Cats Host Kansas on Senior Day in Manhattan


GAME PREVIEW
NOV 26, 11 AM

Bill Snyder Family Stadium
Manhattan, KS

NR/NR
KANSAS
JAYHAWKS
2-9 (1-7 Big 12)

NR/NR
K-STATE
WILDCATS
6-4 (4-3 Big 12)

Coming off a 42-21 win at Baylor that saw Alex Barnes and Winston Dimel combine for six rushing touchdowns, K-State is back home for its final home game of 2016 when in-state rival KU visits for the 114th meeting of the Dillons Sunflower Showdown. The contest, which will be the final home game for 24 seniors, will kick off 11 a.m., and be televised to a national audience on FS1 with Brian Custer (play-by-play) and Petros Papadakis (analyst) calling the action. The contest can also be heard across the K-State Sports Network with Wyatt Thompson (play-by-play), Stan Weber (analyst) and Matt Walters (sidelines) on the call, as well as Sirius channel 136, XM channel 199. Live stats are available at k-statesports.com, while Twitter updates (@ kstate_gameday, @KStateFB) will all be a part of the coverage.

A LOOK AT K-STATE
• Continuing to rank among the league’s best when it comes to rushing offense and run defense, K-State has carded 582 yards rushing and 10 TDs on the ground in the last two games. The last time the Cats had 10 rushing scores in consecutive games was 2011 (OSU and TAMU).
• The Cats have recorded four-straight league games with 200 or more rushing yards, their longest streak since 2003.
• Due to its stout rushing attack, K-State has had 31 of its 49 scoring drives this season span seven plays or longer, including 15 that lasted at least 10 plays.
• K-State’s rushing attack is led by quarterback Jesse Ertz, who ranks first in the Big 12 among QBs with 67.6 yards per game, including two 100-yard games.
• Redshirt freshman running back Alex Barnes set a K-State freshman record with four rushing TDs at Baylor en route to his first career 100-yard game with 129 yards.
• K-State continues to highly on defense, leading the Big 12 and ranking 13th nationally in rushing defense (110.8 ypg), while also leading the league in total defense (390.3 ypg).
• Junior Elijah Lee leads the team and ranks third in the Big 12 with 82 tackles. Jordan Willis is second in the league in sacks (9.0) and TFLs (13.5).

A LOOK AT KANSAS
• Kansas is coming off an emotional 24-21 overtime win against Texas last week.
• Carter Stanley has taken over at quarterback the last two games and thrown for 657 yards and four scores.
• Receivers Steven Sims and LaQuvionte Gonzalez have combined for 124 catches and 1,420 yards with nine TDs.
• Defensively, Dorance Armstrong leads the Big 12 in sacks (10.0) and tackles for loss (17.0) while safety Fish Smithson ranks eighth in the league with 7.5 tackles per game and four interceptions.

A LOOK AT THE SERIES
• KU leads the all-time series, 64-44-5, but K-State has won seven straight since Bill Snyder returned in 2009.
• Kansas State has won 20 of the last 24 meetings, including each of the last three in Manhattan.
• Snyder is 20-4 against KU and 11-1 in Manhattan.
• The series is one of six in the nation that have been played continuously for at least 100 years, including one of three that will be played on Nov. 26.

SUNFLOWER STATEMENT
• This week’s game has extra meaning for the 48 players on K-State’s roster from the state of Kansas (40-percent of roster). Of the 48 Kansans on the roster, 17 have made starts this season.

THE CENTURY MARK
• Earlier this year, K-State became just the third Big 12 program to reach 100 league wins since the conference began in 1996.
• The Wildcats, who have 103 Big 12 wins, are joined by Oklahoma (128) and Texas (118) in the century club.

SUSTAINABLE SUCCESS
• Kansas State is in rare company in college football as the Wildcats rank in the top 20 in wins among FBS programs over the last 21-plus seasons.
• Since 1995, K-State has picked up 180 victories, which ranks 19th in the nation.
• Among current Big 12 teams, only Oklahoma (T4th; 205), Texas (12th; 196) and TCU (15th; 184) rank higher.

300 AT ONE
• K-State’s game against Texas Tech earlier this year was the 300th game under the direction of head coach Bill Snyder.
• Snyder became just the seventh person all-time to coach 300 games on one FBS school. Among the seven, six – Joe Paterno (Penn State), Bobby Bowden (Florida State), LaVell Edwards (BYU), Chris Ault (Nevada), Tom Osborne (Nebraska) and Snyder – are in the College Football Hall of Fame.

