Second-Ranked K-State Faces OSU in Primetime Matchup

Senior wide receiver Chris Harper

Oct. 29, 2012

K-State Notes vs. Oklahoma State Get Acrobat Reader

Fresh off a 55-24 victory over 14th-ranked Texas Tech, Kansas State faces yet another ranked opponent in No. 24 Oklahoma State Saturday in a primetime matchup at Bill Snyder Family Stadium. The nationally-televised contest between the 8-0 Wildcats and the 5-2 Cowboys is slated for a 7 p.m., kickoff on ESPN Saturday Night Football on ABC with Brent Musburger (play-by-play), Kirk Herbstreit (analyst) and Heather Cox (sidelines) on the call. Wyatt Thompson will call the action for the K-State Sports Network with Stan Weber providing color analysis and Matt Walters on the sidelines. Additionally, K-State Gameday, hosted by Brian Smoller and Mark Simoneau, will begin at 6 p.m., on K-StateHD.TV.

The Wildcats are 8-0 overall and 5-0 in Big 12 play for just the third time under Bill Snyder and the first time since 1999. K-State checked in at No. 2 in this week’s BCS standings, the highest BCS ranking in school history. The Cats are averaging 229 yards per game on the ground on offense, are third nationally in passing efficiency and have not yielded more than 24 points in a game all season on defense. K-State is also holding steady as the nation’s least-penalized unit with 29 this year, a figure that ranks second nationally. Last week against No. 14 Texas Tech, K-State trailed, 10-3, in the second quarter but proceeded to out-score the Red Raiders, 52-14, over the final 39 minutes. Quarterback Collin Klein turned in yet another great game, accounting for four touchdowns (two rushing, two passing), throwing for 233 yards on 19-of-26 aim and rushing for 83 yards. Klein continues to lead the team to victory as he is 19-4 in his career as the starting quarterback, including a 13-3 mark in Big 12 play. Helping Klein lead the charge offensively is John Hubert, who has scored 10 touchdowns in eight games after three as the full-time starter a year ago. Hubert ranks second in the Big 12 at 90.2 yards per game, while Klein is fourth at 79.2 yards per game. The Wildcat defense has been tough all year, giving up just over 17 points per game to rank 13th nationally, while K-State’s rush defense is 14th in the NCAA, yielding just a shade over 100 yards per game. Senior linebacker Arthur Brown continues to put up All-America numbers as he leads the team with 60 tackles and has two interceptions, including one last week he returned 37 yards for his first career touchdown.

For a third-straight week, K-State will take on one of the nation’s most prolific offenses when Oklahoma State comes calling on Saturday. The Cowboys, ranked 24th in this week’s BCS and coaches’ polls, are tied for second place in the Big 12 standings after consecutive wins over Kansas, Iowa State and TCU, while OSU boasts a No. 1 national ranking in total offense and No. 6 ranking in scoring offense. Quarterback Wes Lunt started his fourth game of the year Saturday against the Horned Frogs, throwing for 324 yards and one touchdown. The offensive attack has been led by running back Joseph Randle, who leads the Big 12 in rushing at 127.3 yards per game with nine touchdowns. The Cowboy defense is led by linebacker Alex Elkins with 38 tackles and four tackles for loss, while safety Daytawion Lowe has two interceptions.

Oklahoma State leads the all-time series with K-State, 36-22, including a 17-14 mark in Manhattan. The Wildcats are looking for their first win over the Cowboys since a 31-27 home victory in 2006. The series has been tightly contested as of late with the average margin being 5.4 points in the last five games.

K-State will look to open Big 12 play 6-0 as it hosts Oklahoma State at Bill Snyder Family Stadium on Saturday. The last time a K-State team opened 6-0 in league play was 1999 when the Cats also won their first six conference games, while K-State has opened 6-0 in league play a total of two times under head coach Bill Snyder (1998 and 1999).

Following Kansas State’s 55-24 victory over No. 14 Texas Tech, the Wildcats will look to start the season 9-0 for just the third time since 1998. Last year, K-State opened up 7-0 overall and 4-0 in Big 12 play before suffering its first loss, while the 1999 squad opened up 9-0 overall and 6-0 in the league and went on to finish 11-1. The 1998 squad went 11-0 before falling to Texas A&M in the Big 12 Championship game. Currently at 8-0, K-State joins defending national champion Alabama as the only FBS schools to start 8-0 in each of the last two seasons.

K-State has had a terrific start to the 2012 season, currently sitting at 8-0 overall and 5-0 in Big 12 play, but work remains to be done as all four of the Cats’ remaining opponents are either currently ranked or have been ranked at some point this season. Also, K-State’s No. 2 BCS ranking is the highest in school history, while the Cats have joined only Alabama as FBS schools who started both 2011 and 2012 with 8-0 records.

