MANHATTAN, KS (KSNT) – The Wildcats can earn a trip to the Big 12 championship, they just have to beat rival KU to get there.

For the first time since 2008, KU has won six games and is bowl eligible. The Wildcats know they can’t take their opponent lightly, riding a complete program flip.

“I don’t know [KU’s] roster, but they’re playing hard and they’re believing,” head coach Chris Klieman said. “They do have talented players, without question, but they’re playing inspired.”

Will Howard will be the starting quarterback. He’s thrown for 1,011 yards and 11 touchdowns, including leading the ‘Cats to a 48-0 win against Oklahoma State. K-State averages 38.8 points per game when Howard’s playing. The offense is ready to put as many points on the board as it takes to win, plus some.

“[The pass game] is going to be extremely important,” wide receiver Kade Warner said. “The secondary, I think, is the strong part of their defense. All of the tight ends, wide receivers, running backs and quarterbacks have got to be on the same page this week if we’re going to be successful.

Earlier in the week, safety Cincere Mason announced he will be out for the season due to an injury he sustained at West Virginia. He joins Kobe Savage on the list of secondary players with season-ending injuries. Josh Hayes and Drake Cheatum will be stepping up in their absence, according to Klieman.

“We’re thin back there, for sure, but that’s late-November football” Klieman said.

Players from Kansas and outside of the Midwest all understand the weight of this rivalry.

“As soon as I stepped on campus, I didn’t even go to practice… I got here in 2021, January, and I already kind of felt the vibe of what it was like playing against KU,” cornerback Julius Brents said.

Saturday’s game will air on FOX 43 KTMJ. Watch FOX 43 News after for live updates from the field.