K-State Opens Big 12 Play at West Virginia

GAME PREVIEW
OCT 1, 2:30 PM CT

Milan Puskar Stadium
Morgantown, WV

NR/RV
K-STATE
WILDCATS
2-1 (0-0 Big 12)

RV/RV
WEST VIRGINIA
MOUNTAINEERS
3-0 (0-0 Big 12)

Following a rain-shortened shutout win against Missouri State last weekend, K-State will hit the road and begin Big 12 Conference play on Saturday as the Wildcats face West Virginia at Milan Puskar Stadium.

Saturday’s game, which kicks off at 2:30 p.m. (CT), will be televised nationally on ESPNU with Clay Matvik and Dusty Dvoracek calling the action. The contest can also be heard across the K-State Sports Network with Wyatt Thompson (play-by-play), former K-State quarterback Stan Weber (analyst) and Matt Walters (sidelines) on the call, as well as Sirius channel 136, XM channel 199. Live stats are available at k-statesports.com, while Twitter updates via @ kstate_gameday and @KStateFB will all be a part of the coverage.

A LOOK AT K-STATE
• Guided by 2015 College Football Hall of Fame inductee Bill Snyder, who is in the midst of his 25th season at the helm of the Wildcats, K-State is looking to build upon a shutout win over Missouri State as it opens Big 12 play.
• K-State leads the nation in total defense (179.0 ypg) and has held each of its first three opponents under 275 total yards while yielding just 33 points. The last time K-State held its first three opponents under 300 total yards was in 2007, while the last time a Snyder-led team accomplished the feat was 1998.
• Twelve players on defense have recorded five or more tackles, led by Elijah Lee’s 19 and Duke Shelley’s 12.
• K-State has held each of its first three opponents to an average of 72.3 yards a game on the ground.
• K-State entered the locker room with a 35-0 lead over Missouri State, a week after leading FAU 42-0 at the break. It marked the first time since 2002 the Wildcats tallied at least 35 first-half points in consecutive weeks.
• K-State is a perfect 16-of-16 in red zone scores so far this season, and, dating back to last year, the Wildcats have been perfect on its last 41 red-zone attempts, 31 of which resulted in touchdowns.

A LOOK AT WEST VIRGINIA
• West Virginia currently boasts one of the top offenses in the Big 12.
• Justin Crawford and Rushel Shell III have combined to rush for 436 yards and four touchdowns through three games.
• Quarterback Skyler Howard has thrown for 974 yards and six TDs on 74-of-108 aim.
• On the receiving end, three players have recorded 10 or more catches led by Daikiel Shorts’ 19 grabs for 246 yards and two scores.

A LOOK AT THE SERIES
• Saturday’s contest marks the seventh meeting all-time between the Wildcats and Mountaineers with K-State holding a 5-1 advantage.
• It is the fifth Big 12 contest between the two schools as the Cats have won all four meetings, including two in Morgantown.

CONFERENCE CALL
• K-State is 10-10 overall in Big 12 openers since the conference’s formation in 1996 and will be out to win its seventh in the last 10 seasons.
• The Cats, 9-8 in Big 12 openers under Bill Snyder, will open Big 12 play away from Bill Snyder Family Stadium for the 17th time in the league’s 21st year.
• K-State is opening up league play away from home for the fifth-straight season. The last time the Cats began Big 12 play at home was 2011, a 36-35 victory over 17th-ranked Baylor.

TOUGH SLATE
• The 2016 season opener at then-No. 8/7 Stanford represented the beginning of a tough 2016 schedule for the Wildcats.
• Six opponents on K-State’s schedule are either ranked or receiving votes in this week’s Associated Press or Coaches polls, including five that are road contests.

