The Texas Longhorns are in Lawrence on a cold, clear fall day to face off against the Kansas Jayhawks at David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium trying to bounce back from last week’s poor offensive performance in a home loss to the No. 4 TCU Horned Frogs.
The Longhorns are also trying to bounce back from last year’s 57-56 loss to the Jayhawks in overtime and overcome recent struggles in Lawrence, so this game hardly has the typical storylines when Texas faces Kansas in football.
After missing the last four games with a shoulder injury sustained against TCU, Kansas quarterback Jalon Daniels is reportedly a game-time decision for the Jayhawks. Daniels was drawing consideration as a potential Heisman contender after a strong start to the season, but Kansas lost its early momentum when Daniels was injured, losing four of the last five games.
For Texas, cornerback D’Shawn Jamison traveled with the team to Lawrence and is expected to play after missing the TCU game with a concussion.
During the pregame introductions, backup quarterback Jason Bean was announced as the starter, but it was Daniels who actually received the start.
After winning the toss, Texas elected to receive the opening kickoff as head coach Steve Sarkisian tried to jumpstart an offense that performed poorly in Austin last week. And unlike in that loss, Sarkisian gave quarterback Quinn Ewers an easy pass to complete early — a run-pass option on which Ewers found wide receiver Xavier Worthy for a solid gain. Despite picking up a first down, the drive quickly stalled after a deflected pass on 3rd and 3 when Ewers made a questionable decision to pull the ball. Running back Bijan Robinson did, however, become the seventh Texas player to go over 3,000 rushing yards.
A 23-yard punt by Daniel Trejo failed to flip the field for the Longhorns and Texas then missed a big opportunity when nickel back Jahdae Barron jumped the first throw by Daniels, but bobbled the potential interception, allowing a completion for no gain. Facing a 3rd and 7, Daniels overthrew a go route on what could have been a big gain and instead fell incomplete.
In a positive development following the issues getting the running game going against TCU, Texas was productive on runs by Robinson early, opening the second drive, gaining 25 yards on three efforts by Robinson. In total, eight plays were runs — the only exception was wide receiver Jordan Whittington picking up 12 yards on a jet sweep — as running back Roschon Johnson gaining 21 yards on a gap run, and Robinson finishing the drive with a two-yard touchdown run.
Through the first two drives, the Longhorns racked up 70 rushing yards, a vast improvement on the 28 total rushing yards from the entire game against the Horned Frogs.
Texas was able to pin Kansas deep in their territory on a kickoff that looked like it might roll out of bounds, but was instead recovered inside the Jayhawks 10-yard line. Following two runs by Devin Neal, Kansas went three and out for the second consecutive drive thanks to another third-down incompletion.
A 22-yard punt return from Worthy behind a strong block from safety Michael Taaffe gave the Longhorns offense the ball at the Jayhawks 28-yard line and Robinson maintained his rhythm on the first play, gaining 11 yards before breaking outside on the second play for a 17-yard touchdown to take a 14-0 lead.
Kansas was able to move the chains for the first time when Daniels converted a 3rd and 10 with a 13-yard completion. Then Neal got loose for the first time with a 15-yard run and Daniels found his tight end for an eight-yard gain. On 3rd and 1, though, Texas safety Morice Blackwell tackled Neal for a loss of a yard to force a fourth-down attempt with the Longhorns defense forcing a turnover on downs when Barron and safety Jerrin Thompson combined for the stop on the perimeter.
The run defense for the Jayhawks stiffened, forcing a 3rd and 6 after two runs by the Longhorns, but Ewers hit Worthy for a 24-yard gain as the Texas wide receiver was able to extend to make an impressive catch on the penultimate play of the first quarter.
Facing 4th and 4, a hard count from Ewers produced an offside penalty against Kansas as Texas received another set of downs before Robinson found room down the left sideline for 10 yards. Robinson looked like he scored his third rushing touchdown, but it was negated on a questionable holding penalty against tight end Ja’Tavion Sanders, a call that ultimately stalled the drive and forced a 28-yard field goal by Bert Auburn for a 17-0 lead.
