Quick recap: Kansas suffers 31-27 loss to Kansas State in Sunflower Showdown

Kansas running back Daniel Hishaw Jr. (20) breaks away from the Kansas State defense during the second quarter on Saturday Nov. 18, 2023 at Memorial Stadium. Photo by Nick Krug

No. 23 Kansas State extended its recent dominance in the Sunflower Showdown by recording a 15th consecutive win over Kansas. The Wildcats took advantage of multiple miscues by the Jayhawks, particularly in the special teams department, en route to a 31-27 win on Saturday night inside David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium.

Even with third-string quarterback Cole Ballard under center for the duration of the game, Kansas (7-4, 4-4 Big 12) had its fair share of opportunities to end its skid in this in-state rivalry.

There was Rich Miller’s dropped pick-six in the third quarter, which would have extended KU’s 27-16 advantage at the time. Nine plays later, KSU running back DJ Giddens delivered a 1-yard touchdown run and quarterback Will Howard scored on a two-point conversion to pull within a field goal.

In the fourth quarter, the Wildcats (8-3, 6-2 Big 12) took advantage of a muffed punt by Trevor Wilson. This sequence came after Kansas was called for a fair catch interference on the previous punt. Howard gave K-State the lead with a 15-yard touchdown run following the fumble.

Trailing 31-27, the Jayhawks still had a chance. They marched down the field into the red zone, only for Ballard to throw his second interception of the night on a gutsy fourth-down attempt by Lance Leipold and his coaching staff.

Kansas put together a near-perfect game plan with a third-string quarterback. The offense leaned on the ground game and called plenty of direct snaps to skill position players. Running back Devin Neal led the way with 138 yards and three scores on 18 attempts in a losing effort.

The Jayhawks simply made too many mistakes to complete the upset, dropping their second game in a row.

Kansas will travel to Cincinnati for the regular-season finale on Saturday.

How they scored

First quarter

13:44 — Ben Sinnott 11-yard pass from Will Howard. Chris Tennant kick is good. Five plays, 75 yards, 1:16 TOP. Kansas State 7, Kansas 0.

2:05 — Devin Neal 36-yard run. Seth Keller kick is good. 11 plays, 82 yards, 6:10 TOP. Kansas 7, Kansas State 7.

Second quarter

10:57 — Neal 9-yard touchdown run. Keller kick is blocked. Keenan Garber 91-yard return. Eight plays, 76 yards, 4:28 TOP. Kansas 13, Kansas State 9.

7:26 — Keagan Johnson 11-yard pass from Howard. Tennant kick good. Eight plays, 75 yards, 3:33 TOP. Kansas State 16, Kansas 13.

00:26 — Lawrence Arnold 5-yard touchdown pass from Cole Ballard. Keller kick is good. 13 plays, 75 yards, 7:00 TOP. Kansas 20, Kansas State 16.

Third quarter

13:28 — Neal 2-yard run. Seth Keller kick good. Three plays, 65 yards, 1:32 TOP. Kansas 27, Kansas State 16.

6:37 — DJ Giddens 1-yard run. WIll Howard two-point conversion good.10 plays, 87 yards, 4:01 TOP. Kansas 27, Kansas State 24.

Fourth quarter

10:22 — Will Howard 14-yard run. Tennant kick good. Six plays, 55 yards, 3:01 TOP. Kansas State 31, Kansas 27.


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