Both defenses played well, Collin Klein looked a little rusty and the No. 1 spot in the BCS standings was likely on the line. K-State ended up beating TCU 23-10 in that environment thanks to a strong defensive effort, and celebrated its 10th win of the season.
How did it happen? A look at all that and more in this week’s Sunday Rewind:
1. K-State has a clear path to the BCS championship game.
The worrying is over. As long as the Wildcats win their final two games against Baylor and Texas, all signs point to them playing for a national championship. K-State will likely be the No. 1 team in the new BCS standings tonight, though it is ranked second behind Oregon in both the new AP and USA Today polls, and that means its road to Miami is clear. That wasn’t the case before K-State beat TCU. With Alabama and Oregon also undefeated, many thought they had better chances of playing for a championship than the Wildcats. But Texas A&M sent Alabama tumbling down the polls, and now K-State and Oregon are the teams to catch. Undefeated Notre Dame is the top challenger at the moment, but the Fighting Irish are unlikely to pass them without some help.
2. Collin Klein was a little off.
He scored two touchdowns, completed a 62-yard bomb to Chris Harper, had a nifty 34-yard scramble and did enough to secure another victory, but Collin Klein didn’t play up to his usual standards overall. He threw an interception into double coverage in the first quarter (his first pick in conference play), he completed 12 of 21 passes and averaged 3.3 yards per rush. The senior quarterback was obviously rusty coming off the injury he suffered last week. It was hard for him to make all the plays we are used to against a strong TCU defense that overpowered K-State’s offensive line. Fair or not, he will lose part of his lead in the Heisman race to Johnny Manziel. K-State coach Bill Snyder said he thought Klein played well and “managed the ball game.” His teammates all had compliments for him, too. With a good week of practice, he should rebound well against Baylor. The Bears have one of the worst defenses in all of college football.
3. Defense wins championships.
K-State’s defense deserves most of the credit for this win. It held TCU to 274 yards and didn’t allow any points until the fourth quarter when the Wildcats led 23-0 and the game was over. The only time it looked like TCU might have something going was when quarterback Trevone Boykin fought for a 15-yard run in the first half to move the Horned Frogs into scoring range. But John Sua sent him to the sidelines with his tackle, and the drive ended with a missed field goal. Meshak Williams (7 tackles, 2 sacks) was dominant up front, Jarell Childs (7 tackles, 1 sack) played another fine game and Ty Zimmerman grabbed his fifth interception of the season. This was, perhaps, their best game of the year.
For the second time in three games, Williams put himself in the player-of-the-game conversation. He did it all against TCU, and constantly put pressure on the Horned Frogs’ quarterbacks. He made seven tackles, three of which went for a loss, and also knocked down a pass. He is having a fantastic senior season.
He made as many tackles as anyone else and once again provided pressure on big plays. Childs is turning into one of the better linebackers in the Big 12.
He only caught one pass, but he made the most of it by gaining 62 yards. The next longest play of the game came from Klein on a 34-yard run. In a game dominated by both defenses, Harper’s big catch was important and set up K-State’s first touchdown.
The safety made an interception and led K-State’s secondary, which played very well. Allen Chapman and Jarard Milo both made seven tackles and Nigel Malone broke up two passes.
Four tackles, a sack and a forced fumble. Another nice game from the defensive end.
A few that were bad:
K-State’s running back couldn’t get anything going. He rushed for 23 yards on 11 carries, and 14 of them came on one carry. The rest of the time, he was getting hit in the backfield. There is plenty of blame to go around for that, but Hubert still should have been able to do more.
K-State’s backup running back didn’t perform any better than its starter. He had a nice seven-yard run early out of the wildcat formation, but did little after that. He rushed for 26 yards on six carries and was useless in the passing game.
Whenever an offense rushes for 115 yards, allows three sacks and is constantly dealing with defensive linemen in the backfield, you know the offensive line didn’t play well. Center B.J. Finney took responsibility for that after the game. This was K-State’s second poor game up front.
“I need to focus on getting myself better and getting this unit better,” Finney said. “We have had two games where we really struggled and didn’t execute well as an offensive line … We just have to get better. We can’t come out here and lay eggs like this, because the opponents only get tougher.”
It was a surprisingly quiet game from K-State’s top defensive player. The senior linebacker made two tackles, and wasn’t able to control the middle like he usually does.
Key play you may have overlooked
Here’s a drive that summed up the game: TCU started at its own 25 and picked up 17 yards on its first play. Then Jarell Childs tackled B.J Catalon for a five-yard loss, Meshak Williams sacked Trevone Boykin for an 18-yard loss and Adam Davis sacked Boykin for a nine-yard loss. TCU faced a fourth-and-42 at that point and decided to punt. But the punt was so poor K-State took over in the red zone without the help of a return.
Bill Snyder said K-State went with a conservative offensive strategy on Saturday. The Wildcats didn’t try much of anything in the second half, and they didn’t have to with a big lead. In hindsight, they could have been even more conservative and rested Tyler Lockett late. That might have helped him avoid an injury to his right ankle. But Snyder had his players ready to play on Saturday, and none of them were distracted by Texas A&M’s victory over Alabama.
This wasn’t your typical Big 12 shootout. K-State and TCU combined for 534 yards.
Quote to note
“That is a team that can play for a national championship. You have to give Coach Snyder and their group a lot of credit. Everyone has been giving them their best shot.” — TCU coach Gary Patterson.