Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
Kansas State came into Lubbock knowing how quickly and effortlessly Texas Tech was capable of scoring, and the question seemed to be whether the suddenly efficient Wildcat offense would keep up. That story changed by the end of the first half. After trading scores in the first quarter, K-State broke open the game and took a 35-10 lead into the locker room, and then withstood a Texas Tech rally to triumph 49-26.
The two teams seemed to play a little role reversal in the first half. With Tech receiving the opening kickoff, the Red Raiders put together a 14-play, 69-yard drive that ended with a 23-yard field goal. Then, on the second play of K-State’s first possession, John Hubert took the hand off up the middle and then 63 yards for a touchdown. Tech responded with a touchdown drive that took 15 plays and just over four minutes. While Tech is known as an explosive unit to Bill Snyder’s plodding approach, at that point Texas Tech had run 29 plays compared to two for K-State with the score 10-7.
However, that was the last time Texas Tech would look competitive in the first half. Despite losing Ty Zimmerman to a shoulder injury (he would later return for a few plays, then leave, then come back, but you’ll read about that later), Tech was shut out the rest of the way while the Wildcats scored 28 straight points.
Among the best defensive stops was when Kliff Kingsbury inserted Baker Mayfield into the game at quarterback to inject some life into the team. On second down Travis Britz bullied his way into the backfield for a sack, and then on third Ryan Mueller recorded yet another forced fumble when he got to Mayfield. The turnover resulted in K-State’s first passing touchdown when Jake Waters found Tramaine Thompson from the 20-yard line to pull ahead 35-10 with 2:24 left to play. At that point John Hubert already had 97 yards and a touchdown.
K-State obviously came into the game expecting to run, and didn’t have an official pass attempt until four minutes into the second quarter. However, the Wildcats were so successful on the ground they didn’t have to, and once the lead started growing, the impetus to run only grew. However, Texas Tech came out of the locker room ready to finally stop K-State, and forced its first punt on a three-and-out to begin the second half. An awful punt of 27 yards by Mark Krause gave Tech excellent field position and Mayfield was able to punch in a touchdown. However, Travis Britz recorded his fourth blocked kick of the year, deflecting the PAT to limit the damage to six.
The Wildcats struggled again on the next drive and were forced to punt again, but Tech was limited to just a field goal its next possession. The Red Raiders took K-State by surprise and attempted an onside which initially bounced off a Wildcats and could have completed a momentum swing, but K-State did recover and Daniel Sams recorded his second touchdown of the day to go up 42-19.
Texas Tech had struggled with interceptions all year, but didn’t throw one going into the fourth quarter. Yet with Mayfield looking downfield and an injured Zimmerman playing through pain and a lack of mobility picked the ball off and returned it back for a touchdown. 49-19.
Ryan Mueller had another sack-fumble on Tech’s next drive that the announcers informed me should have been a turnover, but was ruled Red Raider football. At that point Mueller had three sacks, Tech was down 30 points with 13 minutes to play, and Red Raider fans were headed out the stadium.
K-State salted the rest of the game away, running a vanilla running attack that sought to gain a few small chunks of yards and run down the clock on Texas Tech. The Jake Waters/Daniel Sams combo only attempted 11 passes on the day, but didn’t need any more as K-State was very successful in winning the field position battle, dominating the line of scrimmage, and pulling out the victory that puts K-State one win away from bowl eligibility and make the Wildcats one of the hottest teams in the Midwest. Quick stats:
- Iowa State was the first game this year K-State had a positive turnover margin. The Wildcats were +3, demonstrating the best ball security of the season. (One of those was an interception by Randall Evans on a desperation heave towards the end of the game. However, K-State also forced two fumbles that Tech recovered).
- Waters and Sams were 7/11 passing for 76 yards.
- That opened up the opportunity for a big day by Hubert. He finished with season highs in carries (23) and yards (157). He also had a touchdown to go along with his 6.8 yard average.
- Sams averaged even more yards on his feet (7.4) with 81 yards on 11 attempts.
- Robert Rose had a carry for eight yards in the first half. He fumbled and appeared to injure his ankle late in the game against Iowa State, so it was good to see him back.
- Texas Tech actually had more yardage, outgaining K-State 454-358. That’s what happens when you play smart football, forcing turnovers and using special teams to secure good field position.
- K-State had six penalties for 62 yards – one of which allowed Tech to continue a scoring drive after halting them on 3rd down. Tech had eight penalties for 80.
- K-State have five sacks.
- K-State won, 49-26. That’s a fun stat to type. Also, called it 😉