Cats Open Big 12 Play at Oklahoma State

GAME PREVIEW
OCT 3, 3:00 PM

Boone Pickens Stadium
Stillwater, Okla.

RV/RV
K-STATE
WILDCATS
3-0 (0-0 Big 12)

20/19
OKLAHOMA STATE
COWBOYS
4-0 (1-0 Big 12)

FS1
Sirius 119; XM 200

Coming off a thrilling 39-33 triple-overtime victory against a tough Louisiana Tech squad and its first bye week of the season, Kansas State will hit the road for its Big 12 opener at Oklahoma State on Saturday at Boone Pickens Stadium in Stillwater, Oklahoma. The game will kick off at 3 p.m., and be shown to a national audience on FS1. 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) on the call.

A LOOK AT K-STATE
• Guided by 2015 College Football Hall of Fame inductee Bill Snyder, K-State is 3-0 for the first time since 2012.
• K-State shut out South Dakota in the season opener before surrendering only a field goal – a 51-yarder – to UTSA.
• The Wildcats did not allow a TD until the second quarter vs. LA Tech, marking the longest stretch to start a season without allowing a TD in the post-World War II era (1945).
• Despite allowing 33 points and 451 yards in three overtimes against the Bulldogs, K-State still ranks highly in scoring defense (8th), rushing defense (8th), yards per completion (8th) and red zone defense (17th).
• Joe 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.
• Hubener ranks fifth nationally in passing yards per completion (16.25). He is also the team’s second-leading rusher with 105 yards.
• Justin Silmon ran for 119 yards as he became the first K-State running back with a 100-yard game since John Hubert in the 2013 regular-season finale.

A LOOK AT OKLAHOMA STATE
• Oklahoma State opened Big 12 play on the road with a dramtic 30-27 win over the Longhorns in Austin.
• The Cowboys enter this week’s game with the league’s top-ranked defense, yielding just 299.5 total yards a game.
• Jordan Sterns has a Big 12-leading 40 tackles on the season, while Emmanuel Ogbah and Jimmy Bean are two of the top sack artists in the leage (9.0 combined). In fact,  OSU ranks first, second and third in this week’s tackles for loss leaders.

A LOOK AT THE SERIES
• Oklahoma State leads the all-time series, 37-24, including a 20-8 mark in Stillwater.
• The teams have traded home victories the last four seasons, while K-State is in search of its first win at Boone Pickens Stadium since a 44-21 triumph in 1999.
• Although the Cats have lost their last four times at OSU, the average margin of defeat in those games is 4.5 points.

CONFERENCE CALL
• K-State, which leads the league with 27 conference wins since 2011, is 10-9 overall in Big 12 openers since the conference’s formation in 1996 and will be out to win its seventh in the last nine seasons.
• The Cats, 9-7 in Big 12 openers under Bill Snyder, will open Big 12 play away from Bill Snyder Family Stadium for the 16th time in the league’s 20-year history.

FAST STARTS
• K-State is looking to move to 4-0 for the first time since 2012 on Saturday.
• Under Bill Snyder, the Cats have started 4-0 13 times, including three times since Snyder returned in 2009.

BYE WEEK NOTES
• The Cats have had 25 previous mid-season bye weeks under head coach Bill Snyder and have turned the extra week of preparation into an 18-7 record the following week.
• Since Snyder’s return in 2009, K-State is 7-3 when coming off a bye week during the season.
• Last season, the Wildcats went 2-1 after bye weeks, losing a hard-fought 20-14 contest to No. 5 Auburn, but they won a 31-10 contest at No. 11 Oklahoma and a 26-20 game at West Virginia.

SNYDER AMONG BEST EVER
• Head coach Bill Snyder currently has 190 career victories, which are 151 more than any other coach in program 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 (104) and Barry Switzer (100).

YOUTH MOVEMENT
• K-State has had eight players make their first-career starts in 2015, including a combined six freshmen or sophomores.
• Also, a total of 24 freshmen or sophomores have seen playing time in the first three weeks.
• Three of the highlights have been redshirt freshman fullback Winston Dimel, who has scored three touchdowns, redshirt freshman Dominique Heath at wide receiver and punt returns, and redshirt freshman Dalton Risner starting at center.

BIG 12’S BEST
• K-State currently holds a 27-9 (.750) record in Big 12 play since the start of 2011, which is the most wins and best winning percentage in the league.

