K-State Heads to Lawrence for Sunflower Showdown


GAME PREVIEW
NOV 28, 3:00 PM

Memorial Stadium
Lawrence, KS

NR/NR
K-STATE
WILDCATS
4-6 (1-6 Big 12)

NR/NR
KANSAS
JAYHAWKS
0-11 (0-8 Big 12)

FS1
Sirius 145, XM 199

Coming off the largest comeback in school history last week in a 38-35 win over Iowa State, K-State hits the road for the 113th edition of the Dillons Sunflower Showdown. The game will kick at 3 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
• The Cats, guided by 2015 College Football Hall of Fame inductee Bill Snyder, are 4-6 this year, which includes close losses to No. 19 OSU, No. 2 TCU and No. 2 Baylor.
• The Cats are coming off a 38-35 win over Iowa State that saw them erase a 35-14 second-half deficit to tie for the largest comeback in school history (21 points).
• K-State outscored the Cyclones, 24-0, in the second half and also held their offense to 144 yards and forced four fumbles over the final 30 minutes, the most since forcing four against Baylor in 2007.
• 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 455 yards in the last six 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 62 and 48 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 74 tackles (7.4 per game), 15.0 tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks.

A LOOK AT KANSAS
• KU is 0-11 overall and 0-8 in Big 12 play after a 49-0 loss to West Virginia last week.
• Freshman quarterback Ryan Willis, son of former Wildcat kicker Steve Willis, has thrown for 1,504 yards and 7 touchdowns.
• On defense, the Jayhawks are led by Fish Smithson, who has collected 100 tackles on the year.

A LOOK AT THE SERIES
• KU leads the all-time series, 64-42-5, but K-State has won six straight since Bill Snyder returned in 2009.
• Kansas State has won 19 of the last 23 meetings and has won the last three meetings in Lawrence.
• Snyder is 19-4 against KU and is 8-3 in Lawrence.

SNYDER AMONG BEST EVER
• Head coach Bill Snyder currently has 191 career victories, 152 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 nine wins away from becoming the 25th coach in FBS history with 200 career wins.
• Snyder, who has 110 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).

SUNFLOWER STATEMENT
• This week’s game has extra meaning for the 51 players on K-State’s roster from the state of Kansas (41.8-percent of roster). Of the 51 Kansans on the roster, 17 have made starts this season.

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, seven have been freshmen as fullback Winston Dimel and center Dalton Risner have started all 10 games in addition to four starts by Dominique Heath and three by Dayton Valentine. Defensively, redshirt freshman safety Kendall Adams has made two starts, while true freshman cornerback Duke Shelley has started the last six games.
• Redshirt or true freshmen have combined to make 35 total starts this season, which is the second-most under 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 this season.

IN-SEASON TURNAROUNDS
• Although K-State is 4-6 in the first 10 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
• Five of K-State’s six 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 St. and TCU, while they had the ball with a chance to tie the game late vs. Texas, Baylor and Texas Tech.

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 58 through the first 10 games – but has had just 28 in their last six games combined to jump back to No. 2 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 86-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 41-of-44 in red zone scores with 29 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 254 times in 286 trips (.888) to the red zone. Of those 254 scores, 187 have been touchdowns.
• In their 42 wins over the last four-plus seasons, the Cats are 193-for-212 (.910) in red zone chances with 138 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 16th nationally in yards per completion, his running game has taken over recently.
• The Cheney, Kansas, native ranks second on the team with 510 yards and 11 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, while he had 90 yards last week against Iowa State.
• Hubener’s 11 TDs this year are tied for third nationally among quarterbacks, while his four scores against TCU rank third in school history.
• His 153 yards 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 having his best days as a Wildcat as of late as he has accounted for 83.9-percent of his season rushing total over the last six games (455 of 542 yards).
• 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).
• He narrowly missed another 100-yard game at Texas Tech, finishing with 99 yards.
• Of his six career games with 75-plus rushing yards, four have come this year, including three of the last four games.
• During the game at Texas Tech, Jones became the 27th player in school history to hit the 1,000-yard mark in a career. He now has 1,082 career rushing yards to rank 23rd in school history.

TOP FRESHMEN
• Running back Justin Silmon and wide receiver Dominique Heath are just two of the many freshmen contributing this season.
• Silmon has 330 rushing yards this season, which ranks second in school history among freshmen. He has bettered the marks of Darren Sproles (210 yards in 2001) and Daniel Sams (235 yards in 2012), among others.
• Heath leads the team in catches 27, while he is second in yards (298) and tied for first in touchdowns (3).
• He ranks third in school history in catches, yards and touchdowns by a freshman.

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 receiver, Cook is just the second player in school history to throw multiple TD passes as well score a TD 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).

KLEIN CAN
• Senior receiver Kyle Klein nearly matched his career numbers in just one game against Texas Tech.
• Klein hauled in six passes for 131 yards – including a long of 35 yards – and his first-career touchdown.
• It was the first 100-yard receiving game by a Wildcat this season.
• He had 16 catches for 186 yards in 25 career contests entering the Texas Tech game.

