Big 12 Title on the Line as K-State Hosts Texas on Senior Night
Big 12 Title on the Line as K-State Hosts Texas on Senior Night
Nov. 26, 2012
K-State will look to earn the Big 12’s automatic BCS bowl berth and at least a share of the conference title Saturday as the Wildcats host Texas in the regular-season finale at Bill Snyder Family Stadium. The game will be televised live nationally at 7 p.m., as Brad Nessler (play-by-play), Todd Blackledge (analyst) and Holly Rowe (sideline) will have the call for ABC. Wyatt Thompson will call the action for the K-State Sports Network with Stan Weber providing color analysis and Matt Walters on the sidelines, while K-State Gameday - a live pregame show on K-StateHD.TV - will begin one hour prior to kick. The game can also be heard nationally on Touchdown Radio as well as SIRIUS channel 85 and XM channel 85.
A QUICK LOOK AT THE WILDCATS
The Wildcats, 10-1 overall and 7-1 in Big 12 play, are coming off a bye week and their first loss of the year, a 52-24 setback at Baylor. The Cats, who are averaging 415.7 yards per game, rank 11th nationally in scoring offense at 40.5 points per game, while they are tops in turnover margin (+19), 18th in rushing defense (121.0 yds/gm) and 22nd in scoring defense (20.8 pts/gm). The Wildcats are led offensively by senior quarterback Collin Klein, who was named a finalist for the Maxwell and Davey O’Brien awards last week. The signal caller has thrown for 2,306 yards and 14 touchdowns on 172-of-258 aim, while he has rushed for 20 touchdowns and 787 yards on 171 carries. With his rushing touchdown at Baylor, Klein became the only quarterback from a BCS AQ school in the BCS era to rush for at least 20 touchdowns and pass for at least 10 touchdowns in multiple seasons. Helping Klein lead the charge offensively is John Hubert, who has 12 touchdowns in 11 games after three as the full-time starter a year ago. Hubert ranks second in the Big 12 at 75.1 yards per game. Wide receiver Chris Harper has 47 catches for 727 yards and three touchdowns and tied for seventh in school history with 11 receptions against the Bears. The Wildcat defense has been tough all year and is led by linebacker Arthur Brown. The senior continues to put up All-America numbers as he leads the team with 80 tackles. Defensive back Nigel Malone picked off the 11th pass of his career at Baylor to tie for fifth in school history. Defensive end Meshak Williams continues to put pressure on the quarterback as he is second in the Big 12 and is tied for 10th in school history with 8.5 sacks.
A LOOK AT THE OPPONENT: TEXAS
Texas, 8-3 overall and 5-3 in Big 12 play, will look to bounce back from a Thanksgiving loss to TCU last week. Texas, which ranks 33rd nationally in total offense and 20th in scoring offense, is led by quarterback Davis Ash, who has thrown for 2,458 yards and 17 touchdowns on 193-of-285 passing. The rushing attack is led by Johnathan Gray and Joe Bergeron. Gray has rushed for 654 yards and three touchdowns, while Bergeron has totaled 16 touchdowns and 562 yards. Linebacker Steve Edmond leads the defense with 92 tackles, while defensive end Alex Okafor has 12 tackles for loss and eight sacks.
Giving K-State an extra week to prepare has traditionally been bad news for opponents. The Cats have had 19 previous mid-season bye weeks under head coach Bill Snyder and have turned the extra week of preparation into a 14-5 record the following week.
WHAT’S AT STAKE
K-State will look to earn its third conference title in school history and second ever Big 12 Conference Championship with a win on Saturday. The 2003 squad brought home the school’s first Big 12 football title and BCS bowl berth following an 11-4 season, while K-State’s only other football title came back in 1934 when Hall of Fame coach Pappy Waldorf led the Cats to the Big Six crown. Also, K-State will look for its fifth straight win in the series with Texas as the Wildcats have won each of the last four meetings and six of the last eight dating back to the start of Big 12 Conference play. During that span, K-State is also 3-1 against the Horns in Manhattan.
