MIAMI - Let the critics keep chirping away. Nobody at Kansas has to listen any more.
Todd Reesing, Aqib Talib and a determined band of opportunistic Jayhawks pulled off a victory Thursday night that proves the greatest season in the history of their school was real, that it was not the fluke that many had charged.
“I guess they got to say we played somebody now!” Talib said. “They got to say we played somebody now!”
By beating No. 5 Virginia Tech 24-21 in the Orange Bowl, the No. 8 Jayhawks put to rest any notion that they had ridden a pillowy-soft schedule into a BCS bowl they did not deserve.
Losing in their first major bowl in 39 years would have given the Jayhawks no defense.
Beating the ACC champion Hokies, who were playing in their 15th straight bowl, erases all doubt.
Kansas (12-1) had been the only Big 12 team to play all four nonconference games at home, and what pushovers those four did prove to be. Central Michigan, Southeastern Louisiana, Toledo and Florida International offered almost no resistance. The Jayhawks didn’t even have to leave the state until they played at Baylor in mid-October. Because of the conference rotation system, this was also the season they didn’t have to play Big 12 powers Texas, Oklahoma and Texas Tech.
And so as the victories piled up and the Jayhawks rose higher in the national polls, critics kept up their drumbeat.
The more Kansas won, the more they got criticized. Then when they lost to Missouri by eight points in the regular-season finale, the critics sat back and smugly claimed vindication because the Tigers, clearly, had turned out to be the only standout on their schedule.
Then when an 11-2 Missouri team was passed over by the BCS bowls and then-11-1 Jayhawks were invited to the Orange, Missouri fans howled in a chorus at the perceived injustice.
Missouri’s 38-7 rout of Arkansas in the Cotton Bowl on New Year’s Day no doubt increased the pressure the Jayhawks were feeling to give a good account of themselves against the Hokies.
No Kansas team has won 12 games in a season. And now no Kansas critic can make Jayhawks fans feel they have any reason to apologize.
CFT: Former Penn State signalcaller Steven Bench joined the South Florida Bulls, he announced on Twitter.
CFT: The University of Nevada is honoring longtime coach Chris Ault, who stepped down in the fall, by renaming the school's football field after him.
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