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Stat of the Game: Kansas Runs All Over Rutgers

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The Jayhawks put up a number the program hasn’t seen in decades.

Rutgers v Kansas Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images

Well, the Kansas football team beat Rutgers 55-14 and is now on a two-game winning streak featuring two blowouts of more than 20 points each. That’s a sentence I didn’t expect to type this week, but here we are.

For the second consecutive game, the KU defense been a turnover machine, forcing six turnovers in both games. Like I referenced last week, this is a rare feat, and one that led Kansas to eclipsing the turnover production from all of 2017 in non-conference play. The Jayhawk defense even put 14 points on the board thanks to two pick-sixes.

But the unit that was equally dominant and credited with KU pulling away and never looking back was the Kansas running game. That’s why it is the focus this week.

The Stat

Kansas rushed for 400 yards against Rutgers, which is the most in a game by the Jayhawks since at least 2000, which is how far back Sports-Reference’s game finder data runs.

The Breakdown

During that 18-year span before Saturday, Kansas had five games of 300+ rushing yards, with the most being 390 coming in a loss against Texas Tech in 2011. Yet nothing beat what we saw Saturday.

The rushing attack was led by freshman Pooka Williams, who had 158 yards on 18 carries and a touchdown. As Jesse Newell of the Kansas City Star pointed out, Williams made history as the first Kansas freshman running back to gain more than 100 yards in each of his first two games. Pooka was extremely efficient in doing so, averaging 8.9 yards per carry against Central Michigan and 8.8 against Rutgers.

Though as impressive as Williams was, he was far from the only one. Khalil Herbert (two carries, 64 yards), Dom Williams (nine carries, 39 yards), and Deron Thompson (three carries, 70 yards) gained another 173 yards and two touchdowns on 14 carries. That 12.4 yards per carry was due in part to runs of 55 and 59 yards, while Pooka also had a run of more than 50 yards, his long being 52.

The quarterbacks also contributed their share to the running game. Miles Kendrick showed why he is a dual-threat QB, with 28 rushing yards and a rushing touchdown to go with 66 yards passing and another touchdown. Carter Stanley even got a few nice runs in for a total of 26 yards with the game out of reach.

The question now is if the Jayhawks can keep the momentum going. KU’s 672 rushing yards in the first three games of 2018 is more than half of KU’s entire rushing total from 2017 (1,231 yards). But Kansas has had sporadic success on the ground in past years—think the West Virginia game a year ago—before getting shut down time and again in Big 12 play.

The difference?

None of those teams had Pooka Williams.