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Saturday, November 28, 2020

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K-State Wildcat Game Preview: Texas Tech

MANHATATN, Kan. – Following one of the largest comeback wins in school history, Kansas State returns home to host Texas Tech Saturday at Bill Snyder Family Stadium. The game will kick at 2:30 p.m., and will be shown nationally on FS1 with Joe Davis (play-by-play) and Mark Helfrich (analyst) on the call. The game can be heard across the 39-station K-State Sports Network with Wyatt Thompson (play-by-play), former K-State quarterback Stan Weber (analyst) and Matt Walters (sidelines) calling the action. Fans can also catch the game on SiriusXM (S: 138, X: 199, Internet: 953) in addition to the TuneIn app.

A LOOK AT K-STATE
• K-State is coming off a 38-35 win at No. 3 Oklahoma as the Wildcats erased a 21-point second-half deficit.
• The comeback win tied for the largest deficit overcome in school history while the 21-point comeback started at the 1:36 mark of the third quarter which was the latest of each 21-point comeback win.
• Last week’s win was the first over a top-five opponent on the road in school history.
• Senior quarterback Skylar Thompson is in line to make his 30th career start on Saturday and is coming off a career performance against OU when he threw for a career-best 334 yards and combined for four touchdowns (3 rushing).
• He is one of just four QBs in school history to throw for 4,000 career yards and rush for 1,000 career yards, and he can become the second with 5,000 passing yards and 1,000 rushing yards with 12 more yards through the air.
• Thompson became the first quarterback in school history to record three wins over AP Top 10 opponents.
• True freshman Deuce Vaughn continues to impress as he totaled 174 all-purpose yards against Oklahoma, which included 129 yards receiving and 45 yards on the ground.
• Vaughn became just the fifth running back in school history to have 100 receiving yards in a game and was the first freshman to do so.
• Defensively, the Wildcats forced four Sooner turnovers last weekend, including three interceptions.
• The Cats have blocked a punt and recorded an interception in each of the first two games.
• Wyatt Hubert added to his career sack total, which now stands at 13.5. His 0.50 career sacks rank sixth nationally among active players.
• Senior linebacker Justin Hughes is coming off a 10-tackle performance at Oklahoma and leads the team with 16 on the season.
• Safety Jahron McPherson is coming off a big game in which he had 11 tackles, a tackle for loss, a forced fumble and an interception.
• Place kicker Blake Lynch nailed a career-high 50-yard field goal late in the game last week which broke a 35-35 tie and proved to be the game-winner.
• McPherson, Thompson and Vaughn were each honored with Big 12 Player of the Week accolades this week, and McPherson was also tabbed the Walter Camp National Defensive Player of the Week.

A LOOK AT TEXAS TECH
• Texas Tech is 1-1 on the year and coming off a heartbreaking 63-56 loss in overtime to No. 8 Texas in Lubbock.
• The Red Raiders are led by quarterback Alan Bowman, who has thrown for 377.5 yards per game with seven touchdowns and four interceptions.
• Tech boasts one of the best running backs in the league in SaRodorick Thompson, who currently has run for 222 yards and four touchdowns in two games.
• Three receivers have caught 10 or more passes as KeSean Carter, TJ Vasher and Erik Ezukanma have combined for seven touchdowns and 36 catches.
• Defensively, Riko Jeffers is second on the team with 19 tackles and leads the squad in sacks with 2.0, while Zech McPhearson has the team’s lone pick.

A LOOK AT THE SERIES
• K-State leads the all-time series, 11-9, including a four-game winning streak and an 8-1 mark over the last nine years. K-State’s four-game winning streak is tied for its longest in the series.
• Kansas State has also won four-straight over TTU in Manhattan dating back to 2012.
• The Wildcats also hold an 11-6 advantage since the inception of the Big 12 in 1996. One of those games was the first-ever Big 12 game, as the Cats topped Tech, 21-14, on August 31, 1996.
• Last season, K-State scored on four of its first five possessions of the second half, including three touchdowns, and held during a late Texas Tech rally.
• The game last year featured a 48-yard touchdown pass from Skylar Thompson to Chabastin Taylor in the fourth quarter to give K-State a 10-point cushion.
• Two years ago in Manhattan, the Wildcat defense held the Texas Tech offense to just 181 yards and kept the Red Raiders out of the end zone in a 21-6 victory. It was the fewest offensive yards by a Texas Tech team in eight seasons.

