Kickoff: 11 a.m. Saturday
Where: Snyder Family Stadium, Manhattan
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Radio: K-State Broadcast: KQAM (1480 AM) in Wichita, KCSP (610 AM) in Kansas City. KU Broadcast: WHB (810 AM) in Kansas City, KFH (1240 AM) in Wichita
Line: K-State by 10 1/2
On paper, this appears to be a game that Kansas could keep competitive.
KU has struggled most against teams that have good passing games and strong run defenses, and if we’re being honest, K-State has neither of those. The Jayhawks should find some openings with tailbacks Pooka Williams and Khalil Herbert, and also shouldn’t face nearly the fear of getting beaten by the deep ball as they did last week in a 27-3 loss to Iowa State.
It’s still a tough game to gauge because of the circumstances and emotions involved. Will KU’s players come out inspired to play for lame-duck coach David Beaty? And how good will KU’s game plan be, with most of the Jayhawks’ assistants dealing this week with the reality they will likely be employed elsewhere next season?
KU has been awful in Big 12 road games recently, with its last conference win away from Booth Memorial Stadium coming more than 10 years ago. And if things don’t start out well in this one, it’s only reasonable to wonder whether KU’s players will be motivated to fight through adversity on a cold day in a hostile environment.
Beaty has repeatedly preached the importance of fast starts for his team, and the first quarter will be crucial in this one. It’ll likely determine whether KU continues an “us-against-the-world” mentality for three more quarters ... or perhaps understandably lets up while dealing with a difficult set of off-field circumstances.
Just knowing KU’s road history, I’m more inclined to think K-State will win this one comfortably.
Jesse Newell’s pick: K-State 34, KU 10.
There are few things Bill Snyder has done better as K-State’s football coach than beat the Jayhawks. He hasn’t lost to KU anywhere since 2004, and his last Sunflower Showdown defeat at home came in 1989.
But that history will be put to the test on Saturday in what, on paper, should be one of the more competitive recent games in this rivalry.
For once, this feels like a toss-up.
K-State will be limited on offense with Alex Delton expected to start at quarterback as Skylar Thompson recovers from a head injury suffered last week against TCU. And Pooka Williams won’t be easy for K-State’s defense to handle.
But the Wildcats are used to winning this game and they will be playing at home, where they whooped Oklahoma State last month. Expect K-State to find a way to win a close game.
Kellis Robinett’s pick: K-State 24, KU 21.