Kickoff is 6:30 at Memorial Stadium with the game televised on FSN.
"Kansas State is obviously a big game," first-year KU coach Turner Gill
said. "Every game is a big game, but the in-state deal, you want to
have the bragging rights from the players' perspective. From the fans'
perspective you want that, too. This is a rivalry that is going to go
on for a long, long time. It's a special rivalry. This is my
introduction into it. I think I will get a better sense of it as we
play this first ball game."
With a bye week, Kansas (2-3, 0-1 Big 12) has had two weeks to prepare
for K-State (4-1, 1-1). Gill said he saw "good progress," and focus
from his team. He added that the Jayhawks were "very intense" in
practice and "ready for detail."
KU will certainly need to be intense tonight while facing a quality
K-State team. After winning their first four games, the Wildcats are
coming off a 48-13 loss to Nebraska last Thursday. KSU has beaten UCLA,
Missouri State, Iowa State, and Central Florida.
K-State features a high-powered running game; the Wildcats rank No. 2
in the Big 12 in rushing offense with 208.8 yards per game. They're led
by senior running Daniel Thomas, an All-American candidate who ranks
fifth in the nation in total rushing yards by a running back with 691,
while his 138.2 yards per game average ranks seventh nationally overall
and fifth among running backs.
Senior running back William Powell complements Thomas nicely, averaging
9.6 yards per carry and ranking eighth nationally in kickoff returns.
Defensively, head coach Bill Snyder's Wildcats are paced by sophomore
defensive end Brandon Harold, junior linebacker Alex Hrebec, and senior
defensive back Terrance Sweeney. Harold's 20 solo tackles lead the Big
12 among defensive linemen, while Hrebec ranks third in the conference
in tackles with 49 and Sweeney's eight passes defended rank fifth in
the country. Sweeney also has two interceptions and a forced fumble.
"They are very sound on defense," Gill said. "Historically they have
always played defense very, very well. They really do not make a whole
lot of mistakes. They do a lot of good things technique-wise."
Offensively, Gills knows containing Thomas will be a huge key to KU's
"You are not going to stop their running game, but you have to slow it
down," Gill said. "Daniel Thomas is a great running back and he does a
lot of great things. He pounds people, he has pretty good speed."
Gill stressed KU must create at least three turnovers, have one or less
turnover, have 10 or less missed tackles, score 28-plus points, and
have 80 knockdowns, where a KU offensive player puts a defender down.
"We need to be knocking people down and putting them on their backs,"
Gill said. "We must play physical and we must play with confidence."
The players talked confidently Tuesday about facing K-State. They can't
wait for the Sunflower Showdown. The Jayhawks know a win will be a huge
momentum booster after losing to Baylor two weeks ago.
"We don't want to go 0-2 in the Big 12," junior receiver Daymond Patterson said. "We need to get this win against an in-state rival, so
this is a very big (game) for us."
Suffice to say, the Jayhawks and Wildcats don't like each other too
much. Just ask the 20 KU players from the state of Kansas and even
others from outside, like junior tight end Tim Biere from Omaha,
"There is no love lost between these two teams," Biere said.
Patterson said the bye-week was very helpful in cleaning up penalties
and mistakes from the Baylor game. KU had six penalties while also
losing two fumbles and throwing two interceptions against the Bears.
"We made a lot of mistakes down in Waco," Patterson said. "We had a lot
of penalties; that will be the biggest thing, just to make sure we
improve our technique. We need to make sure we're flying around the
KU has won three of the last four meetings against KSU with the
Wildcats winning last year, 17-10, in Manhattan. The Jayhawks, who have
won the last three home games, now look to start another winning streak
over their rivals and prove a major point this evening under the lights
at Memorial Stadium on national television.
"We want to show that we are the best team in the state of Kansas,"
sophomore safety Lubbock Smith said.
Hungry Jayhawks Eye Sunflower Showdown Win
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