Kansas lets yet another win slip away
September, 22, 2012
By David Ubben | ESPNChicago.com
Kansas doesn't need anyone to tell it that life is about to get a whole lot more difficult.
Still, Saturday served as a reminder that this Kansas team isn't ready to win close games. Playing with leads still seems wholly unfamiliar to the Jayhawks after a 30-23 loss on the road. Kansas now has a road losing streak of 15, dating back to a win at UTEP on Sept. 12, 2009.
For the second time in three weeks, Kansas had the game well within its grasp. It led Rice by double digits in the third quarter on Sept. 8 and led by eight with five minutes to play. It lost on a last second field goal.
On Saturday, Tyler Patmon's 54-yard interception return for a touchdown gave the Jayhawks a 23-13 lead. Don't give up the big play, right? Make Northern Illinois grind this one out and keep the Huskies in front of you?
Nope. Northern Illinois scored on its first play of the ensuing drive when Martel Moore caught a Jordan Lynch pass for a 65-yard score to get the game back within reach for the Huskies.
In the game's final 14:23, Kansas was outscored 17-0 and now returns home to Lawrence with a 1-3 record that could very easily be 3-1. It's not, and it's another black eye for Charlie Weis in his hopes to re-ignite the Kansas program.
After the Rice loss, Weis said at some point teams figure out how to win. They turn a corner. It's easy to see that hasn't happened yet for KU. Same story, different opponent.
Dayne Crist continues to underwhelm, too, which has to be a concern. Competition is about to ramp up considerably now that nonconference play is over and Crist completed just 10 of 26 passes for 147 yards. That's only 38 percent.
He's completing just 48 percent of his passes on the year, and with just one win (against an FCS team, no less) under its belt, it's now an uphill battle for KU to simply equal its two wins from a year ago.
Can Kansas figure out how to turn that corner? Right now, the Jayhawks look like they have a long way to go before any corners get turned in Lawrence.
Northern Illinois isn't a bad team, but it's not a team that's significantly better than Kansas. The rest of the Big 12? It's nine teams that are significantly better than Kansas.
I don't know how many days are left until basketball season starts, but KU fans might want to start checking their calendars.