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The Day After: A Senior Day heartbreaker vs. No. 5 TCU

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Kansas players JaCorey Shepherd (24) and Cassius Sendish celebrate Shepherd's interception of TCU quarterback Trevone Boykin during the second quarter on Saturday, Nov. 15, 2014 at Memorial Stadium.

Kansas players JaCorey Shepherd (24) and Cassius Sendish celebrate Shepherd's interception of TCU quarterback Trevone Boykin during the second quarter on Saturday, Nov. 15, 2014 at Memorial Stadium. by Nick Krug

The Kansas University football team did not win Saturday's thrilling showdown with No. 5 TCU at Memorial Stadium, but you'd never know that from the reaction that came after it.

Smiles radiated, pride beamed and the Jayhawks walked, talked, looked and sounded like a real football team again. There was even an opportunity for interim head coach to blast the officials for a couple of interesting calls, but, true to the form he's had throughout this whole ordeal, Bowen paused, thought carefully and chose to take the high road.

It was a good move. Even if he didn't agree with the calls that went against his team, whining about them in the postgame press conference would have done nothing — not for the game, not for his candidacy for the full-time job and not for the attitude he's instilled in his team since taking over. That attitude, of course, focuses on one mindset and one mindset only: Work hard, be tough and worry only about the things you can control.

That recipe almost enabled the Jayhawks to pull an all-time upset against a TCU team vying to stay in the conversation for the first ever college football playoff. The Horned Frogs won, and that's all that mattered, particularly on a day when other top-tier teams struggled or lost. But it could be argued that it was the Jayhawks who came away from this one having gained the most.

Never has the support behind Bowen been greater. Interest in the program is headed in the right direction again. Fans of KU football are no longer embarrassed to call themselves that out loud.

Bowen had a lot to do with that, but to give him all of the credit for it would be wrong. He's the captain of the ship, but the guys with the oars are some pretty big time players with a lot of heart and pride. And most of them are pretty good at football, too.

TCU found that out first-hand on Saturday and left Lawrence feeling fortunate to have survived.

Quick takeaway:

If it's football you want to talk about, Saturday's effort against a darn good TCU team proved that the Jayhawks might have a chance to be competitive in their two remaining games. That's something almost no one thought they could say a couple of weeks ago. But this team is tough, the offense is clicking and the defense is confident it can play with anybody. That alone should make for a fun couple of weeks. If it's the coaching search you're more interested in following, Saturday's game was relevant there, too. Bowen has proven he can coach. He took a group of guys who have done nothing but lose and made them winners. Maybe not on the scoreboard all that often, but they'll leave here with their heads up and remember this season much differently than it looked like they were going to. People realize that. People like that. And it's made a huge difference in the way a lot of people view Bowen as a candidate for the job.

Kansas quarterback Michael Cummings throws over the TCU defense during the fourth quarter on Saturday, Nov. 15, 2014 at Memorial Stadium.

Kansas quarterback Michael Cummings throws over the TCU defense during the fourth quarter on Saturday, Nov. 15, 2014 at Memorial Stadium. by Nick Krug

Three reasons to smile:

1 – If the way Jimmay Mundine competed out there did not earn your respect, the guy must have done something to your family. Seven catches, 137 yards, a touchdown and a part of what seemed like 40 missed tackles. All while having a heck of a time. Mundine was sensational in this game and has been a huge part of the reason for the solid play turned in by QB Michael Cummings. His effort against a Top 5 team on top of all he already has done this season should put him in the lead for first-team all-Big 12 honors at tight end.

Kansas tight end Jimmay Mundine tears up the sideline for a 67-yard-gain against TCU during the third quarter on Saturday, Nov. 15, 2014 at Memorial Stadium.

Kansas tight end Jimmay Mundine tears up the sideline for a 67-yard-gain against TCU during the third quarter on Saturday, Nov. 15, 2014 at Memorial Stadium. by Nick Krug

2 – Forget about Michael Cummings' statistics, let's talk about the young man's toughness. I counted three times where he walked off the field looking like he might not be able to continue, yet, each time he trotted back out there and not only played but also threw darts. I could go on and on and on and on here, but you get the point. The kid's tough. He's a heck of a competitor. And he deserves a ton of respect even if he's not impressed.

