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Sunflower State showdown pits Wildcats against Jayhawks

State bragging right are on the line, as Big 12 Conference rivals Kansas State and Kansas square off in Lawrence.

Bill Snyder has his 12th-ranked Wildcats playing tremendous ball, as they have won all six of their games to this points in the season. They have proven more than capable of winning close contests, and last weekend they bested Texas Tech on the road by a 41-34 final. That triumph lifted Kansas State to 3-0 in Big 12 action, and the club is quietly keeping pace with the Oklahoma Sooners and Oklahoma State Cowboys whom it will face in succession following this weekend's affair.

"I appreciate their effort, I appreciate their toughness, I appreciate their willingness to make a commitment," said Snyder of his players after K-State earned its first win at Texas Tech since 1997.

Since opening the season with back-to-back wins over inferior competition, Turner Gill's Kansas squad has suffered four consecutive defeats. The last two outings have been ugly, as a 70-28 loss to Oklahoma State was followed by last weekend's 47-17 home beating at the hands of Oklahoma.

"It's extremely frustrating because the No. 1 team came in here (to Lawrence) and we had them and we just didn't execute like we wanted to," said Kansas RB James Sims after a game that was a bit more competitive than the final score suggests. "We'll get better. We're still a young team, and OU is OU. We'll just execute and get better day by day at practice."

Kansas owns a 65-38-5 series leas over Kansas State, but the Wildcats crushed the Jayhawks last season by a 59-7 final in Lawrence.

Kansas State outscored Texas Tech 21-6 over the final two quarters of last weekend's game to claim the victory. The Wildcats finished with a modest total of 339 yards, but they didn't commit a single turnover and got into the end zone four times on offense. Quarterback Collin Klein ran for 110 yards and three touchdowns while passing for 146 yards and a score. Only one sack was permitted by an outstanding offensive line.

Texas Tech was able to post 32 first downs and 580 total yards against Kansas State, which faced 63 passes. To the credit of the Wildcats, they hung tough and intercepted three passes, key to the victory. In all, K-State came up with four takeaways and permitted just 3.6 yards per rushing attempt.

"You just keep trying to win the next one and not get ahead of ourselves and I appreciate these young people on this football team because I think they have a pretty genuine commitment to doing exactly that," said Snyder.

Through the six outings, K-State is generating 29.3 ppg and 336.2 total ypg, and 12 of the 19 offensive TDs have been rushing scores. Klein has reached paydirt on the ground 10 times, and his 578 rushing yards place him ahead of John Hubert (545) for the team lead. Klein has passed for seven TDs, and Chris Harper leads the club with three touchdown receptions.

Give the K-State defense plenty of credit for limiting its first six opponents to 19.5 ppg and 345.7 total ypg. The Wildcats are permitting a mere 96.8 rushing ypg and 3.2 ypc, and while they have been victimized for 248.8 passing ypg, opposing quarterbacks have thrown more interceptions (10) than TD passes (eight).

Kansas trailed Oklahoma by just seven points late in the third quarter last weekend before surrendering 23 unanswered points to close out the contest. The offense simply didn't make enough plays for the Jayhawks, who finished with 252 total yards and two touchdowns. They gained a modest 3.8 rushing ypc and 8.3 yards per pass completion, numbers that simply will not lead to many wins. Also worthy of mention is that Kansas was a dismal 3-of-17 on third-down conversion attempts.

The Jayhawk defense was praised by players and coaches alike for the effort against Oklahoma, a rarity considering the fact that the opponent finished with 47 points. Kansas gave up some big plays, permitting the Sooners' top receiver to catch two long TD passes. OU posted 610 total yards and averaged 6.2 yards per rushing attempt, so the praise for the defense is perplexing to say the least.

Through six games, Kansas is generating 31.7 ppg and 425.2 total ypg while allowing 49.0 ppg and 565.0 total ypg to foes. The Jayhawks have scored 26 offensive touchdowns, an impressive total, but they have yielded a staggering 39 TDs to opposing offenses.

Jordan Webb has taken the bulk of the snaps for Kansas, completing 65.5 percent of his passes for 1,238 yards with 11 TDs and five interceptions. As for Sims, he has rushed for 455 yards and six scores.