The Jayhawks welcome in-state nemesis K-State to Lawrence for a late-season edition of the Sunflower Showdown. Led by new coach Chris Klieman, KSU will be looking to extend a 10-game winning streak over the Jayhawks. Fun Fact: The last K-State head coach to win a football game in Lawrence not named Bill Snyder was Vince Gibson in 1969. (That’s 50 years if you can’t do math.)
Kansas State @ Kansas
November 2, 2019: Time TBD
Lawrence, KS: Memorial Stadium
About the KSU Offense
Despite the departures of Alex Delton, Alex Barnes, and Isaiah Zuber, the Wildcats return 69% of their offensive production from 2018 (nice). Delton’s transfer presumably means that Skylar Thompson will be the unquestioned starter throughout the season. K-State also welcomes in Ball State transfer RB James Gilbert, who picked up 2,806 rushing yards in four years in Muncie at a 4.7 ypc clip. However, nearly half of those yards (1,332) came in his sophomore season of 2016.
Elsewhere, K-State only returns one wide receiver who caught more than 10 passes last year (Dalton Schoen), and loses a couple of starters from the offensive line as well. It may take K-State a while to figure out what they’re doing in Klieman’s offense, but by the time they meet up with KU, they should have a pretty good handle on it.
About the KSU Defense
K-State’s strength this season will probably be on defense, as KSU only has to replace three starters in returning 75% of their defensive production from 2018. The Wildcats return four of their top fives tacklers, including top tackler Da’Quon Patton, as well as their top two sack masters from last season. K-State held opponents to an average 25.4 points per game last season, good to a top-50 ranking in that stat in the FBS. If that somehow improves, K-State could be a pretty tough out.
Bill Connelly did a pre-spring S&P+ ranking back in February of all 130 teams and has Kansas State at #64, or ninth in the Big 12.
Meanwhile, Athlon also ranked all 130 teams in pre-spring as well in March, and has the Wildcats at #62.
For reference, the Jayhawks were ranked #107 by S&P+ and #106 by Athlon.
Want to hear something crazy? Kansas has been closing in on K-State throughout the David Beaty era. In 2015, the Jayhawks lost by 31 points. 2016 was 15 points. 2017 was just 10 points. And last year... well... let’s just say KU should have won by about three touchdowns, but hey, David Beaty.
But David Beaty is gone. In his place is Les Miles, a man who thrives in big games. His first year in Stillwater, he took a 3-7 Cowboys team into its last game of the season at #4 Oklahoma. You know what happened. A throwback to Mark Mangino, Miles isn’t going to let his team be pushed around or intimidated.
Also gone is Bill Snyder, a man who has absolutely dominated the Jayhawks since the early 1990s. It just feels like the perfect storm is brewing, doesn’t it? Gone are the days of 52-13. David Beaty narrowed the gap between KU and K-State from 40-point blowouts to a fumbled snap and a few well-timed holding calls. Now is the time. Kansas 21, K-State 10.