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TCU defeats Kansas, 34-30

  • 2 p.m., Nov. 15, 2014
  • David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium, Lawrence, KS

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Jayhawks give scare but fall short against TCU, 34-30

Kansas receiver Nigel King tips a deep pass to himself to keep it in bounds for an eventual touchdown against TCU during the third quarter on Saturday, Nov. 15, 2014 at Memorial Stadium.

Kansas receiver Nigel King tips a deep pass to himself to keep it in bounds for an eventual touchdown against TCU during the third quarter on Saturday, Nov. 15, 2014 at Memorial Stadium.

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TCU 34, KANSAS 30

Box score

As the final seconds of what was nearly one of the most epic upsets in Kansas University football history ticked away on Saturday at Memorial Stadium, the KU fans who actually showed up to watch it serenaded fifth-ranked TCU with chants of “over-rated,” mocking the Horned Frogs' 34-30 escape over the Jayhawks.

One problem — the TCU players saw things the exact opposite way.

“Guys on the field after the game were saying, 'Don't let anybody tell you you're not any good because you guys played your asses off today,'” senior linebacker Ben Heeney said of the TCU players following the loss.

Senior cornerback JaCorey Shepherd, who, once again, put his stamp all over this one to the tune of an interception, a pass break-up and a pick-six that was called back because of an illegal substitution penalty, put it another way: “When the fans started saying overrated, (the TCU guys) were giving us our props and respect saying, 'No, y'all are underrated.' That's nice to hear. That's respect. And that's why you play the game.”

For much of a cold and crazy Saturday — which drew an announced paid attendance of 33,889 but actually looked like less than half of that — the Jayhawks played to win. After giving up a touchdown on the opening possession to the high-powered TCU offense, the Jayhawks outscored the Horned Frogs (9-1 overall, 6-1 Big 12) 27-10 and built a 27-17 lead after a 78-yard touchdown pass from Michael Cummings to Nigel King in which King tipped the ball three times to himself before securing it and then raced the rest of the way untouched to pad KU's lead. On the ensuing kickoff, the Jayhawks forced a TCU fumble and recovered it in Horned Frogs' territory. But the KU offense could not turn that fortune into points and instead of going up by 13 or 17 points, left the door to a TCU comeback open just enough.

“The ball's on the 50, that's not a guarantee that you're gonna take it down on the TCU defense and get points,” KU coach Clint Bowen said after the game.

Probably not. But it sure would have helped. Instead, the Horned Frogs answered with two touchdowns in the final four minutes of the quarter to take a 31-27 lead into the final quarter. A 24-yard run by Aaron Green (128 yards and 2 TDs on 19 carries) got it started and a 69-yard punt return from Cameron Echols-Luper pushed the Frogs over the top.

“That definitely hurt,” Shepherd said. “That was hard to see. I feel like that play was the turning point in the game.”

Such a statement carries a little more weight in a game like this, where so many crazy things went down. On KU's first drive alone the Jayhawks benefitted from a roughing the punter call, a fourth-down conversion pass from T.J. Millweard to Trent Smiley on a botched field goal attempt and a catch by senior receiver Nick Harwell near the goal line that was so far off line that it caromed off of the defender and fell softly into Harwell's hands.

“I meant to do that,” joked junior quarterback Michael Cummings, who had his best game to date, throwing for 332 yards and two touchdowns, most of it coming while dealing with a banged up throwing shoulder.

Then there was the King touchdown catch — part of his five-catch, 128-yard day — and, finally a fluky fourth-quarter fumble that gave the Jayhawks a first-and-goal at the TCU 10 with nine minutes to play and a seven-point deficit. KU gained five yards from Corey Avery on first down but could go no farther and settled for a 23-yard Matthew Wyman field goal that set the final margin.

Asked if he thought about going for it on fourth-and-six, Bowen said it never entered his mind.

“No,” he said. “Because I was confident we could get another stop, get the ball back and finish the game with a stop and a touchdown.”

The first part of that came true, as the Jayhawks took over at their own 11 with 4:09 to play. But after a first-down strike from Cummings to Justin McCay, the drive stalled and KU never got the ball back.

By that point, enough good things had happened to the Jayhawks for them to walk away from Saturday's near-upset with their heads high in the air. But football's a funny game, and after a day in which they played arguably their best game of the season, all many Jayhawks could do was lament the lost opportunity.