CONFERENCE HOME OPENERS
• K-State holds a 14-10 all-time record in Big 12 home openers, including a 3-1 mark against Texas Tech.
• The Wildcats knocked off the Red Raiders in their Big 12 home opener in 1996, 2014 and 2016, while K-State fell in a Big 12 home opener to Tech in 2008.

TWO OF THE BIG 12’S BEST
• Saturday’s matchup between K-State and Texas Tech features two teams that rank in the top five in Big 12 wins since the league’s inception in 1996. The Wildcats are third with 119 victories, while Tech is fifth with 97.
• The Wildcats also rank third in the conference in winning percentage since round-robin play began in 2011. They sit at .610 (50-32), trailing only Oklahoma (.817; 67-15) and Oklahoma State (.646; 53-29).

MARQUEE WINS
• K-State has now knocked off top-five teams in consecutive seasons under head coach Chris Klieman, and last week’s win at No. 3 Oklahoma carried some extreme significance.
• Down 21 points in the third quarter, K-State became just the second team in 547 tries since 2004 to rally for a win over a top-five team when trailing in the game by 21 points. The other such win was Tennessee at LSU in 2005.
• The win was also the 10th all-time in K-State history over an Associated Press top-10 team, and the No. 3 Sooners were the highest ranked team the Wildcats have ever defeated in a true road game.
• Coupled with its win over No. 5 OU last season, it was the first time in school history K-State defeated a top-five team in consecutive seasons and just the second time ever the Wildcats had wins over top-10 teams in two-straight campaigns (2006 and 2007 vs. Texas)
• Four of K-State’s wins against AP top-10 teams have come against Oklahoma.

HISTORIC COMEBACK
• Kansas State’s 21-point comeback victory at No. 3 Oklahoma tied for the largest in school history, which had occurred four other times.
• The Wildcats began their comeback with a touchdown with 1:36 left in the third quarter. Of the five total occurrences, the win over the Sooners was the latest start to the 21-point comeback.

A WINNING HISTORY
• A proven winner with a championship history, Chris Klieman holds an 81-19 career record as his 81.0% winning percentage ranks ninth among all NCAA coaches – regardless of division – among those with at least seven full years of experience.
• Klieman came to Manhattan after capping his five-year stint as head coach at North Dakota State by winning his fourth national championship in 2018.
• A native of Waterloo, Iowa, Klieman guided the 2018 Bison to a perfect 15-0 record, making NDSU just the fifth team in FCS history to go undefeated and untied on the way to a national championship.

YOUNG PUPS
• Kansas State played 33 freshmen during the 2019 season, including 12 true freshmen, and that trend continued in the first two games of 2020.
• So far this season, 14 freshmen have played, including starts by redshirt freshman right tackle Cooper Beebe (2), redshirt freshman defensive back Will Jones II (1) and true freshman running back Deuce Vaughn (1).

CATS TOPS IN NON-OFFENSIVE TDs
• K-State is the nation’s best in non-offensive touchdowns over the last 21-plus seasons as it has 118 since 1999, 10 more than the next closest team.
• Since 1999, the Wildcats are averaging 5.6 non-offensive touchdowns per year, while the yearly average for the other 105 teams to play FBS football since 1999 is 2.7.
• Kansas State’s average is boosted by the fact that it has at least five non-offensive scores in seven of the last nine years, which included the 2019 season.

RED ZONE SUCCESS
• Kansas State made the most of its opportunities in the red zone last season as it converted on a nation-leading 96.2% (50-of-52) of its trips.
• Its only two trips that did not result in points came within the first three games as the Wildcats are currently riding a streak of 47 red-zone opportunities that have resulted in scores dating back to last season.
• K-State finished the 2019 season with 39-straight scoring trips inside the red zone, the most by the Wildcats since at least 2003.
• Of K-State’s eight red zone conversions this year, seven have been touchdowns.