SNYDER IN ELITE COMPANY
• Head coach Bill Snyder currently has 199 career victories, 160 more than any other coach in school history.
• Snyder ranks first in the FBS in wins among active coaches at current schools, second in total wins among active coaches overall and 26th in all-time wins.
• He is one win away from becoming the 26th coach in FBS history with 200 career wins but just the sixth to do so at one school.
• Snyder, who has 116 conference wins, is one of four coaches with 100 Big 8/12 victories (Tom Osborne [153], Bob Stoops [117], Barry Switzer [100]).

TURNOVER TURNAROUND
• A year after finishing minus-3 in the turnover battle, K-State currently ranks 11th nationally and first in the Big 12 with a plus-9 turnover margin.
• The Wildcats have given up only 10 turnovers to rank seventh nationally and tops in the conference.
• In 2015, K-State was minus-3 in the turnover margin through 10 games.
• More significantly, K-State has only allowed 14 points of its turnovers, 30 less than the next best Big 12 team.

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 Wildcats, who have ranked first or second in the conference in fewest penalty yards per game each of the previous five years, are on their way to accomplish that feat again in 2016.
• Although K-State ranked 104th in the nation and sixth in the Big 12 with 74.5 penalty yards per game following its FAU contest on Sept. 17, the Wildcats are now second in the league with a 50.9-yard average.

HOME SWEET HOME
• Since 1990, K-State holds a 143-35-1 (.802) record when playing at Bill Snyder Family Stadium.
• That record includes a 70-5 (.933) mark in non-conference games and a 73-30-1 (.707) record in league games.
• K-State is looking to bounce back from a 4-3 (.571) home record in 2015, its worst home winning percentage since also going 4-3 in 2008.
• The Wildcats are 4-1 at home this year and will look for their sixth year with five or more home victories since head coach Bill Snyder returned to the sidelines in 2009.

FILLING UP THE BILL
• Attendance at K-State games have been at an all-time high over the last four-plus years as K-State has recorded 32-straight sellouts, a number that is expected to reach 33 after the Wildcats’ regular-season finale against KU.
• For a third-straight year, K-State finished second nationally in 2015 by filling up its stadium at a 106.20-percent clip, a number that was just 0.52-percent behind Oregon (106.72).
• K-State averaged a school-record 53,100 fans in its 50,000-seat stadium in 2015, a number that has increased each of the last four seasons.
• Twenty-one of the largest 25 crowds in stadium history have come since 2013, including six of the seven home games in 2015.

YOUTH IS SERVED
• Through the first 10 games of 2016, Kansas State has a combined 107 starts from freshmen or sophomores, which are the most under head coach Bill Snyder. The previous high was 101 in 1989, Snyder’s first season at the helm.
• A majority of the starts this year are by sophomores (75), while 32 starts have come from redshirt freshmen.
• K-State started 11 underclassmen – including four redshirt freshmen – in the opener at Stanford. It was the most for either category since at least 1997 as K-State had no more than two freshmen starters in a season opener in any of the previous 18 years.

DRAWING FIRST BLOOD
• Since 1990, K-State is 159-31 (.837) when scoring first.
• However, K-State is 4-2 this year when scoring first and just 7-4 in that department over the last two seasons.
• In 2014, the Cats held a perfect 7-0 record when scoring the game’s first points.

QUICK OUT OF THE GATE
• Kansas State has started games on the right side of the scoreboard this season, outscoring opponents 79-41 in the opening 15 minutes.
• That mark improves to 195-114 through the first half and 260-148 after three quarters, but opponents have gotten the best of K-State in the final quarter to the tune of 89-62.

LEADING AT THE HALF
• Kansas State had a 49-game game winning streak when leading a halftime snapped last year at Oklahoma State, a streak that was the nation’s longest at the time.
• Since that loss at OSU last year, the Wildcats are 6-3 when leading at halftime but only 4-3 in Big 12 games. This year, K-State is 5-1 when taking a lead into the locker room with its only blemish being a loss at West Virginia.

SECOND-HALF SURGE
• Kansas State, down 14-7 to Baylor at halftime, scored 35 second-half points to rally for a 42-21 win.
• It marked the first time under Bill Snyder that K-State had scored 35 points in the final 30 minutes in a road game. The last time the Cats scored 35 second-half points overall was at home in the 2012 Big 12-clinching win over Texas.
• The comeback win also marked the first time since the 2014 Iowa State game that K-State won on the road when trailing at halftime.

