There's a certain energy around the K-State football team, made up of 60 Kansas natives as it prepares to take on its in-state rival.
"It is huge," wide receiver Curry Sexton of Abilene said. "Not that is it just KU, but where we are at in our season, at 6-5. We have to end the season strong, and obviously a rivalry game is huge. This game is humongous."
This year's "humongous" Sunflower Showdown means more than the rivalry, it means more than bragging rights with neighbors and friends. A win against the Jayhawks will secure K-State football (currently 6-5, 4-4 Big 12) its fourth consecutive winning season.
K-State head coach Bill Snyder, who has won 16 of his last 17 games against KU, said while the excitement of this week is naturally higher as it is with all rivalries, his mentality going into the game remains the same regardless of the opponent.
"You get to play 12 games, and if you are fortunate enough, you get to play 13 games a year," Snyder explained. "The players invest so much - 340 days a year - it is just hard for me to fathom that the players wouldn't have great motivation every time that they have the opportunity to play because they have invested so much in it and only have those limited opportunities to do it."
K-State is heading to Lawrence following a 41-31 loss to Oklahoma in Bill Snyder Family Stadium on the Wildcats' senior day. The loss snapped a four-game winning streak and left a bitter taste in K-State's mouth.
"The significance of this game means a lot. We want to win it for the seniors and send them out the right way since we couldn't get the win on senior day, but then also, part of it is bragging rights for the year," offensive linesman B.J. Finney of Anadale laughed. "It's a state rivalry. It's always a huge rivalry, especially with football, so we have to be prepared well and we have to execute well to go in and get a win."
Kansas (3-8, 1-7 Big 12) will return to its home field this weekend coming off of a 34-0 loss to Iowa State in Ames. Not only will this game mark the final game of the 2013 season for the Jayhawks, but it also will be KU's senior day celebration.
"When Missouri left to go to the SEC, I think it was time for Kansas to recognize that Kansas State is, without a doubt, the most important game of the year," Kansas head coach Charlie Weis said. "I think Coach Snyder has done that for years - he's magnified the importance of this game and you could see how, over the last several years, it's turned into a one-sided affair. I think that it's important for Kansas, and the Kansas football program, to treat the game with equal billing to what they do."
With that being said, both teams will step onto the field today with a chip on their shoulder. Both teams are coming off of tough losses, looking for revenge. Both teams are looking to cap off their seasons on a high note.
Turning around a season that started with a 2-4 record hasn't been easy, and today K-State knows if it comes together as a family, it will have the opportunity to close out the regular season with a victory.
"It would be a great feeling knowing that we overcame some adversity early in the season to get through it," senior defensive back Kip Daily said about what a win to finish off the regular season would mean to the team. "We all came together. It was not the easiest, but we just continued to push through and stuck together. (A win today) would mean a lot."
Today's game is slated for an 11 a.m., kickoff at Memorial Stadium in Lawrence and will be aired nationally on FOX Sports 1.
K-State's 60 Sunflower State Natives:
Ethan Hammes - P - Seneca
Cody Harrison - WR - Topeka
Marcus Heit - LS -Derby
Evan Loomis - WR - Macksville
Chaquil Reed - DL - Wichita
Corrian Roberts - DB - Wichita
TJ Roberts - RB - Wamego
Logan Stephens - WR - Grinnell
Tre Walker - LB - Olathe
Ty Zimmerman - DB - Junction City
Reed Bergstrom - OL - Clyde
Kody Cook - QB - Louisburg
Laton Dowling - DE - Dodge City
B.J. Finney - OL - Andale
Taylor Godinet - DE - Wamego
Weston Hiebert - DB - Goessel
Jordan Kupersmith - DE - Olathe
Ryan Mueller - DE - Leawood
Zach Nemecheck - FB - Quinter
DeMarcus Robinson - RB - Wichita
Dylan Schellenberg - DB - Wichita
Curry Sexton - WR - Abilene
Tate Snyder - LB - Manhattan
Jonathan Truman - LB - Kechi
Adam Weber - FB - Colby
Morgan Burns - DB - Wichita
Jack Cantele - PK - Wichita
Dalton Converse - LS - Clay Center
Matt Kleinsorge - DE - Olathe
Boston Stiverson - OL - Andover
Dylan Veatch - WR - Shawnee
Stanton Weber - WR - Overland Park
Cody Whitehair - OL - Abilene
Blake Baird - LB - Silver Lake
Brogan Barry - DB - Topeka
Zach Befort - DT - Wichita
Deante Burton - WR - Manhattan
Davis Clark - DT - Overland Park
Myles Copeland - LB - Wichita
Colborn Couchman - LB - Scott City
Will Geary - DL - Topeka
Zach Heiman - TE - Chapman
Taylor Hilgers - WR - Manhattna
Joe Hubener - QB - Cheney
Austin Kassorelos - B - Leawood
Kip Keeley - WR - LaCrosse
Jason Lierz - OL - Manhattan
Lucas Munds - WR - Hutchinson
Sean Newlan - DB - Prairie View
Logan O'Dea - DL - Wellsville
Chance Pitcock - DB - Russell
Matt Seiwert - DL - Conway Springs
Collin Sexton - WR - Abilene
Trent Tanking - LB - Holton
Logan Thompson - LB - Sedgwick
Kade True - LB - Salina
Vernon Vaughn - WR - Kansas City
Nick Walsh - P - Lyndon
Ty Wendland - WR - Leonardville
Tanner Wood - DE - Conway Springs