A LOOK AT K-STATE
• K-State dropped to 4-2 overall and 4-1 in Big 12 play with last week’s road loss at West Virginia, snapping a four-game winning streak to begin conference play.
• The week prior, K-State knocked off Kansas, 55-14, a victory that was fueled by two punt-return touchdowns, a pick six and a balanced offensive attack.
• Will Howard is in line to start his fourth-straight game on Saturday. With wins in his first two starts at TCU and against Kansas, he became the first K-State true freshman signal caller to win his first two starts at quarterback.
• Another true freshman, running back Deuce Vaughn, continues to impress as he leads the team in rushing and receiving, the only player in the Big 12 to lead his team in both categories.
• Vaughn is also one of only two players in the nation to eclipse 300 rushing yards and 300 receiving yards in 2020, joining Clemson running back Travis Etienne.
• K-State is currently plus-6 in turnovers, which is tied for fourth in the nation. The Wildcats lost their first turnover of the year in the third quarter at TCU, while they had a season-high three last week at West Virginia.
• In consecutive wins over TCU and KU, the Wildcats scored two touchdowns via punt returns and also had two interception-return touchdowns – one by AJ Parker (at TCU) the other by Justin Gardner (vs. Kansas).
• A pair of senior linebackers from Georgia, Justin Hughes (37) and Elijah Sullivan (32), are among the Wildcats’ top tacklers, along with safety Jahron McPherson (35).
• A total of 16 Cats have tallied at least a half tackle for loss, while nine players have at least one sack. The list includes junior Wyatt Hubert, who ranks 12th nationally among active players in career sacks per game (0.48).
• McPherson and Gardner lead the team with a pair of interceptions, which is tied for first in the Big 12 and 20th nationally. Gardner also leads the Big 12 in passes defended.
• Kansas State’s special teams ranks first nationally in efficiency according to ESPN thanks in large part to a blocked kick in each of the first four games and two punt return scores against Kansas by Big 12 Special Teams Player of the Week Phillip Brooks.
• Senior place kicker Blake Lynch is 8-for-12 for the year but 2-for-3 from 50 or more yards. He connected on a game-winning 50-yard field goal at Oklahoma, while he set a new career long with a 53-yarder at TCU.
A LOOK AT OKLAHOMA STATE
• Oklahoma State is coming off a 41-34 overtime loss at home to Texas, falling to 4-1 overall and 3-1 in the Big 12.
• The Cowboys boast a dynamic trio of offensive weapons in quarterback Spencer Sanders, running back Chuba Hubbard and wide receiver Tylan Wallace.
• Sanders, who missed two games, has thrown for 658 yards and five touchdowns this season, while he has 91 rushing yards and one score on the ground.
• OSU’s ground attack is led by Chuba Hubbard, who has 550 yards and five scores in addition to a touchdown reception.
• Wallace leads all Cowboys receivers with 558 yards and four touchdowns.
• The Cowboys’ defense ranks first in the Big 12 and 14th nationally in scoring (9.6 points per game), while OSU is second in the Big 12 in total defense (299.8 yards per game).
• Additionally, Oklahoma State leads the nation in third down defense, allowing opponents to convert only 18.1% (13-of-72) of the time.
A LOOK AT THE SERIES
• Oklahoma State leads the all-time series, 40-26, but the series is tied, 8-8, since the Big 12 began in 1996.
• Games between the Wildcats and Cowboys have been hotly contested as of late with eight of the last 13 games being decided by a touchdown or less.
• The last time the teams met in Manhattan, K-State held a slim 6-3 lead at halftime before outscoring the Cowboys, 28-6, in the second half for a convincing 31-12 victory.
• The year prior, Kansas State earned a 45-40 win over No. 10 Oklahoma State in Stillwater, the Wildcats’ first win at Oklahoma State since 1999.
NOVEMBER TO REMEMBER?
• Kansas State enters the month of November with a 4-1 Big 12 record to tie Iowa State atop the conference standings.
• It is the first time K-State enters November with at least a share of first place in the Big 12 since 2014. That season, the Wildcats were 4-0 to begin November, a half-game ahead of West Virginia. K-State finished the 2014 campaign with a 7-2 Big 12 record, just one game back of a tie for first between TCU and Baylor.
TWO OF THE BIG 12’S BEST
• Saturday’s matchup between K-State and Oklahoma State features two of the top teams in the Big 12 both historically and as of late, as the Wildcats rank third in all-time Big 12 victories and the Cowboys rank fourth.
• The Wildcats also rank third in the conference in winning percentage since round-robin play began in 2011. They sit at 61.6% (53-33), trailing only Oklahoma (81.4%; 70-16) and Oklahoma State (64.7%; 55-30). No other team is above 60%.
