Who would ever have thought that eight games into the football season that Kansas and Kansas State would have identical records both overall and in the Big 12?
If you told that to a KU fan before the season, they would have been ecstatic.
Conversely, rooters of the Wildcats would have been despondent and looking for the nearest bridge to jump off.
Kansas recorded its first Big 12 victory since 2016 on Saturday with a gritty 27-26 nailbiter against TCU, as Jayhawk freshman Pooka Williams provided the juice and the Horned Frogs gift-wrapped a fumble in the last minute just as they were going in for a probable game-winning touchdown. Predictably, the fans rushed the field since conference wins are so few and far between.
It’s a shame, though, that some KU fans are actually disappointed, as they’re hoping coach David Beaty is gone after this year. If the Jayhawks could somehow win another Big 12 game — especially if they could beat Kansas State, though not likely — Beaty might get a second look from new Athletic Director Jeff Long, who is in a tough spot since it's been thought all year that Beaty is nothing more than a lame-duck coach.
What Long has to look at, too, is the apathy of the Jayhawk fans toward the program, which is a direct reflection of Beaty. Even with the exciting Pooka, an embarrassing 15,000 turned out for the TCU game on a perfect day weather-wise, even though it was thought going in this was a team KU should play with given its recent history and the fact TCU is simply not very good this year.
If this week’s Iowa State home game draws another 15,000, then Long will see just how much the fan base has been turned off. I would guess the Cyclones will bring that many fans alone as the team travels well. If the weather is nice, and given KU coming off such a big win, there should be 30,000 to 35,000 on hand, still a far cry from the Orange Bowl year when 45,000 was the norm.
KU is still woeful on defense — it was torched for over 500 yards by a bad TCU offensive team — but it’s among the national leaders in forcing turnovers despite a secondary that simply can’t cover anybody.
As for Kansas State, I don’t think I’ve ever heard Bill Snyder more despondent than he was after Saturday’s Oklahoma game, a 51-14 Sooner ambush.
I really thought having had a bye week to get ready and getting some people healthier, the Wildcats would at least challenge the Sooners. I thought the Wildcats’ ball-control offense could eat up time off the clock and Alex Barnes would go for at least 150 against a Sooner defense that at times has been leaky and was so bad earlier in the season that defensive coordinator Mike Stoops was fired.
But OU bowed its back and stuffed Barnes. In fact, quarterback Skylar Thompson was KSU’s top rusher.
It was the K-State defense, though, that caused head scratching. Admittedly, OU is going to get 500 yards on most teams, but the Sooners broke the 700-mark against a Wildcat team that seemed to lose interest in a hurry.
It’s go-time now for the Wildcats. I still think they’ll win on the road this week at TCU, whose season is flaming out. Then KU invades The Bill the following week and while the Jayhawks are better then they've been, I still see a sizable K-State win.
But the ‘Cats still have to come up with six wins to make a bowl game and given how they’re playing, it could be difficult.