Cats Host No. 2 Bears in Primetime Tilt
Cats Host No. 2 Bears in Primetime Tilt
NOV 5, 6:30 PM
Bill Snyder Family Stadium
7-0 (4-0 Big 12)
3-4 (0-4 Big 12)
Sirius 84, XM 84
K-State will look to bounce back from its current four-game losing streak as a Thursday showdown at Bill Snyder Family Stadium against second-ranked Baylor is on the horizon. The game will be broadcast nationally on FS1 with Gus Johnson (play-by-play), Joel Klatt (analyst) and Molly McGrath (sideline) 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 continues its gauntlet in Big 12 play with its fourth nationally-ranked team in the last five games coming to Manhattan.
• The Cats, guided by 2015 College Football Hall of Fame inductee Bill Snyder, are 3-4 this year, which includes close losses to No. 19 Oklahoma State and No. 2 TCU.
• 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 set a career high with three touchdown passes vs. LA Tech, including overtime strikes to Dominique Heath and the eventual game-winner to Kody Cook.
• Charles Jones leads the team with 302 rushing yards, including 215 in the last three games. The junior is coming off a career-best 122-yard effort at Texas, the most by a K-State RB since the final regular-season game of 2013.
• Defensively, the Cats are paced by linebackers Elijah Lee and Will Davis with 39 tackles apiece. 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 53 tackles (7.6 per game), 13.5 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks.
A LOOK AT BAYLOR
• Baylor enters Thursday’s game at 7-0 and 4-0 in the Big 12 after a 45-27 win over Iowa State.
• The Bears rank in the top-10 nationally in 17 statistical categories, including top marks in scoring offense, total offense and passing efficiency.
•Freshman quarterback Jarrett Stidham is expected to make his first career start after Seth Russell, one of the top QBs in the country this season, was injured last game.
• Shock Linwood is seventh nationally in rushing, while wide receiver Corey Coleman is third in receiving yards and tops in receiving touchdowns.
A LOOK AT THE SERIES
• K-State leads the overall series over Baylor, 7-5, but the Wildcats are looking to break a three-game losing streak to the Bears.
• Kansas State’s last win over Baylor was a 36-35 triumph in 2011 against a Bear squad that was ranked 15th nationally while K-State was unranked at the time.
• The Wildcats fell to the 15th-ranked Bears, 35-25, in 2013, the last meeting in Manhattan. It was the first Baylor win in Manhattan in five tries.
SNYDER AMONG BEST EVER
• Head coach Bill Snyder currently has 190 career victories, 151 more than any other coach in school history.
• Snyder ranks second in the FBS in wins among active coaches at their current schools, fifth in total victories among active coaches and 30th in all-time wins.
• He is 10 wins away from becoming the 25th coach in FBS history with 200 career wins.
• Snyder, who has 109 conference wins, is one of four coaches with 100 Big 8/12 victories, joining Nebraska’s Tom Osborne (153) and Oklahoma’s Bob Stoops (107) and Barry Switzer (100).
• 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 three games.
• Redshirt or true freshmen have combined to make 22 total starts this season, which is tied for 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 seven weeks.
• Although K-State is 3-4 in the first seven 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.
• Thursday’s game will mark the fifth time in the last six years that Kansas State will play a Thursday-night contest.
• Last season, the Wildcats played a pair of Thursday-night games as they fell at home to No. 5 Auburn but won at West Virginia.
• In 2010, K-State played consecutive Thursday games, falling at home to Nebraska a week before winning at KU.
• Under head coach Bill Snyder, K-State boasts a 4-2 record in Thursday-night regular season games.
• This week’s matchup with No. 2 Baylor will mark the second time this season a No. 2-ranked team visits Manhattan as TCU won a tight 52-45 game on Oct. 10.
• It also ties for the highest-ranked opponent the Cats have faced at home (TCU and No. 2 OU back in 2004).
• It will mark just the fifth top-two opponent for K-State in a home game under Bill Snyder and the Cats are 0-4 in those games.
• All four of those opponents were ranked No. 2 as the Cats fell 31-21 to Oklahoma in 2004, 17-6 to Nebraska in 1994 and 59-11 to Colorado in 1989 (in addition to TCU).
• K-State has defeated two top-five opponents at home since 1989 and are 2-5 in those games. The wins were against No. 4 Texas (2006) and No. 4 Nebraska (2000).
• Attendance at K-State games have been at an all-time high over the last three years as K-State has recorded 24 consecutive sellouts, a number that is expected to reach 27 after the 2015 season.
• For a second-straight year, K-State finished second nationally by filling up its stadium at a 106.16-percent clip, a number that was just 0.18-percent behind Oregon (106.34).
• K-State averaged 53,081 fans in 2014, a number that increased from the 2013 season (52,887).
• Each of the last seven home openers since Bill Snyder’s return – dubbed the “K-State Family Reunion” – have been sellouts with an average of 51,655 fans in attendance.
• Nineteen of the largest 24 crowds in stadium history have come in the last two-plus years.
• The TCU game was the third-largest crowd in school history (53,671), while K-State currently ranks second nationally in percent capacity at 106.7 percent.
DRAWING FIRST BLOOD
• Since 1990, K-State is 155-28 (.847) when scoring first.
• Last season, the Cats held a perfect 7-0 record when scoring the game’s first points, while K-State had won 14-straight games when scoring first until last week’s 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.
