KSAL Staff - November 23, 2015 8:00 am
MAC STEVENSON LIVES IN SALINA, AND WRITES A WEEKLY COLUMN FOR OVER TEN NEWSPAPERS IN KANSAS
Kansas and Kansas State will play football for the 118th time this Saturday (Nov. 28) at Memorial Stadium in Lawrence. KU leads the overall series 65-47-5 (ties). The game is set for 3:00 pm with a national telecast by Fox Sports 1.
This could be the last game that Bill Snyder coaches Kansas State against Kansas; if that becomes fact, it will set off a celebration in Lawrence that makes New Year’s Eve seem like a tea party.
Coach Snyder began his K-State era in 1989, when the cupboard was bare indeed. Snyder’s Wildcats lost three of their first four games against the Jayhawks. Since 1992, Snyder-coached teams at K-State have gone 18-1 against KU—that’s an incredible and improbable feat.
Most of the 117 games played between the old rivals have been emotional affairs; despite the disappointing records of both teams, the competition this Saturday will be fierce—more so than many Wildcat-Jayhawk games that preceded it.
Kansas State is coming off a marvelous and miraculous comeback win (38-35) win against Iowa State that the Wildcats had to have. The win kept K-State in contention for bowl eligibility if they defeat KU and win their last game against West Virginia.
K-State will be heavily favored, but beating KU won’t be as easy as it would have been seven or eight weeks ago. Even though KU was flat against West Virginia last week, the ultra-young Jayhawks have improved under their new coaching staff headed by David Beaty. Kansas is 0-11 for the season after their 49-0 loss to West Virginia, but the Jayhawks’ players haven’t tossed in the towel. They’ve played hard all season.
Besides the KU-K-State factor, the incentive will be sky-high for both ball clubs; K-State still wants to go to a bowl game, while a win would salvage some pride for KU’s players and be a springboard for the 2016 season.
Kansas State has the edge in overall talent and experience, but the difference isn’t as great as it has been in recent years. K-State’s biggest advantages are their offensive and defensive lines, which are superior to KU’s. You couldn’t tell it from the West Virginia game, but the Jayhawks have made significant strides on defense. Neither team has much quality depth on their OL or DL. Both linebacker corps and defensive backfields are mediocre.
The quarterback positions are harder to analyze because K-State’s Joe Hubener has the better OL ahead of him. KU starts freshman Ryan Willis and he’s shown a lot of promise in the second half of the season. The QBs are close to even. And their pass receivers are also similar in ability.
The weather and crowd will be factors; if it’s a nice day, KU’s students should turn out in force, but the alums may or may not. It’s going to be embarrassing for Jayhawk followers if K-State has more fans in the stadium than KU; regardless, it’s going to be an exciting game. State pride is at stake.
If Snyder’s going to step down, it will be interesting to see if he does it before or after the KU game; the guess here is that it will be after. As for KU, it’s no secret that the coaching staff has been pointing to this game just like they would for an important bowl game. Both teams will be ready to give it all they have on the field and the stadium will be packed. This will be a hard-fought college football game. The prediction: K-State 28—KU 10.
Patience may be a virtue, but it has its limits. Kansas basketball coach Bill Self’s patience regarding the NCAA’s handling of the Cheick Diallo eligibility case hit a dead-end Saturday in Hawaii.
The NCAA’s conduct during the Diallo eligibility case has been inexcusably inept and unfair. Coach Self expressed his frustration publicly for the first time, saying, “Needless to say, we’re very upset . . . the NCAA was given a list of 19 things 11 days ago on discrepancies or missteps or things that we really struggled with, and they said they would respond to us in writing and they have yet to do that. So we decided to go ahead and take matters into our own hands. And we have found out that everything they have told us in why he wasn’t eligible — they even brought up class attendance, which wasn’t true, they brought up curriculum changes that weren’t true — they brought up several things that weren’t 100 percent accurate.”
Congratulations to Self. The inflexible attitudes of many members of academe don’t have to be unreservedly accepted by those affected by the NCAA. Self has shown great restraint in not making public statements about the situation. But patience has its limits.