Sep 17, 2022; Lincoln, Nebraska, USA;  Oklahoma Sooners head coach Brent Venables greets Oklahoma Sooners defensive back Gentry Williams (24) before the game against the Nebraska Cornhuskers at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Brent Venables guides No. 6 Oklahoma vs. alma mater K-State

Soon after his team’s win over Nebraska last week, Oklahoma coach Brent Venables had plenty of activity on his phone.

“Great job getting No. 3,” the text message from legendary former Kansas State coach Bill Snyder said. “Now go get No. 4.”

An hour later, Venables’ phone buzzed again.

“Except not this week,” Snyder said.

Venables and the No. 6 Sooners (3-0) open Big 12 play Saturday against visiting Kansas State (2-1) at Norman, Okla., trying to finish off win “No. 4.”

Venables was a walk-on linebacker for Kansas State in the early 1990s and carved out a role with the Wildcats, then began his coaching career there before joining Bob Stoops’ Oklahoma staff after the 1998 season.

Venables has coached against his alma mater multiple times, but Saturday’s game will be his first against Kansas State as head coach. He said he will treat it like any other game.

The Sooners come into the game undefeated, having rolled through opponents by a combined 127-30 in nonconference play.

The Wildcats come in off a 17-10 home loss to Tulane.

“It’s not panic time,” Kansas State coach Chris Klieman said. “But we know we need to improve.”

The Wildcats’ offense struggled against the Green Wave, with just 336 total yards.

Kansas State has performed well against the Sooners in recent years, winning two of the last three meetings. Oklahoma won last year’s meeting 37-31.

Wildcats quarterback Adrian Martinez also has had success against the Sooners.

Martinez was Nebraska’s quarterback last season in a 23-16 loss at Oklahoma, throwing for 289 yards and a touchdown with one interception and ran for 34 yards and a score.

Venables said he showed his team clips of Martinez’s performance against the Sooners.

“This is a dude now,” said Venables, the defensive coordinator at Clemson last season. “One of the best players in the Big Ten and, systematically, fits their system. He’s a little different than the quarterback they had a year ago.”

Both teams rank in the top 15 nationally in rushing yards, with Kansas State’s Deuce Vaughn rushing for 352 yards and three touchdowns through the first three games.

Vaughn rushed for 51 yards on 15 carries and added 10 catches for 104 yards and a touchdown receiving against the Sooners last season.

“You can have him dead to rights and he makes plays,” Venables said.

Vaughn had eight catches against Tulane last week but averaged less than four yards per reception.

Eric Gray has rushed for 286 yards and two touchdowns for Oklahoma while Marcus Major has four touchdowns on the ground.

Kansas State has forced seven turnovers — all interceptions.

The Sooners have turned the ball over just once and have yet to throw an interception.

“He has to continue to trend that way,” Oklahoma offensive coordinator Jeff Lebby said of quarterback Dillon Gabriel. “It’s all about the ball. It’s going to start and end there. We have to take care of it. They’ve done a great job of creating turnovers. … Dillon has to continue to take care of the rock.”

–Field Level Media

Sep 17, 2022; Manhattan, Kansas, USA; Kansas State Wildcats tight end Ben Sinnott (34) is tackled by Tulane Green Wave linebacker Darius Hodges (6) during the first quarter at Bill Snyder Family Football Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Scott Sewell-USA TODAY Sports

Tulane notches upset of Kansas State

Michael Pratt found Tyrick James on a 4-yard touchdown pass with 4:27 left as Tulane pulled a huge 17-10 upset over double-digit favorite Kansas State in Manhattan, Kan.

The Green Wave drove for the winning points after stopping Kansas State on fourth down with 6:38 to play.

It was Tulane’s first road victory over a Power 5 conference school since defeating Rutgers in 2010.

Pratt was just 13-of-26 for 176 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions, but he engineered a 52-yard drive for the go-ahead score for Tulane (3-0).

Adrian Martinez finished 21-of-31 passing for 150 yards for Kansas State (2-1). Deuce Vaughn, who had rushed for 100 or more yards in eight straight games, was held to 81 yards on 20 carries. He was also held out of the end zone for the first time in 10 games.

Tulane used a nine-play, 91-yard drive to get on the board first. Tyjae Spears punched it in from the 1-yard line from the Wildcat formation. The key play on the drive was a 38-yard completion from Pratt to Dea Dea McDougle. The Green Wave dominated the stats in the first quarter. Even going against a stiff wind, they outgained the Wildcats 125-46 in the quarter.

