Nov 18, 2023; Lawrence, Kansas, USA; Kansas State Wildcats safety Marques Sigle (21) celebrates with linebacker Desmond Purnell (32) and cornerback Keenan Garber (1) after an interception during the second half against the Kansas Jayhawks at David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

No. 19 Kansas State keeps high hopes in clash vs. Iowa State

No. 19 Kansas State enters the final week of the regular season with a chance to defend its Big 12 championship.

If certain results pan out in other games, the Wildcats just need to defeat visiting Iowa State on Saturday night in Manhattan to qualify for the conference championship game Dec. 2 in Arlington, Texas.

Kansas State (8-3, 6-2) is looking for a perfect 7-0 home record this season. The Wildcats are riding high after overcoming an 11-point deficit in the second half to post a 31-27 victory over Kansas last Saturday.

“There is no better feeling than beating little brother,” Kansas State quarterback Will Howard said after the game.

But now it’s on to the next game. How will the outside noise of postseason possibilities affect the Wildcats?

“We don’t pay any attention to it,” coach Chris Klieman said at his media gathering Tuesday. “We’ve navigated it really well the last two weeks when everybody was trying to stuff it down our throats. And all our kids did was go out and play and win games.

“I know the way Matt (Campbell) coaches. I know the way Matt develops guys. They never beat themselves. They’re sound in what they do. They’re really good on special teams. They don’t give the ball away (but) they take it away. They make you earn everything.

“This is gonna be a physical game. These two teams are two of the more physical teams in the league.”

The Cyclones have won three of the past five games against the Wildcats, including 33-20 the last time the game was played in Manhattan.

Howard is playing well in recent games. He threw for two touchdowns and rushed for another in the fourth quarter that put his team in the lead for good. Howard sprinted 15 yards to his left for the go-ahead touchdown with 10:22 remaining.

Iowa State (6-5, 5-3) likely lost its chance to play in the title game with a 26-16 defeat to Texas on Saturday.

The good news for the Cyclones was that Rocco Becht passed for 323 yards and two touchdowns to break two of Brock Purdy’s freshman school records. Becht raised his season totals to 2,444 yards, surpassing the 2,250 yards by Purdy, now the starter for the San Francisco 49ers. Becht also now has 17 touchdowns, one more than Purdy in 2018. Becht was 24-of-32 with one interception against the Longhorns.

“For the first 3 1/2 quarters, I thought Rocco played a really good football game,” Campbell said after the game. “At the end of the game we got ourselves in some two-minute situations and (Texas) could kind of tee off on us, and they did. They’ve got some elite players who got some good pressure.”

The Cyclones are in a three-way tie for fifth place. They are among eight conference teams already qualified for the postseason. Three other teams are one win away from qualifying.

–Field Level Media

Nov 11, 2023; Manhattan, Kansas, USA; Baylor Bears quarterback Blake Shapen (12) is sacked by Kansas State Wildcats defensive end Cody Stufflebean (47) during the second quarter at Bill Snyder Family Football Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Scott Sewell-USA TODAY Sports

No. 25 Kansas State makes statement in rout of Baylor

Will Howard threw three touchdown passes and ran for another as No. 25 Kansas State defeated Baylor 59-25 on Saturday afternoon in Manhattan, Kan.

Kansas State (7-3, 5-2 Big 12) added touchdowns on a fumble return and in interception in the rout while rebounding from a heartbreaking defeat at Texas last week.

Howard was 19-of-29 passing for 235 yards, while moving past Josh Freeman for the most career touchdown passes in K-State history with 45. It was the fifth time this season that Howard threw for at least three touchdowns, tying Freeman for the Wildcats’ single-season record.

Blake Shapen was 22-of-45 passing for 253 yards and four touchdowns for Baylor (3-7, 2-5 Big 12).

Kansas State remained undefeated at home (6-0), scoring at least 40 points in all six games.

The Wildcats added a 33-yard field goal from Chris Tennant to extend their lead to 38-13 early in the third quarter.

Baylor used a trick play on its next drive. After a pair of laterals, Shapen hit Drake Dabney, who eluded the K-State defense to go 63 yards for the score. The two-point conversion pass failed to keep the Wildcats up 38-19.

