The Kansas Jayhawks won their first bowl game since 2008, defeating the UNLV Rebels 49-36 Monday in a penalty-laden Guaranteed Rate Bowl.
Jayhawks overcome flags to snap bowl losing streak
Led by quarterback Jalon Daniels, Kansas piled up 548 yards of offense and overcame 14 penalties for 114 yards to secure its first bowl victory since beating Minnesota in the 2008 Insight Bowl.
Daniels threw for 314 yards and 3 touchdowns while adding a rushing and receiving touchdown apiece. The Jayhawks offense clicked all game, but the team repeatedly shot itself in the foot with infractions.
“It got a little bit sloppy, but that shows the resilience of this group,” Kansas coach Lance Leipold said. “They didn’t question, they didn’t doubt, they just kept playing.”
The Jayhawks led 35-24 at halftime and withstood a UNLV comeback bid in the second half. After the Rebels closed within 42-36 early in the fourth quarter, Kansas responded with a 13-play, 75-yard touchdown drive to help seal the victory.
Rebels rally but come up short
UNLV also committed its fair share of penalties (9 for 92 yards), but moved the ball effectively for much of the night behind quarterback Doug Brumfield.
Brumfield accounted for 368 yards and 4 total touchdowns. The Rebels trailed by double-digits for much of the game but rallied to within one score in the second half behind Brumfield’s playmaking.
“I’m proud of this group,” UNLV coach Marcus Arroyo said. “We started finding some momentum and started believing.”
UNLV was seeking its first bowl victory since 2014 but came up short down the stretch. Still, the strong second-half showing provides reason for optimism about the trajectory of the program.
“This game is going to pay dividends in the long run,” Arroyo said.
Wild first half sets tone
The first half featured impressive offensive play mixed with sloppy mistakes. The teams combined for over 700 yards of offense while committing 16 total penalties.
Kansas scored touchdowns on each of its first 5 drives to race out to a 35-17 lead. Daniels was particularly effective, throwing 4 first-half touchdown passes. UNLV kept pace for much of the half behind Brumfield, who racked up 228 total yards.
The Rebels had closed within 28-24 before Daniels hit Quentin Skinner for a 52-yard touchdown with under a minute left in the half. That score gave Kansas an 11-point edge at the break.
The bowl win caps a monumental turnaround season for Kansas (7-6), which improved by 6 wins after going 2-10 last year. With Daniels and other key players returning, the Jayhawks are hopeful they can build on this season’s success in 2024.
“I’m definitely looking forward to seeing how next year goes,” Daniels said.
For UNLV (5-7), the loss concludes a rebuilding year that saw significant improvement. With 16 returning starters slated to come back next season, the Rebels expect to take another step forward and contend for a bowl victory.
“I’m excited for Rebel football and the direction we’re going,” Brumfield said.
- Kansas secured its first bowl win since beating Minnesota 42-21 in the 2008 Insight Bowl.
- The Jayhawks’ 35 first-half points were the most in team bowl history.
- UNLV has not won a bowl game since beating North Texas 36-14 in the 2014 Heart of Dallas Bowl.
- Kansas RB Devin Neal had over 100 yards from scrimmage and a pair of touchdowns.
- UNLV became bowl eligible this season for the first time since 2017.
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