Football Friday: Kansas State, Michigan, Nebraska and the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl

Football Friday is back. Who else is excited?

This is a good week to talk Kansas State football. The Wildcats are headed to the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl later this month to take on Michigan, and that should be a highly competitive game. Both teams went 7-5 in the regular season and K-State is an early 3.5-point favorite.

And with a title sponsor like Buffalo Wild Wings, you know the game won’t be decided until the final play.

Anyway, let’s get onto your questions. Thanks, as always, for providing them.


Nebraska vs. Kansas State definitely seemed like the more compelling matchup, and I think most expected the former Big 8/Big 12 rivals to meet in Tempe. The Cornhuskers won more games than the Wolverines and beat them head-to-head, yet the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl opted for Michigan. You don’t see that every day. It would have been like Texas Tech jumping over K-State in the Big 12 bowl order. There are, however, a few reasonable explanations why Michigan was the more attractive team. For starters, K-State and Michigan have never played. It’s always fun to create new matchups in bowls. K-State now gets a shot against a storied program. Conversely, Nebraska and K-State have played 95 times, with the Cornhuskers winning 78 of those games. They have even played in a bowl game (kind of) before. Anyone remember the 1992 Coca-Cola Bowl in Tokyo? I get that K-State vs. Nebraska would have been cool, but from a bowl executive’s point of view, are Nebraska fans going to be fired up for another game against K-State?
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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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Sunday Rewind: Okla. State 33, K-State 29

Kansas State lost another close game at Oklahoma State on Saturday. The Wildcats committed penalties left and right and turned the ball far too often. In the end, they couldn’t overcome those mistakes and lost 33-29.

There will be some soul-searching after this one. The Wildcats feel like they let one slip away, which they couldn’t afford to do after losing to North Dakota State and Texas. Next up is Baylor, a team that appears unstoppable on offense. It will be interesting to see how K-State moves on from another agonizing loss and prepares for the toughest opponent of the season.

And with that, here is a look at all that and more in this week’s Sunday Rewind:
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Position Preview: Kick Returners

David Garrett will likely return kicks for Kansas State on Saturday. He is listed as the Wildcats’ main return man on kickoffs next to wide receiver Chris Harper on the team’s depth chart, and he couldn’t be happier about the new responsibility.

“My whole life I’ve been carrying the ball,” said Garrett, a senior defensive back. “When I got here was the first time ever I just played defense.”

It will be interesting to see what Garrett brings to K-State’s return game. He is fast, and given his size (5-foot-8) he should be elusive with the ball in his hands.

He will try to keep it simple.

“Just run,” he said. “Don’t try to dance. Just hit a hole if it’s there.”

But he, along with everyone else who will return kicks and punts this season for the Wildcats, will have a tough act to follow.

A year ago, William Powell returned 21 kickoffs for 726 yards and a touchdown. When Aubrey Quarles filled in for him, he returned 18 kicks for 459 yards and a touchdown. The year before that, Brandon Banks was a threat to score on seemingly every kick.

Can Garrett duplicate those impressive accomplishments? He’s going to try his best.

“If I’m back there I don’t want to be back there and not be great,” Garrett said. “They’ve had all these great returners. If I’m back there and am given the opportunity to do something, that’s what I’m going to do.”
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Corey Adams does it again

For the second straight year, Corey Adams won Special Teams MVP honors at Kansas State’s postseason awards ceremony.

The senior long snapper, who was successful on all of his field goal/PAT and punt snaps this season, takes a streak of 475 quality snaps into the Pinstripe Bowl. Those accomplishments were deemed impressive enough by Wildcats coach Bill Snyder that he awarded Adams the program’s top special teams award alongside explosive kick returner William Powell.

Not quite as impressive as 2009, when he beat out speedster Brandon Banks to claim the honor all by himself. But still pretty remarkable.

Some will say Banks and Powell contributed more to K-State with their exciting returns and touchdowns, and I tend to agree. Long snapping is an important, unsung skill, that Snyder cherishes. But returning kicks is an equally important, celebrated skill that everyone appreciates.

In the future, maybe K-State can honor both talents separately by handing out an Unsung Player Award. Just an idea.

In the meantime, K-State’s other big winners were Daniel Thomas (Offensive MVP) and David Garrett and Ty Zimmerman (Defensive MVPs). Below is a complete list of winners.
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Postgame: K-State 39, Texas 14

At one point during its 39-14 victory over Texas, Daniel Thomas said one of the Longhorns’ defensive backs began complaining of boredom.

That pretty much sums up what happened Saturday night. The Wildcats ran the ball so effectively and often that Texas cornerbacks and safeties had little to do. The plan caught the Longhorns by surprise and K-State easily picked up its sixth win of the season and became bowl eligible.

Here’s a deeper look:

THE GOOD
1. Collin Klein added a whole new element to K-State’s rushing attack. The sophomore quarterback made the first start of his college career and rushed for 127 yards and two touchdowns on 25 carries. He made good reads throughout the night, and his speed was a nice complement to Thomas’s bruising running style. Read More »

Postgame: OSU 24, K-State 14

OSUFootballThomas

A week ago, 42 points seemed like all the Kansas State football team would need to defeat Baylor. Yesterday, holding Oklahoma State to 24 points seemed like all the defense it would need to hand the Cowboys a loss.

As it turned out, neither scenario led to a Wildcats win.

One week, the offense is good and the defense is bad. The next week, the offense sputters and the defense delivers. Clearly, K-State needs both to win games. Here’s a deeper look:
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Postgame: Baylor 47, K-State 42

Kansas State’s offense was good. Its defense was bad. That’s all you really need to know about the Wildcats’ 47-42 loss at Baylor yesterday.

But here is a deeper look at everything that transpired in Waco, anyway.

THE GOOD
1. Aubrey Quarles is turning into a real weapon at wide receiver. The senior caught six passes for 131 yards and a touchdown Saturday, and was consistently wide open. His route running improves every game, and he has the best hands on the team.

2. William Powell is no Brandon Banks, but he is awful close. The backup running back terrorized Baylor with huge kick return after huge kick return, and regularly gave K-State stellar field position. He took four returns up field for 172 yards, and broke free for a 100-yard touchdown run in the third quarter.
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Postgame: K-State 17, Central Florida 13

UCFFelder

The Kansas State Wildcats struggled throughout most of the game, but when it mattered most they came up with big plays and defeated Central Florida 17-13.

Here’s a look back at everything that transpired Saturday at Snyder Family Stadium — good, bad and interesting:

FIVE THINGS THAT WENT WELL
1. I don’t know if K-State has earned the nickname “Comeback Cats” yet, but it has trailed in the second half of three games this season and won all three.

Saturday’s fourth-quarter rally past Central Florida was easily the most dramatic. The Wildcats’ final drive erased an entire afternoon of struggles, kept their perfect record intact and proved there is no quit on the K-State sideline.
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