MANHATTAN — Another Sunflower Showdown. Another dominating performance by Kansas State.
The No. 7 Wildcats defeated their in-state rival for the fourth consecutive time on Saturday, and, like the past two years, their 56-16 victory over Kansas had the same feel.
The wins were 59-21 last season and 59-7 the year before that, both in Lawrence. A feel that K-State players never take for granted.
“Anytime you beat a rival,” linebacker Tre Walker said, “and you see them quit and you see them lay down, it brings you joy.”
The Jayhawks might have seemed more deflated than usual after this one, though. They were competitive at times Saturday. Behind new formations, a successful fake punt and a fake field goal, they used the element of surprise to take a 14-7 lead early in the second quarter.
K-State led 21-14 at halftime, but there was a foul mood in the locker room.
“… There was a great deal of uncertainty on our part and that created some things that should not have happened,” Snyder said. “Those things do not happen in high school football or elementary school football and should not happen at this level, either.”
Perhaps his halftime speech inspired K-State, or maybe its talent advantage simply began to shine through in the third quarter, but it started to pull away from Kansas as soon as both teams returned to the field.
Senior quarterback Collin Klein had 245 all-purpose yards and four touchdowns, and running back John Hubert had 116 yards and four touchdowns on 10 carries.
On defense, everything fell into place. After allowing KU to methodically move the ball upfield with short, quick passes and misdirection runs, the Wildcats adjusted their nickel defense and forced five turnovers.
Vai Lutui and Jonathan Truman recovered fumbles and Ty Zimmerman, Allen Chapman and Nigel Malone intercepted passes.
“We just needed to make a few adjustments,” Zimmerman said. “Once we did, we had a lot of success.”
They were most successful during a wild series in the third quarter. With K-State leading 28-14, Chapman intercepted Dayne Crist near the goal line, but Hubert was tackled for a safety on the next play. Then the Jayhawks fumbled the free kick and Hubert immediately redeemed himself by running for a 32-yard touchdown.
Crist threw another interception on KU’s next drive and K-State scored a touchdown in three plays. Suddenly, it was 42-16.
“It was big play after big play,” KU coach Charlie Weis said. “It did not turn out the way we planned.”
K-State kept pushing, and finished the game on a 49-2 run. Backup quarterback Daniel Sams entered before the fourth quarter began.
“We got started slow, but we managed to come out in the second half and capitalize on a lot of those turnovers,” receiver Tramaine Thompson said. “It just shows what we are capable of. If we play four full quarters of football, we can come out with a performance like we had in the second half.”
Kansas dominated time of possession during the first three quarters – 31:32 to 13:28 – but K-State just scored too quickly.
It needed 34 plays to score its first 49 points, with Tyler Lockett and Travis Tannahill also highlighted the scoring effort by catching touchdown passes.
“Even though we were losing the possession battle, we were able to get touchdowns,” Klein said. “It’s different. It’s something we aren’t accustomed to, but we were able to score.”
The Jayhawks (1-4, 0-2 Big 12) try to regroup before hosting Oklahoma State next week.
The Wildcats (5-0, 2-0) next play at Iowa State. K-State has won four straight against the Cyclones, but none of those victories came in Ames. They are about to embark on a new experience. No matter how satisfying an easy victory over Kansas can be, Snyder thinks his team needs to play better than it did Saturday to be successful on the road.
“I don’t think we dominated anybody,” Snyder said. “We had a lot more points but we certainly didn’t dominate the ballgame. The first half was evidence of that. They got (388) yards of offense. That’s not domination.”
But it was more of the same in this rivalry.
The Governor’s Cup will stay in Manhattan for another year. Now K-State can look forward.
“We have bigger goals than just beating KU,” receiver Chris Harper said. “If they would have won this game it would have been huge for them. But we were supposed to win this game even though it was a rivalry. We came out and did what we were supposed to do.”