Then KU got hammered by the Cyclones the first half and was down 20-0 at halftime before rallying in the second half and pulling off a 35-33 victory, matching the third biggest comeback in school history.
KU went three-and-out on its first three possessions in the first half
and only posted five first downs and 93 yards by halftime.
For Kansas, those first 30 minutes were a wake-up call and a recent
history lesson heading into Saturday's showdown with Iowa State at
Memorial Stadium. Kickoff is at 11:30 a.m. (CT) on Versus between the
15th ranked, 4-0 Jayhawks and 3-2 Cyclones.
"We have presented last year's game against Iowa State as ‘this is what
happens when you show up and are not ready to play and not mentally
sharp,'" KU coach Mark Mangino said.
"I think our kids prepare well every week, but they took some things
for granted," Mangino added about that game. "That is what happens in
college football when you take things for granted, you put yourself in
a big hole. We played two totally different halves, but if you don't
show up ready to play, or you take your opponent for granted, you will
get stunned. We were fortunate that our kids showed a lot of poise to
come back in the second half."
Indeed, the Jayhawks regrouped after halftime and charged back. Kansas
scored touchdowns on five of six drives, including two TDs by running
back Jake Sharp. KU outscored ISU 21-0 in the third quarter. Sharp had
186 all-purpose yards for the game, while Kerry Meier caught seven
passes for 125 yards and two touchdowns. Quarterback Todd Reesing also
had a big day completing 18 of 26 passes for 319 yards, including 10 of
12 for 260 yards and three TDs in that pivotal second half.
"Everybody did a good job of staying calm and poised," Mangino said
about the mood at halftime. "When you're down 20 points at the half, it
doesn't do any good to kick the water bucket, so the coaches were not
going to do that kind of stuff. We talked about trying to get the kids
in the right frame of mind by staying positive. Technically on offense
and defense, we asked ourselves ‘what can we do against them on offense
and what do we need to do to stop them on defense?'
"I gathered them [the team] up and said ‘listen, we deserve to be where
we are right now, but we can change it. This is a good test of our
courage and we will find out what kind of football team we are in this
second half.' ... It was a terrible first half, but it was a good
teaching moment for us at halftime, preparing for that second half."
The Jayhawks learned a golden truth that game.
"It was definitely a learning lesson," Meier said. "We can't find
ourselves digging that deep of a hole, especially in Big 12 play. Teams
are going to be ready to come out and play four quarters and that's
what we are going to have to do."
Senior nickelback Justin Thornton agrees.
"If an opponent gets up 20-0 on you at halftime," Thornton said,
"you've definitely got to realize that you've got to be focused going
into every game, otherwise someone will sneak up on you and beat you."
Expect KU to be focused entering this Saturday rematch and lead from
the start. The Jayhawks seems to have ISU's number. KU has won the last
four meetings and five of the last six. The Cyclones haven't beat
Kansas in Lawrence since 2001.
However, if the unlikely scenario happens and the Jayhawks find
themselves in a similar first-half hole as last year, Thornton has
confidence KU will show composure again and battle back.
"It all comes with the leadership," Thornton said. "We've got guys who
have been in that situation before. All the guys who were in that
situation last year, if something like that were to happen again we'd
know how to handle ourselves. Experience helps and goes a long way in
situations like that."
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