Matthew Emmons-US PRESSWIRE
What we learned tonight: K-State doesn’t need a great passing game from Collin Klein to be successful. We know this because Klein definitely did not have a great passing game tonight. After three quarters, number seven was 10 for 19 for only 129 yards, no touchdowns, and an interception. More surprising was that the team actually had more yards passing than rushing. Expect Mack Brown to spend more hours watching this game than any others of K-State’s in preparation for their December 1 showdown – at least when K-State has the ball. The only thing he’ll learn about what to do against K-State’s defense is put about 11 offensive linemen on the field, because that’s how many it will take to protect quarterback David Ash.
Following this game, expect a lot more talk on the national level about K-State as an elite defense. Some of the attention was there before, but this was the type of take notice performance that should convert the last vestiges of doubters down south and on the coast. The Wildcats weren’t able to secure the shutout, but holding the Horned Frogs to three points until garbage time is very impressive – TCU was averaging 34 points going into tonight. The bigger question is whether the offense will still be considered that dangerous. In addition to games against Iowa State and Oklahoma, this is the third time Kansas State’s offense has demonstrated it may struggle to go touchdown for touchdown against Oregon. Here are the stats that paint tonight’s story:
- K-State was once again the most disciplined team on the field, and was only flagged once for five yards (false start). That’s almost perfect. TCU had four for 25 yards.
- K-State failed won the turnover battle for the first time this year, getting two takeaways while coughing the ball up once on Klein’s interception and a fumble by Angelo Pease with two minutes left in the game.
- K-State’s linebackers demonstrated excellent tackling form. While not necessarily a statistic, it is a fact.
- K-State was outscored 0-10 in the final quarter of play. Granted, they were playing safe with the playcalling after going up 23-0, but getting outscored is getting outscored.
- Two key players for K-State had to be helped off the field (in addition to Ty Zimmerman earlier in the game, Tyler Lockett’s ankle was rolled after a TCU defender flew into his legs). As per Bill Snyder protocol, fans likely won’t know the nature or extent of their injuries until next Saturday.
- TCU outgained K-State in total yardage, 279-261.
- Time of possession was nearly identical.
Statistically, these two teams played to a draw. Similar yardage output. Both had very low penalty yardage, and each was tagged with two turnovers. So what was the big difference? Special teams. Kansas State’s punts were nine yards farther than TCU’s on average, and the Wildcats had 60 yards in punt returns to none for TCU. Additionally, K-State’s defense applied its patented ‘bend-but-don’t-break’ style, allowing at least one decent play every drive but also coming up with sacks, tackles for loss, broken passes, and straight up stops when they were truly needed. There were no beauty points awarded tonight, but the scoreboard still stands at 23-10.
What does it all mean as far as the rankings are concerned? Alabama lost earlier today to Texas A&M, and it wasn’t on a last-second field goal. Alabama was outplayed today, and a new #1 will be crowned tomorrow. It won’t be Notre Dame, who’s looking very unimpressive against a two-win Boston College team at the moment. Oregon plays later tonight, and should win against Cal. Cal doesn’t do much for Oregon’s strength-of-schedule, and assuming the computers keep showing the Big 12 as much love as they traditionally do, the Wildcats will likely own their first BCS #1 ranking heading into next week’s game in Waco against Baylor.