For what seemed like forever, Kansas dominated Kansas State. Yes, it is true. Before Bill Snyder ever graced the sideline of what is now named, fittingly, Bill Snyder Family Stadium, the Wildcats rarely beat the 'Hawks. Sure, the 63-36-5 advantage Kansas has accumulated thus far looks impressive, but we have only won 5 games (losing 13) since Snyder became the K-State head coach, including a losing streak in Manhattan dating back to 1989. Yuck. So, while throughout the 90's the Wildcats dominated the Jayhawks, thus making the "rivalry" a preseason lock loss for the 'Hawks, before that the Jayhawks consistently beat up on the Jayhawks.
So, have both teams ever been good at the same time? Well, yeah. But never for an extended period of time. The last real game where both teams were in the national picture was 1995, when we strolled into Manhattan an impresssive 7-0. We lost 41-7.
This rivalry has had moments in the sun, sure, but it has yet to claim national spotlight for any stretch of time. While this is only one game, both the Wildcats and Jayhawks are on the way up as football programs, with the Wildcats technically on the way "back" up. The Sunflower Showdown has always had a dominant team for stretches, and the Wildcats' once vice-like grip on the Showdown has slowly loosened, starting in 2004 breaking up an 11 game losing streak. However, before their reigh of supremacy is really over, we have to beat them in their house. And Saturday is the best chance we will have in awhile. This is one of the best Kansas football teams in recent memory, and while K-State is better than the past couple of years, they are still a long ways away from the glory years.
This game could very well be the most important game in Mangino's career. At some point, he has to prove he can win Big 12 games on the road, especially against good teams. The winner of this game will arguably be the front-runner in the Big 12 North chase, with each teams' games against Muzzurrah likely the only thing left standing in their path. But even looking past this season, this season of hope for our Jayhawks, there are possible ramifications that will come from this game, ramifications that will impact the teams 6 years from now. You can only beat up on the cutsie-pies for so long if you are Mark Mangino, eventually you have to step out and put a signature win on your resume. Despite the relatively equal amount of talent on both teams, this has all the makings of a signature win for Mangino, if only to break the Manhattan curse (haven't won there since 1989) and the notion that he can't win on the road, much less against rivals in Big 12 play.
This game is much more important than opening up the conference season right, it is about proving our non-conference accomplishments on a national level, for immediate recognition, but yet the game is still much more important. It can define this entire program, or it can shove us back into a middle-of-the-road Big 12 team, a team that can beat up on the easy teams but struggles against good teams and on the road against anyone.
I can't wait to watch this game on Saturday, this is the most anticipation I have ever had before watching a Kansas football game.
We are only 3 days away from moving our program in the right direction...