Wildcats Open Home Slate Tonight with Spartans

Kansas State, coming off a hard-fought 23-13 season-opening defeat at No. 14 Auburn last weekend, returns home this Saturday to face the San Jose State Spartans in the 2007 home opener at Bill Snyder Family Stadium. The Cats went toe-to-toe with the nationally-ranked Tigers in the opener and held a 13-9 lead deep into the fourth quarter until a late Auburn drive and a defensive score propelled Auburn to the win. The Wildcat defense recorded five sacks on the night, two by senior honors candidate Rob Jackson, and also held the potent Tiger rushing attack to just 62 net yards. K-State sophomore quarterback Josh Freeman had a big night through the air with 268 yards passing on 32-of-57 aim with his 32 completions checking in as the second-most in school history, just one shy of the record. Freeman’s 57 pass attempts also ranked among the most in school history, as they were the third-most ever in a game by a K-State quarterback.

The Wildcats will now turn their attention to the home opener as the Spartans, who opened the season with a 45-3 loss at Arizona State, visit Manhattan and Bill Snyder Family Stadium. San Jose State finished 9-4 last season, which included a win over New Mexico in the New Mexico Bowl, and is 11-5 in its last 16 games under head coach Dick Tomey. The Spartans, who were held to just 115 total yards in the season opener, are led offensively by senior quarterback Adam Tafralis, who threw for 2,284 yards and 21 touchdowns a year ago, while preseason All-American Dwight Lowery leads a talented Spartan secondary after recording a school-record nine interceptions last season.

The Series
Kansas State and San Jose State have met just one time on  the gridiron in the two schools’ history. The Spartans and Wildcats last met in 1963 when San Jose State blanked K-State, 16-0, in San Jose, Calif.

The Coaches
Kansas State’s Ron Prince is one game into his second season as head coach of the Wildcats after leading the program back to a winning record (7-6) and a bowl game in his debut campaign in 2006. Just the second Wildcat head coach in school history to win seven games during his inaugural season and the first to take his team to a postseason bowl, Prince became only the sixth Big 12 head coach in conference history to guide his program to a bowl berth in a debut campaign.

Dick Tomey enters his third season as head coach of the Spartan program and his 27th season overall. Tomey, who has racked up 170 wins as a collegiate head coach at Hawaii, Arizona and now San Jose State, also spent one season as an assistant for the San Francisco 49ers (2003) and the Texas Longhorns (2004). Tomey also was an assistant for four seasons at Kansas (1967-1970) during the early stages of his coaching career. Leading the Spartans to nine wins a year ago, Tomey helped San Jose State snap a 16-year bowl drought and led the school to its highest season win total since the 1990 campaign.

A Quick Glance at the Cats
Riding a strong defensive effort and a solid passing attack, Kansas State gave 14th-ranked Auburn all it could handle in the 2007 season opener last weekend at Jordan-Hare Stadium. The Wildcats collected five sacks and picked off two Brandon Cox passes in a game that saw the Auburn quarterback battle through almost constant pressure from the Wildcat defenders. Linebackers Reggie Walker and Antwon Moore, safety Marcus Watts and frontliners Steven Cline, Rob Jackson and Ian Campbell all contributed to wreaking havoc on the Auburn offense. Offensively, Kansas State out-gained Auburn, 316-291, in the ballgame and sophomore quarterback Josh Freeman threw for 268 yards on 32-of-57 passing. Freeman’s favorite target in the game was senior Jordy Nelson, who caught a career-best nine passes for 90 yards and also threw his first career touchdown pass to Leon Patton on a third-quarter throwback pass.

The Book on San Jose State
San Jose State, a program that went 9-4 last season under head coach Dick Tomey, opened the 2007 season with a tough 45-3 loss at Arizona State. The Spartans return 42 letterwinners from last year’s squad, including 15 who were starters, and also boast a preseason All-American in cornerback Dwight Lowery, who set a school record with nine interceptions a year ago and also recorded a pick in four straight games. On offense, senior quarterback Adam Tafralis (2,284 yards, 21 TD) returns after completing a school-record 65.6-percent of his passes in 2006 while also finishing 11th nationally in pass efficiency with a 155.13 rating.