Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts — It came as a shock to everyone. Heading into Friday night, the Kansas Jayhawks were a 20-point underdog to a 2-0 Boston College team. And if you tuned into the start of this one, the line was well on its way to being covered by the home squad.
Not five minutes into the game, the Eagles had jumped out to a 10-0 lead. On the back of some physical play from junior running back AJ Dillon and a poorly thrown interception by senior quarterback Carter Stanley, the tides were heavily shifting before fans even found their seats.
But something clicked and at a desperate time for the Jayhawks. After the dismal upset last week to Coastal Carolina and the lackluster beginnings to this game, it seemed now more than ever that Kansas was on the verge of curling up into its shell.
However, repeated quick-strike completions got Stanley’s confidence on the rise. Chunks of yardage on the ground from sophomore running back Pooka Williams Jr. and senior running back Khalil Herbert kept the chains in motion. For the first time in two weeks, the offense looked in sync.
Head coach Les Miles believes it's credited to the style in which they ran the offense.
“I think we are in the RPO [run-pass option] world a little bit more than we’ve been,” Miles said. “That benefits us.”
No longer disorganized by untimely substitutions or stunted by head-scratching play calls, it was the Jayhawks leaving the Eagles’ defense up in arms after a 18-yard touchdown pass to a wide-open man in junior tight end Jack Luavasa. Causing the Boston College faithful to look at each other in dismay, Kansas had ignited a fire.
Leading the group at the point position, Stanley was proud of the way his teammates’ rebounded.
“It was just about everyone buying in and with a short week, you have to,” Stanley said. “It was a team effort all-around.”
On its next drive, trailing 17-7, the offense scored in less than a minute. Set up by well-placed ball to junior wideout Andrew Parchment, the former Iowa Community College product shifted his way down near the goal line.
Snagging eight catches for 100 yards and two scores in the win, Parchment feels great to be back in the mix on offense.
“It feels good, especially when I get touches early,” Parchment said. “Just so I can feel out the defense, see how they’re playing and see what type of speed they have. I’m just happy with everyone.”
One play later, senior Hudson Hall pounded it into the end zone for his first career touchdown. At this point, it was clear the Jayhawks’ offense was hot, but could it be sustained was the question.
As Stanley seemingly threaded the needle time and time again to receivers in Parchment, junior Stephon Robinson Jr., and junior Kwamie Lassiter II, the Eagles defensive unit looked gas. With their hands on their hips, watching the Jayhawk offense run to the line after each gain, Boston College was in the midst of being manhandled by a program in search of its first Power-Five win in 11 years. Pretty soon, it became a notion of not if Kansas was going to score, but if they could even be stopped.
Taking a lead into the break for the third time this season, Kansas kept its foot on the pedal. With the defense slowing down the Eagles’ rushing attack, the Jayhawks’ offense picked up in stride.
Junior linebacker Dru Prox, who finished with 10 total tackles to lead the team, felt the pressure lift off the defense.
“That takes off a lot of pressure,” Prox said on the success of the offense. “But like I said, I’m not surprised. I’ve seen what the offense can do in practice. We got some real ballers on that offense."
Later, a 12-yard dash from Williams to the end zone made it a two-score game. Gazing over the crowd, fans with hands on their hands or buried in their faces started to tell the story.
“It’s Kansas for crying out loud,” one man shouted.
Indeed it was, and tonight proved that the lines in Vegas meant nothing to them. The loss last week stung, but it’s clear that pain was erased from the mind shortly after.
With the crowd growing quieter as each minute ticked off the clock, the Jayhawks achieved a milestone that even the 2007-08 Orange Bowl squad was unable to attain. As junior kicker Liam Jones sent the ball end-over-end through the uprights, Kansas reached 41. A lot of points in the big picture, but it meant more than just a number. It hadn’t been since Nov. 4, 2006, that Kansas had scored more than 40 on the road. They did so on that day to Iowa State, beating them 41-10.
Draining the last seconds off the clock, the dream had finally become a reality. The Les Miles’ effect was still in full swing, and Kansas had not only overcome the betting odds but did so in a resounding fashion. Up next, the Jayhawks and the offense will look to build against a struggling West Virginia club. Kickoff is slated for 3:30 p.m. CST in Memorial Stadium.