Ryan Greene, Ryan Wood and Tom Keegan discuss how KU was able to get the best of Texas A&M the old-fashioned way - both stopping the run and moving the ball on the ground themselves.
College Station, Texas It was a fight to the finish in a stadium that resembles a skyscraper of intimidation. But Kansas University's football team, at long last, was able to kick Texas A&M off the ride.
And what a ride it's becoming.
Kansas knocked out Texas A&M in its own ring, 19-11, on Saturday, hushing a mostly hostile crowd of 85,341 fans at Kyle Field. With the victory, the 12th-ranked Jayhawks improved to 8-0 and continued to excel in waters nobody thought they could even swim in.
"It seems like this is God's team," defensive tackle James McClinton said.
The spiritual McClinton spearheaded a defensive performance that knocked the Aggies into a world of uneasiness. Texas A&M (6-3 overall, 3-2 Big 12 Conference) brought its heralded running attack into Saturday's showdown, but was humbled when it gained only 74 yards on 27 carries.
The bread and butter was toast.
"We knew we had to play the run well, and we did," KU coach Mark Mangino said. "We felt like in order for them to beat us, they had to throw the ball. That's not their comfort zone."
The Aggies did score late points thanks to their passing game. But by that point, Kansas was leading in the fourth quarter and only needed to deny a collapse to stay undefeated.
That's now two road victories in two weeks, with a national-television audience tuning in to both.
"We're just showing that we're hard workers," said linebacker James Holt, who had a team-high 10 tackles. "We're mentally strong, and we're ready to get down and play."
It's the first 8-0 start for KU since 1909, and the unbeaten run has turned questions of KU's legitimacy into questions about whether KU can sneak into the national-championship discussion.
Considering the losses that have plagued college football's top teams this season, the fact the Jayhawks are 8-0 overall, 4-0 in Big 12 Conference play and 3-0 on the road speaks volumes about just how clutch this group is.
Saturday's game was won with another second-half elevation for Kansas, after the game was a scoreless knot after one half.
Though KU missed two field-goal opportunities before halftime, Kansas still seemed sure of its chances as the final 30 minutes of football got going.
"We felt like our offense was moving the ball really well. We needed to just punch it in," KU coach Mark Mangino said. "Our defense was playing extremely well. We felt like it was a matter of time."
Kansas ended up getting two Scott Webb field goals and two rushing touchdowns from Brandon McAnderson, who had a sensational night with 183 yards on 21 carries. McAnderson's second score, with 11:29 left, put the Jayhawks up 19-0.
From there, it got somewhat interesting. Texas A&M booted a field goal with 7:20 to play and scored its lone touchdown with 2:06 left on a nifty catch by Roger Holland. An onside kick was unsuccessful, but Texas A&M got the ball back with 52 seconds left and 80 yards to travel.
The Aggies, down eight, actually had two Hail Mary shots at the end zone in the final 15 seconds. But a pass breakup on the first one and a hurry by Joe Mortensen on the second sealed another Kansas victory.
"We gotta make a couple of more plays at the end," cornerback Aqib Talib said, "so it won't even be that close."
At a road game with an environment as loud as a jet, that's really a case of nitpicking. The fact is, Kansas remains unbeaten as college football powers all around are licking the wounds of defeat on a weekly basis.
The Jayhawks play two of their next three at home, starting Saturday with a showdown against struggling Nebraska.
It seems, perhaps improbably, that the victories are turning businesslike for a program that hasn't started this strong in 98 years.
Kansas jogged of the field Saturday happy, but lacking the overwhelming elation that followed victories at Kansas State and Colorado earlier this month.
Even at 8-0, the Jayhawks are finding themselves even hungrier.
"We're just going to keep on going, keep on fighting every game," quarterback Todd Reesing said, "and hopefully things keep on working out for us."
Rushing yards by Texas A&M against Kansas
Rushing yards by A&M coming in (the best average in the Big 12)
Yards per carry for KU's Brandon McAnderson (for 183 total)
Yards per carry for massive A&M back Jorvorskie Lane (for 18 total)
Sacks-yards by Kansas University's defense
Sacks-yards by Texas A&M's defense
Red-zone scores-chances for KU
Red-zone scores-chances for A&M