Jan 4, 2022; Houston, TX, USA; Kansas State Wildcats wide receiver Malik Knowles (4) makes a reception for a touchdown as LSU Tigers defensive back Damarius McGhee (26) defends during the second quarter during the 2022 Texas Bowl at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

K-State dominates LSU in Texas Bowl

Kansas State quarterback Skylar Thompson capped his career with a nearly flawless game as the Wildcats defeated LSU 42-20 in the Texas Bowl on Tuesday night in Houston.

Thompson completed 21 of 28 passes for 259 yards and three touchdowns. He was 10 of 10 for 120 yards on third down.

K-State’s Deuce Vaughn ran for 146 yards and three touchdowns and scored on a receiving touchdown.

LSU (6-7) was limited to approximately 40 scholarship players. Three starters opted out to prepare for the NFL Draft and 10 other players entered the transfer portal, including the top two quarterbacks.

Freshman Garrett Nussmeier was the only scholarship quarterback on the LSU roster, and he would have had to burn his redshirt year if he had played. So backup wide receiver Jontre Kirklin took most of the snaps for the Tigers. Kirklin threw only 11 passes, completing seven. He threw three touchdown passes and two interceptions. Two of his touchdowns came in the final 3:35 left in the game.

Holding a 21-7 halftime lead, K-State forced an LSU three-and-out in the third quarter before a seven-play, 61-yard drive to take a 28-7 lead. Vaughn scored on an 18-yard touchdown run.

Following an interception by Ross Elder, K-State went 55 yards in three plays for a 35-7 lead. Thompson hit Vaughn with a 2-yard touchdown pass.

K-State took the opening kickoff and marched 75 yards in 11 plays, capped by a 25-yard touchdown pass from Thompson to Malik Knowles.

After a three-and-out by LSU, the Wildcats marched 71 yards in 18 plays, taking 9:16 to take a 14-0 lead. Vaughn scampered in from the 1-yard line for the touchdown. To that point, K-State had held a 15:03 to 3:18 advantage in time of possession.

Russ Yeast intercepted Kirklin’s pass on the next drive, setting up K-State at the LSU 43. Thompson found Knowles for a 6-yard touchdown pass and the Wildcats led 21-0.

K-State was 6 of 8 on third down in the first half, and the Cats converted both fourth-down tries.

Kirklin found Jaray Jenkins with a 23-yard touchdown pass just before halftime, capping a 13-play, 75-yard drive to cut the deficit to 21-7.

–Field Level Media

Nov 20, 2021; Madison, Wisconsin, USA;  Nebraska Cornhuskers quarterback Adrian Martinez (2) throws a pass during warmups prior to the game against the Wisconsin Badgers at Camp Randall Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Nebraska QB Adrian Martinez will transfer to K-State

Quarterback Adrian Martinez, a four-year starter for Nebraska, announced Thursday night that he is transferring to Kansas State.

He entered the transfer portal on Dec. 2. Martinez has one season of eligibility remaining.

Martinez, from Fresno, Calif., posted his announcement on social media — an illustration of himself in a Kansas State uniform with the word “Committed.” He added, “Excited for the next chapter!!”

Martinez went 15-23 as Nebraska’s starter while racking up more than a dozen school records, including total offense (10,792 yards) and season completion percentage (71.5 in 2020).

He passed for 2,863 yards and 14 touchdowns, with 10 interceptions, in 11 games in 2021 and added team bests of 525 yards and 13 scores on the ground for the Cornhuskers (3-9).

Martinez leaves Nebraska as the only three-time captain in school history.

Kansas State needs to replace quarterback Skylar Thompson, who played in 44 games over five seasons. Overall, Thompson completed 62 percent of his passes for 6,865 yards and 39 touchdowns with 16 interceptions.

The Wildcats (7-5) will meet LSU (6-6) in the Texas Bowl in Houston on Jan. 4.

–Field Level Media

Nov 20, 2021; Manhattan, Kansas, USA; Baylor Bears running back Trestan Ebner (1) is pushed out of bounds by Kansas State Wildcats defensive back Ross Elder (19) during the first quarter at Bill Snyder Family Football Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Scott Sewell-USA TODAY Sports

No. 11 Baylor wins defensive battle over K-State

Backup quarterback Blake Shapen threw for 137 yards and the defense was stellar as No. 11 Baylor defeated Kansas State 20-10 Saturday in Manhattan, Kan.