Kansas State’s Treshaun Ward had a 4-yard touchdown run late in the third to cap a nine-play, 73-yard drive and open a 45-19 lead. The Wildcats; Keenan Garber then had an interception for a TD after he stepped in front of a Shapen pass and returned it 45 yards.

Kansas State’s Avery Johnson found Garrett Oakley for a 28-yard touchdown to bring the score to 59-19. Baylor’s Shapen hit Monaray Baldwin on a 6-yard TD to cap the scoring.

Kansas State wasted no time seizing control of the game. The Wildcats took the opening kickoff and marched 81 yards on 12 plays. Howard found DJ Giddens in the flat and he rumbled into the end zone for a 19-yard touchdown less than five minutes into the game.

Baylor responded with a five-play, 72-yard scoring drive. Shapen hit Dawson Pendergrass on a 13-yard touchdown pass.

On the next drive, Howard found Ben Sinnott alone in the end zone for a 14-yard score to give the Wildcats the lead for good at 14-7 with just under six minutes remaining in the first quarter.

The Wildcats’ Cody Stufflebean sacked Shapen on the next series, forcing a fumble. It was picked up by Desmond Purnell at the Baylor 15 yard-line and he raced untouched into the end zone for a 21-7 lead.

–Field Level Media

Kansas State quarterback Will Howard (18) yells orders at his teammates during the game against the Texas Longhorns at Royal-Memorial Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 4, 2023 in Austin.

No. 25 Kansas State meets Baylor with both out for redemption

An opportunity to move on from heartbreak arrives Saturday for both No. 25 Kansas State and visiting Baylor, when the Big 12 teams meet at Manhattan, Kan.

Kansas State showed its quality at No. 7 Texas last week but absorbed the sting of a 33-30 overtime defeat. Baylor also went to overtime last week, falling 25-24 to host Houston.

Kansas State (6-3, 4-2 Big 12) fell out of the Associated Press poll but remained in the final spot of the College Football Playoff rankings.

“The biggest thing for us now is we’ve got to move forward,” Kansas State coach Chris Klieman said Tuesday. “We’re always talking about how you respond. This is a little bit different. We had a top five team — in my opinion — on the ropes. They made some plays down the stretch and found a way to win.

“Now we’ve got to be able to move on. We’ve got so much story to write in the season and so many more things to accomplish. I’m confident the guys are going to come back and respond.”

Entering Saturday’s game, Kansas State is fifth in total offense in the Big 12 with 452.7 yards per game, while Baylor is third from the bottom in points allowed per game at 29.4. K-State is third in total defense with 358.7 yards allowed, while Baylor (3-6, 2-4) is 11th in total offense (391.2 yards).

Baylor (3-6, 2-4 Big 12) is undefeated on the road at 2-0, while Kansas State is undefeated at home at 5-0.

Baylor tied its game against Houston with 29 seconds left in regulation when quarterback Blake Shapen hit tight end Hawkins Polley for a 1-yard score to cap an 11-play drive in 2 minutes, 22 seconds. The Bears then scored a touchdown on their first drive in overtime but yielded a touchdown and a 2-point conversion to walk away with the defeat.

Baylor owned the stat sheet, outgaining the Cougars on the ground and through the air. The Bears were more successful on third down and even converted on fourth-and-17 during the game-tying drive in the fourth quarter. But in OT, they couldn’t stop Houston QB Donovan Smith from 1-yard out or on the conversion.

“I felt like that was a game we should have won,” Baylor head coach Dave Aranda said Monday. “That just hurts that much more.

“I’m looking forward to getting the blood flowing again today (at practice) and getting ready for a really good Kansas State team. It’s going to be a physical game in a great atmosphere. We welcome the challenge.”

Kansas State fell behind 17-0 in the first half at Texas and trailed 27-7 late in the third quarter. But the Wildcats scored a touchdown with less than a minute left in the third quarter and two more TDs in the fourth to tie the score. After Texas took a late 30-27 lead, Chris Tennant kicked a 45-yard field goal with one second on the clock to send the game into overtime.

