There were two stories to be told from Kansas’ side of things following its 38-10 loss to Kansas State on Saturday night.
One was that the program had elevated itself to a position where it had its first sellout crowd in a decade.
And the other was that the Jayhawks failed to take advantage of that fan buy-in during their worst overall performance of the year.
“That was incredible. Playing football here for five seasons now, I’ve never seen that,” KU quarterback Carter Stanley said of the 47,233 in attendance. “That meant the world to us as players, coming out there to see a sold-out crowd. It’s crushing that we didn’t put on a better show for them.”
To be fair, roughly one-third of the stands were purple, meaning KU had some help filling the final corners.
Still ... the Jayhawks hosted the Wildcats in 2011, 2013, 2015 and 2017, and none of those games matched the number of fans that Saturday’s contest drew. KU’s last official sellout was Nov. 14, 2009 against Nebraska.
“It was a loud stadium, and it was a Jayhawk loud,” KU coach Les Miles said. “So I truly appreciate it. I know our players do. They’re sick right now. They wanted to come and play a great game for you (fans).”
K-State had played a big part in that not happening.
KU receiver Andrew Parchment summed it up succinctly in his postgame interview: “They just came in here and beat our ass, to be honest with you.” The Wildcats were the more physical team on the offensive and defensive lines, which especially showed in both teams’ run games.
The proof: K-State had 342 rush yards to KU’s 61.
“We couldn’t run the ball. We couldn’t protect the quarterback. We couldn’t stop them defensively. We couldn’t get open on our routes,” Parchment said. “So we’ve just got to get back to work on Monday.”
K-State’s coaches obviously watched film of KU gashing Texas Tech last week for numerous big plays in the passing game. Because of that, Parchment identified the Wildcats often going “press bail” on their coverage to make sure the back end of the field was protected.
“We really couldn’t take any deep shots,” Parchment said.
A counter to that would be to turn to the ground game; KU, though, averaged just 2.4 yards per play there.
“The numbers were there to run the ball,” Parchment said. “They just said that, ‘We’re more physical than you. You guys are not running the football, and you guys can’t throw it deep, so try something else.’”
It proved to be an effective game plan. KU, after consecutive 500-yard games against Texas and Texas Tech, was held to 241 total yards and 4.7 per play.
Stanley said all this took place after what he deemed to be a good week of practice.
“I never in a million years saw that result coming,” he said.
KU, 3-6 and 1-5 in the Big 12, will have a bye week before preparing for consecutive road games against Oklahoma State and Iowa State.
The goal in those two contests is to build back some fan hope — the same kind that helped lead to Saturday’s sellout.
“I can see why fans will be reluctant to come back,” Parchment said, “so we’ve got to continue to put in work.”