Baylor (9-2, 6-2 Big 12) can still reach the Big 12 Championship game with a win next weekend against Texas Tech and an Oklahoma loss at Oklahoma State.

Shapen, a redshirt freshman, had thrown just three passes all season long.

Baylor held Kansas State (7-4, 4-4) to 263 total yards. The Bears also allowed K-State to convert just 4-of-13 on third down. The Wildcats saw their four-game winning streak snapped.

K-State super-senior quarterback Skylar Thompson, playing in his final home game for K-State, finished just 15-of-29 for 158 yards. Deuce Vaughn had 165 total yards, including 128 on the ground.

Neither team could mount much offense in the second half.

K-State’s Chris Tennant made a 28-yard field goal to cut the deficit to 17-10 midway through the third quarter. K-State had the ball at the Baylor 11 but missed on three straight incompletions.

Isaiah Hankins answered with his own 28-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter to cap the scoring.

Baylor got on the board first. The Bears went three-and-out on their first drive, but Phillip Brooks muffed a punt and Baylor recovered on the K-State 24. Five plays later, Trestan Ebner ran it in from 6 yards out.

Gerry Bohanon found Drake Dabney in the corner of the end zone to extend the lead to 14-0. The 2-yard pass capped a 15-yard, 74-yard drive. Baylor converted a fourth-and-1 at their own 46 early in the drive.

K-State cut it to 14-7 on a 65-yard touchdown run by Vaughn with 2:51 left in the first half. The run nearly matched the total yards K-State had gained (74) to that point in the half.

K-State kept the ball after Baylor was ruled offsides on a punt on fourth-and-5. Vaughn’s run came on the next play.

Bohanon had to leave the game late in the first half with an apparent hamstring injury. He was replaced by Shapen.

Hankins kicked a 22-yard field goal as time expired to make the halftime score 17-7. Baylor could not convert first-and-goal from the K-State 8-yard line with 30 seconds left and two timeouts.

Vaughn finished the first half with 115 rushing yards.

–Field Level Media

Nov 6, 2021; Fort Worth, Texas, USA;  Baylor Bears head coach Dave Aranda reacts during the second half against the TCU Horned Frogs at Amon G. Carter Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

No. 11 Baylor hits Manhattan, visits streaking Kansas State

Kansas State’s four-game winning streak faces a serious test when No. 11 Baylor comes to Manhattan on Saturday.

K-State (7-3, 4-3 Big 12) has a chance to turn a good season into a special one with a victory over the Bears. Their four wins have all come against teams currently in the bottom half of the Big 12 standings. A win over Baylor definitely would improve the resume.

“Baylor’s a really good football team,” head coach Chris Klieman said Tuesday. “They deserve all the accolades they’re getting. They’re good in all three phases. We’re going to have our hands full.

“Our guys have good confidence right now. Now we just have to put the plan in place and be able to go out and execute.”

K-State’s balanced offensive attack and a stingy defense have peaked during the winning streak.

Quarterback Skylar Thompson is completing nearly 75 percent of his passes during the four-game streak. Running back Deuce Vaughn, who is just 13 yards shy of 1,000 yards on the season, has gained 444 yards with eight touchdowns during the streak.

If Vaughn gets to 1,000 yards, he’ll be the first Wildcats running back to do so since Alex Barnes in 2018, and just the second since 2013.

“He takes care of his body,” Klieman said. “We’re trying to move him around. Sometimes he’s as good a decoy as there is in college football. He’s allowing other guys to make plays. But we’re also finding ways to get him the football. When he gets the ball in space, we all know he can make a highlight film at any time.”

The defense has allowed just 39 points (in 14 quarters) since giving up 24 first-half points at Texas Tech in the first game of the streak.

The Wildcats will have their hands full against Baylor (8-2, 5-2), who still have a strong shot at the Big 12 championship game.

Balance is the name of the game for the Bears.

Baylor joins Alabama and Georgia as the only Power-5 teams ranked top-20 nationally in scoring offense and scoring defense. The Bears are 20th in scoring offense (35.4 points per game) and 20th in scoring defense (19.9). Their defense is holding opponents to 11.7 points/game below their scoring averages in their eight wins.

Offensively, Baylor ranks sixth nationally with 6.97 yards per play and third nationally with 5.94 yards per rush. The Bears are fourth nationally with 237.5 rushing yards per game, after ranking 123rd last season (90.3 ypg).