The Wildcats held Texas to a field goal on its possession in overtime, setting them up to earn their first victory over the Longhorns since 2016. On the first play, the Wildcats gained 19 yards, setting up first and goal from the 6-yard line.

But the next two plays netted just 2 yards and on fourth down, with Klieman electing to to go for the win instead of a game-tying field goal. Will Howard lost his footing for a sack to end the game.

–Field Level Media

Nov 4, 2023; Austin, Texas, USA; Texas Longhorns running back CJ Baxter (4) runs for a touchdown while being chased by Kansas State Wildcats defensive back Kobe Savage (2) during the first half at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports

No. 7 Texas prevails when No. 23 Kansas State stalls in OT

Bert Auburn kicked four field goals, including the game-winning 42-yarder in overtime, as No. 7 Texas survived a calamitous early-fourth quarter stretch to beat No. 23 Kansas State 33-30 on Saturday afternoon in a wild Big 12 game in Austin, Texas.

Texas’ defense dominated the game through the first 41 minutes. But a late third-quarter score by Kansas State (6-3, 4-2 Big 12) was followed by two touchdowns by the Wildcats over a 2:23 span of the fourth quarter after a Maalik Murphy interception and a Jonathon Brooks fumble allowed the visitors to pull even at 27.

Auburn’s 34-yard field goal put Texas back in front with 6:03 to play in regulation. Chris Tennant, who was wide left on a 27-yard FG attempt with 1:45 remaining, sent the game to overtime with a 45-yarder with one second left.

The Longhorns had the ball first in overtime and were forced to settle for Auburn’s field goal. Kansas State’s Will Howard passed 19 yards to Ben Sinnott on first down but three subsequent plays netted the Wildcats just two yards.

Instead of attempting a field goal that would have sent the game to a second extra period, Kansas State went for the win and was denied when Howard was pressured by Barryn Sorrell and passed wildly and incomplete.

The Longhorns (8-1, 5-1) won their third consecutive game and remained tied atop the conference standings but the win did not come without a heaping helping of drama.

Maalik Murphy passed for a career-high 248 yards and a touchdown to Adonai Mitchell (eight catches, 149 yards) in his second start but also was intercepted twice. Brooks ran for 112 yards and a score for the Longhorns, eclipsing 1,000 yards for the season. CJ Baxter added 90 yards, including a 54-yard TD run for Texas.

Auburn’s other field goals were from 32 yards in the first quarter and a career-high-tying 49 in the second.

Howard threw for 327 yards and four TDs in the loss for Kansas State. He tossed scoring passes of 6 and 26 yards to Phillip Brooks, the latter one coming on the final play of the third quarter. In the fourth quarter, he tossed a 12-yarder to Keagan Johnson and one of 32 yards to Jayce Brown.

The Wildcats, who had a three-game winning streak snapped, were held to just 33 yards rushing.

–Field Level Media

Oct 28, 2023; Manhattan, Kansas, USA; Kansas State Wildcats running back DJ Giddens (31) runs the ball during the first quarter against the Houston Cougars at Bill Snyder Family Football Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Scott Sewell-USA TODAY Sports

Kansas State dominates Houston 41-0

Will Howard was an efficient 15-of-17 passing for 164 yards and two touchdowns, but that was more than enough as Kansas State defeated Houston 41-0 Saturday in Manhattan, Kan., in the first meeting between the schools.

The Wildcats (6-2, 4-1 Big 12), riding a three-game winning streak, have not allowed a touchdown since the third quarter at Texas Tech Oct. 14. They’ve outscored their opponents 103-3 since that touchdown.

Houston (3-5, 1-4), which has lost three of its past four games, entered Saturday second in the conference in passing yards at 291 yards per game. But the K-State defense held the Cougars to just 95 yards through the air.

Kansas State was balanced on offense, gaining 179 yards on the ground and 215 passing.

DJ Giddens led the Wildcats in rushing with 96 yards and two touchdowns.

Houston’s Donovan Smith was held to just 13-of-28 passing for 88 yards.

K-State stalled on its first two drives of the second half but extended the lead to 35-0 late in the third after Will Lee III intercepted Smith at the Houston 24-yard line. Giddens ran it in from the 13-yard line.