Kansas quarterback Michael Cummings breaks away from TCU defenders Davion Pierson (57) and Paul Dawson (47) during the first quarter on Saturday, Nov. 15, 2014 at Memorial Stadium.

Kansas quarterback Michael Cummings breaks away from TCU defenders Davion Pierson (57) and Paul Dawson (47) during the first quarter on Saturday, Nov. 15, 2014 at Memorial Stadium. by Nick Krug

3 – That's two weeks in a row that the Jayhawks have started fast and you can see what that's doing for their chances to be competitive. After brutal starts against Texas, West Virginia, Oklahoma State and Texas Tech, the Jayhawks have finally stopped digging themselves huge holes that they can't crawl out of no matter how well they play. The improvement of the offense — credit Bowen, Cummings and Eric Kiesau for a big chunk of that — has played the biggest role here, but so has the general mindset of this team. For the first time in a long time, these guys truly believe they're good enough to win and are getting results and production that back that up.

Three reasons to sigh:

1 – KU's special teams cost them again. Against Oklahoma State, a Tyreek Hill kickoff return for a touchdown — and the decision to kick it to him — cost the Jayhawks a victory and on Saturday against TCU, punter Trevor Pardula's big leg got the Jayhawks into trouble for a change when Cameron Echols-Luper returned a punt 69 yards for a touchdown that proved to be the difference. Those things will kill a lot of teams, but they're especially deadly for a team like KU that just doesn't have much margin for error.

TCU return man Cameron Echols-Luper runs back a punt for a touchdown and the lead as he is tailed by Kansas special teams player Trent Smiley during the third quarter on Saturday, Nov. 15, 2014 at Memorial Stadium.

TCU return man Cameron Echols-Luper runs back a punt for a touchdown and the lead as he is tailed by Kansas special teams player Trent Smiley during the third quarter on Saturday, Nov. 15, 2014 at Memorial Stadium. by Nick Krug

2 – With all the talent returning in the backfield heading into this season, you would've never been able to convince me that the KU passing game would be more productive for this team. But it has been lately. KU averaged just 2.1 yards per carry against a tough TCU defense. Corey Avery (10 carries, 27 yards and a touchdown) had good moments and it would've been very interesting to see him get three more carries when the Jayhawks took over at the TCU 10 yard line late in the game down by seven. But hindsight's 20/20 and there's no guarantee Avery or anyone else would've got in either. The way Cummings and the pass catchers are playing — along with the improvement of the O-Line — the running game doesn't have to be great. But it does need to be a threat to keep the defense on its heels and 2.1 ypc won't cut it.

3 – It really is a shame that Saturday's loss was the home finale. With the new wave of support building behind Bowen and his boys it would be cool to see what the crowd would look like if the Jayhawks had one more home game this season.

Kansas defensive lineman Tedarian Johnson is surrounded by teammates after recovering a fumble by TCU during the fourth quarter on Saturday, Nov. 15, 2014 at Memorial Stadium.

Kansas defensive lineman Tedarian Johnson is surrounded by teammates after recovering a fumble by TCU during the fourth quarter on Saturday, Nov. 15, 2014 at Memorial Stadium. by Nick Krug

One for the road:

KU's four-point loss to fifth-ranked TCU on Saturday...

• Moved the Jayhawks to 579-596-58 all-time. • Pushed TCU's lead in the all-time series lead 19-8-4. • Increased a streak of 15-straight losses to opponents ranked in the Top 25. • Prolonged a span of more than three years since the Jayhawks have won games in consecutive weeks. • Pushed the stretch of years it's been since KU topped TCU to 18. • Increased KU’s deficit to TCU in games played in Lawrence to 9-6. • Gave KU an even 3-3 mark at home in 2014.

Next up:

KU will travel to Norman, Oklahoma, this weekend for a match-up with the Sooners at 11 a.m. Saturday.

Comments

Brett McCabe 7 years, 2 months ago

Matt, thank you for reminding me about Jimmay's overall play, and that incredible run-after-catch. With all of the excitement over Nigel's incredible catch, it's easy to forget that Jimmay's play was spectacular in its own right.

