MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) _ The road leading to town wasn't known as Coach Bill Snyder Highway the last time that Gary Patterson exited north off Interstate 70 and headed toward the Kansas State campus.
But when the TCU coach returns for the first time in three decades on Saturday, he'll not only be trying to deal Snyder a defeat, but also do the same to his alma mater.
Patterson played linebacker for the Wildcats in the early 1980s.
His Horned Frogs (4-6, 2-5 Big 12) are in must-win mode, too. Another loss would eliminate them from bowl consideration. Kansas State (5-4, 3-3) has won three straight games and can become eligible for a bowl trip of its own with a victory.
K-STATE IN SEARCH OF BOWL-ELIGIBILITY AGAINST TCU
Coming off a convincing 49-26 win on the road at No. 23 Texas Tech, K-State returns home for a two-game homestand as the Wildcats host TCU on Saturday in Manhattan. The game is slated for a 2:30 p.m., kickoff and will be televised nationally on FSN with Mike Morgan (play-by-play), Brian Baldinger (analyst) and J.C. Pearson (sidelines) on the call. Wyatt Thompson will call the action on the K-State Sports Network with Stan Weber providing color analysis and Matt Walters giving sideline updates. A free live audio broadcast is available at k-statesports.com and on SIRIUS/XM satellite radio channels 119/194. Live stats will be available at k-statesports.com, while a live in-game blog at k-statesports.com and Twitter updates (@kstatesports and @kstate_gameday) will also be a part of the gameday coverage.
A QUICK LOOK AT THE WILDCATS
The Wildcats, one of the hottest teams in the Big 12, jumped out quickly against No. 23 Texas Tech as 35 first-half points and another solid defensive performance propelled the Cats to a 49-26 win. The 35 points scored in the first half were the most in a Big 12 Conference game since scoring 38 in the 2009 Texas A&M game in Manhattan, while they were the most in a Big 12 road game since scoring 43 at KU in 2002. K-State also won the turnover battle for the third straight week, forcing three Red Raider turnovers, while the defense turned in yet another solid performance. K-State limited the nation’s No. 1 pass offense to just 4.7 yards a play, while the Wildcat offense was clicking at 6.6 yards a snap. In its last three games, K-State has outscored its opponents by an average of 41.7-15 thanks in part to a plus-6 turnover margin. On defense, Ryan Mueller, Blake Slaughter and Ty Zimmerman continue to have stellar seasons as Slaughter leads the team in tackles (74). Mueller is now the nation’s leading sack master with 10.5, and his 15.0 tackles for loss rank second nationally, while Slaughter and Zimmerman (68) are both among the league’s top seven tacklers. Zimmerman has totaled 24 stops, two pass breakups, two picks and a forced fumble in his last three games. All three continue to put up All-America numbers for the defense. The special teams units have been solid again so far this season with the Wildcats’ punt return unit ranking No. 2 nationally this week, averaging 18.1 yards per return. K-State also has five blocked kicks to rank second nationally. In the kicking game, Jack Cantele is 7-for-9 in field goals, including a career-long 44-yarder, while punter Mark Krause is averaging 42.3 yards a kick with 14 being downed inside the 20-yard line.
A LOOK AT THE OPPONENT: TCU
The Wildcats will face one of the nation’s top defenses when TCU and head coach Gary Patterson, a K-State graduate, head to Manhattan on Saturday. The Horned Frogs, currently 4-6 overall and 2-5 in league play, currently rank first in the Big 12 in rushing defense and third in total defense through 10 games. Paul Dawson and Chris Hackett have combined for 149 tackles, while Sam Carter and Terrell Lathan each have four sacks. Jason Verrett leads the secondary with 12 breakups and two picks. On offense, quarterback Casey Pachall has returned from injury to spark the Horned Frogs.
IN ELITE COMPANY
One of the longest-tenured active coaches in the nation, Bill Snyder picked up victory No. 175 of his career and No. 100 in conference play last weekend at Texas Tech. After guiding K-State from 1989 to 2005, and again over the last four seasons, the 2012 Bobby Dodd National Coach of the Year and sure-fire hall of famer became the 46th coach ever to reach the 175-win plateau but just the 11th ever to do so at only one school. Additionally, he is only the third coach in Big 8/12 history with 100 conference wins at a single school.
