By DAVE SKRETTA
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Texas standout Bijan Robinson ran through, over and around Kansas for a career-high 243 yards and four touchdowns on Saturday, helping the Longhorns earn a measure of revenge with a frigid 55-14 victory.
Now, Robinson and his buddies are suddenly the Jayhawks’ biggest fans.
The Longhorns, who lost a 57-56 overtime thriller to Kansas a year ago in Austin, need to knock off Baylor next week while getting some help from the team they just trounced. The Jayhawks must beat Kansas State in their rivalry game for Texas to play fourth-ranked TCU for the Big 12 championship in Arlington.
“We’ve got a bunch of fighters. We have a great deal of resiliency. These guys have showed an unbelievable amount of perseverance, and I told them that in the locker room,” Texas coach Steve Sarkisian said. “I was proud of them. I was very proud of them for the maturity they showed in this game.”
Quinn Ewers added 107 yards passing and a touchdown, and Jonathon Brooks ran for 108 yards and two scores, as Texas (7-4, 5-3) bounced back from a dismal game against the Horned Frogs in which it didn’t score an offensive touchdown.
It scored on nine straight possessions after an opening punt Saturday and finished with 427 yards rushing.
“When you play a team that’s as athletic as Texas, and you can see some of that when you stop your feet and lunge, and the missed tackles — it was not a good day there at all,” Kansas coach Lance Leipold said, “and disappointing.”
Jalon Daniels, starting for the first time since a shoulder injury six weeks ago, threw for 230 yards with two touchdowns and an interception for the Jayhawks (6-5, 3-5). Devin Neal was held to 51 yards rushing on 13 carries.
“This offense had been averaging 36 or 37 points a game,” Sarkisian said. “To hold them to 14 points, to hold them to just about 100 yards rushing, that’s a heck of a performance against a difficult offense to defend.”
Robinson, who was held to 29 yards rushing by the Horned Frogs, eclipsed that total midway through the first quarter Saturday, then kept on going. He bulldozed into the end zone from 2-yards out to give the Longhorns the lead, then ripped off two long runs on their next possession to extend the advantage to 14-0.
“Before the game I was freezing. I was like, ‘This is not something you should play in,’” Robinson said. “But I knew I had to do whatever I could to help the team win. We had to run the ball throughout the game and that’s what we did.”
Robinson nearly had a third first-half TD run, but it was called back by a penalty and Texas had to kick a field goal.
“He’s a freak of nature. That’s as simple as I can put it,” Ewers said. “I’ve never seen a guy like him before at the college level. He can really do it all.”
The Jayhawks were hoping to get a boost from the return of Daniels, who had them off to a 5-0 start before his injury on Oct. 8. But they went 3-and-out on their first two drives, failed on fourth-and-2 on the next one, then had a TD wiped out by a penalty and watched Jacob Borcila miss the ensuing field-goal try.
Ewers added a touchdown pass to Keilan Robinson later in the second quarter. And after Daniels was picked off by Jaylan Ford, the Longhorns turned again to Robinson, who appeared to have scurried 25 yards for a touchdown but was ruled out at the 1-yard line with 1 second left in the half — then leapt over the pile on the next play anyway.
Robinson had 172 yards and three touchdowns as Texas took a 31-0 lead to the locker room.
The junior tailback scored from 32 yards out on the first possession of the second half for his first career four-touchdown day, and Sarkisian soon gave Robinson the rest of the night off.
But despite playing just 2 1/2 quarters, his big game against the Jayhawks sent him climbing through the school record book. Robinson tied Chris Gilbert for fifth in career rushing with 3,231 yards, and Robinson’s 39 career scores is tied with Jamaal Charles and Roy Williams for fourth in school history.
The Longhorns face the Bears next Friday. The Jayhawks head down Interstate 70 to play the Wildcats on Saturday.