Five things you should know about Michigan

BradyHoke
Two days have passed since the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl announced it was inviting Kansas State and Michigan to play in its annual postseason game.

K-State coaches, no doubt, have been researching the Wolverines ever since. So have I. Here are a few things that stand out about their season:

1. Michigan and Kansas State have been polar opposites this year.

The Wolverines started 5-0 with a signature victory over Notre Dame. The Wildcats started 2-4 with an unexpected loss to North Dakota State. Yet, both teams finished 7-5.

Narrow wins over Akron and Connecticut can now be viewed as signs that Michigan wasn’t as good as its hot start indicated. But a loss to Penn State truly sent Michigan spiraling downward. The Wolverines lost that game 43-40 (in four overtimes) and never truly recovered. They needed 63 points to beat Indiana in their following game and then lost four of their last five, with the only victory coming in three overtimes against Northwestern.

Michigan didn’t play horribly during that stretch. It lost to Nebraska by four, to Iowa by three and to Ohio State by one. But it will head to Arizona with zero momentum.
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Sunday Rewind: Oklahoma 41, K-State 31

OULockett
A look back at Oklahoma’s 41-31 victory over Kansas State:

THREE THOUGHTS

1. This game showed the importance of a balanced offense.
Tyler Lockett didn’t just play the game of his life. With 440 all-purpose yards, 278 receiving yards and three receiving touchdowns, he played the finest game of any K-State receiver … Ever. When he went off in the second quarter, catching touchdown passes of 48, 30 and 90 yards, the Wildcats looked unstoppable. But when Oklahoma adjusted and put top cornerback Aaron Colvin on him in the second half, K-State couldn’t adjust back. Jake Waters threw two devastating interceptions, while Daniel Sams and John Hubert were essentially bystanders. Sams attempted three runs and no passes. Hubert touched the ball nine times. K-State rushed for 24 yards.

The Wildcats didn’t have a balanced offense, and, much like a loss at Texas when Lockett went crazy for 237 receiving yards while the rest of the offense was quiet, they lost by double-digits. Oklahoma, meanwhile, ran for 301 yards and threw for 171 yards. That balance kept K-State’s defense guessing. That was the difference in this game.
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Sunday Rewind: K-State 41, Iowa State 7

Sophomore quarterback Daniel Sams and the Kansas State Wildcats played their most complete games of the season against Iowa State.

At the moment, Kansas State is in a class of its own within the Big 12.

The Wildcats are clearly better than the conference’s struggling teams. They have blown out West Virginia and Iowa State and they will be favored against TCU and Kansas. As long as they take care of business against the Horned Frogs and Jayhawks they will reach bowl eligibility.

But the Wildcats also appear a notch below the conference’s contenders. They have already lost to Texas, Baylor and Oklahoma State. They are three-point underdogs against Texas Tech and they will likely be underdogs against Oklahoma. They probably need to beat the Red Raiders to have any chance of finishing in the top half of the Big 12 standings.

A 41-7 clobbering of Iowa State proved the Wildcats are improving. They have won back-to-back games, and their defense has gotten better each and every week. They will have momentum and confidence on their side when they head to Texas Tech, fresh off its first two losses, next week. Can they take advantage and once again prove their progress? Or will they stay where they are?

It will be an important game.

Here is a look at all that and more in this week’s Sunday Rewind:
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Sunday Rewind: Kansas State finds passing groove in 35-12 victory over West Virginia

Kansas State put Tyler Lockett and Tramaine Thompson to good use on Saturday. The Wildcats’ top two receivers combined for four touchdowns.

This was definitely a crossroads game for Kansas State. A loss would have made it very difficult for the Wildcats to keep their spirits up and to reach bowl eligibility. Instead, they pounded West Virginia in the second half for a 35-12 victory and now go into their final five games with momentum.

Tramaine Thompson and Tyler Lockett were back on the field together for the first time in a month. Jake Waters looked like the quarterback who originally won the starting quarterback job in the preseason. And K-State looked like a new team.

Here is a look at all that and more in this week’s Sunday Rewind:
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Football Friday: Mid-season awards, healthy receivers, a starting 5 and Halloween advice

It’s time for another Football Friday. Who else is excited?

I thought about handing out some mid-season awards as a build-up to the questions this week, but then someone sent along an e-mail asking for a mid-season MVP. So, no intro needed. Let’s get to the questions.


That’s a tough one. It’s hard to name a MVP with K-State off to a 2-4 start, quarterbacks coming in and out and key players suffering injuries. A case could be made for Tyler Lockett, Daniel Sams, Blake Slaughter, Ryan Mueller and maybe even a few others.

I’m inclined to choose Lockett. Even though he has missed two games with a hamstring injury he ranks fourth in the Big 12 with 475 receiving yards and set a single-game program record with 237 receiving yards at Texas. Those numbers are too good to ignore, plus he has developed into a strong leader.

On the defensive side of the ball, I would narrowly choose Mueller over Slaughter. Mueller leads the team with 8.5 tackles for loss, five sacks and three quarterback hurries. And when he makes a big play, it is highlight worthy.
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Sunday Rewind: Baylor 35, Kansas State 25


The regular season has reached the halfway point for Kansas State, and the Wildcats sit at 2-4 overall and 0-3 in the Big 12 play. That is a thoroughly disappointing start for a team that was upset about being picked sixth in the preseason conference poll and has possessed a fourth-quarter lead in five of its games.

