Windy day. True freshman quarterback. Senior running back. For Kansas coach Charlie Weis, the offensive game plan on Saturday didn’t need to be too complicated.
“We knew in order to win, we were going to have to run it and spread out,” Weis said. “We kept giving the ball to James, and he kept giving us yards.”
He gave 211 yards and three touchdowns on 22 carries to power the Jayhawks’ 31-19 home win over WVU that snapped the program’s 27-game conference losing streak. For that effort, Sims is our ESPN.com Big 12 Player of the Week.
Sims had surpassed 100 yards on 13 occasions as Kansas’ running back, but had never seen 200. He got there with the help of two big first-half runs to get KU rolling.
The first was a 62-yard dash midway through the second quarter. That led to a 3-yard score from Sims two plays later that gave Kansas its first lead of the day, 10-7.
It seemed the Jayhawks were content to take their three-point lead into halftime. After a West Virginia punt, they took over on offense at their own 32 with 39 seconds left in the half.
And then, on the drive’s first play, Sims took a toss to the right and burst up the middle for a 68-yard touchdown, the longest run of his career, to go ahead 17-7.
Sims’ third score of the day made it 24-7, and Kansas never looked back from there to give Weis his first-ever Big 12 victory.
“Give credit to the offensive line up front, they won the line of scrimmage,” Sims said. “Our whole preparation the whole week was to be physical up front and win the line of scrimmage, and that's what they did. Give props to those guys up front.”
Sims is now No. 2 in the Big 12 in rushing yards (914) and third in yards per game. His 3,396 rushing yards since the start of the 2010 season are the most in the Big 12 during that span. He’s been a workhorse for the Jayhawks and so much more.
But this weekend, all he wanted was a victory at home before his senior year came to an end. Sims got one that he’ll never forget.
"It felt amazing looking up at the scoreboard and us on top and them down,” Sims said. “It's a wonderful feeling."