We’re nearly to the midway point of our 100 days of Kansas Football. Fifty-two days until the start of the 2018 season to be exact. A lot has already been discussed about the Jayhawks, so in my quest for #Content, I decided to search for the number 52 as part of an interesting stat or anecdote.
Turns out, 52 plays a role in one of the Jayhawks last great memories from the era of Todd Reesing and Mark Mangino: November 1, 2008. So it seemed like a good time to wax poetic about better days.
Kansas has actually scored 52 points in a game since 2008. The Jayhawks scored 52 in a win against Colorado in 2010. But we’re not going to focus on the Colorado game because it feels like an anomaly: it was the only Big 12 game where KU scored 20+ points and was the Jayhawks only conference victory that year. Kansas even scored 55 against Rhode Island in Beaty’s second season of 2016. But since it’s 52 days until the season, not 55, and since it was against one of the worst FCS teams, let’s also forget about that URI game.
Instead, the focus of this article is a 52-21 beat down of Kansas State that occurred on the aforementioned first day of November in 2008. Here’s why it stands out, and what took place, in case you forgot.
Kansas was coming off its Orange Bowl season, but after starting 5-1, the Jayhawks lost their next two games and would lose the next two after KSU. If not for that win, KU would have been in a five-game losing streak and in fear of missing out on a bowl game. The victory over the Wildcats made Kansas bowl eligible, and while no would have predicted it at the time, Nov. 1, 2008 was the last time the Jayhawks would both clinch a bowl game and defeat its in-state rival. Those were the days.
How It Happened
Not only did Kansas rack up 52 points, the Jayhawks did it while Reesing had one of his worst games of the year, though it was also because he was not needed. The star QB only threw for 162 yards on 14-23 passing (his lowest number of attempts that year), with one touchdown and one interception. Oh for the days when a Kansas QB could be held to fewer than 200 yards and the Jayhawks still win a Big 12 game easily. But it didn’t matter, because KU ran it down the Wildcats’ throats. And no one sliced up that KSU defense more than Jake Sharp.
I always liked Sharp more than his numbers dictated I probably should have, but in this game Sharp looked virtually unstoppable. The running back totaled 181 yards on 21 carries and four touchdowns (one-fourth of his touchdown total on the season) as part of a total rushing effort of 280 yards on the ground and six touchdowns.
As impressive as the running attack was, Kansas defense was equally dominant. The Jayhawks held the Wildcats to 264 yards passing and 91 yards rushing while forcing five turnovers—two fumbles and three interceptions—which was the most on the season. It was quite the comeback after allowing 418 passing yards and six touchdowns to Texas Tech the week prior.
Mark your calendars for Nov. 1 and celebrate the 10th anniversary of Kansas making a bowl game and beating those purple Wildcats by watching highlights of Josh Freeman fumbling at the goal line or of Jake Sharp and the others look like a dominant Big 12 team for one of the last times this decade.