LAWRENCE, KANSAS — The ball left senior kicker Matthew Wyman’s right foot with authority. The booming sound of it leaving his right boot echoed throughout Memorial Stadium.
It drifted through the air for what might have seemed like an eternity for the Longhorns. But it took less than two seconds for it to sail through the uprights. It didn’t take much longer for Texas players to rush for the visitors’ locker room, pushing passersby out of the way.
More than half the team remained absent for the traditional playing of “The Eyes of Texas.” Behind those who stuck around stood the scoreboard in the south endzone. It read, “Kansas 24, Texas 21.”
“We are the University of Texas,” sophomore cornerback John Bonney said. “We don’t lose to Kansas. For it to happen today, I mean, that’s definitely going to hurt.”
Meanwhile at midfield, the party had just begun. Though only 25,673 fans attended Kansas’ senior day, enough Jayhawk faithful assembled on Kivisto Field to tear down the north endzone’s goal post. A herd of hundreds bundled up in red and blue carried it across the length of the field and out of the stadium.
Back under the grandstand, head coach Charlie Strong gathered himself and walked into the crowded media room. His opening address spanned a total of 12 seconds.
“There’s not much to be said,” Strong said. “Those guys hurt in the locker room. I feel so bad for them … They feel so bad right now.”
Senior receiver Jacorey Warrick said it hurts because Texas had its chances to put the game out of reach to secure bowl eligibility. With Texas left at 5–6 on the season, Warrick might only have one game left in burnt orange.
“Everyone is disappointed,” Warrick said. “They just came out and they might have wanted it a little more than we did with the way that they played.”
Warrick, though, wanted it from the very start. He raced down the sideline with 21 players at his back on the first play of the game. His 75-yard touchdown put Texas on top 11 seconds into the game and seemed to set the tone for the brisk afternoon matchup.
It didn’t. Texas punted on its next five possessions, only mustering 55 yards of offense on those drives. Couple that with four straight turnovers — including two costly interceptions tossed by freshman quarterback Shane Buechele — and the Jayhawks had the makings of a major upset.
Kansas supporters started to sense signs of their first conference victory since November 2014. When the Jayhawks took a 10-7 lead in the second quarter, chants of “Rock Chalk! Jayhawk!” rang through the seats so loudly spectators could have mistaken Memorial Stadium for Allen Fieldhouse — the school’s famous basketball arena.
Buechele’s third interception of the contest proved to be fatal. Trying to find junior receiver Dorian Leonard in overtime, he flushed out to his right and let it fly — right into Kansas freshman safety Mike Lee’s hands.
“Obviously you’re upset,” Buechele said. “You never want this to happen … People are upset. That’s gonna happen in a game like this.”
Two weeks after Strong said he was glad the game came down to a defensive stop in Lubbock, he conceded defeat immediately when Buechele turned the ball over. The Texas defense still had an opportunity to force a second overtime period, but Strong had lost hope.
“The game was over,” Strong said.
He was right.