Kansas officials announce the sale of Saturday’s KU football game against Duke

The Kansas soccer program officially ran out of kick-off at 11 a.m. against the undefeated Duke on Saturday.

Kansas officials announced Thursday afternoon that all 47,233 home game tickets for the season have been sold, marking the program’s first sale since November 2, 2019, and only the second in nearly 13 years.

KU drew a respectable crowd of 34,902, in 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 wins in West Virginia and Houston in the two weeks since the opening game, added to the hype surrounding the program.

“It’s great to be back home after a couple are out on the road,” Kuwait University coach Lance Leibold said earlier this week. “And I think it’s important to have a good audience. We hope to have a large audience for many different reasons. I think we have a chance now to create some energy and Homefield advantage.”

For years, KU managers and coaches have been begging for fan support to help the stagnant program rise from the ring. And for years, fans mostly stayed away, as the Jayhawks continued to suffer loss after loss and wrestled to compete most Saturdays.

The 2019 sale came during Les Miles’ first season with Kansas State in the city. In the two weeks leading up to facing the Sunflower Showdown that season, the Jayhawks showed signs of life with near-turmoil in Texas and a rare Big 12 win over Texas Tech. Kansas scored 48 and 37 points, respectively, in those two games, and fans showed up to see if the Jayhawks got past the corner.

This sale was made easier, of course, by the fact that nearly a third of the fans in attendance that day were wearing purple and cheering for Kansas.

The Jayhawks lost that game 38-10 and finished the season 3-9. KU went without a win (0-9) in 2020 and Miles, like many before him, showed up in the door, partly because of a performance on the court and partly because he was involved in an ugly sexual harassment scandal during his time at LSU.

Miles’ departure led to the appointment of Leibold, who made people believe, in just 15 games, that the program was headed in the right direction again.

Leibold won only two games in his first season in Kansas, but one of them came in Texas late in the season, prompting KU to play inspirational football in one loss in the final two weeks of the season. Momentum from these efforts carried over into the start of the 2022 season, and Leipold has already won more road games in Kansas (3) than his four predecessors combined.

This week it’s all about the local crowd.

As excitement grew over KU’s win overtime at West Virginia in Week 2 and 48-30 in Houston last week, fans began campaigns on social media seeking to fill David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium for the game with the Duke. “Pack the Booth,” was the crowd’s cry, and Jayhawk’s followers seemed to have done just that, topping out more than 12,000 new tickets for one game sold out in the five days following the win over Houston.

“This is a massive statement regarding both the exciting path of football in Kansas and the incredible passion of Jayhawk fans,” KU athletic director Travis Goffe said in a statement Thursday night. “We are excited to host an atmosphere at David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium that will rival the best in college football. We are grateful for the way our fans have responded to the momentum of Kansas football and am confident that the sale will no longer be the exception to the rule in our bright future.”

While Saturday’s showdown with Duke got the Kansas fans excited, the reality of the situation is that KU now has a chance to tour and make a statement.

Counting on Saturday, the Jayhawks’ next three home games will take place, and based on the excitement surrounding the program today, it makes sense that if KU can beat Duke this weekend, the stadium will be full or close to it again the following week when KU hosts Iowa.

When asked about the potential of the upcoming homestand, Leipold said that three homestand games in a row can be huge for a program and can also provide distractions. The key, he said, is balancing it. But he noted that there was no doubt in his mind that the supportive and strong home crowd could be “helpful (to help) this program take it one step further”.

“Our fans, loyal fans, have been waiting for something, starving to be successful,” he said. “Hopefully it will be tangled up in time, and we’ll have three weeks of big crowds.”