COHESION ON THE STAFF
• For a third-straight season, Kansas State is coached by the same 10 full-time coaches.
• The current streak is the longest since 1999-2001.
• Included in the group is Mo Latimore, who is the longest-tenured assistant coach in the Big 12.
• K-State is one of only five schools to bring back all 10 coaches for a third-straight season, joining Arizona, BYU, Northwestern and UTEP.

REPEAT PERFORMANCES
• K-State has usually been able to string bowl seasons together under Bill Snyder, including a current streak of five-straight years.
• The Wildcats played in 17 bowls prior to 2014 and have followed that with another bowl berth 14 times, all coming under Snyder.
• K-State has had losing records following bowl seasons only three times: 1983 (3-8) after the Independence Bowl, 2004 (4-7) after the Fiesta Bowl and 2007 (5-7) after the Texas Bowl.

TOUGH SLATE
• The Wildcats will face seven teams this year that earned bowl berths in 2014, while six of their opponents are ranked or receiving votes in the AP Top 25 or Coaches Poll.
• Two of those teams are ranked in the top 10 as TCU is third in the AP and fourth in the coaches, while Baylor checks in at No. 5 in both polls.

CATS CONTINUE CONSECUTIVE SCORING STREAK
• K-State has tallied points in 232 consecutive games dating back to the 1996 season.
• The streak is the second longest in the Big 12, the ninth longest active streak and the 20th longest all-time.
• The scoring streak has endured 151 conference games, 84 true road games and 20 neutral-site contests.
• In addition, K-State has not been held scoreless in 156 consecutive home games dating back to 1991.

HOME SWEET HOME
• Since 1990, K-State holds a 137-31-1 (.813) record when playing at Bill Snyder Family Stadium.
• That record includes a 68-5 (.932) mark in non-conference games and a 69-26-1 (.724) record in league games.

RECORD ATTENDANCE
• Attendance at K-State games have been at an all-time high over the last three years as K-State has recorded 22 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 its 50,000-seat stadium 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.
• Seventeen of the largest 22 crowds in stadium history have come in the last two-plus years, while every game last season drew at least 52,726 fans.
• The Louisiana Tech game two weeks ago was the third-largest crowd in school history (53,540), while K-State currently ranks third nationally in percent capacity at 106.84 percent through four weeks.

DRAWING FIRST BLOOD
• Since 1990, K-State is 155-27 (.852) when scoring first.
• Last season, the Cats held a perfect 7-0 record when scoring the game’s first points, while K-State has won 14-straight games when scoring first.
• Dating back to the beginning of 2011, the Wildcats have gone 27-1 when scoring first with their lone blemish being a loss at Oklahoma State in 2013.

HALFWAY HOME
• Since 1990, the Cats have protected a halftime lead in 175 of its 180 (.972) games when leading at the half.
• K-State has won 49 straight games when leading at the half, which is the longest active streak in the country.
• The Wildcats opened 2014 with the third-longest active streak until Oregon saw a 63-game streak end and Oklahoma had a 48-game streak end on the final day of the regular season.

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 21 through the first three weeks.

OFFENSIVE NOTES
RED ZONE ALERT
• Kansas State has been one of the best red zone teams over the past few years.
• K-State was successful on 56-of-62 red zone chances in 2014, including a streak of 12 straight to open the year.
• So far this season the Cats are 17-of-18 in red zone scores but have only scored six touchdowns.
• Since the 2011 season, the Wildcats have scored 229 times in 259 trips (.884) to the red zone. Of those 229 scores, 166 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.
• K-State was a perfect 37-for-37 on scoring in the red zone in their first seven wins of 2014.
• In 2015, the Cats have struggled to put the ball into the end zone as they have eight touchdowns, eight field goals and two turnovers in their 18 red-zone chances.

OFFENSIVE LINE RETURNS EXPERIENCE
• 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 must replace a four-year all-conference center in B.J. Finney.

HUBENER TAKES REINS
• Junior Joe Hubener has started his first two career games at quarterback, leading K-State to a pair of victories and accounting for an average of 252.2 total yards, including 301 yards in his first-career start at UTSA.
• His total against the Roadrunners included 243 passing yards on only 12 completions, which was the highest average by a K-State quarterback with less than 14 completions since Jonathan Beasley in 1999 (23.92 at CU).
• Completing deep passes is nothing new to Hubener as 16 of his 45 career completions (35.6 percent) have gone for 20 or more yards, including 12 of 36 completions (33.3 percent) this season.

