November 3, 2007.
The sun peeks over the eastern horizon of Mt. Oread on a calm, cold, clear, 26 degree morning. The stillness belies the havoc that will soon take place at the intersection of Mississippi and 11th Street. A new day is dawning. And what a day it will be. Tailgaters are already arriving, stirring the air even before the sun makes it fully over the horizon.
9:00 AM. The parking lots around Memorial Stadium are choked full of vehicles, and the hill to the south is packed with Kansas fans. They’re here today for one thing and one thing only – to put a yet another nail in the coffin of what once was a mighty Big Red Empire. The people ache for a victory over Nebraska.
11:00 AM. A little over 30 minutes until kickoff. The temperature has risen to a balmy 47 degrees. There’s not a single cloud in the sky. A light 5-10 mph breeze has picked up out of the south. You couldn’t ask for a better scene anywhere in college football. Lines to get into the stadium begin to stretch out beyond the gates.
11:30 AM. Memorial Stadium is packed, and more people are trying to get in for the opening kick. 51,950 fans would eventually pile into the 86-year old structure, setting a school record that would last a mere 363 days. The band plays the national anthem, leads the crowd in the Rock Chalk chant, and marches off the field to the fight song.
The time has come.
11:38 AM. The teams are lining up for the opening kickoff. The whistle blows. Memorial Stadium is pulsing with energy. However, the game actually starts off great for the visiting Nebraska Cornhuskers. Kansas receives the opening kickoff but goes three-and-out. It was the first time all year the Nebraska defense had forced a three-and-out on their opponent’s first drive of the game.
The punt attempt is nearly blocked, but Kansas punter Kyle Tucker gets it off. Nebraska takes possession and drives down the field to take a 7-0 lead with Joe Ganz, making his first career collegiate start, converting a 3-yard run into a TD. Nebraska would convert three 3rd downs on its opening drive. If you hadn’t seen the previous four Kansas-Nebraska games, all competitive affairs, you might have thought “here we go again.”
But it’s not the 1990s anymore. Kansas will no longer roll over at home for Nebraska. Those days are gone.
So, trailing 7-0, the Kansas offense comes alive and zips right back down the field, with Todd Reesing finding Kerry Meier wide open over the middle on short post route for a 13-yard touchdown. But the Nebraska offense responds again, with a 62-yard pass play to running back Marlon Lucky, give the Huskers a 14-7 lead.
On the ensuing kickoff, Marcus Hereford runs the ball back to midfield. Six plays later, Brandon McAnderson waltzes into the endzone through a hole big enough to drive an 18-wheeler through. After a three-and-out by Nebraska, Kansas running back Jake Sharp burns a linebacker on a wheel route and snags a 26-yard touchdown reception.
Trailing for the first time in the game, 21-14, Nebraska goes three-and-out again. Kansas begins a 10-play, 70-yard drive that will take up all of 4 minutes and 26 seconds. It culminates with a Brandon McAnderson run around the right side that ends up being every bit as open as his first touchdown run. The Jayhawks have a 28-14 lead early in the second quarter. Despite the three-and-out to open the game, the Kansas offense suddenly appears to be unstoppable.
Nebraska answers yet again to bring the KU lead back down to single digits. Unfortunately for Nebraska, it would only last for one minute and 44 seconds of game time. Reesing hits Dezmon Briscoe on a 42-yard post pattern down to the Nebraska five-yard line, then slings a bullet to Marcus Henry over the middle for KU’s fifth touchdown of the first half. The rout is officially on.
Another Nebraska punt is followed by another Kansas touchdown. Then Joe Ganz throws an interception on a screen pass; the ball is tipped by Caleb Blakesley behind the line of scrimmage and hauled in by John Larson.
The stadium is absolutely rocking. The buzz in the air was palpable before the game, but now you can absolutely feel it, you can taste it.
55 seconds after the INT, Kansas has its sixth touchdown of the first half on an incredible 13-yard catch and run down the sideline by Dezmon Briscoe. The PAT fails, but no one cares. Nebraska follows with a field goal right before halftime.
It’s Kansas 48, Nebraska 24.
Nebraska takes the opening kick of the second half and drives down for a touchdown, bringing the Huskers back to within 17 points of Kansas. But things would only get more out of hand from this point forward.
Marcus Hereford receives the ensuing Nebraska kickoff, and this time returns it past midfield, to the 44-yard line. This time it takes the Jayhawks 8 plays, but 44 yards later, the drive culminates in another Reesing to Briscoe touchdown. It’s now 55-31 Jayhawks.
Now things really start getting ugly.
