You’ve got to start somewhere, and the 2005 season might’ve put Kansas and their head coach Mark Mangino on the map, or at the very least, it warned future opponents that the Kansas Jayhawks weren’t pushovers anymore.
That 2005 season was a success by any standard, but at KU, a team that had only made one bowl game since 1995 (and it required a win over a division two school to even qualify), the 2005 season felt like a coming out party. That party culminated with the destruction of Houston in the Fort Worth Bowl.
The game started off in spectacular fashion for the Jayhawks as Brian Murph returned a punt 85 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter. Kansas led 7-3 after the first frame thanks to that long return.
But the real star was Kansas quarterback Jason Swanson. He had the game of his life in this one. He went 19 of 29 for 307 yards and four touchdowns. He was named the MVP of the game, an honor that was well deserved.
He started off his MVP day with a second quarter TD shovel pass to Jon Cornish to give Kansas a 14-3 lead. Cornish continued his stellar day in the third quarter, catching a 30 yard (another shovel pass!) Swanson pass for a TD. Cornish really could’ve been considered for MVP as well with his 101 yards rushing, 43 yards receiving (those two TD catches were his only receptions of the night), and two touchdowns.
KU was now firmly in control and their first winning record since 1995 (and first under Mangino) was all but assured. But the Jayhawks weren’t done yet.
Swanson chucked two more touchdowns- a 32 yarder to Mark Simmons and a 48 yard pass to Murph. In between those two series, senior defensive lineman Charlton Keith snagged his first and only interception of his college career. He took it to the house.
Kansas 42, Houston 13.
It was the start of something. KU finished at .500 or over for three more straight seasons after that, including the legendary 12-1 2007 team. That 2005 team can look back on its accomplishments and know that they laid the foundation for what was to become the golden age of Kansas football.
Note: Art Briles was the coach of Houston at the time, so this game is even sweeter in retrospect.