SUSTAINABLE SUCCESS
• Kansas State is in rare company in college football as the Wildcats rank in the top 20 in wins among FBS programs over the last 21-plus seasons.
• Since 1995, K-State has picked up 176 victories, which is tied for 18th in the nation.
• The Cats are only two wins away from 16th and six victories away from the top 15.
• Among current Big 12 teams, only Oklahoma (6th; 197), Texas (11th; 193) and TCU (14th; 182) rank higher.

SNYDER: HALL OF FAMER
• The architect of the “greatest turnaround in the history of college football,” K-State head coach Bill Snyder was inducted into the National Football Foundation’s College Football Hall of Fame last December.
• Snyder is just the fourth person in the history of college football to be inducted into the Hall of Fame as an active coach.
• He is a five-time national coach of the year honoree and seven-time conference coach of the year recipient.
• Snyder has compiled an amazing 195-102-1 (.656 record in the midst of his 25th season as the helm of the Wildcat program. He is 28th all-time in victories among FBS coaches and continues to climb the ladder with each win.
• Next week’s Texas Tech game will represent his 300th game at K-State, making him one the seventh person all time with 300 games coached at one FBS school.

SNYDER IN ELITE COMPANY
• Head coach Bill Snyder currently has 195 career victories, 156 more than any other coach in school history.
• Snyder ranks first in the FBS in wins among active coaches at their current schools, second in total victories among active coaches overall and 28th in all-time wins.
• He is five wins away from becoming the 25th coach in FBS history with 200 career wins.
• Snyder, who has 112 conference wins, is one of four coaches with 100 Big 8/12 victories (Tom Osborne [153], Bob Stoops [112], Barry Switzer [100]).

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.
• Penalties were more frequent early in the year, but the Wildcats cleaned up down the stretch. In the final eight games of the regular season, K-State had just 32 (4.0 per game) penalties to jump back to No. 1 in the Big 12.
• With 11 underclassmen starters in the first three games of 2016, the Wildcats have been flagged more than usual as they are committing 7.3 penalties per game for an average of 57.7 yards.
• K-State has ranked first or second in the conference in fewest penalty yards per game each of the previous five years. The Wildcats led the league in 2014, 2013 and 2011, while they ranked second in 2012 and 2010.
• The Wildcats have work to do to get back into the top two in the conference as they currently rank fifth in the Big 12.

YOUTH IS SERVED
• The season-opening depth chart featured 24 combined underclassmen (Fr. or So.; does not count special teams), including 17 on offense. It was the most on the initial depth chart of a year since at least 1988.
• K-State started 11 underclassmen – including four freshmen – in the opener at No. 8/7 Stanford. It was the most for either category since at least 1997.
• The previous high of underclassmen starting during that stretch was nine in 2005.
• The four freshmen starters at Stanford marked the second-straight year the Wildcats started at least three freshmen in a season opener.
• K-State had no more than two freshmen starters in a season opener in any of the previous 18 years, while the Wildcats had started a combined total of eight freshmen in season openers from 1998-2014.

DRAWING FIRST BLOOD
• Since 1990, K-State is 157-29 (.844) when scoring first.
• K-State, 2-0 this year when scoring first, will be looking to bounce back from a 3-2 record in 2015 when getting on the board first, defeating South Dakota, Louisiana Tech and Kansas, but losing to Oklahoma State and Arkansas.
• In 2014, the Cats held a perfect 7-0 record when scoring the game’s first points.

OFFENSIVE NOTES
RED ZONE ALERT

• Kansas State has been one of the best red zone teams over the past few years, including a perfect mark over the final seven games of the 2015 season and again so far in 2016 through three games (16-for-16).
• The Wildcats, one of two Big 12 teams to be perfect in the red zone thus far in 2016, led the league last year and ranked second nationally by converting on 94.5-perecent (52-of-55) on their red-zone attempts, which included 35 touchdowns.
• Over the last 10 games dating back to 2015, K-State is perfect on 41 red zone attempts with 31 touchdowns.
• In their 46 wins over the last six seasons, the Cats are 212-for-232 (.914) in red zone chances with 156 touchdowns, while four of their non-scoring trips have come via kneel downs to close out victories.

