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Kansas 42, Houston 13

FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) _ Jason Swanson started the season hurt. He ended it by leading the Kansas Jayhawks to their first bowl victory and first winning season in 10 years.

Swanson threw for 307 yards and four touchdowns, one more than he had in the regular season, and the Jayhawks beat Houston 42-13 Friday night in the Fort Worth Bowl.

``I couldn't even have imagined this happening,'' said Swanson, who in late October became the Jayhawks' third starting quarterback this season.

Houston, with record-setting quarterback Kevin Kolb, came in as the team touted for its high-powered offense. Instead, the Jayhawks (7-5) had a season-high 538 yards and won for the fourth time in five games _ all since Swanson became the starter.

``We knew we'd have an opportunity to throw big on them,'' Swanson said. ``We just had to come out and do it. ... We saw they had a lot of schemes and blitz a lot. When a team blitzes, you have an opportunity to throw a lot of those dinks.''

Tailback Jon Cornish turned two shovel passes _ his only two catches _ from Swanson into scores of 13 and 30 yards. He also rushed for 101 yards on 16 carries.

Brian Murph, who hadn't returned a kick all season, turned a muffed punt into an 85-yard score in the first quarter that put the Jayhawks ahead to stay. He also caught a 48-yard TD pass.

After leading Conference USA with 457 total yards per game during the regular season, Houston (6-6) was held to a season-worst 244. That was 126 yards below their previous low.

Kansas had been in only one other bowl since a victory over UCLA in the 1995 Aloha Bowl capped a 10-2 season. The Jayhawks lost 56-26 to North Carolina State in the 2003 Tangerine Bowl that ended Mark Mangino's second year as coach.

``It's a winning season for the first time in 10 years. Our players worked hard to achieve that,'' Mangino said. ``It was a good day for us.''

Swanson started his fifth straight game, going 19-of-29 and earning MVP honors. The senior hurt his leg during the preseason, but took over after Adam Barmann and Brian Luke struggled.

Houston has lost six straight bowls since winning the 1980 Garden State Bowl. The Cougars' previous postseason appearance was a 54-48 triple-overtime loss to Hawaii in the 2003 Hawaii Bowl that ended coach Art Briles' first season at 7-6. The Cougars slipped to 3-8 last year.

``It hurts not to win. We had high hopes, high aspirations,'' Briles said. ``But when somebody slaps you in the face two or three times, it's going to be hard to welcome Santa.

``It's going to take a while to get over this because it would have been a great step for a program,'' he said. ``But now we're going to have to start fighting back up that hill again.''

Kolb, a junior, started his 36th straight game and already is the career total offense leader at the school where David Klingler and Andre Ware also threw passes. Kolb was 20-of-44 for 214 yards with three interceptions, all turned into scores by Kansas.

Kolb had a 1-yard sneak for Houston's only touchdown, and Ben Bell (32 yards) and T.J. Lawrence (44 yards) kicked field goals.

``This year was a lot of fun, we came together as a team to get ourselves into a bowl game,'' said Cougars sophomore Donnie Avery, who had five catches for 71 yards. ``This is a setback, but we'll be back in a bowl game next year.''

Charlton Keith got between Kolb and his intended receiver on a quick-out pass in the fourth quarter. He jumped up and grabbed the pass, then sprinted 14 yards and dived into the end zone.

Theo Baines had two interceptions for the Jayhawks. The first set up Cornish's 30-yard TD in the third quarter, and the second led to Murph's TD catch with 9 minutes left for the final touchdown.

Five minutes into the game, Murph muffed a punt. The ball rolled several yards away from him before he picked it up, circled around several defenders and ran all the way to the left sideline. He then cut back across the field and slipped past a tackler into the open for the longest Kansas punt return since 1971.

Swanson had completions of 31 and 19 yards on the first two plays, but the Jayhawks didn't get another first down on the opening drive. The Cougars then went three-and-out before Justin Laird's 57-yard punt that Murph muffed.

Cornish's first TD came in the second quarter. Mark Simmons added a 32-yard score in the third when he caught Swanson's pass near the 20, then was free when he twisted inside and the defender slipped.
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