Sunday Rewind: K-State 24, Oklahoma 19

Kansas State turned Oklahoma’s Memorial Stadium, aka The Bob Stoops Fortress, into the site of a fun party Saturday night by defeating the Sooners 24-19.

It was a signature victory for both Bill Snyder, who beat his former assistant for the first time in the regular season, and his players, who didn’t belong on the same field as Oklahoma last year in a 58-17 blowout. The Wildcats handed the Sooners their fourth home loss since 1999 and their first home loss to a ranked opponent since Stoops came to Norman.

And they did it in impressive fashion. They played strong defense, effective offense and had Oklahoma players, particularly quarterback Landry Jones rattled for long parts of the game. K-State was the better team and proved it by coming away with a memorable win.

How did it happen? Here’s a look at all that and more in this week’s Sunday Rewind:

1. K-State is now a legitimate contender for a Big 12 championship. There is no arguing that. Oklahoma entered Saturday’s game as the class of the conference along with West Virginia, and the Wildcats beat the Sooners on the road. That’s a victory few other teams, if any, across the league will be able to match. Stoops was 78-3 at home before Saturday. The Wildcats made a huge statement with this victory. Up next is a bye week and then Kansas comes to town, so they may surge into the top 5 by the second week of October. Plenty of tough games remain after that, though. Iowa State, West Virginia, Texas Tech, TCU, Baylor and Texas are all undefeated. It’s not like a road game against Oklahoma was the only daunting challenge on K-State’s slate. But if the Wildcats can win in Norman, they are capable of winning anywhere.

2. The Wildcats can play some defense. We already knew they could stop the run with stud linebacker Arthur Brown controlling the middle, but there were plenty of questions about their pass defense. After all, Missouri State carved up their secondary in the opener. But after years of being picked on by elite offenses, K-State pushed back against Oklahoma. The Sooners managed just 386 yards of offense and turned the ball over three times. K-State got plenty of pressure on Jones and he responded by making poor decisions. There were still some huge gaps in zone pass coverage, which Jones used to pick up yards between the 20s, but K-State’s secondary made so many important plays it didn’t matter.

3. Welcome to the spotlight, Collin Klein. The K-State senior quarterback was already in the Heisman Trophy mix, and he won’t be going anywhere for a long time. Klein showed plenty of poise against Oklahoma and picked up the kind of signature victory (in front of a national TV audience) that will significantly boost his national award chances. His stats are still considerably lower than a few of the other contenders, but Klein can’t be ignored as long as K-State keeps winning.

A few that were good:
1. Ty Zimmerman
He was the player of the game, in my opinion. The K-State safety had a hand in every huge defensive play. Early on, he had an important tackle for loss that forced Oklahoma to kick a field goal, he jumped on a botched snap just when it looked like OU quarterback Blake Bell was going to score a touchdown and he came up with an interception when Jones was starting to find his groove and the Sooners led 13-10. Thing is, his day could have been even better. He dropped a sure interception in the first half that he maybe could have returned for a touchdown.

2. John Hubert
The junior running back played his finest game in a K-State uniform. He charged ahead for 130 yards and a touchdown on 23 carries, and took important pressure away from Klein in the backfield. He ran well and he ran hard, picking up most of his yardage after contact. He broke plenty of tackles Saturday, and looked like an all-conference runner on his late touchdown.

“Coaches always tell me to have a low pad level and keep your feet moving and to just never give up,” Hubert said. “Their defense didn’t wrap up and I just came out with a touchdown.”

3. Justin Tuggle
If he had any doubts about switching from quarterback to linebacker before Saturday, he shouldn’t now. Tuggle made a huge impact on Saturday’s game by coming up with two tackles for loss and forcing a key fumble in the first half. With Jones scrambling to his right, Tuggle hit him from behind and knocked the ball loose. Jarell Childs picked it up and scored the game’s first touchdown moments later. The Wildcats usually win when they get a defensive touchdown, and Tuggle gave them one. Snyder said he was particularly impressed with Tuggle’s ability to play at multiple positions. His forced fumble, for example, came when he lined up as a defensive end.

4. Cornelius Lucas
K-State rushed for 213 yards on Saturday, and picked up the majority of those yards by running to the left behind its left tackle. Lucas had some big shoes to fill this year with most expecting Manase Foketi to start on the left side of K-State’s offensive line, and he is filling them magnificently. Klein wasn’t sacked a single time against Oklahoma, and Lucas was a big reason why. He also helped spring Hubert for a 36-yard run around the left side.

5. Arthur Brown
Brown may be the best linebacker in the Big 12. He was dealing with an injured ankle on Saturday and wasn’t playing at 100 percent, but he still led K-State with eight tackles. He said he felt healthy after the game, and should return to full strength in two weeks.

6. Adam Davis
The defensive end made four tackles on Saturday and helped K-State pressure Jones from start to finish. He is playing with tons of confidence.

“What we did all week was work on trying to flush him out of the pocket,” Davis said. “We know he’s not good with pressure. If we get to his blind side, he’s going to start getting jittery and try to move out of the pocket and scoot up and stuff. We really tried to cause pressure and get after him.”

7. Collin Klein
He threw for 149 yards. He rushed for 79 yards and a touchdown. And he willed K-State’s offense to some big third-down conversions. But his best moment of the night might have come on a fourth-down conversion. The Wildcats needed a few inches at midfield, and Snyder called a quarterback sneak. Oklahoma’s defense was ready for Klein, and looked like it stopped him initially. But he somehow surged ahead at the last moment and picked up two yards. His toughness keeps shining through.

8. Ryan Doerr
Saturday’s game wasn’t a shootout, and field position was important. So Doerr pinning Oklahoma within its own 20 on five different occasions was important.

A few that were bad:
1. Torrell Miller
The backup receiver saw time every time K-State went with a five-wide formation, and he didn’t come through on his big chance to contribute. Klein threw a pass to him on third down that would have given the Wildcats a first down, but Miller dropped it. K-State trailed 13-10 at the time.

2. Tyler Lockett
The receiver played well, but he makes the bad section for sprinting ahead and trying to catch a punt with what seemed like seven Oklahoma players surrounding him. The ball bounced off an OU player’s foot, then grazed Lockett. For a moment, it looked like Oklahoma was going to have the ball in great field position.

3. Landry Jones
I don’t normally rate players from the opposing team here, but I will with Jones because it illustrates how well K-State defended him. Jones threw for 298 yards, but K-State had him rattled. He threw an interception off his back foot, fumbled the ball under pressure in front of his own end zone and threw into coverage more often than he usually does. A year after he played the game of his life against the Wildcats, they made him look average.

Coaching critique
Snyder seemed to get everything right on Saturday. Here’s an example: With Oklahoma one yard away from a touchdown in the first half, Blake Bell was coming into the game. Everyone in the stadium knew the backup quarterback was going to take the ball right up the middle and try to score a touchdown, but Snyder called timeout anyway. When the teams returned to the field, Bell fumbled the snap and K-State came away with a turnover. He iced the quarterback.

Key play you may have overlooked
K-State was leading 7-3 and needed a third-down conversion near midfield. The Wildcats called a play that had Klein drop back into the pocket and throw. Oklahoma didn’t send a pass rush at Klein, and he was forced to stand still much longer than he normally does. Some quarterbacks would leave the pocket out of instinct in that situation, but Klein held his ground until Lockett came open across the middle and completed an important pass. That play was a good example of Klein’s maturity as a quarterback.

Statistically speaking
14-3 — Klein’s record as a full-time starting quarterback.

Quote to note
“We are one of those teams that can be in the top five easily,” – John Hubert.