Kansas State is coming off a historic victory. Now it’s time to prove that it was not a fluke.
The Wildcats, ranked No. 13 in the first College Football Playoff poll, defeated then-No. 9 Oklahoma State 48-0 last Saturday, the largest shutout ever over a top-10 team by a team lower in the rankings. It was the Wildcats’ first victory over the Cowboys in Chris Klieman’s four years as head coach.
They’ll face another squad Klieman hasn’t defeated when No. 24 Texas comes to Manhattan, Kan. on Saturday for a primetime showdown.
K-State (6-2, 4-1 Big 12) played exceptionally well against the Cowboys, and two Wildcats earned Big 12 player of the week honors. Quarterback Will Howard, who played for injured starter Adrian Martinez, earned offensive player of the week after going 21-of-37 for 296 passing yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions.
Punter Ty Zentner was selected special teams player of the week after serving as punter, place kicker and kickoff specialist. He hit both field goals and all six extra points, plus placed two of his four punts inside the 20 without a touchback.
The defense shut out the Cowboys, who came into the game averaging 44.7 points per game, tied for third in the FBS. The last time the Cowboys were shut out was Nov. 28, 2009, when they were blanked by Oklahoma, 27-0. The Cowboys also were held to 217 yards of total offense, less than half their season average (466.9 yards per game).
Klieman knows it will take an equally stout effort to defeat the Longhorns.
“I know they’re extremely well coached and they have great talent,” Klieman said at his Tuesday press conference. “They’ll have some things we haven’t seen. We know they’ll attack us where other teams have hurt us.”
Klieman said he didn’t know whether Martinez or Howard will start Saturday, and he probably won’t say when he does figure it out.
“Adrian is closer (to playing),” the coach said, adding that Howard is playing well enough to consider starting him regardless of Martinez’s health.
Texas (5-3, 3-2 Big 12) was off last weekend after being defeated by the same Oklahoma State team that K-State pummeled. With a win over K-State, the Longhorns will have a good chance to compete for a spot in the Big 12 championship game Dec. 3. A loss will make it nearly impossible. The Longhorns lost to Oklahoma State and play conference-leading TCU, ranked seventh in the CFP, next week in Austin.
Texas is 3-7 all-time in Manhattan, including wins in each of the last two meetings. The Longhorns won the last game in Manhattan, 69-31, but that was against a COVID-depleted team in 2020.
No one expects that kind of result Saturday.
“They’re talented in all three phases,” head coach Steve Sarkisian said of the Wildcats. “They take care of the ball on offense and create a bunch of turnovers on defense. They limit their penalties. This is a great task, going on the road into a really cool environment, so I’m looking forward to it.”
Freshman quarterback Quinn Ewers will hope for improvement after he completed just 19 of 49 passes against the Cowboys for 319 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions. Bijan Robinson leads the Longhorns on the ground with 920 yards and 11 touchdowns; he’s broken the 100-yard mark in six straight games and gained at least 130 rushing yards in three straight.
–Field Level Media