K-State Looks to Bounce Back Against Sooners

GAME PREVIEW
OCT 17, 2:30 PM

Bill Snyder Family Stadium
Manhattan, KS

19/19
OKLAHOMA
SOONERS
4-1 (1-1 Big 12)

NR/RV
K-STATE
WILDCATS
3-2 (0-2 Big 12)

ABC
Sirius 118, XM 199

Following its second-straight heartbreaking loss to a ranked team, K-State will have a chance to bounce back against another top-25 squad as 19th-ranked Oklahoma visits sold-out Bill Snyder Family Stadium on Saturday in a 2:30 p.m., nationally-televised game on ABC. The game, which will be the 24th-consecutive sellout in Manhattan, will be broadcast by Dave LaMont (play-by-play), Ray Bentley (analyst) and Dawn Davenport (sideline), while 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
• Guided by 2015 College Football Hall of Fame inductee Bill Snyder, K-State is 3-2 following last week’s 52-45 setback to No. 2 TCU.
• 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).
• The Wildcats took the No. 2 team in the country down to the wire behind four rushing TDs by quarterback Joe Hubener and two more from running back Charles Jones.
• After throwing for two scores and running for another against OSU, Kody Cook became the first Wildcat since 2007 to run for a score, throw for a touchdown and catch a touchdown pass in the same season.
• K-State ranks highly in the nation in rushing defense (18th), kickoff returns (16th), kickoff return defense (19th), yards per completion (7th) and sacks (24th).
• Hubener set a career high with three touchdown passes vs. LA Tech, including overtime strikes to Dominique Heath and the eventual game-winner to Cook.
• Hubener ranks third nationally in passing yards per completion (15.90), while he is also the team’s second-leading rusher with 224 yards.
• Justin Silmon has taken over the running back role as the redshirt freshman walk-on has totaled 282 yards on 57 carries this season (4.9 yards/carry). Jones had one of his best career performances last week, averaging 5.8 ypc.

A LOOK AT OKLAHOMA
• The Sooners suffered their first loss of the season last week against Texas.
• Baker Mayfield ranks third in the Big 12 in passing average and efficiency, while Sterling Shepard is fourth in receptions per game.
• The OU defense is led by Dominique Alexander, who is second in the league in tackles, and Eric Striker, who ranks among the top five in both sacks and tackles for loss.

A LOOK AT THE SERIES
• Oklahoma leads the overall series, 72-19-4 and is 36-10-1 all-time in Manhattan.
• Under Bill Snyder, K-State is 8-12 against the Sooners, including a 3-4 mark in Manhattan.
• The visiting team has won the previous four meetings between the two schools.
• The last Wildcat win over OU in Manhattan was a 42-35 victory in 1996.

HOME SWEET HOME
• Since 1990, K-State holds a 137-32-1 (.811) record when playing at Bill Snyder Family Stadium, a mark that includes a 69-27-1 (.716) record in league games.
• Since Snyder’s return in 2009, K-State is 19-7 in home conference games.

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
• Nine Wildcat players have their first career starts in 2015 including a combined seven freshmen or sophomores.
• Additionally, a total of 26 freshmen or sophomores have seen playing time in the first five weeks.
• Three of the highlights have been redshirt freshman fullback Winston Dimel, who has scored three touchdowns, redshirt freshmen Dominique Heath at wide receiver and punt returns, Dalton Risner at center and Justin Silmon at running back.

BIG 12’S BEST
• K-State currently holds a 27-11 (.711) record in Big 12 play since the start of 2011, which is tied for the second-most wins and winning percentage in the league.

HOMECOMING GAME
• Saturday’s game against Oklahoma serves as K-State’s Homecoming 2015: A Century of Coming Home.
• K-State holds an all-time record of 33-61-5, which includes a 20-5 record since 1990.
• Oklahoma is serving as the Homecoming opponent for the 21st time.

RECORD ATTENDANCE
• Attendance at K-State games have been at an all-time high over the last three years as K-State has recorded 23 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.
• Eighteen of the largest 23 crowds in stadium history have come in the last two-plus years.
• The TCU game last week was the third-largest crowd in school history (53,671), while K-State currently ranks second nationally in percent capacity at 107.1 percent through six weeks.

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.

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 its last two games 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 33 through the first six games -- but had just three against TCU.

OFFENSIVE NOTES
SCORING STREAK

• K-State has tallied points in 234 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 153 conference games, 85 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.

