BYU visits future conference foe Kansas

Field Level Media

September 20, 2023 at 1:12 pm.

BYU may have officially joined the Big 12 Conference effective July 1, but now it’s time to see how effective the Cougars will be on the field, starting with their date Saturday against Kansas in Lawrence, Kan.

Both teams are 3-0, and you’ll understand if neither coach cares that oddsmakers have made Kansas roughly a nine-point favorite in the conference opener for each team.

As a four-touchdown favorite last week, the Jayhawks went to Reno and nearly lost to Nevada outright. They broke a 24-24 tie on Devin Neal’s third rushing touchdown of the game with 6:20 left in the fourth quarter to win 31-24.

Kansas put up 441 total yards to Nevada’s 258 but barely led in time of possession and fumbled – the game’s only turnover.

Jayhawks coach Lance Leipold was not apologizing for the win, however.

“Some aren’t going to be as pretty as others, but wins have been pretty darn tough to come by at the University of Kansas for quite a while, and we need to make sure that we embrace them and then take it and go coach and coach harder and play harder and get it corrected and go,” Leipold said.

Kansas went 12 straight seasons without winning more than three games until it finished last season at 6-7. The Jayhawks appeared in the Liberty Bowl to cap Leipold’s second campaign at the helm.

Neal ran for 89 yards, and Daniel Hishaw Jr. added 48 yards rushing and a touchdown against Nevada. Both averaged over five yards per carry. Quarterback Jalon Daniels completed 21 of 27 pass attempts for 298 yards.

Meanwhile, BYU, a nine-point underdog, ventured into SEC country last week to face Arkansas. The Cougars trailed by 14 points barely 3 1/2 minutes into the game, then tied the game at 14 before falling behind by 10 with just under 12 minutes left in the fourth quarter.

But Will Ferrin’s 43-yard field goal and two touchdown passes from Kedon Slovis gave BYU a 38-31 win.

Not that Cougars coach Kalani Sitake enjoys falling behind as his team did.

“The fight in our young men to come back from two scores down early in the game,” Sitake said, “and then do it again in the second half. I’d like to get started a lot better for us this week, but I know it’s nice to see a team that can fight back when they need to.”

Slovis went 13 of 25 passing for 167 yards, and LJ Martin ground out 77 yards and two touchdowns on 23 carries.

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