LAWRENCE, Kan. -- Kansas' historic season didn't go unappreciated.
A crowd of 52,112, a record for 88-year-old Memorial Stadium, showed up for the season opener and watched the No. 14 Jayhawks race past Florida International, 40-10 on Saturday night.
"It was unbelievable," said Todd Reesing, who threw three touchdown passes to Dezmon Briscoe. "To play the first game of the season and have the place fill up and have the crowd loud and behind you is something special. I don't think there's been a first game here at Kansas in a while that sold out."
Reesing was not as sharp as he often was while throwing a school-record 36 touchdown passes in a 12-1 campaign in 2007. Florida International, a 55-3 loser to the Jayhawks a year ago, was able to put pressure on him several times and he threw an interception while going 37-of-52 for 256 yards and three TDs. But Briscoe, a sophomore and Reesing's third-leading receiver in 2007, had touchdown catches of 3, 4 and 3 yards and the visitors from the Sun Belt Conference never threatened.
"We got a win, which is the most important thing, but I think we have room for improvement," Kansas coach Mark Mangino said. "In the first game you find out a little bit about your team, who's in the right spots and where we have to tweak things. So this will be a good tape for us to study tomorrow."
Briscoe's third TD, on fourth-and-goal from the 3, was a leaping grab in the corner of the end zone after Reesing appeared to have overthrown his wide-open target.
"I just threw it out there in the back of the end zone. I couldn't really see where he was headed," Reesing said. "I kind of threw it to a spot and he went up and made an amazing catch. That's the kind of things he can do for us."
The crowd broke the mark of 51,910 which watched the resurgent Jayhawks beat longtime nemesis Nebraska 76-39 last year, a game when Briscoe also had three TDs. It also broke by 4,000 the Memorial Stadium record for a nonconference game.
"That's good. That's progress," Mangino said. "As we get better, it seems like everything around us gets better. Those are all signs of progress."
Kansas took a commanding lead with a 23-point second quarter that made it 30-10 at the half.
The Golden Panthers, 1-11 last season, were playing the highest-ranked team they have seen since becoming a major college program in 2006. They got their only touchdown in two games against Kansas when T.Y. Hilton took a punt and sped 74 yards into the end zone in the second quarter. Dustin Rivest had a 43-yard field goal for Florida International at the end of the half.
"Kansas is a great football team," Florida International coach Mario Cristobal said. "They were one of the best teams in the country last year and I think they will be this year, too. When you get out here and the speed is turned up about two or three notches, it's not as quite as slow of a game as it was on the practice field."
Jeremiah Weatherspoon returned his interception of Reesing 20 yards to the Kansas 27 in the fourth quarter. But a few minutes later, Phillip Strozier made his second interception for the Jayhawks. His first was returned 30 yards and set up Briscoe's third touchdown.
Kansas held the Golden Panthers to only 2-for-14 in third-down conversions.
"That means we're efficient, that means we're doing our job," said safety Darrell Stuckey. "That means we're playing hard and locking and locking and we're fighting trying to win."
The Jayhawks, who did not commit a turnover until the third game last season, lost a fumble on their first possession. But Jake Laptad sacked Florida International's Paul McCall for a 5-yard loss on fourth down midway through the first quarter and Jocques Crawford, last season's junior college offensive player of the year, scored on a 7-yard run for Kansas.
Briscoe capped a 56-yard scoring drive with his first TD catch on the first play of the second quarter. A few minutes later, Daymond Patterson, a freshman, broke loose for a 75-yard punt return, jumping over one would-be tackler near the 20 who had been blocked to the ground.
Alonso Rojas, replacing departed Scott Webb, kicked a 47-yard field goal in the second quarter for a 17-0 lead and added a 37-yarder in the third as the Jayhawks won for the 16th time in their last 18 games overall.
McCall was 10-for-28 for 73 yards, with two interceptions.
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