MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) - Skylar Thompson threw for 212 yards and accounted for two touchdowns, six different Kansas State players reached the end zone, and the Wildcats rolled to a 49-14 victory over Nicholls on Saturday night to give coach Chris Klieman a win in his debut.
Kansas State players celebrate around quarterback Skylar Thompson (10) after his touchdown in the first half of an NCAA college football game against Nicholls State in Manhattan, Kan., Saturday, Aug. 31, 2019. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)
James Gilbert paced a Kansas State running attack that rolled up 361 yards by going for 115 and a score. Jordan Brown, Harry Trotter and Tyler Burns also ran for touchdowns.
The Wildcats finished with 573 yards of total offense.
Indeed, it was a near-perfect start for Klieman, who led North Dakota State to four national championships in five seasons but was filling some mighty big shoes. He took over last winter for Bill Snyder, the Hall of Fame coach who took Kansas State from lowly also-ran to a perennial Big 12 contender.
The Wildcats did it in just about all phases, too. They reached the end zone on their first four possessions, got a long TD catch from Dalton Schoen and returned a fumble for another score.
Chase Fourcade, the Colonels' star quarterback, was just 10 of 18 for 126 yards with a pick. Kendall Bussey and Julien Gums had second-half touchdown runs.
The Wildcats, who the last few years under Snyder had grown stale offensively, roared out of the locker room with a sense of purpose. They brutalized the Colonels at the line of scrimmage, were largely free of penalties and looked every bit the program from a Power 5 conference.
Trotter, a Louisville transfer, reached the end zone first. Thompson scrambled 17 yards for the second score. Brown, a North Carolina transfer, reached pay dirt next. And Gilbert, the newcomer from Ball State, ran 24 yards to give the Wildcats a 28-0 lead with 6:21 left in the first half.
In fact, the Wildcats nearly went 5-for-5 on TDs in the first half. But when Schoen hauled in a 20-yard touchdown pass, a review showed him bobbling the ball as he fell out of bounds.
That led to their only first-half miscue: Blake Lynch missed the ensuing 37-yard field goal.
Schoen finally got his touchdown on the first play of the fourth quarter. He breezed past a defender and hauled in a 38-yard reception to give the Wildcats a 35-7 lead.
Jonathan Alexander's strip, recovery and 25-yard touchdown return punctuated the win, and allowed Klieman to give his backups and third-teamers a chance to play most of the fourth quarter.
Nicholls: After beating Kansas just down the road in their opener last season, the Colonels never really put up a fight. Fourcade threw a pick on their second offensive play, they went three-and-out on their next possession and the Wildcats quickly built an insurmountable lead.
Kansas State: The Wildcats looked a lot like Klieman's teams at North Dakota State, winning the battle in the trenches and rotating running backs every couple of plays. The result was a team that was fresher and more physical as the game went along.
Nicholls plays the second of four straight on the road, at Prairie View A&M on Sept. 14.
Kansas State hosts Bowling Green next Saturday before a trip to Mississippi State.