It is written in the Book of Revelations (or maybe it’s in “Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey”) that, in the end times, all mountains and valleys will be leveled to the plains, and, we assume, from those Great Plains, a Jayhawk will rise from the ashes.
Well, the apocalypse is upon us. Thanks a lot, Lance Leipold.
Yes, Kansas is 4-0. And it’s not just a schedule-aided, paper-thin 4-0. The Jayhawks upended undefeated Duke on Saturday, throwing for 324 yards, rushing for 204 and looking like one of the most dynamic offenses in the country. This comes on the heels of an overtime win against West Virginia and a surprising upset of Houston.
Kansas, dare we say, is for real.
Daniel Hishaw Jr. breaks tackles left and right as he goes 73 yards for the Kansas touchdown.
To understand just how wild that sounds, remember that the last time Kansas won four games in an entire season, “Avatar” was in theaters. (OK, we’re being told “Avatar” is somehow in theaters again now. Is this Kansas season all just CGI from James Cameron?)
The Jayhawks went to the Orange Bowl in 2007, won eight games in 2008, then stumbled to a 5-7 finish in 2009. What followed was the most prolific comedic run since Bob Hope. Now what will we laugh at? Will it even still be funny the next time Kansas beats Texas?
Kansas spent a decade trying past-their-prime quick fixes like Charlie Weis and Les Miles and up-and-coming coaches like Turner Gill and David Beatty. We’re fairly certain at one point the Jayhawks resorted to a Tibetan shaman and a wax statue of Bear Bryant. None of it helped. Then Leipold arrived and it was as if the program awakened from a long sleep.
Think of the litany of players who’ve come through Lawrence in the past 15 years. Seriously, think of them because, frankly, we can’t remember any. For a generation of college football fans in Kansas, the closest thing they had to a celebrity was Baby Mangino, and he’s now a retired sanitation worker living outside Sarasota, Florida and collecting social security (again, we assume).
But now, there are stars. Jalon Daniels threw for 324 yards Saturday, ran for 83 more, and accounted for five touchdowns. Jayhawks boosters might as well start chipping in for a statue of the guy now. Four different Kansas receivers caught a touchdown against Duke. In 2020, four different Kansas receivers caught a touchdown all season! Kansas has a cornerback named Cobee Bryant. Sure, it’s spelled differently than the more well known Kobe, but “C” is a more versatile letter than “K” and the extra “E” is for “excellence,” which these Jayhawks have been — to paraphrase Ricky Bobby — relieving themselves of so far this season.
And no, it probably doesn’t signify the end is near. Had Kent State pulled the upset over Georgia or Central Michigan stayed with Penn State or Wake Forest finished off a win over Clemson, then maybe it’d be time to head for the underground bunker.
But these are strange times. The Jayhawks aren’t just relevant, they’re actually good.
Perhaps there’s a lesson in here for all of us — something about persevering through adversity and knowing that, some day, hard work will be rewarded. Or, perhaps, it’s that you should never give Charlie Weis a longterm contract. Both options are good advice.
The remaining schedule will be tougher with Iowa State, undefeated TCU and then three straight ranked foes. Perhaps this is the Jayhawks high-water mark for 2022. If so, that’s OK. Because we’ve seen a new horizon for a team that spent the past 15 years steadily walking into a brick wall like a video game character after your cat sits on the controller. But now, Kansas is something more — a program with a pulse, a team moving in the right direction, a fan base that isn’t simply counting down the days until basketball season.
Punt-a-palooza on The Plains
Saturday might’ve been the day it all ended for Bryan Harsin at Auburn, with Missouri — the SEC’s version of the kid in “Old Yeller” — putting him out of his misery.
The college football gods wouldn’t let him off so easily.
Instead Harsin — and the rest of us — were forced to endure as unfortunate a pillow fight as the season is likely to offer (though Iowa certainly will try to match it).
A quick review of the drive chart from the second half, with the score tied at 14: Punt, punt, punt, punt, punt, punt, punt, punt, punt, punt, punt, punt, turnover on downs, missed field goal.
(To answer your question, yes, Kevin Warren has extended an offer for both teams to join the Big Ten.)
That final drive was the most insulting. Auburn had mustered nothing on offense and was down to its fourth-string QB. Missouri drove to the 3-yard line to set up a first-and-goal with 45 seconds left. Then, the Tigers — the, um, Missouri ones — took a knee twice to set up a game-winning field goal on third down.
And, of course, the kicker missed.
Missouri RB Nathaniel Peat fumbles at the goal line in overtime for a touchback, giving Auburn the win.
Auburn won it in overtime, 17-14, after kicking a field goal following a drive in which it ran three plays and lost two yards. But to be fair, Mizzou really lost the game after fumbling the ball in the endzone when it had its chance to win in OT.
So it was with great pain that Harsin had to cancel his tee time next Saturday, so he can coach this team again. Hasn’t the man suffered enough?
Bowers pounds the rock
Brock Bowers is a tight end. He’s an incredibly talented tight end, of course, but a tight end nevertheless.
And yet, Georgia has seen fit to use Bowers as a runner on three occasions this season. Those three runs resulted in a 5-yard touchdown, a 75-yard touchdown and a 2-yard touchdown.
To recap for those who are not great at math, that’s three rushes and three rushing touchdowns.
Brock Bowers takes the handoff and scores to put the Bulldogs up 7-0.
How impressive is that? Well, Massachusetts is an entire football team. Bowers is one guy. UMass has 201 rushing attempts this year. Bowers has three. UMass has two rushing TDs. Bowers has three.
We can’t help but wonder, if Mike Bobo had Bowers in his backfield instead of just Todd Gurley and Sony Michel and Nick Chubb and Keith Marshall, how much heartache could’ve been saved among Georgia Twitter users?
Big bets and bad beats
DJ Uiagalelei may have managed to rescue Clemson from the precipice of defeat against Wake Forest on Saturday, but he didn’t salvage a hefty contingent of bettors. Clemson closed as a 7.5-point favorite at Caesars, with 82% of tickets and 87% of money on the Tigers. When the two teams made it to a second overtime, things set up nicely for Clemson to actually muster a shocking cover. The Tigers scored first then, by rule, had to go for 2. Uiagalelei’s pass fell incomplete, however, and Clemson won 51-45.