Kansas football: Jayhawks prevail over UNLV in Guaranteed Rate Bowl; first bowl win since 2008

Guaranteed Rate Bowl - Kansas v UNLV
Guaranteed Rate Bowl - Kansas v UNLV / Chris Coduto/GettyImages

The Guaranteed Rate Bowl was a reminder that KU is fun to watch, and they are going to give us even more excitement next season with many stars coming back. This was much-needed for most of us who suffered through the abysmal Chiefs showing on Christmas Day and all season. KU has what the Chiefs don't — wide receivers that can make plays. During the night in which Devin Neal announced he would be returning to KU next season, the Jayhawks reminded the nation we will be Big 12 and Playoff contenders next year. Kansas football dominated the first half and had an up-and-down second half, coming out victorious 49-36 over UNLV for our first bowl win since 2008.

UNLV marched down the field and scored on the opening possession. After that, the first half belonged to the Jayhawks. Two big interceptions by Cobee Bryant and Craig Young set the offense up with short fields.

Jason Bean is shooting his shot and giving his receivers opportunities to make plays. The first half was highlighted by two "You Got Mossed" catches by Lawrence Arnold for a touchdown and Quentin Skinner on another big play. Bean's dominant first half included three touchdowns and 274 passing yards with 21 rushing yards. His only blemish was a forced pass into the endzone that was picked off. Luke "The Grimm Reaper" led the Hawks with 117 first-half receiving yards and two touchdowns. Quentin Skinner had a big half as well with 80 yards, and Lawrence Arnold added 36 and a touchdown. The only other blemish was KU's ten penalties for 140 yards in the first half, with multiple personal fouls. The Jayhawks headed into the half up 28-10.

The second half started with a slow start and a second Jason Bean interception on a forced throw as he ran out of bounds. The Running Rebels capitalized on the turnover, punching it in on a 5-yard touchdown pass from Jayden Maiava to Shelton Zeon. A quick 3-and-out by the Jayhawks and UNLV struck on a 37-yard touchdown pass in one play to cut the lead to 28-24 less than five minutes into the second half. Bean threw his 3rd interception of the half on another forced throw down the sideline on the run. Cobee Bryant helped stem the tide with an 11-yard sack on first down to help lead to the first punt of the half for UNLV.

The Mayor, A.K.A. Devin Neal, ripped off a big 14-yard run on 3rd-and-15. KU wound up going for it on 4th-and-1, and Bean threw a 40-yard bomb to Lawrence Arnold to cap a 99-yard drive. UNLV marched down the field for another touchdown to cut the lead to 35-30 with 12 minutes left following a failed 2-point attempt. Two plays and 61 yards later, the high-flying offense took off again. A 56-yard wide receiver screen pass to Lawrence Arnold gave us a 2-score lead again. The play was made possible by great blocking by fellow wide receivers Luke Grimm and Quentin Skinner to set Arnold free.

After a big stop by the defense on a 4th-and-1 on an incomplete deep pass, the offense said, 'It's closing time.' The Grimm Reaper caught a 44-yard bomb for his third touchdown of the game to give the Jayhawks a 49-30 lead with 8:16 left. KU could start to smell their first bowl game victory since the 2008 Orange Bowl victory.

UNLV wouldn't go away yet and struck a big 50-yard touchdown pass on a fourth down to cut the lead to 49-36 with 6:27 left. A big third down reception by Mr. Applebee's Jared Casey and a third down run by Dylan McDuffie helped keep the clock running. Kansas football was able to ice the rest of the game on the ground and not give UNLV another opportunity.

Jason Bean was named MVP of the game as he finished with 449 yards passing, six touchdowns, and three interceptions. Devin Neal led the ground game with 71 yards and a touchdown on the day. The 3-headed monster receiver crew had a day. Luke Grimm finished with 160 yards and three touchdowns. Lawrence Arnold had 132 yards and three touchdowns. Quentin Skinner finished with 80 yards on the day. KU finished the season 9-4. Also, always positive about beating anyone associated with Missouri, as we defeated UNLV head coach Barry Odom who is a former flamed-out Tigers coach. Wave the Wheat baby, KU Football is Back! Can't wait for next season!

As Always, Rock Chalk and Let's Go!