K-State special teams send Wildcats to 45-14 win over Kansas - Sports Illustrated

K-State special teams send Wildcats to 45-14 win over Kansas

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LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) Being a Kansas kid, quarterback Joe Hubener put a little extra emphasis on leading Kansas State past the rival Jayhawks in the annual Sunflower Showdown on Saturday.

He won't have a whole lot of time to enjoy it.

After the Wildcats scored a pair of touchdowns off botched punts in the first quarter, and Hubener scored twice in a 45-14 victory over Kansas, the Wildcats must turn their attention to beating West Virginia in next weekend's regular-season finale to qualify for a bowl game.

The Wildcats have not missed out since the 2009 season.

''That was a big goal of ours,'' Hubener said, ''to get off to the right start offensively and put some points on the board early and hold them off for the rest of the game.''

Hubener threw for 133 yards while running for his two TDs, Winston Dimel also ran for two scores, and Kansas State (5-6, 2-6 Big 12) won their second straight after a six-game skid.

The Wildcats' Morgan Burns scored a touchdown on special teams for the third straight game, though this one was a blocked punt recovery. His previous two were 100-yard kickoff returns.

''The first half was satisfying. Can't say the same thing for the second,'' Kansas State coach Bill Snyder said. ''We're a team that hasn't put two halves together yet. We need to start consistent and finish and we haven't done that.''

Ryan Willis threw for 215 yards with two touchdowns and a pick for Kansas (0-12, 0-9), which concluded its first season under David Beaty by going winless for the first time since 1954.

There were only a few thousand fans around to see the finish on a cold, icy day in eastern Kansas, and most of them were wearing purple. They were able to rejoice in the Wildcats' seventh-straight win over the Jayhawks, along with Snyder's 20th victory over them.

The celebration might as well have begun two minutes into the game.

After going three-and-out, the Jayhawks had trouble with the ''out'' part of things - punter Matthew Wyman dropped the snap and was leveled by a Kansas State defender. The Wildcats took over and on the next play, Dimel rumbled for a 12-yard touchdown run.

Kansas answered quickly with a six-play, 79-yard drive capped by a 27-yard touchdown pass from Willis to Tre Parmalee. But the Wildcats scored nearly as quickly, going 73 yards the other direction and taking a 14-7 lead when Dimel plowed into the end zone from a yard out.

The Jayhawks' special teams struggles continued moments later, when Wyman's next punt was blocked by Sam Sizelove. Burns scooped it up in the end zone and the rout was on.

''I'm going to take the blame for it,'' said Wyman, a placekicker who is learning to punt on the fly. ''It's definitely hard to get back into a rhythm when two things go bad.''

Glenn Gronkowski added another TD run late in the first quarter for a 28-7 lead, and Hubener finished a grinding, methodical 54-yard march in the second quarter with a 2-yard TD run.

Things were so bad for the Jayhawks in the first half that their mascot was caught on video acting as if it was throwing up in a garbage can. The clip spread quickly on social media.

The loss concluded a frustrating first season for Beaty, who inherited a mess left by Charlie Weis. The Jayhawks began the season with just over 60 scholarship players, more than 20 below the Football Bowl Subdivision limit, then had numerous players - including its top three quarterbacks - go down with injuries as they struggled simply to be competitive.

''Its embarrassing to me personally and its embarrassing to KU, our university. They deserve better than that,'' Beaty said. ''We can't do much about what's behind us, but we certainly can do something about what's ahead of us.''

What lies ahead for Kansas State is an opportunity to keep its bowl streak going.

After losing six straight to begin league play, the Wildcats engineered the biggest comeback in school history in a 38-35 win over Iowa State last weekend. Now, following a blowout of Kansas, they need only to beat the Mountaineers on Senior Day to reach bowl eligibility.

''I feel like as a team we had a great game for the first time all season,'' Burns said. ''I have huge pride in my team and I'm proud how they never gave up.''