Courtesy of K-State Athletics
LAWRENCE, Kan. — No. 22/25 K-State ran over rival Kansas on both sides of the ball in a 38-10 win on Saturday afternoon.
Of K-State’s 471 yards of total offense, the Wildcats (6-2, 3-2) amassed 342 of them on the ground in their third straight win. K-State’s sweltering defense also limited Kansas, coming off consecutive 500-plus yard games, to a mere 241 in the 117th version of Sunflower Showdown. More than 100 of those yards came after K-State went up 38-3 early in the fourth quarter, too.
“Really pleased with the entire football team,” K-State head coach Chris Klieman said. “It was our best football game of the year, all sides.”
Skylar Thompson led the way with a career-high 127 rushing yards, as K-State cruised to its 11th-straighth win against the Jayhawks and became bowl eligible the earliest in a season since 2014. Thompson found the end zone three times on the ground, giving him seven rushing touchdowns between his last two games — the most since by a Wildcat since his position coach, Collin Klein, did so as a player in 2012.
“I go into every week just trying to execute my role, whatever that may be, whatever that may look like,” Thompson, who completed 9-of-16 through the air for 129 yards, said. “Whatever the coaches call, whatever they want me to do, I’m going to do it to the best of my ability. I just want to do whatever it takes to win.”
With James Gilbert out with an injury and Jordon Brown (2 carries for 8 yards) limited, junior running back Harry Trotter stepped into a bigger role and added in a career-high 92 yards on 20 carries and a touchdown, while freshman Joe Ervin tacked on 46 yards on 10 carries. Tyler Burns contributed 58 rushing yards late in the game, highlighted by a 14-yard touchdown.
“I thought we played good football, for the most part, today,” Thompson said. “We ran the ball well. Our o-line played great. We dominated in the trenches.”
K-State’s run success led to an 11-of-17 third down success rate, a season high third down total, which helped the Wildcats churn out consecutive 10-play touchdown drives to start the game. The Wildcats added a nine-play, 75-yard touchdown drive early in the third quarter to go up 24-3.
K-State’s ground game also kept the clock going and Kansas’ offense off the field, as the Wildcats won the time of possession by more than 16 minutes (38:03 to 21:57). It marked the biggest time-of-possession margin in K-State’s favor in a Big 12 game since a 2016 win against Texas — next Saturday’s opponent in Austin, Texas.
“The thing that probably doesn’t get mentioned is we didn’t turn the football over (for the third straight week),” Klieman said. “When you don’t turn the football over and you hold it for 38 minutes and you rush for (more than) 300 yards, typically good things are going to happen.”
K-State’s defense did its part as well.
On top of stifling a dangerous Kansas offense, the Wildcats forced a pair of turnovers, recorded a season-high four sacks and stopped the Jayhawks twice on fourth down in the fourth quarter. K-State turned both fourth down stops into touchdowns.
“It was our best performance,” Klieman said of the defense. “We tackled really well. We didn’t give (Pooka Williams) a whole lot of daylight and lanes. We disguised a lot of coverages that I thought were confusing to their offense. Then, our d-line got after the quarterback. That’s all three phases playing really well.”
K-State set the defensive tone early, too.
The Wildcats held Kansas to 74 yards of total offense, including 27 rushing yards, in the first half — the least yards allowed by a Wildcat defense in a Big 12 game since 2012 against West Virginia.
When K-State hit an early offensive wall, its defense stepped up time after time. Jahron McPherson snagged an interception on Kansas’ third drive. Senior Trey Dishon picked up sacks on consecutive drives after that, both on second down to help halt the Jayhawk offense.
Near the end of the first half, K-State linebacker Da’Quan Patton picked off Carter Stanley to help set up a 39-yard field goal from Blake Lynch to end the half up 17-3.
“I can’t believe we played that well,” Dishon, with four of his eight career sacks coming against Kansas, said. “After seeing the numbers, I’m very proud of the defense.”