What is the Sunflower Showdown? Kansas vs. Kansas State Rivalry Explained

    The Kansas Jayhawks and Kansas State Wildcats add another chapter to the Sundown Showdown rivalry on Saturday, adding to its rich history of over 100 years.

    One of the longest rivalries in college football takes shape once again Saturday as the Kansas Jayhawks face off against the Kansas State Wildcats. Their long-time rivalry is called the Sunflower Showdown, and it has been played for over 100 years.

    Here is the history of the rivalry including why it is called the Sunflower Showdown and how the two teams have fared in the series.

    History of the Sunflower Showdown

    Starting in 1902, Kansas and Kansas State played each other for bragging rights across the state. The main reason it is called the Sunflower Showdown is because the state flower in Kansas is the Wild Sunflower, hence the name of the rivalry. Both teams have played each other every year since 1902, except for 1910 when both teams agreed to cancel the game as they couldn’t agree on the rules.

    Since 1969, they have played in the Governor’s Cup. It was Kansas State who won the trophy for the first time, 26-22. Before that, there were two different trophies. The first was the original “Governor’s Trophy” starting in 1902, which lasted until 1940 when it was changed to the “Peace Pact Trophy”.

    In the 120 games played between the two teams, Kansas leads the series 64-51-5. However, there is a debate regarding Kansas having 65 or 64 wins due to one particular game in 1980. In a match Kansas initially won, the Big Eight Conference forced the Jayhawks to forfeit, as they had a player who played in the game but was ruled ineligible.

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    The series of late, though, has been a bit lopsided. Kansas State has won 14 straight matchups going back to 2009. This season is different as both teams go into the game ranked in the Top 25.

    Kansas State is ranked 25th while Kansas is ranked 16th. It’s the second time in the series’ history that both teams are ranked in the Top 25, and the first since 1995 — when Kansas State won 41-7.

    Kansas will be hoping to have more success in the big game. It has already raised some eyebrows with a surprising 7-3 record this season. Kansas State also heads into the rivalry game with a 7-3 record. The last one-possession game was in 2018, but this year could be different given how both teams have played.

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