Wednesday, July 24, 2024

Perfect seasons on line as No. 3 Texas, No. 24 Kansas clash

No. 3 Texas and No. 24 Kansas will look to continue torrid starts to the season when they square off in Austin, Texas, on Saturday afternoon in a bid to stay atop the Big 12 Conference standings.

Saturday’s dustup will be the first time the two programs have ever played each other while both are ranked. It also marks the final time the squads will meet as Big 12 opponents with Texas moving to the Southeastern Conference in 2024.

Both teams are 4-0 overall and 1-0 in conference play, with the Longhorns reaching that mark for the first time since 2012 and the Jayhawks doing so for the second straight year. Kansas has posted a 4-0 start in consecutive seasons for the first time since 1914-15.

Texas heads home on the heels of a dominant 38-6 win at Baylor last Saturday in its league opener, with Quinn Ewers passing for 293 yards and a touchdown and running for 16 yards and another score. Jonathon Brooks rushed for 106 yards and two TDs on 18 carries in the win, and Ja’Tavion Sanders caught five passes for 110 yards for the Longhorns.

The Longhorns were just as impressive on defense, allowing just three points on three Baylor possessions in the red zone over the second and third quarters. They also turned over the Bears on downs twice during that span, once by intercepting a pass in the end zone.

“We try to be a versatile football team — not just on offense. We try to do as many things as we can really well,” Texas coach Steve Sarkisian said. “We’re not one dimensional, and we’re going to have the ability this season to win games in a variety of ways.”

Sarkisian said the Longhorns have discussed Kansas’ 57-56 overtime win against them in 2021 — perhaps Texas’ low point in a 5-7 season — in preparation for this year’s contest.

“This game has got our undivided attention,” Sarkisian said. “In a weird way, I’m kind of glad (the loss in 2021) happened because it exposed some warts in our program that needed to get removed. If we hadn’t removed those warts, we might not be where we are today in our program.”

Kansas travels to Austin after defeating BYU 38-27 at home last weekend.

The Jayhawks used a 22-yard fumble return from Cobee Bryant to race to an early lead and then added a 30-yard pick-six by Kenny Logan Jr. early in the third quarter to augment the 184 total yards and three TDs by quarterback Jalon Daniels.

Kansas was up just 35-27 with 8:02 to play but put the game away with a drive that used 6:29 of clock and culminated in a 23-yard field goal from Seth Keller.

The Jayhawks won their first five games last year before Daniels got injured. They limped home, losing six of their last seven regular-season games before falling to Arkansas in the Liberty Bowl.

“It’s a very special moment for us,” Kansas safety O.J. Burroughs said. “We had this opportunity last year; we know how it felt, so we’re not going to let it get away like how (it) did last year.”

The Jayhawks’ 2021 win in Austin still draws questions, much to the chagrin of Kansas coach Lance Leipold.

“Old news,” Leipold said. “Doesn’t matter. Both teams are significantly better. Honestly, it’s so far in the past, we got to keep moving.”

The Longhorns are 17-4 against Kansas all-time and 9-1 when the teams play in Austin. Texas defeated Kansas in Lawrence last season, 55-14.

–Field Level Media

Reportng - Field Level Media
Reportng - Field Level Media
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