FEW OFFENSIVE TURNOVERS
• The Wildcats only had 10 offensive turnovers during the 2019 season (4 FUM, 6 INT), their fewest in a 13-game season in school history.
• Of the Wildcats’ nine total lost fumbles last season, three were on punt returns and one was on an interception return.
• K-State was the final team in the nation last year to commit an offensive turnover when it fumbled at OSU. The Cats went the first 189 minutes, 38 seconds of the 2019 season without committing an offensive turnover.
• The Wildcats have not committed a turnover in 2020 as they are one of only four teams in the nation to do so through two games.

REBUILDING THE LINE
• K-State has been putting the pieces together for the 2020 offensive line, one that did not return a single start from last season.
• It marked the first time since at least the 1989 season that the Wildcats did not return any starts from the previous season.
• Last year’s starting offensive line finished with a combined 208 games played and 159 career starts. This year’s initial two-deep totaled 52 games played and three starts entering the year. Of those, 13 career games and one start are from Logan Long, who has converted from tight end to offensive line this season.

SKYLAR IN CHARGE
• Senior Skylar Thompson is in line to make his 30th career start on Saturday to remain in third place among Wildcat quarterbacks since 1990.
• Ell Roberson (2001-03) ranks first on the list with 32 and Josh Freeman (2006-08) is second with 31.
• Thompson ranks in the top 10 in K-State history in 12 career categories, including top-five marks in completion percentage (4th; 59.97), passing efficiency (5th; 136.4) completions (t5th; 385), rushing yards by a quarterback (5th; 1,062) and rushing touchdowns by a quarterback (5th; 22). More info on page 44.
• Additionally, the Independence, Missouri, product has 6,050 career offensive yards to rank fifth in school history, while his 51 career touchdowns responsible for are seventh.

RUN-PASS OPTION
• Skylar Thompson has proven to be equally effective in both the passing and running game as he is one of just four quarterbacks in school history with 4,000 career passing yards and 1,000 career rushing yards. However, he is the only one of the group to do so prior to their senior season.
• He needs just 12 passing yards to be the second player in school history to reach the 5,000/1,000 mark, which would match Ell Roberson.

ICE IN HIS VEINS
• Skylar Thompson has led the Wildcats on five touchdown drives in the fourth quarter or later to either tie or take the lead during his career, including three in the last two years.
• His five game-tying or game-winning drives are the second most among K-State quarterbacks since 1990, just one behind current Wildcat QB coach Collin Klein.
• Klein’s six drives came in 2011 against Eastern Kentucky, Miami, Baylor, Texas A&M and Iowa State, and in 2012 at Oklahoma.

DEUCE ON THE LOOSE
• True freshman running back Deuce Vaughn has exploded on the scene in his first two games, leading the Wildcats in rushing in both contests and hauling in four passes for 129 yards in the Wildcats’ win at No. 3 Oklahoma.
• Vaughn became the fifth running back in school history – and first freshman – to tally a 100-yard receiving game.
• It was the first 100-yard game through the air by a Wildcat running back since Henry Hawthrone went for 138 yards at Oklahoma in 1970.
• Vaughn receiving total was the fifth most in a single game by a running back in Big 12 history, while it was the most by a freshman Big 12 running back in conference history.
• Vaughn’s output at Oklahoma was buoyed by a 77-yard reception in the third quarter. Fellow true freshman running back Keyon Mozee had a 78-yarder in the third quarter as well. It was the first time in school history (since 1969) the Wildcats had two pass plays of at least 77 yards in the same game.
• Vaughn’s performance against the Sooners earned him Big 12 Newcomer of the Week honors.
• Vaughn began his career with a rushing touchdown against Arkansas State as he became the first true freshman in school history score a touchdown in a season opener.

MOORE OFFENSE
• One of the top tight ends from the FCS level in 2018, Briley Moore is in his second senior season and his first campaign at K-State.
• Moore, a transfer from Northern Iowa, started his Wildcat career on the right foot by totaling a team-high six catches for 54 yards and a touchdown against Arkansas State.
• His six receptions in the opener were most by a Wildcat tight end since Travis Tannahill also had six at Baylor in 2012. Moore’s 54 receiving yards were the most by a K-State tight end since Zach Trujillo went for 88 yards at Baylor in 2014.
• Among FBS tight ends, Moore is tied for fourth nationally in catches per game (5.0).

