Nevada takes on Kansas at Mackay Stadium in Reno on Sept. 16, 2023.

Kansas holds off Nevada with help of Devin Neal’s 3 TDs

Devin Neal rushed for three touchdowns, including the tiebreaking score in the fourth quarter, as Kansas survived Nevada’s surprising upset bid to earn a 31-24 nonconference win in Reno, Nev., on Saturday night.

Neal’s 3-yard run with 6:20 left in the game snapped a 24-24 deadlock and allowed the Jayhawks (3-0) to stay unbeaten. Jalon Daniels hit 21 of 27 passes for 298 yards, going 11-for-11 in the second half, as Kansas rolled up 441 total yards.

Quarterback Brendon Lewis completed 15 of 22 passes for 113 yards and rushed for two scores for the Wolf Pack (0-3), tying the game on a 2-yard run with 10:37 remaining in the fourth quarter. But on Nevada’s last chance to tie or win the game, Jamaal Bell was stopped for a 3-yard loss on fourth-and-1 with 44 seconds remaining.

Neal finished with 89 yards on 17 attempts for Kansas, which also got a 1-yard touchdown run from Daniel Hishaw in the third quarter to take a 17-10 lead. Lewis tied it at 17 with a 6-yard scoring run with 3:33 left in the period, but the Jayhawks regained the seven-point advantage 33 seconds later on a 1-yard run by Neal.

Kansas entered the game as a 28-point favorite against an opponent that was outscored 99-20 in losing its first two games against USC and Idaho. But Nevada delivered its best effort despite being outgained decisively.

The Jayhawks opened the game with an impressive 75-yard touchdown drive, capped by Neal’s 3-yard run up the middle at the 9:46 mark of the first quarter. But all Kansas managed for the first half’s remainder was a 44-yard field goal by Seth Keller with 8:55 left before the break.

The Wolf Pack got on the board 11 seconds into the second quarter when Brandon Talton made a 42-yard field goal. They put together their best drive to close the first half, going 78 yards on 10 plays and cashing in when Sean Dollars scored from the 3 with 29 seconds remaining for a 10-10 tie at the break.

–Field Level Media

Sep 1, 2023; Lawrence, Kansas, USA; Kansas Jayhawks quarterback Jalon Daniels (6) during a timeout in the first half against the Missouri State Bears at David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

Report: Kansas QB Jalon Daniels (back) likely to play vs. Illinois

Kansas quarterback Jalon Daniels, who has been limited due to back stiffness, is likely to play Friday night against Illinois, ESPN reported.

It was unclear Thursday whether Daniels or backup Jason Bean will start the game.

Daniels, the Big 12 preseason Offensive Player of the Year, missed the season opener against Missouri State because of the back issue, but ESPN reported he took a “significant amount of snaps” in practice this week.

The back tightness also impacted him during summer practice.

Daniels missed four games last season with a shoulder injury but appeared in nine, throwing for 2,014 yards and 18 touchdowns with four interceptions. He also ran for 425 yards and seven scores.

The Jayhawks beat Missouri State 48-17 in the season opener last Friday behind Bean, who tallied 276 yards and two touchdowns. Bean started four games last season and nine in 2021.

Like Kansas, Illinois is 1-0 after defeating Toledo 30-28 last Saturday.

–Field Level Media

Kansas junior quarterback Jalon Daniels (6) practices passes during Tuesday's outdoor practice.

Kansas QB Jalon Daniels (back) expected to start vs. Missouri State

Kansas standout quarterback Jalon Daniels is expected to start Friday night against Missouri State despite dealing with a back injury during fall camp.

The preseason Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year hasn’t had a lot of practice work leading up to the season opener.

“We just released the two-deep, and that’s kind of where we’re at right now and where we’re going,” Jayhawks coach Lance Leipold said Monday. “He hasn’t practiced a lot, but he went through everything today, and yeah, we’re planning on playing everyone who is available.”

Jason Bean is listed as the backup quarterback on the depth chart.

Daniels passed for 2,014 yards, 18 touchdowns and just four interceptions last season. He also rushed for 425 yards and seven scores.

Leipold said he isn’t concerned about playing Daniels against an FCS program like Missouri State.

“That’s the balancing act we have to do here,” Leipold said. “We’re getting him as much work as we can, as many different ways as we can. He’s been getting work; he’s been doing things. To make it sound like he’s never practiced the last two weeks is not accurate, either. We’re confident.

“Unfortunately for him, it’s something he’s gone through before, getting little reps and where he is at, but I think we’re in a good spot with him.”

