With Nebraska off this week, we asked our staff members to do something they don’t get to do very often––be a fan. More specifically, just pick a team and try to live-and-die a game for a week. You can read all of those dispatches here.
The Mad Hatter is back.
I am a lifelong Kansas football fan and have been since the morning of Oct. 19. This is the day we’ve all been waiting for. I would be lying to you if I told you I had confidence in our new head football coach from the beginning. Les Miles seemed over the hill, and Kansas seemed a job that would require years to build. I listened to the national media yell at my school for not hiring a triple-option coach and basically concede that we could not win football games by traditional methods. How the hell is Iowa State winning games then, Stew?
But Les is more. And Les Miles showed the world Saturday night why Kansas made the right choice. Texas needed 50 points to beat us by two in Austin.
A timeline of the evening, from a fan’s perspective.
Kickoff, shortly before 6:00 p.m. CT:
“These Texas throwbacks are dumb. (The Horns were wearing retro burnt orange threads to honor the 1969 national championship team.) But if they want to reminisce about the last time they were relevant then whatever.”
6:17 p.m. CT: Kansas fumbles a third-and-9 snap, loses a yard, then misses a 46-yard field goal that would have made the score 7-3 UT
“Okay. Okay. We were moving the ball on that defense. I don’t like the miss but I’ll take the start.”
6:44 p.m. CT: Texas picks up a first on second-and-8, but Kansas safety Mike Lee brings the wood.
“TEXAS DON’T WANT THIS SMOKE. Oh wow, we got away with a blatant facemask penalty. I thought the Big 12 liked Texas?”
7:04 p.m. CT: Texas has a 14-10 lead and the ball at the Kansas 40. Head coach Tom Herman elects to go on fourth-and-2, but a Sam Ehlinger slant is incomplete.
“Oh that’s playing with fire there, Tom. Don’t give Les a short field.”
7:06 p.m. CT: KU wideout Andrew Parchment catches a 50-yarder down the sideline on the first play of Kansas’ ensuing drive.
7:07 p.m. CT: Quarterback Carter Stanley finds wideout Takulve Williams for a 7-yard touchdown to take a 17-14 lead. It’s the first time Kansas has led in Austin since 1997.
“I. I BELIEVE. I BELIEVE THAT. I BELIEVE THAT WE. I BELIEVE THAT WE WILL WIN. I BELIEVE THAT WE WILL WIN. I BELIEVE THAT TEXAS IS NOT BACK.”
7:26 p.m. CT: Texas retakes the lead, 21-17, after a 10-play, 84-yard drive. The Longhorns have runs of 32 and 24 yards on the drive.
“OK, I still have faith but if they can run the ball like that all night we’re going to have problems. Also. Hold much?”
7:40 p.m. CT: Kansas has a 37-yard field goal try blocked right before the halftime break. Running back Pooka Williams has a 25-yard run on the drive to put Kansas in field goal range. The score remains 21-17, Texas, going back to the locker room.
“You have one job. One job. Go out and kick the football. And you can’t do that. We should be up by at least two right now. Pooka was a tackle away from taking it to the house but he still put us in range to make a kick. Why can we not have nice things?”
“I just read on Twitter that Kansas has two wins in its last 42 Big 12 games and one of them is against Texas. It’s about to be three in 43.
“I don’t care. Being ‘back’ is relative. And Kansas football came ‘back’ before Texas football did. Tom Herman can’t win the big ones, meanwhile, Les Miles has us competing again and that’s honestly all I care about. We look like we’re trying. We could lose this game and I’d still be fine with the way we’ve played. Texas looks bad. Rock Chalk. Horns down.
First drive after the halftime break: Kansas goes 75 yards in 14 plays, takes five minutes off the clock and Stanley goes 5-for-8 for 59 yards throwing the ball. The Jayhawks take a 24-21 lead.
“If Les Miles had Carter Stanley all four years he was here this kid would win us some football games. Rock Chalk. Horns down.”
8:30 p.m. CT: Kansas is sacked on third-and-16. It’s the first sack recorded by the Texas defense in three games.
“HAHAHAHAHAHA you’re welcome for that.”
8:35 p.m. CT: The ESPN website kicks me off the stream. The game is on the Longhorn Network. I have YouTube TV. YouTube TV apparently does not have the Longhorn Network.