BY LAND
• Kansas State has recorded 10 rushing touchdowns in the last two games – seven against FAU and three against Missouri State.
• The last time the Wildcats had 10 rushing scores over a two-game stretch was against Oklahoma State and Texas A&M back in 2011.

RUNNING MATES
• K-State ran for 336 yards against FAU, marking the most yards gained on the ground since the 2012 game against KU.
• It also marked the first time since that game against the Jayhawks with four different players running for 40 or more yards as Dalvin Warmack (90), Alex Barnes (73), Charles Jones (40) and Jesse Ertz (40) did so vs. FAU.
• Alex Delton added 37 yards as a total of six players recorded rushes of 10 yards or more in the game.

ERTZ GAINING EXPERIENCE
• A year after sustaining an injury on the first offensive play of 2015 and missing the rest of the year, quarterback Jesse Ertz has seemed to find confidence through three games in 2016.
• In the season opener, Ertz threw for only 58 yards in the first half but was better in the second 30 minutes, accumulating 149 yards and a touchdown.
• The running game was the theme in the home opener against FAU as he rushed nine times for 40 yards, including a 12-yard touchdown rush, the first of his career.
• Although it was only a half, the Missouri State game may have been his most complete game, going 7-of-8 through the air for 94 yards and two touchdowns, good for a 268.7 pass efficiency rate to rank fifth in school history.
• He also set career highs in rushing yards (85) and long rush (40) against the Bears.

YOUNG RBs PROVIDE SPARK
• Sophomore Dalvin Warmack and redshirt freshman Alex Barnes were dynamic off the bench against FAU, as the top two rushers in the game combined for 163 yards on 16 attempts (10.3 yds/rush).
• Warmack recorded 90 yards against the Owls. His total was helped by a career-long 43-yarder, which was the longest by a Wildcat running back since John Hubert went 63 yards to paydirt at Texas Tech in 2013.
• Barnes had 73 yards against the Owls, including a 22-yard burst on his first-career carry.

DIMEL GETS IT DONE
• Winston Dimel is a dangerous weapon around the goal line as he has 12 of K-State’s 39 (30.8-percent) rushing scores over the last two years, including six of the 10 rushing scores this year.
• All six of Dimel’s rushing touchdowns in 2016 have come within the last two games, becoming the first Wildcat with six in a two-game stretch since Collin Klein vs. West Virginia (4) and Texas Tech (2) in 2012.
• Dimel found paydirt four times against FAU – tying for third in school history and second nationally this year – as he enters this week’s contest ranked eighth in the NCAA and tops in the Big 12 in rushing touchdowns.

HEATH MAKING HEADWAY
• Receiver Dominique Heath has had a great start to his sophomore season, but he is looking to remain consistent throughout the season.
• Heath leads the team with 114 yards this year, which includes touchdowns in each of the last two games.
• Heath was also productive through three games last year with 121 yards (40.3 yds/gm), but he only had 192 yards over the final 10 contests (19.2 yds/gm).

DEEP, BUT INEXPERIENCED, AT RECEIVER
• K-State has had six different wide receivers tally a catch through three games, the most for the Wildcats since 2011.
• However, many of those players came in with limited experience as four new receivers – sophomore Byron Pringle, redshirt freshman Isaiah Zuber and true freshmen Isaiah Harris and Corey Sutton – have received their first Division I experience this year.
• Against FAU, Harris had a team-high six receptions, which was tied for the fifth most by a freshman in school history and the most since Aaron Lockett had six against Nebraska in 1998.
• Zuber hauled in a 15-yard touchdown reception at Stanford, becoming the first freshman to catch a touchdown pass in a season opener since David Allen at Northern Illinois in 1997.