Avery Johnson found Seth Porter for a 7-yard touchdown pass midway through the fourth quarter.

K-State opened the game with a 12-play, 75-yard drive, capped with a 12-yard pass from Howard to Garrett Oakley. In their eight games, the Wildcats have scored six touchdowns and kicked one field goal on their opening drives.

The Wildcats didn’t stop there. Howard found Phillip Brooks open in the end zone for a 21-yard touchdown, capping a 15-play, 89-yard drive early in the second quarter.

Treshaun Ward’s 1-yard touchdown run gave the Wildcats a 21-0 lead, and Giddens scored on a 9-yard run to put them up 28-0 late in the first half.

K-State dominated the stats in the first half. The Cats held a 277-83 advantage in total yards. They had 17 first downs, compared to just four for Houston. Howard was 13-of-14 passing for 155 yards and two touchdowns.

–Field Level Media

Oct 21, 2023; Houston, Texas, USA; Houston Cougars quarterback Donovan Smith (1) looks to pass the ball during the third quarter against the Texas Longhorns at TDECU Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Maria Lysaker-USA TODAY Sports

Houston and host Kansas State clash for first time

Houston’s narrow loss to Texas and Kansas State’s blowout win over TCU last week set the stage for the first-ever clash between the Cougars and Wildcats on Saturday in Manhattan, Kan.

Houston (3-4, 1-3 Big 12) took then-No. 8 Texas to the wire last Saturday, and a controversial call late in the game may have prevented the upset from happening. Houston trailed 31-24 but was threatening to tie the game late in the fourth quarter.

On a third-and-1 from the Texas 10-yard line, Cougars running back Stacy Sneed appeared to advance the ball past the first-down marker but was spotted short by the officiating crew. On fourth-and-inches, Donovan Smith’s pass fell incomplete, giving the ball back to the Longhorns to run out the clock.

“The spot was horrible,” a frustrated Houston coach Dana Holgorsen said after the game. “I thought we got the first down.

“… I don’t understand review, every time I think something is reviewable, I can’t get them to review it. They say they’re looking at it, but I don’t know that.”

Two days later, at his Monday press conference, he reiterated his belief. “I think we got the first down. Everybody thinks we got the first down. I think we would have scored, went for two and won the game, 32-31.”

The disappointment overshadowed an outstanding effort by Smith, who threw for 378 yards and three scores.

His skills could spell trouble for Kansas State (5-2, 3-1), which ranks next to last in the Big 12 allowing 254.3 passing yards per game.

“I’m really impressed with Houston,” K-State coach Chris Klieman said. “They went toe-to-toe with Texas and really had a chance to win. That’s our league. You’d better have your A-game every week or you’re going to get knocked off.

“(Smith) is a really good player. If you watch the tape of explosive runs and big-time throws, he makes that offense go.”

The Wildcats effectively rotated two quarterbacks during their 41-3 rout of TCU last Saturday. Starter Will Howard threw three touchdown passes, while Avery Johson rushed for 73 yards and tossed one TD pass.

Klieman wouldn’t say if the rotation would continue against the Cougars, but it’s worked well so far.

–Field Level Media

Oct 7, 2023; Waco, Texas, USA; Texas Tech Red Raiders quarterback Behren Morton (2) hands the ball off to Texas Tech Red Raiders running back Tahj Brooks (28) against the Baylor Bears during the second half at McLane Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Chris Jones-USA TODAY Sports

Kansas State, Texas Tech trying to find their footing

Two Big 12 teams that have not lived up to preseason expectations try to right their respective ships as Kansas State visits Texas Tech on Saturday night in Lubbock, Texas.

Texas Tech (3-3, 2-1) entered the season as a trendy pick to reach the Big 12 title game. After nonconference setbacks to Wyoming and Oregon and a loss to West Virginia to open the conference slate, those thoughts are long gone.

The Red Raiders have bounced back with two straight wins and coach Joey McGuire is confident his team has turned the corner heading into Saturday.

“We’re playing a really tough opponent,” he said. “They do a great job of stopping the run. It’s going to be who can impose their will. We’re running the ball really well right now and we’re going to continue to try to do that.”