THE 150 CLUB
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. After guiding K-State from 1989 to 2005, and again over the last three-plus seasons, the 2012 national coach of the year candidate is also one of the longest-tenured active coaches in the FBS, ranking fourth among 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 168 wins since 1990, while he is currently ranked ninth in overall wins.
K-State has shown the ability to force turnovers at a high clip in 2012, which was evidenced by the five turnovers the Wildcat defense forced in their win against Oklahoma State. In fact, K-State is currently +19 in turnover margin, which leads the nation, with 28 turnovers forced and just nine surrendered this year. To take it a step further, the Wildcats have turned those 28 turnovers into 121 points, while K-State’s opponents have scored just 21 points following a Wildcat turnover this season -- both figures rank tops in the nation this season. Additionally, the Wildcat defense has collected multiple turnovers in nine games this season and three or more in five matchups.
Following a slow start offensively in the season opener against Missouri State, K-State has picked up the pace considerable. Since the fourth quarter of the season opener, K-State has scored 430 points and has outscored its opponents, 430-223, over that period. K-State has reached the 50-point barrier on four occasions, including three times in conference play. The Cats have also shown the ability to come out of the locker room on fire as they have outscored their opponents, 246-114, in the second half, including a 122-52 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.
K-State broke open a 16-9 contest with Missouri State by erupting for a school-record 35 fourth-quarter points. 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 24 games, the Cats have outscored their opponents, 213-144, in the final 15 minutes and also 271-167 closing out the first half of games. In K-State’s last 20 wins, the Cats have outscored their opponents, 199-109, in the final quarter.
PLAYING KEEP AWAY
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 17-4 dating back to last season when controlling the clock and possessing the ball more than its opponent, including doing so in eight of 11 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 in time of possession by holding the ball for 30:34.
RED ZONE ALERT
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 122 trips inside its opponent’s 20-yard line, the Wildcats have scored on 109 of those trips, with 81 of those being touchdowns. Over the course of the last 21 regular season games, the Wildcats are 101-of-111 in the red zone with 75 touchdowns. Additionally, the Cats are 61-for-67 in red zone chances with 45 touchdowns in their last 13 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 11 games, K-State ranks 31st nationally in rushing, averaging 202 yards per game, while its 36 rushing touchdowns are tied for third nationally. In fact, the Wildcats are out-rushing their opponents by nearly 1,000 yards and have 25 more rushing scores.
MORE GROUND GAINS
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 119.2 yards per game on the ground, which includes giving up less than 100 yards to six teams this year - Missouri State (95), Miami (40), Oklahoma (87), West Virginia (88), Oklahoma State (87) and TCU (96). The Cats are currently ranked 18th nationally in rush defense at 121.0 yards per game.
BEHIND ENEMY LINES
K-State has made tremendous strides at the line of scrimmage in the last 10 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 27 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 six against TCU, the Cats also lead the Big 12 with 19 in league play.
CATS CONTINUE CONSECUTIVE SCORING STREAK
K-State extended one of the nation’s longest scoring streaks against Baylor as the Cats have now tallied points in 201 consecutive games. The 201-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 132 league games, 74 true road games and 17 neutral-site contests.
KEYS TO SUCCESS
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 is second in the Big 12 and fourth nationally in fewest penalties (39 total), ranks first in the league and in the NCAA in turnover margin (+19) and also ranks highly in time of possession (32:03).
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 49-15 when scoring on special teams and 18-1 when scoring on special teams and on defense, including a 16-0 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 87 and have six already in 2012. In the 2012 season opener, Tramaine Thompson returned a punt 89 yards before Tyler Lockett’s 96-yard kickoff return against North Texas. Against OU, Jarell Childs scooped up a fumble in 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 against Texas Tech. Lockett then took another kickoff 100 yards for a score against Oklahoma State and Allen Chapman recorded his second career pick-six last week.
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 10 Wildcat players on the 2012 roster have already earned their degrees from K-State. Those 10 players include four community-college transfers and two four-year transfers, while nine the 10 have earned starting roles this season for the Cats. The 10 graduates are Javonta Boyd, Anthony Cantele, Ryan Doerr, Roman Fields, Chris Harper, Collin Klein, Zach McFall, Jarard Milo, Justin Tuggle and Braden Wilson.