A big part of K-State’s three-game win streak in Big 12 play has been the play of the Cats in the last 15 minutes of the game. After averaging just 5.3 points in the fourth quarter over the first six weeks, K-State has now scored 56 in the final frame over the last three weeks while holding opponents to just 14.
THE LITTLE THINGS
Sitting at 5-4 overall and 3-3 in league play heading into Saturday’s game, Kansas State is just a play or two away from being 8-1 on the year. In close losses to North Dakota State, No. 21 Oklahoma State and No. 15 Baylor, the Wildcats held leads late in the games before dropping all three contests in the final minutes. In those games, K-State committed eight turnovers which led to 23 points by the opponent.
THE LITTLE THINGS, PART II
Since starting 2-4, the Cats have continued to get better each day in all phases of the game and have since climbed back to 5-4 with three straight wins. Over the last three games, K-State has forced nine turnovers, while committing just three, and the Cats have averaged just 3.5 penalties per game. The Wildcat offense has averaged 6.7 yards a play over the last three games while holding its opponent to just a 4.5 clip.
LOOKING FOR MORE
Kansas State has had success coming off bowl seasons, most notably under head coach Bill Snyder. The Wildcats had played in 15 bowl games in program history prior to last year, and Kansas State has followed a bowl season with another postseason berth on 12 occasions, each coming under Snyder. The only three times K-State had a losing season following a bowl trip occurred in 1983 (3-8) after the 1982 Independence Bowl, in 2004 after the Fiesta Bowl (4-7) and in 2007 (5-7) after the 2006 Texas Bowl. K-State will be looking to make its fourth-straight bowl for the first time since the end of an 11-year bowl stretch in 2003.
With K-State’s next win it will become bowl-eligible for the 15th time under head coach Bill Snyder, but even more impressive is how the Cats have responded after opening 2-4 this season. In fact, the 2013 Cats can become just the fourth Big 12 team to turn a 2-4 or worse start into a bowl appearance (2001 K-State, 2002 Oklahoma State and 2004 Iowa State). Looking at this trend nationally, only 8-percent of FBS teams in the BCS era have started 2-4 or worse and reached a bowl game prior to this season (48/597).
CLOSING STRONG IN NOVEMBER
The Wildcats are looking to have a November to remember, and under head coach Bill Snyder, the Cats have a track record of successful stretch runs. Since 1991 under Snyder, K-State is 49-17 in the month of November, which includes 15 seasons of winning records in the month (1991-2003, 2011-12) and six seasons with an undefeated final month.
CATS CONTINUE CONSECUTIVE SCORING STREAK
K-State extended one of the nation’s longest scoring streaks against Texas Tech as the Wildcats have now tallied points in 212 consecutive games. The 212-game stretch is the eighth-longest in the nation and the second-longest in the Big 12. The Cats have not been kept off the board since Colorado shut out K-State, 12-0, on Nov. 16, 1996. The streak includes 139 conference games, 77 true road games and 18 neutral-site contests.
DRAWING FIRST BLOOD
Scoring first has been a big sign of good things to come for the Wildcats. Since 1990, K-State’s record when scoring first is very impressive as the Wildcats have gone 143-27 (.841) when drawing first blood. Last season, K-State was a perfect 6-0 when scoring the game’s first points and is 4-1 so far in 2013.
There is no better indicator of a Wildcat victory than when K-State leads or is tied at the half. Since 1990, the Cats have protected a halftime lead in 163 of its last 168 (.971) games when leading at the half. Last season, K-State went 10-0 when leading at the half and is 4-0 this season. Also, the Cats have won 37 straight games when leading at the half, which is currently the third-longest active streak in the nation.