Running back Abram Smith ranks third nationally in yards per carry (7.34), fifth in yards (1,203) and 23rd in touchdowns (11).

The Bears also come in on an emotional high after handing Oklahoma its first loss of the season, 27-14.

“I’m very happy for our guys,” head coach Dave Aranda said. “Inside our locker room there’s a log of emotion and energy. A lot of work has gone into that. I’m really proud of the results that come from that work.

“There are so many things I’m proud of with this team. It starts with people. The person drives the player. So many times, you can skip and go right to plays and schemes. They did play a part today, but they were driven by people.”

Baylor’s strong play of late has pushed Aranda’s name into the coaching rumor mill — including at Southern Cal and LSU. He was born in Southern California and was defensive coordinator at LSU prior to becoming Baylor head coach.

–Field Level Media

Oct 23, 2021; Lawrence, Kansas, USA; Kansas Jayhawks head coach Lance Leipold leads the team onto the field before the game against the Oklahoma Sooners at David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

Kansas strives to set things straight with Kansas State

A current 12-game winning streak for Kansas State in its Big 12 series against in-state rival Kansas caught the eye of new Kansas coach Lance Leipold.

Before Leipold participates in his first Sunflower Showdown on Saturday at Lawrence, Kan., he knows the Jayhawks (1-7, 0-5 Big 12) must make alterations to improve against the Wildcats (5-3, 2-3).

“One thing that’s apparent is we need more guys from the state of Kansas on this roster,” Leipold said, noting a disparity that favors Kansas State.

In turn, such roster construction could promote the will and spirit necessary to overcome a lopsided differential that finds Kansas State averaging a 40-13 margin of victory against Kansas over the past quarter-century.

“It’s my responsibility,” Leipold added, “to build this program to where the rivalry is more balanced and is one our alums can get behind.”

Kansas has to make some noise on the field before it can be territorial with a rivalry in which the Jayhawks have largely been a doormat.

Kansas State fans could conceivably take to the road and outnumber Kansas fans, especially with the Wildcats on a two-game winning streak following an 0-3 start in conference play.

Each of those wins happened to influence administrators at Texas Tech and TCU to fire coaches Matt Wells and Gary Patterson, respectively.

Opponents should probably not sleep on the Wildcats’ key playmakers. Veteran engineer Skyler Thompson is completing 70 percent of his passes, while shifty all-purpose threat Deuce Vaughn has 1,055 yards from scrimmage with 12 touchdowns.

Felix Anudike-Uzomah got credited with four sacks in last week’s 31-12 victory over TCU, but only after his initial total of six, which tied the FBS record, was revised because of an NCAA technicality. He caused fumbles on the two other sacks, but because the loose balls resulted in gains, that statistic record of those sacks got erased.

Whatever the count, the disruption caused by Anudike-Uzomah has contributed to a resurgence for the Wildcats defense, which blanked Texas Tech in the second half and held TCU to three points on its first three trips inside the Kansas State 5-yard line.

“He brought a lot of energy with each sack, and you could tell that everyone knew the kind of game he was having,” Wildcats coach Chris Klieman said, while adding that improvement from an aggressive secondary has helped pass-rushers create pressure.

Kansas could not sustain any momentum after carrying a lead into the fourth quarter against Oklahoma on Oct. 23. While impressive in the scare they gave the undefeated Sooners, the Jayhawks flat-lined a week ago in a 55-3 defeat at Oklahoma State.

Contributors on offense have shown promise, including one of those in-state recruits Leipold would like to corral more frequently. Devin Neal has emerged as a freshman starter and has two 100-yard performances as part of his team-high rushing total.

–Field Level Media

Oct 30, 2021; Manhattan, Kansas, USA; Kansas State Wildcats defensive end Felix Anudike-Uzomah (91) celebrates the sack of TCU Horned Frogs quarterback Max Duggan (15) during the first quarter at Bill Snyder Family Football Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Scott Sewell-USA TODAY Sports

Felix Anudike-Uzomah records 6 sacks as Kansas State beats TCU

Felix Anudike-Uzomah tied an FBS record with six sacks to lead Kansas State to a dominating 31-12 victory over TCU on Saturday in Manhattan, Kansas.

Anudike-Uzomah, who became the fourth FBS defender with six sacks, also forced a fumble in the fourth quarter with TCU driving.