Losing close is clearly frustrating to this group. Each loss has come in slightly different ways. The defense couldn’t get off the field against North Dakota State. A horrible start doomed K-State at Texas. Fourth-quarter turnovers hurt K-State at Oklahoma State. And a missed field goal and another interception cost K-State the game against Baylor.

After Saturday’s 35-25 loss, I asked several players if they had spotted a common thread in those losses.

“We had the game in our hands and just coughed it up,” quarterback Jake Waters said. “I had fumbles at Texas. Daniel (Sams) had some picks (against Oklahoma State) and made some mistakes too. We just have to figure out how to win at the end. We will. We have some great players on this team.”

“I’ve got to finish,” Sams said. “Coach (Bill) Snyder says we all make mistakes, but the type of player I am I put this on me. I’ve got to finish.”

“Anytime you get a lead you just can’t get comfortable,” added receiver Curry Sexton. “You have to put your foot down. If you’ve got a lead in the fourth quarter you have got to find a way to kill the clock, take the ball and go down and score and put the ballgame away. that’s something we haven’t done this year. It’s something we have to learn how to do. I don’t know what it takes, but we will find a way. Hopefully you won’t see us losing anymore tight games in the fourth quarter, because that’s not what we do.”

And with that, here is a look at all that and more in this week’s Sunday Rewind:
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The Week Ahead: Can anyone stop Baylor?

You’ve got to hand it to Wofford. The FCS team from Spartanburg, S.C. is the only team that has held Baylor’s offensive juggernaut under 70 points this season.

The Bears managed just 69 points in a blowout win over Wofford. They have since gone for 70, 70 and 73. They are averaging almost 71 points a game. They are averaging nearly 50 points in the first half. Bryce Petty, Lache Seastrunk and Tevin Reese have their offense rolling.

Can anyone stop them? Kansas State will try on Saturday.

Here is a look at that and everything else you need to know about the week ahead:
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Football Friday: Kansas State has owned Texas, but is the streak really that weird?

It’s time for another Football Friday. This feels like the biggest one of the year.

Kansas State will take on Texas at 7 p.m. on Saturday in Austin. It will be an important game for both teams. It is the conference opener for both sides, the Longhorns are desperately trying to get back on track and the Wildcats are hoping they can continue owning the series.

That seems like more than enough buildup. Now on to your questions:


Here’s the way I look at the streak: Is it odd that Kansas State, a team from the old Big 12 North with a 50,000-seat stadium, is the only team in the conference with a winning overall record against Texas? Yes. Is it strange that Ron Prince, a coach with a losing record who went 2-8 against ranked opponents at K-State, was undefeated against the Longhorns and beat them when they were ranked No. 4 and No. 7? Hell yes. Is it bizarre that K-State has beaten Texas three straight times since Bill Snyder came out of retirement? No. The Wildcats have been the stronger team since 2010, going 30-12 while Texas has hovered above .500 at 23-18.

That much is evident by the way they have won their last two home games in the series, 39-14 in 2010 and 42-24 last year. Those “We own Texas” chants have been justified. The last three wins were no fluke. The first two victories (Colt McCoy got hurt in 2006 and K-State scored on an interception return, a kickoff return and a punt return in 2007) were. K-State has also benefited from avoiding Texas in 2008 and 2009, when the Longhorns were the far superior program. But that’s the way it worked out, and K-State hasn’t lost to Texas since 2003. Is there magic involved? Maybe a little at the beginning, but the last three wins were expected.
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Sunday Rewind: K-State 37, UMass 7


Kansas State’s 37-7 victory over Massachusetts went as expected. The Wildcats were heavy favorites, and they trounced the lowly Minutemen in a game that was never close in the second half.

There were good plays. There were bad plays. You could take this game in a number of different ways.

For now, let’s just focus on the most pertinent question: Is K-State ready for its Big 12 opener against Texas?

On one hand, the Wildcats could use some work on defense. And Jake Waters needs to stop throwing interceptions. On the other hand, what’s going on in Austin right now is a soap-opera. The Longhorns are coming off back-to-back brutal losses and the fan base is furious. Coming off back-to-back wins, the Wildcats are in much better shape.

Again, you could answer the question in a number of different ways.

Here is what K-State coach Bill Snyder said Saturday night: “We need to get a whole lot better real quick. Real quick. Texas is good. I understand they are going through some tough times, but don’t dare underestimate the University of Texas. They will be a handful for anybody.”

And with that, here is a look at all that and more in this week’s Sunday Rewind:
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Football Friday: Tre Walker, John Hubert, a schedule switch and Bill Snyder in a visor

Kansas State takes on Massachusetts at 6 p.m. tomorrow at Bill Snyder Family Stadium.

That means it’s time for another Football Friday.

The Wildcats are favored by 39 and should win easy. They will play two quarterbacks. Backups should see time in the second half.

That’s all the introduction we need. Let’s get to your questions:


Many have second-guessed the timing of the North Dakota State game. Looking back, I’m sure K-State would have preferred to open with someone else. The Bison, despite their affiliation with the FCS, were the strongest nonconference opponent on K-State’s schedule. UMass would have been a much softer opening opponent. In an ideal world, K-State would have switched those games and be preparing to face North Dakota State as we speak. But those dates are planned years in advance. That being said, I think the Wildcats would probably beat the Bison if they played now. They generally start slow (barely beating Eastern Kentucky and UMass in past openers) and improve with each week. But it would still be a difficult game. North Dakota State is a fine football team that out-played K-State three weeks ago. One computer poll ranked it 35th at the end of last season, and a senior-laden roster returned. That team is dangerous. It would have been a competitive game regardless of when it was played.
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