K-State Opens Big 12 Play on the Road at Oklahoma

Collin Klein

Sept. 17, 2012

K-State Notes vs. Oklahoma

Kansas State, ranked as high as 13th in this week’s national rankings, will open Big 12 Conference play on the road Saturday as the Wildcats travel to No. 5 Oklahoma in one of the nation’s top matchups this weekend. Following a 3-0 start, K-State will look to improve to 4-0 on the season and win for the first time in Norman since 1997 Saturday as the Wildcats and Sooners do battle at 6:50 p.m. in FOX College Football’s Game of the Week. Calling the national broadcast from Norman will be Gus Johnson, Charles Davis and Julie Alexandria. A free live audio broadcast is also available on www.k-statesports.com and on SIRIUS satellite radio channel 92. Wyatt Thompson will call the action on the radio with Stan Weber providing color analysis and Matt Walters giving sideline updates. Live stats are also available through Gametracker, while Twitter updates @kstatesports and @kstate_gameday will also be a part of k-statesports.com’s gameday coverage.

Last week, K-State shrugged off a slow start to blow past North Texas, 35-21, in the squad’s final non-conference tuneup of 2012. The Wildcats have shown balance on offense through three contests, averaging 251.7 yards per game on the ground and 203.0 through the air while also holding steady as the league’s least-penalized unit at 14.0 yards per game - a figure that also ranks second nationally. Quarterback Collin Klein continues to put up terrific numbers both through the air and on the ground as the senior connected on 15-of-20 passes for 230 yards and two touchdowns while also running for 85 yards and a score on 11 carries. Klein has completed 73-percent of his passes through three games this season, accounted for nine touchdowns and averaged 273.0 yards of total offense. The Wildcat defense has been salty against the run, yielding just 93 yards per game on the ground, while senior linebacker Arthur Brown continues to put up All-America numbers. Through three games, Brown has a Big 12-leading 28 tackles and is coming off a career-best 13-tackle performance against the Mean Green on Saturday. K-State continues to showcase one of the nation’s top special teams units as the Cats lead the Big 12 in both kick and punt returns. The Wildcats have scored on each so far through three games.

K-State will hit the road for the first time in 2012 on Saturday and in doing so will also face its toughest opponent of the season in No. 5 Oklahoma. The Sooners, coming off a bye week, are 2-0 on the year after early wins on the road at UTEP and at home against Florida A&M. Oklahoma has been led so far by running back Damien Williams and quarterback Landry Jones. Williams currently leads the league in rushing at 129.5 yards per game, while Jones has thrown for 474 yards and four touchdowns in two games. Defensively, the Sooners have been stout against the pass, yielding just 110 yards per game. Oklahoma ranks fourth nationally in pass defense, third in pass efficiency defense and 10th in total defense heading into Saturday’s matchup with the Wildcats.

Kansas State will make its first conference call of the 2012 season when the Wildcats travel to Oklahoma on Saturday. K-State, ranked third all-time with a 76-53 record in Big 12 play, is 8-8 overall in Big 12 openers since the conference’s formation in 1996 and will be out to win its fifth in the last six seasons. The Wildcats have won three straight Big 12 openers after defeating Iowa State in 2009 and 2010 and No. 15 Baylor last season. The Wildcats, 7-6 in Big 12 openers under head coach Bill Snyder, will open Big 12 play against Oklahoma for the third time since 2001, all of which have been games in Norman. Since 1997, K-State has opened Big 12 play away from Bill Snyder Family Stadium a total of 13 times.

Fast starts have propelled the Wildcats to winning seasons under Bill Snyder. Since 1992 under Snyder, K-State is a combined 54-5 (.914) in games played during the month of September. Of the five losses, three came on the road, as the Cats are 43-2 in September home games during that stretch. The Wildcats have opened 3-0 under Snyder in each of the last two seasons and a total of 15 times since the 1991 season.

Head coach Bill Snyder picked up the 150th victory of his career in last year’s season opener, joining Frank Beamer (Virginia Tech), Steve Spurrier (South Carolina), Mack Brown (Texas) and Gary Pinkel (Missouri) as active coaches with 150 wins at BCS schools. He picked up win No. 160 in the Cats’ 51-9 season-opening win over Missouri State. After guiding K-State from 1989 to 2005, and again over the last three-plus seasons, Snyder is also one of the longest-tenured active coaches in the FBS. The Wildcat head coach ranks fourth among active coaches behind Nevada’s Chris Ault (28th), Beamer (26th) and Troy’s Larry Blakeney (22nd). Even more impressive is that Snyder is the lone BCS coach who has served at the same school for at least 20 years and has never held the same position at another school. Snyder has tallied the fourth-most victories among active coaches since 1990 with 160 despite a three-year hiatus from 2006-2008.

