LAWRENCE (AP) — It’s hard to stay positive when a winless team continues to lose.
Especially when it’s by 59 points.
That’s the reality Kansas is facing after a 66-7 loss to third-ranked Baylor on Saturday, a defeat that would have been even more lopsided had the Bears not gone to their reserves for the entire second half.
“It’s a bit difficult,” Jayhawks tight end Kent Taylor said. “But at the same time, you have to stop focusing on the scoreboard and just play football, as hard as that is.”
Taylor couldn’t even follow his own advice.
“I don’t know if it’s possible to completely block (the score) out in your head,” he said.
Seth Russell threw for 246 yards and three touchdowns, Shock Linwood ran for 136 yards and a score, and Corey Coleman added two touchdown receptions to his nation-leading 19, helping the Bears (5-0, 2-0 Big 12) build a 52-7 lead by halftime.
It was the seventh straight Big 12 win for the Bears, and one that was hardly unexpected: They began the game as 46-point favorites, a record for a visiting team in Big 12 play.
Turns out the odds-makers were being kind.
“You definitely want to play the whole game, but it’s great for our young guys. They got a lot of experience,” Russell said. “Experience is valuable, especially at this stage, this level.”
Freshman Ryan Willis threw for 158 yards and a score in his first start for Kansas (0-5, 0-2), but he also tossed a pick and lost a fumble that was returned for a touchdown.
“He did things you were proud of him for,” Kansas coach David Beaty said. “I thought Ryan handled it pretty well. I like his demeanor. I like the fact that he likes to play football. You’d be surprised at how many people in this world sometimes play the game and they don’t love it. He loves it and man it’s refreshing to be around a guy like that.”
The Jayhawks’ top two quarterbacks, Montell Cozart and Deondre Ford, are both hurt. So were their top two wide receivers, Bobby Hartzog Jr. and Tre Parmelee. Their best cover cornerback, Brandon Stewart, left with a groin injury early in the game. And their top running back, Ke’aun Kinner, was limited to two carries due to a nagging hamstring.
Not exactly the way to face one of the nation’s most dynamic teams.
The Bears piled up 644 yards despite playing backups the entire second half. Second-string quarterback Jarrett Stidham was 9 of 10 for 217 yards and two touchdowns, while Johnny Jefferson ran for 79 yards and another score.
Baylor didn’t have to punt until there was 5 minutes left in the game.
“We have to be better than that,” Beaty said.
With fall break going on at Kansas, and Late Night at the Phog having kept Jayhawk basketball fans up Friday night, there were more empty seats than full ones Saturday.
That might have been a good thing.
There weren’t many people around to see the rout.
The quick-strike Bears scored on every possession of the first half except their last, and that was only because they ran out of time. Their first three touchdown drives all went more than 70 yards, yet none of their scoring drives required more than 3 minutes, 14 seconds.
Russell was 18-of-27 passing and ran for a score. Linwood, the nation’s fifth-leading rusher, averaged more than 10 yards per carry. Coleman had seven receptions for 108 yards.
The only bright spot for Kansas came on its opening series. Willis converted a long third down with a pretty pass to Jeremiah Booker, then hit Steven Sims with a 36-yard touchdown pass.