I pulled into Lawrence, Kansas on an absolutely gorgeous fall Saturday morning.Greeted by the crisp air, warm sunshine and colorful autumn leaves lining the sidewalk, I took a stroll around the picturesque KU Campus for about an hour before descending Campanile Hill and heading into historic Memorial Stadium.Built in 1921, Memorial is the sixth oldest stadium in College Football, and rows of concrete archways lining the concourse are reminiscent of a Roman Coliseum.
As I settled into my allotment of the aluminum bleachers, the KU cheering squads led fans in a rendition of the infamous “Rock. Chalk. Jayhawk.” chant. The chant is eerily captivating as fans ritualistically hymn the words “Rock Chalk Jayhawk” in a drawn out incantation reminiscent of Benedictine Monks performing Gregorian Chants.
Next to “Wooooo Pig Sooooieeee”, Rock Chalk has to be the most haunting and chillingly intimidating cheer I have heard. Regardless of your affiliation with KU, it leaves you with goosebumps.
There’s a good quality version of it in the video below, fast forward to 1:00 and check it out for yourself.
On the field the game proved to be a bit of a yawner through three quarters. The Colorado Buffaloes, led by embattled head coach Dan Hawkins absolutely stampeded the Jayhawk defense. They mercilessly lit up the scoreboard with an onslaught of rushing and passing, and after three quarters sent the majority of Kansas fans heading for the exits. At the start of the fourth quarter, the Buffs punched in yet another touchdown and with about 14 minutes remaining the contest they held a commanding 28 point lead; 45-17.
Then something happened.
Kansas drove the field and scored with about 12:00 remaining. This barely raised an eyebrow as they were still trailing by 21 points. Then they recovered an on-side kick and promptly scored again. In the course of a couple of minutes they had cut the gap in half to 14. With their gimmicky Dan Hawkins offense, the Buffaloes are not adept at grinding out the clock and holding on for the win. After a handful of plays, the Buff’s coughed the ball up and Kansas recovered the fumble running it in for a touchdown. The Colorado lead had evaporated to a mere seven points 45-38. Panic spread throughout the visitor sideline. After the ensuing kickoff, Colorado took the to air again, stubbornly refusing to run the ball. The folly of this tactic took a mere two plays to manifest, as quarterback Cody Hawkins tossed an interception only two plays into the drive. Kansas promptly scored yet again. Tie game at 45. The Kansas defense stepped up, holding Colorado to yet another three and out, and it was Kansas ball with 4:30 left on the clock. The Jayhawks then drove the length of the field yet again (if it sounds repetitive, it was), and stuffed in a touchdown with 1:00 left on the clock to take the lead 52-45. The Jayhawk defense stymied the finale Colorado offensive to hold on for the win.
To recap, Kansas had just overcome a 28 point fourth quarter deficit, in regulation time, by scoring FIVE unanswered touchdowns. Were it not for the lackluster season of both teams, this would have been the lead story on every highlight reel across the country. No matter how you slice it, this was a truly remarkable comeback.
While the stadium atmosphere in Kansas this proved to be rather subdued, this was one of the more footnote worthy games I have ever attended. It will probably stand for quite some time as the most dramatic comeback I ever witness. Reeling of five unanswered touchdowns in the 4th quarter to overcome a 28 point deficit is not something that happens every day, and it breathed some life into an otherwise marginal Kansas Football experience. In all honesty I probably wouldn’t go out of my way to see another football game in Lawrence, and KU fans would probably tell you something similar. Now basketball season on the other hand, that’s a different story.
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