Texas linebacker Diamonte Tucker-Dorsey was ejected for targeting on a late hit against Daniels to open the Kansas drive on a play that nearly resulted in an interception by the Longhorns, but the yardage gained was negated by a penalty on the Jayhawks coaching staff. An 18-yard completion converted another third and long for Kansas to extend the drive before Daniels dropped a dime to Mason Fairchild down the seam for 31 yards. Forced out of the pocket on fourth down in the red zone, Daniels found tight end Jared Casey for what initially appeared to be a touchdown, but it was negated for an ineligible man downfield and Kansas missed the subsequent 34-yard field goal.
Under pressure, Ewers completed a 21-yard throw to Whittington and Kansas was flagged for pass interference on a glance route run-pass option intended for Worthy. Then Robinson produced a chunk play, bouncing left and running through several arm tackles on a 31-yard gain. Another penalty in the red zone hurt the Longhorns on a snap infraction from center Jake Majors, but Texas was able to recover from it thanks to a 15-yard touchdown catch by running back Keilan Robinson on a well-blocked screen.
Trying to score before halftime, Kansas mounted a seven-play drive that ended when Texas linebacker Jaylan Ford intercepted a pass from Daniels in Longhorns territory.
A scramble by Ewers and a 10-yard run by Bijan Robinson moved the ball across midfield with the second quarter winding down. Facing a 4th and 2 with 28 seconds remaining, Robinson moved the chains with a nine-yard gain on an outside run. With a timeout left, Sarkisian called a run for Robinson, who weaved through the Kansas defense on what was initially ruled a 25-yard touchdown and then overturned on review, leaving Texas with one second remaining and the ball at the 1-yard line. Opting against a short field goal, Sarkisian called another run for Robinson and the Texas star came through with an important touchdown heading into halftime with a 31-0 lead after flying over the pile.
A tackle by Barron on the perimeter stopped Kansas on 3rd and 2 to open the second half and Texas then benefited from a 28-yard punt by the Jayhawks. Unsurprisingly, the Horns stuck with Bijan Robinson, who gained 26 yards on two runs to start the drive and eventually scored on a 3rd and 7 run that went for 32 yards.
The Texas defense continued to play at a high level, turning Kansas over on downs when defensive lineman Alfred Collins flashed with a tackle for loss on 4th and 2.
Unlike the Jayhawks, the Longhorns were able to convert a fourth down on a run by Bijan Robinson and moved the chains again on a run by Keilan Robinson, but the drive stalled following a false start penalty, leading to a 40-yard field goal from Auburn to make it 41-0.
Thanks in large part to a 42-yard catch and run by Lawrence Arnold, the Jayhawks were finally able to get on the board late in the third quarter on a 14-yard touchdown pass against a Longhorns defense mostly featuring backups.
With running back Jonathon Brooks in the game, Texas was still able to move the ball against Kansas, including a 14-yard run by Brooks to start the drive and a five-yard run to convert a 4th and 3 that ended the third quarter.
Brooks gave way to Jaydon Blue to start the fourth quarter as Whittington caught consecutive passes to move the ball into the red zone and Brooks returned to pick up a first down near the goal line. And it was Brooks who finished the drive with a three-yard touchdown run, the third of the season for the Hallettsville native and the fourth of his career.
Kansas only needed four plays to score another touchdown thanks to coverage busts by Texas safety Kitan Crawford, who gave up a 55-yard pass to Quentin Skinner and a 12-yard touchdown to Luke Grimm.
Brooks didn’t waste much time providing a real highlight, taking his third carry of the Texas drive 70 yards for a touchdown and a 55-14 lead for the Longhorns. The touchdown run gave Texas 51 carries for 413 yards and six rushing touchdowns.
Jonathon Brooks 70-yards to the crib!— CJ Vogel (@CJVogel_TFB) November 19, 2022
The future. pic.twitter.com/Tz2rBCD2n3
And at that point, the Longhorns were able to run out the clock in the bounce-back victory over the Jayhawks as Sarkisian notched a second consecutive win on the road.