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How to Watch: Houston at Kansas State

Wintery weather isn’t going to help a team that rushed for 14 yards last week.

HOUSTON, TEXAS - OCTOBER 21: Donovan Smith #1 of the Houston Cougars throws a pass in the first half against the Texas Longhorns at TDECU Stadium on October 21, 2023 in Houston, Texas.
Pictured: the entire Cougar offense.
Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images

Normally we have some witty and/or thoughtful observation regarding the upcoming game here in the first paragraph, but here’s not a lot to say about this game that Drew didn’t already say in his preview, other than “a win will make K-State bowl eligible”. That being the case, we’ll get right to all the juicy information.

The Game

The Kansas State Wildcats (5-2, 3-1 Big 12, rv) host the Houston Cougars (3-4, 1-3 Big 12).

This is, believe it or not, the very first meeting between the two schools (in football, anyway).

It is not, however, the first meeting between K-State and Houston head coach Dana Holgorsen. The Red Bull afficionado lost his first four meetings against the Wildcats, beginning with the stunning 55-14 beatdown the Cats delivered to West Virginia in Morgantown in 2012 which exposed Geno Smith and truly vaulted Collin Klein into the national consciousness. But K-State’s margin of victory against the Mountaineers dwindled each year, with their 2015 win being by a mere point; West Virginia finally got over the hump in 2016, winning by one themselves, then by five in 2017 and laying the wood on the Wildcats in 2018 as West Virginia raced to an 8-1 start before falling apart.

And then Holgorsen quit to take the Houston job, because they offered him more money than West Virginia was willing to pay him. Holgorsen has a 91-65 career record, 30-24 at Houston. His most successful campaign in Texas was the 2021 season, when he led the Cougars to a 12-2 record and a tie for first place in the AAC with Cincinnati, who went on to the College Football Playoff after beating Houston in the AAC Championship Game.

Houston is definitely a passing team, which on one hand might work in their favor as K-State’s passing defense has been the weaker unit. On the other, the weather may be a factor, which could spell serious problems for the Cougars if they can’t run the ball — and their lack of production last week against Texas (14 total rushing yards) may give K-State the incentive to refrain from stacking the box.

Donovan Smith has thrown for 1979 yards and 16 touchdowns against 4 interceptions, completing two-thirds of his passes. He’s got a stack of receivers to throw to; six Cougars have more than 100 yards on the season, led by Samuel Brown with 629, and each has a catch of at least 39 yards.

On the ground, however, Houston’s barely rushed for more yardage than Treshaun Ward and Will Howard combined (818 for Houston, 815 for Ward/Howard), never mind DJ Giddens and Avery Johnson. K-State, as a team, rushes for 5.6 yards per carry; Houston doesn’t even have one guy that can say that.

Houston’s defense has been responsible for seven interceptions and 12 sacks, but one of those numbers isn’t likely to increase much Saturday.


Saturday, October 28, 11:00am CT at Bill Snyder Family Stadium (50,000) in Manhattan, Kansas.


There are some standing-room tickets available from the ticket office for $62; the secondary market has quite a few tickets available owing to the weather and the opponent. There are a slew of upper-deck tickets available for as low as $17 and all under $40; downstairs ranges from $38 to a max of $154, averaging under $60... so a better deal than SRO.


After weeks of beautiful football weather, the hammer’s coming down. Early tailgaters are going to be treated to a miserable 33°. although the rain won’t have started yet... probably. By kickoff, the temperature should climb to 40°, and might get to 45° by game’s end, but there’s a 25% chance of rain in the first half, and it’s a better-than-50/50 shot in the second. Dress appropriately, folks.


The opening line was K-State 13.5, and Vegas looked at that and laughsnorted. DraftKings how has K-State at -17.5 and the over is 60, suggesting a 39-21 K-State win. The money line is +650 for Houston, -1000 for K-State. Oddsshark is much kinder to Houston, projecting a 34-30 K-State win with their newfangled compooter thingamajigs.


ESPN2, with Lowell Galindo, Kirk Morrison, and Stormy Buonantony.


As always, Wyatt Thompson, Stan Weber, and Matt Walters will be on hand on the K-State Sports Network as well as via satellite on SiriusXM 135 or 199, 953 on the SiriusXM app.

Internet Streaming

The game will stream on the ESPN app, but a cable or eligible streaming package subscription will be required since it’s being aired on the main network. Audio available via Live stats provided by StatBroadcast.

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