KU routs Cincinnati 49-16 to conclude regular season

photo by: Carter Skaggs/The Cincinnati Enquirer via AP

Kansas quarterback Jason Bean (9) prepares to throw a pass against Cincinnati during an NCAA college football game Saturday, Nov. 25, 2023, in Cincinnati.

This story will be updated.

Cincinnati — After dropping back-to-back home games in disappointing fashion, Kansas ensured it would not repeat the late-season three-week slide that had marred its 2022 campaign. The Jayhawks knocked off new conference foe Cincinnati 49-16 at Nippert Stadium Saturday night to improve to 8-4 at the conclusion of the regular season.

KU quarterback Jason Bean, who returned from a one-game absence due to a head injury, was a perfect 10-for-10 for 190 yards and two touchdowns in the first half. The Jayhawks shook off a scoreless first quarter and piled on 21 points in the second, including one touchdown practically gifted by Cincinnati due to an ill-advised squib kick that gave KU the ball near midfield.

By the end of the game, Bean had amassed 340 total yards of offense and four touchdowns with no turnovers. Devin Neal added 106 yards on the ground and two scores.

UC running back Corey Kiner and quarterback Emory Jones presented a significant problem for the Jayhawks on the ground. But Cincinnati only reached the end zone once in the first three quarters, failing to capitalize on its clock-killing drives that wore down the KU defense.

Indeed, the Bearcats came out and tried to run over KU beginning with their opening drive as several other teams have this season, and encountered some early success, including a fourth-and-1 conversion by Jones on KU’s 40-yard line. But a quick pass from Jones to Xzavier Henderson wasn’t enough on a successive third-and-8 and Cincinnati settled for a long field goal by Carter Brown to open the scoring.

After a series of punts — including one by KU from the Bearcats’ 40-yard line — the Jayhawks finally picked up some steam when Cobee Bryant pried the ball away from Henderson to pick off a Brady Lichtenberg deep ball and then Bean found Luke Grimm for a 40-yard shot play of his own. That set up Neal to punch in the first touchdown of the day from 13 yards out.

On their next drive, the Jayhawks bounced back from a first-play holding call and Neal promptly sprinted out to the left for a 38-yard gain, as Deshawn Pace saved a touchdown for Cincinnati. It only provided a few moments of relief for the Bearcats, who soon saw Jared Casey make a touchdown catch from Bean in a tight window to widen the margin further for KU.

Cincinnati returned to its initial ball-control style — with Jones back at quarterback — on its next drive. It reaped the rewards in the form of a 13-play, 75-yard drive that culminated when Jones stood in against an outside blitz and lobbed a short toss to running back Ryan Montgomery for an 11-yard touchdown.

However, a special-teams blunder by the Bearcats — a squib kick when 26 seconds still remained, with KU holding on to two timeouts — gave the Jayhawks another scoring opportunity. Casey took the short kick back 22 yards and Bean promptly went 2-for-2 for 56 yards and a wide-open touchdown pass to Mason Fairchild, especially pivotal with KU getting the ball after the break.

Sure enough, the Jayhawks extended their lead further. A toe-tapping third-down catch by Lawrence Arnold and a pass-interference penalty on Kalen Carroll pushed KU down the field before Neal took a direct snap 30 yards for his second touchdown of the night.

A promising drive for Cincinnati ground to a halt when Craig Young sniffed out a third-down receiver screen and Brown missed a 42-yard field goal wide right.

The Bearcats had better results on their next trip to Kansas territory, when they converted a fourth down on a Jones run and then baited the Jayhawks down to the line of scrimmage with a series of runs before unleashing a Montgomery halfback pass to Dee Wiggins for the score.

Jones was initially ruled to have added a two-point conversion after escaping the pocket once again, but the officials determined that he lost the ball before reaching for the pylon, and so the score remained 28-16.

Cincinnati’s resurgence was short-lived, as Bean hit Quentin Skinner on the sideline for 32 yards before sprinting around right end on a read option for a 43-yard score.

He repeated almost that exact same feat when the entire Bearcats defense left him uncovered on a zone read, though he cut to the middle that time for a 50-yard scoring scamper.

The Jayhawks sent in a host of reserves for a final seven-minute drive that ended in one last touchdown for third-string running back Dylan McDuffie.

KU will wait to hear its bowl game assignment during a selection show on Dec. 3.

Box score

How they scored

First quarter

8:12 — Carter Brown 49-yard field goal. 12 plays, 44 yards, 6:44 TOP. UC 3, KU 0.

Second quarter

8:55 — Devin Neal 13-yard run. Keller kick is good. Five plays, 77 yards, 2:38 TOP. KU 7, UC 3.

5:30 — Jared Casey 15-yard pass from Jason Bean. Seth Keller kick is good. Five plays, 66 yards, 2:22 TOP. KU 14, UC 3.

0:26 — Ryan Montgomery 11-yard pass from Emory Jones. Brown kick is good. 13 plays, 75 yards, 5:05 TOP. KU 14, UC 10.

0:05 — Mason Fairchild 15-yard pass from Bean. Keller kick is good. Two plays, 56 yards, 0:17 TOP. KU 21, UC 10.

Third quarter

11:53 — Neal 30-yard run. Keller kick is good. Eight plays, 75 yards, 3:07 TOP. KU 28, UC 10.

Fourth quarter

13:23 — Dee Wiggins 7-yard pass from Montgomery. Conversion is no good. 12 plays, 67 yards, 4:21 TOP. KU 28, UC 16.

11:39 — Bean 43-yard run. Keller kick is good. Three plays, 79 yards, 1:37 TOP. KU 35, UC 16.

9:52 — Bean 50-yard run. Keller kick is good. Two plays, 59 yards, 0:55 TOP. KU 42, UC 16.

0:47 — Dylan McDuffie 6-yard run. Owen Piepergerdes kick is good. 11 plays, 61 yards, 7:01 TOP. KU 49, UC 16.

Game stats

Kansas 0 21 7 21 – 31

Cincinnati 3 7 0 6 – 27

Kansas | Cincinnati

First downs 23 | 21

Rushing yards 312 | 231

Passing yards 250 | 111

Total offense 562 | 342

Fumbles lost 0 | 0

Interceptions 1 | 0

Penalties-yards 4-45| 6-65

Individual stats

Rushing: Kansas – Neal 10-102; Bean 4-90; McDuffie 8-47; Hishaw 5-25; Morrison 2-21; Locklin 4-20; Easters 1-3; Cincinnati – Kiner 18-106; Jones 13-61; R. Montgomery 8-49; M. Montgomery 3-15.

Passing: Kansas – Bean 13-17, 250; Cincinnati – Jones 15-27, 104.

Receiving: Kansas — Skinner 4-72; Arnold 3-74; Grimm 3-56; Fairchild 1-26; Casey 1-15; Locklin 1-7; Cincinnati — Wiggins 4-37; Henderson 4-30; R. Montgomery 3-22; Smith 3-15; Jackson 1-7; Scott 1-0.

Box score


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