Jayhawks outlast Moutaineers to win Big 12 opener
The Kansas Jayhawks turned heads with a blowout win to start the 2022 season last week.
One week later, on a rainy night in Morgantown, West Virginia, they grabbed even more attention with a high-scoring, high-stress win in their Big 12 opener, outlasting WVU 55-42 in overtime.
That’s the first win for KU in its Big 12 opener since defeating Iowa State on Oct. 10, 2009. This also marks the first time the Jayhawks have started a season 2-0 since 2011. Kansas has not beaten a conference foe by multiple score since a win over Iowa State in Nov. 2014.
If those qualifiers weren’t enough for West Virginia, Saturday’s win was also the first ever in Morgantown by KU.
The early portion of the game belonged to West Virginia, with the Mountaineers opening up an early 14-0 lead and meeting little resistance from the Kansas defense. KU’s offense woke up late into the first quarter and into second, but they scored their first touchdown thanks to a Devin Neal running.
It was the first of three scores for Neal on the day and it propelled a Jayhawks’ run that seemed to have put them in control into the fourth quarter. After the hot start by WVU, KU scored 42 of the next 62 points in the high-flying battle.
While Lawrence’s running back scored many scores, quarterback Jalon Danis was doing his share to rip apart West Virginia’s defense. Daniels played one the most complete and impressive games of his career, whether it was through the air, triple-option runs, scrambles or triple-option runs.
The Jayhawks kept their offense humming until late the in game, leading 42-34. Following a punt that gave the Mountaineers the ball with 2: 17 to play, West Virginia and quarterback J.T. Daniels marched through the Kansas defense and scored with 35 seconds to go, getting both the necessary touchdown and two-point conversion.
KU knelt down to stop the clock and send the game into overtime. Although it was a nervy situation for Kansas, or at least its fans, overtime has been a good friend to the Jayhawks despite their decade-plus of struggles. Kansas entered Saturday night with a record of winning its last two overtime bouts.
Thanks to a West Virginia roughing the passer penalty, Kansas was able score on its overtime possession. Quentin Skinner was hit by Daniels in the back end zone for a touchdown.
The defense responded with a huge play of its own to win the game just a few seconds later. WVU’s Daniels attempted to run for the left sideline on a third down. Cobee Bryant picked him off and took the throw all the way back, completing the Jayhawks victory.
Jalon Daniels’ final line in the win included 18-of-29 passing for 219 yards and three touchdowns, plus a team-high 85 yards on the ground. Neal tallied 59 yards from scrimmage along with his three scores, two of which came via the run and one through the air. KU’s leading receiver on Saturday was Luke Grimm, who hauled in six passes for 66 yards.
The nonconference portion of the schedule resumes next Saturday for the Jayhawks, who will go on the road to face the 25th-ranked Houston Cougars. Dana Holgorsen’s team lost in overtime to Texas Tech on Saturday .
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The author of 5 books, 3 of which are New York Times bestsellers. I’ve been published in more than 100 newspapers and magazines and am a frequent commentator on NPR.