TAMPA, Fla. | The Kansas Jayhawks gave their national critics – yes, they’re still out there – exactly what they wanted on Friday night: A reason not to pay attention any longer.
Here it was, a perfect opportunity to prove that 2007’s run to the Orange Bowl was no fluke, that the Jayhawks were not a creation of their highly-scrutinized schedule. But No. 13 KU left the chance to silence its ever-persistent doubters on the turf at Raymond James Stadium, blowing a 17-point lead by giving up 31 unanswered points.
The Jayhawks fought hard until the end, a hallmark of Mark Mangino’s program, but they still came up short, 37-34, thanks to a late interception thrown by KU quarterback Todd Reesing and a last-second, 42-yard field goal by South Florida true freshman Maikon Bonani.
In the old days, maybe this loss would be seen as a moral victory for the Jayhawks. They came back from a 34-20 deficit with two clutch fourth-quarter drives and tied the game at 34 with 5 minutes, 32 seconds left. But if the Jayhawks want to be considered a top-tier program, they will find no silver linings in a close loss to the 19th-ranked Bulls.