Jayhawks and Wildcats Meet in Sunflower Showdown Season Finale
Kansas and Kansas State will meet for the 111th time in program history Saturday when the Jayhawks host the Wildcats for the Dillons Sunflower Showdown at Memorial Stadium in Lawrence. The game, which kicks off at 11 a.m., will be broadcast nationally on Fox Sports 1.
Both teams are searching for bounce-back victories after dropping Big 12 Conference games last weekend and could finish the regular season with a positive progression by claiming the Governor’s Cup. The Kansas-Kansas State series is the 14th-most played rivalry game in the country with Kansas holding a 65-40-5 record since the first meeting in 1902. The Wildcats have made considerable progress in the series with wins in 16 of the last 20 meetings, including four straight.
Kansas will honor it’s 2013 senior class prior to Saturday’s game, including running back James Sims, who became the first ever Jayhawk to rush for more than 1,000 yards in consecutive seasons with another 100-yard effort against Iowa State Saturday. Sims is just the third Kansas rusher to surpass 3,500 yards for his career with 3,510 and 34 touchdowns over the last four seasons.
This Day In Kansas Football History
November 30th games have been a rare occasion in Kansas history as the Jayhawks have played just seven contests on the date with a 3-4 overall record. Saturday’s contest will mark the first game on Nov. 30 in exactly 50 years and first against an opponent other than Missouri. The last meeting came on Nov. 30, 1963, a game originally scheduled for Nov. 23, but was postponed due to the assasination of President John F. Kennedy. Kansas dropped the 1963 contest, 9-7, despite keeping Missouri out of Jayhawk territory until the game’s final six minutes and eventual game-winning field goal drive. Missouri scored it lone touchdown on a fumble that was recovered two yards deep in the KU end zone and return 100-yards.
Kansas-Kansas State Connections
Kansas has 22 Sunflower state natives on its roster, while Kansas State fields 60 native Kansans on its roster. Both teams share a number of high school and Kansas junior college connections. Some significant connections include K-State starting QB Jake Waters, who used to share an offensive huddle with Kansas OL Mike Smithburg and played with KU S Isaiah Johnson at Iowa Western Community College. Kansas BUCK Michael Reynolds and K-State K Jack Cantele won three-straight district titles together at Kapaun Mt. Carmel in Wichita before college. Kansas NB Victor Simmons and DL Kevin Young played in high school with K-State LB Tre Walker at Olathe North HS. KU Director of Athletics, Dr. Sheahon Zenger, earned both a bachelors and masters degree from Kansas State. At age 23, Zenger joined Bill Snyder’s staff at Kansas State as one of the nation’s youngest full-time football staff members; he served in key roles as assistant recruiting coordinator and director of football operations for the Wildcats. Kansas Assistant to the AD George Matsakis also started his career in football at Kansas State under Snyder, working in the video department from 1993-96. KSU head strength and conditioning coach, Chris Dawson, previously served in the same capacity at KU.
The Jayhawks will honor 23 players prior to Saturday’s game against Kansas State as part of Senior Day. The following players have either exhausted their eligibility or have graduated and will not return next season.
One More Before Last Call?
Kansas is looking for its fourth win of the season, which would be the highest total since winning five games in 2009, and will have one last chance to do so. Since 2000, Kansas is 5-8 in regular season finales, and has lost four straight. KU’s last regular season finale win was a 40-37 win over Missouri at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Nov. 28, 2008. The Jayhawks last regular season finale win at home was a 24-21, overtime win against Iowa State Nov. 26, 2005.
Mr. Consistency Still Wracking up Yards
With 1,028 yards this season, Sims has collected more than 700 yards in each of his four seasons at KU and became the first player in Kansas history to rush for 1,000 yards in back-to-back sasons. Sims is again among the Big 12’s leading rushers, second overall in the league at 93.5 yards per game. Since the start of his freshman season in 2010, no Big 12 running back has rushed for more yards.
