Jayhawks Close Out Season with Sunflower Showdown

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LAWRENCE, Kan. – The Kansas football team looks to end the 2015 campaign on a high note as the squad will honor its 21 seniors before the Sunflower Showdown presented by Dillons against in-state rival Kansas State, Saturday, Nov. 28 at 3 p.m.

Kansas (0-11, 0-8 Big 12) leads the all-time series against the Wildcats (4-6, 1-6 Big 12) 65-41-5, but hasn’t won a game against K-State since 2008. First-year KU head coaches hold a 21-10 mark against Kansas State with some of those names who claimed a victory in their first try being Glen Mason, Mike Gottfried and Don Fambrough. Saturday’s contest will also be made available to see live on Fox Sports 1.

With Saturday’s contest marking the second-most games played against any one opponent in the history of Kansas football (Nebraska being the most at 117), the Jayhawks enter with a 65-42-5 mark against Kansas State in 112 contests dating back to 1902. The two teams have faced one another each year dating back to 1911, and have only skipped lining up just one year since 1902 (1910). Kansas holds a 37-17-2 edge in games played in Lawrence, however, since 1990, KU has only won five games against the Wildcats inside Memorial Stadium, with its last coming handily in 2008 with a score of 52-21. With Bill Snyder holding the reins of the K-State program (1989-2005 & 2009-present), the Jayhawks have managed just four wins (1989, 1990, 1992 & 2004) against Kansas State, and just six in the past 25 years. Kansas has lost the last six-straight meetings and has been outscored in those matchups 263-77. Kansas first-year head coaches hold a record of 21-10 against K-State with some of those names who claimed a victory in their first try being Glen Mason, Mike Gottfried and Don Fambrough (one of those 10 losses came during the time of interim head coach Clint Bowen in 2014).

Kansas State is coming off a 38-35 come-from-behind win against Iowa State (Nov. 21) in which the Wildcats erased a 21-point deficit in the second half against the Cyclones. K-State ranks second in the conference in red zone offense scoring 93.2 percent of the time (41-of-44) including 29 touchdowns. The Wildcats average 29.7 points per game behind a 342.9 yards of total offense (164.7 rushing and 178.2 passing). Kansas State has scored 37 touchdowns and converted on 14-of-16 field goals to amount to its 297 points scored. Quarterback Joe Hubener paces the offensive attack with 11 rushing touchdowns and nine passing touchdowns, and has accounted for 2,129 yards of offense (510 rushing and 1,619 passing). Three different receivers have caught 23 or more passes, with each hauling in three touchdown passes (Dominique Heath, Deante Burton and Kody Cook). On the ground, Charles Jones leads the team with 542 yards on 109 carries and five touchdowns, averaging 5.0 yards per rush. Adjustments are key for the Wildcat offense as they have scored the majority of their points in the second and fourth quarters, respectively.

Kansas State enters Saturday’s contest giving up the seventh-most points per game in the Big 12 Conference at 32.7, while also ranking seventh in the league in total defense, giving up 454.8 yards per game. Opponents have found success in the air averaging 290.1 passing yards per game compared to the 165.7 yards gained on the ground. Teams have also found the majority of their success in the early portions of the game, scoring 192-of-327 points in the first half. Linebacker Elijah Lee leads the defense with 62 tackles (50 solo and 12 assisted) and two interceptions. Defensive end Jordan Willis leads the squad with 11.0 TFLs for 42 yards including a team-high 5.5 sacks for 28 yards. As a defense, K-State has broken up 27 passes, including eight from cornerback Morgan Burns, who ranks ninth in the conference.

After 17 successful seasons building the Kansas State football program from the ground up as the head coach in Manhattan from 1989-2005, Bill Snyder retired from the sidelines. Four years later, he returned in 2009 to lead the Wildcats once again and led KSU to a 7-5 campaign in 2010 and a berth in the inaugural Pinstripe Bowl. The Wildcats have again climbed to heights only previously seen under Snyder. KSU went 10-3 in 2011, finished No. 8 in the final BCS standings and earned its first Cotton Bowl invitation since 2001. Due to his success in 2011, Snyder was named the Woody Hayes National Coach of the Year, as well as picking up national coaching honors from Sporting News, Rivals.com and CBSSports.com, and the Big 12 Coach of the Year by the AP and Big 12 Coaches. He also coached 11 players to All-Big 12 honors, including Defensive Newcomer of the Year Arthur Brown and Offensive Freshman of the Year and Walter Camp All-Americans Tyler Lockett and Nigel Malone. In 2012 Snyder led the Wildcats to their third conference championship in school history and first since 2003. Kansas State, which won its first 10 games of the season and finished 11-1, with an 8-1 mark in Big 12 play, tied the school record for overall wins and conference victories. The Wildcats also jumped to No. 1 in the BCS rankings following their 10-0 start. Snyder finished the season taking home the Bobby Dodd Coach of the Year Award, as well as Big 12 Coach of the Year honors for the second-straight season.

The Jayhawks are one of the youngest teams in the country as they tie for first in first-time players (39) and first-time starters (33). Among the first-time starters, 10 have been true freshmen or redshirt freshmen. On offense, the Jayhawks have started at least four freshmen in four of their last five games, including six (five true and one redshirt) against Oklahoma (Oct. 31), six (four true and two redshirt) at TCU (Nov. 14) and five (three true and two red-shirt) vs. West Virginia (Nov. 21).

In the 72 trips that Kansas opponents have made inside the red zone, the Jayhawk defense has given up 55 scores of some kind, good for a 76.4 percent conversion rate – the best in the Big 12 and 24th-best in the nation. Oklahoma ranks second in the league at 79.4 percent, allowing opponents to score on 27-of-34 trips. Texas Tech has allowed the second-most trips inside the red zone on defense at 57, and allowed opponents to score on 48 of them. KU has also forced more turnovers inside the red zone at five, with TCU the next at four.

Since 1937, a freshman has only led the Jayhawks in passing five times. By throwing for 203 yards at TCU (Nov. 14), rookie quarterback Ryan Willis became KU’s all-time freshman leading passer with 1,377 yards and since then, he has accumulated 1,504 yards on the season. He is the first freshman to lead Kansas in single-season passing since Jordan Webb in 2010.

Kansas is one of eight schools in the country to have started 20 or more different players on each side of the ball. KU has used 26 different players in the starting lineup on offense: three running backs, three quarterbacks, nine wide receivers, nine offensive linemen, one tight end and one fullback. On defense, the Jayhawks have started 20 different players: three cornerbacks, six safeties (including nickelbacks), four linebackers and seven defensive linemen.

Kansas is the only school in the nation to have five different players take snaps from center. Of those five, three different quarterbacks started at least one game for the Jayhawks, something only six other schools have done in 2015. There are only two schools in the nation, including KU, which have had two walk-on players suit up at quarterback, with in-state rival Kansas State being the other.

Junior Mathew Wyman may take that term literally as he assumed all four kicking duties at TCU on Nov. 14. Wyman averaged 43.4 yards on 11 punts, drilled a 42-yard field goal, kicked off four times with three touchbacks and converted two PATs. If one were keeping track of the yardage, Wyman booted the ball 815 yards throughout the course of the game. Against WVU (Nov. 21), Wyman tallied 584 yards on one kickoff and 12 punts, averaging 40.6 yards per punt. He is one of four kickers in the FBS who handle all four kicking duties: Lumi Kaba,Texas State; Rigoberto Sanchez, Hawai’i; and Austin Rekhow, Idaho.

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