LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP)Devin Neal ran for 224 yards and a touchdown and had 110 receiving yards, leading Kansas past No. 18 Oklahoma State 37-16 on Saturday.
The Jayhawks (6-3, 3-3 Big 12 Conference) are bowl eligible for the first time since 2008 when they beat Virginia Tech in the Orange Bowl.
”I’m really proud of our guys and our staff,” Kansas coach Lance Leipold said. ”To be able to do something like this is pretty special.”
Kansas’ ground game led the way with 351 yards as a team with Neal setting career highs in both rushing and receiving yards against the Cowboys (6-3, 3-3).
”That’s what makes it more special,” Neal said about growing up in Lawrence just a few miles away from the stadium. ”When I did commit there was a lot of people that asked me why I would waste my career there.
”Looking back now, to be able to do what we’ve done it’s pretty special. It just means a lot more to me especially just because I grew up here just two miles way from campus.”
Jason Bean was efficient in the air, too. He went 18-for-23 passing for 203 yards with two touchdowns while rushing for a 72-yard touchdown.
Neal and Bean combined for 237 yards on the ground in the first half with two touchdowns. Bean gained 93 yards on four carries while Neal had six catches.
”The performance of Devin Neal was just outstanding,” Leipold said. ”We had talked about how we needed him to have one of those games, and he answered that. ”
Kansas benefited from Oklahoma State quarterback Spencer Sanders not playing, with freshman Garrett Rangel throwing interceptions on the Cowboys’ first two drives. Rangel went 27 of 40 for 304 yards and two touchdowns.
Bryan Green had nine catches for 105 yards for Oklahoma State.
Oklahoma State had four turnovers, which resulted in 14 points for Kansas.
”Obviously turnovers made it difficult for us today,” Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy said. ”We have to be able to defend the rush on defense and keep working on trying to run the ball a little better on offense.”
The Cowboys scored a touchdown with 10 minutes left in the second quarter, their first points in 83 game minutes spanning over their last three. It was an 8-yard touchdown pass by Rangel to Stephon Johnson.
Oklahoma State: Without Sanders, the Cowboys offense struggled. They were outscored by a combined 85-16 by Kansas State and Kansas in their last two games.
Kansas: Now being bowl eligible, the pressure is off this team that won their first five games. If the Jayhawks win out and get some help, they could find themselves in the Big 12 Championship game.
Oklahoma State heads home to host Iowa State on Saturday.
Kansas travels to Texas Tech on Saturday.