Kansas State makes the hour-and-twenty-minute trek from Manhattan, KS to Lawrence to face their state rival, the Jayhawks. Kansas and Kansas State will battle in the Sunflower Showdown this Saturday at 3:00 EST from KU Memorial Stadium. The game will air on Fox Sports 1.
Bill Snyder and his resilient bunch nearly pulled off the second upset over Oklahoma this season, but fell just short. But they should be just fine moving forward, depending on the status of their quarterback.
QB Jesse Ertz is supposed to play this weekend after spraining his knee. He would be a great re-edition as the team’s second-leading rusher (5.2 YPC). Alex Barnes has done some heavy-lifting at RB as well, with 6.0 YPC and 108 yards on only six carries against Oklahoma.
The usually sturdy Wildcats defense has taken a step back, most of their problems coming through the air.
Kansas, meanwhile, hasn’t been able to stop anyone. They’ve given up over 40 points in each of their last six games, and 296 in total during that time (49.3 average). They even got gashed for 42 against Ohio and 45 by Central Michigan.
Their offense isn’t much better. Sophomore RB Khalil Herbert (511 rush yards, 6.9 YPC) could play at much better colleges, but that’s about it for elite talent on offense. The line is average compared to the rest of the FBS. Steven Sims Jr. is their only highly-productive receiver. QB Peyton Bender hasn’t completed over half his passes in the last three games.
This all factors to Kansas being 24-point underdogs.
Snyder knows how to calm and refocus a team. The last-minute loss to Oklahoma stings, but that shouldn’t have a hangover effect in Lawrence.
Ertz may need some time to get back into the groove of things. But if he doesn’t adapt, backup Alex Delton had a great last game against Oklahoma. K-State wouldn’t have any problem throwing him in there if they had to.
Either way, the Wildcats shouldn’t have many problems moving the rock against a defense that’s been getting blown over by everything but the breeze. They’ve given up the second-most points in the entire FBS. Kansas also hasn’t scored a single point in its last two games, being outdone 88-0. They’ve lost five of their last six games ATS too.
If MAC teams are rolling over them, then the Wildcats should put this game away swiftly. They’re still a disciplined bunch at plus-6 in the turnover margin. Compare that to the Jayhawks, who are minus-9. They’ll need Bender and Sims Jr. to make some early throws against a middle-of-the-road pass D. But Herbert will have to do much of the work once again, and that’s a lot to ask. He had a major down week last Saturday versus TCU, where he had only eight yards on six carries.
Things won’t get much easier against the Wildcats. Kansas is on a 1-7 stretch ATS in this series, 0-4 at home. It’s only about to get worse.