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Bowl Bound: Jayhawks pick up 6th win with 37-16 beatdown of No. 18 Oklahoma State

The south upright comes down as Kansas fans celebrate following the Jayhawks' 37-16 win over the Cowboys on Saturday at Memorial Stadium.

It took three losses and a bye week to get over the hump, but the Kansas football team is officially bowl-bound again for the first time since the 2008 season.

Where, who and when they’ll play remains to be seen and could depend a lot on how things go in the final three games of the season. The way these guys see it, there’s still more work to be done and more wins to achieve.

But after weeks of seeing their name show up on all of those bowl projection lists, the Jayhawks no longer have to hope they can get there.

They’re in. Kansas secured win No. 6 on Saturday, with a convincing 37-16 win over No. 18 Oklahoma State at David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium.

And the reality and euphoria of what this team accomplished — after whiffing three times before, following that 5-0 start — set off a raucous celebration on the Memorial Stadium field.

It was nothing you haven’t seen before, but this time it seemed wildly appropriate given the fact that, in more than a century of football, Kansas has been bowl eligible just 13 times.

The celebration began with thousands of fans rushing the field and ended with the south goalposts taking a cozy new spot at the bottom of nearby Potter Lake.

“I think it’s awesome,” KU coach Lance Leipold said after the win. “I think it’s awesome.”

Not only did Saturday’s victory lock up KU’s first bowl bid in 14 years, but it also marked the Jayhawks’ first win over a ranked opponent since they beat Georgia Tech in 2010 and their first win over a ranked conference opponent since 2005.

Kansas (6-3 overall, 3-3 Big 12) also snapped a 12-game losing streak to Oklahoma State (6-3, 3-3), which had not lost to the Jayhawks since 2007.

None of it was ever in doubt. The Jayhawks never trailed and controlled the game from start to finish, knocking off an OSU team that now has dropped three of its past four games and played on Saturday without starting quarterback Spencer Sanders.

Related document

Box Score: KU 37, Oklahoma State 16 ( .PDF )

“I know they’re banged up,” Leipold said. “But I’m not going to let that take away from the performance. Last year, we didn’t get a first down the first half (against OSU). And I think that’s kind of a sign of really how far this football team’s come.”

The first sign of just how big Saturday would be came when sophomore running back Devin Neal rumbled for 24 yards and a first down on the Jayhawks’ first offensive possession.

He added a 31-yard touchdown a couple of plays later and Kansas was on its way. Neal finished the day with 224 yards rushing on 32 carries and another 110 yards receiving on six receptions. He became the first player in KU history to top 200 rushing and 100 receiving yards in the same game.

The origins of his monster day could be traced back to the bus ride to the stadium. Somewhat randomly, Leipold came across a Tweet that highlighted Tony Sands’ 58-carry, 396-yard performance against Missouri.

Leipold sent Neal the tweet.

“It was kind of like this might be one of those days,” Leipold said of his digital message. “He knew he was going to be counted on in a lot of ways today, and I think it’s kind of special that the hometown guy from Lawrence puts us into bowl eligibility.”

Neal’s response to the tweet was simple.

“I sent him the eyes emoji and let’s go,” Neal said. “I kind of took it as a challenge and kind of a trust moment. I was like, ‘OK, this is what he wants me to do.’”

His teammates didn’t mind either.

“The Real Deal Devin Neal. That’s what his name is,” senior safety Kenny Logan Jr. said. “Devin had a monster game today. I appreciate Devin. He played big and showed up and showed out tonight.”

Added junior wideout Luke Grimm, who returned from injury to catch all seven of his targets for 65 yards: “I mean, it’s insane. Three hundred and something total yards for him. For him to do that was awesome. It was just, hand the ball off to him and he’s going to get 40 yards at some point. And he did that pretty much every three touches.”

After jumping out to leads of 10-0 in the first quarter and 24-7 at the half, Kansas grabbed complete control on the opening drive of the third quarter.

The Jayhawks traveled 75 yards in 15 plays and 7:52 to push their lead to 31-7, putting a damper the rest of the day for the visitors.

The opening drive of the third quarter featured two fourth-down conversion passes by Bean — one to Jared Casey and the other to Neal. The second set the Jayhawks up with a first-and-goal at the 9-yard line, and, three plays later, Bean found Casey all alone in the back of the end zone for the back-breaking touchdown.

The Kansas defense followed that up by standing tall deep in its own end, when Rich Miller sacked OSU QB Garret Rangel on third down to force the Cowboys to kick a field goal.

