All the focus headed into the Sunflower Showdown this weekend is on Kansas.
After Kansas State’s upset win over Oklahoma last weekend, senior defensive lineman Trey Dishon said the shift of focus was difficult.
“It was tough, but it’s over now. It was a good Saturday and Sunday of looking back on how we played and how we competed against OU, but it’s the Sunflower Showdown now,” Dishon said during Tuesday’s press conference. “We are really getting guys into this one day at a time, so we can compete on Saturday.”
Junior quarterback Skylar Thompson said the transition of focus had to happen early to prepare for an improved Kansas team.
“You could tell people put last weekend behind us and are getting ready for KU,” Thompson said. “KU is a good football team. They’ve shown a lot of good flashes this year. We have to be ready to go play. We know it’s going to be a dog fight. They are going to be fired up to play us, and we are going to be fired up to play them. I think it’s going to be an exciting game on both sides, and I’m just looking forward to getting out there and competing.”
Playing KU holds significance for the in-state players and recruits Kansas passed over.
“As Kansas kids, they always look at ‘KU didn’t want me’ or ‘they didn’t offer me,’ you know, that stuff, and I know that sits in the back of guys’ hearts that are from Kansas,” Dishon said.
Senior offensive lineman Scott Frantz — a Lawrence Free State graduate — talked about the meaning of this game to him.
“We try to treat every game the same, but I’d be lying to you if I told you that this game doesn’t mean a little more to me,” Frantz said. “Being from Lawrence, I have a bunch of buddies on that KU football team. I can’t wait to see them and can’t wait to compete against them. I’m going home for the last time, and it means a lot.”
The Jayhawks have improved greatly in the last year, creating a different team than what the Wildcats have played in the past.
“They play hard on defense they fly around they have a lot of talented guys, and then obviously that offense has been getting after it the last couple of weeks,” senior tight end Blaise Gammon said. “Carter [Stanley] has been playing really well, they’ve got skill position players that are making a lot of plays too.”
Senior quarterback Carter Stanley earned Big 12 Offensive Player of the Week for week 9 and threw for 415 yards and three touchdowns with one interception in the Jayhawks’ 37-34 win over Texas Tech on Saturday.
Sophomore running back Pooka Williams is second in the Big 12 in rushing yards. It will be crucial for K-State to stop him.
“Obviously, [Pooka Williams] can do so many things in and out of the backfield, and they hand him jet sweeps and stuff,” Klieman said. “I know they’re continuing to put more of their offense in. So, I think we’ll see some unique things or different things that we haven’t seen so far this year — really impressed with their offense right now.”
The Wildcats enter as five and a half-point favorites in Saturday’s road matchup in Lawrence. Kickoff is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. on Fox Sports One.