The Kansas Jayhawks faced a novel challenge on Saturday- a first-ever football matchup with the UCF Knights in Big 12 conference play.
They can only hope they’ll play as well in future installments.
The Jayhawks mauled the Knights for four quarters, playing a near-flawless offensive game en route to a blowout 51-22 win in Lawrence.
After a quick first possession stalled out for UCF, the Jayhawks’ dominance was quickly on display. Kansas drove 82 yards in 13 plays, only stopping after a third-down pass from Bean flew over the head of Quentin Skinner, and settled for a 25-yard field goal to take the lead they would never relinquish.
The Jayhawks fully gained control in a stretch between the first and second quarters. Two brief, four-play possessions from UCF were each responded to with long Kansas touchdown drives, pushing the Jayhawk lead to 17-0 after Daniel Hishaw plunged in for a three-yard score with six minutes remaining.
The death blow was struck just minutes later. A deep punt from UCF seemed to pin Trevor Wilson deep, but the speedy receiver chose to field the punt, then cut upfield, picking through blockers and sprinting down the sideline for a remarkable 82-yard punt return to give the Jayhawks a 24-0 lead.
The rest of the half passed without much incident, as the Knights survived the game getting fully out of hand by stopping the Jayhawks from capitalizing on a forced fumble near midfield to end the half trailing by 24.
If there was any hope in the game, it was quickly extinguished just seconds into the following half. Devin Neal found a big hole on the first play from scrimmage and flew 75 yards through the UCF defense to score a backbreaking touchdown.
Neal’s touchdown finally seemed to kick the Knights into gear, as RJ Hardy sprinted 53 yards to place them in the redzone where they converted the trip with Timmy McClain finding a wide-open Alec Holler to finally put UCF on the board.
Kansas still had more juice in them, running off another long drive capped with a one-yard plunge from Dylan McDuffie to restore the margin despite a blown extra point try giving UCF two points on a runback.
With the game now fully out of hand, UCF never gave up, running off a marathon drive spanning 17 plays across two quarters capped by a Hardy touchdown run from five yards to maintain a semblance of closeness, but the Kansas rushing attack remained relentless.
Short touchdowns from Hishaw and McDuffie were on offer as the Jayhawks piled on the points with the advantage of short fields the game with a lopsided final score.
It was truly a dominant performance for the Jayhawks, as the team totaled 399 yards on the ground and five scores. Neal and Hishaw each finished over 100 yards, while McDuffie followed close behind with 91. Jason Bean was asked to do little in the passing game but was efficient, completing 75% of his passes for 91 yards and a score.
The now 5-1 Jayhawks travel to Stillwater for a matchup with Oklahoma State next week.