K-State Travels To #20 Oklahoma State

By: KSU, posted by Kinch O'Kelley
By: KSU, posted by Kinch O'Kelley

Following a 31-21 loss at Texas to open Big 12 Conference play and a bye week, Kansas State heads back out on the road for its second straight league game away from Bill Snyder Family Stadium as the Wildcats face the 20th-ranked Oklahoma State Cowboys Saturday. The game is slated for a 2:30 p.m., kickoff at Boone Pickens Stadium and will be televised by ABC as Bob Wischusen (play-by-play), Rod Gilmore (analyst) and Quint Kessenich (sideline) will have 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 satellite radio channel 117, XM channel 191. Live stats will be available at k-statesports.com, while Twitter updates (@kstatesports and @kstate_gameday) will also be a part of the gameday coverage.

Turnovers and missed opportunities plagued the Wildcats in their 10-point setback to Texas in Austin. K-State battled back from a 17-point deficit and had an opportunity to pull to within 31-28 before a turnover in the red zone halted a scoring chance. Two bright spots from the Texas game were wide receiver Tyler Lockett and linebacker Blake Slaughter. Lockett set a new K-State single-game record with 237 yards on the night on 13 catches, while Slaughter continues to be a solid senior leader on defense as he finished with 10 tackles. Lockett launched himself into eighth place in this week’s national receiving yards rankings, and tops in the Big 12, while he also ranks as the Big 12 Conference’s top all-purpose player averaging 157.3 yards per game. Slaughter’s 9.2 tackles per game rank third in the conference and 37th nationally. Ryan Mueller has also turned in some solid performances this season as the former walk-on ranks second in the Big 12 this week in tackles for loss with 5.5. He also has two sacks on the year. The special teams units have been solid again so far this season with the Wildcats’ kick return and punt return units ranking among the nation’s best. K-State enters the weekend No. 1 nationally in punt returns, averaging 31.7 yards per return. In the kicking game, Jack Cantele is 3-for-3 in field goals, including a career-long 42-yarder, while punter Mark Krause is averaging 42.1 yards a kick with six being downed inside the 20-yard line.

K-State will head to Stillwater to face one of the top teams in the Big 12 Conference and the nation in Oklahoma State. The Cowboys, coming off a tough 30-21 loss at West Virginia, currently rank 17th nationally in passing offense, 18th in red zone offense and their scoring offense also ranks 31st in the country by averaging 39.3 points a game. On defense the numbers are just as impressive as OSU ranks 29th nationally in scoring defense (17.8), 23rd in rush defense (108.8) and 19th in red zone defense. The Cowboys also rank 18th nationally in punt returns with a 14.64 average.

Giving K-State an extra week to prepare has traditionally been bad news for opponents. The Cats have had 20 previous mid-season bye weeks under head coach Bill Snyder and have turned the extra week of preparation into a 15-5 record the following week.

One of the longest-tenured active coaches in the nation, Bill Snyder is approaching victory No. 175 of his career. After guiding K-State from 1989 to 2005, and again over the last four seasons, the 2012 Bobby Dodd National Coach of the Year has accumulated the fourth-most victories at FBS-only schools among all active coaches. Snyder, who ranks 50th all-time in victories at four-year institutions, can become the 46th coach ever to reach the 175-win plateau but just the 11th ever to do so at only one school.

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.

Fast starts propelled the Wildcats to winning seasons throughout the Bill Snyder’s era at K-State. The Wildcats’ success in the month of September under Snyder is well-documented and K-State has also been a solid team in October under Snyder. Since the inception of the Big 12 Conference, K-State is 36-24 (.600) in October under the legendary head coach.

K-State extended one of the nation’s longest scoring streaks against Texas as the Wildcats have now tallied points in 207 consecutive games. The 207-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 134 conference games, 75 true road games and 18 neutral-site contests.

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 141-26 (.844) when drawing first blood. Last season, K-State was a perfect 6-0 when scoring the game’s first points and is 2-0 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 161 of its last 166 (.971) games when leading at the half. Last season, Kansas State went 10-0 when leading at the half and is 2-0 this season.

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 two seasons, is 19-5 dating back to 2011 when controlling the clock and possessing the ball more than its opponent. Ironically, the Cats are 2-2 this season and have controlled the clock in just two of those games (1-1 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 against North Dakota State, K-State has converted on 24-of-41 (.634) third-down chances in its last three games.

