Cats Head to Lubbock for Big 12 Tilt with Red Raiders


GAME PREVIEW
NOV 14, 2:30 PM

Jones AT&T Stadium
Lubbock, TX

NR/NR
K-STATE
WILDCATS
3-5 (0-5 Big 12)

NR/NR
TEXAS TECH
RED RAIDERS
5-5 (2-5 Big 12)

FS1
Sirius 118, XM 202

Following a tough 31-24 loss to No. 2 Baylor last Thursday, K-State will look to snap its current five-game skid as it travels to Lubbock, Texas, to face the Texas Tech Red Raiders at Jones AT&T Stadium. The game will kick at 2:30 p.m., and be broadcast nationally on FS1 with Tim Brando (play-by-play) and Spencer Tillman (analyst) on the call. The contest can also be heard across the K-State Sports Network with Wyatt Thompson (play-by-play), Stan Weber (analyst) and Matt Walters (sideline) calling the action.

A LOOK AT K-STATE
• Kansas State heads back out on the road after facing its fourth ranked opponent in five weeks last Thursday.
• The Cats, guided by 2015 College Football Hall of Fame inductee Bill Snyder, are 3-5 this year, which includes close losses to No. 19 OSU, No. 2 TCU and No. 2 Baylor.
• K-State took the Horned Frogs down to the wire behind four rushing touchdowns by Joe Hubener and two more from running back Charles Jones. The Cats tied the game at 45 with 1:47 left, but TCU scored a late TD for the win.
• That came a week after K-State took a 34-33 lead over OSU in Stillwater with 3:01 left, but the Cowboys kicked a field goal with less than a minute left for a two-point win.
• Hubener then ran for a career-best 153 yards against the second-ranked Bears as the Cats had the ball with less than a minute to play in the game with a chance to tie the game.
• Jones has been fantastic of late, rushing for 291 yards in the last four games. The junior had a career-best 122-yard effort at Texas, the most by a K-State running back since the final regular-season game of 2013.
• Defensively, the Cats are paced by linebackers Elijah Lee and Will Davis with 47 and 43 tackles, respectively. The two have also combined for all three Wildcat interceptions this year, including two by Lee against TCU.
• Defensive tackles Travis Britz and Will Geary have also been a force, combining for 60 tackles (7.5 per game), 14.5 tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks.

A LOOK AT TEXAS TECH
• Texas Tech enters Saturday’s game at 5-5 and 2-5 in the Big 12 after a 31-26 loss at West Virginia.
• The Red Raiders rank in the top-five nationally in several offensive statistical categories, including passing offense (4th), scoring offense (5th) and total offense (4th).
• Quarterback Patrick Mahomes has thrown for 3,527 yards and 28 touchdowns this season, while DeAndre Washington averages 103.4 rushing yards per game.
• Jakeem Grant is one of the top all-purpose players in the nation, averaging 184.5 yards per game. He is the team’s leading receiver with 74 catches and nine total touchdowns.

A LOOK AT THE SERIES
• Texas Tech leads the all-time series, 8-7, and is 6-3 all-time in games played in Lubbock.
• Kansas State has won four straight in the series, including the last two meetings in Lubbock.
• The series has been one of runs as Tech opened with three straight wins before the Cats answered with three in a row. Following five straight Tech wins from 2001-2009, K-State has won the past four from 2011-2014.

YOUTH MOVEMENT
• A total of 12 players have made their first-career starts in 2015, including a combined 10 freshmen or sophomores.
• Of the 10 underclassmen to make starts this season, six have been freshmen as fullback Winston Dimel and center Dalton Risner have started all seven games in addition to starts by Dayton Valentine and Dominique Heath on offense. Defensively, redshirt freshman safety Kendall Adams made his first-career start at Texas, while true freshman cornerback Duke Shelley has started the last four games.
• Redshirt or true freshmen have combined to make 25 total starts this season, which is the fourth most under head coach Bill Snyder. The most came in Snyder’s first year (1989) when freshmen combined for 43 starts.
• Additionally, a total of 26 freshmen or sophomores have seen playing time in the first eight weeks.