• Kansas State has played many young players this year as a total of 45 underclassmen (freshmen and sophomore) have seen action in at least one game, representing 51.1% of the 88 Wildcats that have played this season.
• Of the group of underclassmen, 23 freshmen have played, including eight true freshmen. Of the freshmen, four have tallied starts in right tackle Cooper Beebe (4), running back Deuce Vaughn (4), quarterback Will Howard (3) and defensive back Will Jones II (2).
• When taking the entire roster into account, the Wildcats have 65.6% of its players (55-of-128) that are underclassmen, a figure that ranks sixth nationally among teams that have played this season.
BREAKING IN NEW STARTERS
• K-State has used the beginning of the 2020 season to break in new starters as the Wildcats have 17 first-time starters this season.
• That figure is tied for sixth nationally but tied for first among Power 5 programs.
A WINNING HISTORY
• A proven winner with a championship history, Chris Klieman holds an 84-20 career record as his 80.8% winning percentage ranks 10th among all NCAA coaches – regardless of division – among those with at least seven full years of experience.
• Klieman came to Manhattan after capping his five-year stint as head coach at North Dakota State by winning his fourth national championship in 2018. A native of Waterloo, Iowa, Klieman guided the 2018 Bison to a perfect 15-0 record, making NDSU just the fifth team in FCS history to go undefeated and untied on the way to a national championship.
WIN THE TURNOVER BATTLE
• One of the formulas of success for Kansas State under Chris Klieman is winning the turnover battle, which the Wildcats have done in four of six games this year.
• The Wildcats are plus-six this season in turnover margin, which is tied for fourth in the nation.
• K-State turned the ball over for the first time this season in the third quarter at TCU. The Wildcats went the first 211:53 of game time before their first turnover of 2020.
• K-State has turned its 11 turnovers gained this season into 42 points (7.0 points/game), while opponents have scored 14 points (2.3 points/game) off a total of five turnovers by the Cats.
CATS TOPS IN NON-OFFENSIVE TDs
• K-State is the nation’s best in non-offensive touchdowns over the last 21-plus seasons as it has 122 since 1999, 12 more than the next closest team.
• Kansas State had three non-offensive touchdowns in the win against Kansas as Phillip Brooks returned two punts for scores, while Justin Gardner returned an interception for a touchdown.
• It was the first time the Wildcats had three non-offensive touchdowns in one game since doing so against Montana State in 2008, while it was the first time K-State had a punt return score and a pick-six since the 2007 Texas game.
• Since 1999, K-State was averaging 5.6 non-offensive scores per year entering 2020, while the yearly average for the other 105 teams to play FBS football since 1999 is 2.7.
• K-State has had at least five non-offensive scores in seven of the last nine years, including the 2019 season.
GOING THE DISTANCE
• K-State has put together five scoring drives of 90 yards or longer this season, which ties for the most since 2000 by a Wildcat team (2008).
• The five drives this year spanned 92 yards against Arkansas State, 97 yards against Texas Tech, 94 yards against KU and a pair of 91-yard drives at TCU, one of which resulted in a field goal.
• Dating back to last season, K-State has eight scoring drives that have spanned at least 90 yards, which is the most in a two-year span since 2000.
• Last season, K-State had touchdown drives of 97 yards (Nicholls), 95 yards (TCU) and 98 yards (Iowa State).
• The long drives this season have been aided by the fact that K-State has five plays from scrimmage of at least 60 yards.
RED ZONE SUCCESS
• K-State finished the 2019 season with 39-straight scoring trips inside the red zone, the most by the Wildcats since at least 2003. That helped K-State finish first in the nation with a 96.2% conversion rate.
• Of K-State’s 21 red zone chances this year, 15 have resulted in touchdowns and the other six were made field goals.
• K-State’s current red zone scoring streak of 60 is the best by the Wildcats during the Big 12 era (56 between 2015 and 2016) and is the longest active streak in the Big 12.
TAKE CARE OF THE FOOTBALL
• In 18 games under head coach Chris Klieman, K-State has only committed 15 offensive turnovers, including just five this season. The first turnover this year was an interception at TCU as the Wildcats went 211 minutes, 53 seconds into the season prior to their first turnover.
• Last season, K-State tied for first in the Big 12 with only 14 turnovers lost, but three were on punt returns and one was on an interception return.
• K-State was the final team in the nation last year to commit an offensive turnover when it fumbled at Oklahoma State. The Cats went the first 189 minutes, 38 seconds of the 2019 season without committing an offensive turnover.