- James Sims (Kansas) 3,510
- Joseph Randle (Oklahoma St.) 3,085
- John Hubert (K-State) 2,690
- Collin Klein (K-State) 2,493
- Cyrus Gray (Texas A&M) 2,178
A Grand Season
Senior HB James Sims is one of 29 NCAA Division I players to rush for more than 1000 yards this season, but among only 13 players to rush for 1,000 yards in each of the last two seasons.
A Heaps of Yards
With 72 yards against Iowa State, Kansas junior QB Jake Heaps eclipsed 5,000 for his career, which includes two seasons at BYU and and one season with the Jayhawks. For perspective purposes, only four quarterbacks in KU history have thrown for more than 5,000 yards: Todd Reesing (11,194), Frank Seurer (6,410), Kelly Donohoe (5,382) and David Jaynes (5,132). In his career, Heaps has completed 477-of-867 passes for 5,044 yards, including 1,276 at Kansas, and has thrown for 31 touchdowns and 24 interceptions.
James Honored for ‘Sims’Sational effort
Senior HB James Sims earned Big 12 Player of the Week honors from the league (Nov. 18), Athlon Sports and ESPN as he set a new career-best with 211 rushing yards in Kansas’ win over West Virginia. His previous career-high was 176 yards against Texas in 2012.
Heeney Making up for Lost Time
Juior LB Heeney leads the Jayhawks with 78 tackles this season, including 10.0 for loss, despite missing two starts. Heeney ranks 27th in the country with 5.4 solo tackles per game. Since returning from a knee injury, Heeney has at least nine tackles in three of the last four games. He’s also recorded the first three interceptions of his career this season. The Hutchinson, Kan., native burst onto the scene in 2012 with 112 tackles in his first season as a starter for the Jayhawks. His tally included 66 solo stops and he led KU with 12.0 tackles-for-loss with one sack. Heeney earned second team All-Big 12 honors following the 2012 season from the conference coaches, the Associated Press and Phil Steele Magazine. He was listed as a preseason first team All-Big 12 member entering the 2013 season by Athlon, Lindy’s and The Sporting News. Additionally, Heeney was named to the College Football Performance Awards watch list for the top linebacker in the NCAA.
Still Our Guy
Junior P Trevor Pardula and his All-American counterpart Kirby Van Der Kamp had a tough time getting much accomplished on an icy, frigid field Saturday but Pardula managed to outkick the competition in average, 39.4 to 36.0, including one punt that was downed at the Iowa State five. Despite the difficult day, Pardula and the Jayhawks are still 17th in the country in net punting (39.44) and his 44.0 yards per punt are the 13th most in NCAA Division I.
He’s Adjusting Just Fine
Isaiah Johnson started his collegiate career as a wide receiver at Western Carolina and caught one pass against Georgia Tech before suffering a season-ending injury. The sophomore is still catching passes from quarterbacks, except now the KU safety is wearing the opposite uniform. Johnson leads the Jayhawks with four interceptions, including a two-interception performance at Texas. That total is the most for a Jayhawk in a single season since Darrell Stuckey – now a member of the San Diego Chargers – picked off five passes in 2008. Johnson, a Cary, N.C., native, is second on the team with 70 tackles, having started every game. His 0.36 interceptions per game are tied for second the Big 12 Conference and 35th nationally. Johnson, who played both ways in high school, switched to defense for spring ball at WCU in 2012 before logging eight interceptions as a redshirt freshman at Iowa Western Community College last year.
It’s Not You, It’s Me
Kansas junior DB JaCorey Shepherd has made breaking up look easy – passes anyway. Through 11 games the former wide receiver has 12 break-ups and the first two interceptions of his career. Shepherd is third in the Big 12 and 20th nationally with 1.3 passes defended per game.
