This game comes at an ideal time for both teams. K-State, fresh off four losses in five games, needs a victory to even its record and potentially build toward a strong finish. Playing as 24-point favorites could be just what the doctor ordered for the Wildcats. KU has lost six straight, but a win over K-State would mean the world to coach David Beaty and the Jayhawks.
K-State key to success: Score early. The Wildcats have traditionally trounced the Jayhawks under Bill Snyder, and they are likely to do so again if they race to an early lead. The last thing K-State wants to do is start slow and give KU confidence coming off a pair of shutout losses.
K-State player to watch: Byron Pringle. It’s been a disappointing season for the junior receiver, but he led K-State in receiving yards with 80 against TCU and 70 against Oklahoma. This could be a breakout game for him, especially if Jesse Ertz returns at quarterback. KU is allowing 289.1 passing yards per game.
KU key to success: Find anything that works offensively. KU has been shut out in consecutive weeks, the first time that’s happened since 1986 and only the second time it’s taken place in the program’s last 59 seasons. The Jayhawks’ issues start up front, but it still would be a huge boost if receiver Steven Sims or quarterback Peyton Bender was able to make a big play to inject some life into a unit that has been emotionless the last two games.
KU player to watch: Defensive end Dorance Armstrong called out some of his teammates during media interviews this week, saying it appeared some players on the team cared more than others. Because of that, lots of eyes will be on him to see how much energy he brings — and also how he performs against the Wildcats.
Key matchup: KU’s offensive line vs. K-State’s defensive front. Ever since center Mesa Ribordy left the lineup two weeks ago because of an undisclosed injury, KU’s offense has tanked. The Jayhawks had 106 yards against Iowa State before backing that up with a 21-yard effort against TCU — the worst mark by an FBS program since at least 1996. KU coach David Beaty listed Ribordy as a game-time decision for this week, and if he doesn’t play, the Jayhawks will have to quickly find answers to help stabilize their shaky line against a K-State pass rush that will be hungry for sacks.
Kellis Robinett’s prediction
Kansas State 44, Kansas 7. The Wildcats will snap out of their slump with a blowout victory on Saturday. Under Snyder, K-State has won nine straight against KU, including seven in a row by at least 21 points. Expect more of the same in a get-right matchup.
Jesse Newell’s prediction
Kansas State 45, Kansas 10. With Ribordy, KU’s offense has been respectable and even good at times. Without him, the offense has looked like the worst unit in FBS. Whether he plays — and can be effective — will go a long way toward determining how this game might unfold. Assuming he doesn’t go, though, it’s tough to envision a scenario where the Jayhawks’ scoring magically reappears to keep the contest competitive.