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Stat of the Game: Third-Down Competency in TCU Win

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The Jayhawks converted third downs better than it had all season.

TCU v Kansas Photo by Brian Davidson/Getty Images

Kansas beat another Texas school for David Beaty’s second Big 12 win in four years. It was a surprise that it happened, but not as big of a surprise that it was against TCU.

Like I mentioned in my prediction (yes, the same one where I picked TCU to win by 11), coming into Saturday’s contest, three of the previous four games between these two teams had been decided by six points or less. Now make that four of five. Although, obviously this time Kansas finally made it over the hump and won.

The Jayhawks needed some breaks and strange sequences go their way (butt fumble, anyone?), but a win is a win. KU now joins Kansas State and TCU at 1-4 and tied for eighth in the conference.

One way that win happened was Kansas accomplished something offensively for the first time this season, which brings us to the stat of the game.

The Stat

Kansas converted more than 50% of its third downs for the first time this season, going 10-17 on Saturday.

The Breakdown

The Jayhawks put together great drives to start each half, going 5-5 on third down during the first drive of each half, each resulting in touchdowns. Three of those downs were 3rd and 7, with Peyton Bender throwing for either a first down or a touchdown on each play.

Despite Kansas’ offense going cold for most of the first half and settling for field goals in the second, Bender again came through on the game-winning touchdown drive. Bender first threw for an eight-yard gain on 3rd and 5, and then ran for 12 huge yards on 3rd and 11 at the TCU 40 yard line.

This was an efficient stat line we’re not used to seeing from Bender: 19-29 for 249 yards and two touchdowns. The accuracy was light years better than the week before against Texas Tech, and that was especially true on third downs. Kansas wasn’t going to win the game—or keep it close—without that efficiency, especially with only rushing for 58 yards for the game. Pooka Williams also should be credited with his production as a receiving back on a day where nothing was happening on the ground.

We’ll see if this version of Bender and the offense can continue next week against Iowa State. But the long, competent, matriculating-the-ball-down-the-field drives were fun to watch while it lasts and a nice change of pace. I could get used to that.