EARLY INTERCEPTIONS
• The Kansas State defense has started the 2020 campaign with four interceptions, the most by the Wildcats in the first two games of a season since 2011 (4).
• The Wildcats picked off one pass in the season opener and followed that up with three in the win at No. 3 Oklahoma. It was K-State’s first three-interception game since the 2018 contest at West Virginia.
• K-State’s four interceptions this year are tied for fourth in the nation entering play this week.

RARE FEAT
• Making his first-career start in the opener, nickelback Will Jones II accomplished a rare feat against the Red Wolves as he blocked a punt and also had an interception.
• He became the first Wildcat to block a kick (punt, PAT or FG) and have a pick in the same game since defensive tackle Raphael Guidry did so against Iowa State in 2011. He was the first Wildcat to block a punt, specifically, and have a pick in the same game since Courtney Herndon against Montana State in 2008.

RARE FEAT II
• With another block and three interceptions against Oklahoma, the Wildcats as a team have now blocked a punt and had an interception in each of the first two games this season, marking the first time to do so since 1999 against Temple and UTEP.

WYATT’S COMING FOR YOU
• One of the top young defensive ends in the Big 12 the last two seasons will look to improve his production as a junior as Wyatt Hubert is back after earning First Team All-Big 12 honors in 2019.
• Hubert also earned votes for the league’s defensive player of the year and defensive lineman of the year awards last season.
• The Topeka native ranks sixth nationally among active players in career sacks per game (0.50), while he is 10th in tackles for loss per game (0.88).

JAHRON’S BIG DAY
• Senior Jahron McPherson had one of the best individual defensive performances in school history in K-State’s win at No. 3 Oklahoma as he came away with 11 tackles – including one for a loss – forced a fumble and carded the game-clinching interception.
• It was the first time since at least 2002 that a Wildcat had double digit tackles, a TFL, a forced fumble and an interception in a single game.
• For his effort against the Sooners, he was named Big 12 Defensive Player of the Week and Walter Camp National Defensive Player of the Week.

SCORING IN THE THIRD PHASE
• Kansas State has been far and away the best team among FBS programs over the last 15-plus years when it comes to scoring via a kickoff or punt return.
• The Wildcats have a combined 53 kickoff- and punt-return touchdowns since 2005, 21 more than any other FBS school during that stretch.
• Of the 116 other schools to play FBS football since 2005, the average total over those 15 years is 13.3, or nearly 40 less than K-State.

TO THE HOUSE
• K-State led the nation in 2019 with four kickoff-return touchdowns, a mark that tied the school record (2009, 2015).
• Last season, the Wildcats had as many or more KOR touchdowns than the combined conference totals of four FBS leagues (Pac-12: 4; Sun Belt: 4; SEC: 3; MAC: 2).
• The Wildcats, who represented 0.7% of FBS teams (1 of 130) in 2019 had 8.2% (4 of 49) of kickoff-return touchdowns in the nation last season.

BLOCKED PUNTS
• K-State has blocked punts in the first two games of the season. It is the first time K-State has blocked punts in consecutive games since 2015 against Kansas and West Virginia.
• It is the first time the Wildcats have blocked punts in each of the first two games of a season since 1999 against Temple and UTEP.

LYNCH IS ACCURATE
• A former walk-on, Blake Lynch has proven to be an accurate kicker as his career field goal percentage of 85.4% (35-for-41) currently ranks seventh nationally among active players and is second in school history.
• Lynch, a two-time Lou Groza Award candidate, ranked third in school history a year ago with his 90.5% mark (19-of-21).
• Against Oklahoma, Lynch connected on the eventual game-winning, 50-yard field goal with 4:32 left in the game. It was the 32nd time a Wildcat connected on a field goal of 50 or more yards, but it was the first that served as the game winner with less than five minutes remaining.
• Prior to the kick against the Sooners, Lynch had been 2-for-6 from 45 or more yards, including an 0-for-2 mark from 50 or more yards.

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