FACTS & STATS: Site: Memorial Stadium (50,071) -- Lawrence, Kansas. Television: FS1. Home Record: KSU 5-3, KU 3-3. Away Record: KSU 1-2, KU 0-5. Neutral Record: KSU 0-0, KU 0-0. Conference Record: KSU 4-4, KU 1-7. Series Record: Kansas leads, 64-41-5.
GAME NOTES: The Sunflower Showdown takes place on Saturday afternoon, as the Kansas State Wildcats pay a visit to Big 12 Conference rivals, the Kansas Jayhawks in the regular-season finale for both teams.
Kansas State is 6-5 on the season, which includes an even 4-4 in conference. The Wildcats have the requisite number of wins to go to a bowl game, but they'd like to improve their prospects with a victory over one of their fiercest rivals. K-State had won four in a row prior to last Saturday's 41-31 loss to visiting Oklahoma.
Kansas has struggled yet again this season, logging a 3-8 overall record, which includes just a single win in eight Big 12 bouts to this point. The Jayhawks beat visiting West Virginia in a 31-19 final on Nov. 16, putting the brakes on a six-game slide. Unfortunately, they returned to their losing ways last weekend, as they were blanked at Iowa State, 34-0.
Kansas owns a 64-41-5 lead in the all-time series between these two bitter rivals, but the Wildcats have won the last four meetings, and are 16-4 versus the Jayhawks since 1993.
Kansas State couldn't get anything going on the ground last weekend, as the Oklahoma defense shut down the running lanes as quick as they opened. As a result, the Wildcats were credited with only 24 net rushing yards, averaging a mere 1.1 ypc. Fortunately, quarterback Jake Waters was much more effective, as he threw for 348 yards with three TDs and two interceptions, hitting star receiver Tyler Lockett 12 times for 278 yards and all three scores.
The K-State defense was battered into submission by an Oklahoma rushing attack that generated 301 yards and scored three TDs, churning out nearly six yards per attempt. As for the pass, the Sooners produced 171 yards and a score, and the Wildcats managed to come up with only one turnover and a single sack. Jonathan Truman and Dante Bennett were all over the field, notching 13 and 12 tackles, respectively.
Usually, the 'Cats do a decent job of keeping opposing defenses on their toes, as both Daniel Sams and John Hubert have rushed for more than 700 yards and have a combined 19 TDs. Waters has taken the majority of the snaps this season, and has completed 60.4 percent of his passes for 2,038 yards, 13 TDs and eight interceptions. Lockett currently sits with 68 catches for 1,103 yards and eight scores. Collectively, the K-State offense accounts for 404.3 ypg, which leads to 33.6 ppg.
Yielding 380.1 ypg has led to 24.9 ppg allowed, which isn't dominant, but is decent enough to have the team posting more wins than losses at this point in the campaign. Blake Slaughter (88) and Truman (82) rank one-two on the KSU tackles list, while Ryan Mueller has also had a highly productive season in logging 10.5 of the team's 23 sacks. Ty Zimmerman highlights the secondary with three picks.
The Kansas offense has really struggled this year, averaging a mere 301 yards and 15.8 points per contest. The pass has been the one area the team has sorely lacked in, as primary signal caller Jake Heaps has completed only 49.1 percent of his throws for 1,276 yards, seven TDs and seven interceptions. The run on the other hand, has been much more effective, with James Sims rumbling his way to 1,028 yards and seven TDs. No receiver has more than the 24 catches both Tony Pierson and Sims have, although Jimmay Mundine has turned four of his 17 grabs into scores.
The KU defense has been equally responsible for the team's woes, as it allows 31.9 ppg, with opponents piling up 438.2 ypg. Stopping the pass has proven difficult, as the Jayhawks surrender nearly 250 ypg and have given up 18 aerial TDs. Ben Heeney paces the unit with 77 tackles, which includes 10 TFL and two sacks, while Isaiah Johnson has 70 stops and has combined with Heeney for seven of the team's 13 picks.
KU was shut out by Iowa State last week, the team producing a mere 279 yards of total offense, with only 92 coming by way of the pass. Sims did his best to keep his team relevant, but even his 114 rushing yards weren't enough to even push in one score. The QB tandem of Heaps and Montell Cozart combined to complete only 11-of-31 passes with an interception, and no receiver had more than 22 yards on the day.
Conversely, the Cyclones amassed 502 total yards, with 202 coming on the ground and 300 through the air. Jake Love paced the KU defense with 13 tackles, while Heeney finished with 11.
While the Wildcats are the better team on paper, you can be sure the Jayhawks aren't going to simply allow them to walk into their house and take control of the proceedings without a fight. Still, K-State wins with relative ease.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Kansas State 31, Kansas 14
Saturday, November 30, 12 p.m. (ET).