IN-SEASON TURNAROUNDS
• Although K-State is 3-5 in the first eight games this year, the Cats can look at recent in-season turnarounds.
• Just two seasons ago, Kansas State began the 2013 season 2-4 but was able to win six of its last seven games, including a Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl victory over Michigan, to finish 8-5.
• In 2001, the Wildcats were 2-4 – including losses in their first four conference games – but won four of their last five regular-season contests to make a bowl.

NARROW MISSES
• Four of K-State’s five conference losses were games that either ended in one-score losses or were one-score games heading into the final minutes of the contest.
• The Wildcats held fourth-quarter leads against both Oklahoma State and TCU, while they had the ball with a chance to tie the game late against Texas and Baylor.

TOP-RANKED OPPONENTS
• Last week’s matchup with No. 2 Baylor was the second time this season a No. 2-ranked team visited Manhattan as both TCU and Baylor escaped Bill Snyder Family Stadium with narrow seven-point wins.
• It also tied for the highest-ranked opponent the Cats ever have faced at home (TCU and No. 2 OU back in 2004).

DRAWING FIRST BLOOD
• Since 1990, K-State is 155-28 (.847) when scoring first.
• Last year, the Cats held a perfect 7-0 record when scoring first, while K-State had won 14-straight games when scoring first until the game at Oklahoma State.
• Dating back to the beginning of 2011, the Wildcats have gone 27-2 when scoring first with their lone blemishes being losses at Oklahoma State in 2013 and 2015.
• The 27-2 mark since 2011 is the sixth-best record among all FBS schools when scoring first and tops among all Big 12 schools.

HALFWAY HOME
• Since 1990, the Cats have protected a halftime lead in 175 of its 182 (.962) games when leading at the half.
• K-State had won 49-straight games when leading at the half, which was the longest active streak in the country, until dropping two-straight games (Oklahoma State and TCU) when leading at half.

CLEAN IT UP
• K-State led the Big 12 and ranked 16th nationally last year with only 39.3 penalty yards per game, while the Cats were second in the league with 4.38 penalties per game.
• The Cats committed three or fewer penalties six times last season, including zero against No. 5 Auburn.
• K-State has ranked first or second in the conference in fewest penalty yards per game each of the last five years. In addition to last season, the Wildcats led the league in 2013 (45.0) and 2011 (35.8), while they ranked second in 2012 (31.0) and 2010 (43.7).
• With a young team in 2015, penalties have been a little more frequent as the Cats have committed 46 through the first eight games – but has had just 16 in their last four games combined to jump back to No. 1 in the Big 12.

OFFENSIVE NOTES
SCORING STREAK SNAPPED

• K-State tallied points in 234 consecutive games dating back to the 1996 season until a shutout loss to Oklahoma.
• The streak was the second longest in the Big 12, the ninth longest active streak and the 20th longest all-time.
• The scoring streak endured 154 conference games, 85 true road games and 20 neutral-site contests.
• In addition, K-State had not been held scoreless in 156 consecutive home games dating back to 1991.
• Although the overall and home scoring streak was snapped, K-State is still currently riding an 87-game scoring streak in road games.

SCORING STREAK, PART II
• Kansas State had also scored two or more touchdowns in 56 straight games, which was the third-longest streak in Big 12 history and third among FBS schools.

RED ZONE ALERT
• Kansas State has been one of the best red zone teams over the past few years.
• So far this season, the Cats are 32-of-35 in red zone scores with 21 touchdowns, including a 10-for-11 mark on touchdowns in the Oklahoma State and TCU games. Prior to the OSU game, the Cats only scored six touchdowns in 18 red zone chances.
• Since the 2011 season, the Wildcats have scored 245 times in 277 trips (.885) to the red zone. Of those 245 scores, 179 have been touchdowns.
• In their 41 wins over the last four-plus seasons, the Cats are 189-for-208 (.909) in red zone chances with 134 touchdowns, while four of their non-scoring trips have come via kneel downs to close out victories.

EXPERIENCED OFFENSIVE LINE
• Kansas State returned a large majority of its offensive line from last season as returning players accounted for 78.5-percent of the total starts in 2014.
• Three 13-game starters returned in left tackle Cody Whitehair, left guard Boston Stiverson and right tackle Matt Kleinsorge in addition to a 12-game starter at right guard in Luke Hayes.
• Although experience litters the line, K-State was in need of replacing a four-year all-conference center in B.J. Finney and has done so with redshirt freshman Dalton Risner.

