It took a game or 10, but during Kansas University’s thrilling 40-37 football victory over rival Missouri in Kansas City, Mo., on Saturday, the Jayhawks’ pass defense finally found a way to stop — or greatly disrupt, anyway — an elite spread offense.
In significantly limiting the effectiveness of Missouri quarterback Chase Daniel, who entered the game ranked in the top five nationally in various offensive categories, Kansas turned in arguably its best effort of the year and helped the Jayhawks (7-5 overall, 4-4 in the Big 12) close their regular season in striking fashion.
“We were playing this game as if it was our bowl-maker,” junior cornerback Justin Thornton said. “ ... And just the fact that it was Missouri, guys really bought into it and played with the intensity that we’ve been missing all year.”
In a far cry from his performance against the Jayhawks in 2007, during which he completed 40 of 49 passes for 361 yards and three touchdowns, Daniel appeared off-kilter much of Saturday afternoon, turning the ball over twice in the first half and another early in the fourth quarter. He was sacked twice, including once in the end zone for a safety, and although he managed 103 yards on the ground, he wasn’t able to overcome a horrid start.
It is a nod to the talent in the Big 12 that a game in which an opposing quarterback throws for 288 yards and four touchdowns is viewed as a strong defensive showing. But the intensity with which the Jayhawks approached Saturday’s game defensively, especially during a first half in which Daniel completed just six of 15 passes for 62 yards, was hard to ignore.
“(It) means a lot to get a quarterback as great as Chase out of rhythm or get him kind of shaken up or hesitant when he throws the ball,” said KU junior safety Darrell Stuckey, who finished with two interceptions, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. “That was amazing to put that much pressure on him.”
Kansas likely headed to Insight: Kansans in search of an excuse to leave the doldrums of a Midwest December might be happy to learn that the Kansas football team appears headed to the desert come bowl time.
Officials from both Kansas University and the Insight Bowl said Saturday that they expect the Jayhawks to be spending their New Year’s Eve in Tempe, Ariz., where the Insight Bowl kicks off at 5 p.m. CST at Sun Devil Stadium.
The Insight Bowl, which has the sixth pick in both the Big 12 and Big 10 conferences, has attended five Kansas games this season, and bowl representative Dave Tilson said earlier this month that representatives have been targeting the Jayhawks throughout much of the second half of the season. The official bowl selection show takes place Sunday.
KU is one of seven teams in the Big 12 to earn bowl-eligibility this season and the No. 7 team in the conference according to record. Multiple bowl predictions, meanwhile, have Minnesota (7-5 overall, 3-5 in the Big 10) as the Jayhawks’ opponent.
DE Young de-commits: Olathe North standout defensive end Kevin Young, a three-star prospect rated as the No. 5 player in the state of Kansas, has de-committed from the Jayhawks in favor of Nebraska, according to the recruiting site Rivals.com.
Following a weekend trip to Lincoln, Neb., during which he met with Huskers coach Bo Pelini and position coach John Papuchis, Young decided Nebraska was where he wanted to be.
“It was just kind of an all-of-a-sudden deal,” Young told the Web site. “I had no intention to go up there and (commit). I went up there, and I was like ‘Man,’ it blew me away. This is where I wanted to be, so I committed there.”
Young represents the third known recruit in the past month to de-commit from Kansas. Texas prep recruits Earnest Norman, a linebacker out of Euless Trinity High, and offensive lineman Ty Cloud of Flower Mound Marcus High both backed out of their commitments earlier this month.
In addition, highly touted receiving prospect Neal Barlow, a 6-foot-7 receiver from Pulaski (Ark.) Academy, switched his college choice from Kansas to Arkansas in September.