Two views of the Sun­flower Show­down

The Wichita Eagle - - Front Page - BY KELLIS ROBINETT AND JESSE NEWELL krobi­nett@wi­chi­taea­gle.com jnewell@kc­star.com

On pa­per, Satur­day’s Sun­flower Show­down in Man­hat­tan ap­pears to be a foot­ball game that Kansas could at least keep com­pet­i­tive.

Kansas, which fired head coach David Beaty early this week, 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.

Here are two view­points on the 11 a.m. Satur­day game fea­tur­ing the state’s two Divi­sion I foot­ball pro­grams:

From the KU side­line ... 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 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?

Kansas 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 for the Jay­hawks 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 “us­against-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.

And from the K-State side­line ...

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

Jesse Newell’s pick: K-State

34, KU 10

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