Fox Sports Net will be on hand to telecast the game, marking the first time since 1998 that the rivalry will be televised as part of the standard Big 12 package. The game is also K-State's third TV appearance of the season.
For those not near a television set, the game will also air live on radio across the 32-station K-State Sports Network. Wyatt Thompson (play-by-play) and former Wildcat quarterback Stan Weber (analyst) will call the action, with Matt Walters providing sideline updates.
A Quick Look at the Wildcats
Coming off its first loss of the season, Kansas State will need to regroup quickly as it prepares to meet Kansas in the annual Sunflower Showdown. The Wildcats opened the season with its running game hitting on all cylinders, but ran into tough sledding last week at Oklahoma. After rushing for over 200 yards in each of its first three games, K-State netted just 22 yards vs. the Sooners. Still, the Cats are averaging 195.3 yards per game, good for 25th in the country and fourth in the Big 12. And while the running game faltered at OU, the Cats' aerial assault picked up steam. Quarterbacks Allen Webb and Allan Evridge have combined for over 200 passing yards in each of the last two games, with Webb connecting on two touchdowns in all four outings this season. As a result, Kansas State ranks 38th in the country in total offense this week, averaging 411.8 ypg.
On defense, the Wildcats rank 17th on this week's NCAA total defense chart, yielding 276.0 yards per game. With a pass efficiency defense rating of 15, K-State has been solid vs. the pass. The Cats have also held 3-of-4 opponents under 100 yards on the ground. On the scoring front, Kansas State's defense has been put in plenty of tough spots, with opponents needing to travel less than 50 yards on 8-of-13 scoring drives, with two others requiring no drive at all.
More TV time for Cats
Kansas State will make its third television appearance of the season and its second in as many weeks when Kansas invades KSU Stadium for the 103rd edition of the Sunflower State Showdown. The telecast will be the first of the season at home for the Wildcats, who are 1-1 in TV games this year with a win at Marshall on ESPN2 and a loss at Oklahoma on Fox Sports Net. Saturday's game will be the Wildcats' 88th television appearance all-time. Of the previous 87 appearances, 80 (92 percent) have come during the 17-year tenure of current head coach Bill Snyder. Overall, K-State is 47-33 on the tube under Snyder.
Showdown Nets Rare Tube Time
The Sunflower State Showdown will be televised as part of the Big 12's regular broadcast package for the first time in seven years Saturday, when Kansas State and Kansas renew their historic rivalry. Fox Sports Net's telecast of the game marks the first time since the network aired the 1998 game that the rivalry will be televised on a non-pay-per-view basis. The 2001 game was cablecast across the state via pay-per-view. Overall, Saturday's telecast of the Sunflower Showdown will mark just the sixth time in 103 meetings that the Kansas State-Kansas game will be televised as part of traditional network programming. All time, Kansas State is 4-1 when facing Kansas in front of the cameras.
Cats, Hawks Long-time rivals
The Sunflower State Showdown may not receive as much publicity as many of the nation's other top rivalries, but it certainly has stood the test of time. The Wildcats and Jayhawks will do battle for the 103rd time this Saturday. According to the 2005 NCAA record books, the 103 meetings will tie the Showdown as the 13th most-played rivalry in the country. The series dates to 1902 and as one of the most continuously-played rivalries in the nation has been played every year since.
Kansas State and Kansas also play annually for The Governor's Trophy. The "trophy" game was initiated in 1969 by Gov. Robert Docking. The trophy is presented to the winning team and coaches in the winner's dressing room immediately following each year's game by the Governor of Kansas.
