Kansas State football: The history of the K-State/Kansas rivalry

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On Oct. 24, the Kansas State Wildcats face the Kansas Jayhawks in the Sunflower Showdown, the annual matchup between the two schools. The series began in 1902 with a matchup each season since 1911. The Wildcats own a 48-64-5 all-time record against their in-state rival, but have found much more success in recent years.

Early on, Kansas dominated the series. The Jayhawks won each of the first four matchups and 17 of the first 19, with a 6-4 Kansas State win in 1906 and a scoreless tie in 1916 the two exceptions. After ties in 1922 and 1923, Kansas State beat its in-state rival for the second time with a 6-0 victory in 1924.

The 1924 win marked the first of four straight for the Wildcats in the series. The two schools traded wins until 1933, when Kansas State picked up the first of six wins over Kansas during an eight-year stretch. However, Kansas controlled the series for much of the next decade. From 1941-52, the Wildcats beat their rival just once — 18-14 in 1944.

Kansas State won three of four between 1953 and 1956 but did not win again for several years. Only a 3-3 tie in 1966 prevented a 12-game Kansas winning streak in the series between 1957 and 1969, when Kansas State won 26-22. The Wildcats then lost eight of the next 10 in the series between 1970 and 1979.

The Wildcats and Jayhawks traded wins until 1987, when the two played a 17-17 tie. Kansas won three straight from 1988-1990 but the tide of the series began to turn. Kansas State hired Bill Snyder before the 1989 season, and the coach would go on to revitalize the program.

After Kansas won three times during Snyder’s first four seasons in Manhattan, Kansas State went on a roll. From 1993-2003, the Wildcats won 11 consecutive games in the series, nine by more than 25 points. A 64-0 K-State annihilation in 2002 marked the largest margin of victory in the series for either team. Kansas’ largest win was a 55-0 shutout in 1947.

The Jayhawks finally snapped the Wildcat winning streak in 31-28 in 2004, but a 12-3 win in 2005 sent Snyder out on a high note. When Snyder retired at the end of the 2005 season, he had beaten the Jayhawks 13 times in 17 years.

Kansas beat their in-state rivals three consecutive times during the Ron Prince era at Kansas State before Bill Snyder returned to the sidelines in 2009. The Jayhawks haven’t won since, as the Wildcats carry an 11-game win streak into Saturday’s game.

With a win, Kansas State can claim the longest winning streak in the series to date, surpassing its own 11-game win streak from 1993-2003. The longest Jayhawk winning streak was nine consecutive games from 1957-1965.

Kansas still claims a comfortable all-time lead in the series, but K-State has gained a lot of ground since 1990. Snyder, who remains the only man to consistently win in Manhattan, bears much of the responsibility for that. Snyder patrolled the sideline for 27 years during two combined stints in Manhattan; he beat Kansas 23 times, including 22 wins in his final 23 tries.

The Jayhawks lead the all-time series thanks to dominance early, but half of the Wildcats’ 48 wins in the series have come since 1990. Kansas hasn’t beaten its in-state rival since 2008 and has just five wins since the turn of the millennium. The Wildcats will look to keep momentum in the Sunflower Showdown trending K-State’s way on Saturday.