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Moments That Popped: KU 49, Cincinnati 16

QBs, cornerbacks and back-ups, oh my

5 min read
The Kansas defense celebrates a one-handed interception by cornerback Cobee Bryant during the Jayhawks' road win at Cincinnati on Saturday night. [Kansas Athletics photo]

The Kansas football team capped off its regular season in style on Saturday night, with a 49-16 drubbing of Cincinnati in southwest Ohio.

Five different Jayhawks scored touchdowns, running back Devin Neal topped the 100-yard mark on just 10 carries and Jason Bean returned to the starting lineup for the Jayhawks after missing all of last week and most of the week before.

KU trailed 3-0 after a slow start and then steamrolled its way to a 21-10 halftime lead. The Jayhawks added 21 points in the fourth quarter to put the game away and cruise to victory.

The next time we see this Kansas team play, it will come in a bowl game. The location and opponent for said bowl game will be revealed next Sunday, Dec. 3, when the bowl matchups are slowly announced following conference championship weekend.

For what it’s worth, Texas and Oklahoma State will meet in Arlington, Texas for the Big 12 title next Saturday at 11 a.m. on ABC.

Regardless of who or where the Jayhawks play, though, this season will be remembered as one of the best and most successful in recent memory.

KU won eight games. The Jayhawks were in the thick of the conference race until the final few weeks. And several Jayhawks turned in all-Big 12-caliber seasons.

Whether they’ll all be rewarded with such remains to be seen, but it also hardly matters. These guys know what they accomplished and how good this team was, and now they get a few more weeks to practice and one more chance to show it.

Here’s are your "Notes & Numbers" from Saturday night, and below is a look back at some of the highlights from Saturday’s win in Ohio.


• Bean’s return: Senior quarterback Jason Bean was back in the starting lineup on Saturday night and boy did he make his presence felt in a big way. The veteran KU QB completed 10 passes on 10 attempts for 190 yards and 2 touchdowns in the first half alone, showing no ill effects of the head injury that forced him to miss most of the past two games. He finished the night 13-of-17 on the night for 250 yards and 2 touchdowns and added a 43-yard touchdown run and a 50-yard TD run early in the fourth quarter for good measure. Most importantly, he did a lot of it with a smile, catching all kinds of love from his teammates and coaches on the sideline, with a couple of them even waving him down with towels to try to cool him down after his long touchdown runs.

• Grimm performance: KU junior Luke Grimm finished Saturday night with 56 yards on 3 receptions and 4 targets. He made a couple of big plays early in the game to get the Jayhawks going. This Kansas offense is just so much better when Grimm is 100% healthy. He’s so skilled and so versatile and can make so many different plays/catches. When he’s going, the rest of the KU receivers also have more room to work and space to operate in, making everything easier for everybody. Quentin Skinner (4-for-72) and Lawrence Arnold (3-for-74) led the Jayhawks in receiving, with the two tight ends — first Mason Fairchild just before halftime and then Jared Casey to open the second-half scoring — scoring KU’s two passing touchdowns.

• KU’s corners continue to shine: Mello Dotson and Cobee Bryant both had huge plays in the first half of this one that contributed to KU taking control of the game. Dotson’s was a near-miss pick-6 that he probably thinks he should’ve had. Bryant’s was a one-handed interception that led to a Kansas touchdown on the ensuing drive. For two straight weeks, it was a Devin Neal touchdown run that sparked the Jayhawks in tough losses to Texas Tech and Kansas State. In this one, Bryant’s interception was the spark that ignited the Jayhawks and led to the easy win in the regular season finale.

• Ben Easters plays: Quarterback has been a huge storyline all season for the Jayhawks, but it ended with not one but two feel-good storylines on Saturday night. Not only did Bean tear it up in his return, but fourth-string reserve Ben Easters, who has received a lot of praise of late for his leadership and selfless nature, played out the final couple of drives and led the Jayhawks to their seventh touchdown of the night. In all, the KU offense racked up 562 yards, dominating the game in several aspects from midway through the first quarter to the finish line. Heck, you could even throw in a third positive storyline at QB in this one, with original starter Jalon Daniels suited up and on the sideline, celebrating the success of all KU quarterbacks and the rest of the team with great joy. In addition to Easters, a handful of young Jayhawks, many of whom will be the future of this program, got the opportunity to play real snaps on that last KU drive.


• Run D: Cincinnati entered this one with one of the best rushing offenses in the country, in part because of the dual-threat ability of QB Emory Jones. And the Bearcats certainly did not disappoint in that category on Saturday night. While their stout statistics in the run game make giving up big yardage somewhat forgivable, the Jayhawks still surely would’ve preferred to see a better effort up front, both at the point of attack and in limiting chunk plays by the Cincy running backs.

• That Bean was hurt in the first place: We’ll never know what would’ve happened or could’ve been, but watching how he played on Saturday night definitely brought to mind how much different KU’s losses to Texas Tech and Kansas State in the past two weeks could have been if he were on the field for the Jayhawks. Instead, freshman Cole Ballard played the bulk of both of those games — and performed admirably — and the Jayhawks dropped two in a row. Had Bean played and KU won those games instead of losing them, we could be talking about a 10-2 season for the Jayhawks tonight. Injuries are obviously a part of the game for every team, but that’s a pretty mind-blowing thought.


• Questionable 2-point conversion: With Cincinnati attempting to cut the KU lead to 10 points with a 2-point conversion try, QB Emory Jones raced to the end zone, dove for the pylon and appeared to hit it with the ball before falling out of bounds. Officials ruled the conversion good and temporarily cut KU’s lead to 28-18 early in the fourth quarter. However, a review of the play revealed that Jones lost control of the ball before it hit the pylon, making the conversion try no good. Replay did its job there and even though Leipold was hot throughout the sequence KU maintained a 12-point lead. A few plays later, the game was effectively over when Bean took a QB run play around the right side and sprinted to the end zone to push the Jayhawks’ lead to 35-16. Regardless of what happened from there, Cincinnati going for two in the first place was a little bit of a surprise. If you get it, you’re only down 10 and that’s obviously beneficial. But if you miss it, you’re down 12 and would need two touchdowns to win the game instead of a touchdown, 2-point conversion and field goal to tie. You’ve got to get the 2-point conversion at some point, but it seems that most people want to stay as close as possible as long as possible before trying for it.

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