The Kansas Jayhawks’ meeting with the TCU Horned Frogs was everything it was built up to be and more. ESPN’s College GameDay got the day started with energy leading up to the game, tons of points were scored and it came down to a dramatic finish.
In the end, though, it was TCU that came out on top, hanging on to beat KU 38-31.
Kansas, which came into the game ranked No. 19 in the nation, is now 5-1 on the season while TCU, the country’s 17th-ranked program, is now 5-0.
Saturday’s contest came down to the final minute, although the Jayhawks had to overcome several obstacles, some of which they created on their own, just to get to that point.
“It’s not as clean as it needs to be, and we need to be better to win games against quality teams like this,” Kansas coach Lance Leipold said.
Most importantly for both immediate and long-term purposes, Kansas lost starting quarterback Jalon Daniels in the second quarter to a shoulder injury following a sack just outside the red zone.
In his place, however, backup quarterback Jason Bean performed admirably if not heroically, playing undeniably the best game of his collegiate career to keep the Jayhawks alive.
Credit for the offensive showcase also belongs to the KU receivers, who made numerous impressive catches and runs after the catch to light up the TCU secondary. That includes Luke Grimm and Quentin Skinner, who among other players made multiple highlight reel catches, plus tight end Mason Fairchild and his breakout game of the year.
In one half of play, Bean completed 16-of-24 passes for 262 yards, four touchdowns and an interception, plus 34 more yards rushing.
Leipold and the Kansas coaching staff have spoken since fall camp about how well Bean has played this year, something that was put to the test this weekend.
When it came to Bean’s performance, Leipold said he was “Very impressed, but not surprised.”
As for Daniels, Leipold said the breakout star quarterback was still being evaluated after the game.
That interception, however, was part of another major roadblock the Jayhawks contended with in Week 6: turnovers. That giveaway gave set the Horned Frogs up deep into KU territory, and just five plays and one minute later TCU scored a touchdown.
Daniels also gave the ball away once before leaving the contest, fumbling at the one-year line on what could have been a Kansas touchdown. A score there would have put the Jayhawks up 7-3 in the second quarter. Instead, the Frogs recovered and traveled 99 yards in just over two and a half minutes for a touchdown of their own.
The turnovers, a couple kickoffs that sailed out of bounds and a smattering of costly penalties proved to be too much for the Jayhawks to overcome.
“Our margin of error is still pretty small,” Leipold said, adding that while that’s still OK given where the program is, “We’ve got to be better in certain situations … when you have five times more penalties than your opponents it’s going to be hard to win.”
Kansas turned in another gutsy effort in the loss, though, something that is keeping Leipold optimistic about the Jayhawks, especially knowing that they still had a real shot to win in Week 6. In spite of all the problems KU faced, it still had the ball in TCU territory in the game’s twilight. But, on fourth down and nine at the TCU 34-yard line with under a minute left, Bean couldn’t complete his final attempt of the game.
“Really proud of the way we battled, being down, losing Jalon,” Leipold said, adding: “I think we left opportunities out there.”
Grimm led KU in receptions on Saturday with six for 73 yards and a touchdown. Skinner hauled in a team-high 98 yards and two scores, while Fairchild caught three passes for 80 yards a touchdown. That group’s complete effort, amazingly enough, was matched by that of TCU’s receivers, specifically Quentin Johnson. The Horned Frogs’ top target had 14 receptions for 206 yards in the winning effort.
TCU quarterback Max Duggan threw for 308 yards and three touchdowns, but also threw his first interception of the season. He also scored a touchdown on the ground.
Following three consecutive home games, the Jayhawks will hit the road next week to face the Oklahoma Sooners, who are coming off an embarrassing loss to Texas in the River River Showdown in Week 6. OU was blown out 49-0.