This is part of a new series of articles looking back at the last time WVU faced off against this season’s opponents. For Big XII opponents, we’ll look back at particularly memorable games so you don’t just get a recap of last season. We start with Kansas.
WVU 19, Kansas 31
Location: Lawrence, KS
Date: November 16, 2013
On a cold windy day in Kansas, the Jawhawks ended a three-year losing streak to Big XII opponents, recording their first conference victory since November 6, 2010. It was just their second victory against a Big XII opponent in 40 tries. So, pretty dark stuff.
Things started well for the Mountaineers, though. On their first possession, Paul Milliard, filling in for an injured Clint Trickett, led WVU on a 6 play 75 yard capped off by a 12-yard touchdown pass to Charles Sims to take what would prove to be WVU’s only lead of the game.
Kansas responded with 25-yard FG from Ron Doherty after a torturously long 13 play 64 yard drive that would prove to be a harbinger of things to come. WVU’s offense struggled to find rhythm on their ensuing possession before punting the ball back to Kansas. On that drive,
6-0, 200-pound senior tailback James Sims ripped off a 62 yard rush to the 10 yard line. Sims would score the first of his three successive touchdowns to put the Jayhawks up 10-7 with just over five minutes left in the first half.
It’s rare that a single play can determine the outcome of a game, but it’s hard to understate the impact of what happened next. After WVU failed to move the ball following the kick off, James Sims once again got the ball with 28 seconds left to play. The next eleven seconds were one of those horror films of bad defense that you almost can’t watch as James Sims scampered, virtually untouched, for a 68-yard touchdown to put Kansas up 17-7 at halftime. Their first half-time lead since their season opener.
James Sims wasn’t done, yet either. After a WVU turnover early in the third quarter, he knocked it in for this third touchdown of the game. Kansas controlled to control the game, going up 31-7 before WVU found a pair of touchdowns in the closing 5 minutes of the fourth quarter, but the game had been over for sometime.
Kansas’ fans, all thirty thousand of them, rushed the field and tore down the goal posts. James Sims finished with 211 yards on 22 rushes with three touchdowns, as the Jayhawks piled up 315 yards on the ground.
That the WVU defense had not been up to the task wasn’t particularly surprising. The unit ranked 100th in total yards, but they had actually been relatively decent against the run having only allowed 200 yards rushing once (granted, that once was 495 yards in a blowout in Waco.)
For the Mountaineers, it would be hard to say there was a bright spot. Paul Miliard could have made a case to be the starter going into 2014, but despite throwing for two-touchdowns, the offense never looked remotely competent with him at the helm and he threw two absolutely howlers for interceptions. The defense had been a problem all year, and had gotten ran by a Kansas team that was ranked 117th in total offense.
Player of the Game: Josh Simms
Significance: The Kansas loss isn’t the most significant loss in program history; that will continue to be 13-9, followed by the ECU loss in Stewart’s first season. It is, however, a pretty high contender for one of the most embarrassing losses in modern program history. Some might point to the loss to Temple in 2001 in Rich’s first year. I am willing to hear that out, but a few things. WVU had already been eliminated from bowl eligibility the previous week following a close loss at #14 Syracuse. They were also in that game for virtually the entire game and had a chance to win it late.
Against Kansas WVU entered the game 4-6 with an opportunity to go to a bowl game in what was predicted to be a rebuilding year following the loss of virtually every major piece of the offense that had been electric for most of the previous season. Kansas entered 2-7 with literally nothing to play for, but looked consistently more motivated than WVU. WVU never seriously threatened Kansas’ lead in the second half.
For Kansas, it bought Charlie Weis another season, though he would end up being fired mid-way through the 2014 season.
Trivia: This is the only game against Kansas in series history that WVU has failed to score 21 or more points, recording 50 points twice in 2012 and again in 2017.
Series Record: 7-1