OFFENSIVE NOTES
GROUND ATTACK
• K-State has leaned heavily on its running game this year to move the football, especially in the last four contests.
• The Cats, who rank second in school history in yards per carry (5.0) and 10th in rushing yards per game (211.7), have hit the 200-yard barrier in each of the last four contests as they ran for 234 yards against Texas, 247 yards at Iowa State, 345 yards against Oklahoma State and 237 yards at Baylor.
• The four-game stretch against Big 12 opponents with at least 200 rushing yards is the most since the 2003 squad did so in six-straight games, culminating with 292 rushing yards in a 35-7 victory over No. 1 Oklahoma in the Big 12 Championship.
• K-State’s 345 yards on the ground against the Cowboys were the most against a conference opponent since rushing for 346 yards against Kansas in 2012.

70 TIMES 3
• The Wildcats rushing effort against Oklahoma State was led by three players with at least 70 rushing yards in quarterback Jesse Ertz (153) in addition to running backs Alex Barnes (72) and Charles Jones (70).
• It marked the first time since the 2013 UMass game that three players rushed for at least 70 yards and the first time against a Big 12 opponent since 1997 against Iowa State.

GROWTH EVIDENT ON THE LINE
• Despite boasting only 17 combined starts entering the season, K-State’s offensive line has grown throughout the season to rank as one of the best in the Big 12, evidenced by the 265.8-yard rushing average of the last four games.
• The unit, which featured the fewest combined starts entering a season since 1990, has been consistent over the last six games with four first-time starters – left tackle Scott Frantz, left guards Abdul Beecham and Tyler Mitchell, and center Reid Najvar – learning alongside veteran right guard Terrale Johnson (14 career starts) and right tackle Dalton Risner (23 career/consecutive starts).
• Despite the inexperience, Run Game Coordinator/Offensive Line coach Charlie Dickey does have a good track record when it comes to developing offensive lines quickly as the 2012 line had just a collective 26 starts entering the year but ended up placing four linemen on the All-Big 12 team, including three first-time starters.

RED ZONE ALERT

• K-State has been one of the best red zone teams over the past few years as they were one of only four teams – joined by Nevada, Oklahoma State and UCLA – to rank in the top-15 nationally in red zone offense in both 2014 and 2015, but the only one of that group to remain in the top 15 this season.
• The Cats rank fifth nationally and tops in the Big 12 by converting on 94.1-percent (48-of-51) of its red zone trips.
• Since the beginning of 2014, K-State has converted on 156-of-168 red zone attempts (.928) with 114 touchdowns. Included in that stretch was a nation-leading scoring streak of 56-straight trips that was snapped earlier this year.
• In their 49 wins over the last six seasons, the Cats are 233-for-254 (.917) in red zone chances with 172 touchdowns, while four of their non-scoring trips have come via kneel downs to close out victories.

LONG DRIVES
• In the era of quick-strike offenses in college football, K-State remains a team that likes to possess the ball.
• Of K-State’s 49 scoring drives this season, 31 have been seven plays or longer including 15 of 10-plus plays.
• Fifteen scoring drives have lasted at least five minutes with a 17-play, 8:32 drive at Oklahoma being the longest.

ERTZ ON THE RUN
• Quarterback Jesse Ertz was injured and out for the year following a five-yard rush on the first offensive play of 2015, but he’s not letting that deter him from his rushing abilities through nine starts in 2016.
• Ertz leads the team and ranks eighth in the Big 12 by averaging 67.6 rushing yards per game. He is the only quarterback on the Big 12’s top-10 list, while he ranks eighth nationally among quarterbacks.
• Ertz’s total was given a boost at Iowa State (106 yards) and against Oklahoma State (153 yards) when he became the first Wildcat with consecutive 100-yard games since John Hubert in 2013.
• His 153-yard total against the Cowboys tied for fifth in school history among quarterbacks, while his 30 attempts in that contest tied for third among QBs in K-State history.

JONES CLIMBING THE CHARTS
• In the midst of his third year serving as the primary running back, Charles Jones is using his final season to climb up the school’s career rushing yardage list.
• Jones, who entered the year ranked 21st in school history in career rushing yards, now stands in 13th place with 1,791 yards. He also ranks eighth in K-State history with a career 4.76-yard average per carry.

FRESHMAN ADDS NAME TO MIX
• Coming into season with three running backs that have seen game action, redshirt freshman Alex Barnes has added yet another dimension to the running game.
• Barnes has rushed for 339 yards on 46 attempts – good for a 7.4-yard average – and five scores. Among players with at least 45 rushing attempts, Barnes ranks second in the Big 12 in yards per rush, while he is the only player with at least 45 attempts to not have a negative rush.
• The Pittsburg, Kansas, product enters this week’s game ranked third in school history in rushing yards among freshmen, just 17 yards away from passing current Wildcat Justin Silmon (355 in 2015) for second.
• His five rushing scores are also tied for fourth in school history among freshmen, just three shy of tying the record set by Ayo Saba in 2002.

