Kansas State, TCU out to prove Big 12 still a tough draw
With a fresh new contract extension in hand, Kansas State coach Chris Klieman will take his Wildcats into a crucial Big 12 game against TCU at Amon Carter Stadium in Fort Worth, Texas, on Saturday afternoon.
Both teams have impressive road wins on their resumes in the early conference season. K-State (2-1, 2-0 Big 12) defeated then-No. 3 Oklahoma for the second straight season on Sept. 26, this time by virtue of a 24-0 run to end the game. The Sooners led 35-14 midway through the third quarter, but the Wildcats won 38-35.
That performance, and a come-from-behind victory over Texas Tech last Saturday, led to an extension for Klieman through the 2026 season. Klieman, who led the Wildcats to eight wins and a bowl berth in his first season at K-State in 2019, has an 82-19 career mark, counting a 69-6 mark in five seasons at FCS power North Dakota State.
TCU (1-1, 1-1) also won a big road game in its last outing, defeating then-No. 9 Texas 33-31 in Austin. The Horned Frogs used a different formula than did the Wildcats, leading the Longhorns by six at halftime and by two at the end of the third quarter, before a late touchdown by quarterback Max Duggan and subsequent defensive stand sealed the win. TCU forced and recovered a fumble inside the 1-yard-line with less than three minutes remaining.
With Oklahoma and Texas combining for a 1-3 conference record, TCU coach Gary Patterson says that shouldn’t impact the perception of the quality of the Big 12.
“It really bothers me that we base whether our league is good or bad or not on whether Oklahoma and Texas are good,” Patterson said on the Big 12 coaches teleconference Monday. “To be honest with you, we have a lot of good football teams and we always have had a lot of good football teams. Going forward, we just need to keep improving our league from top to bottom and keep doing the things that we need to do.”
TCU is led by Duggan, a sophomore, who has thrown for 472 yards and three touchdowns. He also leads the team in rushing with 89 yards and two scores.
K-State will lean on true freshman quarterback Will Howard, who threw for 173 yards against Texas Tech, including a 70-yard touchdown to fellow true freshman Deuce Vaughn, as he became the first Wildcat true freshman signal caller with a 100-yard passing game since Josh Freeman in 2006.
Howard also had a 66-yard pass to tight end Briley Moore to set up the go-ahead score in the fourth quarter. He was the first Wildcat to complete two passes of at least 65 yards in one game since Jesse Ertz against Central Arkansas in the 2017 season opener.
Klieman said Tuesday that he is hopeful that injured quarterback Skylar Thompson (passing arm) would be able to take some reps in practice later that afternoon, leaving the possibility of him seeing action against TCU. If he can’t Klieman is confident in Howard.
“He was a winner for starters,” Klieman said of the reason for recruiting Howard. “He was the right fit for what we’re trying to do, from a personality standpoint and a skills standpoint. He did all the little things right to learn the offense and had a really good fall camp.”
–Field Level Media