Volume 8, Issue 1 University of Houston
Houston melts under national spotlight
Kansas turns tables with offensive showcase,
By Barrett Goldsmith
Cougar fans headed north hoping to see a high-powered offense at the top of its game, and that's exactly what they saw.
It just wasn't the one they were expecting.
As the vaunted Cougar scoring machine grinded to a halt, the usually modest Kansas offense hummed, zipped and finally exploded to a 42-13 drubbing of the Cougars in the third annual Fort Worth Bowl on Friday.
The Cougars did their part, missing tackles, blowing coverage, committing turnovers and shooting themselves in the foot with frivolous defensive penalties, but Kansas was in rare form. The Jayhawks racked up 538 yards and didn't face a punting situation until late in the third quarter.
"We tried to rally around and make some plays, but we weren't able to," UH head coach Art Briles said. "They did some good things on their side of the ball, and we had some bad things happen. We just didn't coach or play very well at all."
Of the 30,112 fans who came to Amon G. Carter Stadium, more than half wore Kansas blue, but Cougar fans came out in large numbers. At least the weather did not disappoint, staying steady in the mid 60s throughout the game without a hint of winter chill.
The consistently solid Kansas run defense was as good as advertised. The 1-2-3 UH rushing punch of Ryan Gilbert, Anthony Evans and Jackie Battle was held to only 56 yards and 23 net yards, and the Cougar offense registered only 244 yards of total offense.
In only his sixth start of the season, Kansas quarterback Jason Swanson lit up the Cougars for 307 yards and four touchdowns, completing 19 of his 29 passes. He distributed the ball evenly, with three KU receivers totaling more than 75 yards.
KU running back John Cornish burst on the scene in the second quarter, recording 101 yards on the ground. But he made his biggest impact in the passing game, converting a pair of awkward shuffle passes into two dazzling touchdowns.
Brian Murph put Kansas on the board early and set the tone for the game. After mishandling a Justin Laird punt, he picked it up, ran left, ran right and then ran straight to pay dirt for an 85-yard touchdown.
UH went into the break trailing 14-10, but the deficit could easily have been larger as the Jayhawks missed several scoring opportunities.
But the small halftime gap became a chasm in the second half as Kansas registered a pair of quick scores in the third quarter. The Jayhawks then threw more fuel on an already uncontrollable fire in the fourth quarter.
Kansas defensive end Charlton Keith capped a brilliant offensive display with a sterling defensive play, picking off a Kevin Kolb pass -- the third interception for Kansas -- on the 14 and leaping into the end zone to put the final points on the board.
The Cougars registered only two field goals and a single touchdown on a 1-yard sneak by Kolb.
The loss sets UH's final overall record at 6-6, though Kolb believes it will help spur the returning players to greater heights next year.
"It makes you so mad to have this happen, you want to come out next year and get it done," Kolb said. "I don't want to settle for mistakes and missed plays. All of us are going to come out next year with something to prove."
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