Things got a little better for the Wildcats in the second quarter, but it took a perfect throw from Martinez to his former Nebraska teammate Kade Warner on a 21-yard touchdown pass to tie the score at 7. It capped an eight-play, 75-yard drive for K-State.

Tulane appeared to be heading toward a halftime lead as the Green Wave moved into K-State territory. But Daniel Green picked off a Pratt interception at the Wildcats’ 28-yard line and returned it 49 yards. K-State’s drive stalled at the Tulane 4-yard line and Chris Tennant’s 22-yard field goal as time expired gave the Wildcats their first lead of the game at 10-7.

Tulane held Deuce Vaughn to 36 yards rushing on 13 carries in the first half.

After turning over the Wildcats on downs to start the second half, Tulane responded with a 30-yard field goal by Kriston Esnard to tie the score.

The Green Wave stopped the Wildcats on fourth and short twice in the third quarter and once in the fourth. K-State finished the day 1-for-5 on fourth down.

–Field Level Media

Sep 10, 2022; Manhattan, Kansas, USA; Missouri Tigers running back Nathaniel Peat (8) is tackled by Kansas State Wildcats linebacker Austin Moore (41) during the fourth quarter at Bill Snyder Family Football Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Scott Sewell-USA TODAY Sports

Top defenses square off as Kansas State meets Tulane

Kansas State enters their final nonconference game Saturday up against one of the best defenses in the country in Tulane.

In a contest where moving the ball will be at a premium, Tulane (2-0) actually has one of the few defenses that is statistically better than Kansas State’s.

Kansas State (2-0) has averaged 6.0 points allowed per game on defense and has given up one touchdown on the season. And that score came on an untimed down at the conclusion of their 40-12 victory over Missouri. After a roughing-the-passer penalty as the clock expired, K-State allowed a late score on a 1-yard run.

“We have a good football team and we’re continuing to improve, but we have a lot of guys with a chip on their shoulder (in the locker room) because we think we have the potential to have a good team and continue to improve,” K-State head coach Chris Klieman said. “This was no question a huge win.”

K-State will not take anyone by surprise now. After a shutout over South Dakota in the opener, it shut down Missouri’s offense. The Wildcats had interceptions on four straight second-half Tigers possessions, and those came on a total of five passes.

“I would definitely say we have made a statement that we’re fast as a defense,” cornerback Julius Brents said. “But we also have a lot of room to grow. I am just being humble with it. But honestly, I would say what we have put on film the past two weeks is pretty good. It’s just not to our standard yet.”

Tulane has been winning with defense as well, while getting the best of Massachusetts (42-10) and Alcorn State (52-0). Against Alcorn State, the Tulane defense surrendered four first downs plus 60 yards rushing and 49 passing. Their first road contest of the season Saturday will be a step up in level of competition.

“We’re very excited about getting our first shutout since 1997,” Tulane head coach Willie Fritz said. “It’s very difficult to shut out people nowadays. We got a chance to play a bunch of guys, and we got a chance to rest a bunch of guys.

“(K-State) is going to be superior to the two teams we defeated. But I like being 2-0 right now going into a tough ballgame.”

— Field Level Media

Sep 3, 2022; Manhattan, Kansas, USA; Kansas State Wildcats running back Deuce Vaughn (22) is chased by South Dakota Coyotes linebacker Tre Thomas (21) during the second quarter at Bill Snyder Family Football Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Scott Sewell-USA TODAY Sports

Missouri vs. K-State: Familiar foes yet total strangers

Missouri and Kansas State have played each other in football nearly 100 times, but the last time the two schools faced off, even the fifth-year seniors were still in grade school.

The former conference foes have not met since 2011, when new K-State offensive coordinator Collin Klein quarterbacked the Wildcats to a 24-17 victory over the Tigers. The following season, Missouri bolted from the Big 12 to the Southeastern Conference and their border series ended.

Both teams opened the season with convincing victories against overmatched opponents, and when they square off for the 98th time Saturday, this time in Manhattan, Kan., both know their quality of opponent will rise.

Missouri (1-0) is coming off a convincing 52-24 victory over Louisiana Tech on Sept. 1. The Tigers built a 38-10 lead after three quarters and Tech — forced to play catchup — finished with 337 yards of offense, but only 11 on the ground.

That was quite an upgrade for Missouri’s defense, which was one of the nation’s worst against the run last year.

“The defense, wow,” Missouri head coach Eli Drinkwitz said. “What a difference a year makes. To hold them to 11 yards rushing is pretty impressive. Can’t say enough about the effort those guys had.”

Kansas State (1-0) was pretty vanilla on offense while dominating South Dakota 34-0 on Sept. 3. Yet, the Wildcats pose a much bigger challenge to the Missouri defense.

