B.J. Finney has lots of experience with the Governor’s Cup. The fifth-year senior center has walked past the prize each and every day of his college career on his way into Kansas State’s football complex, cherishing its presence like a priceless painting.
So when you ask Finney what it feels like to help the Wildcats win the trophy for a sixth straight time, beating Kansas 51-13 on senior day Saturday at Snyder Family Stadium, it seems only natural that his eyes light up as if it was a first-time experience.
“It’s more fulfilling, because it’s your senior year and it’s the last time you’re going to be playing them and getting a win over them,” Finney said. “All week, the coaches were telling us this is a game that the seniors are always going to remember. You remember the KU game your senior year more vividly than the other ones. It was more emotional this time.
Finney paused to smile.
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“It’s a good day as long as you walk in the door and the first thing you see is that Governor’s Cup,” he continued. “Let’s keep it here.”
That mind-set continues to make the Sunflower Showdown one of the dullest in-state rivalries in major-college football. Though the Governor’s Cup is up for grabs each and every year, it lives in Manhattan.
Thanks to a dominating victory over Kansas in front of 53,439 fans, the third-largest crowd to watch a K-State home game, the Wildcats secured their sixth straight win over the Jayhawks. Longtime coach Bill Snyder can continue displaying the prize in the trophy case of his choosing, just like he has since his return in 2009.
His delight was evident in his postgame speech with players.
“I told them that this was our governor and we like having him in our locker room,” Snyder said. “We would like to make sure that he continues visiting us after ball games.”
This victory resembled the governor’s five previous locker-room visits in the series, which K-State won by an average of 31.6 points.
K-State, 9-2 overall and 7-1 in the Big 12, got off to an ideal start and never looked back for one of its most lopsided wins of the season. The victory keeps the Wildcats in a three-way battle with TCU and Baylor for the Big 12 championship.
The title scenarios are simple. If K-State defeats the Bears on the road next week, it clinches at least a share of the league title with TCU. The Wildcats can also clinch an outright championship by beating Baylor if TCU falls to Iowa State on the same day.
“We are going to be ready to go,” K-State senior defensive end Ryan Mueller said. “We are going to prepare like we have never prepared, because we know what is on the line. Everybody on the team is going to put in a lot of work to make sure we can go down there and give them our best.”
You could tell that’s what K-State was giving Saturday in the opening 5 minutes. On the Jayhawks’ first two drives, they went three-and-out and tossed an interception. On the Wildcats’ first two drives, Jake Waters scored a touchdown on a quarterback sneak and threw a 44-yard TD strike to Tyler Lockett.
With 10:18 seconds remaining in the first quarter, K-State possessed a 14-0 lead.
“They jumped all over us,” said Clint Bowen, serving in his final game as the Jayhawks’ interim coach. “It was 14-0 before anything even happened, and we did not need that. We are coming into a road game and everyone knows the story about out road woes. We were looking for something good to happen early, but it did not.”
Things got worse. As Kansas, 3-9 overall and 1-8 in the Big 12, was trying to make it a one-score game, Michael Cummings threw his second interception near the goal line on a bizarre play. As Cummings attempted to hit receiver Rodriguez Coleman for a first down, Coleman kicked out his leg and sent the ball 10 yards into the air. K-State cornerbacks Morgan Burns and Randall Evans converged as it dropped back to earth, and Evans had an interception.
That led to a K-State field goal.
Still, Kansas fought back and made the score 17-6 in the second quarter on a 27-yard pass from Cummings to Nick Harwell.
K-State answered with an 11-yard touchdown run by Charles Jones and 6-yard touchdown catch by Lockett.
It was a big day for Lockett. The senior receiver grabbed nine passes for 119 yards and two touchdowns, moving him to the top of K-State’s record books in receptions and tying his father, Kevin, for the school record in touchdown receptions. He already owned the school record for receiving yards.
“Having the opportunity to break any record here, even in winter workouts, they seem impossible to break,” Lockett said. “Looking at my dad’s records before I even came here you would think nobody is ever going to break that. … It’s just one of those things you can cherish.”
Waters also had a nice day throwing the ball. On top of his many connections with Lockett, he passed to Curry Sexton for 141 yards and a touchdown. Overall, Waters had 294 passing yards and four touchdowns before making way for backup Joe Hubener in the fourth quarter.
Kansas opened the third quarter with a touchdown pass from Cummings to tight end Trent Smiley that made the score 38-13, but K-State was much too strong on this day.
Unlike some of its past games, K-State had an overall strong performance. A week after rushing for a single yard against West Virginia, the Wildcats ran for 173 yards and two scores against Kansas.
DeMarcus Robinson led the way with 64 yards in eight carries, while Charles Jones had 42 yards and a touchdown in nine carries. Jones also added a 13-yard touchdown catch.
Combined, it was once again enough to keep the Governor’s Cup in Manhattan. K-State’s current group of seniors went undefeated against Kansas.
“It’s amazing. Not too many people can say that,” Lockett said. “People tell me my dad never lost to them and my uncle never lost to them. It is just one of those deals when you come here you realize how important the rivalry is … I enjoyed every moment of it.”