BARNES HAS BREAKOUT GAME
• Coming into the game with 210 yards in the first nine contests, Alex Barnes ran for 129 yards and four touchdowns on 19 carries at Baylor, all career bests.
• His four rushing scores were the most by a freshman in school history, tied for third overall in K-State history and tied for most nationally by a freshman in a game this year.
• His 129 yards also ranked third in K-State history for single-game yards by a freshman.

DEFENSIVE NOTES
NOT YOUR AVERAGE JOES
• Although it plays in a high-powered offense league, K-State has been one of the best in the nation in keeping opposing teams off the scoreboard as the Wildcats rank second in the Big 12 in scoring defense.
• The Wildcats have held eight of their first 10 opponents to a total average difference of 18.9 points per game below their season averages at the time.
• The three most impressive performances this year came against Texas Tech, which was averaging 59.5 points prior to scoring only 38, West Virginia, which scored 17 points despite its 33.0-point average going in, and Baylor, which also scored 17 points fewer than its average.
• The only two opponents to score more against the Wildcats than its scoring average were Iowa State and Oklahoma State, which were only 2.3 and 2.4 points better, respectively.

PICKING THEM APART
• Kansas State, which has notched at least one interception in 25 of the last 35 games, ranks second in the Big 12 with 12 interceptions despite three sophomore starters in the secondary.
• Of K-State’s 12 picks this year, nine have come from defensive backs after only one in 2015.
• The Wildcats’ 12 picks this year are already seven more than they secured last year, and have recorded their 10th double-digit interception season in the last 11 years.
• Among the 12 picks this year, two have been returned for touchdowns as D.J. Reed had a 35-yard return against Texas Tech and Duke Shelley went 29 yards to paydirt against Oklahoma State.
• The two interception-return touchdowns by the Wildcats this year are tied for seventh in school history, while they are tied for first in the Big 12 and 12th nationally.

GETTING THE MOST OUT OF SACKS
• K-State recorded 38 sacks last year to rank third in the Big 12 and tie for ninth in the nation. It was the first time since 2006 the Cats finished in the top-10 nationally in sacks.
• Although the Wildcats are only sixth in the Big 12 with 23 sacks, they have gotten the most out of them as they rank second in the conference with 7.52 yards per sack.
• The team leader in that department is Kyle Ball, whose two sacks have resulted in an average of 13.0 lost yards. K-State’s starting DEs, Jordan Willis and Reggie Walker, are averaging 7.9 and 6.7 yards per sack, respectively.

LEE LEADS THE CHARGE
• Junior linebacker Elijah Lee, a Second Team All-Big 12 pick in 2015 after leading K-State with 80 tackles, is improving his production in 2016 with a team-leading 82 stops to rank third in the Big 12 with 8.2 tackles per game.
• Lee, who is on pace to end the regular season with 107 tackles, set a new career high with 14 stops at West Virginia en route to Big 12 Defensive Player of the Week honors.
• A native of Blue Springs, Missouri, Lee has at least seven tackles in 11 of the last 17 games – including all but one Big 12 contest this year – while he has reached double digits in tackles on four occasions in 2016.

WILLIS LIVES BEHIND THE LINE
• Defensive end Jordan Willis, who has sacks in nine of the last 14 games, is flying up the K-State career chart.
• Willis ranks fourth in school history with 23.5 sacks, while he is a half sack shy of tying for 10th in Big 12 history.
• A Midseason Watch List member for the Ted Hendricks Award, Willis has 9.0 sacks this season as he is one the verge of entering K-State’s top-10 list, needing just one more to tie for 10th and 2.5 more to tie the school record.
• Willis was named Big 12 Defensive Player of the Week after the Texas game when he carded seven tackles, 3.0 TFLs, 2.0 sacks, a forced fumble and a pass breakup.
• Willis leads all active Big 12 players in career sacks, ranks second Big 12 in sacks and tackles for loss (13.5) this year and ranks 13th and 24th in the nation, respectively.
• Willis can also set his sights on K-State’s TFL top-10 list. The senior has 36.5 career TFLs, needing 2.5 to tie for 10th in school history.
• K-State’s current top-10 list for TFLs does not include any Wildcats who played in the last 15 seasons.

