU’s comeback win. Mike Lee, the standout freshman safety, continued his stellar season with the huge overtime interception along with 11 tackles. But on senior day, it was the program’s graduating players who had some of the most memorable moments.

Safety Fish Smithson, Kansas’ best defender for years now, racked up 12 tackles and an interception versus Texas. Brandon Stewart played tremendous defense on Texas’ receivers and got Kansas on the board with his second-quarter pick-six. Kinner was KU’s best running back on the day, netting 137 yards from scrimmage and also controlled the ball while setting up the game-winning field goal. And Matthew Wyman, after a shaky career in Lawrence, kicked two huge field goals late to wrap up the win.

Only one game remains for Kansas this year, their rivalry matchup with Kansas State in Manhattan. The Jayhawks will likely be huge underdogs against the Wildcats, something that would normally sour the fan base completely. However, this year is different. Kansas is not going to a bowl, nor is it competing for anything more than staying nationally relevant at all. But after another rough season, for fans and players alike, the Jayhawks finally pulled off a big win. There is no better way that this resilient Jayhawks senior class could be sent off than with an emotional, historic home victory.


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