WACO, Texas — Kansas football must wait two more weeks for another shot at snapping a road losing streak that dates back to the final year of the George W. Bush administration.
Thing is, Saturday may have been the Jayhawks’ most golden opportunity to accomplish that goal this season.
KU was on the wrong end of a lopsided conference opener, falling 26-7 at Baylor in front of a less-than-half-full McLane Stadium. Little went right for the Jayhawks (2-2, 0-1 Big 12) in the contest against the Bears, a team coming off a 13-point home defeat to Duke and a group predicted to finish ninth in the Big 12 preseason poll ahead of only KU.
The outcome represented KU’s 41st consecutive true road defeat in Big 12 play, a streak that dates back to a two-point victory on Oct. 4, 2008, at Iowa State. Only a 7.5-point underdog against the Bears, KU’s next chance to break the long skid will be a long shot — the Jayhawks take on No. 12 West Virginia on Oct. 6 in Morgantown, W.Va.
Fourth-year coach David Beaty didn’t wait long to shoulder blame for Saturday’s performance, using the opening statement in his postgame media session to essentially call himself out.
“We just didn’t do a good enough job at all offensively today,” said Beaty, whose team finished with 271 yards of total offense. “I don’t think we played well enough, and I certainly don’t think we coached ‘em well enough. I think we got outcoached on that side of the ball, starting with me. That’s not acceptable.”
BU moved to 9-0 all-time against KU in Waco, though this outcome was much smaller than the 40.8-point average the Bears had walloped the Jayhawks by over the teams’ last four meetings here.
Beaty didn’t think his squad was simply out-talented Saturday.
“I did not think we were outmatched, I’ll tell you that. I did not think we were outmatched,” Beaty said. “I mean that with all due respect for Baylor. ... We had plenty (of opportunities to get it done). Didn’t think we did a very good job of executing the game plan. Obviously, we didn’t do a good job of teaching it, I didn’t do a good enough job teaching it, and as a result we didn’t get it done as a group. But we’ll learn as a group and move forward heading into this next game.”
The Bears (3-1, 1-0) laid the framework for Saturday’s victory with a dominant first half that saw the Jayhawks outgained 256-48 and down 23-0 at the break.
BU scored on four of its first five drives, with Charlie Brewer again proving a thorn in the Jayhawks’ side. The sophomore quarterback, who had three touchdown passes in last season’s 29-point victory at KU, had three long ones in the first half of Saturday’s contest — a 22-yarder to Chris Platt, a 39-yard strike to Tyquan Thornton and a 34-yard dart to Josh Fleeks.
Brewer finished the contest 19 for 27 passing with 221 yards and three touchdowns, adding 12 carries for 57 yards.
“He’s obviously a really good quarterback. He can run and he can throw,” said KU senior linebacker Joe Dineen, who had a game-high 13 tackles and 11 solo stops. “That’s something that we’re going to see a lot of in the Big 12. We got a little bit of a taste of it. He’s a lot faster than he looks on film.”
KU’s running backs, meanwhile, mustered just 20 rushing yards on 11 first-half carries one week after a 400-yard performance in a 55-14 victory over Rutgers. Pooka Williams busted a 72-yarder in the third quarter that set up the Jayhawks’ first touchdown, a 10-yard fade route pass from Peyton Bender to Jeremiah Booker that made the deficit 23-7, but BU added a 27-yard field goal to go up 26-7.
Facing a fourth-and-9 late in the third quarter, the Jayhawks failed to convert on a completion to Stephon Robinson that came up a yard short, turning the ball over on downs. A successful field goal try would’ve made the contest a 16-point — or two-score — affair.
“Sitting in the situation that we were in, we felt like we needed to score right there just based on how things were going overall,” Beaty said of the fourth-down try. “That was a situation where we felt like if we had a good call, we might have a chance to get in, and we had been struggling to get them off early. That’s really why we went for it. We felt like we had a good call and it just didn’t work out.”
KU got no closer.
“Obviously, they’re a well-coached team and they have talent all over the field,” Dineen said. “We knew they’re a solid Big 12 team. You know, we didn’t play our best today, but you’ve got to give them a lot of credit because they really, really came out and knew what we were trying to do to them, and they played well.”
Williams finished with a team-high 89 rushing yards on 14 carries for the Jayhawks, but the team’s other impact running backs Khalil Herbert (two carries for 6 yards) and Dom Williams (two carries for 2 yards) struggled to match the tone set on the ground over the previous two weeks.
“I just felt like we didn’t get a great push up front, and you know, we didn’t really throw the ball that well, so they didn’t have a reason to lighten the box,” said Bender, who finished 10 for 17 for 105 yards and a touchdown. “They played harder than us.”
The Jayhawks will return to action at home with an 11 a.m. Sept. 29 homecoming contest against No. 15 Oklahoma State.
KENDRICK SIDELINED — KU sophomore backup quarterback Miles Kendrick appeared in the contest but left with what appeared to be a shoulder injury, driven into the ground at the end of a 5-yard scramble for a first down early in the third quarter.
Kendrick finished 4 of 6 passing for 37 yards.
“He was unavailable after that play,” Beaty said. “We’ll get him back, get him looked at, see where he’s at.”