PLAYING KEEP AWAY
Kansas State has been on the positive side of the ledger in terms of time of possession over the last two seasons, ranking fourth (33:56) and 17th (32:03) nationally in 2011 and 2012, respectively. K-State, which has ranked in the top two of the Big 12 in each of the last three seasons, including 2013, is 21-7 dating back to 2011 when controlling the clock and possessing the ball more than its opponent. The Cats are 5-4 overall this season and have controlled the clock in six of those games (3-3 record).
K-State was one of the best in the country last season in converting on third downs as the Wildcats ranked second in the Big 12 and seventh nationally by moving the sticks 50-percent (80-of-160) of the time on third down. Kansas State, which improved its conversion percentage by 8-percent from the 2011 season, was able to spread the ball out when it counted most as 11 different players converted on third down in 2012. After converting on just 2-of-10 third downs in the season opener against North Dakota State, K-State has converted on 56-of-105 (.533) third-down chances in its last eight games and ranks 18th nationally and second in the Big 12 overall this season at 50-percent (58-of-115). Last week at Texas Tech, K-State converted on 5-of-9 third-down plays.
RED ZONE ALERT
Not only has Kansas State been able to possess the ball and sustain long drives over the course of the last two seasons, but the offense has managed to make the most of those opportunities once it has reached the red zone. Of K-State’s last 166 trips inside its opponent’s 20-yard line dating back to 2011, the Wildcats have scored on 147 of those trips, with 113 of those being touchdowns. Over the course of the last 31 regular season games, the Wildcats are 136-of-153 in the red zone with 108 touchdowns. Additionally, the Cats are 85-for-104 in red zone chances with 66 touchdowns in their last 19 wins dating back to 2011 with five of those non-scoring trips coming via a kneel down in the final minute of a game.
STEPPING UP THE D
K-State’s defense has steadily made improvement each week in 2013, and the last three performances have played a big role in getting the Wildcats back above .500 at 5-4. After limiting the Baylor offense to half of its point and yard total, K-State has held West Virginia and Iowa State to 19 total points and an average of 308 yards a game. Also, K-State held Texas Tech under five yards a snap, while it has forced nine turnovers over that same three-game span.
When the Wildcat defense picks off two or more passes, K-State usually comes out with a victory. Over the last 28 contests that the Wildcats have recorded two or more interceptions, Kansas State is 23-5, including a 7-1 record over the last two seasons. Ty Zimmerman, who had five interceptions last year, now has 13 interceptions to tie for third in school history and needs two more to tie the school record. Kip Daily picked off two passes in the Cats’ win over UMass, while three different Cats had picks against Iowa State and Zimmerman and Randall Evans had picks against Texas Tech.
BEHIND ENEMY LINES
In the Wildcats’ season opener against North Dakota State, the K-State defense managed to make 10 stops behind the line of scrimmage - which included three sacks - for the first time since the 2012 KU game and the first time in a season opener since 2010. The Cats added seven against UMass, six against Texas, five against Baylor, six against West Virginia and six at Texas Tech as Ryan Mueller (15.0), Blake Slaughter (5.0), Travis Britz (5.5) and Chaquil Reed (4.5) have combined for 30 of the team’s 52 stops.
KICKOFF RETURN STREAK
K-State has ranked among the nation’s best on special teams under Bill Snyder, especially as it relates to kickoff returns. In fact, following Tramaine Thompson’s 94-yard dash against Louisiana, the Wildcats have returned a kick for a score at least once in each of the last nine seasons, which currently ranks as the longest streak in the nation. Louisiana Tech has done so in each of the last seven years, while Auburn and Central Florida currently have streaks of six straight seasons.
K-State has also made a statement in regards to blocking kicks as the Wildcats currently have the second-most blocks in the nation with five, four of which have come by national leader Travis Britz. Britz has blocked three extra points and a field goal, while Weston Hiebert blocked a punt against Baylor.
The rise of K-State football over the last three decades has much to do with the emphasis on special teams. Since 1990, Kansas State is 49-16 when scoring on special teams and 19-1 when scoring on special teams and on defense, including a 17-0 mark under Bill Snyder. And, in non-offensive touchdowns, the Cats are the nation’s best over the past 14 seasons. Since 1999, the Wildcats rank first nationally in non-offensive touchdowns with 91. This season, the Wildcats have recorded five non-offensive touchdowns on a Tramaine Thompson kickoff return against Louisiana, interception returns by Ty Zimmerman against Louisiana and Texas Tech, another interception return by Kip Daily against UMass, while Daily also returned a blocked field goal for a score against Oklahoma State. Additionally, K-State’s three interception-return touchdowns this season are tied for fifth in school history.
