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View from the Stands: Liberty Bowl

Wow, what a rush!

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: DEC 28 AutoZone Liberty Bowl Photo by Nick Tre. Smith/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images


We hop in the car at about 3:30 to make the 20-ish-minute drive to the stadium. It is an easy drive. Straight ahead for 4 miles, then make a right and the stadium is up another mile and a half or so. It is smooth sailing until the right turn. After the right turn, you are on a 3-lane parkway where the left two lanes are at a standstill and the far right lane is free. I stick to the right lane. I see no point in hanging out in lanes that are not moving. This was a great call. As we approach the stadium all the houses and businesses on the right, across the street from the stadium, are selling parking. I pick a car wash on the corner. Glad to have stopped at the ATM before leaving the hotel, I gladly hand over $20 to the lady running the lot and park the car.

The Memphis police department is not helping direct traffic but is at the corners making sure pedestrians cross the street safely when the traffic lights indicate it is our turn to cross. The walk through the onsite parking indicates there has been some tailgating happening, but not a lot. The only merch we see being sold is not a licensed product. One shirt references “I am a Jayhawk Bi$%tch” and something involving the ‘F’ word. The other tee shirt I see is not related to the game at all but is derogatory to the current President of the United States and his Vice President. Not sure why that is being sold here. Though I see a few of the former being sold and see none of the latter making any sales.

Like when driving to the stadium, I see no advantage to waiting in the long lines to get past security and make our way around to the short lines. Despite the large number of people trying to get in, it is smooth and relatively quick sailing through the entrance and into the stadium. We get lucky and run into one of my son’s friends and his family as we stop to buy water. We say a quick high and move on to our seats. Our seats are almost exactly positioned like my seats at the Booth, but much higher. Despite being up high, it is a good view of the game, we are on the aisle and right next to the cameraman.

After watching the swearing-in ceremony of new Naval recruits and the National Anthem, KU wins the toss and defers. Always love that. It is game time.

Liberty Bowl, Memphis, TN
Timothy Reddin

First Quarter

  • Kickoff is a little short but is fair caught, no harm
  • Already thinking ‘bend but don’t break’ defense.
  • Was that number 27, freshman Kenrick Osei-Bonsu from Olathe North His School, the defender on 3rd down? I may have the number wrong, but that's what it looked like.
  • Arkansas held to a field goal attempt. It is good. Arkansas 3-0.
  • Nice 7-yard gain by Devon to start.
  • Grimm with a big gain.
  • Jalon just gets the pass away. Ky Thomas touchdown. KU 7-3.
  • Three and out. Eddie Wilson with the deflected pass on 3rd down.
  • Nice start.
  • 3 and out KU. Fumble, drop pass, and a pass behind the receiver. Not what they wanted.
  • Oh, come on. That should be KU ball. Shouldn’t the Arkansas player be the blocker?
  • What happened? Did Dotson (I assume it was Dotson) bite on fake or what? Arkansas touchdown on a long pass play. Arkansas 10-7.
  • Well things have suddenly taken a wrong turn. Savion never looked right on that. He took the wrong line to the ball.
  • One play later touchdown Arkansas. 17-7.
  • Kind of annoying, there are essentially no replays being provided in the stadium.
  • 14 points in what, 15 seconds?
  • Finally a positive play. Lawrence Arnold makes a catch for a nice gain.
  • Follow by good play to Locklin.
  • Ugh. Well, that bit of momentum is over. An interception on the throw to Arnold.
  • Lonnie!! Nice play.
  • Rich Miller making a tackle 20 yards downfield is not what you want!
  • KU fans around me are still very into it despite getting whipped right now.
  • KU stops the play that was called by Arkansas, but the QB scrambles for a touchdown. Arkansas 24-7.
  • Finally the first quarter ends