OPTIMUS KLEIN LEADS K-STATE TO WINS
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 is tied for the third-most wins as a starting quarterback under head coach Bill Snyder despite just 26 starts under center, while he is also 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 24 touchdowns over the last seven games, including at least two rushing scores in five of those contests. Included in that stretch was at No. 13 West Virginia when he accounted for seven touchdowns (four rushes) 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 53, while he broke the school record for touchdown responsibility, a mark that now stands at 81. Klein, who is tops among quarterbacks and second nationally among all active players in rushing touchdowns, ranks fourth in Big 12 history and is second among quarterbacks in career rushing scores.
IN GOOD COMPANY
Collin Klein can lay claim to a record that no other quarterback from a BCS AQ school in the BCS era has achieved. With his rushing touchdown at Baylor, Klein became the first player with at least 20 rushing touchdowns and 10 passing touchdowns in two seasons. The Wildcat signal caller was one of just four players to accomplish the feat once, joining former Heisman Trophy winners Cam Newton (Auburn, 2010), Tim Tebow (Florida, 2007) and Eric Crouch (Nebraska, 2000). In addition, Klein became the sixth quarterback in Big 12 history to register 4,000 passing yards and 2,000 rushing yards. Klein joined Crouch, Ell Roberson (K-State), Vince Young (Texas), Brad Smith (Missouri) and Robert Griffin III (Baylor) and 4,000/2,000 quarterbacks.
KLEIN EFFICIENT IN PASSING GAME
Thanks to a 66.7-percent completion percentage and 155.00 passing efficiency this season, teams must be on the lookout for Collin Klein’s arm. His pass efficiency rating this season is just shy of the K-State record of 159.95 (Michael Bishop, 1998). Also, Klein’s career total of 140.16 is third in school history. Completions have been a big part of his high rating as he ranks fifth in school history, but Wildcat signal caller is tops among the group in completion percentage.
HARPER IS GO-TO RECEIVER
Collin Klein completed a career high 27 passes at Baylor and over 40 percent of those were to wide receiver Chris Harper. The Wichita, Kan., product hauled in 11 passes for 123 yards and one touchdown. His 11 receptions were tied for seventh in school history and were the most by a Wildcat since 2008. Harper, who became K-State’s 25th career 1,000-yard receiver earlier this season, now has 112 receptions to place 10th in school history. He needs three this week against Texas to pass Jermaine Moreira (2003-06) for ninth and nine to pass Frank Hernandez (1988-91) for eighth.
GOING, GOING, GONE
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 34.5-yard average this year. Even more impressive is that he currently holds the Big 12 career average return record at 34.9 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 Brandon Banks (28.5 yards). Lockett notched his fourth career kickoff-return score against Oklahoma State, the second of 100 yards in his career. The Tulsa, Okla., product is now tied for fourth nationally among active players and in Big 12 history with his four touchdowns, while he is one away from the school and Big 12 mark held by Banks.
“THE JUDGE” BECOMES “THE STREAK BREAKER”
Arthur Brown led the Wildcats in tackles last season with 101 and is tops again this year with 80, 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 second (8.5) and fourth (6.5) in the conference, respectively. Williams has 15.5 in his career to tie him for ninth in school history, while his season total is 10th. He totaled 2.5 sacks at No. 13 West Virginia, the top mark in the Big 12 this year. Williams and Davis also rank highly in the league in TFLs as they are tied for fourth (11.5) and sixth (11.0), respectively.
Senior placekicker Anthony Cantele is having the best season of his career to wrap up one of the better kicking careers in K-State history. The Lou Groza Award semifinalist has connected on 18-of-21 field goals and has been true on 56 extra-point attempts. Cantele leads the Big 12 in field-goal percentage at 85.7 percent and tied for third nationally among players with 21 or more attempts. The Wichita, Kan., product holds a career percentage of 78.3, which is second in school history, while he is sixth with 36 career field goals and fourth with 110 career extra points. Cantele has made three field goals in two of the last three games to tie his career best. At TCU, the senior was 3-of-4 with a long of 41 yards en route to Lou Groza Award Star of the Week honors.