Jayhawks Trek to Rutgers for First Road Test

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LAWRENCE, Kan. – The Kansas football team hits to road for its last non-conference matchup of 2015, as the Jayhawks take on Rutgers at High Point Solutions Stadium, Saturday, Sept. 26, at 11 a.m. Fans can watch the game live on the Big Ten Network, or listen to the voice of the Jayhawks, Bob Davis, on the Jayhawk Radio Network.

Saturday marks the first time the Jayhawks and Scarlet Knights will square off on the gridiron. In the 125-year history of the program, Kansas has played 159 games against current Big Ten foes dating back to an 1891 contest against Iowa. In those games, KU holds a record of 40-116-3, with its last win coming Dec. 31, 2008, vs. Minnesota, 42-21, in the Insight Bowl.

Through three games in 2015, the Rutgers offense has put up 33.3 points-per-contest using a relatively balanced offensive scheme. The Scarlet Knights have gained 72 total first downs (34 rush, 34 pass, 4 penalty). Averaging nearly five yards per carry (4.6), Rutgers’ ball carriers have amassed 532 total rushing yards and five scores, helping the team to an average of 177.3 rushing yards per game. Through the air, Rutgers has completed 63-of-86 passes for 703 yards, adding five touchdowns to three interceptions. In all, the Scarlet Knights are averaging a hair over 400 yards each game, sitting at 411.7 total yards through three contests. When it comes to moving the chains, Rutgers has converted 44 percent of its third downs (15-of-34) and 60 percent of its fourth downs (3-of-5). Inside of the 20-yard line, the Scarlet Knights are perfect putting points on the board, scoring on each of their nine tries in 2015. Of the nine attempts inside of the red area, Rutgers has translated seven tries into touchdowns. Scoring-wise Rutgers has started slow, but gradually builds its production throughout four quarters.

Rutgers is allowing 26.0 points after the first three games in 2015. Opponents have gained 55 first downs (20 rush, 33 pass, 2 penalty). Rutgers’ opposition has rushed for 408 yards and four touchdowns, while throwing for 818 yards and six scores on 75-of-114 attempts. So far, opponents have gained 1,226 yards of total offense and are averaging 408.7 yards-per-game. Rutgers defense has stymied opposing offenses on third and fourth down attempts. Overall, on third down opposing teams have cashed in just 11-of-38 attempts (29 percent) and on fourth down, Rutgers has only allowed one conversion in six tries (17 percent). Opposing teams have strung together scores against Rutgers in the second quarter, but after halftime the Scarlet Knights have only given up one score all season.

In his third season as Rutgers’ assistant head coach and fourth overall year mentoring the running back position, Norries Wilson will serve as the Scarlet Knights’ interim head coach for the next two games. Last season, five different Scarlet Knights reached 300 yards rushing. In Wilson’s first season in 2012, Jawan Jamison became the seventh player in school history to record a 1,000-yard season, including six-straight games over 100 yards. Prior to joining Rutgers in 2012, Wilson served as head coach at Columbia from 2006-11. He worked at Connecticut the previous seven seasons, serving the last four as the offensive coordinator. Wilson was one of five finalists for the Frank Broyles Award as the nation’s top assistant coach in 2004, a season in which the Huskies led the Big East in both total offense and scoring offense. Wilson was a three-year letterwinner, two year starter and captain for Minnesota, helping the Golden Gophers to two bowl games. Additionally, he earned two letters in wrestling and qualified for the NCAA Championships as a heavyweight in 1986. Wilson graduated from Minnesota in 1989 with a degree in psychology.

Junior running back Ke’aun Kinner enters Saturday’s contest with Rutgers having accomplished something that no other Kansas running back in the 125-year history of the program can boast; rushing to back-to-back 100-plus yard performances to start his Jayhawk career. Only a handful of KU greats rushed to 100-yard games in their debut, including Gale Sayers (114 in 1962) and James Sims (101 in 2010), but none can say they did it in their first two-straight games. If Kinner rushes to 100 yards or more against Rutgers, he will become the first Kansas running back to eclipse the 100-yard mark three times overall in his debut season since Sims in 2010.

When Kansas takes on Rutgers Saturday at 11 a.m., no current Jayhawk that steps on the field after kickoff will have experienced a victory away from Memorial Stadium. Kansas will look to snap a staggering winless streak of 33 games played outside of Lawrence. The last time a Kansas team recorded a victory in a hostile or neutral environment, the 2015 freshman class of Jayhawks were just eighth graders. In the Jayhawks’ last road victory – a 34-7 bout over UTEP on Sept. 12, 2009, running back Jake Sharp engineered two touchdowns and 104 yards, while quarterback Todd Reesing completed 25-of-41 passes for 260 yards and a score. Wide receiver Dezmon Briscoe turned in 154 yards on eight catches. KU is 0-30 in true road games dating back to 2009. Adding three neutral-site losses to Missouri in 2009, 10 and 11 gives Kansas its 33-game winless streak in games played outside of Memorial Stadium.

Senior defensive end Ben Goodman has been vocal from the start of the season that one of his goals for the 2015 campaign was to go after the Kansas football sack record of 14.5 in a season. Through the first two contests, Goodman has lived up to his personal challenge, recording 3.5 sacks for a loss of 19 yards. In one fewer game played than all Big 12 Conference teams except Baylor, Goodman ranks second in the league with those 3.5 sacks and leads all teams with 1.75 sacks per game. The 1.75 sacks per game also ranks Goodman second in the FBS.

Kansas continues its road swing as it treks north to Ames, Iowa, for its first Big 12 Conference matchup of the season against Iowa State. Kickoff against the Cyclones is slated for 11 a.m. on Fox Sports Net.

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