Kansas State has had success coming off bowl seasons, most notably under head coach Bill Snyder. The Wildcats had played in 14 bowl games in program history prior to last year, and Kansas State has followed a bowl season with another postseason berth on 11 occasions, each coming under Snyder. The only three times K-State had a losing season following a bowl trip occurred in 1983 (3-8) after the 1982 Independence Bowl, in 2004 after the Fiesta Bowl (4-7) and in 2007 after the Texas Bowl (5-7). K-State will be looking to make its third-straight bowl appearance since the end of an 11-year bowl stretch in 2003.

Kansas State’s defense has done a masterful job of keeping its opponent out of the endzone through the first three weeks of the season. The Wildcats had a string of seven straight quarters of not allowing a touchdown until Miami scored late in K-State’s 52-13 win. In fact, Miami’s touchdown came with 3:51 left in the game on a 17-yard drive and was setup by a 77-yard kickoff return. The last time that a Wildcat defense opened a season with at least seven straight quarters of not allowing a touchdown was back in 2002. The 2002 squad opened the year with eight straight quarters of no touchdowns.

Following a slow start offensively in the season opener against Missouri State, K-State has picked up the pace considerable over the last nine quarters of play. Since the fourth quarter of the season opener, K-State has scored 122 points in the last nine quarters and has outscored its opponent, 122-34, over that period. The 138 points scored in the first two games are the most since the Wildcats scored 143 in the first three games of the 2008 season and marks just the second time under head coach Bill Snyder that K-State has eclipsed 50 points in the first two games of a season - the 1998 team scored 66 and 73 points.

Kansas State was on the positive side of the ledger in terms of time of possession in 2011, leading the Big 12 and finishing fourth nationally in that department. The Wildcats held the ball for an average of 33:55 per game. K-State is 10-3 dating back to last season when controlling the clock and possessing the ball more than its opponent, including doing so in two of three games so far this season. Ironically, North Texas held the ball for 37:04 of last week’s 35-21 K-State win, marking the first time since 2002 that the Wildcats have won a game when their opponent has possessed the ball more than 37 minutes. Eastern Illinois had 37:45 of possession back in 2002 in a game that K-State won, 63-13.

Not only has Kansas State been able to possess the ball and sustain long drives over the course of the last two seasons, but the offense has managed to make the most of those opportunities once it has reached the red zone. Of K-State’s last 77 trips inside its opponent’s 20-yard line, the Wildcats have scored on 70 of those trips, with 54 of those being touchdowns. Over the course of the last 13 regular season games, the Wildcats are 62-of-66 in the red zone with 48 touchdowns. Additionally, the Cats are 26-for-28 in red zone chances with 21 touchdowns in their last six wins dating back to last season.

K-State opened the season with 324 yards rushing in its 51-9 win over Missouri State which included 152 by junior running back John Hubert. The 324 rushing yards were the most by a Wildcat team since gaining 373 against North Texas in 2010 and marked the third time since Bill Snyder’s return in 2009 that K-State has eclipsed 300 yards on the ground in a game. Through three games, K-State ranks 18th nationally in rushing, averaging 251.7 yards per game. In fact, over the last nine quarters of play, the Wildcats have rushed for 608 yards and 11 touchdowns while outscoring their opponents, 122-34.

K-State’s biggest improvement on defense over the course of the last two seasons has come against the run. Dating back to last season, K-State has yielded just 124.1 yards per game on the ground, which includes giving up 95 to Missouri State in the 2012 opener, 40 to Miami and 145 to North Texas.

K-State has made tremendous strides at the line of scrimmage in the first three weeks of the season. After not collecting a sack and just two tackles for loss in the 2012 season opener, the Wildcats have turned things around and head into this weekend’s game ranked first in the league in sacks. Against Miami, K-State had 5.0 sacks and 10.0 tackles for loss and then followed that up with 3.0 more sacks and 10.0 tackles for loss against North Texas. The last time a K-State team had back-to-back games with 10.0 or more tackles for loss was back in 2006 against Illinois State (10.0) and Florida Atlantic (12.0).

Kansas State extended one of the nation’s longest scoring streaks against North Texas as the Wildcats have now tallied points in 193 consecutive games. The 193-game stretch is the 10th-longest in the nation and the longest in the Big 12. The Wildcats have not been kept off the scoreboard since Colorado shut out K-State, 12-0, on Nov. 16, 1996. The streak includes 124 conference games, 69 true road games and 17 neutral-site contests.

