The Kansas State football team will take on the University of Kansas Jayhawks on Saturday in Lawrence. It will be the 115th meeting in a historic football rivalry that KU leads 64-44-5. K-State has dominated recently, however, going 20-1 in football games coached by Bill Snyder since 1993.
This is KU head coach David Beaty’s third season at the helm. He has amassed an abysmal 3-28 record in those seasons, including a winless season in his first year.
Whatever momentum Beaty had built up after beating the University of Texas last season seems to have dissipated over the course of this season. KU’s lone win came at home against Southeast Missouri State, a team in the Ohio Valley Conference.
With former linebacker Ben Heeney now with the NFL’s Houston Texans and former quarterback Montell Cozart at Boise State, this team lost their bright spots on both sides of the ball from last year.
K-State does need to be ready to defend against wide receiver Steven Sims Jr. Sims is a quality receiver and also a living weapon on special teams. Sims has caught 23 passes for 404 yards and three touchdowns this season.
Junior quarterback Peyton Bender is a former Mike Leach quarterback at Washington State. He is capable of making good decisions, a cornerstone of Leach’s offense. This experience in Leach’s air raid offense makes Bender a good fit for KU’s offense under first-year offensive coordinator Doug Meacham.
KU’s offense will look like a less potent version of what Texas Christian University did last year since Meacham is the former TCU offensive coordinator. They will try to spread the defense out like most Big 12 teams and attack through the air. They do run the ball a little more than most Leach-inspired offenses, though.
Meacham’s offense was shut down last week against TCU, gaining 21 total yards. They haven’t put up a touchdown in two weeks.
K-State should dial up some blitzes and disguised coverages to try to confuse Bender. He’s shown that when he’s under pressure, he will try to force the ball into bad situations.
On defense, the Wildcats need to worry about KU defensive end Dorance Armstrong. Armstrong was all-conference last season, leading the Big 12 in forced fumbles and tackles for loss and finishing second in sacks.
KU will line up with four down linemen and two linebackers, a 4-2 defense. In certain situations — mostly short yardage or late downs — Armstrong may stand up and line up like a blitzing linebacker.
The Wildcats ought to take advantage of KU only having six guys on the defensive line by running the ball a lot. K-State’s sophomore running back Alex Barnes should get a lot of work on Saturday.
Coach Snyder said senior quarterback Jesse Ertz will likely be back this Saturday. If he is available, expect K-State to utilize short passes and lean their running backs to shy away from the quarterback running game a little bit.
I expect K-State to win this game handily, but not continue KU’s shutout streak. Final score: 38-3, K-State.