AUSTIN, Texas — Everything was going against Kansas late. The momentum. The crowd. The score.
Jalon Daniels hit fullback Jared Casey — a walk-on who hadn’t caught a pass this season — on a scrambling throw for a 2-point conversion in overtime and Kansas stunned Texas 57-56 Saturday night to snap the Jayhawks’ eight game losing streak this season and a 56-game losing streak in Big 12 road contests that stretched back to 2008.
“It really says a lot about the young men we have in the locker room,” Leipold said. “They’ve been starving. It’s one win. We have to build on it.”
Kansas was a 31-point underdog at Caesars Sportsbook, making this the largest spread upset ever in a Big 12 conference game. The Jayhawks had never won a game against Texas in Austin in the series’ history, entering Saturday 0-9 in those games.
Leipold knew he had nothing to lose on the conversion attempt. Lose the game? So what? Leipold is trying to rebuild the worst program in the Big 12.
But make it and beat Texas — even a struggling Longhorns program now mired in its worst losing streak in more than 60 years — and Kansas (2-8, 1-6 Big 12) could grab college football’s attention with a stunner.
It worked to perfection after the Jayhawks nearly let it slip away.
Texas got the ball first in overtime and scored on Marcus Washington‘s scoop-and-stretch touchdown catch. But an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty set up Kansas with a short field and the the Jayhawks answered with Devin Neal‘s 2-yard touchdown run.
Leipold never hesitated on the decision to go for the win. Kansas players stormed onto the field when Daniels found Casey trailing the scrambling quarterback across the middle of the field and the fullback cradled the throw for the score.
“I didn’t actually see the catch … But I saw everybody running toward them, so I made my way toward them too and jumped into the dogpile,” Neal said. “It was just truly remarkable.”
Casey, a freshman from Plainville, Kansas, who hadn’t played a snap of offense for the Jayhawks before Saturday night, called the play “a surreal moment.”
“He’s got one of the best hands on the team,” Daniels said. “I’ve seen him make some miraculous catches with just one hand. Walk-on or not, he’s going to be a ball player when it counts.”
While Kansas players ran around the field, one Texas player sat near the goal line and pounded the turf with his helmet in frustration.
Texas (4-6, 2-5) started 4-1 under first-year coach Steve Sarkisian, but has now lost five in a row — the school’s longest losing streak since 1956 and tied for third longest in program history. Texas must win its final two games to become bowl eligible.
Texas hasn’t missed a bowl or had a losing season since 2016. Sarkisian’s predecessor Tom Herman never had a losing season in four years and won all four of his bowl games, but was fired anyway after not winning a Big 12 title.
“Until we figure that out, that it takes discipline, commitment, toughness and accountability all of the time, we’re going to be swimming upstream,” Sarkisian said. “That’s the message to the guys. At some point they’ve got to recognize that.”
Sarkisian was asked if his players have checked out on the season.
“I don’t know. You’d have to ask them,” Sarkisian said.
Daniels passed for 202 yards and three touchdowns and ran for a score. Neal rushed for 143 yards and three touchdowns for the Jayhawks. Kansas hadn’t scored more than 33 points this season and had 35 by halftime. The defense forced four turnovers.
Thompson finished with 358 yards passing with six touchdowns for the Longhorns.
ESPN Stats & Information and The Associated Press contributed to this report.