Jason Swanson started the season hurt. He ended it by leading the Kansas Jayhawks to their first bowl victory and first winning season in...
FORT WORTH, Texas — Jason Swanson started the season hurt. He ended it by leading the Kansas Jayhawks to their first bowl victory and first winning season in 10 years.
Swanson threw for 307 yards and four touchdowns, one more than he had in the regular season, and the Jayhawks beat Houston 42-13 Friday night in the Fort Worth Bowl.
“I couldn’t even have imagined this happening,” said Swanson, who in late October became the Jayhawks’ third starting quarterback of the season season.
Houston, with record-setting quarterback Kevin Kolb, came in as the team touted for its high-powered offense. Instead, the Jayhawks (7-5) had a season-high 538 yards and won for the fourth time in five games — all since Swanson became the starter.
“We knew we’d have an opportunity to throw big on them,” Swanson said. “We just had to come out and do it. … We saw they had a lot of schemes and blitz a lot.”
Tailback Jon Cornish turned two shovel passes — his only two catches — from Swanson into scores of 13 and 30 yards. He also rushed for 101 yards on 16 carries.
Brian Murph, who hadn’t returned a kick all season, turned a muffed punt into an 85-yard score in the first quarter that put the Jayhawks ahead to stay. He also caught a 48-yard TD pass.
After leading Conference USA with 457 total yards per game during the regular season, Houston (6-6) was held to a season-worst 244. That was 126 yards below its previous low.
Kansas had been in one other bowl since a victory over UCLA in the 1995 Aloha Bowl capped a 10-2 season. The Jayhawks lost 56-26 to North Carolina State in the 2003 Tangerine Bowl that ended Mark Mangino’s second year as coach.
“It’s a winning season for the first time in 10 years. Our players worked hard to achieve that,” Mangino said. “It was a good day for us.”
Swanson started his fifth straight game, going 19 of 29 and earning MVP honors. The senior hurt his leg before the season, but took over after Adam Barmann and Brian Luke struggled.
Houston has lost six straight bowls since winning the 1980 Garden State Bowl. The Cougars’ previous postseason appearance was a 54-48 triple-overtime loss to Hawaii in the 2003 Hawaii Bowl that ended coach Art Briles’ first season at 6-7. The Cougars slipped to 3-8 last year.
“It hurts not to win. We had high hopes, high aspirations,” Briles said. “But when somebody slaps you in the face two or three times, it’s going to be hard to welcome Santa.
“It’s going to take awhile to get over this because it would have been a great step for a program. But now we’re going to have start fighting back up that hill again.”
Late Thursday game
Navy 51, Colorado St. 30
Reggie Campbell tied an NCAA bowl record with five touchdowns and had 290 all-purpose yards, leading the Midshipmen (8-4) over the Rams (6-6) in the Poinsettia Bowl in San Diego.
The 5-foot-6 sophomore slotback had touchdown receptions of 55 and 34 yards, and scoring runs of 22, 2 and 21 yards.
Other players with five TDs in a bowl game are Neil Snow of Michigan in 1902, Barry Sanders of Oklahoma State in 1988, Sheldon Canley of San Jose State in 1990 and Steven Jackson of Oregon State in 2003.
Navy rushed for 467 yards.
• Alabama defensive back Simeon Castille was ruled academically ineligible for the Jan. 2 Cotton Bowl game against Texas Tech. Castille started every game this season and made two interceptions.
“Everyone else should make the trip, as far as we know, right now,” Alabama coach Mike Shula said.