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#22 Kansas State Wildcats (5-2 Overall, 2-2 in Big 12)
Kansas Jayhawks (3-5 Overall, 1-4 in Big 12)
Saturday, November 2, 2019 @ 3:30 PM EST
Memorial Stadium (Lawrence, KS)
Moneyline: KSU -210, KU +175
Spread: KSU -5 (-115), KU +5 (-105)
Total: O/U 54.5 (-110)
Odds courtesy of MyBookie
Sunflower Showdown History
Kansas State absolutely dominated Kansas during the legendary Bill Snyder’s 27-year coaching tenure. Snyder led the Wildcats to victories in 23 of his 27 matchups against the Jayhawks, including two separate 10-game win streaks – one of which is still alive currently. In their last 10 matchups, Kansas State is 10-0, winning by an average of over 25 points per game and holding Kansas to under 15 points per game.
#22 Kansas State Wildcats
After long-time head coach Bill Snyder retired for good at the end of last season, the Wildcats hired former North Dakota State head coach, Chris Klieman, who won five consecutive conference championships and three FCS national championships in his five-year stint. Klieman’s coaching success, combined with the talent that Kansas State already possessed coming into this year, has looked like a winning combination so far. The Wildcats are 5-2 and are coming off a huge upset win over No. 5 Oklahoma last weekend.
Kansas State’s defense should be their main advantage on Saturday, as they’re ranked 52nd in the country in yards allowed per game (369 YPG) and 35th in the country in points allowed per game (21.9 PPG). They’ve allowed just under 454 yards and just over 28 points per game in their first four games of Big 12 play. That may seem like a lot, but it’s nothing compared to Kansas, as the Jayhawks have given up 537 yards and just under 42 points per game in their first five conference games.
In addition, the Wildcats will have an enormous advantage when it comes to third down defense. They are the second-best team in the country on third down, allowing their opponents to convert on just 25.3% of their attempts. Kansas is the third-worst team in the country on third down, allowing their opponents to convert on over half (51.3%) of their attempts.
On offense, the Wildcats aren’t nearly as explosive as many of their conference counterparts, but their ball control and defense have been and will be the keys to their success. Kansas State ranks fifth in the country, controlling the ball for nearly 35 minutes per game. They’ve been out-gained in six of their first eight games, but they’ve yet to be held under 110 rushing yards and last week, they ran the ball for 213 yards and six touchdowns in their shocking upset over Oklahoma.
Kansas has the 123rd-ranked rushing defense, so I would expect the Wildcats to exploit that and run all over them with redshirt senior running back James Gilbert and No. 2 running back, Jordon Brown. Gilbert has carried the ball 100 times for 558 yards and five touchdowns, and he looked great last week against Oklahoma, carrying the ball 13 times for 105 yards (8.1 YPC) and a touchdown. Brown also came up big for the Wildcats, racking up 86 total yards in his first game action in almost a month.
Les Miles’ first year at Kansas got off to a decent start, as the Jayhawks started 2-1, including a 24-point victory on the road against Boston College. But, they hit a rough patch, losing 4 straight games before their 37-34 victory over Texas Tech last Saturday.
Things are looking up, though, as they seem to have made some drastic improvements on offense since Les Miles made the switch to Brent Dearmon at OC after their 45-20 loss to Oklahoma. In his first two games as OC, Kansas has racked up 1,096 yards of offense (3rd in FBS in that span) and have scored 85 points.
Jayhawks senior quarterback, Carter Stanley, is having an excellent season, with the exception of two clunkers against Coastal Carolina and TCU. In his last two games, Stanley has completed 53 of his 84 passes (63%) for 725 yards, seven touchdowns and just one interception. The senior ranks sixth in the Big 12 in completion percentage, fifth in passing yards, third in passing touchdowns and fourth in passer efficiency rating. In a conference with tons of firepower and big-name quarterbacks, like Jalen Hurts and Sam Ehlinger, Stanley has excelled.
Sophomore running back, Pooka Williams, and junior wide receiver, Andrew Parchment, have been the Jayhawks’ biggest playmakers on offense. Williams, who is averaging over five yards per carry this season, is the third-leading rusher in the Big 12, with 704 yards. Parchment, a transfer from Northern Illinois, is fifth in the Big 12 in receptions (42) and receiving yards (614), and tied for fourth in receiving touchdowns (6).
Things have not been pretty on defense for the Jayhawks. They’re currently ranked 121st in total defense, surrendering 473.5 yards per game, and 107th in scoring defense, allowing 32.8 points per game. Kansas has allowed nearly 573 yards and 45 points per game in their last four games, so Kansas State should be able to take advantage of that and use their ball control to keep Kansas’ defense on the field. The Jayhawks have allowed 146 or more rushing yards in every game this year and one or more rushing touchdowns in all but one game, so I think Kansas State will run all over them on Saturday.
The Wildcats have quite the advantage on the defense side of the ball, in the run game, and in time of possession, which are usually the major keys to rivalry games. While I like how the new-and-improved Kansas offense has looked under Brent Dearmon, I think the Jayhawks’ defense, especially against the run, will be their downfall. I like the Wildcats to win their 11th straight Sunflower Showdown and cover on Saturday.