The 2008 Kansas football season had several question marks headed into the 2008 season. How would certain losses impact the offense was a big one and specifically how would the departure of Brandon McAnderson, Anthony Collins and Derek Fine affect the running game. While those questions were not answered with resounding confidence early there was a time in the year where things finally seemed to click in a big way and Kansas fans saw a glimpse of what could be to come.
Once again performance #4 brings us to the Sunflower Showdown and the faceoff between the Jayhawks and in state rival Kansas State. This time however the performance was a group effort. While one player ultimately put up the big numbers, six Jayhawks were involved in performance #4.
Jake Sharp, Jeff Spikes, Chet Hartley, Ryan Cantrell, Adrian Mayes, Jeremiah Hatch and backup guard Sal Capra check in at #4 on the top 10 countdown. While Sharp ran wild and put up the numbers, I would be remised if I were to ignore the fact that he ran through some incredible sized holes created by the big guys up front.
The game kicked off with great anticipation. Kansas fans looking for a team to get on track and the Wildcat faithful hoping things weren’t as bad as they seemed. However, this one was over in a hurry. Behind a dominant performance from the Kansas offensive line Jake Sharp would score three times in the first quarter. Runs of 4 yards, 20 yards, and finally 47 yards would all end with Sharp crossing the goalline, and perhaps the most impressive part was he was hitting the secondary before even being touched. Behind the dominant running game Kansas would control the game with what would be a season high 280 yards of offense coming on the ground. The big guys up front would open up holes all afternoon and the 5 that had gone through growing pains throughout the year seemed in sync. In the end these five were finishing blocks, punishing defenders and taking the will out of the Kansas State defense as a result of a maturation process from the tackles and an interior that battled injuries but kept plugging away all season long.
In the end Sharps performance would tell the tale a career high 181 yards on the ground. Sharp tied a school record with four touchdown runs. His 152 yards in the first half alone was a career high and if Mangino would have chosen to be as unmerciful to Kansas State as many fans would have been it could have gone much higher. Sharp also had 5 receptions for 76 yards bringing his total up to 257 all purpose yards in the win. A huge game against a wounded rival and one that brought a lot of satisfaction to a team that didn’t always have the luxury of this type of running game throughout the season.
In the end the combination of the offensive line and Jake Sharp were the reason this game was never going to be close and with that they earned the #4 spot on the top 10 countdown of Kansas football performances of 2008.