“Three games in a row against these guys is very big for our program,” said Russell Brorsen, defensive end. “For a long time, before I got here, we had to hear about how Kansas would get killed by Kansas State every year. So the tide may have finally swung in the favor of Kansas, and three in a row is big.”
Kansas State Coach Ron Prince would say after the game that it was a poor performance “by myself and all my coaching staff.”
“This is a thorough and complete beating and defeat; there is no question about it,” Prince said. “I’m not one that’s going to try to mince words and try to spin anything. They did a great job, they were very well prepared for the game and it meant a lot to them. We were very well prepared coming into the game, but we didn’t execute like we needed to, and that’s my job to get my team to do that.”
It didn’t take the storm long to start, with the Jayhawks taking the opening kickoff and marching 81 yards on 11 plays, capped by a Jake Sharp four-yard touchdown run. After picking off Kansas State quarterback Josh Freeman, the Jayhawks took it the short field, with Sharp again supplying the exclamation point with a 20-yard touchdown run. Sharp scored his third touchdown of the stanza slightly more than three minutes later, taking a Todd Reesing pitch 47 yards to paydirt.
“Our offensive line did a terrific job of getting off the ball and knocking the defensive line back a little bit and gave Jake Sharp some room, and Jake just had a great day,” said Kansas Coach Mark Mangino.
Kansas added two more scores in the second quarter, a 33-yard field goal by Jacob Branstetter and a 15-yard Reesing touchdown run when he kept the ball on an option play. Kansas State blocked another field goal attempt to keep the game at 31-0 at the half.
Kansas State scored its first points of the game with 8:04 left in the third quarter when LaMark Brown ran in from four-yards out.
Kansas responded immediately with a 78-yard drive in nine plays. The touchdown came on a three-yard pass from Reesing to Dezmon Brsicoe.
The Wildcats was so beaten at the half that they tried to go for it on long fourth down plays twice from inside their own 30. Meanwhile, the Jayhawks were having some fun. Up 38-7, they ran a reverse pass from receiver Kerry Meier to Sharp for 27 yards, taking the ball to the two. Sharp dove into the endzone on the next play.
Kansas State scored twice in the fourth quarter on Brown touchdown runs, while Angus Quigley added another touchdown for the Jayhawks.
The Kansas’s 31-point margin of victory was the biggest win for the Jayhawks since a 38-7 win in 1985. The Jayhawks have now won 16 consecutive games against unranked opponents.
“I can’t tell you how good it feels,” said Kansas linebacker Mike Rivera. “It was a great game for us to win, and to win it handily. We did a really good job.
“Being from Kansas, it is one game that I mark on my calendar each year,” Rivera said. “I’m glad we went out there and gave our best effort. We had an awesome game and put it all together.”
Sharp had 152 yards rushing on 15 carries and three touchdowns by halftime. As a team, the Jayhawks posted 198 yards rushing at the half, which is more than Kansas had gained in any game this season. Sharp finished with 181 yards on 21 carries and four touchdowns. He also led the team with 76 yards on five catches.
“He not only ran the ball in space, but he took some vicious hits today and he jumped back up,” Mangino said. “Like I said before, Jake Sharp is a hard-charger. He’s a tough guy.
“He has proven to us he is exceptional,” Mangino said. “Most guys his size cannot (be a feature running back). But you cannot measure a guy’s heart. You can measure how fast he runs, how high he jumps, the weights he lifts, but you cannot measure intestinal fortitude. There’s no real measurement for it, and he has it.”
Kansas State linebacker Reggie Walker was blunter about it.
“If you don’t do your assignments like you’re supposed to do, of course they are going to put up 300 yards,” Walker said. “Every time we made a mistake, they capitalized on it.”
Todd Reesing had 162 yards passing and 47 yards rushing in a little more than three quarters of work. He passed for one touchdown and ran for another and managed the game well – the Jayhawks were eight of 12 on third downs.
On the other side, Josh Freeman continued his trend of turning the ball over against the Jayhawks, throwing three interceptions and losing a fumble. He finished with 207 yards passing and 27 yards rushing. Brown rushed for 68 yards and all three Kansas State touchdowns, but was held to 3.2 yards per carry. Brandon Banks had nine catches, but for just 70 yards. Tight end Jeron Mastrud led the Wildcats with 74 yards receiving.
