Offense falters, run defense struggles as KU falls 40-14 to Texas

photo by: AP Photo/Eric Gay

Kansas wide receiver Lawrence Arnold (2) fails to make a catch as Texas defensive back Terrance Brooks (8) defends against the play during the first half of an NCAA college football game in Austin, Texas, Saturday, Sept. 30, 2023.

Austin, Texas — For much of Saturday’s game, the Texas offense could do everything but score touchdowns. The Longhorns outgained in time of possession by nearly 20 minutes and total yards by more than 400 but settled for four field goal tries and missed two.

That gave the Jayhawks plenty of chances to march toward another memorable upset at Darrell K Royal-Texas Stadium. But playing unexpectedly without its starting quarterback Jalon Daniels, who missed a game for the second time this season due to tightness in his back, KU could never find an offensive rhythm and sustained its first loss of the season, 40-14.

In place of Daniels, veteran backup Jason Bean started and went just 9-for-21 for 136 yards, with 58 of those coming on a lone touchdown pass to Trevor Wilson. Just as it did last year in Lawrence, Texas leaned on a dominant running game, totaling 336 yards and four touchdowns on 51 carries.

The Jayhawks dropped to 4-1 on the year, 1-1 in Big 12 Conference play.

Kansas started its first drive strong with a 26-yard run by Devin Neal. But the Jayhawks found themselves behind the chains following a failed backward pass from Bean to Luke Grimm and promptly punted.

Ewers took the Longhorns down the field with alacrity and capped off a high-tempo 88-yard drive with a 30-yard run.

KU saw its chances for a promising second drive slip through the hands of Wilson, who didn’t have a catch in the previous two games, on a third-down drop. Texas responded with another lengthy offensive possession, converting a red-zone fourth down on a Jonathon Brooks run along the way, but had to settle for a field goal from Bert Auburn after more than six minutes of possession.

The Jayhawks, who earlier this year forced five fumbles and recovered none at Nevada, had the ball bounce their way when a hard-charging Bean got smashed on a tough hit by defensive back Jalen Catalon, but running back Daniel Hishaw Jr. scooped it up and ran the rest of the way to put KU on the board.

Any momentum from that fortuitous play evaporated a moment later when Brooks dashed up the middle for a 67-yard gain to put Texas right back in the red zone. But the Longhorns squandered that opportunity to the tune of three plays for minus-two yards and settled for another field goal to make it 13-7.

They missed yet another chance later in the quarter, advancing into KU territory on a pass from Ewers to Adonai Mitchell but choosing to run the ball up the middle on a third-and-9 and settle for a 50-yard field goal attempt from Auburn, which drifted wide left.

With the Jayhawks sputtering on offense, Texas got the ball back once more before halftime. Once again the Longhorns came up empty, driving into Auburn’s field goal range but giving up possession when Ewers threw a pick to KU linebacker Cornell Wheeler. He had previously gone 245 straight passes without an interception.

KU had a chance to get off the field right out of the break, but Ewers scrambled for a first down on third-and-8. Two plays later, Brooks scampered for a 54-yard score to boost Texas’ lead.

Despite the gut punch to open the third quarter, the Jayhawks put together their best offensive drive of the day, as Bean found 2021 hero Jared Casey for 16 yards and then Wilson on a 58-yard deep ball for a quick score.

The Longhorns then found their most creative means yet of squandering a scoring opportunity. Ewers was getting into a rhythm when a bad snap set Texas back 15 yards, and Auburn missed again wide right.

KU came up short by a yard on a fifth consecutive third down on a run by Hishaw and decided to take the plunge on fourth down, but Bean and Hishaw couldn’t complete a handoff and Texas recovered a fumble on a play its defensive line read anyway. With the benefit of a short field, Brooks added his second touchdown of the game soon after.

The Longhorns followed that up promptly with a touchdown pass from Ewers to Mitchell on the other side of the quarter break to make it 33-14. With the Jayhawks’ defense wearing down in the late-afternoon sun, Texas followed up another KU three-and-out with another clock-killing six-minute drive that culminated in a Ewers touchdown run on a bootleg.

The Jayhawks will return home to host UCF on Saturday at 3 p.m. That game will be televised on Fox.

How they scored

First quarter

10:06 — Quinn Ewers 30-yard run. Bert Auburn PAT good. Seven plays, 88 yards, TOP 2:45. Texas 7, Kansas 0.

1:52 — Auburn 26-yard field goal. 14 plays, 76 yards, TOP 6:26. Texas 10, Kansas 0.

Second quarter

14:05 — Daniel Hishaw Jr. 18-yard fumble return. Seth Keller PAT good. Texas 10, Kansas 7.

11:15 — Auburn 30-yard field goal. Five plays, 63 yards, TOP 2:50. Texas 13, Kansas 7.

Third quarter

13:28 — Jonathon Brooks 54-yard run. Auburn PAT good. Five plays, 71 yards, TOP 1:31. Texas 20, Kansas 7.

11:36 — Trevor Wilson 58-yard pass from Jason Bean. Keller PAT good. Four plays, 75 yards, TOP 1:52. Texas 20, Kansas 14.

2:33 — Brooks 1-yard run. Two-point conversion no good. Five plays, 32 yards, TOP 1:52. Texas 26, Kansas 14.

Fourth quarter

13:06 — Adonai Mitchell 9-yard pass from Ewers. Auburn PAT good. Eight plays, 75 yards, TOP 1:31. Texas 33, Kansas 14.

5:34 — Ewers 1-yard run. Auburn PAT good. 12 plays, 75 yards, TOP 5:51. Texas 40, Kansas 14.

Game Stats

Kansas 0 7 7 0 – 14

Texas 10 3 13 14 – 40

Kansas | Texas

First downs 11 | 33

Rushing yards 124 | 336

Passing yards 136 | 325

Total offense 260 | 661

Fumbles lost 1 | 0

Interceptions 0 | 1

Penalties-yards 3-20 | 4-34

Individual Stats

Rushing: Kansas – Neal 8-45; Hishaw 8-44; Bean 7-42; Team 1-(-1); Grimm 1-(-6); Texas – Brooks 20-217; Baxter 16-68; Ewers 7-40; Blue 4-28; Wisner 2-2; Mitchell 1-(-4).

Passing: Kansas – Bean 9-21, 136; Texas – Ewers 25-35, 325.

Receiving: Kansas — Fairchild 2-30; Neal 2-10; Wilson 1-58; Casey 1-16; Emilien 1-15; Arnold 1-5; Grimm 1-2; Texas — Mitchell 10-141; Worthy 7-93; Whittington 2-18; Baxter 2-16; Cook 1-26; Brooks 1-23; Sanders 1-10; Robinson 1-(-2).


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