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Bowl-bound Kansas determined to kick Texas Tech

Sportsnaut
Nov 5, 2022; Lawrence, Kansas, USA; Kansas Jayhawks running back Devin Neal (4) runs the ball against the Oklahoma State Cowboys during the second half of the game at David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Lance Leipold pushed Kansas into the postseason for the first time since 2008. Now the only thing anyone remotely interested in Jayhawks’ happenings wants to discuss is whether the second-year head coach will be around for bowl season.

Leipold and the Jayhawks (6-3, 3-3 Big 12) visit Texas Tech (4-5, 2-4) on Saturday, further distancing Kansas from his 2-10 debut season in 2021.

“I’m really proud of them, happy,” Leipold said as the Jayhawks move past a dominant win over Oklahoma State last week. “If you look, some guys have been around a long time. They’ve kind of gone through adversity and stayed with this program. Holistically (it’s great) for the school. I told them (his locker room) we are pretty demanding in things. There’s a reason we are, for moments like this.”

Leipold has been consistently linked to the opening at Wisconsin, his home state, but the 58-year-old continues to shift the conversation to here, now and KU. Coming out of the bye week, Kansas smothered Oklahoma State, bumped the Cowboys from the College Football Playoff rankings and steered the Jayhawks back into the Big 12 Championship conversation.

No. 4 TCU would have one of those spots if the season ended this weekend. But Texas, which plays TCU, Kansas State and Baylor are all 4-2 in conference play. The Wildcats play the Bears at Waco on Saturday.

Leipold won only once in Big 12 play last season. Getting the Jayhawks into the national conversation at this stage of the season was a program goal.

“I would say we’re proud but not satisfied,” he said. “It’s something that we cannot be content about and be satisfied and still want to make sure we grow and continue to to be the program we want to be here these last three weeks.”

Kansas running back Devin Neal had 228 rushing yards and 110 receiving yards (six receptions) to carry the Jayhawks over Oklahoma State.

“It was special,” Neal said of last week’s effort. “But we’re not done yet.”

Texas Tech is 4-1 at home this season and 21-2 all-time against Kansas, including a 41-14 victory last season.

But the Red Raiders lost their second game in a row last week, 34-24 to TCU, and have allowed 79 points during the losing streak. Tops on the list for coach Joey McGuire this week is identifying his best option at quarterback with Behren Morton expected to be out. The redshirt freshman injured his ankle last week.

“I wish I could tell you that I feel 100 percent that I’m going with Tyler (Shough) or 100 percent I’m going with Donovan (Smith),” McGuire said. “And it’s a deal that we really, we know how important this game is.”

Smith did not attempt a pass last week and Shough was 9-for-22 for 84 yards with an interception and garbage-time touchdown.

Texas Tech led TCU 17-13 late in the third quarter last week before penalties and ill-timed poor decisions by both quarterbacks set the Red Raiders into a tailspin to close the game.

“We have to get this one on Saturday,” McGuire said. “There’s no magic dust … you just have to come to work.”

–Field Level Media