Couple that performance with a 20-point victory against Iowa State, and the folks in Lawrence can’t help but feel like they are on a two-game winning streak – even if they’ve still won only four Big 12 games in the past six years.
New coach Clint Bowen, who grew up just outside of Lawrence and played for the Jayhawks, has Kansas looking much closer to the team that won the Orange Bowl in 2008 than the squad that went winless in conference play for back-to-back seasons, a gap of almost three years.
“I want our guys to keep understanding that as long as we keep working hard, stay together, focus on the things we can control and get better at them every single day, that eventually the fourth quarter change will be in our favor,” Bowen said after his team lost despite leading by 10 points in the third quarter against TCU.
Quarterback Michael Cummings has passed for more than 275 yards in each of the past three games and four of the past five since Bowen took over six games ago after Charlie Weis was fired after a shutout loss to Texas.
Cummings, who made his first start of the season in Bowen’s first game as head coach, eclipsed the 300-yard mark for the first time since Sept. 15, 2012. “Just having a little bit more success, and some of the things that coach Bowen has been preaching about are coming true for us,” said tight end Jimmay Mundaine, who had a game-high 137 receiving yards and one touchdown Saturday. “He just tells us to put our heads down and to continuing working. That’s tough to hear when you’re at Baylor and it’s a lot to a little. It comes full circle when you have games like this.
“You’re up and have an opportunity to win and he is still saying the same thing, even in that situation.”
So if nothing else, there’s a new belief in Kansas, one that hasn’t been there since Todd Reesing was playing quarterback. It’s because of Bowen.
“I really think it’s coach Bowen getting guys better, mentally and physically,” Mundaine said. “Guys just want to give more for him and go all out for him.”
Kansas might not be a threat to beat Oklahoma for the first time since 1997, when the Jayhawks won three straight against the Sooners, but they are moving in that direction once again.
The Jayhawks believe they can win.
“We believed that all week,” Cummings said. “There’s no other way to go into a game than believing you can win. If you go in believing otherwise then you’re setting yourself up for failure.”