The two series were indicative of exactly the way the day went for the home team, which played a complete game in all three phases to pick up the elusive sixth victory.

“We made some big stops today in some key moments,” Leipold said.

Added Logan: “It was definitely a pretty put-together game.”

In all, KU racked up 554 yards of total offense, including 351 on the ground. Quarterback Jason Bean, got in on the act, too. In his third consecutive start in place of injured QB Jalon Daniels, Bean completed 18 of 23 passes for 203 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions. He also added 93 yards on the ground, including 73 on a long touchdown run.

“It was a lot easier to play ahead than behind 14 or 21,” Bean said.

Asked if the North Texas transfer felt like he had been around Lawrence long enough to understand the significance of Saturday’s win, Bean smiled and said, “Oh yeah.”

“For sure,” he added. “Especially going through last year and how tough last year was. Just seeing everybody’s faces and the excitement and just the happiness around it, I’m just thankful to bring that to everyone.”

Although he has seen Kansas fans on the field a handful of times in his career, Logan said he had never seen something like Saturday. He marveled at the goalposts coming down, which happened in a delayed manner after KU officials tried to protect them with a team of security guards in a tight circle around them. And he smiled bigger with every word he uttered when talking about what the win meant.

“Being able to see them rush the field and take the goalposts down was very exciting to me,” Logan said. “The excitement was a little different today because of the bowl game.”

That was the part Leipold enjoyed most. Sure, he was thrilled to lead this former laughingstock program back to bowl eligibility for the first time in 14 seasons. But what that feat meant to the KU veterans was the part that Leipold was most pleased about.

“I’m really proud of them and happy for them, especially the guys that have been around for a long time,” he said. “They’ve persevered and stayed with this program. As I told them, we’re pretty demanding. And the reason we are is for moments like this.”

Comments

Len Shaffer

I still can't get over what an absolutely miraculous job Leipold has done with this team.

I mean, remember what EVERYBODY (and I do mean EVERYBODY) was saying before the season: that we would see some modest improvement and it might not be reflected in the win-loss record.

The thing is, he still does things that I don't agree with and get frustrated by, like how conservative he is on fourth down (and the three straight runs up the middle from the 6-inch line, although I don't know how much of that can be blamed directly on Leipold), and yet the change in mindset, attitude and discipline has been amazing.

I think today just clinched national coach of the year for him, no matter what happens the rest of the way.

4 weeks ago

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Dale Rogers

I hope many vote for Leipold every day until the end of the season. I see he now is in third place in the fan voting portion of this coy award, behind Pittiman and Saban. This is just one factor in the award decision but it definitely is a factor.

https://bryantawards.org/fan-vote/

4 weeks ago

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Dirk Medema

I’m not seeing the credit given to the OL and receivers by Devin. It must have been 3 or 4 times during the interview video that he gave a shout out to his teammates.

It seems that is part of the culture this staff has created. They are really good at giving credit to others and other players. When everybody was going off on Jared getting the scholarship, and Coach was criticized by some for not being more public about it, he seemed quick to point out that Skinner had also earned a scholarship. That certainly has worked out well for us also. Both those guys have been huge contributors.

Len - Someone wrote to a national podcast and predicted not only bowling but that we would also beat the kitties. It wasn’t me, but nice that it’s at least half completed. I was predicting that we would be talking about bowling, but wasn’t audacious enough to predict we would get there. So glad I was wrong on that.

I did start what has been told is the incorrect hashtag COTY in August. I must admit though that there are some really strong alternatives even in our conference. Regardless of what awards are handed out after the season, Coach Leipold is most definitely COTY in my book.

4 weeks ago

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Ryan Mullen

Is KUsports just going to pretend that several players were not injured today? Not even on mention about this in any articles.

4 weeks ago

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Marc Frey

We are playing better fundamental football. Fewer turnovers, fewer dropped passed (Casey 4th down grab gets dropped in years pass), players are making plays. But agree, we all just hoped for 3 or 4 wins and being competitive. A few other writers has our current record as "Best case, in our dreams" . We have 2 or 3 winnable games left. But the Mildcats and UT seem to be playing good ball right now.

4 weeks ago

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Dale Rogers

Need to reduce the unnecessary penalties, though. One for OSU. What, five for us?

