K-State, KU compete for bragging rights while tied for last in the Big 12

Running back Alex Barnes watches his teammates. K-State played Mississippi State on Sept. 8, falling to the Bulldogs 30-10. (Meg Shearer | Collegian Media Group)


The Jayhawks have not beaten the Wildcats since 2008. Their last win in Manhattan was one year prior, with a 30-24 win over K-State in 2007.

Of K-State’s last nine wins, five have been by 30+ points. Only two have been by 10 points or less (2009 and 2017).

Last season, K-State was victorious by a score of 30-20. After leading 10-6 at halftime, the Wildcats outscored KU 10-0 in the third quarter to lead 20-6. After two fourth-quarter touchdowns by the Jayhawks, K-State was able to hold them off.

Running back Alex Barnes ran for 128 yards and two touchdowns in last year’s win.

The Wildcats trail their rivals 65-45-5 in the Sunflower Showdown series.

Alex Barnes and Pooka Williams Jr. are two of the best running backs in the Big 12

Barnes will be hopeful for another big game against the Jayhawks this year after. Not only did the junior run for 100+ yards last year, he did so in 2016’s 34-19 win as well with a 103-yard, one touchdown performance.

After running for a total of 331 yards and seven touchdowns in games against Baylor and Oklahoma State in October, Barnes has registered only 130 yards with no touchdowns in the past two contests against Oklahoma and TCU.

The Pittsburg, Kansas product still leads the Big 12 in total rushing yards (918) and rushing yards per game (102), and is tied for first in rushing touchdowns (nine).

The Jayhawks give up an average of 161 rushing yards per game, so this week could be the game that Barnes has another big outing. The Wildcat offense will depend on the running game, as they have not thrown for 200 or more yards since Sept. 22 against West Virginia.

KU has a good back of its own in true freshman Pooka Williams Jr. He averages 6.1 rushing yards per carry and 88.9 rushing yards per game, which is fourth in the conference.

His four rushing touchdowns are almost half of the team’s nine rushing touchdowns.

Williams’ ability to run and his extreme quickness combines well with a threat to catch the ball out of the backfield. He has 259 yards and two touchdowns in the receiving game this year, including a career-best 102 yards and two touchdowns receiving against the win over TCU.

Will KU play inspired in light of Beaty firing?

On Sunday, KU athletic director Jeff Long announced that head coach David Beaty would not be retained at the season’s end.

At Tuesday’s press conference K-State head coach Bill Snyder said that he thinks the Jayhawks may play more motivated for their head coach.

“The players really care about David,” Snyder said. “He is a players’ coach and a very good person. I think they have a great deal of respect for him and want to perform as well as they possibly can.”

The potential of the team playing for its head coach in his final few games, combined with the usual intensity of an in-state rivalry game should make for an emotional game.

The loser of this year’s Sunflower Showdown will be eliminated from bowl game eligibility and break the tie for last place in the Big 12.

K-State and KU will kick off for the 116th time at 11 a.m. on Saturday inside of Bill Snyder Family Stadium. The game will be televised on FSN and broadcast on the 39-station K-State Radio Network.

I’m Jarrett Whitson, the sports editor this semester. I’m from Blue Rapids, KS, a town of just over 1,000 people about 40 miles north of Manhattan. I’m a junior in Public Relations, and a member of FarmHouse Fraternity. I love playing and talking about sports— especially college football