The only real negative from the game can be seen in the background of the photo, above. For those of you who have wanted to criticize the fans for not showing up.....you may now proceed. After the win vs. ISU we should have shown up in droves - especially on Senior Day. Snowstorm...schmowstorm, more Jayhawk fans should have been inside to witness this game firsthand. We've been given a good football team by Clint the Coach, now it's time to step up the support.

Dirk Medema 7 years, 2 months ago

Halfway valid point in hindsight, but a bit off base when considering that 2 weeks ago we lost 60-14 to Baylor; a team very similar to TCU. Are you really expecting fans to be interested in freezing for hours while watching a 60-14 blow-out? ISU is bad enough that it would be a huge stretch to extrapolate those results to games against top opponents.

The team has come a long ways in the past 6-8 weeks, and it is a shame that there will not be more opps to express it -this season. Maybe next.

Ethan Berger 7 years, 2 months ago

Baylor and TCU are very different teams. Baylor is a quick strike, reciever based team. TCU is a bit slower, running back based team. They have some freaks at received which is why they have done so well. Baylor stomped OU 48-14. 12 points better then us. Baylor was a match up nightmare and we never stood a chance.

Kyle Sybesma 7 years, 2 months ago

Matt- Can you provide an explanation of the final ruling of the pick six play? I immediately saw we had guys running off the field and assumed we had 12 players but the officials missed it. How can Patterson point that out and get the call made a minute after the play? Isn't 12 men on the field the same as a holding or pass interference call? I know all turnovers get reviewed but how can it be overturned by a penalty that wasn't flagged until after the review?

I've also been frustrated with the catch (can't remember who made it) that was overturned because it hit the ground. It's not just this play but in many past plays, NCAA & NFL. THESE ARE CATCHES and instant replay is getting in the way of this. The foot ball is a big ball and it's impossible to expect the hands to prevent the ball from hitting the ground. He clearly had control without assistance from the ground.

Dirk Medema 7 years, 2 months ago

Only got to listen to the game, but those were 2 plays that the announcers were going crazy about - and a facemask call on Cummings that wasn't called.

As for a football/sphere, it doesn't matter how big it is, it still only intersects a line/plane at one point. The key is for the intersection not to occur. The call on the field was a catch. The announcers seemed to think there wasn't sufficient evidence to overturn the call, though maybe their glasses weren't really clear; a bit too crimson tinted.

The bigger issue on the substitution penalty seemed to be that the rule requires that the D team has the time to respond to a substitution by the O, and the ref's didn't allow that time. Not sure it makes a difference. Rather expecting an apology from the con offices this week.

Aaron Paisley 7 years, 2 months ago

On the pick 6, all scoring plays are reviewed by the booth. That's when the 12 men/illegal substitution penalty was called.

Lance Cheney 7 years, 2 months ago

But you can't call a penalty on a review, can you?

Aaron Paisley 7 years, 2 months ago

Subjective calls can't, definitive ones like 12 men on the field can. You occasionally see it happen with punts. It was frustrating, but the right call. Had the refs let that call slide and KU won the game, the focus wouldn't be on KU winning, it would've been on a blown call that cost TCU a potential playoff spot.

Michael Wattai 7 years, 2 months ago

I'm not normally a conspiracy nut, but.............. Does anyone actually think the "powers that be" would let a second-to-last place team beat the number 4 ranked team in the country and screw up the Big XII's chance to get a team into the national playoffs??? Come on. Mangino recognized this back in that Texas game with the bogus interference penalty. I saw at least 3 penalties on the punt return, including an obvious block in the back around the 20 yard line. Not to mention the 12 men on the field call, the missed face mask penalty, and the mysterious third and twenty play. The Hawks played great on Saturday and deserved the victory. Bowen is the man.

Glen Miller 7 years, 2 months ago

My thoughts exactly!!! If people don't think there are not politics involved with games and sometimes who wins..... then you are kidding yourself. The Big 12 powers that be were sweating and they needed to make sure that if TCU gave itself a chance to come back, they would win. The best way to make that happen is the refs. I saw enough blatant misses on obvious calls and a few phantom calls against us that just strengthens that. TCU had at least 2 obvious blocks in the back on the return, right where the ref couldn't have missed it. It's all about that money and power now. They don't let the players decide it anymore. You see it happen all over college football and basketball, unfortunately.