The Wildcats ran for 297 yards against South Dakota, the most for the team since 2019. And with preseason All-American Deuce Vaughn watching most of the second half from the sideline, that number could have been even higher.

Vaughn rushed for 126 yards and a touchdown against South Dakota. It was his seventh straight game with more than 100 rushing yards, three shy of Darren Sproles’ school-record 10-game streak spanning the 2002 and 2003 seasons.

“That’s a testament to our offensive line,” Vaughn said. “The way they played, it was one of those things where we didn’t get to our entire playbook. We ran the ball pretty well, to the point where if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

“We were able to keep some of those things in the shadows going into next week and keep some plays that we could have ran tonight away from a team like Missouri.”

Missouri leads the all-time series 59-33-5.

–Field Level Media

Oct 23, 2021; Oxford, Mississippi, USA; LSU Tigers quarterback Garrett Nussmeier (5) during the second half against the Mississippi Rebels at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports

QB decisions remain as LSU, Kansas State meet in Texas Bowl

LSU is a program in transition as it prepares to face Kansas State in the Texas Bowl on Tuesday night at Houston.

The Tigers (6-6) have an interim head coach, and they’re still not sure who will play quarterback against the Wildcats (7-5) in the final bowl game of this season. After Tuesday, only the CFP National Championship Game remains.

LSU offensive line coach Brad Davis is serving as interim head coach, replacing Ed Orgeron, who was dismissed at the end of the regular season. New Tigers head coach Brian Kelly has been focused on hiring his staff, which will include Davis, as well as recruiting.

Starting quarterback Max Johnson has transferred to Texas A&M, and LSU has yet to reveal the NCAA’s ruling on the team’s appeal for freshman Garrett Nussmeier to not lose his redshirt season if he plays in the bowl game.

“In the midst of adversity or any uncertainty and things that have gone on this season around our program, our guys have stayed together,” Davis said. “They haven’t blinked. They simply go on to work. We won’t be a distracted football team.”

Nussmeier has played in four games in relief of Johnson, whose departure left the freshman as the Tigers’ only scholarship quarterback.

If the appeal is denied, Davis could turn to walk-on Matt O’Dowd and senior wide receiver Jontre Kirklin, who was a dual-threat quarterback in high school. They also have another walk-on freshman in Tavion Faulk.

“If (the appeal) were denied for whatever reason, we have some contingencies in place,” Davis said. “We will be able to move the football and execute our offense.”

LSU also will be without two of its top defensive players, who opted out to focus on the NFL draft — linebacker Damone Clark and defensive lineman Neil Farrell Jr.

The Wildcats have avoided any opt-outs as they try to hand third-year coach Chris Klieman his first bowl victory.

“I know a number of those seniors want that last opportunity to play together,” Klieman said. “This is a close-knit group of guys that cares a lot about each other and enjoys each other’s company.”

Several Kansas State players were just breaking into the program when the Wildcats lost to Navy in the 2019 Liberty Bowl. They didn’t go to a bowl after finishing 4-6 last season.

“There are probably a lot of guys bummed last season that we didn’t get to play in a bowl game,” Klieman said.

Wildcats All-America all-purpose back Deuce Vaughn is looking forward to the stage provided by being the last bowl game of the season.

“Everybody’s going to be watching,” he said.

Like LSU, Kansas State has uncertainty at quarterback and is going through a transition on the coaching staff.

Sixth-year senior quarterback Skylar Thompson came away with a lower-leg injury late in the season, but is “trending in the right direction” to appear in the game, Klieman said. If Thompson is unavailable, sophomore Will Howard likely will start.

Klieman recently dismissed offensive coordinator/wide receivers coach Courtney Messingham and tight ends coach Jason Ray.

Former Wildcats quarterback and current quarterbacks coach Collin Klein will serve as offensive coordinator against LSU.

–Field Level Media

Nov 26, 2021; Austin, Texas, USA; Texas Longhorns running back Roschon Johnson (2) runs for yardage during the first half against the Kansas State Wildcats at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports

Roschon Johnson’s career performance lifts Texas past Kansas State

Roschon Johnson ran for a career-high 179 yards and a touchdown on 31 carries and the Texas defense produced two fourth-down stands in the fourth quarter as the Longhorns stampeded past Kansas State 22-17 on Friday in the Big 12 Conference regular-season finale for both teams in Austin, Texas.

Texas (5-7, 3-6 Big 12) snapped a six-game losing streak, its longest since 1956. The Longhorns still could earn a bowl spot if not there are not enough six-win teams to fill the 82 postseason spots.