Getting After the Quarterback
The Jayhawks were held without a sack for just the second time this season against Iowa State but have reached the quarterback 18 times during the 2013 campaign. That number is six more than last season’s total (12) and the most since the 2009 team had 30 sacks. Junior BUCK Michael Reynolds leads the defense with 5.5 sacks, the most for a Jayhawk since the 2009 season, when Jake Laptad (6.5), current defensive graduate assistant Max Onyegbule (6.0) and Jeff Wheeler (5.5) led the Jayhawks in sacks. Reynolds is fifth in the Big 12 Conference with 0.5 sacks per game.
First Time Charmers
The Jayhawks rank 34th nationally and third in the Big 12 Conference with 13 interceptions, reaching double-digits for the second-consecutive season after a high of eight in the previous three seasons. Not bad for a bunch of kids who had never intercepted a pass before. All five players responsible for the aerial takeaways intercepted their first pass in a KU uniform. Sophomore S Isaiah Johnson leads the Jayhawks with four interceptions, followed by junior LB Ben Heeney with three. Kansas junior CBs JaCorey Shepherd and Dexter McDonald both have two interceptions.
The Kansas Jayhawks will again feature one of the most talented scout team offenses in the country with quarterback transfer T.J. Millweard (UCLA) and wide receiver transfer Nick Harwell (Miami (Ohio)) sitting out due to NCAA transfer residency requirements. KU starters Jake Heaps and Justin McCay built repoire and tortured the first team defense while running the scout team last season. Millweard was slated to be the back-up in Westwood after redshirting as a freshman in 2012. The former top-100 Texas recruit from Colleyville, Texas, will be a redshirt sophomore in 2014 and have three seasons of eligibility remaining. Harwell, a 2011 Biletnikoff Award Watch List member and All-MAC First Team selection, brings an impressive resume to Kansas with 229 career receptions, 3,166 yards and 23 receiving touchdowns over three seasons with the Redhawks. The Missouri City, Texas native will have one year of eligibility remaining for next season.
Junior QB Jake Heaps, junior LB Ben Heeney, senior HB James Sims and junior DL Keon Stowers were selected by their peers as the 2013 team captains, while nine other players were appointed as members of the team leadership council. Kansas conducted a players vote on August 18 during fall camp. Members of the newly created leadership council include Jimmay Mundine,Christian Matthews, Tony Pierson, Pat Lewandowski, Keba Agostinho, Cassius Sendish, Dexter Linton, Darius Willis and Blake Jablonski.
- RB James Sims became the first Jayhawk to run for 200 or more yards in a game since Tony Pierson at Texas Tech last season, and logged the most rushing yards by a Kansas player since Reggie Duncan ran for 227 yards against Texas Tech during the 2001 season. The 211 yards was the 15th-best rushing effort in Kansas history
- Sims rushed for three touchdowns against West Virginia, guiding the Jayhawks to their first Big 12 win in more than three seasons. The last time a Jayhawk ran in three touchdowns in a single game was Sims in 2010 against Colorado – previously KU’s most recent win over a Big 12 foe.
- BUCK Ben Goodman had a game to remember against West Virginia as he picked up his first-career interception in the Kansas win. Goodman returned the interception for 54 yards giving Kansas the ball on WVU’s 14 yard line, setting up KU’s first score of the second half and halting what was a promising Mountaineer drive. Goodman also stuffed a potential scoring opportunity for WVU late in the first half, picking up his first-career blocked field goal.
- QB Jake Heaps threw a touchdown in each of the first seven games this season, the longest streak by a KU quarterback since Todd Reesing ended a three-year, 24-game TD streak in week seven of the 2009 season.
- Kansas recorded an interception in each of the first six games of the season, including two against Rice and TCU, a feat that hasn’t been accomplished since the Jayhawks logged an interception in six consecutive games near the end of the 2002 season. Including an interception in last season’s finale, the Jayhawks had interceptions in seven consecutive games, the team’s longest streak since picking off a pass in eight straight games during the 1995 season.