Kansas State (5-3, 2-3 Big 12) showed up defensively in the clutch. TCU came into the game perfect in 25 red-zone possessions (18 touchdowns, seven field goals), but the Horned Frogs managed one touchdown and one field goal in four red-zone possessions.

KSU quarterback Skylar Thompson was 13-of-21 for 242 yards with two total touchdowns. Deuce Vaughn rushed for 109 yards and two touchdowns.

TCU (3-5, 1-4 Big 12) has lost five of its last six games.

Anudike-Uzomah passed Chris Johnson (four sacks vs. Missouri, 2000) for the school record. TCU had allowed eight sacks through its first seven games.

Kansas State got on the board first with a 4-yard touchdown run by Thompson. The seven-play, 78-yard drive was keyed by a Thompson-to-Vaughn 41-yard pass that put the ball on the 4-yard line.

TCU responded with a 24-yard field goal by Griffin Kell. Kansas State then scored on a 42-yard touchdown run by Vaughn. Kansas State faced fourth-and-1 just across midfield, but Vaughn went off-tackle and raced untouched to the end zone.

TCU had a chance to get back into the game when Kendre Miller raced 61 yards to the Kansas State 1-yard line. But the Frogs couldn’t score in four plays from a yard out. The defense stopped Vaughn for a safety on the next play.

Vaughn redeemed himself on the next possession, leaping high over a pile of linemen to score a 1-yard touchdown to give Kansas State a 21-5 lead right before the half. Vaughn’s touchdown was set up by a Thompson-to-Phillip Brooks 37-yard pass.

TCU was stopped on fourth down inside the 5-yard line again in the second half.

On the first play of the fourth quarter, Thompson hit Daniel Imatorbhebhe for a 73-yard touchdown to put the game out of reach. Chris Tennant’s 42-yard field goal capped the scoring.

Emari Demercado scored TCU’s only touchdown with 15 seconds left.

–Field Level Media

Oct 16, 2021; Lawrence, Kansas, USA; Texas Tech Red Raiders quarterback Henry Colombi (3) throws a pass against the Kansas Jayhawksduring the first half at David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Kansas State hopes to shake off slump at Texas Tech

Struggling to escape a three-game losing streak, Kansas State travels to Lubbock, Texas, on Saturday to face Texas Tech.

Wildcats coach Chris Klieman sees a lot of similarities between the teams.

“They have a veteran quarterback and a lot of good skill players,” Klieman said. “They’ve run into some teams that have been able to rush the football and they’ve had to play catch-up.”

Kansas State (3-3, 0-3 Big 12) opened the season playing from in front against Stanford, Southern Illinois and Nevada. The Wildcats won all three.

However, in three consecutive Big 12 losses to Oklahoma State, Oklahoma and Iowa State, the Wildcats fell behind early and played catch-up the whole game.

“We need to play from ahead more so than from behind,” Klieman said. “That’s probably not suited best for us. When we play ahead, we have the ability to dictate some of the tempo and pace. When we’re playing from behind, we have to be more aggressive on defense, which causes some bigger plays.”

Wildcats quarterback Skylar Thompson is 44 of 64 for 526 yards with five touchdowns and one interception in two games since returning from a knee injury. However, he needs the running game to be efficient to open up the passing lanes. Running back Deuce Vaughn (543 rushing yards, five touchdowns) provides the balance when the situation allows.

Texas Tech coach Matt Wells is not buying the fact that Kansas State is struggling.

“K-State has beat us (five) years in a row,” Wells said. “They’re tough; they’re physical. I have a lot of respect for Chris Klieman. I think Skylar Thompson is gritty and tough. He has a lot of moxie.

“Deuce Vaughn is one of the best in the country, and they’ve got some guys in the special teams that keep you up at night.”

Texas Tech (5-2, 2-2) opened with three straight nonconference victories before being blown out by Texas in the conference opener. The Red Raiders followed that up with a road win at West Virginia before falling to visiting TCU, but they bounced back with a resounding 41-14 win at Kansas.

Wells likes how his team has recovered after losses.

“After those games, they have been very coachable,” Wells said. “There’s been a sense of urgency to practice and prepare well. We have to have the same sense of urgency after a win.”

The Red Raiders are not as balanced as Kansas State, but they have been relying more on the run than in years past. They average 168.3 yards per game on the ground, but their leading rusher in terms of yards per game, Tahj Brooks, hasn’t returned since sustaining a leg injury in September.

