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Moments That Popped in KU's convincing home win over UCF

Highlights and lowlights from Week 6 with the Jayhawks

4 min read
KU defensive lineman Austin Booker celebrates a huge hit early in the Jayhawks' win over UCF on Saturday, Oct. 7, 2023 at David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium. [Kansas Athletics photo]

Fresh off of their first loss of the season last week at Texas, the Kansas football team returned home to take on UCF for the first time in program history.

Oddsmakers had the Jayhawks as the underdog in this one, with UCF listed as a 2-point favorite at kickoff.

Clearly, the Jayhawks were not worried about that and were ready to bounce back from the loss to the Longhorns.

KU roared out to a 31-0 lead en route to a 51-22 victory that moved the Jayhawks to 5-1 on the season and 2-1 in Big 12 play.

As one might’ve guessed, there were far more moments to like than dislike, and here’s a look back at all of the Moments That Popped during the Jayhawks’ latest win.


• Austin Booker forced fumble: Booker’s had a sensational start to his Kansas career, but even by those standards Saturday’s first half was something else. He finished with three tackles and two of them were for losses, including a sack and a forced fumble. The first TFL ended UCF’s opening drive of the game and forced a punt after the Knights had crossed into KU territory.

• Craig Young the cover man: At least once a week, KU linebacker Craig Young, who plays the Jayhawks’ “Hawk” position, finds himself getting tested in coverage by the opposing QB. And so far this season, Young has stood up to every challenge. The biggest one on Saturday came on a deep shot late in the first quarter, and Young ran step-for-step with UCF WR Xavier Townsend, breaking up the play with ease to force a three-and-out. The speed and athleticism has always been there for Young. But the former Ohio State Buckeye appears to be playing with more confidence and savvy than ever so far this season.

• Captain Bean: A week ago when he filled in for injured starter Jalon Daniels, KU quarterback Jason Bean did not find out he was playing until 30-45 minutes before kickoff. As such, most of that time was spent readjusting and readying himself for the unexpected start. KU safety Kenny Logan Jr. took Daniels’ spot at midfield with the captains for the coin toss. In this one, with Bean having plenty of time to prepare for the start throughout the week, it was Bean who filled in for Daniels as a Week 6 captain.

• Ring of Honor additions: At halftime of Saturday’s win, former KU greats Tony Sands and Nick Reid were honored on the field and inducted into the Kansas Football Ring of Honor. Sands was seen tearing up on the field after his name was unveiled on the stadium wall at the top of the north bowl, sandwiched between Willie Pless and Gilbert Brown. Sands once owned the NCAA record with 58 carries and 396 yards in a single game and Reid, who was a part of the KU football resurgence under Mark Mangino, was the 2005 Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year. Reid’s name went up on the stadium wall between Brown and Anthony Collins. Mangino and Glen Mason, who coached Sands, were both on hand for Saturday’s ceremony.

— Editor's note: Not to worry, KU fans... We'll have plenty more on KU's run game dominance in this one later tonight. So check back later.


• Special Teams gaffes: Midway through the third quarter, after a short touchdown run by Dylan McDuffie, the Jayhawks botched the extra point attempt, giving UCF 2 points after the 91-yard return of the fumbled snap. The hiccup cut KU’s lead to 37-8 with 7:02 to play. Later, with the game well in hand, KU kicker Seth Keller missed a 32-yard field goal wide right.

• Hayden Hatcher injury: Midway through the third quarter, with the Jayhawks rolling, defensive end Hayden Hatcher went down with a left arm injury and did not return to the game. Hatcher, a 6-3, 245-pound redshirt senior from Council Bluffs, Iowa, has had a tremendous start to his final season and had recorded one tackle in Saturday’s win at the time of his injury. Later in the game, Jereme Robinson, Cornell Wheeler and Kalon Gervin all walked off the field with some kind of injury.


• Drink it in, KU fans, the Jayhawks are on the brink: Saturday's victory moved the Jayhawks to within one win of bowl eligibility for the second consecutive season, another strong and real indication that the tide has turned at Kansas. Still, after years of waiting and wondering if they'd ever get to this point again, the Jayhawks are sitting on the doorstep of history. If they get Win No. 6 this season, they'll become bowl eligible in back-to-back years for the first time since the 2007 and 2008 and just the second time in school history. It's been a truly mind-blowing turnaround under head coach Lance Leipold.

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