K-State Hosts KU in Sold-Out Dillon's Sunflower Showdown

Travis Tannahill

Oct. 1, 2012

K-State Notes vs. KU

Coming off a historic, hard-fought 24-19 victory at No. 5 Oklahoma and a bye week, Kansas State welcomes in-state rival Kansas to Bill Snyder Family Stadium on Saturday. The Dillon’s Sunflower Showdown - first in Manhattan since 2009 - will kickoff at 11:05 a.m., on FX (Justin Kutcher/play-by-play; Eric Crouch/analyst; Darius Walker/sideline). Wyatt Thompson will call the action for the K-State Sports Network with Stan Weber providing color analysis and Matt Walters giving sideline updates.

Last time out, K-State trailed Oklahoma, 13-10, entering the fourth quarter, but touchdown runs by Collin Klein and John Hubert proved to be the difference as the Wildcats held on for a five-point victory. The Sooners, who were No. 6 in the Associated Press Top 25 at the time, were the highest-ranked opponent K-State had ever defeated in a true road game in school history. Additionally, it was the Wildcats’ first victory in Norman since 1997 and the first win over OU since the 2003 Big 12 Championship. The Wildcats, who are 4-0 and ranked as high as No. 7 in the AP poll, are averaging 242 yards per game on the ground and 189.5 through the air while also holding steady as the nation’s least-penalized unit at 16.5 yards per game. Quarterback Collin Klein continues to lead the team to victory as he is 15-4 in his career as the starting quarterback, including a 9-3 mark in Big 12 play. The senior combined for 228 yards of total offense against OU, going 13-of-21 for 149 yards through the air while rushing 17 times for 79 yards and a go-ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter. He has accounted for 60.6-percent of K-State’s total offensive yards and half of the Wildcats’ offensive touchdowns this year. Helping Klein lead the charge offensively is running back John Hubert, who tallied 130 yards and a touchdown against the Sooners. Hubert, who is second in the Big 12 and 16th nationally with 107.75 yards per game, was the first K-State running back tally a 100-yard rushing game against Oklahoma since Darren Sproles in 2003. The Wildcat defense has been salty against the run, yielding just 92 yards per game on the ground, while senior linebacker Arthur Brown continues to put up All-America numbers. Through four games, Brown ranks third in the Big 12 with 36 tackles, including a team-leading eight at Oklahoma.

K-State will be looking for its fourth straight win over rival KU as the Jayhawks enter the game with a 1-3 record. Following a 31-17 victory over South Dakota State to open the year, KU dropped subsequent games at home to Rice and TCU before falling at Northern Illinois, 30-23. Tony Pierson leads the rushing attack with 77.2 yards per game, but James Sims played in his first game of the year at NIU, rushing for 91 yards and two touchdowns. Quarterback Dayne Crist is 62-of-129 for 763 yards, two touchdowns and four interceptions. Bradley McDougald has been a ball hawk for the Jayhawk defense as he leads the squad with 34 tackles, including three for loss, one sack, two interceptions and two forced fumbles.

Giving head coach Bill Snyder and K-State an extra week to prepare has traditionally been bad news for opponents. The Wildcats have had 18 previous mid-season bye weeks under Snyder and have turned the extra week of preparation into a 13-5 record the following week, including four wins against KU (1991, 1993, 1994, 1996).

Following the Wildcats’ win over Oklahoma, K-State will look to start the season 5-0 and Big 12 play 2-0 for the second straight season and for just the second time since 2000. Last year, K-State opened up 7-0 on the year and 4-0 in Big 12 play, while the 2000 squad opened up 6-0 and went on to finish 11-3. Under Bill Snyder, K-State has opened 5-0 a total of six times.

Fast starts propelled the Wildcats to winning seasons throughout the Bill Snyder’s era at K-State. The Wildcats’ success in the month of September under Snyder is well-documented and K-State has also been a solid team in October under Snyder. Since the inception of the Big 12 Conference, K-State is 32-24 (.582) in October under the legendary head coach.

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 currently ranks fourth among all active FBS coaches with 162 wins since 1990.

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 four 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. Also, in its win over Oklahoma, K-State held the Sooners to just 19 points which were the third-fewest points scored by a Stoops-led team.

Following a slow start offensively in the season opener against Missouri State, K-State has picked up the pace considerable over the last 13 quarters of play. Since the fourth quarter of the season opener, K-State has scored 146 points in the last 13 quarters and has outscored its opponent, 146-53, over that period. K-State scored 138 points in the first three games, which were the most since 143 in the first three games of the 2008 season. Also, the 51 points against Missouri State and the 52 points against Miami marked just the second time under head coach Bill Snyder that K-State had eclipsed 50 points in the first two games of a season - the 1998 team scored 66 and 73 points. The Cats have also shown the ability to close strong as they currently have outscored their opponent, 84-21, in the fourth quarter through four games.

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 11-3 dating back to last season when controlling the clock and possessing the ball more than its opponent, including doing so in three of four games so far this season. Ironically, North Texas held the ball for 37:04 in a 35-21 K-State win, marking the first time since 2002 that the Wildcats won a game when their opponent 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. The Cats got the time of possession back in their favor in the 24-19 win at Oklahoma by controlling the ball for 34:47.

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 80 trips inside its opponent’s 20-yard line, the Wildcats have scored on 73 of those trips, with 56 of those being touchdowns. Over the course of the last 14 regular season games, the Wildcats are 65-of-69 in the red zone with 50 touchdowns. Additionally, the Cats are 29-for-31 in red zone chances with 23 touchdowns in their last seven 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 eclipsed 300 yards on the ground in a game. Through four games, K-State ranks 14th nationally in rushing, averaging 243.2 yards per game. In fact, over the last 13 quarters of play, the Wildcats have rushed for 821 yards and 13 touchdowns while outscoring their opponents, 146-53.

