The Jayhawks (7-4, 4-4 Big 12) led a double-digit lead over Kansas State slip away last Saturday as they lost their 15th straight game in the series. Kansas led 27-16 in the third quarter before K-State rattled off the final 15 points of the game.
"I said from the start, two years ago, we're not in the moral-victory business," Kansas coach Lance Leipold said after the game. "I don't want to start acting like I am now. Because this was a winnable football game and that stings."
The Jayhawks felt like they should have won the game. They outgained the Wildcats 396-331, including 234-166 on the ground, after K-State came in ranked 13th in FBS in rushing yards per game. The Jayhawks controlled the clock, holding a 33:20 to 26:40 advantage in time of possession.
But two costly second-half turnovers turned the game.
Early in the fourth quarter, leading 27-24 and forcing a punt, the Jayhawks fumbled the punt return and K-State recovered at its 45. Six plays later, K-State quarterback Will Howard scored from 15 yards out and the Wildcats had the lead.
Then, trailing by four points but driving to the K-State 11 in the fourth quarter, Kansas quarterback Cole Ballard threw an interception in the end zone with 5:33 left. It was on a fourth-down play, but the Jayhawks never got the ball back as the Wildcats ran out the clock.
"I think Cole tried to make plays," Leipold said. "The fourth-down throw, it's going to get thrown anyway. You've got to throw the ball. I think he tried to make a real difficult throw."
Leipold believes his team will bounce back for one big reason.
"Pride," he said Monday when asked why he was confident. "Why would you put in all this work if you weren't going to finish strong? Why cheat yourself?
"Winning eight games would be a nice achievement. I'm not sure how the bowl layout will go, but with more wins, opportunities can change, opponents can change, experiences can change. There are a lot of things to play for yet."
Cincinnati (3-8, 1-7) has had a forgettable first year in the conference.
Quarterback Emory Jones has thrown for 2,115 yards and 17 touchdowns, but he's also had 10 interceptions and four fumbles this year.
The Bearcats really struggle on defense. Opponents score an average of 28.3 points per game against Cincinnati, ranking No. 93 overall.
Against West Virginia in their last game, the Bearcats allowed the Mountaineers to do whatever it wanted. Mountaineers quarterback Garrett Greene rushed for 154 yards and three touchdowns. The Mountaineers rushed for 424 yards and finished with a 634-332 advantage in total offense.
"They outplayed us, out-blocked us and did everything better tonight, and thus the result," Cincinnati coach Scott Satterfield said after the game. "There were several times when their running backs or quarterback were in space and we didn't get them down. Therefore, they occupied the clock and kept turning out drives."
--Field Level Media
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