HUBENER DEVELOPS IN RUNNING GAME
• Although junior Joe Hubener has shown the ability to throw the deep ball as he ranks 13th nationally in yards per completion, his running game has taken over recently.
• The Cheney, Kansas, product has a pair of 100-yard games this year as he leads the team with 411 yards and eight touchdowns. His total yardage includes a pair of 100-yard games, rushing for 111 yards and four touchdowns against TCU and 153 yards and two scores against Baylor.
• Hubener’s eight TDs this year rank seventh nationally among quarterbacks, while his four scores against TCU rank third in school history.
• His 153 yards last week against Baylor rank fifth in school history by a QB and were the most by a Wildcat QB since Daniel Sams had 199 yards against Baylor in 2013.  

JONES COMING ON STRONG
• Junior running back Charles Jones is in the midst of the best four-game stretch of his career as he has 291 of his season total 378 yards over the last four contests.
• His previous best four-game stretch was 238 yards last year against Iowa State (75), Auburn (22), UTEP (76) and Texas Tech (65).
• The Shreveport, Louisiana, native recorded a career-best 122 yards on 18 attempts at Texas, which was the most rushing yards by a K-State running back since John Hubert at Kansas in the 2013 regular-season finale (220).
• Jones has 918 career rushing yards as he is 82 yards shy of becoming the 27th player in school history to hit the 1,000-yard mark in a career.

COOK CAN DO IT ALL
• When senior wide receiver Kody Cook made his 15th career start at Oklahoma State, no one knew he would make a big impact at quarterback. He took over on the seventh play of the game and went on to complete 10-of-16 passes for 122 yards and two touchdowns to go along with 21 rushes for 87 yards and one touchdown.
• With that game, combined with his experience as a wide receiver, Cook is just the second player in school history to throw multiple touchdown passes as well score a touchdown via a rush and a catch in the same season, joining Steve Grogan (1974: 6 TD passes, 1 TD run, 1 TD rec).
• Additionally, Cook is the third player in Big 12 history to total 100 or more yards passing, rushing and receiving in the same year, joining K-State’s Daniel Thomas (2010) and TCU’s Trevone Boykin (2013).

SILMON AMONG TOP FRESHMEN
• With 28 yards last week against Baylor, redshirt freshman running back Justin Silmon pushed his season total to 311 yards to jump from fourth to second in school history in rushing yards among freshmen.
• He has passed the likes of Darren Sproles (210 in 2001) and Daniel Sams (235 in 2012) this year.
• Silmon’s season total is showcased by a 119-yard effort against Louisiana Tech, which were the fourth-most yards by freshman in school history.

HEATH PRODUCING EARLY
• Just like Justin Silmon, wide receiver Dominique Heath is gaining on some of the best freshmen in school history.
• Heath ranks second on the team with 18 catches for 218 yards this year, just one catch and 40 yards away from entering the top five in school history in each category.

HIGH PERCENTAGE FOR GRONK
• When junior fullback Glenn Gronkowski catches a pass, chances are it goes for a touchdown as he has scored five career touchdowns on just 13 receptions, good for a 38.5-percent touchdown rate.
• Gronkowski’s TD percentage is the highest in school history among players with five or more scores. Former Purdue men’s basketball coach Gene Keady is second on that list at 31.3 percent.
• The 2014 First Team All-Big 12 performer has 322 yards on only 13 career catches, good for a 24.8-yard average.
• Among all players in school history with at least 13 receptions, Gronkowski holds the top average.

DIMEL ALSO RECEIVING THREAT
• Just like his fellow fullback, redshirt freshman Winston Dimel has also produced in the receiving game as he has four catches for 138 yards this year.
• Three of his four catches have gone for at least 27 yards, including a season-long 53-yarder at UTSA.
• Dimel’s 34.5-yard average is the third-highest in a season in school history among players with four or more catches.

DEFENSIVE NOTES
NO BIG PLAYS

• Since 2012, K-State has yielded just 154 plays of 20 or more yards – the fourth-fewest among FBS teams. This season, the Wildcats have surrendered 43 20-plus yard plays from scrimmage, but have given up 28 in the past four games.