–Field Level Media

Nov 25, 2022; Columbia, Missouri, USA; Arkansas Razorbacks quarterback KJ Jefferson (1) throws a pass against the Missouri Tigers during the game at Faurot Field at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Kansas ends bowl drought vs. Arkansas in Liberty Bowl

It’s often the case for bowl games. One team is excited to be there while the other accepted the bid reluctantly. That’s certainly the case for the Liberty Bowl on Wednesday in Memphis, Tenn.

Kansas (6-6) reached a bowl game for the first time since 2008. The Jayhawks ended the season by losing six of their last seven games, but a bowl is more than just about anybody affiliated with the program expected in September.

Arkansas (6-6) meanwhile will play in the Liberty Bowl for the sixth time after finishing fifth in the SEC West. The Razorbacks had much higher expectations after entering the season ranked No. 19 in the Associated Press Top 25.

Arkansas coach Sam Pittman has been trying to put on a happy face regarding the game.

“We’re extremely excited to be headed to Memphis to play a really good Kansas team in the AutoZone Liberty Bowl,” Pittman said after the bowl announcement. “Coach (Lance) Leipold and his staff have done a tremendous job with their team, and we look forward to the challenge. For us, the opportunity to play a bowl game in what we consider our backyard is going to be special. We can’t wait to see our fans in Memphis.”

Arkansas uses a balanced attack on offense. The Hogs average 230.3 yards per game through the air, and slightly less (223.4) on the ground. Raheim Sanders leads the Razorbacks with 1,426 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns. KJ Jefferson threw for 2,361 yards with 22 touchdowns and just four interceptions.

The Jayhawks were picked to finish last in the Big 12 but were one of two undefeated teams left in the conference when they lost to TCU on Oct. 8. Quarterback Jalon Daniels got early Heisman Trophy attention, but he injured his shoulder against the Horned Frogs and missed the next five games. He came back for the final two games.

Leipold has plenty of reason to celebrate the bowl selection. The Jayhawks won a total of four conference games over the previous seven seasons and went 2-10 overall in 2021.

“If you really held it up to me, I would say I didn’t know if we could make the jump from two wins to six maybe immediately,” he said after the selection. “But I’d never bet against this group and the coaches that work with them daily.”

–Field Level Media

Kansas' head football coach Lance Leipold looks up during the Big 12 football game against Texas Tech, Saturday, Nov. 12, 2022, at Jones AT&T Stadium.

Reports: Kansas extends coach Lance Leipold thru 2029

Amid the resurgence of its football program that saw the team ranked in the Top 25 for a spell earlier this year, Kansas signed coach Lance Leipold to a new contract with an extension through the 2029 season, multiple reports said Tuesday night.

Kansas (6-5, 3-5 Big 12) is bowl eligible for the first time since 2008. The Jayhawks spent two weeks in October ranked in the AP poll, which they hadn’t achieved since 2009.

Leipold, previously the coach at Buffalo, took over the Jayhawks in March 2021 after the school fired Les Miles amid allegations that he behaved inappropriately with female students.

After a 2-10 finish in 2021 highlighted by a 57-56 upset over Texas, Kansas opened this season 5-0 with conference wins over West Virginia and Iowa State. The Jayhawks went on to add a 37-16 beatdown of then-No. 18 Oklahoma State.

It’s already Leipold’s second extension in 19 months on the job. In September, Kansas announced a one-year extension that brought his contract at the time through the 2027 season.

Despite that, Leipold’s name was linked to vacancies at Nebraska and Arizona State earlier this season.

Under Turner Gill, Charlie Weis, interim coach Clint Bowen, David Beaty and Miles from 2010-20, Kansas football had gone a combined 21-108 with winless seasons in 2015 and 2020.

–Field Level Media

Nov 12, 2022; Austin, Texas, USA; Texas Longhorns head coach Steve Sarkisian before the game against the Texas Christian Horned Frogs at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports

Texas faces Kansas in key Big 12 battle

Texas brings faint Big 12 Conference title hopes when it travels to Kansas on Saturday for a key, late-season game in Lawrence.

Both teams head into the penultimate game of the regular season after losses on Nov. 12, with the then-No. 18 Longhorns losing at home to No. 4 TCU 17-10 and the Jayhawks falling 43-28 at Texas Tech.

Texas (6-4, 4-3) dropped out of the CFP rankings but remains mathematically alive for a slot opposite TCU in the Big 12 Championship game. The Longhorns will need to win their final two games and have losses from Oklahoma State and Kansas State, two of the three teams above Texas in the conference standings.

