SCORE: Kansas Jayhawks (3-7, 1-6) 31, West Virginia (4-7, 2-6) 19
THE GAME WAS OVER WHEN: With just under 6 and a half minutes to go in the game, Brandon Bourbon punched in the ball over the goal line from the one yard line following a Ben Heeney interception and 28-yard return. The touchdown stretched the lead to 31-7.
PLAYER OF THE GAME: James Sims, with a high honorable mention to linebacker Ben Goodman. Sims racked up 219 yards on 22 carries, an awesome 9.6 yards per carry, and three touchdowns. He had a pair of 68-yard romps in the second quarter, one coming in the final half minute of the first half, when Kansas looked to be just running out the clock.
Ben Goodman had 6 tackles, an impressive interception and 54-yard return, and a key blocked field goal in the last minute of the second half, which was immediately followed by Sim’s 68-yard touchdown run.
FUN STAT: The win ends a 26-game Big 12 losing streak that goes back more than 1,000 days.
1- A Win: For a team that has been fighting so hard each game, with very little success, this was a huge win. That 27-game losing streak had to weigh heavy on every player and staff member. It has to be a great feeling to get that monkey off their back. It gives them some momentum going into next week’s game against an equally bad Iowa State team.
There is no guarantee Kansas will play well next week in Ames because the Cyclones are tougher historically at home, no matter what their record, but still, this win is sweet.
2- The Running Game: James Sims’ 211 yards were only part of the story. Kansas finished the day with 315 rushing yards as a team. Freshman Montell Cozart added 60 yards on the ground, and Brandon Bourbon pitched in 48 more yards. Cozart made a surprise start and took every snap in the win.
3- The Defense: Despite a bit of a bend-but-do-not-break day, the defense came up with some big plays. Goodman’s interception was a terrific play, and Ben Heeney’s iced the game. Both led to scores for the Jayhawks. Kansas struggled early against the bubble screen but did a good job breaking up pass plays down field. The Jayhawks had seven passes defended in the game.
1- The Passing Game: It is still awful. The Jayhawks got a boost in the running game from Cozart but he can’t pass a lick. He only completed 5 of 12 attempts for 61 yards. That just isn’t going to cut it. The Jayhawks also had three more dropped passes.
2- The Health of Tony Pierson: After missing some games with issues from concussions, Pierson did not look good in this game. He caught just one pass for 12 yards and the carried the ball 6 times for -4 yards. His last carry ended with Pierson firmly sandwiched between two Mountaineers, with Pierson remaining on the turf. He eventually got to his feet, and was helped off the field, not to return. He was not able to get into space as a receiver, and could not break out when he carried the ball. He just did not look effective.
3- Stupid Mistakes: A late fumble and three very costly penalties in the final minutes of the game led to two late West Virginia touchdowns. Another offensive drive was stalled earlier in game with illegal procedure penalties. Kansas continues to hurt itself with dumb plays. If they hope to win a road game against Iowa State, or even pull an upset against Kansas State in two weeks, the Jayhawks must play cleaner ball.