The Kansas Jayhawks had no answer offensively or defensively for the Baylor Bears on Saturday, losing 61-6 on senior day to fall to 3-9 overall for the season and 1-8 in Big 12 play.
That makes it 10 straight losses to Baylor for Kansas, and the Bears have scored at least 55 points in five of those games. That also makes it 10 straight seasons with three or less wins for the Jayhawks.
“It was tough, that’s not how the seniors wanted to go out,” senior quarterback Carter Stanley said. “It wasn’t a lack of focus or anything, we had a great week of practice, it just came down to a lack of execution.”
Offensively, the Jayhawks started the game in sync, reminiscent of their production last week against Iowa State. The opening drive of the game lasted 11 plays and moved Kansas deep into Baylor territory, but stalled on a failed fourth-down conversion attempt. That opening, fruitless drive covered 48 yards.
The next six KU drives combined netted just 48 yards.
Stanley had one of his worst games of the season in his last game, completing 13-of-26 passes for just 95 yards with no touchdowns and three interceptions, all of which came on consecutive drives. After the third one, Stanley removed himself from the game in favor of backup quarterback Manny Miles.
“Manny’s one of the hardest-working dudes in this building, and I wanted him to enjoy those moments being a fifth-year senior,” Stanley said.
KU’s lone score of the game was a touchdown pass from Miles to junior wide receiver Andrew Parchment.
After the game the Jayhawks expressed unanimous support for their starting quarterback and his effort. Parchment said he owed his impressive season, one of the best in recent history for a Kansas receiver, all to Stanley.
“I owe him so much, all my success I owe to him,” Parchment said. “[In the locker room] I just thanked him for all the opportunities he blessed me with this year.”
Sophomore running back Pooka Williams expressed regret for how the season ended in regard to Stanley specifically, saying he wanted to send his backfield mate off with a victory.
“It hurt me deeply,” Williams said. “I told Carter we were going to send him off with a win, and we didn’t compete enough.”
While his career didn’t end on a high note, Stanley still etched his name in the Kansas record books during his time in Lawrence. He leaves the program second all time in touchdown passes and fifth in passing yards.
Coach Les Miles spoke about Stanley and the rest of the senior class, and how much they meant to the program in his first season at the helm.
“These seniors bought in, they improved,” Miles said. “They were really going to be one of the first teams you look back on and go, ‘they started this.’”
Miles pointed to turnovers as one of the biggest reasons why Kansas could compete with Baylor this weekend. The Jayhawks turned the ball over six times, including four interceptions combined between the two quarterbacks and two punt return errors as well.
The defense, meanwhile, was only able to record one takeaway, an interception by junior safety Ricky Thomas late in the second quarter.
“You can’t win football games doing it that way,” Miles said. “This game was not indicative of the team that played game after game for the Jayhawks.”
Frankly, the defense wasn’t able to do much well throughout the game. The Bears scored on each of their first four drives and five of their first six. For the game Baylor racked up over 500 yards of offense and averaged 6.4 yards per play.
Saturday’s game featured multiple subplots for the Jayhawks, one of which flared up before kickoff. Rumors circulated around message boards during the morning that Miles is considering retirement for health reasons. Miles, however, gave no indication that he is planning to step down.
“I’m having the enjoyment of relationships,” Miles said. “I’m enjoying going into homes tomorrow to talk about Kansas and talk about the future.”
Miles also said that it was a goal for KU to make sure Williams passed 1,000 yards rushing for the season this week. With 97 yards on 22 carries, he finished the year with 1,042 yards for the year.
Kansas has now gone a full decade without surpassing three wins in any given year. This year’s record reflects last year’s, the final season of the David Beaty era. Still, there is a sense among the players and coaches that there is still a brighter future ahead for the Jayhawks.
“I’m super jealous that I’m graduating and won’t be able to play here anymore,” Stanley said.
The next step is taking action on the potential that many see with the program under Miles. There’s recruiting, potential coaching changes and more to be done over the next 280 days, when the Jayhawks open the 2020 season against New Hampshire at home.
*Stats for Saturday’s game are from StatBroadcast. During the game, it was announced there were computer issues with stat keeping, which could lead to erroneous totals.*