REBUILDING THE LINE
• K-State has been putting the pieces together for the 2020 offensive line, one that did not return a single start from last season.
• It marked the first time since at least the 1989 season that the Wildcats did not return any starts from the previous season.
• Last year’s starting offensive line finished with a combined 208 games played and 159 career starts. This year’s initial two-deep totaled 52 games played and three starts entering the year. Of those, 13 career games and one start are from Logan Long, who has converted from tight end to offensive line this season.
WILLING K-STATE TO VICTORY
• A native of Downingtown, Pennsylvania, Will Howard earned his first-career start at TCU and became the first K-State true freshman quarterback to win his first-career road start.
• For his effort against the Horned Frogs, Howard was named the Big 12 Newcomer of the Week.
• He backed that up with a win in his first start in a home game against Kansas. He became the first Wildcat true freshman quarterback to win his first two career starts, while he was the first true freshman signal caller in three tries to win against K-State’s in-state rival (Duane Howard in 1976; Josh Freeman in 2006).
BIG PLAY WILL
• One of the reasons Will Howard has found early success is that he has been involved in three of K-State’s five plays from scrimmage that have spanned at least 66 yards.
• Against Texas Tech, Howard threw a 70-yard, game-clinching touchdown pass to Deuce Vaughn, while he also had a 66-yarder to Briley Moore earlier in the fourth quarter to set up the go-ahead score.
• It was the first time a K-State quarterback threw two passes of at least 65 yards in the same game since Jesse Ertz in the 2017 season opener against Central Arkansas.
• Then, on the third offensive play of the game at TCU, Howard ran 80 yards to set up an early field goal. It was the seventh-longest run ever by a Wildcat and the second longest by a K-State quarterback (91 yards by Ell Roberson against Nebraska in 2002).
MAKING A SPLASH
• K-State doesn’t only have a true freshman quarterback making headlines, running back Deuce Vaughn has been on fire to begin his collegiate career.
• Vaughn is one of only two players in the nation this season to tally at least 300 rushing yards and 300 receiving yards. The other is Clemson running back Travis Etienne (606 rushing, 434 receiving).
• A product of Round Rock, Texas, Vaughn is also the only player in the Big 12 to lead his team in both rushing yards and receiving yards.
• Vaughn has already begun to etch his name in the K-State record book. He ranks fourth in school history in rushing yards by a freshman, while he is also fourth in receiving yards among freshmen, but he is the only true freshman and running back on the list. He also ranks fourth in school history in receiving yards among running backs.
DEUCE ON THE LOOSE
• Deuce Vaughn put together consecutive games of at least 170 yards from scrimmage against Oklahoma (194 yards) and Texas Tech (174 yards), third and sixth best scrimmage-yard efforts in the Big 12 this year, respectively.
• At No. 3 Oklahoma, he became the fifth running back in school history – and first freshman – to tally a 100-yard receiving game. It was the fifth most in a single game by a running back in Big 12 history and the most by a freshman.
• Against Texas Tech, the Round Rock, Texas, native was the first Wildcat true freshman to rush for 100 yards in a game since 2008 (Logan Dold vs. Texas A&M).
• For his efforts, Vaughn was named the Big 12 Newcomer of the Week following both contests.
• One of the top tight ends from the FCS level in 2018, Briley Moore is in his second senior season and his first campaign at K-State.
• Moore, a transfer from Northern Iowa, has started his Wildcat career on the right foot by as he has a team-leading 19 receptions for 271 yards and three touchdowns. Through six games, those are already the best by a Wildcat tight end for an entire season since Zach Trujillo had 19 catches for 389 yards in 13 games during the 2014 season.
• His three receiving touchdowns this year are tied for fourth in school history among tight ends and two shy of tying the record (Henry Childs, 1972).
• Against Texas Tech, Moore had a 66-yard catch, a career long and the longest by a Wildcat tight end since Jeron Mastrud also had a 66-yarder at Kansas in 2006.
• Last season, Kansas State held 11 of its 12 opponents under their season scoring averages for the season, including double-digit differences in Big 12 play against Oklahoma State (-18.5), TCU (-20.2), Kansas (-17.8), Texas (-12.1) and Iowa State (-17.1).
• It has been more of the same for the Wildcats in Big 12 play in 2020 under new defensive coordinator Joe Klanderman as the Wildcats held their first four conference foes below their season scoring averages.
• K-State enters this week’s game ranked fourth in the Big 12 in scoring defense by allowing 26.0 points per game. The Wildcats’ 24.2 points allowed in conference play ranks third.