Joe Ganz, who has been harried all day, finally gets a clean pocket, but overthrows his receiver. Darrell Stuckey picks it off and returns the ball 38 yards to the Nebraska 23-yard line. Then, another Reesing to Briscoe touchdown.
Kansas linebacker Mike Rivera meets Nebraska running back Quentin Castille behind the line of scrimmage and jars the ball loose. Darrell Stuckey falls on it, and four plays later, Jake Sharp is dancing in the end zone again.
It’s 69-31 Kansas, but Nebraska hasn’t given up yet. Joe Ganz is still dropping back to pass. He just can’t seem to find any white shirts anywhere. This time, Mike Rivera picks him off. After KU misses a field goal attempt, Ganz is picked off again, this time by Justin Thornton.
Out of six second half possessions, only the first and last would result in points for Nebraska. The other four possessions went INT, Fumble, INT, INT.
Following Thornton’s interception of Ganz with 12:50 remaining in the fourth quarter, Kansas finally begins to try to run some clock. The drive opens with a Reesing pass to Dexton Fields, but then it is all Brandon McAnderson the rest of the way. Still, the Jayhawks scored their final touchdown with 11:12 left on the clock.
Maybe Nebraska realized that this was getting embarrassing. Whatever the reasoning, the Huskers finally stop throwing the ball at this point in the game. On their final drive, facing mostly Kansas second teamers, the Huskers went with a steady diet of Roy Helu and Marlon Lucky, rushing 10 times against just four pass attempts. Nebraska burns six minutes and 46 seconds off the clock.
When Kansas gets the ball back, still ahead 76-39 with 4:16 to play, six straight running plays to Angus Quigley finally run out the clock.
3:21 PM. The final horn sounds on this beautiful, clear, sunny, now 60 degree day. It’s official. The once-lowly Kansas Jayhawks have scored the most points ever on a Nebraska football team. The team that Nebraska beat 36 times in a row just beat Nebraska by 37 points.
The stadium doesn’t have 51,000+ in it anymore, mostly because the two or three sections occupied by folks wearing red have been vacated. The Kansas players begin to celebrate with the crowd.
It is an extremely forgettable day for Nebraska fans everywhere – if you can find any. As my Nebraska fan “friends” tell me, “Everyone was on vacation!” But it doesn’t matter if this Nebraska team wasn’t a top-25 team. It doesn’t matter that the Huskers nearly lost to Wake Forest and Ball State earlier in the year. It was still Nebraska.
It’s been 3 hours and 43 minutes of pure bliss for Kansas fans. And let’s be honest, nobody cares what it was like for Nebraska fans. But for KU fans, it was a game 38 years in the making. I don’t mean to diminish the 2005 win over Nebraska; that was a great win, a fun win, a streak-busting win. And while the 2005 game ended with a convincing final margin, it was a close game going into the fourth quarter. In 2007, you just knew Nebraska wouldn’t even have a chance.
These aren’t your parent’s Jayhawks. It isn’t the 1990s anymore. The days of Nebraska walking into Lawrence and going home with an easy win are over. Remember that punt on KU’s first possession, almost four hours ago now? That was the only punt of the day for Kansas. The Jayhawks scored on each of their next 10 possessions, going 10-10 in the red zone, all touchdowns.
Brandon McAnderson rushed for four touchdowns to go with 119 yards.
Todd Reesing and Dezmon Briscoe hooked up three times for touchdowns. Reesing would finish with 30 completions for 354 yards and 6 touchdown passes. Kansas did a great job of spreading the ball around the field, with five receivers hauling in four or more catches. Marcus Henry was the only KU player with over 100 receiving yards, and he just barely made it with 101.
Oh, and those six passing touchdowns by Reesing? Still a KU school record.
Kansas didn’t turn the ball over even once while taking it away from Nebraska five times.
KU converted 12-15 third down attempts. That’s an 80% clip in case you’re bad at math. It should be noted that one of those was a kneel down on third down to end the game, so realistically, KU converted 12-14 third down attempts.
Kansas ran 90 plays on offense versus 73 for Nebraska.
Kansas set three Nebraska school records on this day, all of which still stand 10 years later: most touchdowns allowed (11), most points given up in the first half of a game (48), and most total points allowed in a single game (76).
That light breeze that picked up earlier is still blowing. The skies are still clear. Memorial Stadium, once again, is quiet.
Kansas is 9-0, 5-0 Big 12. It’s the only school in the country with a top-10 football team and a top-10 basketball team.
November 3, 2007. In the year of the Jayhawk, it’s a date that Kansas football fans will never forget.