- WR Josh Ford blocked his second punt of the season against Oklahoma (10/19) after also blocking a kick in the season opener against South Dakota. Ford’s two blocks are the most by a Jayhawk since Ronnie Amadi blocked two punts during the 2005 campaign. Ford has made a significant impact on special teams with three career blocked kicks in 20 games.
- TE Jimmay Mundine caught a touchdown pass in four straight games – LA Tech, Texas Tech, TCU, Oklahoma – the longest streak for a Jayhawk since Kerry Meier’s four-game streak in 2009.
- CB JaCorey Shepherd earned honorable mention by the College Football Performance Awards (10/14) after he herded in his first career interception when he picked off TCU’s Trevone Boykin and returned it 32 yards for a touchdown. Shepherd followed that up with a forced fumble on the very next TCU offensive play.
- Texas Tech scored 38 of its 54 total points on drives that started at the 50 or inside KU territory, including four drives of 16 yards or less.
- Kansas had three sacks in each of the first three games this season. That number tied the team’s single-game high from the last two seasons. The last time Kansas logged three or more sacks in three consecutive games was 2009, during a season-opening stretch against Northern Colorado (3 sacks), UTEP (6 sacks) and Duke (5 sacks).
- QB Jake Heaps completed a career-high 28 passes against Louisiana Tech (9/21), five more than he had completed in the first two games combined. He also threw for 279 yards – the third-highest total in his career, which includes two seasons at BYU.
- K Matthew Wyman booted a walk-off, 52-yarder to lift Kansas over Louisiana Tech (9/21). The field goal was the longest by a Jayhawk since 2009 and marked the first time Kansas has won on the final play of the game since 2005. For his efforts, Wyman was named one of three Lou Groza Collegiate Place-Kicker Award “Stars of the Week”.
- P/K Trevor Pardula set a new Kansas record for punting average in a game after averaging 57.6 yards on five punts agaisnt Louisiana Tech. Additionally, three of his five punts were downed inside the 20. Pardula broke his previous career-long punt twice against LA Tech, including a 78-yard kick.
- K Matthew Wyman nailed a 45-yard field goal in the season opener – the longest by a Jayhawk kicker since Jacob Branstetter’s 46-yard make at Kansas State on Nov. 7, 2009.
- Kansas went without a TD catch from a wide receiver throughout the 2012 season, but QB Jake Heaps and WR Justin McCay ended that streak in the 2013 season-opener against South Dakota with a five-yard connection in the second quarter.
- QB Jake Heaps won his Kansas debut, becoming the seventh Jayhawk QB to lead his team to victory in 16 total debuts since 2000. Previous Jayhawk quarterbacks to win their debut in the last 12 years include Dayne Crist (2012), Jordan Webb (2011), Todd Reesing (2007), Kerry Meier (2006), Brian Luke (2004) and Zach Dyer (2001).
- QB Jake Heaps had good reason to be raring to go as his first start at Kansas on Saturday, Sept. 7, 2013, came 658 days after his last collegiate start on November 19, 2011 as BYU’s starting quarterback. A lot can happen in 94 weeks, including birthing an elephant, which at roughly 645 days counts as the longest gestational period for any mammal.
- Kansas entered the 2013 campaign looking to replace three veteran offensive linemen who combined to start 109 games along the offensive front. In comparison, Kansas’ sum total of starts for every offensive lineman on the 2013 roster was 25, or 27 if counting Pat Lewandowski’s two starts at defensive tackle.
- RB James Sims became the 11th player in program history to surpass the 1,000 yard mark in a season during the 2012 campaign, needing just eight games to get there. The 1,000-yard plateau has been reached a total of 13 times, including two 1,000+ efforts by Tony Sands (1989, ’91) and June Henley (1993, ’96). This year, Sims will look to join that exclusive two-man club and become the first Jayhawk to rush for 1,000 yards in back-to-back seasons. Sims’ total rushing yardage last season (1,013) was the 13th-best, single-season effort and his 112.6 yards per game ranked as the fifth-best per game mark in KU history.