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 144 trips inside its opponent’s 20-yard line dating back to 2011, the Wildcats have scored on 128 of those trips, with 97 of those being touchdowns. Over the course of the last 26 regular season games, the Wildcats are 117-of-130 in the red zone with 92 touchdowns. Additionally, the Cats are 73-for-90 in red zone chances with 55 touchdowns in their last 16 wins dating back to 2011 with four of those non-scoring trips coming via a kneel down in the final minute of a game.

When the Wildcat defense picks off two or more passes, K-State usually comes out with a victory. Over the last 26 contests that the Wildcats have recorded two or more interceptions, Kansas State is 21-5, including a 5-1 record over the last two seasons. The Wildcats tied for second in the Big 12 and 12th nationally with 18 interceptions last season, the second-straight season K-State picked off 18 passes. Ty Zimmerman, who had five interceptions last year, now has 11 interceptions to tie for sixth in school history and needs four more to tie the school record. Kip Daily picked off two passes in the Cats’ win over UMass.

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 the 2010 debut. The Wildcats added four more against Louisiana, seven against UMass and six against Texas as Ryan Mueller (5.5), Travis Britz (3.5) and Blake Slaughter (3.0) have combined for 12 of the 27 stops.

A big part of K-State’s success over the past two seasons has been attributed to the discipline and fundamentals that head coach Bill Snyder and his coaching staff have instilled in the program. During last year’s Big 12 Championship season, K-State led the Big 12 and ranked third in the nation in turnover margin (+19), ranked second in the league and fourth nationally in fewest penalties (49 total) and also ranked second in the conference in time of possession (32:03). The Wildcats made the most of the turnovers forced last season, converting them into a nation-leading 142 points. So far in 2013, the Cats are second in the league in fewest penalty yards per game but have not been able to capitalize on turnovers at the same clip as the 2012 squad.

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.

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 49-15 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 90. K-State had six non-offensive touchdowns last season. Tyler Lockett led the way with a pair of kickoff-return scores (vs. North Texas and Oklahoma State), while Tramaine Thompson returned a punt for a score against Missouri State, Jarell Childs returned a fumble for a touchdown at Oklahoma, and Arthur Brown (Texas Tech) and Allen Chapman (Oklahoma State) returned an interception for scores. In 2013, the Wildcats have recorded three with Thompson’s kick return (Louisiana) and interception returns from Ty Zimmerman (Louisiana) and Kip Daily (UMass).

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 126-28-1 (.814) when playing at Bill Snyder Family Stadium, including a 66-4 (.941) record in non-conference games and a 62-24-1 (.718) mark in league games (combined Big 8/12). The Wildcats have gone 24-5 at home since Snyder’s return in 2009, including a 15-2 mark over the last two-plus seasons.

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 three crowds so far of 53,000-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 eight consecutive sellouts.

Following the 2013 spring game, head coach Bill Snyder named five captains for the 2013 season as B.J. Finney, Tyler Lockett, Blake Slaughter, Tre Walker and Ty Zimmerman earned the nod. Finney is a two-time captain and was the youngest offensive player and first non-senior offensive lineman captain since 2002 when he was elected last year. Walker and Zimmerman are also in their second years, while Lockett and Slaughter are serving as captains for the first time in their careers.

Quarterback Jake Waters entered 2013 known for his throwing abilities and he has not disappointed through the first four games. The community-college transfer from Iowa Western has been on point to start the season as he has totaled 948 passing yards. Waters needs just 52 yards to hit the 1,000-yard barrier by game five, which would be the most by a Wildcat quarterback under Snyder since Jonathan Beasley in 2000 (1,124). Waters threw for 275 yards against Texas, giving him three games with 275 yards or more, the first K-State signal caller with three or more in a season since Josh Freeman in 2008 (5).

Although it came in a loss, Tyler Lockett’s performance at Texas was one for the record books. The junior hauled in 13 receptions for 237 yards to set Kansas State’s single-game record for receiving yards while tying for second in single-game receptions. His 237 yards were 23 more than Jordy Nelson’s 214-yard performance in 2007 at Iowa State, while it was just the fourth 200-yard game in school history and the 10th-most yards in Big 12 history. In addition to his receiving yards, Lockett add 96 yards in kick returns to give him 333 all-purpose yards, the fourth-most in school history and the most since Brand Banks tied the school record at Oklahoma in 2009.

