Wildcats return home to face 18th ranked Texas

Sep, 8, 2018; Manhattan, Kansas, USA; during the game between the K-State Wildcats and Mississippi State Bulldogs at Snyder Family Stadium ©Kelly Ross

MANHATTAN, Kan. (K-State Athletics) Following a tough road loss to No. 12 West Virginia, Kansas State returns home on Saturday to host an 18th-ranked Texas team that has won three games in a row heading into the weekend. The game will kick at 2:30 p.m., at Bill Snyder Family Stadium and will be shown nationally on FS1 with Tim Brando (play-by-play), Spencer Tillman (analyst) and Holly Sonders (sidelines) on the call. The game can be heard across the 39-station K-State Sports Network with Wyatt Thompson (play-by-play), former K-State quarterback Stan Weber (analyst) and Matt Walters (sidelines) calling the action. The game will also be on Sirius channel 106, XM Channel 200 in addition to the TuneIn app. Live stats are available at k-statesports.com, and Twitter updates (@KStateFB) will also be a part of the coverage.

A LOOK AT K-STATE

• K-State fell to 2-2 on the year following a 35-6 setback to No. 12 West Virginia in a game that saw the Wildcat defense force four turnovers.

• K-State has played both Skylar Thompson and Alex Delton in the first four games, with Thompson earning all four starts. He threw for a career-high 213 yards and three total touchdowns (2 pass, 1 rush) against UTSA and also rushed for 66 yards.

• Wide receiver Isaiah Zuber has tallied his first two career 100-yard receiving games in the last two weeks, going for 144 yards against UTSA and 133 at West Virginia. He also caught the game-winning touchdown pass late in the game against South Dakota and returned a punt 85 yards for a score against the Coyotes.

• The running game is solidified by the Wildcats’ leading rusher a year ago, Alex Barnes, who is fourth in the Big 12 in rushing at 69.2 yards per game. He recorded the fourth 100-yard rushing game of his career in the season opener, but he has become more of a receiving threat this year with seven catches for 65 yards.

• Defensively, K-State held South Dakota to just 77 yards on the ground and 334 total yards, while UTSA came away with 300 total yards, 119 of which came in the fourth quarter.

• Senior defensive back Duke Shelley is third on the team with 17 tackles and has eight passes defended, the latter tying for second in the Big 12 and seventh nationally.

• Three different Wildcats recorded interceptions against West Virginia last week, all of which were the first in the careers of AJ Parker, Johnathan Durham and Jahron McPherson.

• Needing to replace a four-year place kicker, Blake Lynch has stepped right in to connect on 9-of-11 field goals, the most through four games under Snyder. Lynch is fifth nationally in field goals per game, and his only misses were from 52 and 50 yards.

A LOOK AT TEXAS

• Texas comes into the weekend as one of the hottest teams in the Big 12 with consecutive wins over Tulsa, No. 22 USC and No. 17 TCU.

• The Longhorns are averaging 32.0 points per game during their current winning streak while limiting their opponents to 17.0 over the same stretch.

• Quarterback Sam Ehlinger has stepped into a leadership role, throwing for 978 yards and eight scores. Receivers Lil’Jordan Humphrey and Collin Johnson have combined for 41 catches and five touchdowns.

• On defense, the Horns are ranked second in the Big 12 in rushing defense (117.0) and second in pass efficiency defense (113.2 rating).

A LOOK AT THE SERIES

• The Wildcats lead the all-time series, 10-8, including a 9-5 margin since the two became Big 12 foes.

• Among current Big 12 teams that were original members of the league, K-State’s .643 winning percentage against Texas ranks first, just ahead of Oklahoma (13-9; .591).

• K-State is riding a five-game home winning streak over Texas as the Longhorns’ last win in Manhattan was in 2002.

• The Wildcats are 7-1 all-time at home against Texas.

• The home team has won the last six meetings, including last year’s 40-34 double overtime victory by Texas.

• Kansas State won, 24-21, in the last meeting in Manhattan in 2016, while the Wildcats blanked UT, 23-0, the previous time at Bill Snyder Family Stadium in 2014.

BIG 12 HOME OPENERS

• K-State holds a 14-8 all-time record in Big 12 home openers, including a 1-0 mark against Texas (1998).

