Inside Slant

The Sports Xchange

September 12, 2018 at 9:19 am.

Jayhawks end skid, host Rutgers

Since taking over as Kansas coach prior to the 2015 season, David Beaty never spoke much about the road losing streak that gripped the Jayhawks.

At first he could say it was all history that happened before his arrival, and that of his staff. Yet the streak grew to a major-college record 46 and Beaty’s part of it included 15 straight defeats before Kansas upset Central Michigan 31-7 last Saturday.

“For our program, for our fans, for our stakeholders,” said the fourth-year coach, “it was really important that we ended that. Our fans deserve better. I’m glad it’s over.”

Maybe it was just as critical for Beaty so he could get to coach another week as his Kansas record improved to 4-34 with the first win in 50 games away from home counting three neutral site losses that happened since a 2009 win at UTEP. That was Mark Mangino’s last season at Kansas. Beaty is the third full-time coach since then.

Mounting wrath found some in the Kansas fan base wanting for an interim changeover following a season-opening loss to Nicholls State, an FCS opponent. New Kansas athletic director Jeff Long has said he prefers to wait until after a season to evaluate coaches, but the situation with the Jayhawks’ football program was certainly dire.

Still is, for that matter, though the victory at Central Michigan was comforting in that it not only ended the road skid but provided the Jayhawks a rare opportunity to dominate.

They did so by generating six takeaways, all in the second half, and getting a 125-yard rushing debut from freshman Pooka Williams, the prize plum of the Jayhawks’ 2018 recruiting class.

Williams was withheld from the Nicholls State defeat because of an eligibility issue. He was cleared to play the night before the game and the team learned at its breakfast hours before the afternoon kickoff. Williams rushed 14 times and had touchdown bursts of 20 and 41 yards within a decisive 75-second interval of the third quarter.

“Everyone just had a little smirk on their face, like, ‘Let’s see what he can do,”‘ said senior Peyton Bender, who earned his second win in 10 starts at quarterback as the Jayhawks snapped a 12-game losing streak.

As welcome as it was for Kansas to break in a potential game-changer, the stingy play of the defense was just as encouraging. A 55-yard touchdown return of an interception by senior cornerback Shakail Taylor highlighted the effort. The Jayhawks were stingy throughout, allowing just one first down on the Chippewas’ first eight possessions, while taking the ball away twice.

Too early to presume another winless run through the Big 12 like last year?

Well, another nonconference test still looms. Kansas returns home Saturday to face Rutgers (1-1), which will be coming off a 52-3 loss to Ohio State.

Actually, the Jayhawks could be excused for savoring a road win and not thinking ahead too much.

“I’m excited to be on the team that broke (the road streak) for sure,” said linebacker Joe Dineen, who has 30 tackles through two games after leading the Big 12 last season.

“That’s crazy. It’s a long time coming and I’m really excited for our team and really excited for our fans. Big-time win.”