Second Quarter

  • The stadium is in the airport flight path. Every few minutes a play is headed out somewhere
  • Casey’s free!!!!
  • Shuffle pass to Devin. Drive continues
  • Yikes. Momentum killer again. Pick. Grimm and Jalon were on different pages.
  • Now KU fans are starting to grumble.
  • Cobee holds the tackle for a while before the ball carrier goes down. No help. Come defense.
  • Defense holds quickly.
  • KU fan going up the stairs past me looks unwell.
  • Not a good series. Jalon could not run or pass that time.
  • During the timeout, the Hibbet City drum cam was a fail. The person they put on the screen does not know they are supposed to fake like they are playing the drums. The bit ends quickly.
  • Officials do a good picking up the flag. There was no pass interference. The official was not in the right position to make that call and was overruled by his co-worker.
  • I am thinking about calling our defense a 2/3 defense. We seem to be good on 2 of every 3 plays. We just get killed on the third play.
  • Lonnie is held blatantly on the screen. No call.
  • Another Arkansas touchdown. Arkansas. 31-7.
  • If I had been forced to make a pick before the game, I probably would not have picked Kansas to cover the spread, but this is not what I expected. Down 24 well before halftime.
  • A TD for KU would be nice.
  • No flag for the hit on Skinner or for standing over him taunting? Really? Come on.
  • I have to ask when doesn’t that play to Fairchild not work? Touchdown, Jayhawks.
  • Waving the Wheat without the band. That feels like a first for me. The band has departed for its halftime performance.
  • Why the 2-point attempt? Seems way too early to be chasing points.
  • Attempt fails, Arkansas leads 31-13.
  • My son and I head to the concession stand after that and miss the last minute or two of the half.


  • Good choice to leave when we did. The line is short.
  • We talk to a lady in the line about Liberty Bowl merch. She has not seen any and neither have we. It is decided to blow it off and order it online if we want something.
  • When we finish at the concession stand the lines are now huge.
  • The KU band has finished and Starship is performing.
  • I see the below tweet during their performance.
  • My response never sends, but I wanted to add: “Another sign of the lack of water is if it is Starship, Jefferson Airplane, or Jefferson Starship playing on the field right now.”
  • It's funny to me, but I am guessing probably only to me.

Third Quarter

  • Need a score.
  • Arnold nice play down the sideline.
  • Fourth one. Going for it.
  • Or not, Jalon punts it. If we had downed it inside the 5, it may have been the best punt of the season.
  • After great weather in the first half, it is getting kind of cold now.
  • My son is begging KU to stop Arkansas’s run game.
  • Everyone is right there with him in his pleading.
  • Same ill-looking person headed back up the stairs. This time being towed up by a friend.
  • Burroughs misses the tackle. Arkansas touchdown and the lead is 25. 38-13.
  • My mind is starting to wonder. Is there a different approach I should take to writing my recap in light of this blowout? I will ponder the thought.
  • The offense is running a lot of plays that start by going horizontal to the line of scrimmage and have no chance to gain yards. I find myself hoping passes are incomplete so KU does not lose yards.
  • Berryhill makes a nice open-field tackle.
  • Dotson with a nice open-field tackle.
  • Locklin just misses blocking the punt.
  • That series was a little better.
  • ‘Drum cam’ is back and works much better the second time around.
  • Grimm with a big gainer.
  • Fairchild to the 5-yard line.
  • Ky Thomas with another touchdown. Arkansas 38-20.
  • Feel nice to score but it feels pretty hopeless at this point.
  • Cobee with the nice pass defense on 3rd down.
  • Locklin comes out of the backfield for a big gain.
  • Bean has come in.
  • Jalon laterals to Bean who misses an open Torry Locklin.
  • It is the Locklin series. He catches the pass for a 1st down, and the quarter ends.

