Kansas’ football schedule kickoff at 11 a.m. against the undefeated Duke on Saturday is officially sold out.
Kansas officials announced Thursday afternoon that all 47,233 tickets for KU’s second home game of the season had been sold, marking the program’s first sale since Nov. 2, 2019 and only the second in nearly 13 years. .
KU drew a respectable crowd of 34,902 for the season opener against Tennessee Tech on September 2. It was the largest opening day crowd in eight years. But KU’s 3-0 start to the season, which included road victories in West Virginia and Houston within two weeks of opening, added to the buzz surrounding the program.
“It’s great to be back home after a few trips,” KU coach Lance Leipold said earlier this week. “And I think it’s important that we have a good crowd. Hopefully we’ll have a good crowd for a lot of different reasons. I think we now have a chance to create energy and an advantage on the pitch.
For years, KU administrators and coaches have begged for fan support to help the stagnant program rise from the mat. And for years, fans mostly stayed away as the Jayhawks continued to suffer loss after loss and struggled to compete most Saturdays.
The sellout of 2019 was during the Miles’ first season with Kansas State in town. In the two weeks leading up to this season’s Sunflower Showdown, the Jayhawks had shown signs of life with a near upset in Texas and a rare Big 12 win over Texas Tech. Kansas scored 48 and 37 points in those two games, respectively, and fans showed up to see if the Jayhawks had reached a milestone.
That sell-off was aided, of course, by the fact that nearly a third of the fans in attendance that day wore purple and cheered on Kansas State.
The Jayhawks lost that game 38-10 and finished the season 3-9. KU went winless (0-9) in 2020 and Miles, like so many before him, was fired, partly because of performance on the field and partly because of his involvement in a horrible sexual harassment scandal while at LSU.
Miles’ departure led to the hiring of Leipold, who in just 15 games has people believing the program is headed in the right direction again.
Leipold only won two games in his first season at Kansas, but one of those came in Texas at the end of the season and that prompted KU to play inspired football in one-score losses. over the last two weeks of the season. The momentum of those efforts has continued through the start of the 2022 season, and Leipold has already won more road games at Kansas (3) than his four predecessors combined.
This week is all about the home crowd, though.
As excitement grew after KU’s overtime victory in West Virginia in Week 2 and the 48-30 win in Houston last week, fans launched social media campaigns seeking to fill the David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium for the game against Duke. “Pack the Booth,” was the rallying cry, and the Jayhawk faithful seem to have done just that, topping more than 12,000 new single-game tickets sold in the five days following the win over Houston.
“This is a tremendous statement regarding both the exciting trajectory of Kansas football and the incredible passion of Jayhawk fans,” KU athletic director Travis Goff said in a statement late Thursday. “We are thrilled to welcome an atmosphere to David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium that will rival the best in college football. We are grateful for how our fans have responded to the momentum of Kansas football and I am confident that sales will no longer be the exception to the rule in our bright future.”
While Saturday’s showdown with Duke got Kansas fans excited, the reality of the situation is that KU now has a chance to make a run and a statement.
Counting Saturday, the Jayhawks’ next three games are at home, and based on the excitement surrounding today’s schedule, it stands to reason that if KU can beat Duke this weekend, the stadium will be at home. again full or close the following week when KU hosts Iowa State.
Asked about the potential for the next homestand, Leipold said three straight home games can be huge for a program and can also present distractions. The key, he said, would be to balance that. But he noted that there is no doubt in his mind that strong, supportive local crowds can be “beneficial in (helping) this program take this next step.”
“Our fans, the loyal fans, were waiting for something, hungry for (us) to succeed,” he said. “Hopefully it comes together at the right time, and we’ll have three weeks of big crowds.”