The Oklahoma State Cowboys, college football's top-ranked offense in yards per game, came into Lawrence, Kan. Saturday as 24 point favorites, and for a half at least, the Kansas Jayhawks hung with them.
Unfortunately, teams are required to play the second half in Division One college football, and Cowboys head coach Mike Gundy's high-octane attack put its foot on the gas in the final 30 minutes, blowing out the Jayhawks on Senior Day by a score of 48-14.
The Kansas offense started things off with a bang, as junior quarterback Quinn Mecham found redshirt freshman wide receiver Chris Omigie down the west sideline for 36 yards on the first play from scrimmage. Mecham proceeded to lead the Jayhawks 80 yards on an efficient seven plays, capped by a 12-yard touchdown pass to junior tight end Tim Biere.
As was expected, however, the Cowboys fired back immediately, engineering a six play, 69-yard drive of their own, tying the game on a 14 yard touchdown run by Joseph Randle – a native of Wichita, Kan. and the younger brother of former Kansas running back John Randle.
The Jayhawks failed to answer, and Oklahoma State took the lead soon thereafter when kicker Dan Bailey punched a 32-yard field goal through the uprights with 4:01 remaining in the first quarter.
At that point, most of the 39,000 fans in the stadium probably expected the momentum to swing permanently toward the Cowboys, but Mecham and Co. refused to go quietly. Picking up a big third and eight on a nine-yard reception by junior wide receiver Daymond Patterson, Mecham scrambled for 16 yards on the ensuing play. The improvisation set up James Sims' 24-yard touchdown from the Wildcat formation one play later, and just like that Kansas had reclaimed the lead, 14-10.
Unfortunately, that's where the scoring stopped for the Jayhawks – and the Cowboys were just getting warmed up.
Quarterback Brandon Weeden engineered a masterpiece of a drive on Oklahoma State's next possession, one on which he put the finishing touches by avoiding pressure, rolling out to his right and throwing a dart on the fly to wide receiver Josh Cooper for a 21 yard touchdown.
A 73-yard Kansas drive ended in no points when freshman running back James Sims was stopped on fourth-and-goal from the one. The Cowboys then drove 96 yards down the field to claim a 20-14 lead, when Baily put a 21-yard chipshot through the uprights with 2:32 left in the half.
Perhaps most frustrating for the Jayhawks in the second half was the fact that Oklahoma State frequently left the window of opportunity open. Try as they might, however, Kansas just couldn't seem to climb through – and against a top 10 team that window will only stay open so long.
The Jayhawks D forced a turnover on downs to open the half, only to have a 47-yard field goal attempt by Jacob Branstetter blocked. Bailey then missed a 46-yard field goal for the Cowboys, but Kansas went three-and-out in response.
Six plays later Oklahoma State made them pay, as running back Jeremy Smith bashed his way into the endzone with 6:16 remaining in the third quarter, giving the Cowboys a 27-14 lead. And at that point, the wheels officially fell of the Crimson and Blue bus.
Another Kansas three-and-out led to a second missed field goal by Bailey, but the Jayhawks were forced once again to punt three plays later, only to have that punt blocked and returned for a touchdown by Oklahoma State's Michael Harrison. The special teams gaffe pushed the lead to 34-14 in favor of the Cowboys, and that was all she wrote.
Oklahoma State tacked on two additional scores in the fourth quarter – a pair of corner fades that would have made Nick Quartaro proud.
Final Score: Oklahoma State 48, Kansas 14.
With the loss the Jayhawks drop to 3-8 on the season, heading into next week's Border War with Missouri. The Cowboys, meanwhile, improve to a sterling 10-1 with hopes of a Big 12 South title still alive and well.
For Oklahoma State, Weeden threw for 389 yards and three touchdowns. Star receiver Justin Blackmon caught 10 passes for 130 yards and a touchdown, while Kendall Hunter led the Cowboys' triple-threat rushing attack with 109 yards.
For the Jayhawks, Mecham threw for 138 yards and one touchdown. Patterson led the Jayhawks in receiving with six receptions for 68 yards, and Sims tacked on 78 yards rushing with a touchdown.