At this point, there just aren’t any other ways to play close games. This season has brought more comeback wins than anyone cares for, a game saving tackle at the goal line, a late interception to seal the win, a failed attempt at tying the game as time expired, and now a four-overtime thriller. The Wildcats outlasted Texas A&M on Saturday in the first ever Big 12 football game to go into overtime in Manhattan, KS and moved to 8-2 on the season. Kansas State continues to laugh in the face of all those who doubt their ability to pull out victories. Anytime a game has a combined total of 103 points there’s going to be plenty to discuss so continue reading to see what was good, bad, and ugly in the game.
Beast Klein… Every time it seems like Collin Klein has shown his best, he comes back a week later to do even more. Klein had yet another career passing game completing 17 passes to 7 different receivers for 281 yards and a touchdown. He also rushed for 103 yards on 35 attempts. Yes, that’s right. 35 attempts. Klein is no doubt the Wildcat’s MVP at this point in the season and continues to do whatever is asked of him. The most important aspect of his game has nothing to do with his stats either. Klein brings the necessary attitude of grit and toughness on every play that permeates through the rest of the team and sets the tone for every game. At this point, he deserves to be in the mix of some major awards. Seriously, name 3 quarterbacks who produce more in stats and the intangibles.
Beast Harper… Every week there is a new player stepping up and producing in ways that everyone knew was possible but hadn’t yet been seen. Against A&M, that player was Chris Harper. Harper has shown more than a few flashes of greatness and on Saturday it all came together for his best performance as a Wildcat. Harper pulled in 4 catches for 134 yards and a TD. If you saw the game, you know some of those catches were incredible as well. With Lockett out for the season (which is incredibly horrible news) someone needed to grab the reigns and the transfer from Oregon was game.
Nigel Freaking Malone… Do not throw the comeback route on this guy! How is it possible that quarterbacks and offensive coordinators have not figured this out yet? Once again, Malone read the quarterback easily and stepped in front of a comeback route for the easy pick. Malone now sits tied for second in the nation with 7 total interceptions. The interception against A&M came at a huge moment in the game. Instead of the Aggies potentially marching down the field to score again and go up by at least 17, K-State got the ball back and scored a touchdown of their own. That’s a major swing in the game and put the Wildcats right back in it.
Kickin’ Cantele… Who knew?! All season long I’ve been talking about how worrisome it would be if the game came down to Cantele hitting a field goal and against Texas A&M he did it twice. The first time was with 2:12 left in the 4th to tie it up from 44 yards out. The second came in overtime number 2. This one was 38 yards and again had the win or loss riding on it. Keep it up Cantele!
Guts… No one would mind seeing the final two games of the season be big wins for K-State by a few touchdowns but if they end up going to the wire, there’s no question about whether or not this team can handle it. Here’s a sample of the guts that showed up against Texas A&M:
- Going for it on 4th and 1 with 5 minutes left in the first half on the 9-yard line when the conservative play choice is a FG. Of course, with Klein as the QB it’s a pretty makeable play but did anyone doubt they’d get it?
- Hubert lowering his shoulder and blasting the Texas A&M defender who was trying to tackle him on the drive that ended the 2nd quarter. That set the tone for that drive no doubt which ended with K-State scoring a TD to tie it up heading into halftime.
- The wedge. Again, is there ever any doubt that when the Wildcats have a yard or two and line up in the big formation that they won’t get what they need. The offensive line seems to go in to their own beast mode each time that plays called and crushes the opposing d-line smashing them backwards.
- 10 points in 4 minutes and 26 seconds in the 4th quarter. Klein hit Harper for 53 yards with a beautiful deep ball, there was a quick 3 and out by the defense, and then Cantele tied it up as already discussed. There’s no worry in close games at this point.
Offensive Offense… K-State sure as heck tried to let A&M run away with the game in the first half. Reverting back to the first game of the season, K-State managed only 23 yards of total offense up until Nigel Malone’s interception. It was a mixture of ugliness, nastiness, and complete sucktitude. The offensive line forgot how to block, the running backs forgot how to go north and south, and the results speak for themselves.
Taking Sacks… Klein had an overall great game but plenty of the sacks he took could have easily been avoided. To reach the next level of his playing ability, CK has got to recognize the times when all he needs to do is flip the ball out of bounds and head back to the huddle for the next play. Trying to extend the play is commendable but here’s a fine line between that and causing your team (which is not in any way designed for more than 10 yards per series) serious problems.
Rush Defense… In a cruel twist of fate, the pass defense played well so the rush defense decided to take the night off. The running lanes the A&M O-line opened were huge which led to back up running back Cyrus Gray rushing for 218 yards. All together, A&M finished with 272 yards on the ground and averaged 6.3 yards per carry. Unacceptable on every level especially for a team that has been able to force its own hand in that department.
Turnovers… Texas A&M came into the game with 7 total takeaways on the season. By the end of the game, they had 3 more. That’s exactly how you lose games that you should be able to win. No mas por favor.
Audibles… For as much good as the co-offensive coordinators did in this game sending out a balanced attack, something has to change with the audible system. Game after game there’s been trouble getting plays in on time and plenty of time outs have been wasted. Even when the snap is off in time, the O-line doesn’t have the ability to set up their blocking scheme and the defense pours through to disrupt things. K-State fans are tired of having to count down the play clock and let the coaching staff know it with their boos.