The Kansas State Wildcats (2-0) handily defeated former conference rivals, the Missouri Tigers, 40-12, on Saturday in their first meeting since the Tigers left the Big 12 for the greener pastures of the SEC.
Lightning delays both before the game and during the first half didn’t seem to affect the Wildcats, scoring a touchdown on their first drive of the game as running back Deuce Vaughn carried it in from the 1 yard line and on a 76-yard punt return by Phillip Brooks soon after the mid-game lightning delay.
But the K-State defense was the star of the show, holding Missouri to 6 points on two field goals for 60 minutes. The Tigers scored their only touchdown of the game on an untimed down after a roughing-the-passer penalty gave them one more try. The front six of K-State’s 3-3-5 defense consistently won the battle on the line of scrimmage, limiting the Tigers to 2.7 yards per carry and racking up 10 tackles for loss.
Not to be outdone, the Wildcats’ coverage was excellent, limiting the Tigers to 4.1 yards per pass attempt and snatching interceptions on four consecutive possessions in the third and fourth quarters. Nick Allen, Daniel Green, Cincere Mason, and Kobe Savage each made an interception.
Unfortunately, the K-State offense didn’t make the most of those turnovers. They took a 20-3 lead into halftime, but could only get two made field goals (plus a missed 31-yard attempt) by Chris Tennant in the third quarter, despite working with a short field on three consecutive possessions. Outside of that poor stretch, the Wildcats did their job on offense, scoring four rushing touchdowns, including runs of 1 and 24 yards by Deuce Vaughn, 16 yards by Adrian Martinez (aided by a downfield block by Vaughn), and 28 yards by DJ Giddens.
After Brooks’ punt return touchdown in the second quarter, Missouri never got closer than two touchdowns again.
This was Kansas State’s first non-conference victory over Mizzou, who the Wildcats shared a conference with from 1913 to 2011. The teams only played once before Kansas State joined the MVIAA in 1913, a 3-0 win for Missouri in 1909.
- The passing game needs to step up if K-State is going to be a Big 12 contender. Martinez only completed 9 of 20 passes for 101 yards. That bring the Wildcats’ two-game total to 196 yards on 39 attempts, a paltry 5 yards per attempt, with no passing touchdowns. The rain didn’t do Martinez or his receivers any favors today, but the passing game has to improve to keep defenses honest in the running game.
- The punt team was great all day. Ty Zentner averaged 54.3 yards per punt, and two were downed inside the 5 yard line.
- Both sides of the ball had trouble with penalties today. The Wildcats were flagged eight times for 64 yards, including at least three really painful penalties: being drawn offsides on fourth down to keep a Missouri drive alive, an offensive pass interference penalty away from the ball that caused a K-State drive to stall, and the roughing-the-passer penalty that gave Missouri the untimed down they needed to punch in their only touchdown.
Offense: B-minus. They scored plenty of points to win the game, but they only scored 13 points off of four turnovers.
Defense: A. If they had kept the goal-line stand at the end of the fourth quarter, this would be an A-plus. They won at (and behind) the line of scrimmage, and they won in coverage, and they did it against a Power 5 opponent that played in a bowl game last year.
Special Teams: B. The punt team was great, and the punt return team scored again. But Chris Tennant missed a very makeable field goal, and Mizzou blocked an extra point attempt.
Overall: A-minus. The Wildcats convincingly beat a major conference team, who also happens to be a long-time rival.
Player of the Game
On offense, Vaughn scored two touchdowns and rushed for 145 yards, extending his touchdown streak to 12 games and his 100-yard streak to eight games, and he closed the door on the potential for a Missouri comeback with four consecutive runs totaling 59 yards and a touchdown to extend the lead to 27 early in the fourth quarter.
On defense, Green recorded 6 solo tackles, including 1 tackle for loss, plus an assist, and he grabbed the sneakiest interception of the afternoon, crouching slightly behind the linemen and springing up when Missouri quarterback Brady Cook threw over the middle.
Kansas State stays in Manhattan for another week, finishing the non-conference portion of the schedule against the Tulane Green Wave (1-0) at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 17.