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No. 23 Kansas looks to build on strong start against Oklahoma State

UCF Kansas Football
Posted at 10:36 AM, Oct 13, 2023
and last updated 2023-10-13 11:36:39-04

Kansas coach Lance Leipold said some players who transferred in last year didn't get the experience they expected.

“When somebody is in the portal, they’re seeking opportunity and playing time,” he said. "But they have to understand that it’s going to be competitive here now as well. And I think in some of our misses a year ago, that people thought they could pick Kansas because it would be easier to get on the field. And I think our guys now understand.”

It's indeed competitive at Kansas. The 23rd-ranked Jayhawks (5-1, 3-1 Big 12) have won five of their first six games for the second straight year. For things to keep moving in the right direction, the Jayhawks will need to beat Oklahoma State (3-2, 1-1).

It's a matchup that Leipold doesn't take lightly. Oklahoma State is coming off a 29-21 win over Kansas State.

“I think they played their best game I think of the year Friday night against the defending conference champions," Leipold said.

The Cowboys have settled on quarterback Alan Bowman, and he has the offense working better than it was at the start of the season, when three quarterbacks were splitting snaps.

Kansas might have the quarterback issue on Saturday. Jalon Daniels, who has missed the past two games with a back injury, did not practice on Monday. Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy said he doesn't expect to see Daniels.

Even without Daniels, Kansas is dangerous. Jason Bean is a veteran who has passed for 3,035 yards and rushed for 671 in his career for the Jayhawks.

Whoever plays quarterback for Kansas will get strong support from a running game that ranks sixth in the nation with 232.3 yards per game. The Jayhawks ran for 399 yards in a 51-22 win over Central Florida last week. Devin Neal ran for 154 yards on 12 carries, Daniel Hishaw ran for 134 yards on 19 carries and Dylan McDuffie added 91 yards on 13 carries.

Hishaw suffered a season-ending hip injury last season, but now he's part of a unit that can impose its will.

“I think we’re starting to see Daniel Hishaw get back in a rhythm,” Leipold said after the win over Central Florida. “Devin Neal continues to play at a very high level. Then of course late in the game our thought was if we could run the ball well with the first two guys, and then Dylan could come in later when they’re starting to get tired and kind of put the nail in it, and I thought he did for the most part.”


Oklahoma State freshman safety Cameron Epps had two interceptions and returned one for a touchdown against Kansas State.

Gundy said Epps' ability to hold onto the ball bodes well for his future.

“Most of the time, guys like that early in their career that have the ability to finish plays will do that throughout their career,” Gundy said. "We’re excited about where he’s at. He’s got a long way to go. It’ll be a challenge for him every week because he’s not experienced and he’ll see different things.”


Gundy said part of Kansas’ running success comes from offensive coordinator Andy Kotelnicki, who has a background running the wishbone. He has updated it to create a more modern version of the triple option.

“What they’re doing is really, really good,” Gundy said. “They’re good at it. It’s a little different and unique. So, it’s a really tough preparation during the week to get prepared for what they do.”


Kansas leads the nation with 31 yards per punt return. The Jayhawks have only returned three punts through six games, but Trevor Wilson's 82-yard punt return for a score against Central Florida was enough to push the Jayhawks into the national lead,


Ollie Gordon II has posted back-to-back games with more than 100 yards rushing for Oklahoma State. He had 121 yards on 18 carries against Iowa State, then had 136 yards on 21 carries against Kansas State.


Oklahoma State will add Terry Miller to its Ring of Honor at halftime on Saturday. He will join Barry Sanders, Thurman Thomas and Bob Fenimore. Miller finished second in the voting for the 1977 Heisman Trophy and was fourth in 1976. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2022. He ranks No. 2 in career yards rushing and rushing touchdowns at Oklahoma State.