DEFENSIVE NOTES
UNDER 300
• That season, K-State held its first five opponents to under 300 total yards as the Cats continued the streak against Louisiana-Monroe (273) and Colorado (262).
• The last time a Bill Snyder team opened the year with such a feat was in 1998 against Indiana State (87), Northern Illinois (170) and Texas (292).
• K-State has held each of its first three opponents to less than 300 total yards for the first time since the 2007 season.

TURNOVER TURNAROUND
• K-State has seen its defense force seven turnovers through the first three games of the season as the Cats currently lead the Big 12 in turnover margin (+4).
• In 2015, K-State forced just three total turnovers in the first three games, compared to seven so far this season.
• K-State’s +4 turnover margin this season is the highest for the Wildcats since finishing the 2014 season +8 in that department.

PICKING THEM APART
• Over the last 36 contests K-State has recorded multiple interceptions in a game, the Wildcats hold a 30-6 record.
• The Wildcats are 10-1 over the last two-plus seasons when recording two or more picks.
• Kansas State has notched at least one interception in 19 of the last 28 games.
• With the interceptions being recorded by Kendall Adams and D.J. Reed against FAU, it also marked the first multi-interception game by defensive backs since the 2014 KU game. Adams and Reed are tied for third in the Big 12 in interceptions.
• Matt Seiwert picked up the lone Wildcat interception against Missouri State and currently is the only defensive lineman in the Big 12 to record a pick this season.

BEHIND ENEMY LINES

• The Wildcats have recorded at least 7.0 tackles for loss in four of their last five regular season games, including 8.0 TFLs in the 2016 season opener at Stanford.
• Over half of the TFLs against the Cardinal came from senior safety Dante Barnett and junior defensive end Tanner Wood. Barnett had 2.5 TFLs, just 0.5 shy of his career high, while Wood had a career-best 2.0 TFLs.
• Wood, who leads the team with 4.0 TFL, is one of three Wildcats with a TFL in every game this year along with Jordan Willis and Elijah Lee.
• The Cats recorded 4.0 TFLs in the first half of the Missouri State game before it was called due to weather.

SACK MASTERS
• Kansas State had one of its better seasons in terms of sacks in 2015, recording 38 to rank third in the Big 12, tie for ninth in the nation and tie for eighth in school history.
• K-State finished in the top-10 nationally in sacks for the first time since 2006.
• K-State started 2016 with a pair of sacks at Stanford, including a sack-strip by defensive end Jordan Willis and the first sack of safety Dante Barnett’s career, and followed up with four against FAU.

SECOND HALF RESURGENCE
• The Wildcats have turned in some terrific performances on defense in the second half of games over the last eight regular-season contests.
• Over the final six games of 2015 (Texas, Baylor, Texas Tech, Iowa State, KU and West Virginia) and through two games this season, the Cats have given up an average of 164.1 total yards and 8.1 offensive points in the final 30 minutes.
• At Stanford, the Cats allowed just 70 total yards and one touchdown in the second half. Included in those figures are a 41-yard touchdown by Christian McCaffrey as the Wildcats held last year’s Heisman Trophy runner up to just 11 rushing yards and six receiving yards in the second half when taking away his late scamper.
• In last year’s win over Iowa State, K-State gave up 144 yards and zero points, which helped lead to the largest comeback victory in school history (21 points).
• K-State also allowed just 10 second-half points to Baylor last season, which was averaging 61.1 points per game entering the contest.

BARNETT READY TO LEAD DEFENSE AGAIN
• A year after seeing his season end with an injury in the first half of the season opener, safety Dante Barnett came back with a vengeance in this year’s opener at Stanford.
• Barnett, who received a medical hardship for the 2015 season, tallied four tackles, including 2.5 TFLs and his first career sack, which came in his 41st-career game.
• Barnett leads all K-State defenders with 190 career tackles, sitting 60 takedowns shy of becoming the 27th player in school history with 250 career tackles.
• The Tulsa, Oklahoma, product is also three interceptions away from moving into the career top-10 list at K-State.