HOME SWEET HOME
Few teams in college football have taken care of their home field as well as the Wildcats since the start of the 1990 season. Over the past 23 years, K-State is an amazing 128-29-1 (.813) when playing at Bill Snyder Family Stadium, including a 66-4 (.941) record in non-conference games and a 64-25-1 (.717) mark in league games (combined Big 8/12). The Wildcats have gone 26-6 at home since Snyder’s return in 2009, including a 17-3 mark over the last two-plus seasons.
RECORD NUMBERS AT BILL SNYDER FAMILY STADIUM
A new tradition was born when head coach Bill Snyder returned for his second tenure roaming the sidelines for the Wildcats as the K-State Family Reunion game was introduced for the 2009 season opener. The contest against UMass was a huge success as it was the largest crowd in school history for a home opener at the time with 50,750 fans pouring into Bill Snyder Family Stadium. Fans also came out in droves the last four seasons, including this year’s season opener with North Dakota State which drew a season-opening record crowd of 53,351. That mark was also good enough for the second-largest mark to ever watch a Wildcat game in Manhattan. With a record 43,000-plus season tickets sold for this season, and six crowds so far of 52,000-plus, K-State is on track to set new school records for number of sellouts and total attendance for a season. Dating back to last season, K-State is riding a streak of 11 consecutive sellouts.
Quarterback Jake Waters entered 2013 known for his throwing abilities and he has not disappointed. The community-college transfer from Iowa Western has been on point this season as he has totaled 1,456 passing yards. He needs just 44 yards to become the 26th player in school history with 1,500 career passing yards and the first by a newcomer under Bill Snyder since Michael Bishop in 1997 (1,557). Additionally, Waters has displayed accuracy throughout the entire season as he ranks second in the Big 12 with a 63.5 completion percentage thanks to the fact that he has been true at a clip of 67.6 percent during K-State’s current three-game winning streak.
When his team has needed him most, Jake Waters has been able to perform well in the fourth quarter. That was on display against West Virginia when he completed all eight of his fourth-quarter passes for 152 yards and two touchdowns. Thanks in part to that effort, Waters, who ranks fourth in the Big 12 in total passing efficiency, ranks seventh nationally in fourth quarter passing efficiency at 184.70, but he is second among players that have attempted 30 or more passes in the final frame.
Jake Waters has added to his repertoire as the season has progressed with the development of his running game. K-State’s third-leading rusher with 276 yards, Waters has four rushing touchdowns, two of which game last week at No. 23 Texas Tech. Waters’ first three scores of the year were all one-yard plunges before a nifty 13-yard score in the second quarter against the Red Raiders.
SAMS ON THE RUN
On display last year when he played in late-game situations, Daniel Sams has been a running threat all year even when teams are expecting it. Sams, who ranks sixth in the Big 12 and tops among league quarterbacks, has rushed for 675 yards to rank fifth in school history among sophomores. His total was given a boost against No. 15 Baylor when he gained 199 yards. Sams has also had a nose for the end zone has he has 10 rushing scores this year to rank second in the league in that department, while he is fourth nationally among quarterbacks.
Just like Jake Waters, Daniel Sams has shown that he can be a threat as both a runner and a passer. The Slidell, La., product has completed 74.5-percent of his passes for 429 yards and four touchdowns to rank second in the Big 12 in passing efficiency, and he would rank 12th nationally if he had met the required minimum of pass attempts. Sams’ rating is due in large part to an 8-for-8, 93-yard performance with a touchdown against West Virginia, while he went 4-for-5 for 64 yards and another score against Iowa State.
