Print and Go Back ESPN.com: NCF Nation [Print without images]

Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Jayhawks cruise to convincing Insight Bowl victory


Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

 
 Jon Lemoine/US Presswire
 Kansas quarterback Todd Reesing threw for four scores in a 42-21 thumping of Minnesota.

Kansas' offense was blistering from the opening snap and hardly ever slowed down during an impressive bowl performance.

Todd Reesing and Dezmon Briscoe hooked up on a 60-yard touchdown pass on the first play from scrimmage to start an offensive onslaught that helped spark the Jayhawks to a convincing 42-21 victory over Minnesota in the Insight Bowl in Tempe, Ariz.

The Jayhawks (8-5) scored touchdowns on four of their first five drives to take control, producing the scores on drives of 60, 80, 69 and 86 yards. All of those drives were capped by Reesing's touchdown passes as he rifled four scoring strikes in the first half.

Reesing finished the game with a school bowl-record 312 passing yards, matching the school bowl mark with his four touchdown tosses as he completed a school-record 14 straight passes at one point in the first half.

Kansas' passing game tormented the smaller Minnesota secondary from the start of the game. Briscoe (14 receptions, 201 yard, three touchdowns) and Kerry Meier (10 catches, 113 catches, one touchdown) both repeatedly ran free through a desolate Minnesota secondary that struggled to match the Jayhawks.

Meier, a converted quarterback, reverted to his roots to add a clinching 32-yard touchdown pass to Briscoe -- Kansas' fifth touchdown pass of the game.

The Kansas defense did the rest, providing a fumble recovery, a goal line stand and two sacks in three plays by Kansas senior linebacker James Holt in the second half to punctuate the victory.

After struggling performances by Missouri and Oklahoma State to open the bowl season, some observers were wondering about the Big 12. Those concerns should be alleviated after the Jayhawks' convincing performance -- at least until Nebraska's Gator Bowl game against Clemson on Thursday.

After some early defensive struggles this season, Kansas' defense finally stepped up Wednesday night. They limited Minnesota's supposedly improved rushing game to 80 yards and stymied the Gophers on 10 of 13 third down plays.

Kansas linebacker Mike Rivera was all over the field as he clamped down on Minnesota's offensive attack along with Holt.

And the biggest play of the second half came when Kansas punter Alonso Rojas turned the tide with a running, rugby-style 64-yard punt that went out of bounds inside the Minnesota 1 with 10:56 left in the game.

The victory capped a history-making season for the Jayhawks, who claimed bowl appearances and victories in back-to-back seasons for the first time in school history.

Kansas clicked on six of its first seven third-down plays to jump to an early lead and didn't look back as coach Mark Mangino claimed his third-straight bowl victory. It also marked Kansas' fifth bowl victory in its last six bowl games.

The loss was a disappointing conclusion for the Gophers, who lost their last five games after starting the season 7-1. But this was the same team that went 1-11 last season and still accomplished the biggest turnaround in college football this season.