WILLIS THE SACK ARTIST
• Preseason All-Big 12 defensive end Jordan Willis has had sacks in five of the last seven games dating back to last year.
• Willis finished second in the Big 12 and 24th nationally with 9.5 sacks in 2015, while he has 16.5 in his career.
• The Kansas City product is just one shy of entering K-State’s career top-10 list.
• Willis has been more than effective when getting to the quarterback with five career forced fumbles, including one this season. He ranks first among active Big 12 players in career forced fumbles.

SPECIAL TEAMS NOTES
CATS TOP IN NON-OFFENSIVE TDs
• K-State is the nation’s best in non-offensive touchdowns over the last 15-plus seasons as it has 102 since 1999.
• Since 1990, the Wildcats are 57-17 when scoring on special teams and 19-1 when scoring on special teams and defense, including a 17-0 mark under Bill Snyder.
• The Cats have had at least five non-offensive touchdowns in four of the last five years and in 15 of the 17 seasons since 1999.
• Morgan Burns had all five of the Wildcats’ non-offensive scores in 2015 with four kickoff-return touchdowns, while he also recovered a blocked punt in the end zone for a score in a win at Kansas.
• Dominique Heath gave K-State its first non-offensive score of 2016 as he raced 75 yard on a punt return for a touchdown in the third quarter against Florida Atlantic.

SCORING IN THE THIRD PHASE
• Kansas State has been far and away the best team among FBS programs over the last decade when it comes to scoring via a kickoff or punt return.
• The Wildcats have a combined 41 kickoff- and punt-return touchdowns since 2005, 13 more than any other FBS school over the last 11-plus seasons. Oklahoma State is second on the list with 28 combined kickoff- and punt-return touchdowns.
• K-State has been fairly consistent between kickoff and punt returns with 21 and 20 touchdowns, respectively, during the current stretch.

DEFENSE IN THE THIRD PHASE
• On the flip side, K-State has been just as consistent in terms of kickoff and punt coverage.
• The Cats have not allowed a kickoff-return touchdown in the last 40 games as the last time an opponent took a kickoff back for a score was Louisiana on Sept. 7, 2013.
• K-State finished the 2015 season ranked 12th nationally in kickoff return defense, but after FAU averaged 23.5 yards on six returns last week, the Wildcats are currently 37th.
• Similarly, the Wildcats haven’t allowed a punt-return score since the second game of 2014 – Sept. 6 at Iowa State – which is a span of 27 games.

HEATH BRINGS THE HEAT
• Sophomore Dominique Heath excelled on punt returns last year as a redshirt freshman, but he has taken another step forward in 2016 as he ranks fourth nationally with a 22.2-yard average.
• Heath’s mark is boosted by a 75-yard touchdown return against Florida Atlantic, the longest by a Wildcat since 2012.
• Heath also had a 20-yard touchdown reception against the Owls to become the first Wildcat since Tramaine Thompson against Missouri State in 2012 to have a receiving touchdown and punt-return score in the same game. For his effort, Heath was named Big 12 Special Teams Player of the Week.

KICKERS IN THE RECORD BOOK
• Juniors Matthew McCrane and Nick Walsh have performed to historic marks as both are etching their names into the K-State record book.
• McCrane, a two-time All-Big 12 place kicker, made his first two field goals in at Stanford to extend a streak to a career record 16-straight makes.
• Additionally, he is tied for 10th in school history in career field goals made with 27, while he also connected on a school-record tying nine PATs against Florida Atlantic.
• A 2015 All-Big 12 punter and two-time member of the Ray Guy Award watch list, Walsh has booted to a career 41.63-yard average to rank sixth in K-State history.
• Walsh’s career averaged was aided by a 48.7-yard mark in the 2016 season opener at Stanford, which was the second-highest best of his career.