Kicking the Tires: KU

John Weast

The regular season comes to a close as K-State hopes to continue its winning streak against the hated Jayhawks.

After a tumultuous period in the late aughts, we seem to have returned to the stasis that was my introduction to the Sunflower Showdown back when I first got to K-State. Football season belongs to the Wildcats, while the winter power goes downriver. Not only that, but this year it looks like K-State basketball may return to a level of general non-competitiveness not seen since Jim Wooldridge roamed the sidelines.

But we can worry about bouncyhoops later. It's still football season for another six weeks or so. In tomorrow's season finale, K-State will look to extend to five its winning streak over in-state rival KU.

Players to Watch

K-State

Passing: Jake Waters, 128-212-8, 2,038 yards, 13 TDs, 9.6 yards/attempt, 185.3 yards/game

Rushing: John Hubert, 152 carries, 748 yards, 4.9 yards/carry, 8 TDs, 68.0 yards/game

Receiving: Tyler Lockett, 68 receptions, 1,103 yards, 16.2 yards/reception, 8 TDs, 110.3 yards/reception

KU

Passing: Montell Cozart, 20-56-1, 214 yards, 0 TDs, 3.8 yards/attempt, 35.7 yards/game

Rushing: James Sims, 208 carries, 1,028 yards, 4.9 yards/carry, 7 TDs, 93.5 yards/game

Receiving: James Sims, 24 receptions, 162 yards, 6.8 yards/reception, 0 TDs, 14.7 yards/game

As you may have surmised if you've followed KU at all this year, Jake Heaps is actually the team's leading passer, and Tony Pierson is the leading receiver. In case Heaps plays, his line for the year is as follows: 114-232-7, 1,276 yards, 5.5 yards/attempt, 7 TDs, 127.6 yards/game.

Pierson is out with a concussion, and behind him, it's difficult to figure out who fills the void. Sims has as many receptions as Pierson but for about half the yards. Brandon Bourbon and Jimmay Mundine have 20 and 17 receptions, respectively.

Interestingly, Hubert is a somewhat under-appreciated -- and the last few games, under-utilized -- aspect of K-State's offense. Sims is generally praised as the lone bright spot for KU's otherwise anemic offense, and he's approximately as good on a per-carry basis as is Hubert.

K-State Advanced Stats

F/+: 25th nationally

S&P+: 26th

Offensive S&P+: 15th

Rushing S&P+: 19th

Passing S&P+: 14th

Standard Downs S&P+: 10th

Passing Downs S&P+: 26th

Drive Efficiency: 16th

Defensive S&P+: 50th

Rushing S&P+: 80th

Passing S&P+: 33rd

Standard Downs S&P+: 59th

Passing Downs S&P+: 30th

Special Teams F/+: 10th

KU Advanced Stats

F/+: 102nd

S&P+: 111th

Offensive S&P+: 120th

Rushing S&P+: 83rd

Passing S&P+: 123rd

Standard Downs S&P+: 107th

Passing Downs S&P+: 114th

Drive Efficiency: 120th

Defensive S&P+: 82nd

Rushing S&P+: 82nd

Passing S&P+: 73rd

Standard Downs S&P+: 88th

Passing Downs S&P+: 57th

Special Teams F/+: 85th

There's not a lot to like about those numbers if you're a KU fan, but there are some relative strengths. The defense is below average, but not significantly so. And if KU can get K-State into Passing Downs, they match up their best defensive situation with K-State's worst offensive situation.

Still, there's a reason why F/+ projects K-State to win by almost 25, with a 97-percent probability of winning. Even though it hasn't been a good season for K-State, and even though K-State isn't dominant in any particular area, and even though it's a "road" game ... KU is just really bad on offense. With Ty Zimmerman out and Cozart in to run the ball at quarterback, there's some level of concern about K-State's rushing defense. But if KU doesn't have any credible passing threat, then the K-State secondary should be able to provide enough run support to prevent sustained drives.

Conclusion: Most of the time, this is an easy K-State win, and possibly even a blowout. But the Wildcats' bugaboo this year has been turnovers, and that's really the only thing that can keep KU in this one. The Jayhawks have forced 22 turnovers on the season, while the Wildcats have given the ball up 22 times. It may take more than two turnovers in this game to keep it close, but I'd rather not find out.

K-State 41, KU 10

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