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After absorbing 51-13 loss to No. 11 Wildcats, Kansas turns attention to coaching uncertainty

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MANHATTAN, Kansas — After an eight-game stint as interim coach at Kansas, Clint Bowen still wasn't going to plead his case for the permanent opening — even if plenty of other people were willing.

"I truly believe it with every ounce of my heart," he said, "this is about Kansas football, this football program and this university. (Athletic director Sheahon) Zenger has a decision to make and he's going to make the best decision based off of what's best for this football program."

Bowen's stint in charge included a few highs but plenty of lows, concluding with a 51-13 loss to No. 11 Kansas State on Saturday in the annual Sunflower Showdown.

"I think the first step is hiring the guy we have right now," said Jayhawks linebacker Ben Heeney, who finished his senior season as one of the Big 12's top tacklers. "He got us moving in the right direction. That's the first and only step right now."

Jake Waters threw for 294 yards and four touchdowns, two of them to record-setting wide receiver Tyler Lockett, as the Wildcats (9-2, 7-1) moved into a tie atop the Big 12 standings.

Lockett caught nine passes for 119 yards, passing his father Kevin Lockett for the school record in career catches and matching his mark for touchdown receptions. Lockett has 222 catches and 26 TD grabs heading into next week's showdown at fifth-ranked Baylor.

Curry Sexton added nine catches for 141 yards and a score, and Waters and Charles Jones each had touchdown runs as the Wildcats beat the Jayhawks (3-9, 1-8) for the sixth straight time.

Kansas State is now tied with TCU and Baylor at 7-1 in the conference, and will play the Bears next Saturday night for no worse than a share of the Big 12 title.

"''We have a chance to win a championship now," Waters said. "That gives me chills."

Michael Cummings threw for 139 yards and two scores for the Jayhawks, but he was also picked off twice — once on a tipped pass, once on a ball kicked into the air by his intended target.

PHOTO: Kansas State running back Charles Jones (24) is congratulated by teammates offensive lineman Matt Kleinsorge (65), fullback Glenn Gronkowski (48) and offensive lineman Drew Liddle (61) after a touchdown during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Kansas in Manhattan, Kan., Saturday, Nov. 29, 2014. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)
Kansas State running back Charles Jones (24) is congratulated by teammates offensive lineman Matt Kleinsorge (65), fullback Glenn Gronkowski (48) and offensive lineman Drew Liddle (61) after a touchdown during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Kansas in Manhattan, Kan., Saturday, Nov. 29, 2014. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)

Now, their offseason of uncertainty begins.

After Charlie Weis was fired four games into the season, defensive coordinator Clint Bowen did an admirable job steadying the program. The Jayhawks knocked off Iowa State and nearly upset the Horned Frogs, making him a popular candidate in the locker room.

"I would love to come back and finish my career playing for Clint Bowen," Cummings said.

Bowen could have certainly helped his cause with a competitive performance against Kansas State. Instead, the Wildcats had raced to a 14-0 lead before the Jayhawks could even blink.

After forcing a three-and-out on the game's opening possession, Waters led his team 71 yards in a little over 2 minutes for a touchdown. Then, after Kansas tight end Jimmay Mundine deflected a pass that was picked off by Dante Barnett, Waters hit Lockett with a 44-yard TD strike.

"To set the record, it just says a lot," Lockett said. "I have a great quarterback. My dad and uncle taught me a lot. And I'm able to celebrate it with a win."

Kansas State had pushed the lead to 24-6 and taken over again late in the first half when Lockett made it a Senior Night to remember. He caught a 17-yard pass on third-and-10 to break his father's school record for receptions, and four plays later caught a short touchdown pass to tie that mark, which Kevin Lockett set while starring for the Wildcats from 1993-96.

Watching from the sidelines, pop smiled broadly as his son crossed the goal line.

Jones and Sexton added touchdown catches early in the second half for Kansas State, and freshman kicker Matt McCrane connected on a career-best 52-yard field goal to extend the lead.

By the time the fourth quarter rolled around, the Wildcats were playing their backups.

"We were looking for something good to happen early and it didn't," Bowen said. "Our kids continued to fight throughout the game. Bottom line was Kansas State was the better team."

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