Kansas State beat Texas Tech 42-35 in overtime in Lubbock yesterday. It was the third overtime victory in school history, and the first one ever on the road.
The win was important for the Wildcats for various reasons. It was a key conference game, and it was a much-needed win that moved Kansas State closer to bowl eligibility. But more than that, it was a gut-check moment, as Jon Morse noted in his post-game recap.
It’s been so long since Kansas State won a game that went down to the wire, so long since the last overtime win that maybe even the team thought it wasn’t possible. That would explain the raucous celebration and affirmations of self-belief that happened in the locker room afterwards:
(Yes, that’s a stuffed bobcat. Apparently, his name is Phil).
Make no mistake, the day belonged to Skylar Thompson. Skylar Thompson is a freshman. Skylar Thompson has never started a game at Kansas State. Skylar Thompson was thrown into the deep end yesterday. While his team trailed deep in the fourth quarter, Skylar Thompson took all that on his shoulders and shrugged.
With just over three minutes to go, and the team still in an 8-point hole, Thompson drove the offense 80 yards in five plays to bring Kansas State within two points.
And then, magic.
Lined up for the two-point conversion, the offense was iced by time-out calls by Texas Tech. This turned out to be an advantage, because the third play called turned out to be just the right one. Thompson, who had been expecting to run a draw play or maybe hand off to Alex Barnes, found himself in a passing situation instead. He hit Dalton Schoen on the money for the two-point try to even the score.
Uncharacteristically, Texas Tech chose not to try for the game-winning score and ran out the clock in favor of overtime.
In OT, three rushes from Alex Barnes had the Wildcats at the 8-yard line, and Thompson found Byron Pringle for the go-ahead score. A final stand from the defense—keeping Nic Shimonek and the prolific Texas Tech offense out of the end zone—was all it took for Kansas State to win its second straight conference game.
Afterwards, Thompson earned high praise. Bill Snyder was typically circumspect, but did offer “Skylar plays unlike a freshman.” The bigger compliment may have come from Thompson’s teammate D.J. Reed who shouted out “You a stud, boy” during one of Thompson’s post-game interviews.
It’s premature to assume too much about the next few games based on the outcome of this one, of course. But there’s no denying that we saw something from Kansas State today that we haven’t seen in a while. Call it fight, self-belief, family, whatever. It was different, and it was fantastic.
The defense left a lot to be desired, but stood up strong when the game was on the line. The offense was mostly good, whether because of better playcalling or a change in personnel.
The future comes at you fast, and at Kansas State, the future is now.