Collin Klein validated himself as a Heisman Trophy favorite, Kansas State strengthened its case as a national championship contender and the Wildcats convincingly beat another ranked team in the Big 12.
This time, K-State destroyed Texas Tech 55-24 and took another step toward winning a conference championship.
How did it happen? A look at all that and more in this week’s Sunday Rewind:
1. If this was K-State’s last chance to make a statement, it took advantage.
The schedule from here doesn’t do the Wildcats any favors in terms of strength. Though Oklahoma State and Texas broke into the top 25 coaches poll today, beating the Cowboys and Longhorns isn’t going to earn K-State national respect. Oklahoma State got rocked by Arizona earlier this year, and Texas (despite squeaking past Baylor and Kansas) is looking worse by the day. TCU and Baylor aren’t looking so hot, either. So Texas Tech, which was ranked 15th yesterday, was K-State’s toughest remaining challenge. And K-State handed the Red Raiders their worst loss of the year. It was an impressive win, considering how they started the game. The Red Raiders played an excellent first half, and looked like the best team K-State has played this season. But when the Wildcats adjusted in the second half, things got out of hand. For the second straight week, K-State pummeled a ranked opponent.
2. Notre Dame is now K-State’s worst enemy.
Oregon isn’t exactly K-State’s best buddy, either, but Notre Dame moved to the top of the list for K-State fans to hate by beating Oklahoma on Saturday. The Fighting Irish are now undefeated with a marquee victory on their schedule. Granted, K-State beat the Sooners on the road, too, but the national media’s love for college football’s most famous program will only grow from here. Their next three games (Pittsburgh, Boston College, Wake Forest) are all easy. But they close with a tough game at USC. If K-State and Notre Dame both go undefeated, there’s no telling which team ends up higher in the BCS standings. Oregon could end up jumping both of them, too, but its strength of schedule took a hit Saturday with Oregon State and USC losing.
3. Don’t read too much into K-State’s slow start against Texas Tech.
Though the Wildcats have started slow in several games this season, a sluggish first quarter hasn’t hurt them. On Saturday, Texas Tech out-played K-State and out-gained K-State by nearly 100 yards in the first half, but the Wildcats still went into halftime with a 13-10 lead. Bill Snyder gets caught up with it after every game, but it doesn’t impact the bottom line. K-State seems like it just needs some time to figure out opponents. That was certainly the case against Texas Tech, which sports one of the best defenses in the Big 12. Few teams are going to come out and score on the Red Raiders from the get-go. But once K-State got accustomed to the pace of the game, it wasn’t even close. Said Collin Klein: “There is a lot that goes into it. It is a certain amount of scheming on both sides of the ball, trying to get certain looks, trying certain plays. It is a fun part of the game, but sometimes it takes a little time to get into.”
A few that were good:
He played like a Heisman Trophy favorite by throwing for 233 yards, rushing for 83 yards and scoring four touchdowns. The big question is how much ground did he give up to Notre Dame linebacker Monti Te’o? Te’o made 11 tackles and grabbed an interception against Oklahoma, with the interception coming in highlight fashion. My guess is Klein still has a sizable lead in the award race, but it is smaller than it was yesterday. Te’o’s big game came on a big stage.
That makes two solid games in a row for the senior receiver. He caught five passes for 99 yards against Texas Tech, and did a nice job of running routes. He was open throughout the game.
This was his finest game in a K-State uniform. The defensive end knocked down a pass, forced a fumble while hitting Seth Doege hard in the pocket and blocked a kick … in the first half. He kept the game close early.
Here’s what he had to say about his big hit on Doege: “The tackle just had a miscommunication. I saw an opportunity and I took it.”
The cornerback who earned a walk-on spot from K-State mainly because he dates Michael Beasley’s sister is playing at a very high level right now. Evans followed up a strong showing at West Virginia by making eight tackles against Texas Tech and forcing and recovering a fumble on the same play.
He’s becoming an interception extraordinaire. He grabbed a tipped pass and returned it 37 yards for a touchdown against Texas Tech to go along with five tackles.
Hubert makes this list simply because of his physical touchdown run in the first half. On the play, he was hit trying to go right, but broke a tackle and cut left. Only problem was he still had three defenders to beat. He raced past the first and then fought through the last two to score on the toughest four-yard run you will ever see.
“I got the ball and the hole was kind of clogged up,” Hubert said. “So, I knew how to bounce it, and I made one person miss, then beat the safety to the outside and made it to the end zone.”
A few that were bad:
We haven’t heard from the senior linebacker in a few weeks. He only had one tackle on Saturday.
K-State’s backup running back had an awful stretch of plays in the first half that ended with a poorly executed trick play. For some reason, K-State asked him to try a jump pass near the goal line, and it didn’t work. He got pressured immediately and threw the ball out of the end zone. He also rushed for 19 yards on five carries. Not the best encore following a nice game at West Virginia.
Malone didn’t put enough pressure on Eric Ward early, and he beat him for a 32-yard touchdown. Malone played fairly well otherwise, but he didn’t seem to make the same impact Allen Chapman and Randall Evans did.
John Sua/Vai Lutui
K-State’s starting defensive tackles allowed Texas Tech running backs to gain yards up the middle too easily. The Red Raiders only rushed for 122 yards, but Kenny Williams had lots of success running straight ahead.
Key play you may have overlooked
Is anyone else still curious how Collin Klein held onto the ball on K-State’s first drive while Texas Tech sacked him for a seven-yard loss? Dartwan Bush hit Klein on his throwing arm while he was holding the ball high above his head. But Klein managed to squeeze the ball tight and maintain possession without having to bring the ball into his body. Texas Tech led 7-0 at that point. A fumble and a quick Texas Tech score could have drastically changed the game.
There isn’t much to criticize Bill Snyder for these days, but his play-calling near the goal line at the end of the first half leaves a lot to be desired. The Wildcats botched their third easy scoring opportunity of the year against Texas Tech by calling for an Angelo Pease jump pass of all things on third-and-goal from the 2. Earlier this season, the Wildcats screwed up a trick play against Miami in similar position and Klein failed to get out of bounds on a run against Kansas, which led to the end of the first half. The Wildcats didn’t score a touchdown a single time in those situations.
Not many teams can win a game in blowout fashion while getting out-gained, but K-State did exactly that on Saturday. Texas Tech out-gained it 442 yards to 426.
Quote to note
“This is what good defenses do, is put good weeks together. This is our second time doing it, so we have to keep that going until next week,” – safety Ty Zimmerman.