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87 Days To K-State Football Kick-Off: The 1987 Toilet Bowl

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For our next installment of the 100 day countdown to kickoff against North Dakota State University, 87 days represents 1987 – the year of the Toilet Bowl. That season, on a chilly November afternoon, K-State and KU played to the one and only tie in the history of the Governor’s Cup.

The Toilet Bowl is of the most well-known in Sunflower Showdown history. Well, at the very least it is definitely the most infamous game in the series. National Commentators also referred to the game as the ‘Futility Bowl’ in the days leading up to the game – a phrase that would crop up again in 1989 when Sports Illustrated wrote its famous piece that labeled K-State ‘Futility U’ while using the words woeful, humiliating, and awful to describe the program.

So K-State wasn’t very good in 1987. In fact, the Wildcats were in the midst of what would be a two year string of football without a single win. From 1986-1989 (1989 was Bill Snyder’s first as head coach), K-State went 30 straight games without a victory at one point. Yet what made the contest so unappealing was that the Jayhawks were equally as bad. KU was coming off a 3-8 season in 1986, came into the game 1-7, and would finish 1988 at 1-10 (the sole victory that year coming against K-State). In case there was any confusion as to the level of talent on the field in this game, let me be clear: both Kansas schools sucked in the mid/late 1980s. Wichita State, having suspended football in 1986, probably had the proudest program in the state when the Toilet Bowl went down.

In addition to the product on the field, Manhattan had bonus grounds for pride. In 1984, the city was the site of the Aggieville Riots, one of the earliest collegiately-related sporting riots in the nation following a 24-7 win over KU. The sight of broken glass and busted faces was so exciting that two years later, students donned t-shirts that said “Riotville” and “Riot II” while smashing almost every window in Aggieville and torching a VW Beetle following the KU game.

If you’re keeping track, the 1987 Sunflower Showdown had a lot going for it: one of the worst teams in the nation (1-7 KU) squaring off against the worst team in the nation (0-8 K-State), a national media bent on making a mockery of the proceedings, and a complete embargo on Aggieville with police officers from across the entire state controlling entry points and patrolling the streets inside to keep the area free of any revelers.