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Kicking the Tire Fire: KU

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K-State and KU reconvene hostilities at 3 p.m. today in Lawrence. The 113th Sunflower Showdown will be more of a pillow fight than a showdown.

Scott Sewell-USA TODAY Sports

K-State and KU reconvene hostilities today for the 113th Sunflower Showdown. The matchup between the 4-6 Wildcats and 0-11 Jayhawks will be sadly representative of a series between two teams whose all-time records are significantly below .500.

After an improbable comeback victory over Iowa State last week, K-State is still in the hunt for a 6-6 overall record and bowl eligibility. KU has its last shot at avoiding a winless season. The fans have one more chance to freeze their asses off while watching power-conference college football.

A note for historical context. During the Futility U years, K-State's five-year Big 8 Conference record was 2-32-1 (.061). Through its last five seasons, including this year, KU is 2-42 (.045). If KU gets a win today to move to 3-42, then the Jayhawks will ensure K-State maintains its all-time futility mark.

Motivation!

Players to Watch

K-State

Passing: Joe Hubener, 115-238-7, 48.3%, 1,619 yards, 6.8 yards/attempt, 9 TDs, 161.9 yards/game

Rushing: Charles Jones, 109 carries, 542 yards, 5.0 yards/carry, 5 TDs, 54.2 yards/game

Receiving: Dominique Heath, 27 receptions, 298 yards, 11.0 yards/reception, 3 TDs, 29.8 yards/game

KU

Passing: Ryan Willis, 145-280-9, 51.8%, 1,504 yards, 5.4 yards/attempt, 7 TDs, 167.1 yards/game

Rushing: Ke'aun Kinner, 129 carries, 549 yards, 4.3 yards/carry, 5 TDs, 49.9 yards/game

Receiving: Tre Parmalee, 37 receptions, 549 yards, 14.8 yards/reception, 2 TDs, 61 yards/game

The similarity in the numbers above should be alarming for K-State fans.

KU's problems on offense start up front, with an offensive line that's allowed 35 sacks through 11 games. Turnovers are another problem, with 10 fumbles lost and 13 interceptions. K-State's defensive front should be able to harrass Willis, and if the secondary is semi-competent, we might actually see an interception. Baby steps, y'all.

On defense, KU allows 5.8 yards per carry and rank 118th in Rushing S&P+. K-State should be able to pound away on the ground with Jones, Justin Silmon, and maybe even Glenn Gronkowski and Dana Dimel. And that's a good thing, because KU's pass defense, at least by S&P+, outclasses K-State's ability to throw the ball.

Yeah, it's been that kind of year.

Charts

Thanks as always to jeffp for this week's charts.

Conclusion

K-State probably gets a win in this game, but "probably" is a concerning qualifier given this year's KU team. It's hard to overstate how bad this KU team is. The Jayhawks have fewer players on scholarship than FCS teams. On the other hand, the Jayhawks had the ball with a chance to tie Texas Tech in the fourth quarter and lost to TCU by less than a touchdown in Fort Worth.

Vegas pegs K-State as a nearly three-touchdown favorite, but it's hard to see the Wildcats beating anyone by that much. Bill Connelly projects K-State to have an 82 percent chance to win. I'll go with that, but I'm not terribly comfortable with this one.

Wildcats 35, Jayhawks 20