Fourth Quarter

  • Three ho-hum plays for KU to start the quarter and we will settle for an Owen Piepergerdes field goal attempt.
  • It is good. Arkansas leads 38-23.
  • Owen’s kicks just look much better than Borcila’s do.
  • The defense holds, and things are getting a little chippy.
  • Three & out by the offense dampens the comeback cause.
  • It feels like a lot of the KU fans here tonight are first-timers this season. Why do I say that? Among other things someone moans “Why is the punter so bad?” Ahh, kicking of any kind has been a problem all season.
  • The defense holds.
  • “So you are saying there is a chance.”
  • Lonnie looks hurt coming off the field after the punt.
  • Tanaka for a big gain.
  • We need a score.
  • Jalon hit high on that run.
  • Grimm has another nice gain.
  • Puni saves the drive by gathering in the loose ball.
  • Lawrence Arnold is having a game.
  • Fourth down, tip pass fall incomplete. Arkansas ball.
  • With 3:52 left that feels like end the of the ball game.
  • Nice second half too bad we couldn’t play that way for the whole game.
  • Many KU fans heading to the exits.
  • 3 guys leave in Hanson brothers’ hockey jerseys. Raise your hand if you get the reference.
  • Lonnie is back in the game. Must not have been a big deal.
  • KU using their timeouts out of desperation to save time.
  • 3rd down deep pass kills that plan.
  • Last timeout and more KU fans and a large number of Arkansas fans head to the exits.
  • That’s what you get for F’ing around!!! KU ball. Cobee gets it.
  • How is Cobee hurt on the opposite sideline from where he got tackled
  • Arkansas fans are mad about the ruling on the fumble. Too bad. You are up 15 with 2:43 left. You will be fine. Let us have some fun while the clock runs out.
  • Arkansas may win but they will not be happy.
  • Emilien Touchdown. Arkansas 38-30.
  • Onside kick time. I am not optimistic.
  • The Arkansas hands team alignment looks strange to me, but whatever.
  • Omg. Omg. OMg. OMG!!!! They got it!!!!!
  • What is going on? What are the chances?
  • Kenny recovers the kick and it was not even close.
  • Kickers have not been great this season, but Tabor came through huge with that one.
  • The KU side of the stadium is losing its mind. It is so loud!
  • Are you kidding me!! Grimm for like 35 yards.
  • Touchown Grimm!!!!!!!!
  • Can you believe it?!?!
  • Arnold hauls in the 2-point attempt. The game tied 38-38.
  • How did we get here? This game seemed over.
  • Arkansas just had to play conservatively and we would have had no chance.
  • Did the chippiness get under their skin and they were goaded into trying to rub it in with a fancy play? It seems like a plausible explanation.


This is where my notes from the game break down. This occurs for two reasons. One the craziness of the moment makes it hard to enjoy the moment and take notes. Two, my wife and one child are not able to watch the game and are demanding constant updates on what is happening. What follows is an almost complete transcript of my texts to them.

Them: OT?

Me: Overtime it is

Me: I cannot believe we got it tied. It looked over several times

Me: A lot of Jayhawk fans left early thing it was a lost cause

Them: It’s not a lost cause yet at all

Me: We got the ball first. Touchdown on fourth down. Now Arkansas gets a chance to tie. 45-38

Note: KU fans are going nuts. They love that Jared Casey gets the score.

Me: Arkansas ties it at 45

Them: Go hawksss

Them: Can’t find a streaming link anywhere

Them: You gotta send updates

Me: Arkansas gets the ball first in the second OT. And they score a touchdown. KU has to match to keep going.

Me: Jayhawk TD. Going for 2 to tie the game. Hang on to your hats.

Me: Attempt fails but.......penalty gives Jayhawks another chance.

Me: Official reviewing play.

Them: figure crossed emoji

Other daughter (She is watching at home): This is a wacky game

Other daughter: I think by the letter of the law that is targeting

Them: What does that mean

Me: Call stands. We get another chance to tie the game

Them: Cmon hawksss

Me: Timeout Arkansas

Them: they’re nervous

Me: Tie game. And it continues

Me: 53-53

Them: Ahhhh

Me: Now it is one play per team from the 3-yard line. Two-point attempts instead of touchdowns

Them: Go jayhakkkkss

Me: Arkansas converts. They are up 55-53. Ku trying to tie

Me: And we miss. Arkansas wins.

Them: Noooo

Them: Bummmmerrrrrrrr

Them: many sad face emojis.

Other Daughter: That was not the play. Jason should have run it.

Them: RIP

Me: Everyone in the stands agrees. No one can believe Jason threw it.

Them: We won’t watch the replays in the morning

Them: female with hand-over-face emoji

Post Game

We beat a quick exit after the failed attempt. No reason to stick around to see Arkansas receive the Liberty Bowl trophy. The feeling of the Jayhawk fans as we file out of the stadium is disappointment in the loss but enthusiasm for how the team mounted a comeback and made it an exciting game. I am guessing if you did not watch the game but just stood outside the stadium you would think the Jayhawks won. KU fans are enthusiastic despite the loss, and the few Arkansas fans I see are really mad about how the game played out.

I know there are no moral victories, and this is not one. What it is is a game that makes me think of what could have been. If Jalon is not injured against TCU, what could have been? Where would the Jayhawks have finished the season? I am not thinking they would have won the conference, but another victory or two probably? It also makes me excited about what could be next season. If Jalon stays healthy the whole year and the defense can be shored up even marginally, next season can be even better than this season.

Now back to the hotel for a good night's sleep and a seven-hour drive before I can take my first shower in almost 72 hours.