Coming off its first loss of the season on a 61-yard field goal on the final play, Kansas State returns home Saturday to Manhattan, Kan., for its Big 12 opener against conference newcomer UCF.
The Wildcats (2-1) are still stinging from the defeat at Missouri, which dropped them from 15th in the AP Top 25 poll to third among unranked teams.
“It’s been a tough couple of days around here,” Kansas State coach Chris Klieman said. “The message to the guys is, ‘We can’t let Missouri beat us twice.’”
Especially against UCF (3-0), which will bring plenty of offensive firepower. The Knights compiled 600 yards of total offense while limiting Villanova to just 228 yards, 190 of those in the second half, in a 48-14 victory in Orlando, Fla.
Timmy McClain threw for 321 yards on 20-for-28 accuracy, with a pair of touchdowns. Kobe Hudson set a career high with 147 yards on six catches, a week after his previous best yardage (134) at Boise State.
UCF leads the nation in total offense at 617.7 yards per game. Defensively, the Knights are one of just 10 teams from the Power 5 and one of two in the Big 12 to hold opponents to 16 points or fewer in every game this season.
“Offensively, I thought we did some good things,” UCF coach Gus Malzahn said. “It was really good for Timmy to be out there. He hadn’t started a game in two years, and I thought he was really good. There were a couple things early I know he’d like to have back, but there’s nothing like experiencing it.
“I’m really happy with our team, the way they came out and responded and put these guys away early. Now it’s time for the real season with the Big 12.”
No matter who his team is facing, Klieman said the message is fairly simple.
“We have to come up with a good game plan, no matter who is lining up at quarterback, running back or linebacker,” he said. “The show goes on. We’ll have to continue to battle the adversity we’re facing.”
Among the Wildcats’ concerns is the health of starting quarterback Will Howard, who was clearly hobbled in the second half against Missouri. He didn’t practice Monday, was limited on Tuesday, and will be listed as questionable for Saturday’s game.
Running back Treshaun Ward is doubtful with an undisclosed injury, and Kansas State will be without sixth-year linebacker Daniel Green, who was lost for the season with a pectoral injury.
–Field Level Media