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***BREAKING NEWS***    K-State Disassembles KU, Clinches Big 12 Championship Game Berth    ***
Regional Sports News
Sunflower Showdown Preview + Prediction
By Jared Sleppy
Copyright: MSC Sports
11/23/2022

Well, here we are. Just one game left in the 2022 college football regular season. It’s only fitting that the Sunflower Showdown be on the final week with a chance for #12 Kansas State (6-2, 8-3) to clinch a spot in the Big 12 Championship game for the first time since 2003.

They will hope to get past Kansas (3-5, 6-5), who already has clinched their first bowl berth since 2008. They also locked up their head coach Lance Leipold with a contract extension that is set to expire in 2029.

Last week, KSU head coach Chris Klieman also earned an extension. As part of his contract, his win over West Virginia earned him an extension through 2027. It was also his 100th career win as a head coach at the Division I level. He has the fourth-highest winning percentage among all FBS coaches only behind Dabo Swinney (Clemson), Nick Saban (Alabama) and Curt Cignetti (James Madison).

KU currently owns the series lead 65-49-5, but K-State has won the past 13 meetings and have won 26 of the last 31 dating back to 1991. The Jayhawks haven’t won in Manhattan since 2007, when ex-NFL quarterback Josh Freeman had one of his worst performances wearing purple with three interceptions.

Last week, K-State won on the road for the fourth time in Big 12 play against West Virginia. The only other two teams that accomplished that feat were the 1998 and 2012 teams that both flirted with the national title. Their six wins conference play are the most since 2016 and a seventh win would be the most since 2014.

K-State’s offense is playing at a historic level this season. Last week was the eighth time they surpassed the 375-yard mark in total offense, which is the first time K-State has ever done that since the Big 12 began in 1996.

However, their offense hasn’t been fully reliant on the run despite having a running back that has put up Heisman-like performances throughout his career. Recently, their money has been made in the passing game. Their pass success rate is ranked 25th in the country while their rush attack is ranked just 80th in the country.

Their numbers on the ground aren’t bad, though, as they still rank 17th nationally in rushing yards per game with 208.2 yards per game. That stat is inflated due to a lot of big plays on the ground. The Cats have just been more effective on a per play basis over the air this season.

K-State head coach Chris Klieman announced during Tuesday’s midweek press conference that junior quarterback Will Howard will be starting as senior Adrian Martinez is not healthy enough to go.

No matter what the Jayhawks’ defense throws at them, the Wildcats should be able to do whatever they want. KU’s defense is ranked 101st in pass defense success rate and 124th in rush defense success rate. Kansas has allowed 88 points in their last two loss versus Texas and Texas Tech.

The Jayhawks’ junior quarterback Jalon Daniels made his return to the field and Leipold was hesitant to run him. He ran just twice, but don’t expect that to be the same this week. KU has nothing to lose and will have about a month after Saturday's game to get healthy for their bowl game, which is a formula for Daniels to run a lot.

K-State’s pass defense will be without two big pieces with safeties Kobe Savage and now Cincere Mason both out for the season. They will need guys like Joshua Hayes, Drake Cheatum, TJ Smith and VJ Payne step up in a big way against a very good KU pass offense.

This season, the Wildcats have held each of their eight conference opponents under their scoring average. Going into this weekend’s Sunflower Showdown, the Jayhawks average 34.8 points per game. Kansas State is giving up just 18.7 points per game.

Prediction: KU will throw everything they got at K-State this week. I expect Daniels to have a solid day both over the air and on the ground. However, the Jayhawks’ “defense” has been so poor, I don’t see any way they can keep up with Will Howard and K-State’s offense.

Rivalry games tend to be a bit more low-scoring and I expect that to be the case this Saturday. Running back Deuce Vaughn will have some big runs as KU has had no answers for him in their previous two meetings.

Even with this game being senior night and a Big 12 title appearance on the line, the fact that it is nationally televised, it being a night game and Klieman having the ability to keep his team locked in week after week, I think K-State will avoid the upset.

K-State 31, Kansas 20


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Hiawatha, KS 66434
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