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 122.1 yards per game on the ground, which includes giving up 95 to Missouri State in the 2012 opener, 40 to Miami, 145 to North Texas and 88 to Oklahoma.

K-State has made tremendous strides at the line of scrimmage in the first four 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 third 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). Against Oklahoma, K-State recorded 2.0 sacks and 5.0 tackles for loss.

Along with the home opener against Missouri State and the game against North Texas, K-State has announced sellouts for Saturday’s matchup with KU, October 27 tilt with Texas Tech, the November 3 game against Oklahoma State and the December 1 regular season finale with Texas. The six sellouts announced tie the 1999 season for the most in school history, while K-State will have 14 sellouts since the beginning of Bill Snyder’s second tenure in 2009.

Kansas State extended one of the nation’s longest scoring streaks against Oklahoma as the Wildcats have now tallied points in 194 consecutive games. The 194-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 125 conference games, 70 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 153-5 when leading at the half. Last season, Kansas State went 6-0 when leading at the half and is 4-0 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 lead the nation in non-offensive touchdowns at 84. K-State had five non-offensive touchdowns last season and has three 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 Tyler Lockett’s 96-yard kickoff return against North Texas. Against OU, Jarell Childs scooped up a fumble following a Justin Tuggle sack and fell into the endzone for the Wildcats’ first defensive score this season.

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 and nation in fewest penalties (16.5 ypg) and ranks among the league’s best in time of possession (31:41) and turnover margin (+5).

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 17 games, the Cats have outscored their opponents, 173-103, in the final 15 minutes and also 171-116 closing out the first half of games. In K-State’s last 14 wins, the Wildcats have outscored their opponents, 159-68, in the fourth quarter.

Although football is the ultimate team sport, there is a lot to be said about the leadership of a starting quarterback coinciding with team victories. Some of the great K-State teams of the past have had great leadership at signal caller, and this year’s squad is no different. Collin Klein has the fifth-most wins as a starting quarterback under head coach Bill Snyder despite just 19 starts under center, while he is third in winning percentage among the top five wins leaders. Even more impressive is the list of quarterbacks he joins in 1998 Heisman Trophy runner-up Michael Bishop and multi- all-conference honorees Ell Roberson, Jonathan Beasley and Chad May. In addition to their honors, each quarterback also holds at least one school career record in passing or rushing.

Collin Klein used his legs on a consistent basis to score touchdowns last season and that trend has continued in 2012. During his breakout season of 2011, Klein finished fifth in touchdown responsibility. 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 (31).

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).

Thanks to Collin Klein’s career-best 254.0 passing efficiency rating against Miami and his 70-percent completion rating this season, teams must be on the lookout for the K-State passing game as well. Klein currently ranks seventh in the pass-first Big 12 Conference with a 165.21 rating, while his career mark of 135.4 is tied for third.

Kansas State has shown a penchant for opening up the passing game more in 2012 compared to last year and that has resulted in more big plays for the Wildcats. Klein has already tossed 15 passes for 20 or more yards in just four games (3.75 per game) after just 26 over the 13-game schedule last season (2.0 per game).  In addition, the Wildcats did not complete a pass play for 35 yards or greater until week six, while they already have four this year, including a season-long 58-yarder against Miami in week two.

After missing out on a 1,000-yard season by 30 yards last season, John Hubert has taken it upon himself to make sure he doesn’t miss out in 2012. The junior running back has totaled 426 yards for an average of 106.5 per game, which is second in the Big 12 and 16th nationally. In just four games this year, the Waco, Texas, product has three 100-yard games, including a 152-yard performance in the season opener against Missouri State. That contest featured a 95-yard scamper, 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. Two weeks ago at No. 5 Oklahoma, Hubert rushed for 130 yards to become the first Wildcat with a 100-yard game vs. the Sooners since Darren Sproles went for 235 yards in the 2003 Big 12 Championship.

Tyler Lockett may have taken teams by surprise last season with his kickoff-return abilities, but the speedy sophomore continues to excel as he ranks second nationally with a 39.0 average this year. Even more impressive is that he currently holds the Big 12 career average return record at 36.1 yards. If he keeps on his current pace, he will end the season holding the conference record, a mark currently held by former Wildcat Brandon Banks (28.5 yards). Lockett’s average was given a huge boost 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 in return touchdowns, 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 became the 25th 1,000-yard receiver in school history against Oklahoma. Harper, who has 1,015 yards as a Wildcat, led K-State last year in receptions (40), yards (547) and touchdowns (5).

K-State’s leader in receptions, yards and receiving touchdowns this season, Tramaine Thompson has become a reliable option for quarterback Collin Klein, especially in the clutch. Of Thompson’s 16 receptions this season, eight have been third-down conversions that have generally gone for big plays as he has tallied 138 of his 260 receiving yards and two of his three touchdowns on third down.

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 is third in the Big 12 at nine tackles per game after at least at least eight in the last three contests, including a career-best 13 against North Texas. Nicknamed “The Judge” by his teammates, Brown is a candidate for the 2012 Bednarik, Butkus, Walter Camp, Lombardi and Nagurski awards.

Adam Davis has shown a tendency for putting pressure on the quarterback this season, which is evidenced by the fact he is tied for fourth in the Big 12 with three sacks and eighth with four tackles for loss. Each his three sacks have led to fumbles as he leads the conference and is tied for third 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. Davis has been a major contributor in K-State’s six sack-fumbles this season.