Coming off a 31-7 thrashing of the Central Michigan Chippewas, the Kansas Jayhawks were looking to go on their first win streak since 2011 when they took on the Rutgers Scarlet Knights in David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium.
Against Central Michigan, the Jayhawks defense clinched the game in the second half, forcing four interceptions in the game and not allowing a score until Kansas had already sealed the game. In the game against Rutgers, the defense would once again pull through, leading the team to a 55-14 victory over the Scarlet Knights.
The defense forced six turnovers and did not allow a Rutgers offensive touchdown until three minutes were left in the first half. Juniors Mike Lee and Bryce Torneden and freshman Corione Harris would each capture an interception in the game, putting the Jayhawks’ total to seven interceptions in only three games. Both Lee and Torneden had a pick-six, being the first time since 2003 that Kansas has had two pick-sixes in the same game.
The Scarlet Knights found some momentum on special teams, as Rutgers blocked two of Gabriel Rui’s field goal kicks, one of which was taken back for a Scarlet Knights touchdown.
Offensively for the Jayhawks, it was the run game that took over. Freshman Anthony “Pooka” Williams broke out in only his second collegiate game, running the ball 18 times for 158 yards. Fourth-string running back Deron Thompson rushed three times for 70 yards, as he broke off a 55-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter.
Williams’ has now eclipsed 100 yards in each of his first two games, being the first Jayhawk to ever run for over 100 yards in their first two appearances.
Overall, Kansas would finish the game with 400 yards on the ground as they seemed to walk all over the Rutgers defense. The Jayhawks offensive line did struggle a bit, however. This was most notable when Dom Williams was on the field. Pooka Williams had a tough time running finding holes, but smart cuts and his athleticism allowed the freshman to create his own openings.
The most notable takeaway from the game for Kansas is their quarterback issue. Senior Peyton Bender started the game but was replaced by sophomore JUCO transfer Miles Kendrick midway through the second quarter. Kendrick would go on to start most of the second half, up until the Jayhawks decided to bring out their third and then fourth string play callers.
No quarterback eclipsed 100 yards in the air, but Kendrick was the most effective playmaker, throwing a beautiful over-the-shoulder touchdown pass to receiver Jeremiah Booker in the second quarter and then finding openings with his legs, leading to his first rushing touchdown this season.
Opening conference play at Baylor next week, the Jayhawks will look to win their first Big 12 game since the infamous Texas victory in 2016. Kansas will also look to go on their first three-game win streak since 2009, when they opened the season with five straight victories.
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