The scoreboard showed enough for 11 games – more than any other Kansas team has ever achieved. The Jayhawks won 10 games in three seasons – 1899, 1905 and 1995 – but none of those teams ever made it to the 11 mark. Instead, it was yet another record set this year by the Jayhawks (11-0 7-0), this one at the expense of a Cyclone team (3-9 2-6) which entered this game having won its last two.
“I think it’s kind of a by-product of playing hard and winning and keeping your eye on the target,” Mangino said.
The Jayhawks put this one out of reach in the first half. Kansas scored its first touchdown less than 10 minutes into the ball game when Dexton Fields caught a Todd Reesing pass out in the flat and raced past a defender sealed off by Dezmon Briscoe for a 17-yard score. The duo hooked up again just a few minutes later in the first quarter, this time from 16-yards out.
Briscoe also had the key block on Kansas’s third score, helping to spring Marcus Henry for a 52-yard catch and run that made the game 21-0. The Cyclones pulled to within 14 on an Alexander Robinson six-yard run, following a 79-yard drive where the Jayhawks gave Iowa State 40 yards in penalties, including a personal foul after stopping the Cyclones on third down and a defensive holding call on a fourth down later in the drive.
Kansas immediately responded with a 75-yard drive of its own that ended with Reesing’s fourth touchdown pass, this one an 18-yard lob over the middle to Kerry Meier. Reesing finished the first half 17 of 18 for 221 yards and four touchdowns. Even more impressive, the one incompletion was intentional, when Reesing threw the ball out of bounds at the end of a play. Reesing didn’t throw his first unintentional incompletion until the 11:42 mark in the third quarter.
Scott Webb added the only score of the third quarter, booting a 37-yard field goal. Meier chipped in a four-yard touchdown pass to Derek Fine and Angus Quigley pounded in from 13 yards out in the fourth quarter.
And the Jayhawks did it all without starting cornerback Kendrick Harper and potential All-Big 12 offensive tackle Anthony Collins. Instead, Chris Harris and Matt Darton filled in admirably, with Harris leading the team with 11 tackles, including one for loss and two passes broken up. All Darton did was help to clear holes for an offense that racked up 566 yards, including 212 on the ground.
Reesing finished 21 of 26 for 253 yards and four touchdowns in three quarters. His 2,910 passing yards for the season leaves him within striking distance of Mike Norseth’s KU record. Norseth had 2,995 yards in 1985.
“That’s a pretty good night in any league,” Mangino said. “He had another great night out.
“Here’s the best compliment I have for Todd – I wouldn’t trade him for anybody else,” Mangino said. “I wouldn’t trade him for anybody else up for the (Heisman).”
Jake Sharp led the Jayhawks in rushing with 83 yards, while Brandon McAnderson rushed for 70 yards, putting him over the 1,000-yard mark for the year. Fields finished with 11 catches for 109 yards and two touchdowns, while Meier had three catches for 41 yards and a touchdown, was 9-9 for 101 yards and another score. He also rushed for 13 yards.
Henry’s 92 yards gave him 977 for the year. No KU team has ever had a 1,000-yard receiver and a 1,000-yard rusher in the same season.
The defense also had a solid game, picking off a pass and holding Iowa State to 234 yards. Alexander Robinson, who had topped the century mark in two of his last three games, was held to 54 yards on 20 carries. Much of the positive yardage came from working against Kansas’s second team late in the game. The Jayhawks also held Iowa State quarterbacks Bret Meyer and Austen Arnaud to just over four yards per attempt.
“I thought we played well (defensively),” Mangino said. “I thought the drive they had we had an awful lot of penalties, which were uncharacteristic.
“We’ll take a look at the tape and see why those things happened,” Mangino said. “It has my attention, but I’m not panicked about it. They’ve played pretty well fundamentally all year.”
The highlight clips after the game were accompanied by the soundtrack from the movie “Rudy,” and like the smallish player who had to fight for every chance he got, the Jayhawks will have to scrap the rest of the way for a Hollywood ending.
First up, the Jayhawks have a rivalry game against 10-1 Missouri at Arrowhead Stadium, with the victor taking the Big 12 North title, and likely facing Oklahoma for the conference championship in San Antonio. If Kansas is still left standing unbeaten, it will then make a trip down to the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans.
“We had planned to have a good season,” Mangino said. “One of the things the players wanted to accomplish was to win the Big 12 North. Next week, we’ll get the chance to do that.
“They’ve accomplished 11 wins, but they know there’s still work to do,” Mangino said. “I don’t believe in that destiny stuff. You have to earn your way. There isn’t anyone who is going to give it to you.”
KU – Dexton Fields 17 pass from Todd Reesing (Webb kick), 5:27 1Q
KU – Fields 16 pass from Reesing (Webb kick), 1:57 1Q
KU – Marcus Henry 52 pass from Reesing (Webb kick), 8:42 2Q
ISU – Alexander Robinson 6 run (Bret Culbertson kick), 3:54 2Q
KU – Kerry Meier 18 pass from Reesing (Webb kick), 1:56 2Q
KU – Scott Webb 37 FG, 7:53 3Q
KU – Derek Fine 4 pass from Meier (Webb kick), 6:58 4Q
KU – Angus Quigley 13 run (Webb kick), 2:39 4Q