By the Associated Press
No. 23 Kansas State will try to keep its hopes of defending its Big 12 title alive when it visits Kansas on Saturday. The Wildcats have beaten their biggest rival 14 consecutive times dating to the 2009 season. They are coming off a blowout of Baylor in which quarterback Will Howard accounted for four touchdowns. The Jayhawks also are mathematically alive for a spot in the Big 12 title game but need to keep winning and get a lot of help. They are coming off a last-second loss to Texas Tech in which quarterback Jason Bean was hurt. Jayhawks coach Lance Leipold hopes he will be available Saturday.
No. 23 Kansas State (7-3, 5-2 Big 12, No. 21 CFP) at Kansas (7-3, 4-3, No. 25), Saturday, 7 p.m. EST (FS1)
Line: Kansas State by 7 1/2, according to FanDuel Sportsbook.
Series record: Kansas leads 65-60-5.
WHAT’S AT STAKE?
Kansas State still has a path to defending its Big 12 championship thanks to the complex tiebreaker system that the conference uses because of an unbalanced schedule. But the route begins with winning their final two games against Kansas and Iowa State. The Wildcats have won the last 14 games against the Jayhawks dating to the 2009 season. The Jayhawks also have a path to playing for the Big 12 title, but they need to win out and get a whole lot of help.
Kansas RB Devin Neal against the Kansas State defensive line, which allowed Baylor to gain just 85 yards on 35 carries in a 59-25 rout last weekend. Neal ran for 137 yards and a score in the Jayhawks' 16-13 last-second loss to Texas Tech last weekend, when backup QB Jason Bean went down with an injury. If he remains out, and Kansas turns to walk-on Cole Ballard, it will be critical for Neal to take pressure off its young quarterback.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Kansas State: RBs DJ Giddens and Treshaun Ward ran all over the Bears last week, combining for 159 yards and a touchdown on 28 carries. Their ability to get big yardage on first and second downs specifically opened up the playbook for QB Will Howard, who threw for 235 yards and three touchdowns. Giddens had one of those, too.
Kansas: Bean and Ballard. The Jayhawks have been playing most of the season without Jalon Daniels, who was expected to contend for the Heisman Trophy. But he has been dealing with a back injury going back to fall camp, and Bean has played well in his place. Jayhawks coach Lance Leipold said this week he was optimistic that Bean would be available against Kansas State, but Ballard is waiting in the wings.
FACTS & FIGURES