K-State notched its second-straight blowout of in-state rival KU, and its third win in a row overall in the Sunflower Showdown, with a 59-21 victory over the Jayhawks on Saturday.
With the victory, K-State moves to 7-0 on the season, and is tied with Oklahoma State at 4-0 in the Big 12 conference. Notably, this weekend's opponent now lags a game behind, as the Oklahoma Sooners lost to Texas Tech in Norman on Saturday to fall to 3-1 in the conference standings. K-State also moved up to No. 8 in the BCS standings, and is now 10th in the AP poll and 12th in the USA Today poll.
The win also sets up next week's showdown in Manhattan with Oklahoma, although the Sooners' loss to Tech knocked a little of the spotlight off the matchup. Still, the game has plenty of conference title implications. K-State could cement its claim to no worse than second in the conference race with a win, while OU climbs right back into the race if it can pull off a road win. As we all know, there is no love lost between K-State fans and Bob Stoops and Brent Venables, and the atmosphere at Bill's House on Saturday should be raucous. Hit the jump for more on the Sunflower Beatdown.What I liked...
...dominating our in-state rival. Don't forget, a mere four years ago, K-State endured a humiliating defeat in Lawrence, in the game that ultimately led to Ron Prince's firing. Part of being a K-State fan is never taking wins for granted, and we should never take a blowout win over that school down the river lightly.
...winning the hidden-yardage stats. For the second straight week, Tyler Lockett returned a kickoff for a touchdown. K-State was +2 in turnover margin thanks to two KU fumbles and no giveaways. KU had 80 more yards in penalties than did K-State.
...an efficient game from Collin Klein. The junior had a career-high in passing yardage with 195 yards in three quarters of work. One touchdown looked just fine next to zero interceptions and 92 rushing yards that resulted in four touchdowns.
...a dominating defensive effort. Ignore that meaningless final drive on which KU went 72 yards (plus a personal foul against K-State) and scored a touchdown against our band and drama club. Even with that drive, K-State held KU below 300 total yards, when the Jayhawks had been averaging 420 total yards per game on the season. With sacks (14 yards) and other losses figured in, KU netted only 76 rushing yards. There was plenty of complaining about Chris Cosh and the soft zone in the second quarter and late in the game, but overall this was a dominating defensive effort.
...a breakout performance for Tyler Lockett. The true freshman validated his kickoff return against Texas Tech with another against KU, and led K-State with 110 receiving yards and a touchdown catch. I can only imagine that UT fans who lived through the Kevin Lockett and Aaron Lockett eras are cringing at the very mention of that name.
What I didn't like...
...conservative, soft defense in the second quarter. As I said above, overall this was a dominating defensive effort. But in the second quarter, the defense lost a bit of focus and gave up a lot of passing yards and two touchdowns. Unlikely that we'll have to worry about that in a closer game, but it was frustrating.
...inconsistent special teams. On the bright side, we returned a kick for a touchdown and made the only field goal we attempted. On the other hand, we got no touchbacks, almost gave up a couple long kick returns, only being saved by KU penalties, and some rather ordinary punting. Ryan Doerr averaged less than 40 yards on his punts, had one punt tipped, and had a long boot of 41 yards on the day.
What it means and where we're going...
Most of this was already covered above the jump. K-State and Oklahoma State are now the only undefeated teams in the Big 12. Although the most difficult stretch of K-State's schedule still lies in front of it, the Wildcats control their destiny at this point. Beat Oklahoma at home and Okie State on the road, and don't lose more than one among games at home with Texas A&M and at Texas (and assuming they take care of Iowa State), then the Cats can win the Big 12. No small task, that, but the fact that it's now only one month until November and it's still possible is amazing considering what the season's expectations are.
Here's a quick look at what K-State's non-conference opponents this season did last week:
Eastern Kentucky: The Colonels got a homecoming win over Tennessee State, 33-22, and are now 4-3 on the season. Nothing will ever excuse how K-State played in that game, but EKU is putting together a decent season and is rolling toward and Ohio Valley Conference championship.
Kent State: Idle. Best showing on the season for the Golden Flashes. Long two weeks to think about that ugly 9-3 loss to Miami (OH).
Miami: The Hurricanes are putting things together and nabbed a 24-7 victory over No. 20 Georgia Tech on Saturday. Like EKU, Miami is now 4-3 on the season. The Hurricanes should pick up two more wins the next two weeks with home games against Virginia and Duke ahead before a big matchup in Tallahassee.
Big 12 Roundup
Oklahoma State 45, Missouri 24
Missouri hung tough for a while but, my goodness, that Oklahoma State offense is a sight to behold. Even losing Justin Blackmon to an apparent concussion couldn't slow down the Pokes, who rolled up 533 total yards. With the game still in doubt in the third quarter, Joseph Randle delivered with touchdown runs of 16 and 59 yards to put the game away. And it's not just Randle and Brandon Weeden-to-Blackmon that makes Okie State tick, as the Cowboys had four receivers with five or more receptions. For its part, Missouri ran the ball well with 248 net rushing yards, including 138 for Henry Josey. The best part of this game? Gus Johnson did the play-by-play. We really need to have him do a K-State game this year. I can hear it now: "KLEIN ... DROPS BACK TO PASS ... LOOOOOKING ... FIRES ... GOT IT!!!!!" Next weekend, Oklahoma State returns home to face Baylor, while Missouri will travel to College Station to play an SEC cross-divisional matchup with Texas A&M.
Texas A&M 33, Iowa State 17
Iowa State pulled Steele Jantz in favor of Jared Barnett -- side note, every time the announcers called his name, I thought they were saying Gary Barnett -- and actually led Texas A&M after the first quarter. The Aggies woke up in the second quarter and took a 20-7 lead into the locker room at halftime, but the Cyclones hung around, somewhat within striking distance, through the third quarter. A&M gouged Iowa State for almost 250 rushing yards and more than 500 total yards, with Christine Michael and Cyrus Gray leading the way with more than 100 yards apiece. Ryan Tannehill threw for 263 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions on the day. Barnett didn't turn the ball over, as Jantz is wont to do, but he completed less than half his passes and averaged only 5.0 yards per attempt. Next week, Iowa State travels to Lubbock to face Texas Tech.
Texas Tech 41, Oklahoma 38
After a 90-minute rain delay, only one team actually returned to the field, and that team was not the homestanding Sooners. After throwing four interceptions against K-State, Seth Doege dissected Oklahoma for 441 yards and four touchdowns and no interceptions. Of course those numbers were only ordinary on the evening, as both teams passed for more than 400 yards and combined for more than 1,100 total yards between them. Landry Jones had five touchdowns on 412 yards passing, but it wasn't enough to overcome the Sooners' pathetic defensive showing on the evening.