2020 has been the year of the unexpected, and in college football terms, almost nothing was an unexpected as Kansas State beating No. 3 Oklahoma in Norman 38-35.
The odds were stacked against the Wildcats in more ways than one:
— Kansas State was coming off a Week 1 loss to Arkansas State in which neither the offensive line nor the defensive secondary played particularly well.
— COVID testing and associated contact tracing wreaked havoc on the Wildcats’ depth chart. With as many as 10 players not available for the game, there was serious doubt the Wildcats would even make it to kickoff.
— Kansas State was a -28.5-point underdog in this game, and given the Wildcats’ previous record against Top 10 teams on the road, that seemed reasonable. Before yesterday’s stunning upset, Kansas State had never beaten a top three team in a true road game, and never as an unranked team
— As Jon Morse noted in his recap, teams down by 21 points to AP-ranked teams had only won once before yesterday, and only four times has a team been down by 14 or more at halftime to a top-three team and still won the game.
Yet despite these seemingly insurmountable odds, Kansas State ended up one on the correct side of the scoreline. How did this happen? If you’re a cynic (or an Oklahoma fan), you might be tempted to blame it on a spectacular defensive collapse from the Sooners, but that might not tell the whole story.
This was a time for a display of grit from veteran quarterback Skylar Thompson, and though he struggled early on, it was ultimately a game-winning effort. Indeed, since Chris Klieman took over the reins in Manhattan, Thompson is 212-351 (60%) passing for 2,908 yards, and has 29 touchdowns (15 passing, 14 rushing) with just 5 interceptions. Those numbers alone are worthy of respect, and now he’s got the on-field bragging rights to go with it.
Speaking of Klieman, his greatest advantage may be that he brings plenty of big fame experience to the table. One road game against a higher rated opponent doesn’t particularly faze him, so he challenged his team to show him they were up to the moment, and they met that challenge head on. After the game, Klieman tried momentarily to downplay the victory, but added that it was indeed a big deal for his team given all the recent struggles.
Credit to Deuce Vaughn for his electric running, to Blake Lynch for nailing the 50-yarder that put the Wildcats ahead for good, to Ekow Boye-Doe and Keyon Mozee whose names I have never seen before, but who stood tall when called on, and finally, to Jahron McPherson, who hauled in Spencer Rattler’s final interception of the game and has since been named Walter Camp National Player of the Week. Heroes all.
Finally, it’s Chris Klieman’s birthday today and boy has he earned a proper celebration!
Kansas State was also victorious on court yesterday, as the VolleyCats put away Iowa State in four sets (25-16, 25-23, 14-25, 25-23). Brynn Carlson and Aliyah Carter had 15 kills each, and Carter also notched four blocks on the night. Freshman libero MacKenzie Morris keyed the defense with a team-leading 13 digs for the match.
The VolleyCats are back in action on Thursday when they take on West Virginia in Morgantown.