The Longhorns controlled their destiny until their loss to TCU. Texas did not score an offensive touchdown in the game and gained just 199 total yards.

The Longhorns’ four defeats this season have been by a combined 18 points.

“I think it’s encouraging to the idea that we’re playing hard,” Texas coach Steve Sarkisian said. “We’re playing tough. We’re giving ourselves a chance. It’s also to some degree frustrating because we want to win those games.”

The Jayhawks (6-4, 3-4) have dropped four of their past five games. Kansas trailed 36-28 in the fourth quarter before Texas Tech expanded its margin with a touchdown three plays after a strip sack. The Jayhawks got 190 yards rushing from Devin Neal and three scoring passes from Jason Bean in the setback while amassing 525 yards of total offense.

Kansas, which is bowl eligible for the first time since 2008, beat Texas 57-56 in overtime last season in Austin. Jayhawks coach Lance Leipold said Monday that the win helped build momentum that has pushed his team this year.

“Maybe it wasn’t that big of an upset, but it was a sign of some things to come,” Leipold said. “I’m sure Texas is going to answer enough questions in its press conferences this week about it too, and they’re going to be ready to come here and play and play extremely well.”

–Field Level Media

Nov 12, 2022; Lubbock, Texas, USA;  Texas Tech Red Raiders quarterback Donovan Smith (7) reacts after scoring a touchdown against the Kansas Jayhawks in the second half at Jones AT&T Stadium and Cody Campbell Field. Mandatory Credit: Michael C. Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Texas Tech keeps scoring, outlasts Kansas

Tyler Shough went 20-for-33 passing with 246 yards and a touchdown to lead Texas Tech to a 43-28 win over Kansas in Lubbock, Texas, on Saturday.

Shough also rushed for 76 yards and a touchdown on 12 carries for Texas Tech (5-5, 3-4 Big 12).

Jason Bean went 17-of-28 passing for 270 yards and three touchdowns, and Devin Neal rushed for 190 yards on 24 carries for Kansas (6-4, 3-4).

Texas Tech grabbed a 7-0 lead with 11:51 left in the first quarter on a 6-yard touchdown run by Donovan Smith, but Kansas answered, tying the game at 7-7 with 9:40 remaining in the first on a 66-yard touchdown pass from Bean to Jared Casey.

Following a 33-yard field goal by Trey Wolff with 5:53 to go in the first, Texas Tech extended its lead to 17-7 with 48 seconds remaining in the period on a 36-yard touchdown run by SaRodorick Thompson.

The Red Raiders went up 24-7 with 9:36 left in the second quarter on a 1-yard touchdown pass from Shough to Mason Tharp.

Kansas cut its deficit to 24-14 with 5:44 to go in the second on a 16-yard touchdown run by Bean, and then made it 24-21 with 2:31 until halftime on a 3-yard touchdown pass from Bean to Luke Grimm.

Texas Tech took a 27-21 on a 51-yard field goal by Wolff with three seconds left in the half.

Following a scoreless third quarter, Shough scored on a 9-yard touchdown run to give Texas Tech a 33-21 lead with 14:52 left in the game.

With 8:06 remaining, Kansas cut the Texas Tech lead to 33-28 on a 20-yard touchdown pass from Bean to Quentin Skinner.

Texas Tech extended its lead to 36-28 with 4:19 remaining on a 30-yard field goal by Wolff.

After Texas Tech sacked Bean and recovered a fumble at the Kansas 8-yard line, the Red Raiders took a 43-28 lead on a 5-yard touchdown run with 3:33 remaining by Tahj Brooks.

–Field Level Media

Nov 5, 2022; Lawrence, Kansas, USA; Kansas Jayhawks running back Devin Neal (4) runs the ball against the Oklahoma State Cowboys during the second half of the game at David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Bowl-bound Kansas determined to kick Texas Tech

Lance Leipold pushed Kansas into the postseason for the first time since 2008. Now the only thing anyone remotely interested in Jayhawks’ happenings wants to discuss is whether the second-year head coach will be around for bowl season.

Leipold and the Jayhawks (6-3, 3-3 Big 12) visit Texas Tech (4-5, 2-4) on Saturday, further distancing Kansas from his 2-10 debut season in 2021.

“I’m really proud of them, happy,” Leipold said as the Jayhawks move past a dominant win over Oklahoma State last week. “If you look, some guys have been around a long time. They’ve kind of gone through adversity and stayed with this program. Holistically (it’s great) for the school. I told them (his locker room) we are pretty demanding in things. There’s a reason we are, for moments like this.”

