Kansas loses to Iowa State on Senior Night

It was supposed to be the game where the Kansas football program turned the corner.

After all, Kansas coach Charlie Weis had offered to buy tickets for any student that didn’t have one. And the Jayhawks had just come so close to beating a ranked Texas Tech team on the road. And it was senior night. This had to be the moment where it all clicked for the Jayhawks, didn’t it?

It would have been poetry to beat the school that Kansas topped in 2009 to start 5-0 — the last win before the program crumbled.

Instead, Iowa State cruised to a 51-23 victory. The Cyclones couldn’t have been less phased by the crowd of 41,608 at Memorial Stadium, or the black on black uniforms that he surprised the team and fans with. We may never see those uniforms again.

“Going out early and feeling all that emotion and getting ready to run out on the field, there was definitely a lot of adrenaline,” left tackle Tanner Hawkinson said. “For the first time all year.”

What the Jayhawks weren’t ready for was a 5-5 Iowa State team desperate to reach a bowl game — a win against Kansas assured one.

The Cyclones were trying anything to get there. Starting quarterback Steele Jantz, who had been inconsistent all year, was yanked early in the first quarter after he fumbled on ISU’s first possession and went three and out on his second drive.

Taking over for Jantz was Sam Richardson, a freshman who had yet to throw a pass all year and was low enough on the depth chart that Weis didn’t even spend anytime preparing for him. Weis later said that he should have.

All Richardson did was complete 23 of 27 passes for 250 yards and four touchdowns.

“They were more simple than they’ve been on tape,” Weis said. “They’d been quite exotic in the last bunch of weeks with formations. They just lined up and went right after us and did it very well.”

Perhaps that was the biggest difference between the two teams on Saturday. Iowa State was scarily simple, and Kansas was catastrophically complex.

The Jayhawks had five different players take snaps: starting quarterback Michael Cummings, relegated back-up quarterback Dayne Crist, running backs Tony Pierson and James Sims and wide receiver Kale Pick who was recruited as a quarterback. None of them sufficiently paid off.

“We had enough confidence that Iowa State would try to load up front,” Weis said of putting Crist back in. “The next thing we’re going to have to do is try to throw behind them.”

Sims snapped his school record-setting streak of six straight games with a hundred yards rushing finishing with just 81. Crist found 156 yards and a touchdown through the air, but only completed 9 of 20 passes with an interception. And Tony Pierson’s speed was only showcased on one play, a 55 yard run that was supposed to be a flea flicker until Pierson found a seem and ran straight up the middle untouched to the end zone.

And Richardson? He was firing bombs left and right, picking apart a defense that had been solid for Kansas the vast majority of the season.

Yet it wasn’t being down 38-17 at halftime that sunk the Jayhawks, it was the next Iowa State score after it, a 51-yard field goal that had no trouble getting past the uprights.

“It’s the small things like that,” safety Bradley McDougald said. “Special teams count, so when a guy walks up and punches in a 51-yarder their team takes notice of that and gives them energy we didn’t need them to have.”

It became a shootout no Jayhawk wanted to be a part of. This Kansas team is built on running the ball and playing bend-don’t-break defense.

“We are not a 51-point offense,” Weis said. “I thought it would be in the 20’s. I thought they were going to run it and we were going to run it. I didn’t come to the game expecting to throw the ball 25 times. “

And the fans, the one’s that Weis had worked so hard to get to jump onto the bandwagon of a 1-9 team, they were gone by halftime, and may not be coming back until there’s a legitimate reason to.

“If I was a fan I wouldn’t come either,” McDougald said. “All we know is we’re going to get things right and come back to work.”

It was supposed to be the game that turned every thing around, but the only corner Kansas turned led to an even darker alley.

 

Blake is a senior from Chicago, Ill., studying journalism on the news and information track. Read more from .

  • Updated Nov. 18, 2012 at 12:53 pm