4 weeks ago

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Andy Godwin

Low expectations – “The practice of expecting less from members of a disadvantaged group and thus implicitly encouraging those people not to reach their full potential”. I remember the story of Leipold telling his wife when he got a standing ovation at “Hawk Talk” for playing OU close last year that we (he) must change the expectations. Given the state of KU football when Leipold took over bowl eligibility he now has fans ecstatic about the program because we have been told by the football world not to expect much from this downtrodden program. Now there is talk again about Leipold being recruited here and there or giving him a lifetime contract (e.g., Nate Bukaty tweet). Let’s put things in prospective. KU has exceeded everyone’s expectations given they were low (2.5 over/under in wins). KU is currently tied for 5th place in the Big 12 and is bowl eligible (not necessarily bowl bound but how could some low-level bowl not want to invite KU). Will KU win 0, 1, 2 or 3 more Big 12 games? Time will tell. As much as I hate the transfer portal, coach Leipold and staff would not have been able to transform the KU football team this quickly. I was on the field last night and enjoyed the enthusiasm of the students (they need to continue to bring the energy) and young and old fans. Winning is fun, but most importantly, Leipold is changing expectations. So, with changing expectations, who would NOW truly be happy finishing 6-6 and in the bottom half of the Big 12 (3-6)? Rock Chalk.

4 weeks ago

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W Keith Swinehart II

SO VERY IMPORTANT... Changing expectations!
Low expectations insure the result....but won't ever warrant anything beyond "honorable mention."

High expectations present the challenge and motivation to achieve the highest levels. Definitely worth "Celebration! "

4 weeks ago

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Dale Rogers

Don't forget that when those pre-season expectations were made, they represented improvement over recent performance. I don't see that as expecting less. I see it as expecting a step forward. That we took many steps forward in excess of those expectations has resulted in upgraded expectations.

4 weeks ago

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Brian Wilson

Nix that please. I don't want to hear about "Changing Expectations" or being "truly happy" as if KU fans should raise expectations to any point after suffering through 40+ years of KU football. My expectation is going to start with....is the team improving, are they playing hard, or are they poorly prepared, given up, or acting ridiculous. <br>
So YES!!! I will be happy with 6-6 seasons. I'm just not sure about that 12th game you mention because I guess it's a losing bowl game. I like to win some of those bowl games. But, from here on out I will be happy with what ever result, 4-7, 9-2, 3-8, whatever that the season brings as long as I see some wins and that the team and coaches are not giving up and that they are working hard and trying to improve. About the only time I've seen much of that was when KU had a Coach named Mangino. Any 6 win season is pretty much better than most seasons since I became a Jayhawk for LIFE 41 years ago. If Leipold goes 6 and 5 for the next 15 years it will be a heck of lot better than the **** I've been seeing.<br><br>

4 weeks ago

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Brett McCabe

Perhaps this will put a stop to the columns about how the only way we can win is if Jalon starts. Bean has played well during these last few games. A 99.2 QBR yesterday. He hasn't always been terrific, but he has played well enough for us to have won the TCU game, and to come back vs. Baylor.

The big key to this win was not going down 14-0 for the millionth time this season, though we should have cashed in a lot more points when OSU was delivering game balls to everyone in the stadium. The play calls on the first and goal, for example, were excruciating.

It was a brilliant offensive game overall, though, and Cobee was spectacular on D.

We absolutely have everything we need to win in Lubbock on Saturday. No need to get complacent, now. Seven wins will give us a chance at a better bowl game and a better competitor. A win vs. TTU means a three-game streak to end the regular season is absolutely not out of the question. Yes, winning in kittieland will be an extremely big challenge, but Tulane did it, why not us?

4 weeks ago

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W Keith Swinehart II

Bean became a dual threat with his performance this weekend. In the past his lack of aggressiveness has cost us achievable first downs and possible victory. That all changed yesterday. We now have a threatening, capable extra running back in the backfield. KU is extremely dangerous no matter who is quarterback.

4 weeks ago

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Dale Rogers

We are in a whole lot better shape in the QB dept than most other teams. Our is not really starter and backup, it's starter A and starter B. Bean is a redshirt senior. I **think** he could have a covid year if he wants. And I hope he does. And then get Vasko some reps when games are not on the line.

4 weeks ago

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Brian Skelly

It was clear once Leipold got his 'system' in things would start changing. Of course most of us figured that was still down the road.

More than anything, it's clear the players all have 100% buy in. It's fun for them as much as it's fun for us to watch them.

I have no idea what our win "total" is going to be, but every game remaining seems winnable. It might not happen. But we're not going to finish 6-6.