“Wait what just happened? Why can’t I get back in? Why was I able to watch for almost three hours and now it decides to kick me off? Why does the ESPN app suck? How am I supposed to watch the end of this game?”
8:48 p.m. CT: Still no game feed.
“Can someone please illegally stream this on Twitch like they did that Army-Oklahoma game last year? Anyone. This is crazy.”
8:59 p.m. CT: Still no game feed.
“You know, this is why everyone left the Big 12. We had a good thing going and then Texas decided to be greedy. How many people outside of Texas and the fanbase playing Texas each week think to themselves, ‘I need a lot more in-depth coverage and analysis of Tom Herman-led Texas football in my life.’ Nebraska sure doesn’t. Colorado sure doesn’t. Missouri and Texas A&M are laughing at us right now. We had to talk about bringing in Houston just to keep the conference alive! The Big Eight should have never let Texas in.”
9:02 p.m. CT: Kansas picks off Ehlinger on the first play of a Longhorn drive from the UT 18-yard-line. Williams scores on the next play. Kansas is within a PAT of tying the game at 31-all.
“IT’S GOING TO HAPPEN AGAIN.”
9:04 p.m. CT: The point-after attempt is blocked by Texas and returned 97 yards for two points, bringing the Texas lead to 33-30 instead of tying the game at 31.
“. . .
“YOU HAVE ONE JOB.
“JUST MAKE ONE KICK PLEASE.
9:07 p.m. CT: Still no game feed. The solution has been to follow the game on the ESPN mobile app’s game tracker function.
“Why do all of ESPN’s apps suck?”
9:08 p.m. CT: Ehlinger goes deep to wideout Devin Duvernay for 43 yards to take a 40-30 lead with 8:25 to play in the fourth quarter.
“I am sad.”
9:26 p.m. CT: Lee forces a Texas fumble and Kansas recovers at the Texas 36-yard-line. Texas leads 40-33 with 6:19 to play.
“THAT’S A FUMBLE. MIKE LEE FOR HEISMAN.”
9:33 p.m. CT: Kansas scores to tie the game at 40-all with 4:25 to play. Stanley goes 2-for-4 for 34 yards and tosses his third touchdown of the game.
“CARTER STANLEY FOR HEISMAN.”
9:38 p.m. CT: Texas scores to retake the lead, 47-40. There’s 2:47 left to play.
“They scored too early. Texas scored too early. We got this.”
9:48 p.m. CT: Kansas caps an eight-play, 75-yard drive with a 22-yard touchdown pass from Stanley to wideout Stephon Robinson Jr. Stanley goes 5-for-6 throwing on the drive and picks up 71 yards. Kansas is once again an extra point away from tying the game at 47-all.
“Texas cannot stop our offense. Too easy. Les Miles is a genius. Stanley is special. Rock Chalk.
“Oh wait, are we going for two?
“THE MAD HATTER IS BACK.
“KANSAS WITH THE LEAD.”
9:51 p.m. CT: After the touchdown, the greatest moment in college football history happens.
“I’m naming my first-born son Carter Stanley.
“Frame that picture and hang it in the MET.”
9:59 p.m. CT: Texas drives 60 yards in 10 plays before kicking the game-winning field goal from 33 yards out as time expires to win 50-48.
“I am sad again.
“Can we not get one stop on that drive?
“Why did we give their receivers so much cushion?
“What is Miles doing?
“This is all our kicker’s fault. One kick. Just make one kick and we’re fine. Don’t get a PAT blocked and returned and we win.
“Is this what watching a college football game is supposed to feel like?
“Texas needed 50 points and a last-second field goal to beat us by two at home so who’s the real loser here?”
I’ve been emotionally invested in sporting events for years, with my Oklahoma City Thunder being perennially right on the doorstep but never being able to get through, so I’m used to the stress. But my lord, I have a new appreciation for every Nebraska fan going through this kicker situation right now.
That’s my main takeaway from this thought experiment.
Derek is a newbie on the Hail Varsity staff covering Husker athletics. In college, he was best known as ‘that guy from Twitter.’ He has covered a Sugar Bowl, a tennis national championship and almost everything in between (except an NCAA men’s basketball tournament game… *tears*). In his spare time, he can be found arguing with literally anyone about sports.