LAWRENCE, Kan. – Kansas football returns to Lawrence, Kansas for its final home game of the 2017 season on November 18, when the Jayhawks will take on the No. 3/5-ranked Sooners of Oklahoma. The game is scheduled to kickoff at 2:30 p.m. CST and will be broadcast on ESPN.
vs. OKLAHOMA: 27-74-6
Current Streak: Lost 12
Longest Win Streak: 8 (1903-1910)
Longest Winless Streak: 14 (1947-1960)
Last 10 Games: 0-10
In Lawrence: 14-34-3
In Norman: 13-39-3
Neutral Sites: 0-1-0
Under David Beaty: 0-2
First Meeting: November 7, 1903 (W, 17-5)
Last Meeting: October 29, 2016 (W, 56-3)
Redshirt junior linebacker Joe Dineen Jr. wears his Jayhawk love on his sleeve. Literally – he has a Jayhawk tattooed on his left biceps. Growing up in a historically Jayhawk family, his dad a KU grad, his mom a former KU volleyball player, his grandfather a Jayhawk running back in the 60’s, his great-grandfather a Kansas men’s basketball player in the 30’s; Dineen’s lineage has always had Crimson & Blue in its blood.
Dineen shows his love for KU every time he takes the field, laying it all out on the line, every game. Amassing 122 tackles this season, including 80 solo stops – Dineen should easily have the most productive defensive season by a Jayhawk player in nearly 20 years. Tallying just 10 more stops would launch him into the Kansas single-season top-10 for total tackles.
Currently averaging 12.2 stops per game, if Dineen continues that pace through the final two games of the season, he would end the year with around 147 tackles. The last time a Jayhawk player recorded 140-plus tackles was 1989 when Roger Robben tallied 146 stops. Keeping his current pace would land Dineen near the middle of the Kansas single-season tackles top-10 list.
Dineen has already made his mark in a different KU single season top-10 list by racking up 21.0 tackles for loss to sit in a tie for second with Greg Cole’s 2008 season. He also
Dineen ranks first in the nation among FBS players in solo tackles per game, averaging 8.0 per game. His 12.2 tackles per game ranks third in the nation and first in the conference. Dineen also ranks first in the conference with 2.2 tackles for loss per game, which is the third-best average in the nation.
It’s not only his on-field play that makes Dineen such a beloved Jayhawk. Nominated to the Allstate AFCA Good Works Team and named to the Wuerffel Trophy watch list, which honors college football’s top community servant, Dineen is a true servant-leader.
Dineen was voted a team captain at the beginning of the year and is on track to graduate from KU this December.
FAIRS(S) ENOUGH, EVAN
Sophomore wide receiver Evan Fairs had a breakout game against Texas on November 11. The Fulshear, Texas native hauled in seven passes for 104 yards – both of which were new career highs. Fairs now has 16 catches for 262 yards this season – leaps and bounds above his rookie campaign where he played in eight games and caught just one pass for eight yards.
Ten Kansas seniors will be honored prior to the game against Oklahoma for their contributions to the Kansas football program. Kellen Ash, DeeIsaac Davis, Jacky Dezir, Denzell Evans, Zach Hannon, Isi Holani, Ben Johnson, Cole Moos, Kyle Pullia and Jayson Rhodes will all be recognized prior to kickoff.
THE WISE MAN
With two games remaining this year, junior defensive tackle Daniel Wise has already put together a career-best season. Wise has set a new career-high with 42 total tackles, surpassing last season’s 38 stops. Wise has also outdone his tackle for loss production and sack totals from previous seasons. Posting 5.5 tackles for loss in 2015 and 10.0 last season, Wise has surpassed those numbers with 13.5 so far this year. He has recorded 5.5 sacks in 2017, which is just 1.0 shy of his previous two years combined.
Wise’s 0.55 sacks per game ranks 67th in the nation and fourth in the Big 12, and his 1.4 tackles for loss per game ranks third in the conference and 19th among FBS players.
