The collective sigh of Kansas fans could be felt in Folsom Field as the final pass dropped to the turf and Buffalo fans began storming the field. First and foremost for those of you who have been around for awhile I want you to reread that last sentence. Yes, that's right...Buffalo fans STORMED THE FIELD. Stormed the field for a victory against our Kansas Jayhawks and while no one likes to lose and there are a whole lot of things that need to be improved upon after last night, I could not help but think how far we've come. It was bittersweet but let's remember that as recently as 2005 no one would have stormed the field for beating Kansas. In fact Kansas fans themselves stormed the field and tore down goalposts a ridiculous 5 times between 2005 and 2006.
Most teams don't go from relative obscurity to a BCS bowl in one season, it typically takes time. Kansas caught lightening in a bottle and what we're a part of now is the growing pains that likely should have gradually developed us into a respectable program had a more normal course of events taken shape. 2007 was a major shot in the arm and I truly feel that it has progressed us tremendously but there's still plenty of work to be done.
Last night against Colorado there were signs early on that we were in for a fight. The defense seemed to be in desperation mode from the start. Position changes, offensive players on defense and players not seen all year thrust into action. In all honesty though it seemed much worse than it was. The position changes and new players were all fairly effective in their play and it could be argued in a few cases that they were upgrades. Kansas ultimately held Colorado to only 322 yards of offense, a minimal 3.4 yards per rush and took the ball away three times from the Buffalo offense. In the final five possessions the Kansas defense turned Colorado over twice, stopped them twice and allowed one touchdown. Perhaps what made things seem worse was the fact that Colorado seems to have found there own Todd Reesing as Tyler Hansen kept a number of potential game changing plays alive and found a way to get it done. 34 points total put up by the Colorado Buffaloes, but only 20 of those can I put on the shoulders of the defense.
The offense on the other hand which is the staple of Kansas football over the past two seasons was in disarray and unproductive amassing only 55 yards through the first 28 minutes of football. A team that put up 500+ a week ago needed an under 2 minute drive for a score to surpass 100 yards in the first half. The running game was nonexistent, Toben Opurum remained curiously on the sideline for much of the game and turnovers which have rarely hurt the Jayhawks blew up in their faces. Two drives inside the five setup by turnovers led to fourteen Colorado points.
Now fortunately as bad as the offense was in the first half, they were that good in the second. Kansas mounted a furious comeback but once again came up short twice on Colorado turnovers settling for three on both occasions when fourteen could have completely demoralized a fragile Buffalo squad.
Ultimately this is a loss for the team. It isn't about the offense and it isn't about the defense, the Jayhawks lost and there were struggles on both sides. It's a tough pill to swallow losing to Colorado but since day one I've felt this was going to be a potential stumbling block in the schedule.
The positive is that the North looks like it's absolutely wide open. Kansas State currently holds the number one spot and with 6 games to go there isn't one on the schedule that I look at and say..."Kansas wins" or "Kansas loses." We're going to learn something about this team and this program this year.
Hopefully the Jayhawks pull a couple of surprises, take care of business at home and make this another successful season in a mid to upper tier bowl that we can enjoy, all the while remembering that we used to charge the field, but now it appears the view of Kansas football might be changing and others are storming the field when they beat us.
Time to keep the foot on the gas and remember it's about the journey and not the destination. Kansas has come a long way. Years ago 6 wins would have been a god send, now the expectations are higher but there's no shame in the team we are putting on the field. They will compete in every game, every Saturday, whether it's as well as we want or not...they'll be in the fight.
Lastly, kudos to the Colorado team and staff for finally letting the talent play and staying out of the way. They're a better team then the record shows and in the last 4 half's of football against Texas and Kansas the Buffaloes have been dangerous. Dan Hawkins as a person is hard not to like and as a coach he seems to have one of these per year. Question is whether this win is enough to turn the fortunes and save Dan Hawkins for another day.
Also Folsom was a great place to see the game as always, Kansas fans were out in pretty good numbers but if there is one thing that will kill you in Boulder it's letting that student section get into the game. Kansas allowed them to get into it and stay into it for four quarters. At times the Colorado crowd has the feeling of a European soccer match with their chants and cheers and they do a tremendous job getting loud in the right moments. After Kansas went up by 3 you could sense that if Kansas could get a stop and punch in another 7 we were about to witness a mass exodus from the Buffalo crowd. That obviously didn't happen. Tyler Hansen led a touchdown drive, it clearly reignited the confidence in the Buffalo players and reignited the fire in the Buffalo fans.
Tough pill to swallow, tough loss and time to turn the page.