Lucas Town 7 years, 2 months ago

Then how do we explain Oklahoma State @ Iowa State in 2011, K-State @ Baylor in 2012 and Baylor @ Oklahoma State in 2013. Any of those 3 teams win that game and we have Big 12 representation in the National Championship game. I suppose had those situations had been different and Oklahoma or Texas had been in any of those positions they would have gotten that nudge from the conference to get in. What is sad is the fact that if this sort of thing does in fact exist then there are only about 15 schools who will ever win a national championship. If you want to know which schools those are go to ESPN and look at the College Football home page and scroll down and you will see the CFB Nation list of approx. 15 teams that are the face of college football. Then ask yourself who on that list has won a national title in the last 20 years (hint: All of them, *Miami Hurricanes aren't listed). Oregon, Stanford and Texas A&M are lurking. I don't see anyone winning a national title in the future that isn't on that list. Coincidence?

Erich Hartmann 7 years, 2 months ago

Michael, Glen, Lucas: I'm ok with speculation, as we've often wondered on the basketball side about the preferential calls that Duke gets (for example). The whole theory about large-mkt ("ACC" bias) TV sets tuning "out" if it isnt one of their teams is based upon losing all that exposure for all the advertisers who bought slots in such games. Just think of the TV ratings difference between and all ACC or BigLeast Final4 vs. a Final Four with a hodge podge of teams from the west coast, midwest, or south? The tens-of-millions-dollar-question is if the NCAA truly felt that "more exposure" was better for their sport(s), then just how far would they go to 'ensure' such mktg exposure.

Realize there is also a double-entendere here: "more exposure" could show more games to more fans (as Zenger pitched after the current TV deal was inked 2yrs ago), or "more exposure" could simply be about exposing "more" fans to the big, big advertising dollars.

All the conference realignment stuff was pure $ driven, and for the BigXII to go from each member school getting $9mil/yr to now close to $20mil/yr is funded thru advertising dollars. You know the BigXII had to concede something to almost double the money, and we see it with the crap coverage, and the local blackout. To have to watch some KU basketball games on espn3 or on some herky-jerky bufferring website seems like a big step backwards to many in JayhawkNation...but who the hell cares, because you see, Jayhawk nation, especially in its biggest markets around Lawrence and KC are small potatoes compared to the national audiences. Small potatoes. Having lived and grown up around the Wichita area, and still living here, I get the EXACT same feeling about WSU basketball. Even now that the shocker fans are basking/glowing/gloating about their re-found relevance...outside of Wichita, nobody cares. They have NO national relevance.

Marketing-irrelevant teams simply have to earn it the hard way. That is what Bill Self is doing. That is what Gregg Marshall is trying to do.

Honestly, KU, for all our own reasons, needed to find a way to beat TCU. That interception really was on Cummings, as that pass sailed too high, as Mundine broke open nicely with no defender beneath. And getting a fumble on the opposing 10yd line was a golden opportunity. Where was the 3 runs straight up the gut? Well on the 1st run, Avery got 5yds... ... ... ...and all I know sitting in my snug, warm, monday-morning-armchair, is that Deandre Mann is a helluva load who never got a chance. The sweep by Pierson wasnt a north/south play, and got sniffed out.

Gotta make the most of your chances, Bill Self knows it and Clint Bowen knows it. The TCU game was an 'opportunity', and a 'lesson'. Everytime KU bkball plays Duke or UNC, its another 'opportunity' (to stay relevant). Uphill battle for the geographically- and TV-sets-challenged University of Kansas, I fear.

Steve Corder 7 years, 2 months ago

You have more reasons than not to suspect such a "conspiracy". You're recollection on the Texas game is spot-on. I told a friend, a few years back, that there was no way the Big12 would let Missouri, in it's last season with the B12, take the title by winning in Allen Fieldhouse. We won it (down 20+ in 2nd half) with a "no call" on the T Robinson "block" of the MU guard racing for a last second layup that would have won it. There's huge money for the conferences (SEC,B10,Pac12) and they will do as much as possible to protect the big boys in their quest for national titles (I meant to say in their quest for the $$$). It's about the money.

