K-State Wildcats have 4-game win-streak handed to them on a Baylor Bears' platter

Doug Will
Pratt Tribune
No. 11 Baylor, Shapen hang on to suffocate Kansas State on Saturday in Manhattan 20-10.

The Kansas State Wildcats, coming off a 20-10 loss to the 9th ranked Baylor Bears, will go to south Texas this Friday to play its final Conference game of the year. The Wildcats will take on the Texas Longhorns in Austin at Texas Memorial Stadium. The game is scheduled to start at 11:00 am and be televised by Fox.

Last Saturday on a cool late fall day the 7-4 Kansas State Wildcats could never get any sustained offense going and the 9-2 Baylor Bears, who maybe the best team at least on gameday, that K-State has played all year would lose for the first time in 5 games. The game started off well for the Wildcats as they won the coin toss and elected to defer and then the K-State defense put up a 3-and-out but on the ensuing punt junior Philip Brooks made an uncharacteristically mistake as he muffed the punt and Baylor recovered it and five plays later it was 7-0 Baylor. The defenses would then take over for a while until the Bears went on a 15 play, 74-yard drive that took 7:21 off the clock to go up 14-0. This time KSU would answer as they scored in just 4 plays as sophomore Duece Vaughn would score from 65 yards out to make it 14-7. The Bears would kick a field goal as time ran out in the 1st half and the Wildcats were down 10 points. Neither offense did much of anything in the second half as both defenses were nearly unstoppable. Both teams got a field goal during the final 30 minutes to make the final score 20-10.

Kansas State only had 12 first downs on the day and 105 rushing yards compared to Baylor’s 22 and 174. The Wildcats averaged 5.2 yards a play to Baylor’s 4.7, but the Bears has 32 more offensive plays and almost 12 more minutes of having possession of the ball. Vaughn had 128 rushing yards but only had 11 carries. He also had the most receptions with five for 37 yards. Senior quarterback Skylar Thompson, was running for his life most of the game, completed 15 of his 29 pass attempts for 158 yards and was sacked three times. Brooks had 4 catches for 33 yards and junior tight end Sammy wheeler had 3 receptions for 23 yards. Senior strong safety Ross Elder had a team high 10 tackles on the day of which nine were solo stops. Senior linebacker Cody Fletcher and junior linebacker Daniel Green each had 9 stops.

Late in the game, under five minutes, quarterback Thompson was injured and on the very next play Jaren Lewis threw an interception. If Thompson can’t go this Friday, and at best he won’t be near 100%, K-State coach Chris Klieman will have a difficult decision to make. Who will start in Thompson's place? His choices are Will Howard or Lewis, but there is an obvious downside for the player he picks. Both Howard and Lewis have played in exactly four games this season, which means either one of them will no longer be eligible for a redshirt season if they take another snap this year and the hope was to be able to redshirt both players. Or very unlikely, he could go in a different direction and play freshman Jake Rubley, but he hasn't played in a game all season, and was hurt during pre-season practice and to get him ready to play start on the road would be difficult. At this time, Monday morning, my best guess is it will be Howard since last year didn’t count against the number of years in school.

The Texas Longhorns are 4-7 overall and just 2-6 in Big 12 play and in 9th place this from a team that was in the preseason Top 25. The Longhorns have lost their last 6 games including 30-7 at Iowa State, two weeks ago the Kansas Jayhawks beat them in Austin 57-56, and last Saturday they lost in Morgantown 31-23. They rank 2nd in scoring putting up 35.5 points a game but are 2nd to last in defense allowing 37.3 points. They are averaging 425 offensive yards which puts them 4th in the Conference. They are gaining a 4th best 181 rushing yards and are 5th in passing at 244 yards. They give up 464 yards a game and they allow 205 rushing yards and 259 passing yards all of which rank 8th in the Big 12.

With the win this Friday the Wildcats would finish with a 5-4 Big 12 record and in fourth place, this from the team that was picked to finish 8th. If Thompson was healthy and playing this game the Wildcats would have been an easy pick and would have been favored by Las Vegas but since we know he is not healthy Texas opened as a 4-point favorite. Howard has played quite a bit over the last 2 years, and he gives K-State the best chance to win. He has also played well at times but like all young players he has had moments where he struggled. The Texas defense is not very good and by all indications that locker room is not in very good shape. The Wildcats run the ball early, often, and with success and just overpower the Longhorn defense. KSU picks up its eighth win of the year and will look forward to a nice bowl game. Kansas State 37, Texas 21. Go ‘Cats!!!!!!!!