The Sunflower Showdown 1962-2011

Want to win a bar bet?  Here’s a question you can throw out to your sports fan friends the next time you’re together enjoying a cool one: Who would you say has lost more football games in the last 50 seasons, KU or K-State? 

I suspect your answer depends on which school you support.  K-State fans would think it’s likely that KU has lost more games given the relative dominance the Wildcats have enjoyed over the last 20+ years.  The success of K-State football has consistently overshadowed the KU program since the arrival of Bill Snyder.   Jayhawk fans will likely think K-State has lost more games in the last 50 years due to the miserable seasons the Wildcats are famous for in the pre-Snyder years.  Let’s face it, when was the last time you watched a K-State football game in which the announcers DIDN’T talk about the “Manhattan Miracle” performed by Bill Snyder. 

OK, what’s your answer?

 If you suspected this was a trick question, you’d be right.  Since 1962, both football programs have lost 316 games!

Here are the cumulative records:


KU was 236-316-11, a .419 winning %.

KSU was 248-316-5, a .436 winning %.

Let’s break the records down into 25 year segments:


KU was 112-151-9        .412 winning %

KSU was 72-192-3       .270 winning %


KU was 124-165-2       .426 winning %

KSU was 176-124-2     .583 winning %

Here are the breakdowns head-to-head:


KU leads the series 25-23-2 

KSU has actually outscored KU 1199-990 for an average score of 24.0 to 19.8


KU was 18-6-1             .720 winning %

KU outscored KSU 586-383 for an average score in the 25 games of 23.4 to 15.3


KSU was 17-7-1           .680 winning %

KSU outscored KU 816-404 for an average score in the 25 games of 32.6 to 16.2

There is ammunition for both sides in the “who’s better historically” debate.  Clearly, KU was better than K-State for the first 25 years.  K-State was clearly better during the most recent 25 years.

I’m struck by how consistent KU has been.  The records are very similar during both periods.  They actually weren’t very good overall in either period.  KSU went from really, really bad in the first 25 years to very successful in the past quarter century.  KU lacks the extreme lows suffered by the Wildcats.  But, the Jayhawks have never experienced a period of success equal to K-State’s run in the 90’s through the early 2000’s.

Head-to-head, KU’s 18 wins over KSU from 1962-86 represent 16.1% of their total wins for the period.  K-State’s 17 wins over KU from 1987-2011 account for only 9.7% of Wildcat victories for those years.

KU actually dominated the first 25 years with a slightly higher winning percentage, head to head against KSU, than KSU’s winning percentage edge over KU in the most recent 25 years.  K-State has, on the other hand, outscored KU by more than 2 to 1 since 1987.

So, who has the more successful program over the last 50 years, KU or K-State?  Here’s your chance to weigh in.

5 thoughts on “The Sunflower Showdown 1962-2011

  1. I’m not a KU or K-State fan, but I would have to say that K-State has had the more successful program because they have had more quality seasons. That is not to say that KU has had no quality seasons, but I think that certainly K-State has had more.

  2. Nate, I think you’ve pointed out the strongest part of the Wildcat’s case. They’ve won a Big XII championship, they’ve won several Division titles, and they’ve won 10+ games 8 times in the last 17 seasons. In 2007 KU had a 12-win season (something K-State has never done) capped with an Orange Bowl victory. But, only one other time (1995)in the last 17 years have they won as many as 10 games in a season.

  3. Since both programs have a pretty depressing record over a fifty-year period, I would have to go with K-State because there are considerably more highs, however recent (last 20 years) they have been. Fortunately for both programs there are no trophy cases for awful seasons making it possible during times of success to not think about them.

  4. What is Ohio States rocerd vs SEC opponents? Isnt it like 0-12? LOL… OSU couldnt beat Kentucky or Vandy.. much less TN FL AL or GA.

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