Key play: Morgan Burns blocked a punt on KU’s opening drive, setting up an easy K-State score.
Key stat: Burns blocked two punts and intercepted a pass.
Key play: Wildcats QB Joe Hubener found the end zone on a short run and gave K-State a 35-7 lead early in the second quarter.
Key stat: K-State went for it twice on fourth down and converted both attempts.
Key play: K-State stuffed KU on fourth and 1 in the red zone.
Key stat: The only points of the quarter came on a field goal by K-State’s Matthew McCrane.
Key play: Hubener ran for K-State’s final TD, giving the Wildcats a 45-7 lead.
Key stat: The Wildcats had a big enough lead to use two backup quarterbacks, Kody Cook and Zach Davidson.
Player of the game: K-State defensive back Morgan Burns blocked a punt, forced a fumble, scored a touchdown and intercepted a pass. He did it all.
Reason to hope for K-State: The Wildcats still own the Sunflower Showdown under Bill Snyder. This was the worst team they’ve had in years, and they were miles better than the Jayhawks.
Reason to mope for K-State: There is no guarantee the Wildcats will reach a bowl. They need one more victory to clinch a bowl invite, and they will have to beat red-hot West Virginia to reach 6-6.
Up next: West Virginia visits Manhattan in the season finale for both teams. The Mountaineers will likely be favored, as they have looked dominant during the four-game winning streak.
The Jayhawks may have found something in freshman quarterback Ryan Willis, who appears to be the quarterback of the future. Looking to the future, though, the Jayhawks must score more points if they want to compete in the Big 12. KU had offensive-line issues and inexperienced receivers, and the offense never took off.
The Jayhawks allowed more points this season (553) than any in program history. KU was continually dominated physically in the trenches, but its discipline was an issue, too. When other teams ran the ball, the Jayhawks were often caught out of their gaps. This is more concerning than the talent deficiency.
KU punter Matthew Wyman took blame for the punting fiascos Saturday. He dropped his first punt attempt and saw the next one blocked. But Wyman, who doubles as the kicker, is learning to punt after taking over in midseason. It’s not all his fault. On the whole, the Jayhawks had some nice moments on special teams this season. But KU coach David Beaty wants to make special teams a hallmark of his program. From that standpoint, Saturday was disappointing.
It’s almost impossible to judge Beaty off wins and losses this season. The season-opening loss to South Dakota State was a setback, but that game might have looked different if senior quarterback Michael Cummings didn’t get hurt in the spring. In 2015, the cupboard was bare. In 2016, Beaty must continue to show progress on the recruiting trail and in developing his current roster.
K-State took advantage of excellent field position and took a big, early lead with its running game. The second half was boring to watch, but the Wildcats could afford to play it safe.
The secondary snagged its first interception of the season, and the defensive line came up big on two fourth-down conversion attempts by Kansas. The Jayhawks only sustained two drives all day.
K-State made KU look silly on special teams, turning two punts into touchdowns. The Wildcats also were perfect in the kicking game.
The weather was miserable and the crowd was small. This wasn’t the easiest game to get up for, but the Wildcats were fired up from the beginning.