Never seeing the field in a Division I game until this season, Kansas kicker Gabriel Rui has been a reliable source for the Jayhawks this year. On 17 field goal attempts, Rui has been successful in 15, missing only a 37-yard attempt against Central Michigan and a 48-yard try against Baylor. Rui has knocked home a pair of field goals of 41 yards (vs. West Virginia and Texas Tech) as well as a 42-yarder against K-State, before making a career-long of 43 yards against Baylor. He is also a perfect 18-18 on PAT attempts.
His current 88.2 field goal percentage ranks first in Kansas single-season records, with Bruce Kallmeyer‘s 85.7 percent (12-14) in 1981 the second-best percentage in KU single-season history. He currently is tied for sixth in field goals made in Kansas single-season history.
FINDING WAYS TO MAKE PLAYS
Preseason Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year Dorance Armstrong Jr., has been a focal point for opposing teams this season, and rightfully so after the junior defensive end recorded 20.0 tackles for loss as a sophomore. While his TFL numbers haven’t quite matched up to last year, Armstrong is still finding ways to contribute to KU’s defensive efforts.
Armstrong is KU’s fourth-leading tackler, totaling 53 stops on the season, including 8.0 TFLs and 1.0 sack, but he has also notched three forced fumbles, one fumble recovery and has broken up four passes, two of which came against Iowa State, and six quarterback hurries.
Kansas junior wide receiver Steven Sims Jr., is approaching territory reached by only four players in Kansas history. With 1,940 career receiving yards, Sims needs just 60 yards to become the fifth player in Kansas history to reach 2,000 yards receiving. Dezmon Briscoe (2007-09, 3,240 yds.), Kerry Meier (2006-09, 2,309 yds.), Willie Vaughn (1985-88, 2,266 yds.) and Mark Simmons (2002-05, 2,161 yds.) are the four players to reach 2,000-career receiving yards in Kansas history.
Sophomore running back Khalil Herbert has performed well in eight games this season, totaling 620 yards rushing. With just 119 more yards, Herbert would surpass KU’s 2016 leading rusher, Ke’aun Kinner, which would be the most successful rushing season at KU since 2013 when Kansas’ third-most productive career rusher James Sims gained 1,110 yards in his senior season.
THE TFL TRIO
Juniors Dorance Armstrong Jr., Joe Dineen Jr., and Daniel Wise have all proved to be trouble for opposing offenses – specifically in the opponent backfield. The trio has combined for 42.5 TFLs and have amassed 92.5 TFLs total in their careers. Armstrong has notched 33.0 stops in the backfield as a Jayhawk, which ranks tied for seventh in the Kansas career annals, and Dineen ranks 10th with 30.5. Wise sits just outside the top-10 with 29.0 TFLs.
THE CENTER OF PRODUCTION
Kansas sophomore center Mesa Ribordy has proved to be a major factor in the success of the Jayhawk offense. Ribordy has started six games at center this season, missing two games due to injury. In the two games Ribordy missed, Kansas recorded its lowest offensive production totals of the season, averaging just 63.5 yards per game in the two contests. In the seven games he has started, the Jayhawk offense has averaged 428.1 yards per game, a 364.6-yard improvement.
Linebacker Joe Dineen Jr., currently ranks first in FBS in solo tackles this season, averaging 8.0 per game and ranks in the top-five in two other major defensive categories (tackles for loss: 3rd, total tackles: 3rd).
With these numbers, Dineen is part of what seems to be a growing tradition of KU players near the top of these categories every year. Last season, Mike Lee finished fourth in the nation in solo tackles while Fish Smithson ranked 11th, and Dorance Armstrong Jr., finished in sixth for tackles for loss per game. In 2015, Smithson led the nation in solo tackles, averaging 7.9 per game. Going back even further, Ben Heeneyranked second in solo tackles and 12th in total tackles in 2014.
RED ZONE FOCUS
Of the 30 trips Kansas has been in the red zone in 2017, the Jayhawks have come away with points in 28 of them, which ranks 10th in FBS and first in the conference in red zone scoring percentage. The Jayhawks have scored eight rushing touchdowns, nine passing and have made 11 field goals.