FULLBACKS PRESENT RECEIVING THREAT
• Both junior Glenn Gronkowski and redshirt freshman Winston Dimel are dangerous as receiving threats out of the backfield.
• Gronkowski has averaged 24.1 yards on 14 career receptions, the highest average in school history among players with 14 or more catches. Likewise, Dimel has a 28.4-yard average on five catches, the highest among players with five or more receptions.
• Dimel’s latest catch went for his first-career receiving touchdown against Iowa State, a four-yard pass play that came from none other than Gronkowski on a trick play.
• It was the first time a Wildcat non-quarterback threw a touchdown pass since Daniel Thomas hit Aubrey Quarles for a 67-yard scoring strike at Baylor in 2010.

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 48 of his 49 career games, including a current streak of 38-straight.

DEFENSIVE NOTES
SECOND-HALF RESURGENCE

• Over the last four games, the Wildcats have turned in some terrific performances on defense in the second half.
• In games against Texas, Baylor, Texas Tech and Iowa State, the Cats have given up an average of 190 total yards and 10 points in the final 30 minutes.
• In the win over Iowa State, K-State gave up just 144 yards and zero points which helped lead to the largest comeback in school history (21 points).
• K-State also allowed just 10 second-half points to Baylor, which was averaging 61.1 per game entering the contest.

NO BIG PLAYS
• Since 2012, K-State has yielded just 164 plays of 20 or more yards – the fourth-fewest among FBS teams. This season, the Wildcats have surrendered 53 20-plus yard plays from scrimmage, but have given up 38 in the past six 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 the Wildcats held two straight foes 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 136 rushing yards per game (over 62 games), which includes an average of 140.3 yards in 2014 and 164.7 so far in 2015.
• Since 2011, K-State has held 23 of its 62 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, while Morgan Burns recorded three last year, 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 10 starts as he leads the team with 62 tackles.
• The Blue Springs, Missouri, product set a career high with 12 tackles against Louisiana Tech, while he has at least six stops in six games.
• Lee also has two of K-State’s three interceptions this year, both coming against TCU. He became the first K-State linebacker with two picks in a game since Bryan Hickman against Oklahoma State in 2002.

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 7.4 tackles per game and a total of 15.0 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 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 ranks third among 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 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).

FORCING THE ISSUE
• K-State had a stellar game against Iowa State in terms of forced fumbles with four as a team, including a pair from defensive end Jordan Willis.
• Willis’ two forces are the most by a Wildcat since Adam Davis had two against Miami in 2012.
• A product of Kansas City, Willis has four forced fumbles this season to lead the Big 12 and rank fifth nationally. He is also one away from entering the top-five in school history for a season.

BREAKOUT GAMES
• Combing for 4.5 tackles per game entering the contest, linebacker Charmeachealle Moore and safety Kendall Adams teamed for 22 of K-State’s 60 total tackles against Iowa State.
• Both shattered their previous career bests as Moore’s top performance entering the game against the Cyclones was three tackles on two occasions, while Adams’ previous high was seven at Texas.
• Both players also recorded a sack, while Moore pounced on a loose fumble with 10 seconds left in the game, which set up K-State’s game-winning field goal.

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 99 since 1999.
• Since 1990, K-State is 54-17 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. He opened the 2015 season with a 100-yard kick return and has added a 93-yarder (Texas Tech) and a 100-yarder (Iowa State) over the last two weeks.

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 14 kickoffs for touchdowns as opposed to only four in his first tenure, which lasted 17 years.

BURNING DOWN THE SIDELINE
• Senior Morgan Burns has had one of the best seasons in school history in terms of kickoff returns as he has returned 28 kicks for 846 yards (30.2-yd avg) and three TDs.
• His total includes a school-record 221 kickoff-return yards at Texas Tech – featured by a 93-yard touchdown – which was the most by a Big 12 returner since Texas’ Fozzy Whittaker went for 252 yards against Oklahoma State in 2011. It is also the third-most nationally this season as he went on to earn Big 12 Special Teams Player of the Week honors.
• A product of Wichita, Kansas, Burns ranks sixth nationally this season in kickoff-return average (30.2), while he is second in school history in single-season kickoff-return yards and fifth for a career (1,280).

GOING THE DISTANCE
• When Morgan Burns returned an Iowa State kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown, it marked the first time in school history a player took a kickoff the entire length of the field twice in one season, and, en route, earned his second-straight Big 12 Special Teams Player of the Week honor.
• He returned the season-opening kickoff 100 yards for a score against South Dakota, which is believed to be the first time K-State returned the first kickoff of the season for a touchdown.
• He is the first Big 12 player since 2011 (Texas’ Fozzy Whittaker) to have two 100-yard returns in a season, while he is the only player nationally to accomplish the feat this season.

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.

PRESSURE-PACKED KICKS
• Senior place kicker Jack Cantele has had a knack for making pressure-packed kicks this season.
• Cantele, who has been true on 12-of-14 field goals, made four-field goals against Louisiana Tech en route to Big 12 Special Teams Player of the Week and Lou Groza Award Star of the week honors.
• He had a 44-yard field goal in a “must-make” situation to send the game to a third overtime where the Wildcats eventually won.
• Cantele also recorded a game-winning 42-yard field goal with three seconds left against Iowa State. It was his second-career game-winner as he hit a 41-yarder with three seconds left against TCU in 2013.