The key: After Kansas opened with a promising drive that ended with a 34-yard field goal, K-State wasted no time answering with a six-play, 70-yard touchdown march, capped by Winston Dimel’s 1-yard dive into the end zone.
The key: KU quarterback Carter Stanley made his team’s costliest mistake, hitting Kansas State’s Donnie Starks for an interception that was returned 39 yards for a touchdown. The point-after gave the Wildcats a 20-3 advantage.
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The key: Backed up at its own end, KU had its best offensive play of the day, as Stanley delivered an accurate deep ball to receiver LaQuvionte Gonzalez for a 95-yard score.
The key: KU’s last offensive drive of the season — fittingly — ended with a turnover. Stanley fumbled on a rush attempt, with K-State’s Cre Moore recovering it.
Offense: C. When it mattered most in the first half, KU’s offense was an overall negative, responsible for a field goal but also a backbreaking pick-six in eight possessions. The Jayhawks responded with an effective second half, though, which included three 70-plus-yard drives.
Defense: B-. In a low-possession game, KU’s defense allowed touchdowns on 4 of 13 drives. The Jayhawks’ linebackers struggled against the run game in particular, as Keith Loneker and Courtney Arnick were too often taken out of their gaps by K-State misdirection.
Special teams: A. KU did more than break even against K-State’s impressive special teams, outperforming the Wildcats in nearly every facet. That included a successful onside kick attempt and a 34- and 44-yard field goals from Matthew Wyman.
Coaching: C+. KU coach David Beaty made some good decisions while playing to win, going for a two-point conversion when down 18 and also attempting an onside kick to give his team energy late.
Offense: C. Alex Barnes is K-State’s best offensive weapon, but he didn’t touch the ball a single time in the first quarter and only saw 10 carries. Why isn’t he the focal point of his attack?
Defense: B. The Wildcats were strong in the first half and Donnie Starks’ pick six was huge. But the Jayhawks tore them apart in the second half.
Special teams: D. The Wildcats missed a field goal and an extra point. They also gave the Jayhawks an extra first down by roughing the punter and gave up an onside kick. Not the best day.
Coaching: B. K-State was once again well prepared for the Sunflower Showdown. The Wildcats have won eight straight against the Wildcats.
Players of the game
Kansas: Safety Fish Smithson ended a productive KU career with 11 solo tackles and a pass breakup.
K-State: Alex Barnes. The freshman running back rushed for 103 yards and a touchdown, flashing eye-popping speed and power every time he touched the ball. And he only saw 10 carries.
Reasons to hope
Kansas: KU has legitimate playmakers returning next season in sophomore receiver Steven Sims, sophomore defensive linemen Dorance Armstrong and Daniel Wise and freshman safety Mike Lee.
K-State: K-State has won four of its past five games and can finish 8-4 with a victory at TCU. That would send it to a respectable postseason destination, perhaps the Texas Bowl.
Reasons to mope
Kansas: The offense still lags well behind nearly every other Big 12 school. One has to wonder if Beaty will turn play-calling duties over to a new coordinator next season.
K-State: The Wildcats looked far from sharp Saturday. They might have had trouble with a stronger opponent.