OFF THE BOARD
• K-State held its first two opponents to just three total points. The last time that occurred was back in 2002 following a 48-3 win over Western Kentucky to open the season and a 64-0 blanking of ULM the next week.
• The last time a Wildcat team held two straight opponents to less than three points was back in 1995 when the Cats recorded three straight shutouts, while the last time it happened in the first two games of a season was back in 1936.
• In fact, no FBS team had shut out three straight opponents since that 1995 stretch until Michigan did so earlier this season.

SHUTOUT VICTORY
• K-State’s shutout win over South Dakota in the season opener was the third for the Wildcats since Bill Snyder returned to the sidelines in 2009 and also was the first shutout in a season opener since 1999.
• It also marked the 22nd blanking of an opponent for a Snyder-coached team during his tenure, which includes three-straight shutouts in 1995.

BEHIND ENEMY LINES
• The Cats have three games with 8.0-plus TFLs, the fourth time since Snyder’s return in 2009 that K-State has three games with 8.0 or more TFLs.
• K-State recorded 8.0 TFLs in consecutive games against OU and Texas, the first time with 8.0 or more in consecutive games since 2012 (Miami and North Texas).
• The Cats are in search of their fourth-straight season with 70-plus TFLs.

TOUGH AGAINST THE RUN
• Dating back to 2011, K-State has yielded 131 rushing yards per game (over 60 games), which includes an average of 140.3 yards in 2014 and 141.9 so far in 2015.
• Since 2011, K-State has held 23 of its 60 opponents to under 100 yards, including four foes in 2014 and three opponents – South Dakota (61), UTSA (37) and Oklahoma State (49) – so far in 2015.
• Through four games, the Cats had given up only 284 total yards on the ground, which was the fewest amount given up over the first four games of a season since 2003 when the Cats yielded 250 over that same stretch.
• TCU ran for 242 yards on 23 attempts, but just 87 yards on 21 carries when taking out touchdown runs of 86 and 69 yards, while Baylor had 103 yards after averaging more than 300 per game entering the contest.

PICK ME
• Over the last 35 contests K-State has recorded multiple interceptions in a game, the Wildcats hold a 29-6 record.
• The Wildcats are 9-1 over the last two seasons when recording two or more picks, including a 5-0 mark in 2014 (TTU, OU, OSU, WVU, KU) and 0-1 so far this year (TCU).
• Kansas State has notched at least one interception in 16 of the last 23 games.
• The Wildcats’ top interception man entering 2015 was Dante Barnett with seven in his career as he needs three more to enter the school’s career top-10 list. Morgan Burns recorded three, including two against Texas Tech, in his first year as a starting cornerback.

LEE LEADING DEFENSE
• A defensive end in high school, linebacker Elijah Lee has been learning on the job and has impressed through eight starts as he leads the team with 47 tackles.
• Lee, who set a career high with 12 tackles against Louisiana Tech – including 10 solo stops – has also made an impact in pass defense as he recorded two interceptions against TCU.
• He became the first K-State linebacker with two picks in a game since Bryan Hickman against Oklahoma State in 2002. Additionally, his two interceptions against the Horned Frogs are tied for the most nationally among linebackers this year.

DAVIS HOLDS DOWN THE MIDDLE
•Perhaps one of the most underrated defenders on the team, Will Davis ranks second on the squad with 43 tackles this season – including a career-high nine at UTSA and 15 over the last two games – but his pass coverage skills might be overlooked.
• Davis made timely pass breakups at UTSA when he batted down a 4th-and-Goal pass and against Louisiana Tech at the goal line on third down. He then recorded his first-career interception at Oklahoma State in the fourth quarter to halt a potential Cowboy scoring drive at the K-State 11-yard line.

D-TACKLES MAKING TACKLES
• Defensive tackle is a position most believe takes up blockers to let the linebackers make tackles, but K-State’s duo of Will Geary and Travis Britz are doing both as they have combined to average 7.5 tackles per game and a total of 14.5 tackles for loss.
• Their tackle average and total TFLs both rank as the best among Big 12 starting tackles in four-down linemen defenses.
• Britz had his best career game at Texas with a career-high nine tackles and 4.0 TFLs. His TFL total was the most by a Wildcat since Ian Campbell had 5.0 in the 2006 season opener against Illinois State, while it was the most by a Wildcat defensive tackle since at least 1989.
• Britz leads all Big 12 defensive tackles with 9.0 TFLs, which are the most by a Wildcat DT since 2010 (Jeffrey Fitzgerald, 10.0).
• Geary is on pace for 48 this year, which would be the most by a Wildcat DT since Jermaine Berry in 2004 (55).
• His season total was given a boast against Oklahoma as he carded career highs in tackles (8), tackles for loss (3.0) and sacks (2.0).

