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Kansas State Preview

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K-State brings their stupid hand sign - and their football team - to Lawrence for the Sunflower Showdown.

NCAA Football: Texas Tech at Kansas Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

KU and K-State will meet on Saturday for the 117th time on the football field. This year’s matchup is scheduled for a 2:30 kick from Lawrence and will be broadcast by FS1. With 109 consecutive annual meetings, it is the fourth-longest uninterrupted series in the FBS, trailing Minnesota-Wisconsin, Clemson-South Carolina, and NC State-Wake Forest.

Never forget.

PREGAME

KU has not defeated K-State since 2008, a 52-21 beat down known around these parts as the Jake Sharp game.

Bill Snyder absolutely dominated Kansas during his tenure, going 23-4 overall against the Jayhawks, including 22-1 since 1993.

Kansas records the series history as 66-45-5, while KSU records 64-47-5. The game in question is 1980; KU won on the field, but the Big 12 ruled KU’s Kerwin Bell ineligible and ordered KU to forfeit. However, NCAA policy states that schools must acknowledge forfeits imposed by the NCAA and does not specify conference-imposed penalties, so KU’s number is the official NCAA number.

KU is 62-22-5 against K-State coaches not named Bill Snyder, a 69.7% win percentage.

The last time the betting line on this game was in single digits was 2010, Turner Gill’s first year at KU. K-State won, 59-7.

Pooka Williams still ranks fourth in the NCAA is career all-purpose yards per game among active players, and is now second in the Big 12 in rushing yards per game.

Carter Stanley needs just 4 more touchdown passes to overtake David Jaynes for the #2 spot in the school record book for career TD passes.

The KU defense is still somehow first in red zone defense in the Big 12.

K-State was averaging 16.3 points per game in conference play before posting 48 on Oklahoma last week.

K-State has allowed just four passing touchdowns all season, tied for first nationally.

Kansas is 9-7 overall on November 2.

Never forget.

FIRST DOWN

Kansas will have to figure out a way to stop, or at least slow down, the K-State rushing attack. Through 7 games so far in 2019, K-State has 20 rushing touchdowns, matching their total from all of 2018. The Wildcats possess the ball and don’t turn it over, which is typically a recipe for success. They also start 5 seniors along the offensive line, which let’s be honest, those five guys dominated Oklahoma for most of the game last week. It’s a top-40 rushing offense with a bottom-25 passing offense, so KU must make K-State beat them through the air.

Never forget.

SECOND DOWN

Kansas is 2-0 this year when leading at the end of the third quarter, and just 1-4 when trailing. The Jayhawks have started slow all year, but it was especially glaring against Texas Tech (17-0), Texas (14-0), and Boston College (10-0). If the Jayhawks fall behind early again, they’ll need to stay within striking distance and win the third quarter.

Never forget.

THIRD DOWN

It may feel like a broken record, but, win on third down! K-State leads the nation in fewest third-down conversions, and their defense is top 10 in total first downs allowed. Due to this, they also rank among the nation’s leaders in fewest defensive snaps played. If KU is going to lean on its downfield passing game and a quick-strike offense, then the Jayhawk defense will have to be able to do its part as mentioned above.

Never forget.

FOURTH DOWN

K-State is currently ranked #34 by S&P+ with the #47 offense and the #45 defense.

Kansas finds itself down at #84 overall with the #57 offense (up 6 more spots from last week) and the #100 defense (down 10 more spots).

PREDICTION

Six months ago, I thought KU was winning this game by two or more touchdowns. David Beaty, of all people, was competitive with K-State his final two years. In 2017, the Jayhawks lost in Lawrence by 10, but had 140 more yards of total offense than the Wildcats. And in case you forgot, last year it took two BS holding calls for K-State to scrape out a four-point win in Manhattan.

Two weeks ago, I still thought KU was winning this game by two touchdowns. K-State was averaging 16 points per game in conference play, and with KU’s offense going bonkers under Dearmon, I thought there’s no way KSU can score enough points to keep up.

Then OU happened. I know OU’s defense is only “good” because they grab the opponent’s receivers on literally every play, but considering KSU’s passing woes, that’s still a team that should have eventually rolled K-State.

So now I don’t know what to think. KU’s defense is Turner Gill era bad. It just is. The numbers back it up. But if this game turns into a track meet, I like KU’s chances. The Jayhawks have better skill position players, although the Wildcats have better line play.

Judging solely by what I’ve seen on Twitter, it’s clear Les and Brent understand how big of a game this is for KU fans. K-State has won 10 in a row in this series. You want to energize the fan base? You want butts in seats the rest of the year? Are the Jayhawks coming, or are they here? Opportunity is knocking, and it’s time for the Jayhawks to answer the door. My head - and the numbers - say K-State is the right pick, but my heart says KU.

First one to 50 wins. Kansas 52, K-State 44.

EXTRA POINT

This is the 12th time that the Sunflower Showdown will feature two first-year coaches, but the first time since 1986 (Stan Parrish, Bob Valesente).