Scoring first has been a big sign of good things to come for the Wildcats. Since 1990, K-State’s record when scoring first is very impressive as the Wildcats have gone 135-26 (84-percent) when drawing first blood. Dating back to last season, K-State is a perfect 8-0 when scoring the game’s first points.

There is no better indicator of a Wildcat victory than when K-State leads or is tied at the half. Since 1990, the Cats have protected a halftime lead 97-percent of the time, going 152-5 when leading at the half. Last season, Kansas State went 6-0 when leading at the half and is 3-0 so far this season.

The rise of K-State football over the last two decades has much to do with the emphasis on special teams. Since 1990, Kansas State is 47-15 when scoring on special teams and 17-1 when scoring on special teams and on defense, including a 15-0 mark under Bill Snyder. And, in non-offensive touchdowns, the Cats have ranked among the nation’s best over the past 14 seasons. Since 1999, the Wildcats are tied with Virginia Tech for the national lead in non-offensive touchdowns at 83. The schools were tied for first going into last week at 82 before the Hokies returned a punt 94 yards for a touchdown, while K-State’s Tyler Lockett returned a kickoff 96 yards for a score against North Texas. K-State had five non-offensive touchdowns last season and has two already in 2012. Tyler Lockett led the way with a pair of kickoff-return scores last season, while David Garrett (Kent State), Nigel Malone (Texas Tech) and Allen Chapman (Oklahoma State) each returned interceptions for touchdowns. In the 2012 season opener, Tramaine Thompson took a punt and raced 89 yards to the house for a fourth-quarter score before Lockett’s 96-yard kickoff return last week.

A big part of K-State’s success over the past two seasons has been attributed to the discipline and fundamentals that head coach Bill Snyder and his coaching staff have instilled in the program. During the Cats’ 10-3 season, K-State managed to limit penalties (led the Big 12), possess the ball (ranked fourth nationally), limit turnovers (led the Big 12 in turnovers lost with 15), create turnovers (ranked second in the Big 12 in turnover margin) and make the most of their possessions (30 scoring drives of 60-plus yards and led the nation during the regular season converting touchdowns on first and goal-to-go). In 2012, K-State currently leads the Big 12 in fewest penalties (14.0 ypg) and ranks among the league’s best in time of possession (30:39) and turnover margin (+3).

K-State broke open a 16-9 contest with Missouri State by erupting for a school-record 35 fourth-quarter points en route to a big win. While the fourth-quarter point total may have been something new for the Cats, the ability to finish strong is something Bill Snyder teams have done consistently. In K-State’s last 16 games, the Cats have outscored their opponents, 159-97, in the final 15 minutes and also 161-113 closing out the first half of games. In K-State’s last 13 wins, the Wildcats have outscored their opponents, 145-62, in the fourth quarter.

Much has been made about the Wildcats’ success last year in the clutch as eight of K-State’s 10 wins were decided by seven points or less. It was the most of any school in the country, while the Wildcats eight victories by one score or less were the most ever among BCS AQ schools, topping Washington (2000), Penn State (1985) and Purdue (1979) that had years with seven wins by seven points or less. Although many don’t expect K-State to duplicate the crunch-time success of last year, the 2011 late-game heroics weren’t anything new as the Cats are 13-4 in games decided by seven points or less since Bill Snyder’s return in 2009. K-State was 3-1 in 2009 and 2-2 in 2010 before going 8-1 in said games last year.

Following the 2012 spring game, head coach Bill Snyder named four captains for the 2012 season as Arthur Brown, B.J. Finney, Collin Klein and Ty Zimmerman earned the nod. Additionally, reserve linebacker Jared Loomis was elected the special teams’ captain prior to the season. Klein is a three-time team captain, the first offensive player to be selected three times in the 117-year history of K-State football. Brown is a second-year captain after transferring from Miami prior to the 2010 season. Finney, the youngest offensive player and first non-senior offensive lineman captain since 2002, along with Zimmerman are first-time captains.

Collin Klein used his legs to lead K-State down the field last year, but he was also able to push the Wildcats into the end zone on a consistent basis, and that trend has continued in 2012. During his breakout season of 2011, Klein finished fifth in touchdown responsibility, while he ranks 16th in that department this season. In terms of only rushing touchdowns, Klein is one of the best among active quarterbacks as he is second in career multi-touchdown games with 10, just two behind Michigan’s Denard Robinson, while he ranks tops among quarterbacks and second among all players nationally in total rushing touchdowns since last season with 31.

