LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Kansas had one last chance to win in front of the hometown crowd. Coach Charlie Weis even offered students free tickets to fill the stands and honor the seniors.
By halftime, however, the stands had emptied and Kansas was headed for a 51-23 senior night loss to Iowa State.
"It just hurts to go out that way for our last time in Memorial Stadium," said senior safety Bradley McDougald.
Kansas started the game with two defensive stands and held an early lead, but Iowa State scored four straight touchdowns in the second quarter to put the game out of reach.
The Jayhawks also lost three fumbles and an interception. Iowa State converted three of these turnovers into scores.
"When you turn the ball over the volume of times we did on offense, it doesn't give you a chance to win," Weis said.
This was the latest blow in a 10-game losing streak for the Jayhawks and a 20-game string of conference losses that dates back more than two years.
The seniors began their Kansas careers with 5-0 record, but lost the next seven straight and fell out of bowl contention. It took them the next four years to win six more games. They also endured three coaching changes in that time.
"I think sports definitely helps you shape yourself as a human being at an early age," said senior wide receiver Kale Pick. "A lot of 19- and 20-year-old kids don't face the kind of adversity we have. I think it's helped get us ready for life in the real world, for life after football."
Even adding to Kansas' embarrassment was the fact they were beaten by a virtually unknown quarterback.
Sam Richardson, who hadn't even attempted a pass all year, threw for four touchdowns in leading the rout.
The first thing he did when he got back into the locker room was text his parents.
"I was just waiting for my opportunity," said the redshirt freshman. "I have been all year. It is a great feeling to know that I could go in and make plays for the offense and get us going."
Richardson also scored a touchdown for the Cyclones (6-5 overall, 3-5 Big 12) and was not far short of perfection. He led his team to touchdowns on four straight possessions while taking a 38-17 lead. Virtually overlooked all year in the Cyclones' jumbled quarterback picture, Richardson was 23 for 27 and spread his completions around to 12 different receivers. Six different Cyclones scored touchdowns as the Jayhawks (1-10, 0-8) lost their 20th consecutive Big 12 game.
"I knew he could do it," said center Tom Farniok. "It was just a matter of was he gonna, and he did."
The Cyclones' season high had been 38 points and they had that at the half, leading 38-17.
Kansas' final home game sent a bedraggled class of seniors out on the same sort of sour note which has characterized their entire collegiate careers.
The fourth- and fifth-year seniors came aboard just as the Mark Mangino-coached Jayhawks were winning two straight bowl games for the first time in school history. The long-struggling program seemed headed for the heights. But after starting the 2009 season 5-0, the Jayhawks lost their next seven and now, counting this lopsided loss to Iowa State, have dropped a stunning 36 of 42 games under three head coaches.