Kansas football vs. Kansas State Preview: The Sunflower Showdown

(Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images) /

Kansas football is set to square off against in-state rival #22 Kansas State in the annual Sunflower Showdown. The game has been largely irrelevant for the past few seasons, but this year, it matters.

Last Week: Kansas football vs. Texas Tech

Last Saturday, Kansas football got its first Big 12 win of the season in a thriller against Texas Tech. The offense looked incredible, racking up over 500 total yards for the second week in a row. The defense struggled at times, but they did give the offense a chance to go win the game. The Jayhawks’ biggest Achilles heel right now is special teams, specifically the kicking game.

Kansas has missed four field goals or PATs in their past two games, and that is a trend that cannot be allowed to continue. It cost Kansas football a road win against Texas and put the Jayhawks in a tough situation against Texas Tech last week.

Despite the problems on special teams, the Kansas offense is firing on all cylinders. Quarterback Carter Stanley threw for 415 yards and three touchdowns, while also scoring one on the ground. The Red Raiders couldn’t find an answer for receiver Stephon Robinson, who had six receptions for 186 yards and two touchdowns.

The Kansas run-game struggled, only picking up 112 yards on the day. The Jayhawks will need Pooka Williams this season without a doubt, but the good thing is that Kansas doesn’t have to rely on its run-game like in previous years. Similar to last Saturday, Kansas may have to rely on its passing game to beat Kansas State.

READ MORE: Three takeaways from Jayhawks’ first Big 12 win

Last Week: Kansas State vs. #5 Oklahoma

Last week, Kansas State upset then #5 Oklahoma 41-48 in Manhattan. It’s the biggest win of the season for the Wildcats, and it probably knocked the Sooners out of the College Football Playoff picture. How did they do it?

There’s one stat in particular that really jumps off the page, and its the time of possession. The Wildcats possessed the ball for 38 minutes and eight seconds compared to Oklahoma’s 21 minutes and 52 seconds. No matter how good your offense is, it’s an extreme disadvantage to only control the ball for a third of the game.

Kansas State quarterback Skylar Thompson was 18-28 for 213 yards and no touchdowns or interceptions; however, Thompson did rush for 39 yards and four touchdowns on the day. Running back James Gilbert led the Wildcats ground game with 13 carries and 105 rushing yards, he also picked up a touchdown.

Taking nothing away from the Wildcat’s victory, the Sooners shot themselves in the foot more than a few times against Kansas State. Oklahoma committed two turnovers, one on a pass that was thrown by a wide receiver, and another on a muffed kickoff.

This Week

Since the line opened at Kansas State -6.5, the odds have shifted in favor of Kansas. The current line is Kansas State -5.5 with odds courtesy of The Action Network.

A lot of what happens this week will depend on whether or not the Kansas defense can get stops. Keeping the Kansas State offense from dominating the time of possession is critical to the Jayhawks’ success this Saturday. The offense has proven that it can consistently score, so Kansas has to be able to rely on its defense to hold the Wildcats in check.

The Kansas offense under Brent Dearmon has been nothing less than impressive. In the past two games, the Jayhawks have totaled over 500 yards of total offense, and quarterback Carter Stanley looks right at home. It’s really a shame that Stanely is just now getting a chance to shine in his senior year.

Notable Injuries/Suspensions

There’s been no word on linebacker Dru Prox, so the assumption is that he will once again be out this week.

Kansas State’s Eric Gallon is out for the season after sustaining a knee injury last week, while running back Jordon Brown is listed as questionable after leaving last week’s game with a leg injury.


Kansas football has made huge strides on offense in the past two weeks, and there’s no reason to think that this week will be any different. The main concern will be if the Jayhawk defense can keep Kansas State from sustaining long drives. If the game becomes a shootout, the advantage is Kansas State’s, since they can dominate the time of possession as they did against Oklahoma.

If Kansas can win the turnover battle, have sound special teams, and limit the Wildcats’ time of possession, there’s no reason to think that Kansas can’t get the win.

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The Sunflower Showdown will be a good one this season. It’s set to kickoff at 2:30 in Lawrence and be broadcast on FS1. Kansas State won an exciting game last season in Manhattan 21-17, and this year, Kansas football will try to snap their losing streak. If there’s any team that can do it, it’s got to be this one.

Prediction: 37-31 Kansas