Most of the Kansas fans were gone by the time it was all over. The 2013 season came to an end for the Jayhawks with a 31-10 loss to Kansas State as the majority of those left in the Memorial Stadium stands wore purple, surrounded by empty bleachers.
The Jayhawks gave up three touchdowns in the first half, and though they were down 21-0 in the second quarter, Charlie Weis felt like the game was getting away from his team.
Six turnovers cost Kansas any chance it might of had at making the comeback.
“Turnovers – you get down 21-0 and everyone is waiting for us to throw in the towel and we got it back to 21-10. Then we turn it over a couple times in the third quarter. That kind of put the game away for them,” Weis said.
At the start of the second half, Kansas had the momentum. The second fumble of the day for senior running back James Sims gave it away. The next drive, an interception thrown by junior Jake Heaps. Then two more Heaps interceptions.
It was four straight Jayhawk drives ending in turnovers.
The Jayhawk defense settled in after allowing an early flurry of points. Weis said after the game that he felt like the defense eventually gave the team a chance to fight back.
“When you turn it over a hundred times, the chance you have to come back in a game like that goes out the window,” Weis said.
But it was more than just turnovers. It was the nature of them.
“Turnovers are part of the game, it was how they all just packaged together,” Weis said. “Turnovers are the thing that change the game more than any other element in football. It either stops drives, or it sets them up. And this game it did both.”
Weis will give his team one day to sulk before moving forward to the 2014 season.
As the rest of the team prepares for next season, 23 seniors played their last game on Saturday.
“We gave it our all,” senior safety Dexter Linton said, “we worked hard and we did everything we could for the program throughout all the losses. We were resilient and never gave up.”
Weis had a long conversation in the locker room after the game to say goodbye to the seniors, but preferred to keep that conversation private.
“But I always talk about life. I’m a lot bigger than football. There’s a lot of things that you learn being part of a team,” Weis said.
The seniors that will leave the program after this season will do so without ever having defeated Kansas State, or playing in a bowl game.
They have few wins on their record, but there are lessons they say they will take away from their time at Kansas.
“Persevere through anything; we’ve had ups and downs throughout my career, specifically this year and if you keep persevering and keep working things will work out for you,” senior offensive lineman Gavin Howard said.
Weis will hit the road on Sunday to begin his offseason recruiting, marking the beginning of a new season.
After two years at Kansas, Weis has won four games. It was too soon for him, after the game to say how the program has progressed in that time.