Kansas escapes Baylor this time

Updated: October 19, 2003, 4:43 PM ET

LAWRENCE, Kan. -- Refusing to speak of bowl possibilities is getting harder for Mark Mangino with every game Kansas wins.

"It is a possibility," the second-year coach said Saturday after the Jayhawks stumbled around before putting away Baylor 28-21.

The victory raised their record to 5-2 overall and 2-1 in the Big 12.

One more win would make the Jayhawks eligible for a bowl. And that would mark a giant early leap in Mangino's ongoing effort to revitalize a program that just one year ago failed to win even one conference game.

"That possibility exists," Mangino said. "If we just take care of our business, that's sort of a side benefit of being focused and playing well the rest of the year."

The path is not easy. The Jayhawks play road games at Kansas State and Texas A&M the next two weeks and must also host Nebraska.

"I'm sure (the players) think about it, but we won't let them think about it very long," Mangino said. "When we earn that right, then we'll be really excited about it."

For the first three quarters against Baylor (3-4, 1-2), there seemed little reason for Jayhawk fans to cheer. A blocked punt recovered in the end zone helped the Bears take a 14-14 tie into the fourth quarter.

It was the first time in more than two years the Bears had not trailed going into the second half of any Big 12 game. But quarterback Bill Whittemore engineered two fourth-quarter scores, including a 40-yard TD pass play to Mark Simmons.

Then after the Bears pulled within one touchdown on Aaron Karas' 15-yard TD pass with about 5 minutes to go, Banks Floodman intercepted a Baylor pass to seal the win.

It was the 30th straight Big 12 road loss for Baylor, which hasn't won a conference road game since the end of the 1995 season in the defunct Southwest Conference.

"We just have to make our guys understand that it's about execution," said Baylor coach Guy Morriss. "And the dumb penalties have to stop. We just don't give ourselves a chance. There's not enough consistency and they just don't seem to understand it."

Floodman intercepted Karas' pass and the Jayhawks ran out the clock.

"I saw him and tried to lock eyes with him," said Karas. "I was trying to push him to the flat. The curl was behind him and he made a great play."

With all their penalties and mistakes, the Jayhawks would have lost this game a year ago, Mangino said.

"I am proud of the way we competed in the second half," he said.

There was some hangover from the previous week's overtime loss to Colorado, he said.

"We didn't let Colorado beat us twice."

Whittemore was 19-of-30 for 252 yards and two touchdowns and tied the school record with 15 scoring passes in a season.

"We made mental mistakes, and that hurt us a lot," said Simmons, who caught six passes for 89 yards. "We can't make penalties. We still got the touchdown, though. If I don't get it, I'm glad somebody else did."

This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index