Matt Tait: Outlook for Kansas football season gets a lot prettier with wild OT win in Morgantown

Kansas wide receiver Luke Grimm (11) and tight end Mason Fairchild (89) celebrate after a touchdown score against West Virginia during the first half of an NCAA college football game in Morgantown, W.Va., Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022. (AP Photo/Kathleen Batten)

The path to an improbable 3-0 start to the season for the Kansas football team became truly realistic thanks to a 55-42 overtime road win at West Virginia on Saturday night.

And if you want to get even more carried away, if you squint just a little, you might be able to see 4-0.


Yeah. That just happened.

After falling behind 14-0 and looking pretty uninspired while doing it, the Jayhawks (2-0) came roaring back and outscored the Mountaineers (0-2) 42-17 to go ahead 42-31 midway through the fourth quarter.

During that run, the West Virginia defense looked like it had no answer for the Kansas offense. And both teams knew it.

One of the most encouraging aspects of Saturday’s game was the play of Kansas quarterback Jalon Daniels, who continues to look like the real deal.

He’s confident, in command, rarely gets rattled and, perhaps most importantly, really appears to enjoy playing the game and the position.

That kind of energy so often is contagious and can bring similar confidence and joy to the entire offense. Daniels’ teammates like playing with him — and for him — because of the way he plays the game.

He’s always positive, celebrates his teammates after good plays and picks them up after not-so-good ones. Without fail. Every time. Guys like that. And they know it’s genuine.

KU coach Lance Leipold summed it up perfectly in his postgame interview on ESPN+.

“He’s such a gritty competitor,” Leipold said of Daniels. “Nothing’s going to rattle him and he’s the leader of this football team.”

Daniels also has legit talent. And he knows how to use it.

Last week, he didn’t have to do much to find success. His physical tools and KU’s superior talent across the board made the game easy against Tennessee Tech.

On Saturday, things were much more equal, and Daniels stood out anyway. In fact, he looked as good as a runner as he did a passer, using his legs on several option runs throughout the game to help the Kansas offense settle in and then thrive.

There’s a little gunslinger in Daniels, but it’s of the modern variety. He carries himself with the swagger of a movie star and plays football like a prized fighter. Just keep slugging and slugging until something good happens.

Part of the reason for Daniels’ effectiveness so far this season is his quick decision making. Daniels said last week, after a strong opening game against lower-level competition, that he views his job in a very simple manner: Get the ball to the open receiver, move the chains and put up points.

So now, Daniels, along with his confidence and a surging 2-0 team behind him, will head to Houston next weekend with a chance to move to 3-0.

This scenario wasn’t entirely unpredictable before the season began. In fact, some of the most die-hard Kansas football fans I know said it would happen.

But now that it has — say that again just to make sure you fully understand it and believe it — the Jayhawks will head to Houston with a chance to go 3-0.

Houston will enter that one on the heels of back-to-back multiple overtime contests — a triple-overtime win over Texas-San Antonio in Week 1 and a double-overtime loss at Texas Tech on Saturday.

At this point, whether the Jayhawks win or lose next week, you’re looking at the potential for David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium to be hopping when Duke comes to town in two weeks.

At that point, it’s beat Duke and move to 4-0 at best or 3-1 at worst.



Welcome to the new Our old commenting system has been replaced with Facebook Comments. There is no longer a separate username and password login step. If you are already signed into Facebook within your browser, you will be able to comment. If you do not have a Facebook account and do not wish to create one, you will not be able to comment on stories.