This is it. The last chance to get a road win. This is the last chance for the Seniors to suit up in the Jayhawk uniform. And this is our last chance to talk with another SBNation site about a Jayhawk football game this year. This week I was able to connect with Jon Morse over at Bring on the Cats to talk about today's KU-KSU game.
RCT: With a TCU win last night, it's looking less likely that the Wildcats will be able to win the conference outright. But if they win out, they can still clinch at least a share of the conference title. With the Baylor game obviously being the more difficult of the two, is there any chance that KSU looks past KU this week?
BOTC: There is no chance whatsoever that the Wildcats look past Kansas. Now, in another circumstance, I might give a different answer; reverse Kansas and Oklahoma State on the schedule and they might well have done so. But it's Senior Day at the Bill, the final ride at home for 21 of these guys -- including Jake Waters, Tyler Lockett, and Curry Sexton. Add that to the rivalry, such as it is, and the 'Cats should be focused.
RCT: While this is technically a rivalry, the games haven't really been very competitive recently. How have the Wildcats been able to keep the fire going in this series?
BOTC: Basketball. It really does come down to that. Older fans remember when both programs were on even footing on the hardwood, and younger fans remember nothing but being crushed repeatedly. Throw in the interaction between the fanbases on social media, and there's still no team Kansas State wants to beat more than the Jayhawks -- because losing the football game raises the spectre of really having to listen to beef for an entire calendar year.
As far as the players... nobody wants to be part of the team that loses to Kansas. It's considered that big a deal, more so than the reverse when it comes to basketball -- after all, if Kansas loses to Kansas State once a year in basketball, well, they'll probably still beat them twice.
RCT: Prior to wallowing in the rain last week, the Jayhawk offense finally seemed to find that spark. Kansas State has been proficient this year on offense, but it seems to have been their defense that has carried them to victory. Who are the big playmakers on the D that we should be look out for during the game?
BOTC: K-State's defense this year has been marked by one major characteristic: nobody really stands out in the way that, say, Arthur Brown did a few years ago. After his breakout last year, Ryan Mueller gets so much attention from the opposing offense that he's not putting up the numbers -- but that's allowed the rest of the defensive line to look a lot better.
Travis Britz has been having a bit of a breakout, but he won't be playing due to an injury. Dante Barnett has been captaining the secondary well, and if he just had a receiver's hands he'd probably have over half a dozen picks this year. And cornerback Danzel McDaniel is just a stone-cold killer out there. You do not want to get hit by that dude.
A couple of guys who actually aren't always on the field you'll want to watch out for, though: linebacker Dakorey Johnson, who actually leads the team in tackles for loss, and true freshman Elijah Lee -- yes, Bill Snyder is letting a true freshman get serious playing time on defense -- leads the team in sacks, coming in mostly as a third-down pass rusher.
RCT: Bill Snyder has literally been at KSU forever. I know he's already retired and come back once, but how do you think the fanbase will react when he finally decides to hang it up for good?
BOTC: Well, that all depends on who replaces him, doesn't it? It's a contentious issue in some circles; some people still really hate the Bruce Weber hire and think Currie's going to take a similar tack when he replaces Snyder. Some people are deathly afraid that Sean Snyder will take over, while some others think that's actually a good idea. What nobody thinks is that K-State will manage to hire someone who'll make everyone happy.
RCT: Finally, what is your prediction for the game? Does Kansas have a shot to even keep it close?
BOTC: I mean, there's always a shot. The Jayhawks have looked a lot better, despite last week's debacle -- and since K-State ran for one yard last week, Wildcat rushing attack vs. the KU defense is the stoppable force meeting the movable object. Further, there's going to be a lot of incentive for K-State to try to secure a couple of minor goals in front of the home crowd: Tyler Lockett needs two touchdowns and four receptions to tie his father's career records. If K-State tries too hard to accomplish that, and the Jayhawks are mindful of it... well, things could go awry pretty quickly.
But ultimately, Bill Snyder just doesn't lose to Kansas in Manhattan. I mean, you have readers who weren't even alive the last time that happened. KU's lone win in Manhattan since 1992 was a six-point win over Ron Prince in 2007, otherwise known as "the year everything went right for the Jayhawks". So while I'd love to issue some polite homilies here, that would be intellectually dishonest. It should be a rout. The Jayhawks just aren't there yet, though they're making a lot of progress.
A big thanks to Jon for taking some time to talk with us today. Don't forget to check out the questions I answered for him as well.