SILMON STARTS OFF STRONG
• Redshirt freshman running back Justin Silmon has started his career on a high note as he leads the team with 210 rushing yards, including a 119-yard effort against Louisiana Tech.
• The former walk-on from Tulsa, Oklahoma, is currently tied for fifth in school history in rushing yards by a freshman, already matching the mark of Darren Sproles (2001) in just three games.
• At his current pace, Silmon will end the regular season with 840 rushing yards, which would break the school’s freshman record.
• Silmon’s 119 yards two weeks ago were the fourth-most by freshman in school history, while it marked the first 100-yard game by a K-State running back since John Hubert ran for 220 yards at Kansas in the 2013 regular-season finale.
• Additionally, his 24 carries against the Bulldogs were the most by a Wildcat freshman since quarterback Allen Evridge had 30 carries against Nebraska in 2005 and the most by a freshman running back since at least 1987.

TRIO STEPPING UP AT RECEIVER
• Much has been made about K-State needing to replace all-time leading receiver Tyler Lockett and another 1,000-yard receiver in Curry Sexton.
• Through the first three games, three receivers – Kody Cook, Deante Burton and Dominique Heath – have stepped up to replace the production as the trio has combined for 393 yards on 24 receptions.
• The 393 yards are more than the 350 put up by Lockett and Sexton in the first three games of 2014, while the duo only had one touchdown and averaged 11.7 yards per catch compared to the four touchdowns and 16.4 yards per catch by Cook, Burton and Heath.
• Heath and Cook hauled in crucial touchdown receptions against LA Tech as Heath caught a 22-yard pass in the back of the end zone in the first overtime, while Cook recorded a 31-yard score in the third overtime, which proved to be the eventual game-winning touchdown.

HEATH PRODUCING EARLY
• Just like Justin Silmon at running back, wide receiver Dominique Heath is gaining on some of the best freshmen in school history after just three games.
• Heath has eight catches for 121 yards this year, just 11 catches and 137 yards away from entering the top five in school history in each category.
• By comparison, all-time leading receiver Tyler Lockett had totals of 18 receptions, 246 yards and three touchdowns during his freshman season of 2011. He did not crack the school’s top five among freshmen in either catches of receiving yards.

GRONK CAN GO THE DISTANCE
• Fullback Glenn Gronkowski was a major receiving threat out of the backfield during his first two seasons.
• The 2014 First Team All-Big 12 performer has 302 yards on only 110 career catches with four touchdowns.
• Among all players in school history with at least 11 receptions, Gronkowski is tops with his 27.5-yard average.
• Three of Gronkowski’s touchdown catches have gone for 50 or more yards, including a 62-yarder at No. 11 Oklahoma in 2014 and a 67-yarder at Oklahoma State in 2013.
• Gronkowski may be adding to his repertoire this year as he has averaged 5.0 yards on four carries this season.

DOUBLE VISION
• K-State has started each game this year with two fullbacks on the field as redshirt freshman Winston Dimel has started alongside Glenn Gronkowski.
• Dimel has three rushing touchdowns this year, including a pair in his first-career game against South Dakota.
• Just like Gronkowski, Dimel is also versatile as he hauled in two passes for 80 yards – including a 53-yarder – at UTSA.

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 41 of his 42 career games, including a current streak of 31-straight.

DEFENSIVE NOTES
OFF THE BOARD

• K-State held its first two opponents to just three total points. The last time this 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.

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.

STOUT ON D
• So far this season, the Wildcats rank No. 8 nationally in scoring defense, eighth in rushing defense, 32nd in total defense and 17th in red zone defense.

TOUGH AGAINST THE RUN
• Dating back to 2011, K-State has yielded 128.8 rushing yards per game (over 55 games), which includes an average of 140.3 yards in 2014 and just 78.3 so far in 2015.
• The Wildcats ranked 33rd nationally in rushing defense in 2014, while they are eighth so far this year.
• Since 2011, K-State has held 22 of its 55 opponents to under 100 yards, including four foes in 2014 – Stephen F. Austin (69 yards), UTEP (59), Texas (90) and KU (58) – and two opponents so far in 2015.
• Through two games, the Cats have given up only 235 yards on the ground, which includes the fewest over the first two games (98) since 2010 (Texas A&M: minus-13, Colorado: 60).

