But the game didn't start off well for the home team.
After holding the Jayhawks on Kansas's first possession, the Blue Devils only needed two plays to travel the 87 yards necessary for the game's first score. Duke made most of that amount on its first play, a XX-yard pass from quarterback Thaddeus Lewis to receiver Austin Kelly, then finished the drive on a Lewis 21-yard run on a quarterback draw.
Less than three minutes later, Kansas quarterback Todd Reesing found Dezmon Briscoe for a 14-yard touchdown, their first hook-up for points of the 2009 season. Reesing tossed two more touchdowns in the second quarter, a seven-yard score to Jake Sharp and a six-yard pass to a diving Kerry Meier.
"We responded very well," said Kansas Coach Mark Mangino. "We knew Duke likes to throw a lot of screen passes and we worked on it all week, but they executed perfectly and got the draw and got it in the end zone, so give credit to them."
The Kansas defense was the next to get involved, with defensive end Max Onyegbule picking off a pass and returning it 44 yards to paydirt.
After Duke responded with a 37-yard field goal, the Jayhawks found the end zone again, this time on a Toben Opurum four-yard run. A Jacob Branstetter field goal then upped the lead to 37-10.
Duke scored its final points when quarterback Sean Renfree found receiver Donovan Varner for a leaping touchdown catch on a fourth down play in the fourth quarter. The Jayhawks finished off the game's scoring when Opurum scored his second touchdown, this one from two yards out.
Reesing completed 68 percent of his passes (28-41) on the day, and he spread the ball around doing it— three receivers had at least six catches. Briscoe bested the century mark for the second consecutive week, snaring six passes for 117 yards and a score. Kerry Meier had eight catches for 64 yards and a touchdown, while Bradley McDougald and Jonathan Wilson combined for 10 catches and 100 yards.
"Todd did a great job," Mangino said. "He did what we asked him to do … Todd got into a rhythm and he saw what they were doing and did a really good job of managing the game, throwing the football and running the ball when he had to."
Filling in for an injured Jake Sharp, Opurum put up 120 total yards and two scores. He averaged 4.1 yards per carry and caught three passes for 50 yards, including a one-handed stab along the sideline.
Duke threw the ball 50 times in the game, with Lewis completing 16 of his 27 passes and Renfree hitting on 14 of his 23 throws. Renfree threw for a touchdown, while Lewis ran for a touchdown and threw two interceptions as the two combined for 299 yards through the air. Johnny Williams had eight catches for 75 yards and Kelly had five catches for 98 yards.
"The defense played well most of the day," Mangino said. "The first two plays of the game were no good. I thought we were flat and not sharp. After that, we buckled down and then we let that drive take place at the beginning of the fourth quarter that I didn't particularly like.
"But the rest of the day, the defense played very well except for those two situations," Mangino said.
The Jayhawks will host Southern Miss next Saturday to end the non-conference slate. Game time is set for 11 a.m.
Duke — Thaddeus Lewis 21 run (Nick Maggio kick), 9:46 1Q
Kansas — Dezmon Briscoe 14 pass from Todd Reesing (Jacob Branstetter kick), 7:10 1Q
KU — Jake Sharp 7 pass from Reesing (kick blocked), 4:59 2Q
KU — Kerry Meier 6 pass from Reesing (Branstetter kick), 1:16 2Q
KU — Max Onyegbule 48 interception return (Branstetter kick), 12:58 3Q
Duke—Will Snyderwine 37 FG, 11:21 3Q
KU — Toben Opurum 4 run (Branstetter kick), 7:30 3Q
KU — Branstetter 31 FG, 0:23 3Q
Duke — Donovan Varner 11 pass from Sean Renfree (pass failed), 9:22 4Q
KU — Opurum 2 run (Branstetter kick), 2:14 4Q
- Todd Reesing's 338 yards marked the first time he topped the 300-yard mark through the air this season. Reesing last passed for more than 300 yards in the 2008 Insight Bowl against Minnesota, when he threw for 313 yards. Reesing now has completed 64.7 percent of his passes for 806 yards and six touchdowns on the season. He has one interception.
- Kansas running back Jake Sharp played sparingly and ended the game with five carries for 13 yards. Kansas Coach Mark Mangino said Sharp was injured earlier in the week in a non-contact drill. He said the severity of the injury was unknown, but that the staff thought he would have been ready for Saturday's game. He said Sharp was uncomfortable and lacked explosion, and was replaced by Toben Opurum. Heading into Saturday's game, Sharp ranked second in the Big 12 Conference, averaging 113 yards per game on the ground. His five overall touchdowns led the conference. Overall, the Jayhawks rushed for 152 yards on 31 carries, down significantly from their Big 12 leading 291.5 yards-per-game average.
- On the flip side, the Jayhawks' average sack count stayed right on line with Kansas's previous games. The Jayhawks sacked Blue Devil passers five times on Saturday. The Jayhawks' 4.5 sacks per game over the first two games were tops in the league. All five sacks came courtesy of different players, coming from defensive ends Jake Laptad and Max Onyegbule and linebackers Drew Dudley, Justin Springer and Steven Johnson.
- Backup quarterback Kale Pick continued his string of big plays, running for an 18-yard gain the fourth quarter. Pick put up a rush of 20 yards in the Northern Colorado game, then ran for gains of 55 and 32 yards against UTEP. Pick has six carries for 152 yards (25.3 per carry) on the season.
- The Jayhawks struggled at times defending the pass, but were strong in that area in the middle of the game. Out of Duke's 299 passing yards, 86 came in the first quarter and 107 came in the final stanza. The Blue Devils completed 16 of their 24 passes in those stanzas for a 66 percent completion percentage, and averaged eight yards per attempt. In the second and third quarters, Duke quarterbacks were 14 of 26 (54 percent) for 106 yards (4.1 yards per attempt).