The Kansas Jayhawks are undefeated. Here’s how it happened.
Kansas opened the game with a near perfect start, forcing SEMO to go three-and-out. It wouldn’t take much longer for the Jayhawks to get past the goal line, as Peyton Bender would later find Steven Sims on a 77 yard breakaway touchdown. Steven Sims found a rhythm last season and tonight was no different. All seemed well for the Jayhawks in the first quarter. On the following KU offensive possession, Bender connected with Chase Harrell, who managed to pull the ball in with one hand before being pushed out of bounds. Harrell didn’t even get a start tonight, but he’ll likely be on Sportscenter. Kansas took care of business all the way until halftime, and they groomed the lead throughout the third and fourth quarters.
Sometimes, the Jayhawk football team has an on and off switch. It’s like taking a scenic train route alongside a mountain. The view is pretty good at times, but when the train starts experiencing problems, it falls off of the cliff. We saw that on Saturday night when Kansas botched a punt return, and then watched it end up in the hands of the Redhawks. Later on, Peyton Bender’s pass went straight into a defenders arms, like the two were playing catch in the backyard. An unbalanced performance will not only make the team unpredictable, it will make games catastrophic with better competition. But with every rebuilding team comes growing pains. Heck, that’s exactly the reason they put teams like SEMO on the schedule. It’s a scrimmage that counts as a win. Kansas showed up and showed off capturing that well-deserved 22-point victory.
With Montell Cozart and Ryan Willis leaving Kansas, the Jayhawks were forced to completely change their QB corps. Head coach David Beaty put his trust in newcomer Peyton Bender, and Bender did not fail him. Peyton’s accurate and timely throws would be the contributing factor in the Jayhawks touchdown explosion. His four touchdown passes makes him the first Kansas quarterback to throw for four since Todd Reesing. While Bender was successful, he also tossed a pair of interceptions, tainting his overall performance. Still, Bender outperformed Cozart and Willis’ performances in a Kansas uniform, racking up 364 passing yards and those four touchdowns. Also worth noting, SEMO had a longer time of possession and amount of plays ran. This goes to show that the Jayhawks took care of business in a swift and efficient manner.
With it’s up-and-down style of gameplay aside, the Jayhawks face an identity crisis. Tacking on one more win this season than they did the previous year wouldn’t necessarily be a gauge for progress. We saw the Jayhawks give good efforts last season, even falling short by one score to an AP Top 25 team. Although, we also saw the Jayhawks get squished like a bug on the windshield. Neither the Jayhawks or the bug have the guts to go through that again this season. Not to mention the fanbase hanging on to a thread of hope that this team will be better than the last.
While Kansas won its season opener, the game still left a big question mark. “How will this Kansas team compete with the Big 12?” Unfortunately, a game against Southeastern Missouri State won’t give us any indicator. The thing that did give us an indicator was the scrappiness of the Jayhawks, and the way they were able to play through mistakes and still come out with a comfortable victory. For a team that has seen the lowest of lows in previous seasons, it’s ready to climb the mountain of success, and tonight was base camp of that journey.