The much-maligned Longhorns defense came up with two stops on fourth-down-and-one in the fourth quarter, the second of which came with 4:03 to play at the Texas 17-yard line.

Casey Thompson passed for 170 yards and a TD as he shared time at quarterback with Johnson, who came to Texas as a QB but has been primarily a running back during his time in Austin.

Deuce Vaughn rushed for 143 yards and a score on 24 carries for the Wildcats (7-5, 4-5), who have clinched a bowl spot but head to the postseason with a two-game losing streak.

Will Howard passed for just 65 yards for Kansas State, but scored on a 71-yard run and finished with 82 yards on the ground.

The Longhorns took the opening kickoff and drove 75 yards to a 9-yard TD run by Johnson out of the wildcat formation. Kansas State answered with a 9-yard scoring run by Vaughn at the 4:44 mark of the first quarter.

Texas went back on top with a 10-yard touchdown pass from Thompson to Cade Brewer with 13:07 to play in the second quarter but Cameron Dicker missed the PAT kick, leaving the score at 13-7. The Wildcats responded with Howard’s 71-yard keeper for a TD and a 14-13 Kansas State lead.

The teams traded field goals in the final two minutes of the half, with Chris Tennant nailing a career-best 51 yarder with 1:56 to play for Kansas State and the Longhorns countering on Dicker’s kick from 24 yards out on the last play before halftime.

The Wildcats went to the locker room up 17-16.

Dicker’s 39-yard field goal with 1:52 to play in the third quarter pushed Texas back in front at 19-16. His third field goal of the game, a 22-yarder, expanded the Longhorns’ lead to 22-17 with 7:32 remaining in the game.

–Field Level Media

Nov 20, 2021; Morgantown, West Virginia, USA; Texas Longhorns running back Keilan Robinson (7) runs for a touchdown during the second quarter against the West Virginia Mountaineers at Mountaineer Field at Milan Puskar Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ben Queen-USA TODAY Sports

Texas looks to end disappointing season on high note vs. Kansas State

Texas will be playing mostly for pride when it hosts bowl-bound Kansas State on Black Friday in Austin, Texas, in the Big 12 Conference finale for both teams.

The Longhorns (4-7, 2-6 Big 12), who have lost six straight games for the first time since 1956, look to avoid a seventh conference loss, a cellar Texas has never reached in program history. Texas may end its disappointing 2021 campaign without a bowl for the first time since 2016 (5-7 teams can become bowl eligible if not enough teams finish 6-6) and needs a win to avoid its worst record since it finished 1-9 65 years ago.

The Longhorns head home after a 31-23 loss at West Virginia on Saturday in which both their regular quarterbacks suffered injuries. Backup QB Hudson Card opened the second half after replacing the ineffective Casey Thompson and passed for 123 yards and a touchdown before being forced from the game late in the fourth quarter.

Both quarterbacks have been listed as day-to-day heading into Friday’s game.

Keilan Robinson had 111 yards and a 49-yard touchdown on nine carries for Texas in the loss. Robinson and Roschon Johnson have become the primary ballcarriers for the Longhorns after a season-ending injury to star back Bijan Robinson.

Texas coach Steve Sarkisian said he expects his team to finish the season strong.

“(Having bowl) practices would be great, would be nice, but I think inevitably for us it’s about the psyche and the mindset,” Sarkisian said. “Don’t think that our players aren’t working hard and trying hard. Our guys are battling, and they’re competing.”

The Wildcats (7-4, 4-4) travel to Austin after a 20-10 home loss to then No. 11 Baylor on Saturday that snapped Kansas State’s four-game win streak. Deuce Vaughn led the Wildcats with 128 yards on 11 carries and their only TD; he also paced the team with five catches for 37 yards.

“Everyone on this team is a grown man and we know what just happened and what we need to do to get better,” Kansas State center Noah Johnson said after Saturday’s loss. “We just have to go do it. You don’t play football to cakewalk everyone. The hard times, that’s when you grow and learn the most.”

Skylar Thompson passed for 158 yards in the loss before leaving late in the game with a left leg injury. His availability for the Wildcats in the short week is still to be determined.

Texas has won the past four games against the Wildcats but owns just an 11-10 all-time lead in the series.

–Field Level Media

Nov 13, 2021; Manhattan, Kansas, USA; West Virginia Mountaineers wide receiver Winston Wright Jr. (1) is tackled by Kansas State Wildcats defensive back Russ Yeast (2) during the first quarter at Bill Snyder Family Football Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Scott Sewell-USA TODAY Sports

Deuce Vaughn, Kansas State too strong for West Virginia

Deuce Vaughn rushed for 121 yards and a touchdown to lead opportunistic Kansas State to a 34-17 win over visiting West Virginia on Saturday in Manhattan, Kan.