Thanks to a career-best 254.0 passing efficiency rating against Miami and another solid game last week against North Texas, Collin Klein ranks ninth nationally in that department at 180.77. Additionally, his career pass efficiency mark of 136.2 is currently third in school history as he trails K-State greats Matt Miller (152.6) and Michael Bishop (157.3). Klein’s passer rating against the Hurricanes was given a huge boost due to the fact he averaged 23.3 yards per completion, the fifth highest under head coach Bill Snyder by a quarterback that completed at least nine passes for at least 200 yards. Coupled with his three rushing scores against Miami, Klein picked up Big 12 Offensive Player of the Week honors. Against the Mean Green, Klein completed 15-of-20 passes for 230 yards and two more scores.

Collin Klein is known for his toughness running the football, but the Loveland, Colo., product rapidly progressed in the passing game over the final few games of 2011, and he has extended that progression into 2012. In the first eight games of 2011, Klein averaged 124 passing yards per game with eight touchdowns, but he’s upped his production to 191.9 yards with 10 touchdowns over his last eight contests.

Although much was made about his 27 rushing touchdowns last year to tie a FBS quarterback record, the tough and determined Collin Klein topped the school record chart in another rushing category - attempts. Klein finished third nationally in rushing attempts, while he was the top quarterback and finished with an astonishing 75 more attempts than the player in second. Additionally, his 317 rushing attempts last season were the most by a quarterback since at least 1999, while he was just the second signal caller since 1999 to top 300 carries (Ricky Dobbs, Navy, 315, 2009). In his career, Klein has rushed at least 20 times on 13 occasions, including a career-high 35 carries in a four-overtime victory over Texas A&M in 2011.

With his stellar 2011 campaign, Collin Klein can lay claim to a feat that had only been accomplished by former Heisman Trophy winners. The Wildcat signal caller is one of just four players from all BCS AQ schools in the BCS era to record 20 rushing touchdowns and 10 passing scores the same season. The other three were Cam Newton (Auburn, 2010), Tim Tebow (Florida, 2007) and Eric Crouch (Nebraska, 2000).

Tyler Lockett may have taken teams by surprise last season with his kickoff-return abilities, but the speedy sophomore continues to excel in that aspect of the game as he ranks second nationally with a 43.25 average in the first three games this season, while he currently holds the Big 12 record for career return yardage at 36.8 yards per return. If Lockett keeps on his current pace, he will end the season holding the conference record, a mark currently held by a former Wildcat in Brandon Banks (28.5 yards). Lockett’s average was given a huge boost last week against North Texas when he returned a kickoff 96 yards for a touchdown, his third career return for a score. He is now in sole possession of second place in K-State history with his three scores, while he also ranks second nationally among active players. For his efforts against the Mean Green, Lockett earned Big 12 Special Teams Player of the Week honors.

Despite playing just three years at K-State, wide receiver Chris Harper is eight yards away from becoming the Wildcats 25th career 1,000-yard receiver. A former high school quarterback that played his freshman season at Oregon, Harper led the Wildcats last season in receptions (40), yards (547) and touchdowns (5).

If the first three games of the season are any indication, junior running back John Hubert is going to make sure he won’t narrowly miss on a 1,000-yard season after falling 30 yards short last year. In his first two games, Hubert has topped the 100-yard mark twice, including a 152-yard performance in the season opener. Through three games, the Waco, Texas, product ranks second in the Big 12 in total rushing yardage, while he already has three touchdowns after three all of last year. One of his touchdowns was a 95-yard scamper against Missouri State, which was the second-longest in school history, the longest in Bill Snyder Family Stadium history and the longest in the Big 12 this season.

After leading the Wildcats with 101 tackles last season, senior linebacker Arthur Brown has not let up in his second season in Manhattan as he leads the Big 12 with 28 total tackles, thanks to a career-high 13 last week against North Texas despite missing an entire defensive series. The 2011 Big 12 Defensive Newcomer of the Year and a First Team All-Big 12 performer, Brown preceded his game against the Mean Green with a 10-tackle effort against his former team, Miami, the week prior.

Adam Davis has shown a penchant for getting to the quarterback this season as he is tied for the Big 12 lead with three sacks. Even more impressive is the fact that each of those sacks have led to fumbles as he leads the conference and is tied for second nationally in forced fumbles. His three forced fumbles are already the most by a Wildcat since 2009 (Jeffrey Fitzgerald), while he is halfway to Darren Howard’s school record for six in 1999.

A former community-college walk-on, Jarard Milo has earned starts in each of the first three games this season, and he has been one of K-State’s most consistent defenders. The Olathe, Kan., product is second on the squad with 22 tackles, which he is second in the Big 12 among defensive backs.