There were moments when it felt like the No. 24 Kansas Jayhawks might upset the No. 3 Texas Longhorns on Saturday.
But that’s what they remained — just moments. The Longhorns defeated KU 40-14 at Darrell K Royal Texas Memorial Stadium. No. 24 Kansas fell to 4-1 on the season, 1-1 in Big 12 play.
Kansas quarterback Jason Bean finished 9-of-21 passing for 136 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions. KU running back Devin Neal ran for 45 yards on just eight attempts.
For the Jayhawks, perhaps the most demoralizing blow came in warmups.
Kansas star quarterback Jalon Daniels re-aggravated his back injury in KU’s hotel walkthrough, so Bean started in his place. Daniels was officially ruled out during the halftime break.
Coach Lance Leipold called the late quarterback switch “a tough pill in a game like this.”
“It is what it is — can’t do much about it,” Leipold said. “I don’t know if I’ve ever had that happen like that. Jason stepped in. He gets reps, he gets work. We did walkthroughs at the hotel and he barely got any reps. ... But it’s what happened.”
The Jayhawks at times struggled to move the ball and didn’t convert any third or fourth downs. The Longhorns seized an early lead with a seven-play, 88-yard drive that finished in a 30-yard rushing touchdown from Texas quarterback Quinn Ewers.
The Jayhawks were chasing the game most of the way from there, even after getting on the board with a bizarre touchdown run.
Bean took off on an option play and ran for 27 yards before getting hit and fumbling. Kansas running back Daniel Hishaw scooped up the ball, taking it the rest of the way for a touchdown. That cut the deficit to 10-7.
The KU defense kept the game within reach in the first half, limiting the Longhorns to three field goal attempts. UT went 2-for-3 on kicks and led 13-7 at the break.
But Texas opened the second half with another touchdown — a 54-yard run by running back Jonathan Brooks. KU answered with a 58-yard deep ball from Bean to Trevor Wilson, but the Longhorns scored three touchdowns to close out the win.
Here are three takeaways from Saturday’s game...
Jason Bean struggles in Jalon Daniels’ place
Bean has certainly had better games.
The quarterback never looked comfortable — he didn’t complete a pass until the waning minutes of the first quarter.
In the pocket, Bean looked skittish. His throws were off and, when he did run the ball on option plays, he was conservative in stretching for yards.
KU’s inability to get anything going in the passing game put a lot of pressure on the run game and defense. In fact, after leading the nation in third-down conversions entering the day, the Jayhawks went 0-for-8.
Bean was 2-for-7 passing for 23 yards at half. He eclipsed that four-plays into the second half when he connected with Wilson for the long touchdown. Still, he finished with less than 150 yards passing and a completion percentage of 43%.
Bean, who has filled many different roles for KU, said he didn’t find out he was starting until about 30 to 45 minutes before game time.
“It’s tough, really tough,” Bean said. “It’s just sometime how life goes and you’ve got to be ready to execute. ... There are a couple of plays I’d like to have back today.”
Texas dominates time of possession
One of the biggest things Kansas needed to do to walk away with an upset was control the time-of-possession battle — or at least limit Texas’ number of offensive possessions to keep things close.
Instead, the Longhorns dominated that area. Texas held the ball for 39:41, compared to KU’s 20:19 The Longhorns ran 86 plays. KU ran 46.
“It’s hard, but that’s what we do,” KU defensive end Austin Booker said of how long the Jayhawks’ defense was on the field. “If that’s what they need me to do, that’s what I am going to do. Just trying to be there for all my (teammates).”
Although Texas had plenty of big plays resulting in 20-plus yards, the Longhorns’ offense led long, methodical drives that kept the defense off the field.
On the flip side, KU’s offense not only struggled to score, but advancing the ball downfield was a major challenge.
Likewise, the KU defense did an excellent job of limiting Texas’ points in the first half, but it caught up to them in the second half.
Kansas’ defenders looked gassed as UT put up 20 straight points to end the game.
KU’s defense struggles to contain Texas’ stars
The Longhorns’ offense might have the quickest and shiftiest skill players in the Big 12.
Texas’ stars did an excellent job of breaking tackles and gaining plenty of yards after an initial tackle attempt by a KU defender. It led to plenty of big-yardage plays that seemed to demoralize the Kansas defense.
Texas star wide receiver Adonai Mitchell finished with 141 receiving yards and one touchdown, while Brooks rushed for 217 yards and two touchdowns. Ewers threw for 325 yards and one passing touchdown and ran for two more scores.
As a whole, the Longhorns’ offense put up five touchdowns and 661 yards.
“I feel like a couple of plays, it was like we hurt ourselves,” Kansas safety O.J. Burrough said. “It was kind of up tempo, but we hurt ourselves. ... It wasn’t a bad day. It wasn’t really (anything) they were doing, I think it was all on us.”