Cooking at home
After opening Big 12 action with back-to-back road games in both 2003 and 2004, Kansas State will play its second conference game of the year at home for the first time since 2002 Saturday, when the Wildcats square off the Jayhawks at KSU Stadium. And Big 12 home openers have traditionally been successful affairs for K-State. Since 1996, the Wildcats are 6-3 in their first Big 12 home game of the year. Kansas State was a perfect 4-0 in home conference debuts during the first four years of the Big 12 before dropping home league lid-lifters in 2000 and 2001. The Wildcats snapped the brief two-game slide in 2002 with a 44-9 victory over Oklahoma State, then notched a 49-20 win over Colorado to make it two in a row before letting a third-quarter lead slip away vs. then No. 2-Oklahoma in last year's Big 12 home debut. The only previous time during the Big 12 era that the Jayhawks have served as K-State's home league-opening foe occurred in 1999, when the Wildcats rolled to a 50-9 victory.
Kansas State is 2-0 on the season at home and continues to pile up the wins at KSU Stadium under Head Coach Bill Snyder. In all games since the start of the 1990 season (Snyder's second in Manhattan), Kansas State is an amazing 85-14-1 (.855) when playing on Wagner Field, including a 42-9-1 (.817) mark in league games (combined Big 8/Big 12). During that stretch, the Wildcats have lost more than once at home in just two seasons - 2001, when K-State went 4-2, and 2004, when the Cats were 3-4. During the Snyder era, K-State has hit the six win mark eight times in the last 12 seasons. Kansas State set the school record for home victories in a season with seven four times, doing so as recently as 2003.
Kings of the north
No Big 12 North team has won more inter-division games in the leagues' North Division than Kansas State. Heading into their 2005 Big 12 North opener vs. Kansas, the Wildcats are 34-11 vs. division opponents since 1996. Three times K-State has run the table vs. its northern brethren, posting perfect 5-0 marks in 1998, 2000 and 2003. Three other seasons the Cats have won at least four games. The only season Kansas State has had a losing record occurred during last year's 2-3 run vs. the north.
K-State Among the Big 12's Best
As the Big 12 begins closing the books on the league's first decade, few teams can claim to have fared better in conference play than Kansas State. With four North Division titles, three championship game appearances, a league title and 51 wins, the Wildcats have plenty to be proud of. In terms of overall success, only Texas, Oklahoma and Nebraska have laid claim to more conference victories than K-State, which has won over 70 percent of its league games since joining the Big 12.
A big part of the Wildcats's success has been K-State's ability to win on the road. Since the inception of the Big 12, Kansas State has been the conference's top road team (not including neutral site games), winning nearly 65 percent of its games in enemy stadiums. In nine-plus years, the Wildcats are 23-13 when playing on the Big 12 road, winning at least one Big 12 road game each season.
More Showdown Series Stuff
The Wildcats and Jayhawks are meeting in the fifth game of the season for the second straight year... Kansas won for the first time in 12 tries last year, defeating the Wildcats 31-28 in Lawrence... The three-point win was KU's first over K-State since 1992 and the first time a game in the series had been decided by single digits since a 21-13 Kansas State victory in 1994... The Wildcats have won seven straight games between the two teams in Manhattan, outscoring the Jayhawks by an average of 26 points... Kansas has not held K-State below 40 points in KSU Stadium since 1993... During the Wildcats series-long 11-game winning streak, K-State outscored KU by an average score of 42-9... Kansas State has played a total of 11 times on Oct. 8th, but never before vs. Kansas... K-State head coach Bill Snyder is 12-4 all time against the Jayhawks... KU head coach mark Mangino is 1-2 in his three meeting with the Wildcats.
The coaching staffs at Kansas State and Kansas share many connections. In fact, four current members of the Jayhawks' staff served stints at Kansas State.
• KU head coach Mark Mangino was a member of Bill Snyder's staff from 1991-98, serving first as the program's recruiting coordinator before taking over as the Wildcats' running backs coach and ultimately as assistant head coach in 1998.
• Kansas associate head coach/offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Nick Quartaro was a member of Snyder's initial staff and worked at K-State from 1989-93 as the program's associate head coach/tight ends coach.
• Other staff connections include KU wide receivers coach Tim Beck, who was K-State's graduate assistant in 1991-92 and the Jayhawks' director of football operations George Matsakis, who worked in the K-State video department from 1993-96.
