The 2019 iteration of the Sunflower Showdown kicks off at 2:30 p.m. Saturday in Lawrence at KU’s David Booth Memorial Stadium.
Kansas, like K-State, looks improved this year under a new head coach — Les Miles. Miles started his head coaching career at Oklahoma State before taking over at Louisiana State. Miles had been out of coaching since being fired mid-season by LSU in 2016 when Kansas Director of Athletics Jeff Long tapped him to replace David Beaty.
Kansas’ season has been a tale of two offensive coordinators. At first, Kansas had Les Koenning at the spot. His offense was a more traditional power running scheme like one would have seen on those great LSU teams in the late 2000s.
Miles let go of Koenning after losing to Oklahoma and brought in offensive analyst Brent Dearmon.
Dearmon has done a great job with senior quarterback Carter Stanley, turning him into a run-pass option machine in the new, modern offense.
Stanley and Dearmon also have some very talented toys to play with in sophomore running back Pooka Williams and junior wide receiver Andrew Parchment.
Williams is a very athletic and shifty back. He does not go down easy and slips out of tackles very well, which could be a problem given K-State’s tackling woes. He averages 100 yards per game, second most in the conference behind Oklahoma State’s Chuba Hubbard.
He is such a weapon, that it really opens up the option game for Kansas, something they used well against Texas. Stanley is a capable enough runner that he can fake to Williams and the respect the defense has will open up holes for Stanley to exploit.
Parchment provides an outlet to the run game and a consistent target for Stanley. They like to get the ball to him in space and let him move. He’s fourth in the conference in receiving yards per game.
On defense, Kansas has not been good. They rank ninth in scoring defense, last in rushing defense and seventh in pass defense. Their total defense is also dead last in the conference.
They show a variety of fronts depending on the situation, but seem to prefer four down lineman unless it’s a passing down.
They have some talent in the secondary, but their front seven struggle to get after the quarterback and really struggle to get off the field on third down.
PREDICTION: Last week, K-State offensive coordinator Courtney Messingham had to call a perfect game and he did. This week, K-State doesn’t need as perfect of a game. I think Kansas can’t stop K-State’s ground game late and the Wildcats outlast KU 41-34.