Since the inception of the Big 12 conference, Kansas has had its share of problems with certain schools, though not as many, despite the horrors of the past four years. Since the league began in 1996, the Jayhawks have beaten every school either in the league, or no longer in it at least once, except for the Texas Longhorns.
Now, to be fair, Kansas football has been awful many of those years, but in a few of them under Mark Mangino, they were pretty good or at least very competitive. Still, with Kansas only playing Texas every four years until the league went to a 10-team format in 2011, the chances were few and far between.
Of course, now everybody plays everybody and KU will get its crack and the might Horns each year, so while the opportunities have increased, it’ll mean nothing if Kansas can’t take advantage.
Odds are that this year will be Kansas’ best chance perhaps ever to get it done. Once could argue that 1997 was a pretty good chance, with Texas cratering to a 4-7 record in John Mackovic’ last year in Austin, but that game was played in the Lone Star State. This game will be played in the friendly or in the case of the visitors, the quiet and tranquil confines of Lawrence’s Memorial Stadium.
The Jayhawks would love nothing more than to finally breakthrough against the Longhorns and given the history since the birth of the league in 1996, it would be a long time coming. Here’s a look back at the recent history between the two teams since then.
1996 – On a rain soaked November afternoon in Lawrence, Texas running backs Ricky Williams and Priest Holmes helped Texas score 21 unanswered points to break it open, as the Longhorns prevailed 38-17, despite the best efforts of Kansas running back June Henley, who tallied 209 yards on the ground.
1997 – The Jayhawks were in this one, despite it being played in Austin. The reeling Longhorns and their lame duck coach did just enough to hold Kansas off 45-31. Ironically, that day Royal Memorial Stadium was half empty on a cold and drizzly day in Austin. The game time temperature was just 36 degrees.
2000 – Kansas actually led this game early 14-0 and it took awhile for the Longhorns to wake up on a very cold day in Lawrence. After the Jayhawks returned a blocked extra point for a safety, they snapped and behind quarterback Chris Simms and wide receiver Roy Williams, Texas roared back to win 51-16
2001 – A year later, it was all Texas, as they romped to a 59-0 victory. That game would be the last for head coach Terry Allen, who was fired following the loss. Mark Mangino was hired weeks later.
2004 – The game most fans remember most. Starting fourth string quarterback John Nielsen, Kansas faced the sixth ranked and Rose Bowl bound Longhorns and nobody gave them a chance. However, in one of the hardest fought performances of the Mark Mangino era, Kansas took a 9-7 halftime lead and turned it into a 23-13 fourth quarter lead. The sleepy and half empty Memorial Stadium was suddenly full and loud as fans sensed a major upset of enormous proportions that could have perhaps altered history for Texas and coach Mack Brown, who was feeling some heat after five consecutive losses to Oklahoma and teams that didn’t fully live up to their potential.
Everyone knows what happened next. Texas closed the gap to 23-20 and Kansas had the ball on third down. Brian Luke who replaced and injured Nielsen found Charles Gordon for a first down that would have allowed Kansas to run the clock out. Instead, Freeman Johns, an official who lived in Austin, throws a late flag for offensive pass interference in front of the Texas sideline. On the play, Gordon was a called for push off on a routine swim move that is rarely if ever called.
On the ensuing Texas possession, Texas quarterback Vince Young shows his greatness, when on fourth and 18, Young rushes for 19 yards, eluding a would be Nick Reid tackle 10 yards shy of the marker and a few plays later, he hits Tony Jeffery for the game winning touchdown, as Texas escapes with a 27-23 win. Following the game, Mangino dropped his most famous line in his tenure defending his team and program.
"You know what this is all about, don't you? BCS. That's what made a difference today in the game," Mangino said. "That's what made the difference in a call in front of their bench. Dollar signs."
"All of America sat at home and watched the play," Mangino said following the game. "All college football fans who watched the game, we'll let them be the judge about that call."
"I've got a football team to fight for and I'm not going to be pushed around, or this university be pushed around because we're not the big spenders, we're not the big BCS team in the league," he said.
2005 – Texas remembered those comments a year earlier and combined with their crusade to a National Championship, put the game away early, leading 52-0 at halftime, before winning 66-14. To be fair, that year Texas pretty much did that to everyone en route to the title.
2008 – By this time, Kansas was coming off an Orange Bowl victory a year earlier and had Todd Reesing, Kerry Meier, Jake Sharp and Desmond Briscoe in their prime. However, injuries to Meier and Sharp early and a Texas defense that was among the toughest in the country made things difficult for the host Jayhawks. Texas didn’t sleepwalk into this one, as quarterback Colt McCoy and receiver Jordan Shipley helped Texas defeat Kansas 35-7 on a very cold and windy day in Lawrence.
2009 – With the Mark Mangino era in its final day amidst controversy and turmoil, Kansas played the sacrificial lamb on Texas’ senior night, as the Longhorns added to the Kansas misery, winning 51-20.
2011 – By this time, the Turner Gill nightmare was in full effect for Kansas, as they were embarrassed 43-0. Kansas struggled just to get into positive yards for the game. Gill’s seat was on fire following this one.
2012 – In year one under Charlie Weis, Kansas gave him one of its grittiest efforts with heart and passion that hadn’t been seen since the Mangino days. Kansas with very little on offense surged to a 17-14 fourth quarter lead behind running back James Sims.
Case McCoy had replaced the ineffective David Ash at quarterback for Texas and on the final drive, Kansas had two chances to seal the win. First McCoy hit cornerback Greg Brown in the numbers, catching him off guard. Brown dropped the would be game clinching pick and the Longhorns were given new life.
Then, they had fourth down and eight with just over a minute remaining. McCoy hit Jaxon Shipley for the first down and a few plays later threw the game winning touchdown to pull off another escape 21-17.
2013 – Last year, Kansas hung around in Austin until midway through the third quarter. The Longhorns then pulled away late, winning 35-13.