“It felt like it was our day the way everything was going our way,” Heeney said. “This one's a tough one. But it was a great effort by everybody and it was much appreciated by the seniors. Everyone laid it on the line for us and I think a lot of it had to do with Senior Day and the emotions.”

A lot of it also had to do with something Bowen and the KU coaching staff have been emphasizing since he took over after the firing of Charlie Weis on Sept. 28.

“They're Big 12 football players, too,” Bowen said of his guys. “And they belong in this conference. We never set any limitations on ourselves.... “(We knew) that TCU's the (No. 5) team in the nation for a reason because they're really good and we told our guys at halftime that the real part of the game starts in the second half and the real fight begins in the fourth quarter. But our kids went out and battled and they're expected to go out there and compete and play.”

For the first time in a while around here, words like that actually sounded reasonable.

“With us playing how we did today, I definitely feel like we can play with anyone in the country,” King said.

With their chances at bowl eligibility now gone, the Jayhawks (3-7, 1-6) have two more weeks to prove it, at Oklahoma on Saturday and Kansas State to close the season.

Comments

Randy Bombardier 8 years ago

Wow. If there's any doubt about Bowen after this you must be blind. Hire the man!

Scott Wooten 8 years ago

Doug- STFU and GTFO. Bowen for HC!

Stephen Johnson 8 years ago

If this doesn't convince someone that Bowen is the man, they just don't want to see it. This team played with heart and intelligence.

Brad Farha 8 years ago

God this loss hurts, but I loved this game. Loved the 'thank you seniors' chant at the end of the game. Rock Chalk forever.

Tom Longhofer 8 years ago

If for any reason it should be determined that Bowen is not the right guy to hire as head coach, I hope he's paid a bonus based on the team's performance in each of the games he coaches. He certainly earned a hefty one today.

It's too bad we don't have another home game because I think today's effort would have had a big impact at the turnstiles.

Dirk Medema 8 years ago

It was a great game, and easy to lament sooooo many missed opps.

It would seem to me that Coach Bowen and staff took a big step toward drafting a contract for next year. At the same time, hopefully the expectation for the position isn't to simply not be atrocious (like the past 5 years). I was impressed that they played beyond the emotion of Sr Day (usually good for a quarter or half), and stayed strong(ish) through the 2nd half. Being at least relevant on someone else's senior day will go a long ways toward finishing the deal.

"At least" is also hopefully crucial to everyone, in that being a good loser is not the vision for the program. It stinks that we close the season with one bad team and a 3 of the top 25 teams, so not much middle ground. The team certainly does seem to have come a long ways in just a month and a half.

Dirk Medema 8 years ago

There may not be anyone that is stating those expectations in those words, but you apparently have missed the people that are happy about being 5-1 against the spread while ignoring that we're still 1-5. That's being happy with losing. Shoot everybody who's happy with the current results is arguably happy with losing because we aren't being blown out. In fact, one person specifically wrote that we should be satisfied because we were now competitive - still 1-5 = losing.

If hiring a new coach now is such a great idea, why hasn't anyone else done it, or please enlighten us with your knowledge of when this approach has been successfully employed elsewhere.

While your at it. Enlighten us with the the significant recruiting that is taking place in November. from my uninformed position I don't see recruiting changing much at all for anyone regardless of their coaching situation until at least December.

Dirk Medema 8 years ago

If you want the spefic example, just go down a couple posts where Gerry is happy, ready to give the permanent job to coach Bowen because we've improved. That sounds a lot like I'm glad, satisfied we're not as bad as we use to be. That's not to pick on Gerry, but just an example of the general sentiment that doesn't take much looking - if you're willing to take off the crimson glasses.

Jack Jones 8 years ago

This is one of those 'losses' that the coaches and players can take a lot of positives away from. It was great to see us followup a really good win versus Iowa State, with an incredible effort against a #4 ranked team who has some huge wins against very good teams. It certainly is the type of game that can build even more confidence going into the Oklahoma ~ and certainly, the Kansas State game. And, just imagine what might have been, if we had our top two running backs who were injured before the season ever started. Well done, players and Coaches ~ proud to be a Jayhawk!!

