The Kansas Jayhawks are bowl eligible for the first time since 2008.
They punched their ticket with a dominant 37-16 victory at home Saturday against No. 18 Oklahoma State, led by a brilliant game from running back Devin Neal, who carried 32 times for 224 and a score.
"That's what makes it more special,'' Neal said about growing up in Lawrence just a few miles away from the stadium. "When I did commit there was a lot of people that asked me why I would waste my career there.
"Looking back now, to be able to do what we've done it's pretty special. It just means a lot more to me especially just because I grew up here just two miles way from campus.''
The win snapped a three-game losing streak for Kansas, which started the season 5-0. Bowl eligibility had seemed like a foregone conclusion, but after star quarterback Jalon Daniels went down against TCU in game No. 6 and the scheduled got harder, it was less of a certainty.
"I'm really proud of our guys and our staff,'' Kansas coach Lance Leipold said. "To be able to do something like this is pretty special.''
Quarterback Jason Bean had his best game since being thrust into the starting role, completing 18 of 23 passes for 203 yards and a pair of touchdowns. He also scored on a 73-yard run and finished with 93 yards on the ground.
Kansas' last bowl appearance was a win against Minnesota in the 2008 Insight Bowl under coach Mark Mangino, who departed after the 2009 season. None of the four coaches who followed him --Turner Gill, Charlie Weis, David Beaty and Les Miles -- won more than three games in a season, let alone the six needed for bowl eligibility.
The Jayhawks' turnaround under coach Lance Leipold has been rapid. After winning just two games in his debut last season, Kansas climbed to No. 19 in the AP poll this year before the three-game losing streak. It marked the first time the Jayhawks had appeared in the AP poll since 2009.