(Sports Network) Bitter rivals come together in Lawrence this Thursday, as the Kansas State Wildcats clash with the Kansas Jayhawks in Big 12 play at Memorial Stadium.
This is the 108th meeting between the state rivals, with Kansas holding a 65-37-5 advantage in the all-time series. KSU however, won last year's showdown, 17-10, in Manhattan.
The Wildcats enter the tilt hoping to rebound from their first loss of the campaign, as they were thrashed, 48-13, by No.6 Nebraska on Thursday. It marked the fourth home game in five outings for KSU, which now sits at 4-1 on the campaign.
Kansas meanwhile, had the week off to regroup from its own dreadful performance, a 55-7 setback at Baylor on October 2nd. At 2-3 the Jayhawks have obviously had a tough time early on and one of their losses was a shocking 6-3 setback to North Dakota State, a FBS program, to open the season.
The Wildcats never got going on offense last week, managing only 315 total yards in a lopsided loss to Nebraska. Many of those yards came when the game was well out of reach, so the performance was even worse than the numbers would indicate. Daniel Thomas, averaging 157 ypg coming in, was held in check, finishing with just 63 yards on 22 carries. He did lead the team with eight receptions, but was really bottled up all night. Still, Thomas is the workhorse for this club, rushing for 691 yards and six scores, so expect a big bounce back effort this week. He will need to be good as KSU hasn't gotten much production from QB Carson Coffman, who has posted for just 730 yards in five games. Against Nebraska, Coffman finished with 91 yards and a TD, hardly impressive numbers.
KSU's defense was simply shredded by Nebraska, which gained 587 total yards, averaging 11.3 yards per play. The Wildcats gave up five TDs of 35 or more yards, including three from 68 yards out, and were ripped for 451 yards on the ground. The run defense has been a real problem this season for KSU, which is now permitting 246.6 ypg on the ground. Opponents are averaging a healthy 5.8 yards per carry against KSU and that is simply a far too big of a number. Alex Hrebec has been the steadiest defender for the Wildcats and he leads the team with 49 stops, including 10 against Nebraska.
The Jayhawks struggled greatly on offense last game, turning the ball over four times and gaining a mere 270 total yards in a lopsided loss to Baylor. QB Jordan Webb lost a fumble and threw a pair of INTs, while finishing with 171 yards and a TD on 16-of-28 tosses in the loss. It was a complete meltdown for the redshirt freshman, who has thrown for 796 yards with six scores and three picks on the season. Daymond Patterson, who had a TD grab in the loss to Baylor, has been Webb's favorite target, catching 28 balls for 259 yards. In the backfield, James Sims paces Kansas with 329 yards and three TDs in four games. As a team though, Kansas is averaging a less than respectable 3.6 yards per carry.
Defensively, the Jayhawks were simply abused by Baylor, allowing 244 yards on the ground and an even higher 434 yards through the air. The unit gave up 32 first downs and was pushed around all game long. Kansas also failed to create a single turnover and the team has just three takeaways to its credit for the season. Bringing the pressure has also been a problem for the Jayhawks, who have posted a mere three sacks. Steven Johnson paces the defense with 44 stops for the season and that includes an 11-tackle performance last game.
KSU has had more early success and with its ground attack leading the way, expect the Wildcats to come out on top in the end.