Kansas officials announce a sellout for Saturday’s KU football game vs. Duke

The Kansas football program kicks off 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, selling out the program for the first time since November 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. That was the largest audience on opening day in eight years. But KU’s 3-0 start to the season, including road victories in West Virginia and Houston in the two weeks since the opener, has added to the buzz around the schedule.

“It’s great to be back home after a few trips,” said KU coach Lance Leipold earlier this week. “And I think it’s important that we have a good audience. Hopefully we have a good audience for many different reasons. I think now we have a chance to create some energy and a home advantage.”

For years, KU executives and coaches have begged for fan support to get the stalled program off the ground. And for years, fans mostly stayed away as the Jayhawks continued to take loss after loss and struggle to compete on most Saturdays.

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

That sale was, of course, made easier by the fact that nearly a third of the fans in attendance wore purple that day and cheered for Kansas State.

The Jayhawks lost that game 38-10 and finished the season 3-9. KU went scoreless (0-9) in 2020 and Miles, like so many before him, was kicked out, partly for his on-field performance and partly for his involvement in an ugly sexual harassment scandal during his time at LSU.

Miles’ departure led to the hiring of Leipold, who in just 15 games has people believing the program is moving in the right direction again.

Leipold won just two games in his first season in Kansas, but one of them came late in the season in Texas and saw KU play inspired football in the final two weeks of the season. The momentum of those efforts has carried over to the start of the 2022 season and Leipold has already won more road races in Kansas (3) than his four predecessors combined.

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This week is all about the home crowd.

As excitement grew over the KU’s win in West Virginia in Week 2 and the 48-30 win in Houston last week, fans began campaigning on social media to fill the David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium for the matchup with Duke. “Pack the Booth,” was the rallying cry, and the Jayhawk stalwarts seem to have done just that, selling more than 12,000 new single-game tickets in the five days following the Houston win.

“This is a great statement regarding both the exciting trajectory of Kansas football and the incredible passion of Jayhawk fans,” Travis Goff, director of KU Athletic, 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 I am confident that sales will no longer be the exception to the rule in our bright future.”

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

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Saturday counts the Jayhawks’ next three games at home, and given the excitement surrounding today’s schedule, it’s likely that if KU can beat Duke this weekend, the stadium will be full or close again the following week when KU hosts the state of Iowa.

Asked about the potential for the upcoming homestand, Leipold said three home games in a row can be huge for a program and also provide a distraction. The key, he said, would be to balance that out. But he noted that there’s no doubt that a supportive and strong home crowd “can be helpful in helping[this program]take another step.”

“Our fans, the loyal fans, have been waiting for something, starving to make (us) successful,” he said. “Hopefully it will come together at the right time and we’ll have big crowds for three weeks.”

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