If Kansas fans are still looking for a sign that this team and this program are improving, today provided a great example. Kansas went on the road, in the Big 12, against a top 25 team and that hasn't typically been a recipe for much success. In fact it hasn't even been the recipe for a close game in recent years. Heading into Saturday's game against Texas Tech there were plenty of matchup questions and concerns that pointed to another potential blowout. The great news is, that didn't happen.
Tech started off strong driving the length of the field on the opening drive before Kansas answered with a touchdown of their own. Then the momentum shifted as the Red Raiders would go up 21-7 as the Kansas offense stalled. But the Jayhawks battled all game long and they didn't quit. Kansas would follow the lead of James Sims and Tony Pierson to a four point deficit at half at 21-17. The defense was making Tech work and the offense put together a pair of late half drives to bring the game within a touchdown of a Jayhawk lead.
In the second half Kansas once again started slow offensively, but the defense continued to turn back the Red Raiders in the red zone and Kansas trailed 27-17 before Tony Pierson ripped off his second big run of the game in the fourth quarter. That run set up a James Sims touchdown to bring the game to 27-24 with under 10 minutes to go in the 4th quarter.
After a huge fourth down stop in the redzone the Kansas offense took over possession with just under four minutes to go at their own 11 yard line. After a 50+ yard run by Michael Cummings on fourth and four, Kansas moved into the redzone with under two minutes to go and a chance to win.
Unfortunately the Jayhawks had to settle for a field goal and hope for overtime. While Tech gave the Jayhawks every opportunity, the Kansas defense wasn't able to keep the Red Raiders out of field goal range and Tech had an opportunity. A 41 yard attempt missed just to the left and Kansas and Texas Tech would head to overtime.
In the opening overtime both teams would score touchdowns sending this one to a second overtime frame. That's when the Jayhawks would run out of chances. Tech would score on a jump pass while the Jayhawks would see their last shot knocked to the ground in the endzone.
The final score didn't provide the exclamation point that this Kansas team is looking for, but it did provide another solid example of the improvement and competitiveness that is developing within the Kansas football program. When you're building from the bottom up I suppose you have to sometimes settle for moral victories. This team has had a few of those this year and it seems to be only a matter of time before Kansas get's over the hump.
Great game today for James Sims and Tony Pierson. Great fight from the team as a whole. Next week is senior day for a group of Jayhawks and one last chance to get a win at home during the 2012 season when Iowa State comes to town. Six weeks ago I don't think we saw much hope for a win in league play, but this team has given fans a reason to believe that it could happen and next week might be the best opportunity on the board.