4 weeks ago

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Brett McCabe

With the win, Leipold certainly is squarely back in as a prime candidate at Wisconsin and Nebraska. What's good for KU could also be bad for KU when it comes to win totals. Believe me, I'd like to see Leipold retire here, but if he is lured away, then Willie Fritz is the automatic plug-in. In many ways, he would be a perfect hire, just as Leipold has been.

But, for now, let's get that 7th win (can't believe I just typed that) and, if we beat Texas and KSU to follow, we'd probably be in the championship game with a chance for revenge vs TCU!

4 weeks ago

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Dale Rogers

Unless something changes to make KU less desirable for LL, like maybe rehiring Perkins as AD, then I really don't think LL and KL are interested in leaving. They are beloved in the city as well as the school and team. They have commented on that. LL is 58 and is on record they love it here and don't want to leave. PLUS, and it is a big plus understood by those of us who have raised teenagers, their son is in high school and loves it. They moved him a year and a half ago. Moving him again, and from a place he is very happy, is not something taken lightly, especially given how family-oriented the Leipolds are. No, I don't see him leaving for any reason other than family. Roy said he left because his mother's health was failing, in NC, and both his children were in NC plus a grandchild. I don't know if LL has close family in WI. Kelly is from Omaha, which is closer to Lawrence than WI.

Just my opinion and I hope I am not wrong.

4 weeks ago

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Doug Roberts

I must have missed the memo. Anybody know why Bean is #9 instead of #17 now?

4 weeks ago

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Dale Rogers

I don't know the reason but did read awhile back he is happier with 9 than with 17. Who had 9 prior to this year? Maybe 9 is Bean's number since grade school? In other words, I don't know.

4 weeks ago

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Dale Rogers

Last season, #9 belonged to Conrad Hawley. Hawley left, Bean took the number. Maybe 9 was the number he wanted all along but it was not available.

3 weeks, 6 days ago

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Raymond Wright

Can we lock up coach pretty soon. All these husker fans up here are licking their lips.

4 weeks ago

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Dale Rogers

I really expect NU to go with Matt Rhule.

4 weeks ago

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Brad Watson

Mr. Neal and Mr. Bean..you guys were AWESOME!!!!....so happy for both...and that DEFENSE!!!!!....FANTASTIC!!!!...put it to bed...I am expecting you guys to win out and if you do...Dallas is still possible and a rematch with TCU...so get focused...you can still win the championship and really go BOWLING !!!

4 weeks ago

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Brett McCabe

Look up Ransom Rambler.

4 weeks ago

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Brad Watson

Lane Kiffin has been spotted in Omaha on 2 different occasions recently...either there is a big time recruit there or he is meeting with someone at Warren Buffets favorite steakhouse...is Dad has a long history there...he was born there and went to high school in the Twin Cities while his Dad was with the Vikings...he grew up in Big 10 country...maybe he would like to go up against Day and Harbaugh...and with USC and UCLA coming in...he may have some other scores to settle...and with his Dad on the staff as an advisor for him ...I can see it happening...just the kind of SPLASH hire that Alberts is looking for...so watch for that...Leonhard seems to have the Wisky job....but who knows.....There will be other openings...but right now.......on the home front .....if we win out ..it looks like we will be in Dallas playing TCU for the Big 12 Title...the goal is still out there and in reach...but you have to really get focused and MORE dedicated than ever...I BELIEVE WE CAN DO IT!

4 weeks ago

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Brad Watson

Meaningful games in November in year 2...Yes!!!!!!! There are 3 teams ahead of us and we play 2 of them...so we would have tie breaker on them...the other team Baylor...has to play KSU... TCU AND Texas and would have to win all those games...again meaningful games in November in year 2!!!!!!!

4 weeks ago

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Lance Hobson

That is so awesome that he mentioned the Tony Sands game vs Missouri. I thought if that game when I saw Neal’s first half stats.

3 weeks, 6 days ago

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Armen Kurdian

OK, I know we're excited we won, let's stop taking down the goalposts. Let's now just expect to win. The campus is going to flood if we keep throwing goalposts and overflowing the lake!

3 weeks, 6 days ago

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Michael Leiker

Brad, I'm with you. All this talk about if they're going to Liberty Bowl or First Responder Bowl, let's not count them out yet!

3 weeks, 6 days ago

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Jonathan Allison

this game was a joy to watch. So great to see the Jayhawks come back strong after the three losses and the bye week.

The season isn't over yet either. There are winnable games still on the schedule.

3 weeks, 6 days ago

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Patrick Bryant

My prediction is a 9-3 team will be playing TCU in the Big 12 Championship.

3 weeks, 6 days ago

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