The Week Ahead: Sunflower Showdown continues to be a rivalry of streaks

Sunflower Showdown? More like Sunflower Beatdown.

Kansas State has won four straight football games against Kansas by a combined score of 191-54. Bill Snyder has owned this rivalry since he came out of retirement before the 2009 season. And that shouldn’t surprise anyone. Though K-State has won 16 of 20 in the series, it has won 15 of 16 with Snyder as coach.

Former KU coach Mark Mangino reeled off three straight against Ron Prince, but he only beat Snyder once, in 2004. K-State blew away Kansas twice when Turner Gill was its coach. Charlie Weis lost 56-16 in his introduction to the series last year.

There is a reason why K-State is favored by 17 points on the road this week.

What makes the Sunflower Showdown unique is that things get reversed during basketball season. Kansas has won five straight and 47 of 50 on the hardwood. Year in and year out, this is a predictable rivalry.

Here is a look at that and everything else you need to know about the week ahead:

The Game
K-State travels to Kansas for another 11 a.m. kickoff on Fox Sports 1. Both teams are coming off losses, so they will be motivated to end the regular season with a victory. The weather should be much better for both teams than what they experienced last week, when K-State faced strong winds and Kansas faced hockey conditions.

The Opponent
Kansas has played close to expectations all season, winning three games and ending a long Big 12 losing streak. It needs to beat K-State to have a shot at finishing above Iowa State in the final conference standings.

Kansas is one of the few teams that averages more yards on the ground than through the air. Behind James Sims, who has more than 1,000 yards already, the Jayhawks are capable of running the ball on most opponents.

But that isn’t always the case. Because of inconsistent quarterback play from Jake Heaps and Montell Cozart, the Jayhawks are averaging less than 140 passing yards per game. That allows defenses to focus on the run and use everything it has to win the line of scrimmage.

Cozart was under center for the Jayhawks’ lone Big 12 victory against West Virginia two weeks ago, but he played so poorly against Iowa State that Heaps played most of the second half. On Monday, Weis said he will not announce a starting quarterback until Saturday.

Bowl Watch
Oklahoma State’s blowout victory over Baylor threw a wild card into the mix. If the Cowboys and Bears both qualify for BCS bowl games, which is now a possibility, the Wildcats will drop no lower than the Holiday Bowl. But if only one Big 12 team advances to the BCS, the Texas Bowl will be in play.

Here are the scenarios for each possible bowl game:

Texas Bowl: K-State will end up in Houston if it loses at Kansas and the Big 12 only has one BCS team.

Holiday Bowl: The Wildcats will play in San Diego if they lose to Kansas and two Big 12 teams qualify for the BCS or if they beat Kansas and Texas defeats Texas Tech and only one Big 12 team qualifies for the BCS. K-State could also leapfrog Texas Tech if both teams win this week, simply because the Holiday Bowl prefers K-State, but that is no guarantee.

Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl: K-State could head to Tempe if it beats Kansas, Texas defeats Texas Tech and two Big 12 teams advance to the BCS. Of course, the Wildcats played in the nearby Fiesta Bowl last year, so the BWW Bowl might prefer Texas Tech to avoid a repeat trip for K-State fans. Again, there are no guarantees.

– Most bowl projections still have K-State going to the Texas Bowl, but ESPN’s Big 12 blog thinks K-State will end up in the Holiday Bowl.

– From late last week, Bill Snyder’s hand-written notes continue to impress.

– Kansas turned its focus to the Sunflower Showdown almost immediately following a 34-0 loss at Iowa State. Charlie Weis has previously said the Jayhawks will treat this game like a bowl game.

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