Manhattan, KS – Two teams with identical scoring averages meet in a Big 12 Conference showdown, as the 15th-ranked Texas Tech Red Raiders come calling on the fourth-ranked Kansas State Wildcats.
At 6-1, Texas Tech is having its best year under current head coach Tommy Tuberville, and the team is coming off a wild 56-53 win in triple-overtime at TCU last Saturday. It was the most combined points ever in a game that the Red Raiders have played in, and the win made Tech bowl eligible for the 19th time in the last 20 years.
Texas Tech's lone setback of the campaign came in a 41-20 home loss to Oklahoma, and the road to a possible Big 12 title and BCS Bowl game isn't going to be easy as not only does the team need the Sooners to falter, but it must also take out the likes of K-State, Texas, Oklahoma State and Baylor before the curtain comes down on the 2012 regular season.
Kansas State is one of only 11 undefeated teams left in the FBS, and coach Bill Snyder's club recently moved to third position in the latest BCS poll.
It was thought that last week's trip to West Virginia would present all kinds of problems for the Wildcats, but they make a mockery of the Mountaineers in picking up the 55-14 victory. Following this bout, KSU has games against Oklahoma State, TCU, Baylor and Texas remaining.
Snyder was obviously happy with his team's effort last week, but was particularly proud of the poise his guys played with in what was an incredibly hostile environment.
"I was certainly pleased with it. I was pleased with the way our youngsters approached the ball game and how they traveled and kept their focus. We played well. We made mistakes and need to get better, but collectively, I think we did a nice job."
Texas Tech owns an 8-4 edge in the all-time series with Kansas State, but the Wildcats snapped a five-game losing streak to the Red Raiders with a 41-34 win in Lubbock.
The Red Raiders survived last week's thriller against TCU, getting a short TD pass from Seth Doege to Alex Torres in the third extra frame to seal the deal. It was the final affirmation for Doege, who went 30-of-42 for 318 yards and a career-best seven TDs on the day. Eric Ward was the primary beneficiary of his quarterback's exploits as he pulled down six balls for 61 yards and three scores, while Torres finished with two TDs as part of his five-catch, 53-yard performance. The Texas Tech run game was limited to 71 net yards, and was led by Kenny Williams who tallied 47 yards and a TD on only six carries.
Tuberville praised his quarterback for keeping his head in the face of tremendous pressure.
"Seth played well. As you can tell, they were after him. I think they got two roughing the passer penalties. They were bound and determined to get to him. I thought there were times that our offensive line got moved around a little bit, but when it counted, we gave him enough time to throw it. This was a team win because we didn't play that great and we found a way to win."
The Red Raiders defense, which coughed up a 10-point lead late in regulation, was abused for 516 total yards (184 rushing, 332 passing), and the unit surrendered four aerial scores. However, they did manage to come up with three turnovers and a pair of sacks. Cody Davis was high man for Tech with his 11 tackles, and he along with D.J. Johnson (eight stops) each came up with an interception.
The Tech offense is putting up 42.9 ppg, piling up more than 516 yards of total offense while converting 54 percent of its third-down opportunities. Doege has hit the mark on nearly 71 percent of his passes, averaging 315.6 ypg with 28 TDs and seven interceptions. Darrin Moore leads the receiving corps with 34 grabs for 377 yards and eight TDs, but Ward also has scoring receptions and a total of nine guys have double-digit receptions on the year. As for the run game, it usually takes a back seat to the aerial fireworks Tuberville likes to put on display, but Williams has rumbled his way to 423 yards and three scores in averaging better than six yards per carry.
Last week's shoddy effort aside, the Red Raiders have actually played well on defense this year, yielding an average of 21.6 points and only 282 total yards per game. The team is allowing just 4.4 points in the first quarter of its seven games, while outscoring the opposition by a staggering 180-85 in the first half. The Red Raiders have been even stingier in the second half, permitting fewer points over the final two quarters (49) than they have in the second quarter alone (54).
Davis continues to pace the unit with 56 tackles, 49 of which have solo efforts, and also has three picks to his credit. Kerry Hyder has four of the team's 11 sacks.
In what was dubbed as a showdown between two Heisman-worthy quarterbacks, Kansas State's Collin Klein clearly got the better of West Virginia's Geno Smith, the 6-5 senior from Loveland, Colorado accounting for seven TDs (four rushing, three passing) in leading his team to a blowout win over the hometown Mountaineers. In the first half alone, the Wildcats amassed 346 yards and scored 31 points. Klein was nearly perfect in going 19-of-21 for a career-high 323 yards, and he logged 41 of the team's 146 rushing yards in the contest. WR Tyler Lockett had a monster game as well, catching nine balls for 194 yards and two TDs, while Chris Harper finished with six grabs for 96 yards and a score.
Defensively, it was thought Smith was going to give the 'Cats a run for their money, but they basically shut down the record-setting signal-caller by holding him to 143 yards and one TD, while also intercepting him for the first time this season, actually doing so twice, and adding four sacks to their impressive effort as well. K-State also did a solid job against the run, yielding a mere 88 yards on 27 attempts. Randall Evans led the KSU stand with nine tackles.
Kansas State averages 42.9 ppg on the strength of 434.9 ypg. Klein is a 70.5 percent passer who averages 199.6 ypg and he has thrown for TDs while being picked off only twice. Harper and Lockett rank one-two on the team's receiving list with 25 and 22 catches, respectively, the two combining for five TDs. The rushing attack is led by John Hubert and his 658 yards and eight scores, although Klein has reached the end zone 14 times in amassing 551 yards.
As good as the offense has been this season, the defense has been every bit as effective with foes averaging just 16.1 points and 325.9 total yards per contest. The Wildcats have been especially good against the run (99.3 ypg, five TDs), and they've come up with 16 turnovers while recording 18 sacks. Arthur Brown paces the unit with his 55 tackles, while Ty Zimmerman has four interceptions and Meshak Williams and Adam Davis account for 10 combined sacks.