Kansas State (3-2, 1-1) is coming off a 29-21 loss at Oklahoma State last Friday in which it often looked confused on offense. Will Howard threw three interceptions, raising his season total to seven.

The biggest one came right before halftime. Trailing 13-7 late in the half, Howard threw an out while his receiver ran an out-and-up. Cameron Epps picked it off at the 35 and ran untouched to the end zone.

“I’d say this one is on me,” Howard said after the game. “Obviously, I can’t put it all on myself. But I take the brunt of the blame for what went on on offense. That is what it is. It’s on me. I have got to be better.”

Kansas State has also had trouble all season allowing big plays, particularly through the air. They rank last in the Big 12 in passing yards allowed (259.0). While the Wildcats are near the top of the conference stats in most other categories, coach Chris Klieman said the whole team must improve.

“We need to be better across the board: offense, defense and special teams,” Klieman said. “We’ve got to try to pick it apart, but we also said after (the Oklahoma State loss) that we’re gonna flush it and move on.”

– Field Level Media

Sep 23, 2023; Manhattan, Kansas, USA; Kansas State Wildcats quarterback Will Howard (18) runs away from several UCF Knights defenders to score a touchdown late in the fourth quarter at Bill Snyder Family Football Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Scott Sewell-USA TODAY Sports

Kansas State pays Friday visit to struggling Oklahoma State

Oklahoma State has historically handled Kansas State at home in football. That history will be put to the test Friday night as the Wildcats visit the Cowboys in Stillwater, Okla.

The Cowboys have won seven of the past eight home meetings since 2003, when they broke a nine-game overall losing streak to the Wildcats.

Oklahoma State (2-2, 0-1 Big 12) is on a two-game skid, losing 33-7 at home to South Alabama on Sept. 16 and 34-27 at Iowa State in its most recent game on Sept. 23.

They are struggling on both sides of the ball, ranked 13th in the 14-team conference in scoring and 12th in total offense. The Cowboys are also ninth in scoring defense and 11th in total defense.

Against Iowa State, OSU allowed Rocco Becht to pass for 348 yards and three touchdowns. The Cyclones entered that contest averaging just 16.7 points per game, the worst among Power 5 schools.

Now the Cowboys face a K-State team that is in the top 5 in offensive and defensive scoring, total offense and defense, rushing offense and defense, and passing offense.

“We had good practices,” OSU coach Mike Gundy said of the week off. “Hopefully, the guys got rested up a little bit. (Kansas State) is the best team that we’ve played overall, so we’ll really need to step up and compete in all three phases. But the players are excited about practicing and their attitudes have been great, so that’s been encouraging as a coach.”

Kansas State (3-1, 1-0) also had last weekend off in preparation for a rare Friday game. The only area the Wildcats have seriously struggled is in pass defense, where they’re last in the conference — partly because of too many big plays.

K-State coach Chris Klieman won’t let OSU’s early-season struggles affect his team’s preparation.

“We know we have a big task ahead playing in Stillwater,” he said. “We’ve got to have another really good day.

“In the bye week, we tried to focus on the younger guys. That’s the group we focus on every bye week. Whether or not their future is now or in another year, we have to continue to evaluate.”

–Field Level Media

Sep 9, 2023; Manhattan, Kansas, USA; Kansas State Wildcats quarterback Will Howard (18) fakes a handoff to wide receiver RJ Garcia II (3) during the fourth quarter against the Troy Trojans at Bill Snyder Family Football Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Scott Sewell-USA TODAY Sports

No. 15 Kansas State looks to keep it rolling at Missouri

No. 15 Kansas State and Missouri used to be each other’s second fiercest rival — they both hate Kansas — but now they’re non-conference foes.

They’ll have a rematch of last year’s 40-12 shellacking by the Wildcats on Saturday afternoon in Columbia, Mo.

Both schools are off to 2-0 starts in 2023, although Kansas State’s two victories were more decisive. They both shut out good FCS teams in their openers, but the Wildcats’ 42-13 win over Troy was more impressive than Missouri’s 23-19 victory over Middle Tennessee.

The Blue Raiders trimmed the deficit to 23-19 after sacking quarterback Brady Cook, knocking the ball out of bounds in the end zone for a safety. The Tigers, however, were able to run out the clock to preserve the victory.

