LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Jason Bean threw for 276 yards and two touchdowns in place of injured star Jalon Daniels, helping Kansas overcame some early malaise and beat Missouri State 48-17 on Friday night in the season opener for both teams.
Devin Neal had touchdowns on the ground and through the air, and Dylan McDuffie, Daniel Hishaw and Sevion Morrison hit the end zone, as the Jayhawks opened a season of high expectations against a team from the Football Championship Subdivision.
Daniels, the preseason Big 12 offensive player of the year, missed a portion of the Jayhawks’ fall camp with a back injury. He warmed up before the game but spent the entirety of it wearing a headset on the sideline, and it was unclear whether he will be available when Kansas faces a big step up against Illinois next week.
Missouri State, led by new coach Ryan Beard, took advantage of an early turnover and fourth-down stop to take a 10-7 lead in the second quarter. The Jayhawks proved to be too much, putting the game away in the fourth quarter.
The Bears' Jacob Clark threw for 143 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions. But the first-time starter, who also ran for 36 yards, didn't get much help. Running back Jakardia Wright was held to 23 yards on 15 carries.
The Jayhawks looked more like their many downtrodden teams of yesteryear during the first half, rather than Lance Leipold's breakout bunch that started 5-0 last season and went to a bowl game for the first time in more than a decade.
They jumped to a 7-0 lead on Neal's 48-yard run, but then fumbled the ball away on their next possession and got stuffed on fourth down on the next. Missouri State turned the turnover into a short touchdown pass and the defensive stand into a field goal, taking a 10-7 lead before a suddenly quiet crowd inside Memorial Stadium.
Kansas needed three plays to go 75 yards for an answer, though, and a field goal made it 17-10 at the break.
The Jayhawks pushed the lead to 27-10 in the third quarter. And after Missouri State's Jmariyae Robinson added a TD run to his earlier scoring reception in the fourth quarter, the Jayhawks took advantage of two picks over the final 15 minutes to reach the end zone twice more and put the game away.
Missouri State: Nobody quite knew what to expect when Beard was promoted from defensive coordinator to replace Bobby Petrino, who left to become the offensive coordinator at Texas A&M. But the Bears were fundamentally sound against a bigger, faster team from a Power Five conference, and that bodes well as they return to FCS play.
Kansas: There were too many miscues for the Jayhawks to feel comfortable until the fourth quarter. Bean was 22 of 28 through the air but rarely had a clean pocket. Hishaw's fumble was costly, as were some penalties at inopportune times.
Missouri State heads to Tennessee-Martin on Sept. 9.
Kansas plays the Fighting Illini next Friday night.
AP college football: https://apnews.com/hub/college-football and https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-football-poll