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Kicking the Tires: K-State vs. Missouri State

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K-State concludes its non-conference schedule at home against the Missouri State Bears.

NCAA Football: Florida Atlantic at Kansas State Scott Sewell-USA TODAY Sports

K-State picked up a refreshingly easy win over Florida Atlantic last weekend. FAU turnovers and an efficient K-State offense led to a 42-0 halftime lead. The Wildcats coasted in the second half, getting valuable snaps for backups en route to a 63-7 victory.

Missouri State is an FCS foe from the Missouri Valley Conference, and enters this contest at 2-0. The Bears notched a 57-0 victory over Southwestern College, an NAIA school that’s 0-2 after a 27-20 loss to McPherson. The Moundbuilders were 3-8 last year. Two weeks ago, Missouri State narrowly defeated Murray State, 28-22. The Racers are 0-3 with losses to Illinois (52-3) and Southern Illinois (50-17).

Over its last four seasons, Missouri State is 13-33. The Bears went 1-10 last season and haven’t had a winning season since 2009. Granted, they play in the stacked MVC, but the numbers are plain. This is a football program adrift.

Players to Watch

K-State

Passing: Jesse Ertz, 24-47-1, 324 yards, 6.9 yards/attempt, 2 TDs, 162 yards/game

Rushing: Dalvin Warmack, 9 carries, 97 yards, 10.8 yards/carry, 0 TD, 48.5 yards/game

Receiving: Dominique Heath, 7 receptions, 105 yards, 15.0 yards/reception, 1 TD, 52.5 yards/game

Missouri State

Passing: Breck Ruddick, 34-52-1, 424 yards, 8.2 yards/attempt, 4 TDs, 212.0 yards/game

Rushing: Calan Crowder, 30 carries, 131 yards, 4.4 yards/carry, 1 TD, 65.5 yards/game

Receiving: Malik Earl, 8 receptions, 127 yards, 15.9 yards/reception, 0 TD, 63.5 yards/game

As a team, Missouri State averages only 4.8 yards per rushing attempt, which isn’t good even against good competition. The Bears are solid at 8.1 yards per passing attempt. I haven’t seen the school formerly known as SMS play this season, so I don’t know if this is a spread/Air Raid offense or a more traditional pro-style passing game, though my bet is on the former.

In any event, the Bears have almost no rushing attack to speak of. Against Murray State, Missouri State averaged only 3.3 yards per rushing attempt. K-State’s front six should be able to bottle up the running game. A few more interceptions from the secondary would be nice to see.

Advanced Stats

None this week with an FCS opponent. By advanced stats, K-State looks about like you’d expect. Rushing defense is excellent other than giving up explosive plays, thanks to one Christian McCaffrey. Pass defense is terribly inefficient but pretty good at limiting big plays, which shocks precisely none of you. Offensively, the run game is very efficient, the passing game is not, and the offensive line stats match.

I’ve begged Bill Connelly for a Nepotism Rate stat to measure touchdowns scored by the offensive coordinator’s son on plays where Bill Snyder would have walked into the end zone with the ball, but so far I’ve been rebuffed. Maybe this week Ertz will be better at putting his passes in the 6”x6” window where Winston Dimel can catch the ball. Even if not, Dimel will no doubt make life miserable for some poor Missouri State linebacker trying to track down Charles Jones, Dalvin Warmack, Justin Silmon or Alex Barnes.

Conclusion

K-State needs to control this one from the outset. FAU is 136th in Sagarin’s ratings, while Missouri State is 191st. Another effort like last week would be most welcome. Connelly predicts a pedestrian 31-7 win for the Wildcats, but it should be a little worse than that.

Wildcats 56, Bears 3