Kansas State has won four straight Sunflower Showdowns, so very few active players know what it feels like to walk by an empty trophy case on their way through the lobby of the Vanier Football Complex.
But senior linebacker Blake Slaughter, who made the unusual decision to redshirt last season so he could be a major contributor in his fifth year, does.
As a freshman in 2009, he was part of the team that ended a three-game losing streak to Kansas with a 17-10 victory.
He helped bring the Governor’s Cup back to Manhattan, and it hasn’t left since. He hasn’t forgotten the significance of that victory.
“I remember it being special for that team, because of the struggles it had gone through and how hard that season had been,” Slaughter said. “I remember that being a turning point for our team and our defense. It was special.
“We hadn’t had it the three years before that. That was huge, being on your own turf with so many guys from Kansas, you definitely wanted that win for the guys who live here.”
The 17-10 victory came late in the season, improving K-State to 6-4 and giving the Wildcats a shot at the Big 12 North title in Bill Snyder’s first year back. They couldn’t keep that momentum going and lost their final two games to miss out on a bowl, but that win over Kansas was a sign of good things to come.
K-State has won its last three against Kansas by a combined score of 174-44. It has also played in three straight bowls and will soon play in another.
Looking back, Slaughter, who leads K-State with 88 tackles as a senior, can’t recall a more riveting post-game celebration.
“It was nuts. We were in the locker room and Coach Snyder had the biggest smile on his face,” Slaughter said. “Players were going nuts and the Governor brought in the cup. We were all fighting to put our hands on it. I remember it being special. We had a blast.”
If K-State beats Kansas on Saturday, he expects a calmer reaction. But beating the Jayhawks remains important to him. He remembers a time when the Governor’s Cup resided in Lawrence. He wants to keep it in Manhattan.
“My class has the opportunity to have it here every single year,” Slaughter said. “That’s what we want.”
Have a comment or future story idea for K-Stated?