SCORING STREAK, PART II
• Kansas State has also scored two or more touchdowns in 56 straight games, which is the third-longest streak in Big 12 history and currently third among FBS schools.
• Oregon is at 86 straight games, while Baylor is at 67, which is the longest streak in Big 12 history.

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 27-of-29 in red zone scores with 18 TDs, including a 10-for-11 mark on touchdowns in the last two weeks. Prior to the OSU game, the Cats only scored six touchdowns in 18 red zone chances.
• Since the 2011 season, the Wildcats have scored 240 times in 271 trips (.886) to the red zone. Of those 240 scores, 176 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.

HUBENER TAKES REINS
• Junior Joe Hubener has played a majority of the season at quarterback, including his first four career starts.
• He has shown the ability to both pass and run this season as he ranks third nationally in yards per completion at 15.9, which was buoyed by a 20.25 mark at UTSA, the highest average by a K-State QB with less than 14 completions since Jonathan Beasley in 1999 (23.92 vs. CU).
• 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 last week against No. 2 TCU, Hubener ran for 111 yards and 4 touchdowns, tying for third in school history in rushing scores. It was also the second-most nationally by a QB 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 282 rushing yards, including a 119-yard effort against Louisiana Tech.
• The former walk-on from Tulsa, Oklahoma, ranks fourth in school history in rushing yards by a freshman, already passing the marks of Darren Sproles (210 in 2001) and Daniel Sams (235 in 2012) in just four games.
• At his current pace, Silmon will end the regular season with 677 rushing yards, which would break the school’s freshman record.
• Silmon’s 119 yards against Louisiana Tech 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.

COOK CAN DO IT ALL
• When senior wide receiver Kody Cook made his 15th career start at Oklahoma State two weeks ago, 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.
• Cook had eight catches for 148 yards and two touchdowns entering the game – including the eventual game-winner in the third overtime against Louisiana Tech.
• He became just the second in school history to throw multiple touchdown passes as well score a touchdown via a rush and a catch in the same season. Steve Grogan threw for six touchdowns, while also rushing for one and catching one in 1974.

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 ranks second on the team with 14 catches for 196 yards this year, just four catches and 36 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.

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 12 receptions, good for a 41.7-percent touchdown rate.
• Gronkowski’s touchdown percentage is the highest in school history among players with five or more touchdowns, over 10 percent better than the player in second place, Gene Keady, who scored five touchdowns on 16 career catches (31.3 percent).
• The 2014 First Team All-Big 12 performer has 306 yards on only 12 career catches, good for a 25.5-yard average.
• Among all players in school history with at least 12 receptions, Gronkowski holds the top average.

DEFENSIVE NOTES
NO BIG PLAYS

• Since 2012, K-State has yielded just 134 plays of 20 or more yards – the fourth-fewest among FBS teams. This season, the Wildcats have surrendered 22 20-plus yard plays from scrimmage, including seven this past week against TCU.

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 this past weekend.

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.

TOUGH AGAINST THE RUN
• Dating back to 2011, K-State has yielded 130 rushing yards per game (over 57 games), which includes an average of 140.3 yards in 2014 and 105.2 so far in 2015.
• The Wildcats ranked 33rd nationally in rushing defense in 2014, while they are 18th so far this year.
• Since 2011, K-State has held 23 of its 57 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 is 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 last week on 23 attempts, but just 87 yards on 21 carries when taking out touchdown runs of 86 and 69 yards.

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

LEE LEADING DEFENSE
• A defensive end in high school, linebacker Elijah Lee has been learning on the job and has impressed through five starts as he is tied for the team lead in tackles with 30.
• 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 has 24 tackles this season – including a career-high nine at UTSA – 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 6.8 tackles per game.
• That average is tied for the most among Big 12 starting tackles in 4-3 defenses. Chris Bradley and Aaron Curry of TCU also hold a combined 6.8-tackle average.
• Britz, a 2014 Honorable Mention All-Big 12 pick, is a career 27-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 five games this year. He led all K-State defensive tackles last year with 30 stops, while he is on pace for 45 this year, which would be the most by a Wildcat defensive tackle since Jermaine Berry in 2004 (55).

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 six 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 four games at strong safety.
• Over those six games, Jackson has totaled 26 tackles (4.3 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 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 28.3-yard average over 26 career returns, Burns ranks fourth in school history in kickoff-return average.

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

KICKERS READY WHEN NEEDED
• Over the last 15 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 8-of-9 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 ranks 10th in school history with 24 career field goals, four ahead of McCrane. McCrane holds the school’s top career field-goal percentage mark at 95.2, but Cantele is four at 77.4.