Rise and Shine
This week's 11:10 kickoff vs. Kansas will be Kansas State's second pre-noon start of the season. Still, the early kick time may feel luxurious to the Wildcats, whose 10:30 a.m. (EDT)/9:30 a.m. (CDT) start at Marshall on Sept. 10 was the earliest television appearance for the Wildcats in their home time zone. Overall, the Wildcats have played in 27 games that have started before noon, posting a 16-11 record in a.m. kicks. In the Bill Snyder era, the Wildcats are 16-10 and 1-0 this season in pre-noon starts, but just 2-5 over the past two-plus campaigns.
K-State looks to get rolling again
After rolling through non-conference play to produce its first undefeated non-league start since 2002, Kansas State hit a bump in the road last week at Oklahoma. The Wildcats outscored their non-league foes by an average margin of 110-47, but critical mistakes vs. the Sooners had K-State on it heels all night. The loss was the fifth straight setback in a Big 12 opener for Kansas State, which hasn't opened conference play at home since 1998. A win vs. the Jayhawks Saturday, however, would move K-State to 4-1 as the season approaches its mid-point and mark the 11th time since the start of the 1993 season (last 13 years) that the Wildcats have opened a season with at least four wins in their first five games.
Cats out to avoid dreaded 0-2 Big 12 start
Starting out 0-2 in Big 12 Conference play hasn't overly-hindered Kansas State's postseason possibilities through the years (K-State opened 0-2 during its 2003 Big 12 Championship season). However, it has been a pesky recent trend the Wildcats would just as soon dispense of. Since the start of the 2001 campaign, Kansas State has opened league action with two losses three times (2001, 2003 and 2004), and a loss to the Jayhawks would be the Wildcats' fourth 0-2 start in the last five years. K-State lost to Oklahoma and Colorado to open its 2001 Big 12 slate before debuting with back-to-back road setbacks at Texas and Oklahoma State in 2003. Last year, K-State opened league play with road losses at Texas A&M and Kansas. Other than those three seasons, the Wildcats have opened conference play 0-2 just one other time under Bill Snyder since 1990. That occurred during the 1992 season, when K-State dropped its first two Big Eight games en route to a 5-6 record. Since that season, K-State has either started 2-0 (four times) or 1-1 (five times) in 9-of-12 years.
Kansas State has made a habit of bouncing back from losses under head coach Bill Snyder. Since the start of the 1995 season, K-State is 18-8 (.692) when coming off a loss. Three of those eight setbacks occurred during the 2001 season, with two coming during the 2003 campaign. Last year, the Wildcats were 3-3 in the games following a loss, producing bounce-back wins vs. Louisiana-Lafayette, Nebraska and Missouri.
Kansas State's prowess in August - 6-0 all time - and September - 42-3 since 1992 - are well documented. However, the Wildcats have also been a solid team in October under head coach Bill Snyder. Since the inception of the Big 12 Conference, K-State is 23-16 (.590) in October.
Kansas State extended its consecutive games scoring streak to 108 at Oklahoma. The 108-game stretch is a school record and the 12th longest in the nation as the Wildcats have not been kept off the scoreboard since Colorado blanked K-State, 12-0, in 1996. The previous longest streak in school history of 60 games also took place during the Bill Snyder era at Kansas State and occurred between 1991 and 1996. In the Big 12, only Colorado (200 games - sixth longest in the country) and Nebraska (115 games) own longer streaks than the Wildcats.
Kansas State extended its streak of scoring at least 21 points to 23 games in its 43-21 loss at Oklahoma. The Wildcats have now scored 20 or more points in 36 straight contests. The last time Kansas State was held below 20 points occurred in a 17-14 loss to then-No. 13 Texas on Oct. 19, 2002 at KSU Stadium. The Wildcats's 36-game streak of scoring 20 or more points in a game is currently the second longest in the country. Only defending national champion Southern California has strung together more consecutive 20-plus point outings as the Trojans are currently in the midst of a 43-game run.
