Arkansas eluded Kansas’ comeback attempt with a 55-53 victory over the Jayhawks in triple overtime in the Independence Bowl.
The Razorbacks (7-6) led by one point in the third quarter, 38-13, and led by 18 points in the fourth. But Kansas (6-7) got the game into overtime when KJ Jefferson hit Rashod Dubion in the backfield for the game-winning two-pointer.
Kansas, playing in its first bowl game since 2008, had a chance to tie after two overtimes under college football rules. Jayhawks quarterback Jason Bean ran the end, but his pass on the run sailed out of the back of the end zone.
KU and Arkansas traded touchdowns in the first two overtimes and Arkansas was thought to have won the second OT game. College overtime rules dictate that teams go for a two-point conversion after scoring a second OT TD. Arkansas went up by eight to start the second overtime period and KU QB Jalon Daniels stood at the goal line on Kansas’ game-tying conversion attempt.
But the officials called Daniels on targeting the attack and upheld the call for a longer re-evaluation. The targeting call gave Kansas another shot at the tie and the Jayhawks forced a third OT.
Any game past two overtimes will be a two-point conversion – basically college football’s version of penalty kicks. The two-point playoff was implemented in an effort to reduce the length of the game.
If Kansas wins in overtime, it will complete one of the best bowl game comebacks in recent memory. Only Houston has overcome a fourth-quarter deficit of 18-points or more in 2022, and the Jayhawks needed an onside kick against Arkansas to have a chance in overtime.
KU scored all 17 points in the fourth quarter to cut the lead to 38-20 with 1:05 left. KU had to go for an onside kick because there was no timeout and Arkansas inexplicably didn’t move to return the kick. Kansas recovered and was in the red zone after the first offensive play.
A TD pass to Luke Grimm set up a two-point pass to Lawrence Arnold to tie the game at 38-38 with 41 seconds left. Arkansas then went into overtime instead of making what would normally have been a game-winning field goal.
Daniels finished the game 37-of-55 passing for 544 yards and five TDs with two interceptions. Arkansas QB KJ Jefferson was 19-of-29 passing for 287 yards and two TDs and an interception, while also rushing 14 times for 130 yards and two scores. Rocket Sanders went most of the game without star running back Rocket Sanders after the Razorbacks came away with a third down.
Kansas had three first-half turnovers and trailed 31-13 at halftime. But in the second half, Arkansas got back into the game after punting four straight times and set up Kansas’ penalty kick.