Kansas rolls up 433 total yards, tips Southern Miss

LAWRENCE, Kan. -- The offense was predictably efficient. The defense struggled, but stiffened when it had to. The end result: another win.

If the Kansas football players were distracted after a midweek fight with members of the basketball team, they sure didn't show it.

Todd Reesing threw for 331 yards and three touchdowns, and the No. 20 Jayhawks shook off the effects of the off-field incidents to hold off Southern Mississippi 35-28 on Saturday.

"We're not happy about it, we're embarrassed about it, but it didn't have an impact on our kids," Kansas coach Mark Mangino said of the fights. "They work 12 months a year for just 12 games a year and those 12 games are precious to them. Our kids were ready to play."

Kansas (4-0) had no trouble moving the ball, as usual, in rolling up 433 total yards.

Reesing, despite spending most of the game dodging defenders, was 30 for 41 and hit Kerry Meier on a pair of TD passes, the second a 12-yarder that put the Jayhawks up 35-28 early in the fourth quarter. Meier ended up with 10 catches for 141 yards.

Freshman Toben Opurum rushed for 109 yards and a touchdown and added another score through the air in place of injured starter Jake Sharp.

Kansas wasn't so good on defense, particularly early on, allowing Southern Miss quarterback Austin Davis to throw for 331 yards and three touchdowns. The Jayhawks came through when they needed to, though, finally figuring out Southern Miss' ever-changing attack in the fourth quarter to win their 20th straight non-conference home game.

"We had some breakdowns, but we made the plays when we had to," Kansas defensive end Jake Laptad said.

Southern Miss (3-1) knocked off one BCS school last week, beating Virginia 37-34 at home to extend the nation's second-longest winning streak to eight games. Showing Kansas a few new wrinkles on offense, the Golden Eagles marched up and down the field most of the day, piling up 395 total yards.

Southern Miss just couldn't overcome an ineffective running game -- leading rusher Damion Fletcher had 27 yards on 10 carries -- or stop Reesing when it had to.

"We came here and wanted to earn respect because we didn't feel like we were getting a whole lot," said Davis, who was 28 for 42. "We're obviously not happy about the loss, but we feel like we got a little respect today."

Kansas had a rough week after a series of altercations between members of the football and basketball teams rocked this normally placid campus.

The offense certainly didn't seem to be bothered by the distractions.

Reesing hit Meier on a 62-yard touchdown pass 80 seconds in the game, then led the Jayhawks on a 74-yard scoring drive capped by Dezmon Briscoe's 20-yard reverse on their second drive. Reesing closed out the first half by floating a pass to Opurum out of the backfield for a 12-yard score that put Kansas up 21-14.

Kansas just couldn't shake Southern Miss, thanks to defensive miscues.

Southern Miss had one final chance, getting the ball at its 33 with 1:53 left, but Davis was sacked and the Golden Eagles failed on a fourth-and-17 to end their chances.

"There wasn't a time where I didn't think we couldn't win the game," Southern Miss coach Larry Fedora said. "When the defense got the ball back for us with two minutes left with no timeouts, I thought we'd march right down the field and score. I felt confident that way. Kansas was the better team today."

Well, at least some of the day.

Kansas had nine penalties for 77 yards in the first half, including a defensive holding call on third down before Jonathan Massey scored. Twice the Jayhawks had too many men on the field; one was called for a penalty, another forced a timeout.

Reesing was sacked five times and threw an ill-advised interception in the third quarter. Opurum fumbled in the fourth quarter. The defense spent most of the game in disarray before clamping down in the fourth quarter.

Ugly? Sure, at times. But the Jayhawks got the win, which says a lot after what they went through this week.

"We were focused before any of that other stuff happened. It's over, it's done," said Reesing, who passed Texas quarterback Vince Young for seventh on the Big 12's all-time list with 9,359 total yards. "I don't think we need to talk about it anymore."