Fast Starts Key for Cats
Scoring first is nice, but leading after the first quarter has been the big key for Kansas State this season. The Wildcats have only scored first in two of four games this year, however K-State has lead after the first quarter in all three victories this season. In fact, Kansas State has not trailed after the first 15 minutes in any of its three wins. At Oklahoma last week, the Sooners led 9-0 after the first period as K-State was never able to threaten for the lead.
K-State Passing Game Beginning to Heat Up
Kansas State has begun to turn up the heat in the passing game over the past two week behind quarterbacks Allen Webb and Allan Evridge. Heading into the North Texas game, the Wildcats ranked 103rd in the nation in passing. Since then, Webb and Evridge have combined to complete 29 of 51 attempts for 579 yards and four scores, for an average of just under 300 yards per game. Kansas State averaged just 143.5 yards per game through the air in its first two outings of the season.
Rushing to victory
Annually one of the most productive ground attacks in the country, Kansas State is one of just two teams along with Rice to rank in the top 25 nationally in rushing offense in each of the last eight years. And K-State appears to be at it again. The Wildcats enter the week averaging just under 200 yards per game on the ground (195.2) to rank 25th in nation. At their current rate, K-State is on pace to rush for just over 2,100 yards this season. That figure would mark the ninth straight season that the Cats have rushed for over 2,000 yards.
With its 305 yards on the ground vs. North Texas, Kansas State has now topped 200 yards rushing in six of its last nine games. K-State's 305-yard performance vs. North Texas was the first time the Cats have gone over the 300-yard mark since rushing for 393 in game three last season vs. Louisiana-Lafayette. In their last 35 games, the Wildcats have gone over the 200-yard mark on the ground 23 times (65.7 percent). And when K-State has been able to run the ball, the Wildcats have been overwhelmingly successful. Since 1990, K-State is 79-12 (.867) with a 100-yard rusher and an impressive 76-5 (.938) with at least 200 yards on the ground.
Kansas State rolled up 658 yards last week vs. North Texas to set the school record for total offensive yards in a game. It marked the first time K-State had been over the 500-yard mark since grinding out 502 in last year's season opener. The last time K-State totaled over 600 yards occurred during the 1998 campaign, when the Wildcats totaled 607 vs. NE Louisiana (now Louisiana-Monroe). The previous school record for total offense was set on Sept. 27, 1997, when Kansas State amassed 638 yards in a 58-0 win over Bowling Green.
Despite being put in a number of tough spots so far this season, Kansas State appears to be getting improved play from its defense. Through four games, the Wildcats rank 17th nationally and third in the Big 12 in total defense after yielding an average of 276.0 yards per game. and though K-State has held three of its first four opponents below 100 yards rushing this season, the Cats have been especially tough vs. the pass. Kansas State enters the week ranked 13th in the country in pass defense, giving up an average of 157.3 yards per game.
In addition to playing with improved spirit, Kansas State's defense has begun showing some moxie with their backs against the wall. Against Florida International, the Wildcats' defense thwarted three scoring chances, coming up with a fumble, an interception and a stop on downs inside their own 30-yard line. At Marshall, the K-State defense was even more impressive, forcing two fumbles, an interception, blocking a field goal and forcing two other attempts for a total of just six points on six drives that ended inside the Wildcat 30. In its most recent outing, the Wildcats allowed North Texas to cross midfield on only two of 13 drives.
Backs against the wall
Kansas State's defense ranks 46th nationally in scoring defense, yielding an average of 22.5 points per game. However, the unit has actually played much better than that. Of the 90 points the Wildcats have given up this year, 40 (or 10.0 points per game) have come as a direct result of five turnovers inside the K-State 35-yard line, a blocked punt and a safety, meaning that opponents have need to drive a grand total of 74 yards to score nearly half of their points. Against Oklahoma, the Sooners also returned two punts inside the K-State 35-yard line, claiming 10 more points as a result of short fields. Overall, 8-of-13 opponent scoring drives have traveled less than 50 yards, with two others requiring no drive at all.
