The Battle for the Governor’s Cup

The Sunflower Showdown is the storied rivalry between the Kansas Jayhawks and the Kansas State Wildcats. They meet for the 111th time in the 2013 edition of rivalry week. Being the 14th most played game in the country, the Governor’s Cup is no joke. The rivalry dates back to 1902, where the Jayhawks won 16-0. Kansas won the opening four games of the rivalry. In the early days of the rivalry, Kansas was dominant. From 1902 to 1923 Kansas only lost once, in 1906 by a score of 6-4. There were three ties as well (1916 0-0, 1922 7-7, 1923-0-0).

For all time results, Kansas leads 65-40-5. However, in the recent years (from 1969 to now), the Wildcats have the winning record of 24-19-1. Kansas State has won the past four matchups against the Jayhawks, the past three being blowouts. The last time Kansas beat K-State was in front of one of the biggest recorded crowds for the Sunflower Showdown. Kansas handily won against the Wildcats in 2008, 52-21, with a crowd of 52,230 cheering the Jayhawks on to victory.

What’s Kansas dealing with today? The 3-8 Jayhawks host a 6-5 bowl eligible K-State team. Both teams were dealt losses last week. Kansas lost to Iowa State in the frigid tundra of Ames, where K-State lost at home to the Sooners of Oklahoma. Kansas has a hard game ahead of them, even though the Wildcats aren’t ranked. K-State boasts 70th in the FBS for passing yards, averaging 226 per game. They’re ranked even higher in the country for rushing yards as well at 57th, running an average of 177.9 yards a game.

The offense knows how to put points on the board, averaging 33.6 points a game, having them ranked 42nd in the country. Their defense? They know how to stop an offense, that’s for sure.  The Wildcats hold their opponents to an average of 24.9 points per game, ranking the 48th in the country. The star of their defense, Ryan Mueller, leads the Big 12 in sacks and tackles for loss. With 55 tackles on the year, he has 17 that happened behind the line of scrimmage, ranking him eighth nationally.

Kansas State has a good quarterback at the helm of their offense.The 6’1” junior from Council Bluffs, IA has thrown just over 2,000 yards on the season for 13 touchdowns and eight interceptions, where five of those came in the first three weeks of the season. In just November alone, Jake Waters has thrown six touchdown passes. His longest pass of the season was a 90-yard long shot last week against Oklahoma. Waters’ main target is Tyler Lockett. He’s had six 100-yard games this season, including two games where he broke the 200 yard mark (237-Texas, 278-Oklahoma). He’s not just a wideout though, he’s K-State’s leading returner as well.

How is Kansas going to strike back? It’s James Sims’ last game as a Jayhawk. He has 325 yards in the last two games. He’s undoubtedly one of the best running backs in Kansas history. He is the first in Kansas history to rush for 1,000 yards in back-to-back seasons. He’s just the third to break 3,500 career yards. His career best? 211 yards in a game against West Virginia two weeks ago.

Senior day in Kansas is going to be a difficult one, because after this game, the Jayhawks lose linebacker Prinz Kande, wide receiver Josh Ford, defensive lineman Jordan Tavai, wide receiver Christian Matthews, punter/kicker Ron Doherty, safety Dexter Linton, running back James Sims,  running back Taylor Cox, tight end Nick Sizemore, cornerback Deron Dangerfield, buck Darius Willis, long snapper Zackary Young, offensive lineman Randall Dent, offensive lineman Gavin Howard, offensive lineman Riley Spencer, tight end Charles Brooks, wide receiver Nick Harwell, defensive lineman Kevin Young, defensive lineman Shane Smith, and defensive lineman Keba Agostinho.

With all the seniors playing their last game, who knows what could happen? Will their emotions get the best of them? Will they channel their emotions into victory?