Vaughn reached triple digits in rushing for the third straight game and sixth time this season for the Wildcats (7-3, 4-3 Big 12).

Kansas State was outgained 345-300, but scored 10 points off turnovers and had a blocked punt for a touchdown.

The Wildcats snapped a five-game losing streak to the Mountaineers.

West Virginia (4-6, 2-5 Big 12) will have to win its last two games (vs. Texas and at Kansas) to gain bowl eligibility.

West Virginia won the toss but chose to receive. That backfired on the second play when Jarret Doege’s pass went off the hands of Winston Wright Jr. and into the hands of Russ Yeast. The Wildcats responded with a six-play, 55-yard drive, which was capped by a 2-yard touchdown run by Joe Ervin.

Kansas State added to the lead with a blocked punt deep in West Virginia territory. Ty Bowman blocked the kick and Marvin Martin picked up the ball at the 7-yard line and ran it in for the score.

Chris Tennant’s 32-yard field goal extended the lead with 2:57 left in the first half. West Virginia got on the board just before the half with a 39-yard field goal by Casey Legg.

West Virginia outgained the Wildcats 182-119 in the first half but trailed by two touchdowns.

Following a 62-yard return of the second-half kickoff by Malik Knowles, Kansas State went 33 yards for the score. Skylar Thompson tossed a 4-yard touchdown pass to Sammy Wheeler.

West Virginia responded with a 10-play, 68-yard drive to draw within 24-10. Doege hit Reese Smith for a 13-yard touchdown to cap the drive.

Doege found Wright in the end zone on fourth-and-goal from the 3-yard line to cut the lead to 24-17 with 11:50 left in the game.

Vaughn’s 4-yard touchdown with 7:22 left put the Wildcats up 31-17.

Tennant’s 25-yard field goal capped the scoring.

–Field Level Media

Nov 6, 2021; Lawrence, Kansas, USA; Kansas State Wildcats quarterback Skylar Thompson (7) readies for the snap against the Kansas Jayhawks during the first half at David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

West Virginia set for defensive battle vs. Kansas State

Expect a defensive battle when West Virginia travels to Kansas State on Saturday, as at least both coaches have that expectation.

K-State (6-3, 3-3 Big 12) is riding a three-game winning streak after holding opponents to 22 combined points in the last 10 quarters. The Wildcats totally dominated Kansas last Saturday in a 35-10 victory that could have been even more decisive.

The schedule gets tougher, however, beginning with the Mountaineers before a home game against ranked Baylor and a road game at Texas. K-State head coach Chris Klieman is wary of West Virginia’s defense.

“They have a tremendous defense,” Klieman said Monday. “That’s the first thing that jumps out at me. Very fast, very athletic, very physical defense that can pressure you and do a lot of different things.”

Klieman has seen his team’s offense get rolling, including a balanced attack at Kansas. The Wildcats rushed for 242 yards and passed for 257 yards. Having Deuce Vaughn average 14.7 yards per carry against Kansas complemented quarterback Skylar Thompson’s 19-of-24 for 244 yards.

“We’re playing with a lot of confidence and belief,” Klieman said. “The last three weeks have really been good. We asked the guys to raise the temperature of the expectation from our preparation standpoint Monday through Thursday. Not that we hadn’t been doing that, but it’s something we really emphasized. We’re coming into games really confident. We have a quarterback playing at a really high level and a running back as well.”

West Virginia (4-5, 2-4 Big 12) had won two straight games — at TCU and at home against then No. 22 Iowa State — before being throttled by ranked Oklahoma State 24-3 last Saturday. The Mountaineers need two wins in its final three games to gain bowl eligibility, something head coach Neal Brown says hasn’t lost its luster with the glut of postseason games.

“Getting bowl eligible is very important,” he said. “It’s something you point to and want to make happen.”

WVU will host Texas on Nov. 20 before finishing the season on the road at Kansas.

Brown believes K-State’s balance on offense will be a big challenge, but he’s most impressed with K-State’s defense.

“They’re playing their best football,” he said. “Defensively, they’re doing a really nice job versus the run. They’re not giving any easy throws in the passing game. Their red-zone defense has done a nice job of making people kick in their win streak.”

Quarterback Jarret Doege is completing two thirds of his passes for nearly 250 yards per game, but he has just 11 touchdowns to go with eight interceptions. The Mountaineers are led by Leddie Brown with 74 yards rushing per game and 11 touchdowns.

–Field Level Media