|Rare errors knock Kansas out of title picture|
|Written by Admin|
|Saturday, 24 November 2007 20:16|
In the biggest game in school history, crucial mistakes and missed opportunities ended the Jayhawks' unbeaten season. No. 3 Missouri beat Kansas 36-28 Saturday night, dashing the Jayhawks championship hopes.
``We pride ourselves on playing mistake-free and we made some mistakes,'' running back Brandon McAnderson said. ``But we made some plays, too. You can't discount the fact that they're a good team, and they won the game.''
Todd Reesing avoided an interception for a Big 12 record 213 passes, then was picked off twice by Missouri (11-1, 8-1), which converted both into touchdowns.
``I'm not in a happy mood right now,'' Reesing said. ``It's frustrating.''
The Jayhawks' lone penalty of the night kept alive an early Missouri scoring drive, and kicker Scott Webb had a rough game with two missed field goal attempts.
Webb also drilled an onside kick right to Missouri wide receiver Tommy Saunders at the Kansas 40 with 2:04 to go and the gap down to six. Kansas' last gasp drive ended when Reesing was sacked in the end zone for a safety.
``It's real frustrating,'' defensive back Aqib Talib said. ``It's real, real frustrating and there's nothing you can do about it.''
The mistakes were enough to tilt the balance against the toughest competition Kansas (11-1, 7-1) has faced all season, leaving the Jayhawks at home next week while Missouri plays for the Big 12 title in San Antonio against Oklahoma.
``We're not done,'' Talib said. ``Hopefully, we'll still be playing in a January bowl game or a good bowl game.
``This will just give us some time to get healthy. We'll be full strength for the bowl game.''
The Jayhawks whipped four outmanned nonconference opponents by a combined 214-23 and took advantage of a schedule without Big 12 opponents Oklahoma, Texas and Texas Tech. But they also took care of business to get to this point, and entered the game with zero turnovers in its previous four games.
Kansas' last victory over a team ranked in the top five was in 1995, 40-24 at Colorado. The Jayhawks haven't beaten a top three team since a 28-11 victory over No. 2 Oklahoma in 1984.
``That is the most talented offensive team we've played this year, without a doubt,'' coach Mark Mangino said.
Despite this loss, Kansas could stay in the BCS picture given the preponderance of upsets this season.
``We're still going to have a pretty good bowl,'' Reesing said. ``We didn't win the Big 12 North, but we won 11 games. That's amazing, but it's tough right now.''
Both schools took advantage of numerous upsets at the top to produce an unlikely high-profile game that put the winner in line for a No. 1 ranking along with a first Big 12 North title for either school.
Missouri trumped Kansas with turnover-free play, overcoming an uncharacteristic rash of 14 penalties for 141 yards and besting the Jayhawks with better overall speed.
``You can't make mistakes against great teams,'' Missouri quarterback Chase Daniel said. ``I don't know how we won tonight with 14 penalties. We've got to get that fixed.''
Kansas trailed 14-0 after going scoreless in the first half for the second time of the season, and 21-0 after Castine Bridges' interception and 41-yard return of an offline Reesing pass set up an early touchdown in the third quarter. After that, the best the Jayhawks could do was trade scores.
Dexton Fields' 10-yard catch with 8:28 to go cut the gap to 31-21, adding pain to Webb's missed field goal attempts of 33 and 45 yards in the second quarter. Webb is in a 5-for-12 slump since hitting his first 12 field goal attempts of the year.
Reesing broke the Big 12 record of 205 consecutive passes without an interception on his first throw of the game, and extended it to 213 in a row before William Moore picked off an underthrown ball intended for Fields at the 2 with 14:35 to go in the half.
Kansas entered the game tied with Army for fewest penalties per game and had only one penalty. It was a big one, a defensive holding call on linebacker James Holt on a third-down incompletion that kept alive Missouri's answering 98-yard scoring drive after Reesing's first interception.