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Kansas pressures West Virginia, ultimately falters

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NCAA Football: West Virginia at Kansas Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

The final score doesn't inspire confidence, but there were at least moments in the Jayhawks' 56-34 home loss to West Virginia when team showed real signs of life. Offensive coordinator Doug Meacham came out of the gate with a change of pace game plan that included 12 running plays on KU's 13 play opening drive. That included 70 yards for sophomore running back Khalil Herbert, but the drive ultimately stalled at the six yard line, where Kansas would kick a field goal to take an early lead.

After forcing a quick punt, KU had a short possession of their own, and from that point on, the first half looked a lot like what most fans expected. West Virginia moved the ball at will, while Kansas mostly struggled, with the exception of a 67 yard touchdown run by Herbert, the focal point of the offensive gameplan. West Virginia took a 35-13 lead into the locker room, and all was as expected.

However, the second half would have some exciting moments in store for the dozens of fans remaining in the stands. After forcing a punt to start the half, Kansas marched 89 yards to the endzone to pull within two possessions. After keeping the Mountaineers off the scoreboard for two straight possessions, Kansas struck again after a 64 yard strike to Steven Sims set them up for a quick score. Kansas was within a possession going into the fourth quarter.

The two teams traded scores to start the fourth quarter, but a fumble by Peyton Bender, followed by a another touchdown was too much to overcome. Despite 558 yards of offense, the most against a Big 12 opponent since 2009, and 291 rushing yards by Herbert, the fifth most in a game in Kansas history, the Jayhawks would fall 56-34, barely beating the spread. There were aspects of the game that could be considered progress, but if they aren't duplicated in the coming weeks, the high points of this game will quickly be forgotten as the season goes on.