After the game, Freeman was asked whether everyone on the team was on the same page.
“It’s tough to say, after this score, obviously not,” Freeman said. “From an offensive standpoint, early on, I need to get something going when KU was scoring like they were. It’s tough to say where we’re at. KU played a good game.”
Just a week after allowing 63 points to Texas Tech, the Kansas defense held tight, forcing five turnovers and sacking Freeman three times, while hurrying him on three other plays. Linebacker James Holt led the charge with five tackles, including three in the backfield, two sacks, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery. He also defended a pass. The Wildcats had just 234 yards through three quarters of play, and trailed 45-7.
“We put a great deal of pressure on the quarterback, or at least didn’t give him as much time as he would like to have,” Mangino said. “He is a talented guy, he can hurt you, he made some good throws today, you can see that he’s really a talented player.
“If you give him a lot of time to stand back there, you’re going to have a long day, and we’ve learned some lessons about that in the past,” Mangino said. “So we didn’t want that to happen today.”
The victory gave Kansas six wins (6-3, 3-2), meaning the Jayhawks are bowl-eligible for the fourth consecutive year. The Jayhawks were held out of a bowl game with a 6-6 record in 2006.
“It was our sixth win,” Rivera said. “Our goal is to win the North and this sets us up to have that opportunity at the end of the season.”
Kansas State fell to 4-5, and 1-4 in the conference, with the loss.
“The game does mean a tremendous amount to the people of this state,” Prince said, “and we let them down.”
Kansas will next travel to Lincoln to take on the Nebraska Cornhuskers.
News and notes
- Jake Sharp’s four touchdowns tied a Kansas record for rushing touchdowns in a game. The last player to hit that mark was Brandon McAnderson last year against Nebraska. Sharp’s 181 rushing yards were also a personal career high.
Two other players will also be on record watch for next week. Reesing’s 162 yards passing leaves him just 83 shy of the school’s career record of 6,410, held by Frank Seuer. And Dezmon Briscoe tied the school career record for receiving touchdowns with 17. He shares the mark with Willie Vaughn and Bruce Adams. The touchdown catch also tied Briscoe with Marcus Henry’s season mark of 10 receiving touchdowns.
- Defensive end Russell Brorsen continued his Kansas State killing ways, picking off two passes. In three career games against the Wildcats, Brorsen had 16 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks, three interceptions, two fumbles recovered and two quarterback hurries. One of the fumbles he recovered was for a touchdown.
Brorsen had half a sack and intercepted a pass in Manhattan last year, and the 2006 game in Lawrence may have been the best of Brorsen’s career. Brorsen, then a sophomore, finished the game with 10 tackles including three in the backfield and two sacks. He also had a quarterback hurry and recovered two fumbles, one in the endzone for a touchdown.
- The Jayhawks stuck with several personnel changes from the Texas Tech game. Former safety Justin Thornton started at one cornerback spot, while former receiver Daymond Patterson started at the other. Phillip Strozier earned the start at free safety, while usual cornerback starter Chris Harris rotated in at the safety spot. In the post game, Mangino also cited the work of redshirt freshman Anthony Davis as an up-and-comer who could supply depth.
- Linebacker Justin Springer was taken off the field with an injury early on, and Mangino revealed in the post-game press conference that he will be out for the season.
Kansas – Jake Sharp 4 run (Jacob Branstetter kick), 10:55 1Q
KU – Sharp 20 run (Branstetter kick), 6:03 1Q
KU – Sharp 45 run (Branstetter kick), 3:00 1Q
KU – Branstetter 33 FG, 11:56 2Q
KU – Reesing 15 run, 1:24 2Q
Kansas State – LaMark Brown 4 run Brooks Rossman kick), 8:04 3Q
KU – Dezmon Briscoe 3 pass from Reesing (Branstetter kick), 4:25 3Q
KU – Sharp 2 run (Branstetter kick), 1:54 3Q
KSU – Brown 11 run (Rossman kick), 13:18 4Q
KU – Angus Quigley 7 run (Branstetter kick), 10:41 4Q
KSU – Brown 1 run (Rossman kick), 0:39 4Q