The regular season is in the books and now it is time for bowl season. Eight Big 12 teams will be playing over the next few days and Kansas is up next. The Jayhawks finished the regular season with a 6-6 record and earned themselves a trip to Memphis where they faced Arkansas in the Liberty Bowl. While it was a rough start for Kansas, they certainly made things interesting. However, they ended up falling just short. Here are my four thoughts on the game.
1. What a Game and What a Comeback
With 8:43 left in the third quarter, Arkansas scored a touchdown to go up 38-13. At that point, I thought the game was over. It turned out that the game was just getting started. The Jayhawks found life and scored 25 unanswered points to tie the game at 38. It took some magic and an onside kick recovery, but Kansas found a way to make the magical comeback. If that wasn’t enough, we got three overtimes to settle the score. It didn’t end the way I wanted it to, but this was by far the best bowl game this year. It had a little bit of everything, and I didn’t want it to end.
2. Jalon Daniels Was Spectacular
While he did throw two interceptions, this man put the offense on his back and made plays when it counted. Jalon finished the game throwing for over 550 yards and had five passing touchdowns. He also added a rushing score to bring his touchdown total to six on the evening. This game reminded me of Jalon earlier in the season when he looked like a Heisman contender. He is an extremely talented quarterback who battled with injuries this year. When he is fully healthy, he is not only one of the best quarterbacks in the Big 12 but the entire country. It’s a shame that the ball was taken out of his hands on the final play of the third overtime to try and tie the game.
3. The Defense Still Needs Work
While they played better in the fourth quarter, this defense still has a lot of issues. They gave up nearly 400 yards on the ground which is completely unacceptable. The fact that they were even in this game is a miracle. I have said it before, but this defense is the reason that Kansas didn’t win more games this season. The offense has improved this year, but the defense needs a ton of work if this program wants to reach new heights.
4. Kansas Had a Great Season
I know they didn’t get the result they wanted to in this game but just take a step back for a second. Lance Leipold is in his second season as the head coach and just took Kansas to their first bowl game since 2008. For those who aren’t good at math, that was 14 years ago. Kansas has had countless head coaches over the years who never reached six wins in a season, and it took just two years for Lance Leipold to get there. The job isn’t done in Lawrence by any means, but this season proves that this program is headed in the right direction and that Lance is the man for the job. For once, I am excited about the future of Kansas football.