The Jayhawks ended last season ranked 65th in the nation in red zone offense and were 88th among FBS teams through the first 10 games.
SAVING HIS BEST FOR LAST
In his final year in the Crimson and Blue, senior tight end Ben Johnson has been a major contributor for the Kansas offense thus far. Through 10 games, Johnson has recorded 28 receptions for 343 yards and one touchdown, averaging 34.3 yards per game. His 28 receptions marks a new single-season career high for Johnson.
If Johnson’s production continues at a similar pace, he would give himself the chance to have one of the best seasons by a tight end in Kansas history. In 2014, Johnson’s redshirt freshman year, Jimmay Mundinerecorded 564 receiving yards, the most ever by a tight end at Kansas.
Quarterback Carter Stanley made his first start of 2017 against Kansas State and stepped up in a major way. Stanley connected in 23-of-48 passing attempts to notch 418 passing yards. His production was the fifth-most passing yards in Kansas single-game history, and marked the first 400-plus yard passing game for a Jayhawk since Todd Reesing threw for 498 yards vs. Missouri in 2009.
Stanley has thrown for 985 yards this season, which surpasses his 2016 total of 959 passing yards.
BIG TURN AROUND
After posting a season-low 21 yards of total offense against No. 4 TCU, Kansas rebounded by recording 461 more yards in its next game. Putting up its second-most productive offensive performance of the season against in-state rival Kansas State, the Jayhawks totaled 482 yards of offense in the Sunflower Showdown (64 rushing, 418 passing), second to 564 yards of offense against West Virginia.
Junior wide receiver Steven Sims Jr., is a key factor of the Jayhawk offense and has been since he first stepped on the field in the Crimson and Blue. In 33 career games, Sims has caught a pass in all but one. His lone game without a catch was week two this season, where he tried to battle through an injury but ultimately sat out the majority of the game. Sims was never targeted in the game, but by taking the field he unfortunately snapped a 24-game streak of catching a pass. Nevertheless, he bounced back in week three with six catches for 60 yards.
With his 24-game reception streak, Sims was just one of four players to do so since 2006 for Kansas. Kerry Meier, Dezmon Briscoe and Dexton Fields each had streaks of 20-plus games with a reception.
PASSING THE KANSAS COMET
Sophomore running back Khalil Herbert recorded a career-high 137 rushing yards against Ohio, scoring two touchdowns along the way. If that wasn’t enough to be considered a breakout performance, Herbert made headlines by following his week three performance with 291 yards on the ground and two more touchdowns against West Virginia in week four.
Herbert’s 291 rushing yards was the most in FBS in 2017 at the time and surpassed the Kansas Comet Gale Sayers for the third-most rushing yards in a single game in Kansas history. Sayers held the third-place spot with a 283-yard rushing game against Oklahoma State in 1962.
FASTEST TO 1,000
In his first seven games at Kansas, junior quarterback Peyton Bender has recorded 1,429 yards on 129-of-237 passing. Bender became the fastest Jayhawk to reach 1,000 career passing yards in the 127-year history of the program when he did so in just three games in the Crimson and Blue.
The next-fastest KU quarterbacks to reach 1,000 career passing yards were Jordan Webb (2010-12) and Bill Whittemore (2002-03), who each reached 1,000 career passing yards in their first six games. Three other Kansas quarterbacks reached 1,000 yards in their first seven career appearances; Ryan Willis (2015-16), Kerry Meier (2006-09) and Mike Norseth (1984-85).
CAPTAINS OF THE SHIP
Voted on by team members, the 2017 Kansas football captains are junior defensive tackle Daniel Wise, junior defensive end Dorance Armstrong Jr., junior linebacker Joe Dineen Jr., senior running back Denzell Evans and junior wide receiver Jeremiah Booker.
Kansas will close the 2017 season with a trip to Stillwater, Oklahoma to face Oklahoma State on November 25. Game time and television coverage has not been announced.