Leipold has been consistently linked to the opening at Wisconsin, his home state, but the 58-year-old continues to shift the conversation to here, now and KU. Coming out of the bye week, Kansas smothered Oklahoma State, bumped the Cowboys from the College Football Playoff rankings and steered the Jayhawks back into the Big 12 Championship conversation.

No. 4 TCU would have one of those spots if the season ended this weekend. But Texas, which plays TCU, Kansas State and Baylor are all 4-2 in conference play. The Wildcats play the Bears at Waco on Saturday.

Leipold won only once in Big 12 play last season. Getting the Jayhawks into the national conversation at this stage of the season was a program goal.

“I would say we’re proud but not satisfied,” he said. “It’s something that we cannot be content about and be satisfied and still want to make sure we grow and continue to to be the program we want to be here these last three weeks.”

Kansas running back Devin Neal had 228 rushing yards and 110 receiving yards (six receptions) to carry the Jayhawks over Oklahoma State.

“It was special,” Neal said of last week’s effort. “But we’re not done yet.”

Texas Tech is 4-1 at home this season and 21-2 all-time against Kansas, including a 41-14 victory last season.

But the Red Raiders lost their second game in a row last week, 34-24 to TCU, and have allowed 79 points during the losing streak. Tops on the list for coach Joey McGuire this week is identifying his best option at quarterback with Behren Morton expected to be out. The redshirt freshman injured his ankle last week.

“I wish I could tell you that I feel 100 percent that I’m going with Tyler (Shough) or 100 percent I’m going with Donovan (Smith),” McGuire said. “And it’s a deal that we really, we know how important this game is.”

Smith did not attempt a pass last week and Shough was 9-for-22 for 84 yards with an interception and garbage-time touchdown.

Texas Tech led TCU 17-13 late in the third quarter last week before penalties and ill-timed poor decisions by both quarterbacks set the Red Raiders into a tailspin to close the game.

“We have to get this one on Saturday,” McGuire said. “There’s no magic dust … you just have to come to work.”

–Field Level Media

Nov 5, 2022; Lawrence, Kansas, USA; Oklahoma State Cowboys quarterback Garret Rangel (13) throws a pass against the Kansas Jayhawks during the first half of the game at David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Kansas powers past Oklahoma State to clinch first bowl game since 2008

Devin Neal ran for 224 yards and a touchdown as Kansas rolled past visiting No.18 Oklahoma State 37-16 Saturday afternoon in a key Big 12 Conference game in Lawrence, Kansas.

Kansas quarterback Jason Bean passed for two scores and ran 73 yards for another.

The win snapped a three-game losing streak for Kansas and assured that the Jayhawks (6-3, 3-3 Big 12) would play in a bowl for the first time since 2008.

Neal also caught six passes for 110 yards. Bean was 18 of 23 passing for 203 yards.

The Cowboys (6-3, 3-3 Big 12) were without starting quarterback Spencer Sanders, who was ruled out with an injury hours before the game. Garret Rangel got his first career start and passed for 304 yards and two touchdowns, but also uncorked three interceptions in the loss.

Oklahoma State has dropped two straight games and three of its past four.

The Jayhawks scored first on Neal’s 31-yard touchdown run at the 11:21 mark of the opening quarter. Jacob Borcila kicked a 21-yard field goal with nine seconds remaining in the first quarter to expand the Kansas lead to 10-0.

Oklahoma State finally got on track early in the second quarter, moving 75 yards in 15 plays to Rangel’s 8-yard scoring pass to Stephon Johnson Jr. with 9:59 to play. But the Jayhawks immediately responded as Bean dashed through the defense for his long scoring run that sent Kansas to a 17-7 advantage with 9:10 to play in the quarter.

The Jayhawks weren’t done in the half, moving 87 yards in only seven plays to an 8-yard Bean-to-Lawrence Arnold touchdown pass 22 seconds before halftime to carry a 24-7 lead into intermission. Neal ran for 146 yards and a score before halftime.

Kansas built on its advantage with a touchdown drive on its opening possession of the third quarter which covered 75 yards, chewed up almost eight minutes and ended with Bean’s 8-yard scoring toss to Jared Casey.

Oklahoma State’s Tanner Brown booted a 35-yard FG that was later countered by a 20-yarder by Borcila. The Cowboys cut into their deficit with a 25-yard touchdown pass from Rangel to Jaden Nixon that was soon answered by Borcila’s third field goal.

–Field Level Media