Gerry Butler 8 years ago

I know it may not be the right way to look at it, BUT if there is ever such a thing as a victory in defeat then ya. these guys played their butts off and I think a huge part of that reflects the coach of this team. once again I will say I think it would be a big mistake like many others have stated if we don't offer this job to COACH bowen. I have seen improvement every game since he has taken over. hell even the offensive line looked better yesterday, yes I know MC got sacked but still though they looked better even the broadcast team mentioned it. my whole thing is once again Clint is home grown grew up here, played his high school football here, went to college here and he has such passion and fire for KU and you can see and have been told by the players themselves how they love playing for coach bowen. they see his dedication to KU and its those kind of things that rub off on the players YOUR NEXT COACH is right here in our own backyard MR ZENGER don't screw this up GO HAWKS

Bob Bailey 8 years ago

Where is all that 'joy' coming from? Did you actually watch the game?

Special Teams can win for you! Ours was a calamity! Every man on the punting team was badly beaten and the returner stood in thee end zone. More than covered the margin of winning. And who coaches our punter? Would you settle for a couple of 20 yd kicks? Mangino (not that he should be back) had a good kicker who thoroly studied the returns before the game, He devised the strategy and told the team. He kicked often for the corners; Had frequent stops within the 10 yard line. Why is our kicker sending it to the returner?

Millweird and the receiver performed well. Who coached the other 9 team members? TV didn't tell why it was called back, but it effectively stopped the Offense.

They never taught Tackling! Heeney, our all star linebacker was the last chance at the scorer! He flung himself at the runners feet and was sprawled in the middle of the field, while the scorer stood in the end zone. That style of tackling is 1/3 to 2/3 doomed to failure! There were way too many missed tackles.

And Shepherd is the shining light of coverage, seems others can't match him. And the coverage caller is a disaster. The TCU b threw to a receiver in the middle of 4 defenders, none more than 2 yds from him. WHO covered him? No one till he caught the ball. The guy calling coverage should have been fired on the spot. But virtually no DC uses Zone properly.

The Offense was our redeeming factor, but Cummings was hurt and lost his edge for the game..Kiesau is the best coach we've got.

You're all clamoring to make Bowen HC. Well, you may get it. Not even Zenger is mart enough to recognize all the 'football' problems we've got.

Erich Hartmann 8 years ago

Bob, clearly it wasn't a perfect outing, and also you clearly only want the win. Since you cannot see or refuse to see the change in the team's demeanor, I guess you will be 'one of those' that will never change until the win column changes.

So, some questions for your football mind:

1) What would have been the score if Gill or Weis were still HC?

2) Realize that Weis might still be starting Cozart?

3) Why did you discredit your own comments by referring to Ben Heeney's "that style" of tackling, when he got 11 for the game and his style of tackling has been widely respected across the BigXII, and is among the Conf. leaders in tackling? Or do you expect a kid to make every single play?

4) If you really want to spill your pain, why not armchairQB about Keisau's decision to not pound it 3 times straight ahead after the TCU late fumble? Avery got 5yds, then we got 0 with the end zone fade, and neg yds with Pierson's sweep run att. I thought we had 2 more att's to run the ball for the 5yds before settling for the FG...

5) I think you are mad at the close loss (aren't we all?), but aren't you forgetting at least we have a "close loss" to talk about & analyze, thanks to Bowen & his staff?

6) If we got beat 67-10, then Heeney's 1 missed tackle wouldn't have mattered, right? Shouldn't you be thanking Bowen for giving you a competetive game to even talk about, against the #4 team in the nation?

7) But if Bowen and his boys would have actually won this game, you would have just called it luck, right?

Erich Hartmann 8 years ago

Nobody is anointing Bowen as the next Bill Walsh, but we know an improved team from a coaching and preparation and motivation standpoint when we see it, compared to plenty of recent bad examples.

If someone's mind's eye cannot tell the difference between an L and another L, then while I pity that person, I'd also tell them to "learn to deal with" their own half-empty cup. Nothing is rosy in KU football as evidenced by the record...but we were looking for a QB, looking for offensive rhythm, and are trying to find a HC. We are making progress in all areas, but there is NO quick fix. And, we lose 20 seniors soon. So why can't we hope for more positives, when we see some unfolding in front of us?

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