On a weekend where (so far) Tulsa, UNLV, and Colorado State have all lost to FCS teams, Kansas managed to avoid the upset bug and hold off a determined South Dakota team by a razor-thin margin.
Trailing 14-10 with a little over 5 minutes to play, QB Jason Bean led the Jayhawks down the field (with the help of a targeting penalty on the Coyotes) and eventually hit Lawrence Arnold on a 16-yard touchdown pass. The KU defense forced a turnover on down on the next series in four plays to give KU its first win since October 2019.
As the score might indicate, offense was a struggle for both teams. South Dakota outgained Kansas by 18 yards on the night in a game where both teams combined for just 508 yards of total offense. Neither offense could sustain drives, and both teams struggled with untimely penalties.
Kansas rarely tried to take shots down the field, which indicates to me at least that coaches don’t yet trust the offensive line. That said, for the most part, I liked what I saw out of Jason Bean, and I was glad to see him play the entire game. His legs give the quarterback position an extra dimension that it just doesn’t have with anyone else - at least, given what we’ve seen up to this point.
If you took the over on 1.5 wins for the season, you were really sweating this one out. South Dakota isn’t exactly a premier FCS program. Granted, they play in the Missouri Valley, which is probably the most difficult FCS league out there just going by the number or ranked teams. Still, the Coyotes haven’t had a winning season since 2017, which just happens to be their only winning season in the last nine years.
The way the game unfolded shows just how much work there is to do to build this program to where we can expect it to be competitive on a regular basis. This was an opponent that we (ok, maybe just me) were
thinking hoping KU would be able to impose itself upon, and that simply was not the case. The Jayhawks will be underdogs the rest of the way, and likely double-digit underdogs for most of the rest of the season.
We’ll bring more analysis of this game throughout the weekend. For now, enjoy the W, enjoy being in first place in the Big 12, and no I don’t care that the students rushed the field. What an awesome experience for them! Let’s do that more often.
Up next, KU will travel to Coastal Carolina to take on the Chanticleers, who defeated The Citadel 52-14 on Thursday night. It will be another Friday night game, currently scheduled to kick at 6:30 PM Jayhawk time on ESPN2.