The Kansas Jayhawks’ 55-6 win over Rhode Island ended a 15-game losing streak and has set in motion a series of potential firsts for the rebuilding football program.
The Jayhawks first win of the season and the first win for head coach David Beaty could now transition into the first KU winning streak since back-to-back wins against McNeese State and Northern Illinois to start the 2011 season.
The Jayhawks have not entered Memorial Stadium with a winning record, or even following a win, since Sept 27, 2014. Kansas lost that game 23-0 against Texas, starting a five-game skid and ending the Charlie Weis era.
The Jayhawks (1-0) are hoping Saturday’s game against the Ohio Bobcats (0-1) will have the opposite outcome and sustain the upward pointing arrow for the Beaty regime.
Kansas hung 399 passing yards and six passing touchdowns on the Rams. The uncertainty surrounding the ability of the Jayhawk quarterbacks cleared up, but the competition remained cloudy.
Junior Montell Cozart received the starting nod and a larger share of the reps in route to 199 yards and three touchdowns, but sophomore Ryan Willis was also impressive with 144 yards and two touchdowns. Even redshirt freshman Carter Stanley orchestrated a notable touchdown drive during the fourth quarter.
Whichever quarterback starts against Ohio, KU will need to prove that their improved play was not simply a result of facing an inferior URI team. The Rams have only won two games in the last two seasons as part of the Colonial Athletic Association in the Football Championship Subdivision.
Now, the Jayhawks will face an Ohio team that has competed in a bowl game five of the last six years.
The perennial bowl-bound Ohio Bobcats may be in for an uphill climb this season after a heartbreaking 56-54 triple-overtime loss to Texas State. The Bobcats held a 31-21 early fourth quarter lead before Texas State came back and tied the score at 38 as time expired in regulation.
Senior quarterback Greg Windham threw for 393 yards and four touchdowns. The offensive fireworks nearly overcame the injury to their leading rusher from 2015, running back A.J. Ouelette, who left the game during the opening series. Junior Dorian Brown and sophomore Maleek Irons picked up the missing workload, combining for 126 yards on 32 carries.
Ohio will have to beat a high-energy Jayhawks squad or the Bobcats will take a 0-2 record into next week’s matchup with the 17th ranked Tennessee Volunteers. The Jayhawks have a rematch against the Memphis Tigers awaiting them next week.
Ohio coach Frank Solich has been a stable force for the Bobcats since 2005. Solich has retained his offensive coordinator Tom Albin and defensive coordinator Jimmy Burrow throughout all of his 12 seasons with Ohio.
Solich’s first head coaching gig came in 1998 at Nebraska, succeeding legendary coach Tom Osborne when he retired following a 13-0 National Championship season. Solich was let go after 9-3 season in 2003.
Ohio-KU will kickoff at 1:30 pm on Saturday at Memorial Stadium.
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