Aaron Paisley 7 years, 2 months ago

One other thing to add to the reasons to smile, this is the first time in a very long time KU has put together good back to back games.

Erich Hartmann 7 years, 2 months ago

Reading some national sports news today, I saw that the Univ. of Michigan is in quite a turmoil with their fell-down-to-average football program (notice despite the Wolverine Basketball recent success), and their AD resigned. Now some pundits were offerring possibilities for their new ftball HC, and they actually mentioned "Bob Stoops" of Oklahoma?! That's some gall thinking they can just expect a (small market) BigXII team to give up its coach, or am I wrong? Stoops has supastar status in Oklahoma, and they announce his presence at Thunder games, and he gets a standing ovation as I witnessed first hand.

Lets consider how KState, another small, small mkt BigXII team keeps screwing up its chance at national relevance: Usually lose bowl games. Until they got handled by TCU, their only blemish was the loss to Auburn in a very very winnable game. But they lost to Auburn, and got torpedoed by a bigger purple pride (TCU). SO, about to crack the national playoff picture, they lost their opportunities. Watch what happens when Snyder leaves. If Bill Snyder, of 'Snyder Family Stadium' fame, still cannot get a steady stream of 5star guys, then who else will be able to? Consider that very fact (recruiting). So Snyder is ultra-respected for getting the max out of 3star kids. But, by god, man, he's been there for a generation...but hardly any 4 and 5star guys? That's the problem in Manhattan. Cracking in the national spotlight games doesnt help. How did Colin Klein do in that big bowl game 2yrs ago? (not good). Bill Snyder's done about as good a job as he could have...but its not good enough, and I just dont see him turning a new leaf anytime soon. You are seeing KState's plateau. Perhaps we can add to their 'slide' on 11/29. It will stay our little 'regional' secret though...

And when that other 'historic rivalry' with Missouri was about to fold, in the end, the $ were chosen over any sort of history. Its about money. Well, time to watch some more football (er, I mean commercials with a few football plays in between). And lets count the commercials in the Champions Classic Tuesday night?

Robert Brown 7 years, 2 months ago

Erich- I am not sure what point you were trying to make, but I did enjoy your comments.

STOOPS- There are a lot of people speculating that maybe a change of scenery would be good for him. He is being mentioned as possibilities at both Michigan and Florida. Neither are a better job than Florida and I do not think there is any pressure on him by the fan base to leave. OU football fans are spoiled like KU basketball fans. It is possible, something similar could be written about Bill Self in a few years but it won't be because the fanbase wants him to leave.

KSU/Snyder- Are you being critical because they haven't been able to win the Big Game. I would take playing in Big Games and losing to what KU currently has. I would give up the 2007 season to have had the success K-State has experienced under Snyder who has not won a BCS bowl. I do think it will be interesting to see who replaces Snyder and whether the program can continue to do well.

KU/MU Rivalry- You said money was chosen over history. I guess it depends on how you look at it. KU could get a lot more money playing MU every year than, say Southeast Missouri. As much as some KU fans irrationally argue to the contrary, the reason the game is no longer played is because KU doesn't want to play it. MU leaving the conference does not prevent us from playing them. Next year, we play Rutgers. It could just as easily be Missouri.

Bob Bailey 7 years, 2 months ago

KSU has the same problem KU has. Snyder has done his best to compensate; but they still don't teach tackling.

It would likely impossible to recruit Snyder's replacement. It would be impossible to get players into Manhattan.

Richard Duran 7 years, 2 months ago

I believe in conspiracies- remember when Nebraska beat Texas in the Big12 title game and the refs gave Texas 1 second to kick winning field goal? Jayhawks have to play mistake free to win, and we haven't quiet gotten there yet. Bowen had the guts to change his lineup, thats the best thing he did. Until we have the players to outtalent the big boys, we have to be mistake free. And that is hard to do. TCU had the men to make the mistakes they did and still win. Give Bowen the time and support, and the coaching staff, he could build a contender. Mangino's biggest sin was he would run off great assistants. Give him, Reagan, Kiesau and Campo the time and the talent he may build a winner, as least as good as Mangino and Mason.

Bill French 7 years, 2 months ago

Clint Bowen for Mayor, or for whatever HE WANTS !

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