Starting quarterback Tyler Shough averaged 218 passing yards per game before breaking his collarbone in the Sept. 25 loss to Texas, but backup Henry Colombi has stepped right in, averaging 264.5 over the past four games.

“We’ve got to get the ball in the hands of our playmakers,” Wells said when asked the key to beating Kansas State’s defense, “and we have to be really good in our punt and kickoff coverage.”

–Field Level Media

Sep 25, 2021; Stillwater, Oklahoma, USA; Oklahoma State's Spencer Sanders (3) celebrates with teammates after scoring a touchdown against the Kansas State Wildcats in the first quarter at Boone Pickens Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Sarah Phipps-USA TODAY Sports

Oklahoma State dominates No. 25 Kansas State early

Spencer Sanders was 22-of-34 for 344 yards and two touchdowns as Oklahoma State defeated No. 25 Kansas State 31-20 on Saturday in Stillwater, Okla. The Cowboys (4-0, 1-0 Big 12) raced to a 31-10 lead and then coasted. Jaylen Warren rushed for 123 yards.

The Cowboys came in averaging 24 points per game and had not scored more than 28 in any game. They averaged 147 yards per game on the ground and 190 through the air. But they finished with 481 total yards, compared to just 260 for K-State. The Cowboys had 295 yards in the first half.

K-State (3-1, 0-1 Big 12) opened with a 13-play, 68-yard drive but had to settle for a 32-yard field goal by Taiten Winkel. But Oklahoma State answered with a 2-yard touchdown run by Sanders. The touchdown capped a seven-play, 75-yard drive, keyed by a 52-yard gain on a screen pass from Sanders to Warren.

K-State’s special teams had been noticeably absent so far this season, but Malik Knowles changed that with a 99-yard touchdown on the ensuing kickoff. It was the Wildcats’ 54th return for a touchdown (punts and kickoffs combined) since 2005, the most in the FCS. The next highest total is 34 by Alabama.

The lead didn’t last long as Sanders hit Brennan Presley for a 20-yard touchdown to push OSU back up 14-10. That score capped a seven-play, 73-yard drive.

Knowles was knocked down at his own 7-yard line on the kickoff, and on the first play, Will Howard couldn’t control the snap. The ball was recovered in the end zone by Malcolm Rodriguez and the Cowboys led 21-10 with 3:15 left in the first quarter.

After a KSU punt, Sanders hit Tay Martin with a 7-yard touchdown and the Cowboys matched their highest point total of the season with 10:51 remaining in the second quarter. Field goals by OSU’s Alex Hale and KSU’s Winkel closed the first-half scoring.

Neither team could mount much offense in the third quarter, until Jaren Lewis hit Deuce Vaughn in the flat and Vaughn raced 55 yards for the score.

–Field Level Media

Sep 18, 2021; Manhattan, Kansas, USA; Kansas State Wildcats running back Deuce Vaughn (22) carries the ball during the fourth quarter against the Nevada Wolf Pack at Bill Snyder Family Football Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Scott Sewell-USA TODAY Sports

No. 25 Kansas State expects tough matchup with Oklahoma State

For the first three weeks of the season, No. 25 Kansas State was firmly under the radar. But now freshly ranked after three straight wins, the Wildcats head to Stillwater, Okla., for their first true road game and first Big 12 game of the season on Saturday knowing they won’t catch anybody by surprise.

The Wildcats have passed each test to date, opening with a neutral-site victory over Stanford, holding on to defeat FCS opponent Southern Illinois after losing starting quarterback Skylar Thompson in the first quarter and finally defeating Nevada as a home underdog.

But both coaches know their teams will have to pick it up a notch.

“This conference can run backups out there and still be effective,” Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy said. “Each week it’s going to be more difficult to be effective when we rush the football. That’s why it’s so important that we must find a way to do it with where we’re at running the football.”

The fact that Oklahoma State (3-0) is focused on running the football may surprise some. For years under Gundy, the Cowboys have been a prolific passing offense. But even with a third-year starter at quarterback in Spencer Sanders, they’re run-first. They will be challenged by a stingy Wildcats’ run defense.

K-State’s 1.9 yards per rush allowed is an impressive number. But even Wildcats coach Chris Klieman might add an asterisk to the figure.

