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Pair of botched punts by Kansas helps send Wildcats to 45-14 victory on its Senior Day


LAWRENCE, Kansas — David Beaty arrived at Kansas confident he could turn things around if his team was smarter than its opponent, won the turnover battles and dominated on special teams.

The Jayhawks' failure in all three resulted in their first winless season since 1954.

Kansas State scored a pair of touchdowns after botched Kansas punts in the first quarter, and the Wildcats rolled from there to a 45-14 victory over their biggest rival on Saturday.

"You take those two punts away," Beaty said, "and really a couple of poor punts that happened after that, that right here had a huge impact on this football game. Huge."

The punting trouble was the biggest meltdown on special teams. In terms of turnovers, Ryan Willis threw a pick and the Jayhawks fumbled twice — though they did recover them. And Kansas was penalized six times for 60 yards, while the Wildcats had one penalty for five.

Ryan Willis did throw for 215 yards and two touchdowns for Kansas (0-12, 0-9 Big 12), but it was far from enough to avoid its first winless season in more than six decades.

"It's embarrassing to go 0-12. It's unacceptable," Kansas linebacker Joe Dineen said. "But I feel like that will push us through the summer and into next season."

Joe Hubener threw for 133 yards while running for two touchdowns, Winston Dimel also ran for two scores, and Kansas State (5-6, 2-6) moved within a victory over West Virginia in its home finale next weekend of becoming bowl eligible for the sixth straight season.

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.

"Special teams really sparked the whole team and both sides of the ball," Burns said. "I really think that set the tempo for the rest of the game."

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 Bill Snyder's 20th victory over them.

PHOTO: Kansas State wide receiver Kody Cook (19) catches a Joe Hubener pass while covered by Kansas safety Bazie Bates IV (24) during the first half of an NCAA college football game in Lawrence, Kan., Saturday, Nov. 28, 2015. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)
Kansas State wide receiver Kody Cook (19) catches a Joe Hubener pass while covered by Kansas safety Bazie Bates IV (24) during the first half of an NCAA college football game in Lawrence, Kan., Saturday, Nov. 28, 2015. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)

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.

Meanwhile, the victory gives Kansas State 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.

Kansas State has not missed out since 2009, Snyder's first season back from retirement.

"The first half was satisfying. Can't say the same thing for the second," Snyder said. "We need to start consistent and finish and we haven't done that."

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