Jayhawks Square Off Against the Wildcats

Kansas and Kansas State first met in football in 1902 with the Wildcats winning 16-0. The teams have played every year since and the Sunflower Showdown is the 13th most-played rivalry in the country at 108 meetings.

Now on Saturday in Lawrence, KU (2-4) and No. 12 KSU (6-0) will battle again at 11 a.m. on Fox Sports Net.

K-State will try to keep its unbeaten streak alive after its latest 41-34 victory at Texas Tech last Saturday, while KU will look to erase a four-game losing streak after falling to Oklahoma on Oct. 15, 47-17.

While KU gained just one first down and six yards during the second half against the Sooners and allowed 610 yards, there were some positive signs last Saturday. The Jayhawks competed, they played physical, their defense played great in the red zone, and they forced three turnovers.

KU, which was tied with the Sooners at 10-all with just over 11 minutes left in the first half, will now look to keep the momentum going and improve against KSU.

"I think we can build from last week's game and continue to have confidence and belief in what we can get accomplished for this last half of the season," KU coach Turner Gill said. "I expect our guys to do that."

It won't be easy battling the surging Wildcats, who boast a strong defense and rushing offense. KSU ranks No. 25 nationally in rushing offense, No. 16 in rushing defense, No. 21 in scoring defense, and No. 11 in turnover margin.

K-State's offensive attack is led by junior quarterback Collin Klein, who's rushed for a team-high 578 yards and 10 touchdowns, while sophomore running back John Hubert is also a running threat with 545 yards on 5.2 yards per carry.

Defensively, the Cats are paced by junior linebacker Arthur Brown (team-high 45 tackles and No. 3 on team with 4.5 TFLs) and junior defensive back Nigel Malone (team-high four interceptions and 27 tackles). Brown is one of the top linebackers in the country who became the first player this season to intercept Baylor's Heisman Trophy candidate Robert Griffin III, while breaking a string of 100 pass attempts by Griffin III without an interception.

Gill has high praise for coach Bill Snyder's Wildcats, especially Klein and Brown.

"(Klein) can run," Gill said. "He's big and strong. He's probably faster than what you'd think to look at him. It doesn't look like he's moving, but he's moving. He's also powerful. He can run over you and he can do a lot of good things. You've got to stop the run first. That's what they do."

About Brown?

"(He's an) outstanding player," Gill said. "He definitely can make a lot of plays. He can go from sideline to sideline. He does a great job of shedding blocks and making good tackles."

Gill said a big key in the game will be turnovers.

"I think the one thing that stands out is that they have caused turnovers," Gill said. "I think 10 of them have been interceptions. We have to make sure we take care of the ball. We have got to win that battle (turnovers) so we can give ourselves a great chance to be successful in this game. I know our guys will be ready to play and play physical and we just have to out-execute them as far as the game plan."

If KU can limit K-State's potent run game, the Jayhawks could have a chance at an upset. The Wildcats rank just No. 114 nationally in passing offense, and also only No. 93 in passing defense.

The KU players are feeling confident and energized heading into the 109th meeting of the Sunflower Showdown.

"It's K-State week," junior safety Bradley McDougald said. "It gets its own week name. It's got a special feel to it. Of course, we have Mizzou at the end of the year, but this is a great midseason game. It's the next step because we had first game week, and then Big 12 week and now it's K-State week. Everybody's intensity has to rise up this week."

While outsiders don't give KU much of a chance during its remaining games, senior linebacker Steven Johnson has a gut instinct the Jayhawks are about to turn the season around.

"I have a feeling we can win the rest of our games," Johnson said. "That's just the feeling in my heart. ... I have no doubt you'll see us in a bowl game."

Phog.net Top Stories