K-State heads into the final month of the season 8-0 overall and 5-0 in the Big 12 standings. The Wildcats are looking to have a November to remember, and under head coach Bill Snyder, the Cats have a track record of successful stretch runs. Since 1991 under Snyder, K-State is 45-16 in the month of November, which includes a stretch of 14 seasons of winning records in the month (1991-2003, 2011) and six seasons with an undefeated final month.

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 166 wins since 1990, while he is currently ranked ninth among all active FBS coaches in overall wins.

Kansas State’s defense has done a masterful job of keeping its opponent out of the endzone through the first eight 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, while the defense held in-state rival KU out of the endzone for the final 43 minutes. So far this season, K-State’s defense has not allowed an offensive score in 17 of 32 quarters, while it has held all seven opponents to 24 points or less. In fact, of this week’s top 15 scoring defenses, only K-State, Alabama, Florida, LSU and Notre Dame have held each opponent this year to 24 points or less.

Following a slow start offensively in the season opener against Missouri State, K-State has picked up the pace considerable over the last 24 quarters of play. Since the fourth quarter of the season opener, K-State has scored 339 points and has outscored its opponents, 339-128, over that period. K-State has reached the 50-point barrier on four occasions, including three times in conference play. The five total 50-points games are the most since 2000, while the Wildcats have not hit the 50-point mark three times in league action since 1998. The Cats have also shown the ability to come out of the locker room on fire as they have outscored their opponents, 216-67, in the second half, including a 98-25 mark in the third quarter. Additionally, K-State has yielded no more than one touchdown in the final 15 minutes of each game this year.

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 14-3 dating back to last season when controlling the clock and possessing the ball more than its opponent, including doing so in six of eight 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. At Iowa State, K-State held the ball for 40:54, the most in a game by a Wildcat team since holding the ball for 41:17 in the 1997 Texas A&M game, while it edged Texas Tech last week in time of possession by holding the ball for 30:34.

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 21 games, the Cats have outscored their opponents, 207-124, in the final 15 minutes and also 230-147 closing out the first half of games. In K-State’s last 18 wins, the Wildcats have outscored their opponents, 193-89, in the fourth quarter.

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 106 trips inside its opponent’s 20-yard line, the Wildcats have scored on 96 of those trips, with 74 of those being touchdowns. Over the course of the last 18 regular season games, the Wildcats are 88-of-95 in the red zone with 68 touchdowns. Additionally, the Cats are 52-for-57 in red zone chances with 41 touchdowns in their last 11 wins dating back to last season with three of those non-scoring trips coming via a kneel down in the final minutes of a game.

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 eight games, K-State ranks 17th nationally in rushing, averaging 229 yards per game, while its 30 rushing touchdowns are tied for third nationally. In fact, the Wildcats are out-rushing their opponents by over 1,000 yards and have 24 more rushing scores.

K-State’s biggest improvement on defense over the course of the last two years has come against the run. Dating back to last year, K-State has yielded just 119.7 yards per game on the ground, which includes giving up less than 100 yards to four teams this year - Missouri State (95), Miami (40), Oklahoma (87) and West Virginia (88). The Cats are currently ranked 14th nationally in rush defense at 100.75 yards per game.

K-State has made tremendous strides at the line of scrimmage in the last seven games. 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 leading the Big 12 with 20 sacks. Against Miami, K-State had five sacks and 10 tackles for loss and then followed that up with three more sacks and 10 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). At Oklahoma, K-State recorded two sacks and five tackles for loss, before adding 10 more tackles for loss in the win over KU. After adding four sacks at West Virginia and two last week vs. Texas Tech, the Cats also lead the Big 12 with 12 in league play.

Kansas State extended one of the nation’s longest scoring streaks against Texas Tech as the Wildcats have now tallied points in 198 consecutive games. The 198-game stretch is the eighth-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 129 conference games, 72 true road games and 17 neutral-site contests.

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 48-15 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 85. K-State had five non-offensive touchdowns last season and has four 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, while Arthur Brown took a tipped ball to the house for a 37-yard pick-six last week against Texas Tech.

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 fewest 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 is second nationally in fewest penalties (29 total), ranks first in the league and is fifth in the NCAA in turnover margin (+15) and also ranks highly in time of possession (31:50).

Along with capacity crowds for the home opener against Missouri State and games against North Texas, KU and Texas Tech, K-State has announced sellouts for Saturday’s 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. K-State had a season-high crowd of 50,766 for last week’s game against the Red Raiders.

