Texas Twists Kansas
Thanks to some coincidental scheduling, Kansas hadn’t beat Texas since the year before the twister of ‘39 swept Dorothy and Toto away. The Jayhawks may have enough courage, brains, and heart to field football teams, but they haven’t had much to work with since going to the Orange Bowl in 2007.
The Longhorns’ first home game in 42 days lacked the color of the Merry Old Land of Oz, and the suspense of last year’s 21-17 comeback victory in Lawrence, but Kansas was again vanquished by Texas, this time 35-13, for the Jayhawks’ twenty-sixth consecutive loss against a Big 12 opponent.
While Charlie Weiss’ Jayhawks continue to mine for rock bottom, the Longhorns keep winning, remaining remain undefeated in Big 12 play. Now 6-2 overall and 5-0 in conference, Texas calmly took care of business at DKR Saturday afternoon. It wasn’t an eventful game, but – more importantly – it wasn’t the catastrophe last year’s meeting nearly turned out to be.
Unlike what’s happened in recent weeks, wide receiver and special teams ace Daje Johnson didn’t blow by defenders for a house call, and Case McCoy didn’t lob any deep touchdowns like he had against Oklahoma and TCU. Instead, the combination of four touchdown runs by Malcolm Brown and another stand-up performance by the Texas defense was more than enough to bury the conference doormat.
The afternoon’s lone eye-popping play was delivered by the Longhorn defensive line – and right in the nick of time, too.
Until midway through the third quarter, the Longhorns held polite, but hardly insurmountable leads of 7-0, 14-0, 14-3, and 14-6. The game’s only moment of genuine tension lasted a mere play: down 14-6, Kansas inherited the ball at the Texas 46-yard line after forcing a three-and-out on defense and benefitting from a Longhorn personal foul for running into the receiver on the ensuing punt.
Down by only eight and with good field position, Kansas quarterback Jake Heaps dropped back to pass before getting blindsided by UT defensive end Cedric Reed, who forced a fumble Texas tackle Chris Whaley scooped up and took 40 yards into the end zone. That play gave Texas a comfortable 21-6 lead, after which they all but moseyed to a workmanlike 35-13 victory.
A serviceable Case McCoy led the Texas offense to 418 total yards, finishing 20-29 for 196 yards, with no touchdowns and two interceptions. Tailback Jonathan Gray chipped-in 68 yards on 18 carries; Jaxon Shipley led the team in receiving with six catches for 77 yards. Squaring-off against a porous Kansas offense, Greg Robinson’s defense allowed a garbage-time rushing touchdown by Kansas’ backup quarterback Montell Cozart at 3:39 in the fourth quarter.
With the win, Texas – still unranked, potentially snubbed, but officially bowl-eligible – remains tied atop the Big 12 standings with No. 5 Baylor (7-0, 4-0 Big 12). But the Bears will be tested in the coming weeks with their next three games against No. 12 Oklahoma, No. 25 Texas Tech, and No. 15 Oklahoma State.
Should the Longhorns survive next week in a tough, foreign environment against an uncharacteristically mediocre West Virginia team (4-5, 2-4 Big 12), they’ll be perfectly poised to vie for their first Big 12 championship since 2009 with head-to-head matchups against Oklahoma State, Texas Tech, and Baylor to close the regular season.