LUBBOCK, Texas – Texas Tech's Kliff Kingsbury will face off against a counterpart Saturday who's more than twice his age and has been at the helm of a Big 12 team longer than any coach.
Bill Snyder, who's in his 22nd season with Kansas State (4-4, 2-3) and has been coaching football longer than Kingsbury's been alive, will bring a Wildcats team that's won two straight to play against Kingsbury's Red Raiders, who've lost their last two.
Kingsbury, in his first year as coach, knows the 74-year-old man across the field has earned all the accolades he's received.
"His story is one of the best in college football history," the 34-year-old Kingsbury said. "I have the utmost respect for coach Snyder, what he's done there, the kind of man he is and the way he runs his program. It will be an honor to be out there Saturday going against him."
Snyder, who would get his 175th victory with a win over the Red Raiders, remembers his first meeting with Kingsbury. It was in Manhattan, Kan., in 2000 when Kingsbury was the starting quarterback under former Red Raiders coach Mike Leach. Kansas State (4-4, 2-3) won 28-23.
"He seemed like a pleasant young guy, bright as a quarterback," Snyder said. "I thought he was a good leader, so if somebody said at the time he would get into coaching, that wouldn't have surprised me."
The young coach who treats his players more like peers — while Snyder is more of a grandfatherly figure to his players — said the No. 25 Red Raiders (7-2, 4-2) will need to be on their toes in every facet of the game.
"All three phases are going to be well-coached, and they're not going to give you anything," Kingsbury said. "It's going to be one of those games where you have to make the play and take it, because there won't be any cheap ones."
Here are five things to watch when Kansas State plays Texas Tech:
TURNOVER TORRENT: The Red Raiders are tied for sixth worst in the nation with 22 turnovers in nine games, 14 interceptions and eight fumbles. Kansas State is not far behind with nine interceptions and nine fumbles in eight games to tie for ninth worst.
MUSICAL QBs: The Wildcats have two QBs and they use them both. Jake Waters is the better thrower, while Daniel Sams is the better rusher. It's taken some time but the duo have found a rhythm. Now, the key is "scoring whenever we get to the red zone," Sams said. "We cannot walk away with field goals."
RED RAIDERS DEFENSE: The Red Raiders defense will likely be without four starters — DL Dartwan Bush, LB Terrance Bullitt, and safeties J.J. Gaines and Tre Porter. Three of the four are senior, multi-year starters. "Our young guys have to step up," Kingsbury said. "When they're put in position to make plays, they have to make plays. So there are no excuses." The past two games Texas Tech has given up 288 and 277 yards rushing in its only losses and will face two of the Big 12's top 10 rushers in Sams (74.5 yards per game) and senior RB John Hubert (68.6 ypg).
REBOUNDING FROM LOSSES: Kingsbury isn't worried about his team's morale after back-to-back losses. He says his Red Raiders have yet to show their potential. "I've said all along, we haven't played our best game, and I think that's what keeps this group excited. When we do put it together, we can be pretty good."
BOWLING WILDCATS? Wildcats WR Tyler Lockett says teammates are tired of losing games and of things not going Kansas State's way. They need a win Saturday and another, either at TCU, at OU or at home against Kansas to be bowl eligible. "I think that everyone is starting the see that the storm is finally passing and that we see everything that we are capable of doing," he said.