CINCINNATI, Ohio – For the 14th time in program history and first since 2008, the Kansas Jayhawks have secured an eight-win season after defeating Cincinnati 49-16 in the regular season finale at Historic Nippert Stadium on Saturday night.
With the win, Kansas (8-4, 5-4 Big 12) earns its first win in a regular season finale since 2008 and completes its best regular season since going 11-1 in 2007. KU’s five Big 12 Conference wins are the most in a season since 2007, while Kansas also got its third road win of the season, the most since the 2007 season.
Cincinnati struck first on a 49-yard field goal, but Kansas found momentum in the second quarter when junior Cobee Bryant intercepted Cincinnati quarterback Brady Lichtenberg on a long throw. On the very next play, Kansas quarterback Jason Bean hit junior Luke Grimm on a 40-yard strike, which was Kansas’ longest play with 11:33 remaining in the first half.
After the quick turn of field position, running back Devin Neal scored on a 13-yard rush around the edge to give Kansas a 7-3 lead with 8:55 left in the second quarter.
Kansas got the ball back quickly after forcing a three-and-out on Cincinnati’s next possession, and the Jayhawks again cashed in. KU needed five plays to cover 66, using two runs from Neal to set up a 15-yard touchdown pass from Bean to Jared Casey, which made it 14-3 with 5:31 to play in the half.
Cincinnati would answer with a 13-play, 75-yard touchdown drive, scoring with 26 seconds left in the half to make it 14-10. With just 22 seconds remaining, Kansas was able to drive 56 yards in just two plays to score again before half. Bean found Lawrence Arnold for 30 yards before connecting with Mason Fairchild for a 26-yard touchdown that put KU up 21-10 at intermission.
Kansas received the ball at halftime and extended its lead on an eight-play, 75-yard drive that was capped off by a 30-yard rushing touchdown from Neal. On the touchdown run, Neal reached 3,000 career rushing yards while scoring his 32nd career rushing touchdown.
In the fourth quarter, Cincinnati found its first points of the half on a 12 play, 67-yard drive that ended with a 7-yard touchdown pass from running back Ryan Montgomery to wide receiver Dee Wiggins. Cincinnati was unsuccessful on the two-point conversion, giving Kansas a 28-16 lead with 13:23 to go in the game.
Kansas wasted no time getting its points back, as Bean took a 43-yard rushing touchdown to the house to give Kansas a 35-16 lead. It only took KU three plays to march 79 yards for the score. Bean added a 50-yard touchdown run on KU’s next possession before Dylan McDuffie capped off the scoring with a six-yard touchdown run in the final minute as KU pushed its final margin to 49-16.
The Jayhawks will await its bowl destination, which will be determined on Sunday, Dec. 3. The bowl appearance will be Kansas’ second in as many years, marking the second time in program history with back-to-back bowl appearances (2007-08).