• 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 39 through the first seven games – but has had just nine in their last three games combined.
SCORING STREAK SNAPPED
• K-State tallied points in 234 consecutive games dating back to the 1996 season until last week’s 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.
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 29-of-32 in red zone scores with 19 TDs, including a 10-for-11 mark on touchdowns in the OSU 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 242 times in 274 trips (.885) to the red zone. Of those 242 scores, 177 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 TAKES REINS
• Junior Joe Hubener didn’t start the season at quarterback, but he came in on the third play of the season and has made his first six career starts.
• He has shown the ability to both pass and run this season as he ranks ninth nationally in yards per completion at 14.59, which was buoyed by a 20.25 mark at UTSA.
• Completing deep passes is nothing new to Hubener as he had completions of 74 and 64 yards last year, while he had a 72-yarder to Charles Jones at Oklahoma State.
• The pass to Jones was the longest to a running back since Chris Claybon had a 74-yarder at Colorado in 2000.
• Showing his versatility against No. 2 TCU, Hubener ran for 111 yards and four touchdowns, tying for third in school history in rushing scores. It was also the second-most nationally by a QB this season.
JONES COMING ON STRONG
• Junior running back Charles Jones – K-State’s leading rusher – has recorded perhaps his two best games as a Wildcat over the last three contests.
• Jones rushed for 75 yards – narrowly missing his career high – to go along with two touchdowns against No. 2 TCU, a game in which K-State led and fell late.
• After rushing for 18 yards against Oklahoma, the Shreveport, Louisiana, native recorded a career-best 122 yards on a career-high 18 rushing attempts at Texas.
• He tallied the most rushing yards by a K-State running back since John Hubert at Kansas in the 2013 regular-season finale.
• Jones has 842 career rushing yards as he aims to become the 27th player in school history to hit the 1,000-yard mark in a career.
SILMON AMONG TOP FRESHMEN
• Redshirt freshman running back Justin Silmon has started his career on a high note as he ranks fourth in school history in rushing yards by a freshman.
• He has passed the marks of Darren Sproles (210 in 2001) and Daniel Sams (235 in 2012) this season.
• Silmon is on pace for will end the regular season with 485 yards, which would rank second in K-State history among freshmen.
• Silmon’s effort this year is showcased by a 119-yard effort against Louisiana Tech, which were the fourth-most yards by freshman in school history.
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 passing yards, 100 rushing yards and 100 receiving yards in the same year, joining K-State’s Daniel Thomas (2010) and TCU’s Trevone Boykin (2013).
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 17 catches for 215 yards this year, just two catches and 43 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.
WHITEHAIR VETERAN LEADER
• Offensive lineman Cody Whitehair entered his senior campaign as a team leader with multiple accolades to boot.
• Whitehair, a captain for the 2015 season, is on the watch lists for the Outland and Lombardi trophies, while he was a Preseason All-Big 12 pick by the league’s media.
• A product of Abilene, Kansas, Whitehair also earned Preseason All-America honors from Athlon, while Lindy’s named him the eighth-best offensive tackle in the nation.
• Whitehair has started 45 of his 46 career games, including a current streak of 35-straight.
NO BIG PLAYS
• Since 2012, K-State has yielded just 146 plays of 20 or more yards – the fourth-fewest among FBS teams. This season, the Wildcats have surrendered 34 20-plus yard plays from scrimmage, but have given up 19 in the past three 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.
• 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 has 8.0 TFLs in each of their last two games, the first time with 8.0 or more in consecutive games since 2012 (Miami and North Texas).
• The Cats are on pace for 70 TFLs this year, which would be the fourth-straight season with 70-plus.
TOUGH AGAINST THE RUN
• Dating back to 2011, K-State has yielded 132 rushing yards per game (over 59 games), which includes an average of 140.3 yards in 2014 and 147 so far in 2015.
• Since 2011, K-State has held 23 of its 59 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.
• 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 seven starts as he is tied for tops on the team with 39 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 is tied with Elijah Lee with 39 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 last week 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 7.6 tackles per game and a total of 13.5 tackles for loss.
• Their tackle average and total TFLs both rank as the best among Big 12 starting tackles in four-down linemen defenses.
• Geary is a former walk-on who started five games as a redshirt freshman in 2014 and every game this year. He is on pace for 50 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).
• Britz, a 2014 Honorable Mention All-Big 12 pick, is a career 29-game starter who had his best career game at Texas with a career-high nine tackles and 4.0 TFLs.
• Britz’s 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.
JACKSON: UTILITY MAN
• Not to be forced into a specific spot in the defensive backfield, Nate Jackson has been able to help the secondary with his versatility as he has started each of his last seven games at three different positions.
• Jackson started the 2015 Alamo Bowl against UCLA at free safety, the 2015 season opener against South Dakota at cornerback and the next five games at strong safety before sitting out against Texas.
• Over those seven games, Jackson totaled 29 tackles (4.1 per game) and four pass breakups.
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.
• With a 27.3-yard average over 31 career returns, Burns ranks fourth in school history in kickoff-return average.
• Additionally, Burns has 847 career kickoff return yards to rank ninth in school history, just 69 yards away from eighth and 74 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 dazzled in the 2015 spring game to the tune of 350 total return yards.
• His work in the spring game brought him national attention as he was named a Preseason All-Big 12 returner by Phil Steele.
• 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 9-of-11 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.