1. Kansas State made the most of its season after a 2-4 start.
The year started with an unexpected loss to North Dakota State and Big 12 play began with three straight setbacks, but none of that stopped K-State from finishing the regular season with a winning record. Thanks to a 5-1 finish, the Wildcats will spend December preparing for a respectable bowl game (most likely the Holiday Bowl, but possibly the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl). They will also head into the offseason with momentum. K-State coach Bill Snyder deserves credit for keeping his players focused after a slow start. The Wildcats are the fourth team in Big 12 history to reach bowl eligibility after a 2-4 start.
“I’m proud of the fact that they have come back,” Snyder said, “that they didn’t give into it and they tried to move in a different direction. But you remember the losses. The biggest margin was 10 points and I don’t think there was a ballgame that we played where we didn’t have our chances. That’s a frustrating experience … I appreciate the young people in our program and the kind of pride we have in each and every one of them.”
2. John Hubert should get at least 15 touches every game.
K-State’s senior running back went from touching the ball a handful of times in recent weeks to rushing for 220 yards and a touchdown on 30 attempts Saturday. That contrast says a lot about his talent and how K-State coaches use it. Hubert is too good a player to touch the ball six times in a game. Sometimes defenses load the box and make it hard for K-State to run, but it should never give up on Hubert the way it did against TCU and Oklahoma when he got a combined 15 carries. Hubert has rushed the ball 15-plus times in seven games this season, and he has averaged 119 yards in those games. The bigger the workload, the better he plays.
3. Kansas State overwhelmed Kansas on defense, but the Jayhawks hurt themselves, too.
The numbers (223 yards allowed and six turnovers) prove K-State had a magnificent day on defense. The Wildcats were aggressive up front and opportunistic in the secondary. Blake Slaughter, Ryan Mueller, Dante Barnett and Dylan Schellenberg all had strong games. But it wasn’t a flawless effort. Kansas receivers dropped balls all game. Good teams don’t make those mistakes. Take even some of those drops away and it would have been a closer game.
– For the second straight game, Daniel Sams barely saw the field. The sophomore quarterback ran for negative yardage on two carries. Jake Waters was the quarterback the rest of the way.
Snyder said afterward K-State needed to play Sams more. He also said leaving him on the sideline was his mistake.
Interestingly, Waters (160 yards and two touchdowns passing and one touchdown rushing) said he hasn’t benefited all that much from the increased playing time.
“It’s easier when you are seeing every single snap and you are in the flow of the game,” Waters said. “But I still didn’t play very well today. Me and Daniel are both going to be ready at any given moment.”
– Waters used the same play to connect with Zach Trujillo and Glenn Gronkowski for long touchdown passes. On both plays, he faked as if he was going to run the ball on a quarterback keeper and threw the ball across the middle to an open target. It is one of K-State’s favorite plays, and it worked well against Kansas.
“It’s a run-pass option and they bit,” Waters said. “It worked exactly how we drew it up.”
– Blake Slaughter was dominant in the first half. Fourteen of his game-high 15 tackles came in the first two quarters.
If only one Big 12 team qualifies for a BCS bowl game, K-State is headed to the Holiday Bowl. If two Big 12 teams qualify for a BCS bowl game, K-State might end up in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl. The Wildcats will learn of their bowl destination on Dec. 8.
John Hubert has moved into second place in K-State history in career rushing yards with 2,913. He passed Ell Roberson and Daniel Thomas on Saturday.
Have a comment or future story idea for K-Stated?