BEHIND THE LINE
• A total 16 Wildcats have totaled at least a half tackle for loss – including 10 that have notched at least 2.0 – to give the Wildcats 39 stops behind the line this season.
• K-State’s 39 TFLs through six games are the most since the 2007 team had 40 in their first six contests.
• This year’s total was given a boost last week at West Virginia when K-State totaled 9.0 tackles for loss, its most since the 2016 regular-season finale at TCU (11.0).
• The Kansas State defense has started the 2020 campaign with seven interceptions, tying for 16th in the nation and ranking second in the Big 12.
• The Wildcats’ seven interceptions in the first six games of the season are the most since the 2014 squad had eight.
• The Wildcats intercepted one pass in the season opener and followed that up with three in the win at No. 3 Oklahoma. It was K-State’s first three-interception game since the 2018 contest at West Virginia.
WILEY PLAYING WILD
• Senior defensive tackle Drew Wiley entered the season with 21 tackles and 2.0 tackles for loss in 38 games as a reserve over his first three seasons.
• Starting the first six games of 2020, the Vinton, Iowa, product has been a dominant force in the interior of the Wildcat defensive line as he has 18 tackles, including 7.0 TFLs and 3.5 sacks.
• Wiley is the first K-State interior defensive lineman with at least 7.0 TFLs and 3.5 sacks in a season since Will Geary in 2017.
• He set a new career high with seven tackles at West Virginia, the most by a Wildcat interior defensive lineman since Geary tallied eight at TCU in the 2016 regular-season finale. The contest against the Mountaineers featured 2.5 TFLs, the most by a Wildcat interior defensive lineman since Geary had 3.0 against Baylor in 2017.
WYATT’S COMING FOR YOU
• One of the top young defensive ends in the Big 12 the last two seasons is looking to improve his production as a junior as Wyatt Hubert is back after earning First Team All-Big 12 honors in 2019.
• Hubert also earned votes for the league’s defensive player of the year and defensive lineman of the year awards last season.
• The Topeka, Kansas, native ranks 12th nationally among active players in career sacks per game (0.48), while he is 17th in tackles for loss per game (0.87).
• Kansas State has always been known to have excellent special teams, and that trend has continued in 2020.
• The Wildcats rank first nationally in special teams efficiency according to ESPN.
• K-State blocked punts in the first three games of the season and came back with a blocked field goal at TCU.
• It is the first time K-State has blocked a kick in four-straight games since at least 1990. Additionally, the blocked punts in the first three games marked the first time the Wildcats accomplished that feat in three-consecutive games since 1995 (Nebraska, Kansas and Oklahoma).
• K-State was the first team in the FBS to block kicks in each of the first four games of a season since Texas did so in 2016.
• When the Wildcats blocked punts in each of the first three games, they were the first FBS team to do so since Memphis in 2012.
SCORING IN THE THIRD PHASE
• Kansas State has been far and away the best team among FBS programs over the last 16 years when it comes to scoring via a kickoff or punt return.
• The Wildcats have a combined 55 kickoff- and punt-return touchdowns since 2005, 23 more than any other FBS school during that stretch.
• Of the 116 other schools to play FBS football since 2005, the average total over those 15 years is 13.3, or nearly 40 less than K-State.
BROOKS’ HISTORIC DAY
• Sophomore Phillip Brooks put together a historic performance against Kansas, setting the school record with 189 punt-return yards and becoming the first player in school history with two punt-return touchdowns in a single game.
• A product of Lee’s Summit, Missouri, Brooks’ two punt-return touchdowns were the most by a Big 12 player in a conference game in school history.
• Additionally, his 47.25-yd avg on punt returns vs. Kansas were the most by any player nationally with at least 4 attempts since 1996.
• For his effort against the Jayhawks, Brooks picked up Big 12 Special Teams Player of the Week accolades.
LYNCH IS ACCURATE
• Senior Blake Lynch has proven to be an accurate kicker as his career field goal percentage of 83.7% (41-for-49) currently ranks 10th nationally among active players and is second in school history.
• Lynch, a two-time Lou Groza Award candidate, ranked third in school history a year ago with his 90.5% mark.
• After going 2-for-6 from 45 yards or longer in his first two seasons as the primary kicker, Blake Lynch has turned in a pair of field goals from 50 or more yards this season, the first two of his career.
• At Oklahoma, Lynch connected on the eventual game-winning, 50-yard field goal with 4:32 left in the game. It was the first field goal of 50 or more yards that served as the game winner with less than five minutes remaining.
• Lynch, who also connected on a 53-yarder at TCU, is now tied for fourth in school history in 50-plus yard field goal connections in a season. He needs one more to tie the record.