Published November 20, 2014
The 17th-ranked Kansas State Wildcats travel to Lubbock this weekend for a Big 12 clash with the Texas Tech Red Raiders, who lost their first game of the season last weekend at home against Texas A&M.
Kansas State has won two straight conference games, including last weekend's 24-17 win over Missouri that was keyed by a quick start. The Wildcats have won their first two conference games of the season for the first time in 11 years. Kansas State will go on the road to meet rival Kansas on October 22 in Lawrence, followed by the start of a gauntlet of Big 12 heavyweights, with games against Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Texas A&M in successive weeks near the back end of the schedule. Kansas State is just one of 13 remaining unbeaten teams in the country.
"Being 5-0 is great. We have really worked hard as a team to get where we are right now," offensive lineman B.J. Finney said Tuesday at the Kansas State weekly press conference. "The main thing is that we cannot forget what got us here, and we have to work hard to continue to get better."
Texas Tech had won seven straight games before last weekend's 45-40 setback to the Aggies in Lubbock. Seth Doege is the latest Red Raider quarterback to produce giant numbers in recent years, but he will face one of the best defenses in all the country this weekend in Kansas State. Texas Tech travels to Norman next weekend for a meeting with the powerful Oklahoma Sooners.
Texas Tech leads the all-time series 8-3 against Kansas State.
Kansas State's offense is keyed by multi-dimensional quarterback Collin Klein, who has completed 58-of-101 passes for 593 yards and six touchdowns against three interceptions. He averages 93.6 yards rushing per game as well, and as scored seven touchdowns on the ground. That's slightly lower than the team's leading rusher John Hubert, who puts up 93.8 yards per game. Kansas State relies heavily on the run (208.6), and is just 115th in passing offense (127) and 71st in scoring offense (27). Chris Harper is the team's leading receiver, averaging 3.8 receptions and 45.2 yards per game.
The Wildcat defense picked off the first pass from scrimmage last weekend against Missouri, which set up the first score of the day, and the rest of the team didn't look back in the win. Kansas State held the Tigers to just 112 yards rushing, and on the year, are allowing just 92.4 yards per game on the ground. Overall, the Wildcats are 17th nationally in total defense (298.8), 15th in scoring defense (16.6) and 39th in pass defense (206.4). The unit generates 2.4 sacks per game, and Nigel Malone is tied for ninth nationally in interceptions, with three in five games. Kansas State is only allowing a 29.7 percent conversion rate on third down (19-of-64).
"Defensively, we have begun to express that spirit a little bit more," said Kansas State head coach Bill Snyder Monday at the Kansas State weekly press conference. "I think it is beneficial for them. They like, appreciate, enjoy celebrating a good performance."
Texas Tech is benefiting tremendously from the talents of Doege, who has thrown for over 1,700 yards, 17 touchdowns and just one interception this season. He has also proved to have nimble feet, running for 91 yards on 27 rushes through five games. His top targets are Eric Ward and Alex Torres. Ward averages six catches and 57.8 yards per game (along with eight touchdowns), while Torres posts 4.6 catches and 55.4 yards per outing. Texas Tech, which ranks 6th in passing offense (354.6) , runs the football very effectively. The Red Raiders put up 170 yards per game, led by Eric Stephens, who is ranked 15th nationally with 114 yards per game. Texas Tech averages 524.6 yards of total offense, which ranks seventh nationally.
The Red Raiders give up 420.2 yards per game, including 224.2 yards rushing, which is ranked 115th nationally. Opponents have hung 113 points on the Red Raiders in the past three games. Texas Tech is playing really well against the pass this season, giving up just 196 yards through the air. The unit has 11 takeaways (four interceptions, seven fumbles) and has recorded eight sacks.