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Kansas State vs Kansas, The Sunflower Showdown

The Wildcats are fighting for bowl eligibility, while Kansas is looking for their first Big 12 win. It’s the longest running rivalry in the Big 12, here’s our preview and prediction.



Getty Images - Peter G Aiken

The Kansas Jayhawks will be hosting the Kansas State Wildcats in the Sunflower Showdown this Saturday. After conference realignment discontinued the Lone Star Showdown and Border War, this rivalry is now the oldest in the Big 12. The Jayhawks lead the all-time series 65 to 44, but the Wildcats have won eight straight.

Kansas enters this matchup at 1-6 overall, and winless in the conference. The Jayhawks have taken a step back, but a rivalry win could spark some momentum.

Meanwhile, Kansas State is having a disappointing year of their own after having high expectations throughout preseason. With a tough remaining schedule, the Wildcats need to secure a win on Saturday if they want any chance to become bowl eligible.

LOCATION: Memorial Stadium (Lawrence, KS)
FORECAST: Sunny, High 40s
TV:  FS1
STREAM: FoxSportsGo

Kansas State (3-4, 1-3)

Kansas State entered the season as a legitimate contender for the Big 12 title. Now that a Big 12 championship appearance is off the table, the Wildcats need to pick themselves up and shift their focus on becoming bowl eligible.

Perhaps losing Jesse Ertz for these games played a factor in the outcomes, but the Wildcats were still competitive in all of these losses.

Bill Snyder is anticipating QB Jesse Ertz to be ready to roll Saturday. This is good news for the Wildcats; although Alex Delton filled in well for Ertz, this Kansas State team is at its best with senior leader Jesse Ertz at the helm.

The Kansas State defense had a tough time stopping Baker Mayfield last week, but no one has been able to slow down the Heisman candidate all year. The Wildcats pride themselves on their defense, and they will make life difficult for Peyton Bender and the Jayhawk offense this Saturday. Look for Jayd Kirby and Denzel Goolsby to have big days Saturday.

Bill Snyder is 20-1 in the Sunflower Showdown as the Kansas State head coach. He will have his Wildcats ready to roll come game time.

Kansas (1-6, 0-4)

The Jayhawks have to be excited that college basketball season is just about here. This football season has been another disappointment for the Jayhawks. Entering the year, Kansas looked as if they were ready to turn the corner after capturing their marquee win against Texas.

The Jayhawks had recruiting momentum, the number one JUCO running back Octavius Matthews coming in, and former TCU offensive coordinator now calling the plays for Kansas. That momentum died quickly. Matthews was sadly diagnosed with a rare heart condition meaning he probably won’t play football again. De-commitments have plagued this once promising recruiting class for the Jayhawks. On top of this, the Kansas offense set a record for fewest yards in a game in Big 12 history last week.

The Jayhawks come into this matchup in a bad place, and on paper this game should be over by halftime. However, this is a rivalry game and as we all know anything can happen.

Junior DE Dorance Armstrong has been one of the few bright spots of Kansas this year. The NFL prospect has racked up 43 tackles on the year and although his stock has gone down this year, he is still the Jayhawks best player.

Keys to the game (Kansas State)

Get Jesse Ertz Going – The Wildcat Quarterback has not seen game action since the Texas game three weeks ago. Ertz will need to knock off some rust early on. His receivers and offensive line will need to elevate their performance to get Ertz in an early rhythm.

Win The Line of Scrimmage – Kansas State has one of the best defensive lines in the Big 12. They will need to disrupt the Jayhawk offense if they want to walk away with a comfortable win. On the other side of the ball, the K State offensive line will need to protect Ertz and establish a solid ground game.

Don’t Play Down to The Competition – Kansas State cannot afford to play a sloppy game. Being a rivalry game, Kansas will give the Wildcats their best shot. If Kansas State plays a clean game, they should be able to win big.

Keys to the Game (Kansas)

Feed Steven Sims – In Kansas’ only win of the season, Sims had 142 yards receiving and two touchdowns. Last week, Sims only touched the ball three times and the result was the worst offensive output in Big 12 history. Sims is the Jayhawks best weapon offensively and he will need to be involved if Kansas wants to pull of the upset.

Create Pressure – Jesse Ertz hasn’t seen game action in three weeks. The Jayhawk front seven will need to pressure Ertz and force him into uncomfortable situations. Look for Dorance Armstrong to lay the wood on Ertz in an effort to rattle him. If Ertz is uncomfortable, Kansas will have a shot.

Play Mad – Last week Kansas got embarrassed on national television. Now, they have a rival coming to town this week. Kansas will need to play with a chip on their shoulder and feed off of the intensity of this rivalry. Rivalry games tend to bring the best out of teams, and if Kansas plays their best game they will be able to make this matchup competitive.

Game Prediction

Kansas State is favored by 24 and I would take the over. Kansas State is a much better team than Kansas and I don’t expect Bill Snyder to allow his team to turn in a sloppy performance against their rivals. Jesse Ertz and Kansas State will dominate this game.

Kansas State 45 Kansas 10