“We played really well against Stanford and Southern Illinois,” Klieman said. “Nevada was a throwing team. We tried to make them one-dimensional and we were able to do that. But that wasn’t their bread and butter. They wanted to get the ball in their quarterback’s hands and have him spread it around.

“We’re running to the football well. But (Oklahoma State) is an exceptional rushing team. They can beat you in a lot of ways, but they rush the ball effectively. We’re not going to be able to stop them. We just have to limit some of their explosive plays.”

Klieman has yet to beat the Cowboys, falling 26-13 in 2019 and 20-18 in Manhattan last year. He sees similarities to 2019 with this year’s game.

“We’re in a similar situation we were in 2019,” he said. “We started off 3-0 in the (nonconference season) and we had to go on the road to Oklahoma State. We didn’t fare well. They got after us pretty well. It’s a tough environment to play in Stillwater. Our guys know that.

“We’ve got to continue to get better in a lot of areas. Special teams are one of them. We can’t have penalties on special teams.”

The Wildcats average 225.7 rushing yards per game, led by Deuce Vaughn, who has three 100-yard rushing games and is averaging 123.7 yards per game. Backup quarterback Will Howard is more of a running quarterback than Thompson, and he averages 32.5 yards per game.

Oklahoma State has a long history of successful running backs, including Chuba Hubbard, who led the Cowboys the last few years. Jaylen Warren, the reigning Big 12 Offensive Player of the Week, is averaging 5.1 yards per carry and 88.0 yards per game.

And don’t sleep on Sanders.

“Spencer is a good runner, and he’s explosive and dangerous when he runs, so he needs to run the ball,” Gundy said. “We don’t ever want to get him hit. We try to minimize the blow. There is just times he has to do that based on the scheme we see. He has to be able to rush the ball.”

The Cowboys won their first three games by a total of 13 points. Warren rushed for a career-best 218 yards in last Saturday’s 21-20 win at Boise State.

–Field Level Media

Sep 4, 2021; Berkeley, California, USA; Nevada Wolf Pack quarterback Carson Strong (12) on the sidelines awaiting his turn to take the field against the California Golden Bears during the first quarter at FTX Field at California Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Neville E. Guard-USA TODAY Sports

K-State defense preparing for Nevada star QB Carson Strong

Two teams with identical 2-0 records will square off Saturday afternoon in Manhattan, Kan., but they’ll be coming into the game with different mindsets.

Nevada is riding high after defeating California out of the Pac-12 on the road, then dominating Idaho State in its home opener. Kansas State, meanwhile, has defeated Stanford on a neutral field before surviving FCS opponent Southern Illinois.

Wildcats sixth-year senior quarterback Skylar Thompson left the game in the first quarter after suffering a non-contact knee injury. Thompson missed most of the 2020 campaign after suffering a separated shoulder in the third game of the season against Texas Tech.

“It’s tough,” head coach Chris Klieman said during the Big 12 football coaches teleconference Monday. “What he went through last year, when he went down, we all gasped, like, ‘Oh no, not again.’”

Klieman was encouraged that the injury may not be season-ending based on an MRI, the results of which he would not share. But his staff must now prepare sophomore Will Howard to step into the starting role. Howard stepped in as a true freshman during the Texas Tech game last year and struggled. Klieman is confident that he will respond.

“He learned so much last year,” Klieman said. “He wasn’t probably as ready as he wanted to be. But he had a full offseason. I know that he’s excited about the opportunity.”

Kansas State already relied on a solid running game and a stout defense, so those areas will have to come through again. Their running game is led by Deuce Vaughn, who has 244 yards and four touchdowns through two games. The Wildcats held the high-powered SIU offense to 276 yards.

Nevada quarterback Carson Strong threw for 312 yards and two touchdowns in the 22-17 victory over California. Strong threw for 381 yards and four touchdowns, completing 34 of 43 passes, against Idaho State.

“We like smart, accurate, passionate quarterbacks, and Carson has those qualities,” Nevada coach Jay Norvell said. “We’ve got quality receivers and really good backs. And we’ve got a veteran offensive line.”

Norvell knows that K-State will present a challenge, even without Thompson.

“It’s always tough,” he said. “You hate to see injuries. It’s hard for any team to lose its starter. But I don’t think it’s going to change what they do offensively. They’ll continue to stress the things they like to do, and we’re going to have to prepare for them.”

–Field Level Media