NOBODY loses 57 conference road games in a row. Not even Kansas.
The Jayhawks smashed the previous NCAA record for consecutive conference road losses set by Sewanee College (now a D3 football program), a university in Tennessee that lost 44 road games from 1931-39. Fun fact, Sewanee was actually a charter member of the SEC, but withdrew from the conference and D1 after the 1940 season. And just in case you were wondering, the previous record by a current D1 member was held by Baylor at 38 in a row from 1995-2005. If we’re honest, this is likely an unbreakable record, right up there with DiMaggio, 1953-57 OU football, or 1971-74 UCLA basketball.
But back to the game at hand. The question hanging over everyone right now is, was this a fluke? A few years ago, a really smart guy went over the last time Kansas beat Texas in football to show that game was definitely a fluke. But what about this one?
First of all, let’s do the so-called eye test. In 2016, Kansas trailed by 11 points with 13 minutes left. With less than 3 minutes left, KU turned the ball over on downs deep in the their own territory, still trailing by a field goal. A LOT of things had to go right for KU to pull that one out. Texas turned the ball over 6 times, and KU scored just 21 points in regulation.
This time was completely different. Kansas built leads of 14-0 and 35-14 in the first half. The Jayhawks led by two touchdowns with 8 minutes to go in the game. The Jayhawks had TWO opportunities to win the game with their offense, but couldn’t get enough first downs to do it. This time, A LOT of things had to go right for Texas to even get to overtime. The Longhorns never held a lead over the entirety of regulation. Texas turned the ball over four times, and Kansas made them pay with 21 points off turnovers.
Now let’s see what the numbers say. Kansas averaged 5.7 yards per play, while Texas averaged 7.1 ypp. Both teams averaged 5.1 yards per rush. Texas had 30 first downs to KU’s 22, and 574 total yards to KU’s 420. But Kansas absolutely dominated time of possession, 35:18 to 24:42.
What won this game was turnovers, where Kansas was +4. Texas fumbled 3 times, losing two, and tossed two INTs, including a Pick-6. That said, each quarterback also had at least one other INT dropped by an opposing defender - note that KU’s likely would have been another Pick-6.
Saturday night, Kansas was 11-17 (64.7%) on third downs, as compared to 3-17 against Texas back in 2016. Offensively, at least, Kansas had a MUCH better game, which is an argument against a fluke.
Honestly, I’d say it’s a bit of a toss-up. The numbers seem to indicate that this was a fluky game. Kansas was outgained by over 150 yards, but the 4 turnovers really made up for that. However, KU’s game plan going in was to establish the run, control the clock, and keep the Texas offense off the field, a plan that clearly worked in the first half (aided by the turnovers) and worked just well enough in the fourth quarter.
What will determine for me the flukiness of this is the next two games. Be competitive in those (@ TCU, vs WVU) and then I’ll be sold on “progress.” Get blown out two more times, however, and we’re right back to “they are who we thought they were.”
That was one heckuva offensive performance. The Jayhawks scored more points in the first half than they had in an entire game since Texas Tech in 2019, and KU hadn’t put up half a hundred on the scoreboard since Rutgers in 2018. KU’s offense checked every box: control the clock, convert third downs, pound the rock, and for the most part, it worked beautifully.
Except when it didn’t. There’s a bible verse that says, “Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.” At the risk of blasphemy, when you apply this to football you have Kansas in the 4th quarter, or perhaps more specifically, the final four minutes of the 4th quarter.
KU had two (!!!) chances to win the game with its offense in the final four minutes of the game. But Kansas played extremely conservatively on its last two possessions - i.e., sparingly - and as a direct result, the offense failed to get any first downs and Texas was able to tie the ballgame and force overtime with just 22 seconds left in regulation.
Yes, I know they got 4 turnovers. Kyron Johnson is a beast. But as a whole? Wow, that defense is BAD. And not the good, cool kind of bad. Everyone and their dog knew that Texas was scoring the tying touchdown when they got the ball back, even though there were only 44 seconds left to go.
Jalon Daniels drew the start and went 21-30 for 202 yards and 3 TDs. He was only sacked once, and added 48 rush yards on 11 carries with a rush TD. He was absolutely spectacular.
Devin Neal equally incredible, averaging 6.0 yards per carry as he picked up 144 yards on 24 attempts with 3 TDs. Neal added 26 receiving yards and a TD as well.
Kwamie Lassiter had an uncharacteristic drop early in the game, but totally redeemed himself with a final line of 68 yards on 8 receptions with a TD.
TE Mason Fairchild hauled in two huge receptions for 31 yards with a TD.
TE Trevor Kardell saw time in the second half after Fairchild left the game following a vicious hit; he hauled in two big-time receptions for 30 yards, including a huge 3rd down conversion.
FB Jared Casey, playing on the first offensive snap of his college career, was the hero of the night, hauling in Jalon Daniels’ 2-point conversion attempt to win the game for KU in overtime.
Kenny Logan was credited with a game-high 11 tackles.
Rich Miller was all over the field, picking up 8 tackles with a TFL and a fumble recovery.
Kyron Johnson may be KU’s defensive player of the game, with 8 tackles, 2 of which were strip-sacks where KU recovered both fumbles, one recovered by Johnson himself.
OJ Burroughs had 4 tackles and an INT in the end zone late in the 4th quarter.
Jacbee Bryant had 3 tackles and the Pick-6 INT that gave KU the 35-14 halftime lead.
Jacob Borcila was a perfect 7-7 on PATs; KU did not attempt a field goal in the game.
Reis Vernon booted 5 punts but for just a 30.6 yard average.