November 16, 2006

The game up close: K-State at Kansas

The Sunflower Showdown is always special, but few meetings between Kansas State and Kansas in recent years have had as much intrigue as the one set for Saturday. The Wildcats, coming off an upset of No. 4 Texas, are one of the hottest teams in the Big 12 Conference. Kansas is still looking to become bowl eligible with two games left. Can the Jayhawks seal what would be their second straight bowl berth at the Wildcats expense, or can K-State win its fourth straight game and continue riding a wave of momentum into the post-season?

The Game Up Close: Kansas State (7-4, 4-3) vs. Kansas (5-5, 2-4)

Saturday, Nov. 18, 2:30 p.m. kickoff
Memorial Stadium, Lawrence, Kan.
Fox Sports Net

Kansas rush offense vs. Kansas State rush defense
The numbers:
KSU rush defense: Allowing 134.0 yards per game, No. 8 in the Big 12, No. 58 overall
KU rush offense: Averaging 171.0 yards per game, No. 7 in the Big 12, No. 26 overall

The breakdown: Kansas tailback Jon Cornish has quietly put together an All-Big 12-type season as a senior. With two games remaining Cornish has already ran for 1,130 yards and five scores while averaging 5.4 yards per rush. The 6-foot, 205-pound back doesn't have great size, but he's extremely patient and runs through arm tackles as well as any back in the conference. KU had been a bit dinged up along the offensive line, but the bye week should do that unit some good. Wildcat coach Ron Prince had much praise for that group, most notably senior left guard Bob Whitaker, who Prince attempted to recruit to Virginia. K-State has fell to the bottom third of the conference ratings as far as rush defense goes, but the Wildcats did a good job of limiting the Longhorns' big plays on the ground a week ago. This will be the last regular season game for the likes of Quintin Echols, Brandon Archer and Zach Diles, who will all need to do their part in holding Cornish in check. It's tempting to give KU the slight edge here, but the Wildcats will surely focus much of their efforts on slowing the Jayhawks talented runner.

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