BARNETT SERVES AS VETERAN PRESENCE
• A year after seeing his season end with an injury in the first half of the 2015 season opener, safety Dante Barnett has been his usual self during his second senior season.
• Barnett, who received a medical hardship for the 2015 season, leads all K-State defenders with 235 career tackles, sitting 15 stops shy of becoming the 27th player in school history with 250 career tackles.
• The Tulsa, Oklahoma, who ranks fifth among active Big 12 players in career tackles, also has 174 career unassisted tackles to rank eighth in school history.

SPECIAL TEAMS NOTES
CATS TOP IN NON-OFFENSIVE TDs
• K-State is the nation’s best in non-offensive touchdowns over the last 15-plus seasons as it has 105 since 1999.
• Since 1990, the Wildcats are 58-17 when scoring on special teams and 20-1 when scoring on special teams and defense, including an 18-0 mark under Bill Snyder.
• The Cats have had at least five non-offensive touchdowns in four of the last five years and in 15 of the 17 seasons since 1999.
• The Wildcats are sitting at four this season with interception returns by D.J. Reed (Texas Tech) and Duke Shelley (Oklahoma State). Dominique Heath gave K-State its first non-offensive score of 2016 on a 75-yard a punt return against Florida Atlantic, while Byron Pringle returned a kickoff 99 yards against Texas Tech.
• Reed’s pick-six and Pringle’s KOR score marked the first time the Wildcats had two non-offensive scores in a Big 12 game since doing so against Oklahoma State in 2012.

NON-OFFENSIVE TDs PART II
• Under head coach Bill Snyder, K-State is 69-21 (.767) when scoring a non-offensive touchdown, while the Cats are 50-14 (.781) since 1999 in that department.
• Since Snyder returned to the sidelines in 2009 K-State is 25-7 (.781) in this same category.

SCORING IN THE THIRD PHASE
• Kansas State has been far and away the best team among FBS programs over the last decade when it comes to scoring via a kickoff or punt return.
• The Wildcats have a combined 42 kickoff- and punt-return touchdowns since 2005, 14 more than any other FBS school over the last 11-plus seasons. Oklahoma State is second on the list with 28 combined kickoff- and punt-return touchdowns.
• K-State has been fairly consistent between kickoff and punt returns with 22 and 20 touchdowns, respectively, during the current stretch.
• K-State also extended its kickoff-return streak to 12 straight years with a return for a score, which is the longest current streak in the nation.

DEFENSE IN THE THIRD PHASE
• On the flip side, K-State has been just as consistent in terms of kickoff and punt coverage.
• The Cats have not allowed a kickoff-return touchdown in the last 47 games as the last time an opponent took a kickoff back for a score was Louisiana on Sept. 7, 2013.
• Similarly, the Wildcats haven’t allowed a punt-return score since the second game of 2014 – Sept. 6 at Iowa State – which is a span of 34 games.
• Kansas State enters this week’s game ranked 13th nationally by allowing just 3.8 yards per punt return.

KIRBY CAN BLOCK PUNTS
• Junior linebacker Jayd Kirby has blocked a pair of punts this season, doing so against Missouri State and Oklahoma State.
• His two blocked kicks are tied for fourth nationally, while he is the first Wildcat with multiple blocked punts in a season since Courtney Herndon in 2008.

RETURNERS RANK HIGH
• K-State returners have routinely enjoyed success under head coach Bill Snyder, and it appears that 2016 will be no different as both Byron Pringle and Dominique Heath rank highly in the nation in the return categories.
• Pringle is ranked ninth in the nation with a 28.7-yard kickoff-return average – a mark that currently ranks ninth in school history – while his 659 yards this season rank fifth in school history. Heath enters play this week tied for sixth nationally in punt-return touchdowns.
• Both players have earned Big 12 Special Teams Player of the Week accolades this year. Heath was honored after his 75-yard punt return touchdown against FAU, while Pringle earned the honor twice (Missouri State, Texas Tech).

KICKERS IN THE RECORD BOOK
• Juniors Matthew McCrane and Nick Walsh have performed to historic marks as both are etching their names into the K-State record book.
• McCrane, a two-time All-Big 12 place kicker, made his first two field goals at Stanford to extend a streak to a career record 16-straight makes.
• Additionally, he is ranks seventh in school history in both career field goals made (36) and career extra-points made (85), while he has 193 career points scored to sit three shy of entering the school’s top-10 list.
• A 2015 All-Big 12 punter and two-time member of the Ray Guy Award watch list, Walsh has booted to a career 41.84-yard average to rank sixth in K-State history, while he is eighth in career yards (6,109) and 10th in attempts (146).
• Walsh’s career averaged has been aided by two big games this year when he recorded a 48.7-yard average in the season opener at Stanford prior to a career best 50.3-yard mark against Texas Tech.