Kansas State continues to be the nation's most efficient team on third downs on both sides of the ball. K-State is the only team in the country to rank in the top six nationally in both third down offensive and defensive conversions. The Wildcats offense is converting at a 57-percent clip, including third-and-goal situations, to rank No. 2 in the nation. On defense, K-State has allowed its opponents to convert on just 26 percent of their third down, good for second nationally. A big reason for the defensive success has been K-State's ability to force third-and-long situations. Through four games, opponents have needed to travel at least seven yards on 37 of 55 third downs 67 percent).
Third Down Go-To-Guys
Kansas State has converted 37 of its 65 (57 percent) third downs this season and has gone to numerous offensive weapons for the conversions. Jordy Nelson has converted six third-down plays to lead the team followed by Allen Webb, who has called his own number five times. Thomas Clayton, Parrish Fisher and Jermaine Moreira have each converted four third downs and round out K-State's top five.
Clayton AMong Nation's Top Backs
Perhaps no Wildcat had bigger shoes to fill coming into 2005 than Thomas Clayton, as the junior attempted to fill the void at running back left by the departure of Kansas State's all-time leading rusher Darren Sproles. But those shoes appear to be fitting just fine through the first four games of the year. Clayton has rolled up 337 yards in three games, a 112.3 average, which ranks 14th nationally and tops in the Big 12. Clayton rushed for over 150 yards in each of the first two games and was the first K-State player to do so since Josh Scobey did it during the 2001 campaign.
Allen Webb has consistently put up solid numbers through the first four games of the season. Through four games, the junior signal caller has completed 58.8-percent of his passes and has accumulated a 151.6 quarterback rating, which ranks 20th nationally. In fact, after completing 10-of-12 passes for a career-high 256 yards against North Texas, Webb set a school record for efficiency in a game with a efficiency rating of 300.9, shattering the previous record of 274.2 set back in 1997 by Michael Bishop against Northern Illinois. Webb also has thrown two touchdown passes in each of the first four games of the season, marking the first time for a K-State quarterback to do so since Matt Miller did it back in 1995. Webb, with 720 yards, has already thrown for nearly 200 more yards than he did so all of last year and also has tossed three times as many touchdowns (8).
Nelson Becoming "Go-To" Receiver
After toiling in the Kansas State secondary for the past two seasons, sophomore Jordy Nelson has taken to his new role in the Wildcats' receiving corps like a fish to water. In four games, Nelson has hauled in a team-high 14 receptions for 249 yards (62.2 ypg) and a team-best four touchdowns. His 62.2 yards per game is fifth-best in the Big 12. Nelson has caught a touchdown reception in each of the first four games this season, marking the first receiver to do so since Kevin Lockett back in 1995. Nelson had a career-best 107 yards receiving at Oklahoma, marking the first time a Wildcat receiver topped 100 yards since Jermaine Moreira's 112 last year at Colorado.
High Rate of Returns
Coming off an impressive stretch run in 2004, junior Jermaine Moreira has ignited the Kansas State special teams unit with his returns. Through four games, Moreira ranks 26th nationally and fifth in the Big 12 in punt returns with his 12.3 average. After producing a 67-yard punt return vs. Florida International, Moreira put his kick return abilities on display at Marshall, with three for 92 yards, including a 42-yarder that nearly went the distance. He then took one to the house against North Texas, a 62-yarder in which he dodged several defenders before breaking loose down the sidelines. He also had a 99-yard kickoff return for a touchdown called back due to a penalty at Marshall.
Fisher Closing in On Freshman Rushing mark
Redshirt freshman tailback Parrish Fisher, who has averaged 6.9 yards a carry in four games, made his first career two weeks against North Texas and became the first freshman tailback to start for the Wildcats in the Bill Snyder era. Fisher carried 21 times for 169 yards against the Mean Green, becoming the first freshman ever at K-State to rush for over 100 yards in a game. Fisher also set a freshman record with 21 carries and is currently second all-time in single-season rushing by a freshman with 260 yards. Fisher needs 45 yards to become K-State's all-time freshman rushing leader as Roosevelt Duncan currently is tops with 304 yards back in 1976.