SPECIAL TEAMS NOTES
CATS TOPS IN NON-OFFENSIVE TOUCHDOWNS
• The Wildcats are the nation’s best in non-offensive touchdowns over the last 15-plus seasons as they have 97 since 1999.
• Since 1990, K-State is 53-16 when scoring on special teams and 19-1 when scoring on special teams and defense, including a 17-0 mark under Bill Snyder.
• Tyler Lockett had a 58-yard punt return for a score against UTEP last season, which was the first non-offensive score for the Cats in 2014 and also Lockett’s first career punt return score.
• Danzel McDaniel added a pick-six at Oklahoma for the Cats’ second non-offensive score of the year, while Morgan Burns returned a kickoff 86 yards vs. Oklahoma State and opened the 2015 season with a 100-yard kick return.

KICK RETURN STREAK
• Kansas State has returned a kickoff for a touchdown in each of the last 11 seasons, which is the longest streak in the nation, following Morgan Burns’ 100-yard return in the season opener.
• Auburn is second on the list by doing so six-straight seasons, while Northern Illinois and Florida are tied for third with five apiece.
• Burns kept the streak alive last year with an 86-yard return score against Oklahoma State.
• Since head coach Bill Snyder’s return in 2009, K-State has returned 13 kickoffs for touchdowns as opposed to only four in his first tenure, which lasted 17 years.

BIG SHOES TO FILL
• Senior Morgan Burns had to replace a consensus All-American in Tyler Lockett, but he made quick work by returning the season-opening kickoff 100 yards for a score.
• It was believed to be the first time K-State returned the first kickoff of the season for a touchdown and the first to start any game since Justin McKinney went 88 yards against Florida Atlantic in 2006.
• Burns is now tied for third in school history in kickoff-return touchdowns with two, while his return against South Dakota was the fifth 100-yard return in school history.
• Burns has 891 career kickoff return yards to rank ninth in school history, just 25 yards away from eighth and 30 yards away from seventh.

HANDING OFF THE BATON
• K-State not only lost the services of one of the best receivers and kickoff returners in the country in Tyler Lockett, but the Wildcats also lost the nation’s leading punt-return man with a 19.1-yard average and a pair of touchdowns.
• First in line to try to replicate Lockett’s 2014 season is redshirt freshman Dominique Heath, who ranks third in the Big 12 in punt-return average.
• Heath dazzled in the 2015 spring game to the tune of 350 total return yards, which brought him national attention as he was named a Preseason All-Big 12 returner by Phil Steele.

BLOCK PARTY
• K-State has ranked in the top 20 nationally in blocked kicks three of the last four seasons, including the 2013 campaign when the Wildcats led the nation with five.
• Since head coach Bill Snyder’s return in 2009, the Wildcats have averaged 3.3 blocked kicks per year (not counting 2015), recording at least three blocks in five of those six seasons.
• Jordan Willis blocked an Oklahoma State extra point last week, while Travis Britz has five blocked kicks – including a national-leading four in 2013 – over the last two seasons to tie the school’s career record. He is tied with Raphael Guidry, who had five in 2011 alone.
• Britz’s lone blocked kick last year was a big one when he got his hands on a fourth-quarter PAT at No. 11 Oklahoma, which helped K-State earn a 31-30 victory.

KICKERS READY WHEN NEEDED
• Over the last two seasons, Kansas State has been fortunate to have a pair of dependable place kickers in Jack Cantele and Matthew McCrane, who are the only set of active teammates in the nation to have 20 or more career field goals.
• McCrane took over for Cantele during the fourth game of the 2014 season and went on to make 18-of-19 (.947) field goals to lead the nation in field goal percentage.
• McCrane went down with an injury at UTSA, so enter Cantele, who has been true 10-of-12 field goals, including four big kicks against Louisiana Tech en route to Big 12 Special Teams Player of the Week and Lou Groza Award Star of the week honors.
• Cantele’s field goals came from distances of 33, 38, 20 and 44 yards, the latter coming in a “must-make” situation to send the game to a third overtime where the Wildcats eventually won.