“Well, it was a lot tougher than we wanted it to be,” Missouri coach Eli Drinkwitz said after the game. “(We) just didn’t take advantage of the first-half opportunities with three points in the first quarter. Obviously, it was really good at the end of the game to find a way to put it away. The defense got a stop and the offense ended the game with the ball in their hands. I thought that was positive.”

But Drinkwitz knows that the Tigers will need a better effort against Kansas State.

“I think we have all been kind of looking towards it,” he said. “It’s a big game. We have a lot to improve a lot from today in order to be competitive.”

The Tigers are balanced on offense, averaging 161.5 yards per game on the ground and 215 through the air. They rely heavily on Cody Schrader, who is averaging 111 rushing yards per game. Cook has been efficient, throwing three touchdowns and no picks in the first two games. He’s averaged 188 passing yards per game.

Kansas State, meanwhile, is rolling. The Wildcats have scored at least 40 points in four straight regular-season games, including both games this season. After whitewashing Southeast Missouri State in the opener, they faced very little drama in the second half against Troy.

The Cats jumped out to a 14-0 lead, but Troy cut it to 14-10 with less than a minute remaining in the first half. The Trojans were scheduled to get the second-half kickoff with a chance to seize control of the game.

But Will Howard engineered a five-play, 66-yard drive, capped by a 39-yard touchdown pass to Phillip Brooks with 10 seconds left to give the Wildcats a cushion. The defense then stepped up, holding Troy to minus-1 yards of total offense on the Trojans’ first three drives of the second half.

“A great win for our guys, over a really good team,” Kansas State coach Chris Klieman said after the game. “I told the guys in the locker room two things; in our first two games we are 2-0 against teams that I really believe are going (to win) eight, nine, 10 games. I think we really did a nice job against two quality opponents.”

Now the Wildcats will take to the road to try to prove it one more time.

–Field Level Media

Kansas State senior quarterback Will Howard (18) runs in for a touchdown in the third quarter of Saturday's game against Troy inside Bill Snyder Family Stadium.

Will Howard, No. 15 Kansas State cruise past Troy

Will Howard had an impressive day with three touchdown passes and two touchdown runs as No. 15 Kansas State defeated Troy 42-13 Saturday in Manhattan, Kan.

Howard finished 21-for-32 passing for 250 yards and one interception.

The defense showed up for the Wildcats (2-0), holding Troy to just 286 yards of total offense, one week after the Trojans amassed 540 yards and 48 points.

Gunnar Watson completed 17 of 32 passes for 167 yards, one touchdown and one interception for the Trojans (1-1).

A largely lethargic third quarter by both offenses saw K-State score the only points of the quarter on a 2-yard run by Howard. Troy gained just 49 yards in the third quarter, while K-State gained just one outside of a 44-yard drive capped by Howard’s run.

Scott Taylor Renfroe’s 37-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter cut into the K-State lead.

K-State erased any drama with a nine-play, 76-yard drive that made the score 35-13 with 8:48 left. Howard threw a shovel pass to Treshaun Ward, who scampered in from the 1-yard line. Howard’s second rushing touchdown gave the Wildcats a 42-13 lead with just 2:50 left.

K-State won the opening kickoff and marched 71 yards in eight plays for the opening touchdown, a 9-yard completion from Howard to Jadon Jackson.

After Troy failed on fourth-and-1 on the K-State 42, the Wildcats went 56 yards in 12 plays for a 14-0 lead. Phillip Brooks ran the final 2 yards on a jet sweep. Howard hit Jackson for a 24-yard gain on third-and-15 on the drive.

Troy got on the board with 3:46 left in the first half on a Renfroe 24-yard field goal as a 14-play drive stalled at the K-State 7-yard line. The Trojans’ next drive resulted in a 21-yard touchdown pass from Watson to Chris Lewis, who made a one-handed catch in the end zone. The Trojans were within 14-10 with 52 seconds left on the clock.

But Howard found Brooks on a crossing pattern and Brooks tiptoed up the sideline for a 39-yard touchdown with 10 seconds left, putting a damper on the Troy momentum.

–Field Level Media