EXPERIENCE IN THE BACKFIELD
• The defensive backfield, led by safety Dante Barnett and cornerbacks Morgan Burns and Danzel McDaniel, is the most experienced unit on the team entering 2015.
• Each player made at least 12 starts in 2014 – including 13-game starters in Barnett and McDaniel – and combined for seven picks and 25 total passes defended.
• This year marks the first time since 1999 that three defensive backs return after making at least 12 starts the year prior.
• The 1999 group of Lamar Chapman (13 starts), Jarrod Cooper (13) and Dyshod Carter (12) led a defense that tied the school record for interceptions (21) and set the school record for interception-return touchdowns (5), a mark that was later tied by the 2002 squad.

PICK ME
• Over the last 34 contests K-State has recorded multiple interceptions in a game, the Wildcats hold a 29-5 record.
• The Wildcats are a perfect 9-0 over the last two seasons when recording two or more picks, including a 5-0 mark in 2014 (TTU, OU, OSU, WVU, KU).
• Kansas State has notched at least one interception in 15 of the last 22 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.

BEHIND ENEMY LINES
• K-State has recorded three-straight seasons with 70-plus tackles for loss, recording 75 in 2012, 71 in 2013 and 73 in 2014.
• It is the first time since 2005-07 that the Wildcats’ have had three-straight seasons with 70 or more TFLs.
• The leading returners in that department are defensive end Jordan Willis with 7.5 and defensive back Danzel McDaniel with 5.0.
• K-State recorded four games with seven or more stops behind the line in 2014 with 10 against OSU, nine vs. SFA, eight at WVU and seven at TCU.
• Jordan Willis has 5.5 TFLs, including 3.5 in the win over LA Tech to rank second in the Big 12, while Travis Britz and Elijah Lee each have 3.0.

LEE LEADING DEFENSE
• K-State’s leading tackler, linebacker Elijah Lee, has been learning on the job, but that hasn’t stopped him from making plays as he leads the team with 20 tackles.
• A defensive end in high school before serving as a rush end on passing situations as a true freshman in 2014, Lee set a career high with 12 tackles against Louisiana Tech – including 10 solo stops – in addition to his first three tackles for loss and two sacks of the season.
• Lee’s tackle total marks the sixth time in the last five seasons a K-State linebacker has 20-plus tackles in the first three games. Of the last five to reach the mark by game three, four totaled at least 100 tackles on the year.

DAVIS HOLDS DOWN THE MIDDLE
• Perhaps one of the most underrated defenders on the team, Will Davis is right behind Elijah Lee with 18 stops this season, which includes a career-high nine at UTSA.
• Davis, who has started nine career games, has recorded timely pass breakups each of the last two contests as he batted down a 4th-and-Goal pass at UTSA before knocking down another one at the goal line against Louisiana Tech.

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 7.7 tackles per game.
• That average ranks as the second-best among Big 12 starting tackles in 4-3 defenses. Chris Bradley and Aaron Curry of TCU rank first with a 8.0-tackle average.
• Britz, a 2014 Honorable Mention All-Big 12 pick, is a career 25-game starter who was on pace to set career highs in tackles for loss and sacks last season before missing the final three games.
• Geary is a former walk-on who started five games as a redshirt freshman in 2014 and the first three games this year. He led all K-State defensive tackles last year with 30 stops.

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 the last four 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 last two games at strong safety.
• Over those four games, Jackson has totaled 18 tackles (4.5 per game) and three 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 touchdown.
• 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, who returned a kickoff 86 yards for a touchdown last year against Oklahoma State, is now tied for third in school history in kickoff-return touchdowns with two, while it was the fifth 100-yard return in school history.
• With a 29.2-yard average over 23 career returns, Burns ranks second in school history in kickoff-return average.
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.

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.
• Over the last two seasons, Travis Britz has five blocked kicks – including a national-leading four in 2013 – 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 13 games, 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 on all seven 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.
• Cantele now ranks 10th in school history with 23 career field goals, three ahead of McCrane. McCrane holds the school’s top career field-goal percentage mark at 95.2, but Cantele is third at 79.3.