LAWRENCE — Kansas State linemen Scott Frantz and Trey Dishon both take the Sunflower Showdown personally, but for different reasons.
When the No. 22-ranked Wildcats visit Memorial Stadium at 2:30 p.m. Saturday for 117th edition of their in-state rivalry with Kansas, it will be Frantz's last time playing against his hometown school in Lawrence.
"I'm going home for the last time and it means a lot," said Frantz, the Wildcats' left offensive tackle from Free State High School.
For senior defensive tackle Dishon, it's another chance to show the Jayhawks what they missed.
"Kansas kids always look at, 'KU didn't want me,' or 'They didn't offer me,' that stuff," said Dishon, who himself was snubbed by the Jayhawks out of Horton High School. "I know that sits in the back of guys' hearts that are from Kansas.
"I didn't receive an offer, they didn't show much interest, and I'm lucky (former K-State coach) Bill Snyder gave me a shot. I'm glad I'm here."
Both teams are coming off big victories last week, with K-State knocking off No. 5 Texas, 48-41, to improve to 5-2 overall, 2-2 in the Big 12, with a return to the national rankings. KU (3-5, 1-4) beat Texas Tech on a last-second field goal for first-year coach Les Miles' first conference victory.
Frantz, a four-year starter, is one of four Lawrence players on the K-State roster. True freshman fullback Jax Dineen, who has appeared in six games, could end up going against sophomore brother Jay, KU's backup middle linebacker.
"I was making jokes to Jax Dineen, that 'Hey, you see your brother, man, you better go after him on Saturday,' " Frantz said. "I know they're going to be talking and I can't wait to see Jax and Jay play against each other.
"They're both really good friends of mine."
But Frantz also has a burning desire to extend K-State's winning streak in the series to 11 games.
"We try to treat every game the same, but I'd be lying to you if I told you this game doesn't mean a little more to me," he said. "Just being born and raised in Lawrence, I've got a bunch of buddies on that KU football team and I can't wait to see them, can't wait to compete against them.
"It's been very interesting to see KU evolve over the years. Especially playing against us, you see them every single year inching closer and closer. They had a chance to beat us last year and then now this year they're piecing together a lot of games, getting some wins."
Both Frantz and Dishon acknowledged that this is the strongest KU team they've faced in their five years.
"We're definitely going to get their best game on Saturday, that's no doubt," Dishon said. "I think it's going to be the best Sunflower Showdown in a while."
K-State senior tight end Blaise Gammon, another Kansas product from Blue Valley West High School, grew up around the game as well.
"I wasn't necessarily always at (the games), but it was always a game that I saw as I grew up," he said. "I was only 30 minutes from KU and a couple of hours from (Manhattan), living in Kansas City.
"It's a fun rivalry. We're excited for the game and I know for this senior class, this would be five years in a row beating KU, and that's really important to us."
Quarterback Skylar Thompson was not as invested in the showdown as some of his teammates, but growing up in the Kansas City area on the Missouri side, he still had a feel for the rivalry. And as a fourth-year junior, he's now all in.
"I was always a Mizzou fan growing up when I was little," he said. "(But) I know we have a lot of seniors on this team from Kansas and it means a lot to them, just like if I got a chance to play Mizzou it would mean a lot to me."
With KU's Miles and first-year K-State coach Chris Klieman both new to the game, there is a slightly different feel this time, according to the players. But there are still bragging rights on the line.
"They're a different team than we've seen the past couple of years," Dishon said. "We're going on the road, but it kind of feels like a home game to me.
"It's only an hour, hour and a half a way, state of Kansas and I'm a Kansas boy. I'm psyched for this week. More psyched than Oklahoma week, just because it's a rivalry, it's KU."