Spreading the Wealth
Through four games in 2005, quarterbacks Allen Webb and Allan Evridge have spread the ball around and found numerous targets through the air as 13 different receivers have caught passes so far this season. Against North Texas, 11 different Wildcats made receptions, including first career catches by Parrish Fisher, Ro Grigsby, Casey Hausman, Toney Coleman and Brett Alstatt. Rashaad Norwood caught his first two passes of the season at Oklahoma, including an 11-yarder for a touchdown. Jordy Nelson leads the receivers with 14 catches and four touchdowns so far during the 2005 season.
Junior linebacker Zach Diles has eased his way into the rotation at linebacker for the Wildcat defense, capped by a breakout game last weekend at Oklahoma. After notching seven tackles in his first three games, Diles broke out with a game-high 11-tackle performance at Oklahoma to lead the Wildcats. Diles is currently fourth on the team in tackles and is third among linebackers behind Brandon Archer and Maurice Mack without ever starting a game.
Archer on Target to Lead Defense
Junior captain Brandon Archer heads into the Sunflower Showdown leading the Wildcat defense with 25 total tackles, including six for a loss of 19 yards. He opened the season with a team-best five tackles, including one for a loss of a yard, in the season opener against Florida International then continued his steady play at Marshall with eight stops and a fumble recovery. Through the Oklahoma game, Archer has recorded five or more tackles in 10 of his last 11 games dating back to last season. In those 10 games, Archer led the Wildcat defense in tackles three times and has also collected 10 or more stops on three occasions.
Justin The Nick of Time
Sophomore Justin McKinney is evolving into quite a player in the secondary early in his Wildcat career as he has come up with numerous big plays at crucial times. Through four games, McKinney, a reserve corner, is second in the Big 12 in passes defended with four pass breakups and two interceptions for a 1.5 passes defended average and has also totalled 11 tackles. In week two, he finished the game at Marshall with just three total tackles, but forced a key fumble on a kickoff return during the first half that led to a K-State touchdown drive. His lone assisted tackle on the day also resulted in a Marshall fumble near the K-State goal line, though Marcus Watts was given credit for the force. Playing in just his second Division I-A game, the sophomore put an exclamation point on his performance by recording a pair of interceptions, with the last one coming at the Wildcat 12-yard line with just three seconds to play as the Thundering Herd was driving for a potential game-winning field goal.
Snodgrass One leg Up
Junior place-kicker showed signs of his strong right leg by kicking a 56-yard field goal in the spring game. Now, during the regular season, Snodgrass is 4-for-6 on the year in field goals with his makes coming from 31, 33, 39 and 57 yards. Against North Texas, Snodgrass booted a 57-yarder, which tied Jamie Rheem for the fourth-longest in school history. Rheem kicked a 57-yarder back in 1999. Snodgrass' 57-yard boot is also the third longest so far this season nationally and the second longest in the Big 12. The junior is also a perfect 12-of-12 in extra points so far this season.
The start of the 2005 season saw numerous players not only switch positions but also making the transition to the other side of the ball. Marcus Watts switched from wide receiver to safety, Jordy Nelson from mainly a special teams player to wide receiver, fullback Ayo Saba from fullback to nose tackle and Jordan Bedore, who made his first career start at Oklahoma, from defensive line to offensive line. Against North Texas, Watts saw time on both sides of the ball at safety and wide receiver while reserve nose tackle Ayo Saba carried the ball three times for 10 yards and a touchdown.
Clary Anchors Young O-Line
Senior offensive lineman Jeromey Clary is the anchor to a very young K-State offensive line in 2005. The All-Big 12 candidate has made 30 consecutive starts on the line for the Wildcats, the first 26 at right tackle before moving to left tackle this season. Clary has anchored a line that is very talented but also very young and inexperienced. Of the seven different offensive linemen that have made starts this season, six did so for the first time in 2005. John Hafferty, Caleb Handy, Chris Wofford, Jacob Voegeli, Jordan Bedore and Matt Boss have all made their first career starts this season and K-State has used a different line combination in three of four games.