Tyler Lockett may be known more for his receiving abilities this season, but the Tulsa, Okla., product made his name orignally as a kickoff returner. After tallying a 35.2-yard average with two touchdowns as a freshman and being named the Big 12 Special Teams Player of the Year with a 32.8-yard average as a sophomore, Lockett 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. He ranks 4.3 yards better than the player second on the all-time Big 12 list, former Wildcat Brandon Banks.

Following two years of 900-plus yard rushing seasons, senior John Hubert joined an exclusive club against Louisiana as he eclipsed the 2,000-yard rushing barrier, the ninth player in school history to reach the milestone. Hubert, who is at 2,183 career rushing yards, needs 28 yards to pass J.J. Smith (1991-94) for seventh place in school history and 82 to pass Mike Lawrence (1994-97) for sixth. And although me has been known for more of a rusher in his career, Hubert has been a threat receiving out of the backfield as he already has 104 receiving yards in four games, more than he has in 13 games last year and just 84 yards shy of his career high of 188 in 2011.

Not only has John Hubert put up big numbers in terms of yards, but the Waco, Texas, product has also scored rushing touchdowns on a consistent basis. Hubert carded two at Texas to give him 22 in his career and move into the school’s top-10 list. He needs one against Oklahoma State to tie for eighth and two to move into sole possession of eighth place. Additionally, Hubert has 459 career attempts to also move into the top 10 in school history in that department.

Sophomore quarterback Daniel Sams dazzled last season in the running game as he rushed for 235 yards - the most ever by a freshman quarterback in school history - and had three touchdowns. It has been more of the same in 2013 as he is second on the team with 205 rushing yards. He has made his presence known from the word go on two occasions as he rushed for 17 yards to convert on third down on his first play of the season against North Dakota State and also rushed for 23 yards on his first play of the game against Texas.

When senior Tramaine Thompson returned the second-half opening kickoff 94 yards for a touchdown against Louisiana, the wide receiver became just the third player in school history to score touchdowns via a rush, reception, punt return and kickoff return. Thompson, who has six touchdown receptions, returned a punt 89 yards in last year’s season opener against Missouri State. His rushing touchdown occurred by happenstance as he recovered a fumble in the end zone in the first overtime against Texas A&M in 2011. With that being chalked up as a rushing score, Thompson’s kickoff-return score allowed him to join Mack Herron (1968-69) and Yamon Figurs (2004-06) in the exclusive category. For his efforts, Thompson was named the Big 12 Special Teams Player of the Week and earned a spot on the Paul Hornung Award Honor Roll.

Linebacker Blake Slaughter, who was a four-game starter in 2010, is back this season after electing to redshirt the 2012 campaign while playing behind All-American Arthur Brown. Slaughter used the year off to improve and has started the 2013 season on fire totaling a team-leading 37 tackles - the most in the Big 12 - to go along with a pair of sacks. His season total includes three 10-tackle games, and he needs one more to give K-State a linebacker with four or more in two-straight seasons after Brown had four last year.

Used as a pass-rush specialist each of the last two seasons, junior defensive end Ryan Mueller has made his first three career starts count. The Leawood, Kan., product has 20 tackles this year, including 5.5 that have gone for 21 yards of loss and two sacks. Mueller, who has tackles for loss in each of the first four games, ranks second in the Big 12 in that department. Throughout his career, Mueller has consistently been around the ball as he came into the season with seven passes defended and three fumble recoveries and broke up two more passes at Texas.

Senior All-American safety Ty Zimmerman picked off his 11th career pass against Louisiana and returned it 32 yards for his first-career touchdown. A candidate for four major awards and a Preseason All-Big 12 selection, Zimmerman’s 11 picks are tied for sixth in school history, while he now has 178 interception return yards rank fourth. Zimmerman, who has 40 career starts to rank fifth nationally among active players, also reached another milestone this year as he became the 51st player in school history with 200 career tackles.

Junior Jonathan Truman made his mark last year on special teams by leading the Wildcats with nine tackles on kickoffs and three on punts. The former walk-on from Kechi, Kan., earned a starting nod at linebacker in 2013 and has performed well as he is second on the team with 32 tackles, including two tackles for loss.

Punter Mark Krause has been outstanding during his first year as the full-time punter as he holds a 42.1-yard average while dropping six punts inside the 20-yard line, the fourth-most in the Big 12. He put together a career-best 47.5-yard average against Louisiana, which included a career long 50-yard punt while he dropped two of his five punts inside the 20-yard line and booted another 50 yards at Texas.

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