Kansas State has been the Big 12 leader in all-sports graduation rate in four of the past five years, and the same holds true specifically for football as the program has also led the conference in graduation rate over the same time frame. Individually, a total of 11 Wildcat players on the 2012 roster have already earned their degrees from K-State. Those 11 players include four community-college transfers and two four-year transfers, while nine the 11 have earned starting roles this season for the Cats. The 11 graduates are Javonta Boyd, Arthur Brown, Anthony Cantele, Ryan Doerr, Roman Fields, Chris Harper, Collin Klein, Zach McFall, Jarard Milo, Justin Tuggle and Braden Wilson.

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 fourth-most wins as a starting quarterback under head coach Bill Snyder despite just 23 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.

Collin Klein, the FBS quarterback record holder for rushing touchdowns in consecutive seasons, has accounted for 18 touchdowns over the last four games, including at least two rushing scores in each of those contests. Included in that stretch was at No. 13 West Virginia when he accounted for seven touchdowns - four of which were runs to break the school record for single-game touchdown responsibility. In the process, Klein also broke the school record for career rushing touchdowns, which now stands at 49 after two rushing scores last week against 14th-ranked Texas Tech. Klein, who is tops among quarterbacks and second nationally among all active players in rushing touchdowns, is tied for sixth in Big 12 history and is second among quarterbacks in career rushing scores.

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). Klein could do something that none of the above could do as he needs four more rushing touchdown to accomplish the feat twice in a career.

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 32 passes for 20 or more yards in eight games (4.0 per game) after just 26 over the 13-game slate last season (2.0 per game).  In addition, the Wildcats did not complete a pass play for 35 yards or greater until week six last year, while they already have nine this year, including a season-long 58-yarder against Miami in week two.

Thanks to a 70.9-percent completion percentage and 175.47 passing efficiency this season, teams must be on the lookout for Collin Klein in the passing game. Klein currently ranks ninth in school history with 290 career completions, but the Wildcat signal caller is tops among the group in completion percentage. Klein’s pass efficiency rating is season is 15.52 points better than the K-State record of 159.95 (Michael Bishop, 1998) and currently ranks second nationally, while his career total of 144.45 is currently third in school history.

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 has totaled 722 yards in eight games this year to rank second in the Big 12 at 90.2 yards per game. His top rushing game this season was 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. In addition to his yards, Hubert has 10 rushing touchdowns this season to rank third in the Big 12 after three in 13 games as a starter last season.

Sophomore wide receiver Tyler Lockett was the benefactor of Collin Klein’s outstanding passing evening at No. 13 West Virginia. The Tulsa, Okla., product set career highs in receptions (9), yards (194) and touchdowns (2). His 194 yards were the fifth-most in a single game in school history, while he was just six yards shy of recording just the fourth 200-yard receiving game in school history. He continued his hot streak against Texas Tech, leading the team with seven receptions while carding 62 yards.

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 eighth nationally with a 29.7-yard average this year. Even more impressive is that he currently holds the Big 12 career average return record at 32.8 yards, a mark that is top nationally among active players. If he keeps on his current pace, he will end the season holding the Big 12 record, a mark currently held by former Wildcat and current NFL kick returner Brandon Banks (28.5 yards).

Arthur Brown led the Wildcats in tackles last season with 101 and is tops again this year with 60, but the Wichita, Kan., product might have more significance in his interceptions despite the fact that his career total equals three. Last year, Brown became the first player to intercept eventual Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III, breaking a streak of 110 attempts without a pick and setting up the game-winning field goal. Ironically, Brown, who is nicknamed “The Judge” by his teammates, became the first player to pick off West Virginia’s Geno Smith after a NCAA record of 273 attempts without an interception this year. He put his interception streak at two games by taking a tipped pass 37 yards for a touchdown vs. Texas Tech.

One of the main reasons K-State leads the Big 12 in sacks has to do with the continued improvement of Meshak Williams and Adam Davis as the duo ranks third (6.5) and fourth (4.5) in the conference, respectively. Williams had a sack last week against Texas Tech, giving him 13.5 in his career to put him within a half sack of moving into K-State’s career top 10. His sack total was given a boost at No. 13 West Virginia when he totaled 2.5, the top mark in the Big 12 this year. Davis and Williams also rank highly in the league in tackles for loss at sixth (9.0) and eighth (7.5), respectively.

When the K-State defensive line is able to put pressure on the quarterback, defensive back Ty Zimmerman has usually been the benefactor as he had interceptions in a four-game stretch. Zimmerman, who ranks second in the Big 12 overall and tops in the conference in league-only games, became the first Wildcat since at least 1989 to record interceptions in four-straight games, which was capped with a pick in the West Virginia game. Zimmerman also sits highly in the national rankings as he is tied for seventh this season. His nine career interceptions are 15th nationally among active players and one away from entering the school’s record book. Zimmerman’s interception last week at No. 13 West Virginia was the second for the Wildcats on the day against Geno Smith, who broke a NCAA record of 273 attempts without a pick earlier in the contest.