The 2022 Sunflower Showdown has a little more meaning

Kansas State wide receiver Kade Warner (85) is tackled by Kansas safety Ricky Thomas Jr. (3)...
Kansas State wide receiver Kade Warner (85) is tackled by Kansas safety Ricky Thomas Jr. (3) during the first half of an NCAA football basketball game against Kansas Saturday, Nov. 6, 2021, in Lawrence, Kan. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)(Charlie Riedel | AP)
Published: Nov. 26, 2022 at 12:04 AM CST
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MANHATTAN, Kan. (WIBW) - The hours, minutes and seconds are ticking down for one of the biggest games of the year, the Sunflower Showdown.

No. 15 Kansas State will welcome KU to Manhattan to close out the regular season.

There is a lot on the line for the Wildcats. If K-State wins, they punch their ticket to the Big 12 Championship against TCU. If they lose, Texas will play the Horned Frogs.

The Wildcats are hungry and fired up for this big game.

“They’re playing hard and believing and they do have talented players without questions but they’re playing inspired, them getting to a bowl game I know was huge for the program and I know this is kind of the cherry on top for them,” Head coach Chris Klieman said.

Quarterback Will Howard, who will draw the start once again with Adrian Martinez nursing a leg injury, played in this game in 2020. Things are much different from then, but Howard is excited to play in prime-time.

“I know just how much it means to everybody in K-State nation and for KU. They got a shot this year. They’re a good team and they feel like they have a shot but I feel really confident about us,” Howard said.

Having two quarterbacks like Jalon Daniels (who returned from a shoulder injury last week against Texas) and Jason Bean who are both dual threat QB’s, Cornerback Julius Brents says they will keep you on your toes and this will be no easy task.

“Credit to those guys, especially their coach who has done a great job in turning their program into a team that’s being competitive in the Big 12. We’re going to give them our best shot. They caught a lot of eyes so we’re definitely on the lookout for that,” Brents said.

That’s where coach Klieman said the same thing, they have to pay attention to detail against this improved Jayhawks program.

“They’re both (Daniels and Bean) really dynamic players that run it well, throw it well, they’re an explosive offense and you can see that. We have to have our eyes right because of a lot of miss direction and motions and kind of eye candy to try to pull your eyes away,” Klieman said.

The last time KU won this showdown was when Kansas went bowling last, back in 2008. The Wildcats have won the last 13 straight.

Kansas head coach Lance Leipold says they have to clean up a lot and every facet of the game has to be on point.

”Coach Klieman and his staff have done an outstanding job,” Leipold said. “They have an excellent football team, a lot to play for and they’ve earned that right and they have a lot of weapons. They have one of the best defenses in the country so it’s going to be a big task to go in there but what we have to worry about is some of the consistencies we didn’t operate very well.”

What Leipold is referring to is the kicking game, not allowing explosive plays, minimizing punt return yardage and penalties.

He says this game hasn’t been much of a rivalry over the years but he hopes that changes in the future. For now, if they come into Manhattan and spoil K-State’s Big 12 Championship hopes, it would show the country they continue to improve each week.

“You look again at how well they’ve played all year and what they’ve done, it’ll be a chance to knock off another ranked opponent and do it on the road, giving us a little shot of energy as we bowl prep,” Leipold said.

A game with a lot of meaning, the focus is Saturday night for Kansas State.

“Man, this is a big time game, because it’s the next one as well,” Running back Deuce Vaughn said. “We’re back at home, it’s sold out and to get out here and to play against these guys and in front of these people man, these are the games you live for.”

“It’s great that we’re playing KU,” Wide receiver Kade Warner said. “There are so many guys on our team that want to beat KU so badly and I love that we get to play them this last game because we’re not looking forward to anything else, it’s KU week and that’s all we’re worried about.”

Kick-off is set for 7:00 p.m. on FOX