When Kansas has the ball
Kansas rush offense vs. Kansas State rush defense
Though sound during the Bill Snyder era in just about every defensive category, the Wildcats have been less than impressive against opponents’ rushing attacks so far this season. A big reason for K-State’s high yardage total against — 1,233 yards in five games — was Nebraska’s nasty total of 451 rushing yards during last week’s loss. Quarterback Taylor Martinez gained 241 of those yards, and tailback Roy Helu Jr. added 110, so the ’Cats are vulnerable against the run in a couple of areas. While KU QB Jordan Webb doesn’t run like Martinez and freshman James Sims doesn’t have the experience of Helu, both could create problems for K-State, both inside and out.
Kansas pass offense vs. Kansas State pass defense
Like Kansas, the Wildcats have yet to face a true test against the pass this season. Because of that, K-State’s numbers against the pass appear sound, as the Wildcats give up just 150 yards per game and have only allowed five passing TDs. Kansas State’s defensive backs are fast and athletic, but so are KU’s wide receivers. The Jayhawks have emphasized throwing the ball down the field more in recent weeks. If given the time to do so, Webb could be in for a big night.
When Kansas State has the ball
Kansas State rush offense vs. Kansas rush defense
Even though the Jayhawks have been more sound against rushing teams than passing teams this season, the Wildcats get the edge in this category with ease. For one, KU’s defense still has surrendered 938 yards on the ground in five games, for an average of nearly 200 per game. In addition, K-State running back Daniel Thomas (127 carries, 706 yards, six TDs) might be the best player in the conference, and, at times this season, he has looked nearly unstoppable.
Edge: Kansas State
Kansas State pass offense vs. Kansas pass defense
While the Wildcats have one of the best rushing attacks in the conference, their passing game is the complete opposite. At 156 yards per game, the Wildcats are dead last in the Big 12 in that category and also are near the bottom in touchdown passes (six), average yards per pass (7.4), completions (67) and attempts (105). While the KU defense hasn’t been outstanding against the pass this season, the Jayhawks also haven’t been awful.
Because the Jayhawks have yet to put together a complete game in the special-teams department, this unit has to be looked at as something of a weakness. Kansas has given up two blocked punts, struggled mightily in both kickoff-return coverage and the kicking game and has been inconsistent at best in its return game — top-notch at times and downright awful at others. The Wildcats, on the other hand, have been pretty vanilla throughout the season. There’s no trickery to what K-State does in this area of the game. Instead, KSU coach Bill Snyder puts his best players on the field and expects them to avoid mistakes. For the most part, they’ve done that this season, averaging a decent 28.2 yards on kickoff returns and nailing six of seven field goals they’ve attempted.
Edge: Kansas State