An in-state rivalry between two programs heading in different directions is renewed on Saturday
Kansas sits at 0-3 in Big 12 play and 0-4 overall. They are in the conversation for the worst team in the Power 5, and possibly all of FBS.
The Kansas State Wildcats have rebounded from an opening weekend loss and now sit at 3-0 in conference play and 3-1 overall. Two of those three wins were over Oklahoma and TCU, and those results have the Wildcats ranked No. 20 in the AP poll.
The two programs will write the next chapter in their in-state rivalry this weekend in Manhattan. The Jayhawks lead the series overall (65-47-5) but Kansas State has won the last 11 meetings.
Kansas at No. 20 Kansas State
Kickoff: Saturday, Oct. 24 at 12 p.m. ET
Spread: Kansas State -20
When Kansas Has the Ball
One of the only bright spots for the Jayhawks this season has been running back Velton Gardner and his 4.8 yards per carry. Like most Kansas football games, this one is not expected to be close, and head coach Les Miles is going to want to run the ball and keep the clock moving to shorten the game. Gardner will carry even more of the load on offense with backfield mate Pooka Williams Jr. announcing on Monday that he was opting out of the rest of this season for personal reasons. The Jayhawks will need to find a way to make plays with its passing game, whether by choice or out of necessity should they fall behind early. When Kansas takes to the air, wide receiver Kwamie Lassiter (15 receptions, 171 yards, 11.4 ypr) is the closest thing Kansas has to a game-breaker, and they'll look to force the ball his way. Fellow wideout Andrew Parchment leads the team with two touchdown catches.
When Kansas State Has the Ball
The Wildcats bring a balanced offensive attack buoyed by solid offensive line play. Head coach Chris Klieman knows his team has the ability to dominate in the trenches, so look for him to test the Jayhawks' run defense early in hopes of wearing them down and putting the game away in the first half. Running backs Harry Trotter and Deuce Vaughn should both log a bunch of touches, between the tackles and on short passes that effectively double as runs. Vaughn, who is averaging 4.8 yards per carry and 31.0 yards per catch (nine rec.) might be the most underrated player in the Big 12, and he'll cause matchup problems everywhere he lines up. Kansas State also may use this game to work on their passing in the red zone, not in an effort to run up the score, but to shore up some things as they move forward in what is shaping up to be a heated race for the two spots in the Big 12 Championship Game.
Nobody expects this game to be close, and anything but a double-digit Kansas State win is going to either be a Kansas upset or a moral victory for the Jayhawks. This Wildcats team is firing on all cylinders and has now had two weeks to prepare for an inferior opponent. There are simply too many weapons on one side of the field and not enough on the other for this to be a competitive matchup. The only concern that the Kansas State faithful should have is their team looking past this game mentally and turning in a sloppy performance with games against tougher opponents, including Oklahoma State, Iowa State, and Texas, still to go.
Prediction: Kansas State 42, Kansas 9
Podcast: Week 8 Preview and Predictions
— Written by J.P. Scott, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. His work has appeared on SI.com, FoxSports.com, Yahoo!, SBNation, USA Today and Bleacher Report. He is a three-time FWAA writing contest award winner. Follow him on Twitter @TheJPScott.