LUBBOCK, Texas (AP) — Kansas has won only one Big 12 game in its two seasons under coach Les Miles, a late comeback at home last year with a game-ending field goal against Texas Tech.
The Red Raiders in many ways have been more disappointing in coach Matt Wells' two seasons, even with a few more wins than Kansas in that span.
Texas Tech (3-6, 2-6 Big 12) closes out its fifth consecutive losing season Saturday in a home finale against the Jayhawks (0-8, 0-7), a game Wells could miss after receiving a positive COVID-19 test on Thursday.
If the positive result is confirmed by further testing, defensive coordinator Keith Patterson would be the acting head coach Saturday. Wells returned home to self-isolate and work remotely.
Wells is 7-14 since taking over the Red Raiders, who after a big comeback of their own to beat Baylor on a game-ending field goal in their last home game three weeks ago lost 50-44 at No. 19 Oklahoma State last week.
"I think there’s a lot of evidence out there right now that we’re really close, because of the way we’re playing a lot of these teams," Wells said earlier this week. “Now we’re not here in this program to play close games, and we understand that, and the locker room understands it more than anybody. ... There's absolutely a lot of belief and fight in that, and I think everybody saw that on Saturday.”
The Red Raiders took a 24-21 lead midway through the third quarter on Alan Bowman's 48-yard touchdown pass to Erik Ezukanma. They tried to build on the momentum with an onside kick attempt, but Oklahoma State instead returned it 48 yards for a touchdown, then returned an interception for another score.
Kansas has played 26 true freshmen this season who weren't part of Miles' only Big 12 victory. No other school has played more than 21 true freshmen in this pandemic-affected season when players don't lose a season of eligibility even if they get on the field. Six freshmen started on offense last week against TCU.
The Jayhawks have a 12-game losing streak since that 37-34 win over Texas Tech on Oct. 26, 2019.
“I think this is the most resilient team that I’ve ever had," Miles said. “I think they go onto the field with the opportunity to win, I think if they could maintain that feeling for the length of the time of the four quarters, I like our chances.”
The Jayhawks haven't won a Big 12 road game since winning 35-33 at Iowa State on Oct. 4, 2008. They haven't won in Lubbock since an overtime victory in 2001.
Texas Tech led Kansas 17-0 before halftime last year and 34-27 with 6 minutes left. That should be plenty to keep the Red Raiders from overlooking the Jayhawks.
“Put on the tape from last year,” Wells said. “We remember. We remember that game in Lawrence really good. This is all about us, how we prepare, how we practice."
STUCK ON THE SIDELINE
Texas Tech's offense had three drives during a more than 6 1/2-minute span in that third quarter against Oklahoma State. In real time, it was much longer for the Red Raiders defense that stayed on the sideline while both teams scored two touchdowns.
“My guess was it was 30-35 minutes of real time they did not play," Wells said. “When they left the game, we were down 21-17, when they came back we were down 34-31, so we actually gained a point.”
Oklahoma State punted with just over 9 minutes left in the third quarter, and its offense didn't come back on the field until 2:25 left after Xavier White's 70-yard TD run for the Red Raiders that followed the Cowboys' back-to-back non-offensive TDs.
“I've been part of some wild ones, but I'm not sure I’ve been part of one that was as weird as that,” Wells said.
Another oddity in that game: the Red Raiders had a season-high 639 total yards and scored 44 points without taking a single offensive snap inside the 20.
The Red Raiders need to score at least 25 points in their finale to average 30 points a game for the 20th consecutive season. Their 19 in a row is the longest active streak in the Big 12.
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