HUBERT FINDING HIS STRIDE
Following two years of 900-plus yard rushing seasons, John Hubert continues to ascend up the K-State record book as he ranks fourth in school history in both career yards (2,651) and 100-yard games, while he is fifth in attempts (539) and sixth in touchdowns (26). After starting the by averaging just 53.6 yards in the first five games, Hubert has averaged 109.5 yards and a touchdown in his last four games, which includes a current streak of two-straight 100-yard games.
LOCKETT DEVELOPS INTO TOP RECEIVER
Known mainly as a return man his first two seasons, Tyler Lockett is making more noise this year as a wide receiver in 2013. The Tulsa, Okla., product broke the single-game yardage record with 237 at Texas, 23 more yards than the previous record held by current Green Bay Packer Jordy Nelson at Iowa State in 2007. Then against West Virginia, Lockett recorded the eighth three-touchdown game in Kansas State history to tie the school record. Thanks to solid numbers his first two seasons as well, Lockett is now tied for 10th in school history with 11 career touchdown receptions, while he is four receptions and 99 yards shy of a tying for 10th in both categories.
GOING... GOING... GONE
Tyler Lockett may be known more for his receiving abilities this season, but he made his name originally as a kickoff returner. The 2012 Big 12 Special Teams Player of the Year continues to excel in the specialty as he ranks second nationally in career kickoff-return average among active players and currently sits atop the Big 12 record book. However, Lockett is only averaging 21.5 yards per return this season due to the fact that teams have been kicking away from him.
FROM WALK-ON TO STAR
Junior Ryan Mueller, a former walk-on, has come out of virtually nowhere to become one of the elite defensive ends in the country. The high-motor Mueller leads the nation in sacks (10.5), while he ranks second in tackles for loss (15.0). Mueller has had at least a half TFL in every game and sacks in seven games, including at least one each of the last five contests. The Lenexa, Kan., product has totaled 8.5 sacks in the last three games, including three last week at No. 23 Texas Tech to tie for second in school history and earn his second-straight Big 12 Defensive Player of the Week honor. Mueller, who is the first Wildcat with sacks in five-straight games since Ian Campbell in 2006 (6), can attain a few milestones this week against TCU as he is one sack shy of tying the single-season school record, 1.5 sacks away from entering the Big 12 top-10 list and 2.5 away from appearing on K-State’s career top-10 list.
FOR THE GOOD OF THE TEAM
Blake Slaughter, who was a four-game starter in 2010, elected to redshirt the 2012 campaign while playing behind All-American Arthur Brown. Slaughter used the year off to improve and has been solid in 2013 by totaling a team-leading 74 tackles to rank third in the Big 12. His total includes at least six tackles in every game, including three 10-tackle games. He is currently on pace for 99 tackles during the regular season, which would be the most in a regular season by a Wildcat since 2006.
PLAYING CENTER FIELD
Senior All-American safety Ty Zimmerman registered his 13th career interception and third of the season last week at No. 23 Texas Tech, one he returned 43 yards for his second pick-six of the season. A semifinalist for the Jim Thorpe Award, Zimmerman’s 13 picks are tied for third in school history and fourth in Big 12 history, while he has 221 interception return yards to rank second on the K-State chart. Additionally, his second return touchdown of the year tied him for third in school history. Zimmerman, who is tied for 25th in K-State history with 249 career tackles, has been especially salty against Big 12 teams in his career as 11 of his 13 picks are against conference foes.
BRITZ’S BLOCK PARTY
Sophomore defensive lineman Travis Britz has been throwing a block party this season. The Harrisonville, Mo., product blocked his nation-leading fourth kick of the year at No. 23 Texas Tech to tie for second in school history for both a season and a career. He needs one more to tie the school record of five held by Raphael Guidry in 2011.
EVANS CONTINUES SOLID PLAY
Just like Ryan Mueller, defensive back Randall Evans is a former walk-on who has developed into a playmaker for the surging K-State defense. The junior ranks fourth on the team with 51 tackles and leads the squad with nine pass breakups while he carded his first interception of the year to seal last week’s victory at No. 23 Texas Tech. Evans is tied for third in the Big 12 with 10 total passes defended after carding seven in his first year of full-time duty in 2012.