• The Wildcats have won two-straight Big 12 home openers and are looking for their first three-game winning streak in conference home lid lifters since 1997-99.

SNYDER IN SEPTEMBER

• Fast starts have propelled the Wildcats to winning seasons under Bill Snyder. Since 1992 under Snyder, K-State is a combined 69-11 (.863) in September.

• Of the losses, seven came on the road, as the Cats are 56-4 (.933) in September home games during that stretch.

• K-State saw a nine-game winning streak in September home games snapped three weeks ago against No. 18 Mississippi State.

• Since Snyder’s return to the sidelines in 2009, K-State is 27-8 (.771) in the month of September.

SUSTAINABLE SUCCESS

• Kansas State is in rare company in college football as the Wildcats rank in the top 20 in wins among FBS programs over the last 23 seasons.

• Since 1995, K-State has picked up 193 victories, which ranks 19th in the nation.

• The only current Big 12 teams to rank higher are Oklahoma (3rd; 223), Texas (13th; 206) and TCU (15th; 198).

ONE OF THE BIG 12’S BEST

• K-State is one of only three teams in the Big 12 to reach 100 league wins since the league’s inception in 1996.

• The Wildcats also rank third in the conference in winning percentage since round-robin play began in 2011. They sit at .641 (41-23), trailing only Oklahoma (.813; 52-12) and Oklahoma State (.688; 44-20).

• During that stretch, the Wildcats are 22-10 (.688) at home in Big 12 play and 19-13 (.594) on the road.

• K-State, picked sixth by the league’s media in the Big 12 preseason poll, has finished in the top four of the conference in five of the last seven years.

THE HALL OF FAMER

• The architect of the “greatest turnaround in the history of college football,” Bill Snyder is in his 27th season at K-State.

• Snyder is just the fourth person in the history of college football to be inducted into the Hall of Fame as an active coach when he was enshrined in 2015.

• Snyder, who has 212 wins, is one of just six coaches to reach the 200-win mark and coach at only one school.

• Holding 173 more victories than any other coach in K-State history, Snyder ranks first in the FBS in wins among coaches at their current schools and second in total wins among active coaches (FBS schools only).

• Snyder has 123 conference wins to stand as one of four coaches with 100 Big 8/12 victories (Tom Osborne [153], Bob Stoops [121], Barry Switzer [100]).

TWICE AS NICE

• Bill Snyder is one of two FBS coaches all time to have two different tenures at one school and record at least 70 wins each time after winning 136 games from 1989-2005 and 76 games since 2009.

• Snyder joins Vanderbilt’s Dan McGugin, who had 95 wins from 1904-17 and 102 wins from 1919-34.

• There are only 11 teams in the FBS that have had the same head coach since 2009. Of those, only Nick Saban, Dabo Swinney, Mike Gundy and Snyder have won at least six games every year over the nine-year span.

DRAWING FIRST BLOOD

• Since 1990, K-State is 166-34 (.830) when scoring first.

• K-State is 20-5 in that department over the last four seasons, including a 5-3 mark in 2017.

• Under Bill Snyder, K-State is 153-27 (.850) when scoring first.

LEADING AT THE HALF

• Under Bill Snyder, the Wildcats are 180-11 (.942) when leading at halftime, including a 61-4 (.938) mark in Snyder’s second tenure, which began in 2009.

• The Wildcats finished the 2017 campaign with a 7-1 record when leading at the half.

• The lone blemish last season was against No. 9 Oklahoma when the Wildcats led, 21-10, at halftime before the Sooners scored a touchdown with seven seconds left in the game to win, 42-35.

CATS TOPS IN NON-OFFENSIVE TDs

• K-State is the nation’s best in non-offensive touchdowns over the last 19 seasons with 112 since 1999, eight more than the next closest team and one of only two to top 100.

• Entering 2018, the Wildcats averaged 5.8 non-offensive scores per year since 1999, while the yearly average for the other 105 teams to play FBS football since then is 3.3.

• Kansas State has at least five non-offensive touchdowns in six of the last seven years, which includes three last year by 2018 returners. Two of them came from Kendall Adams, who had both a pick-six and a fumble-return touchdown against Charlotte, while Duke Shelley returned an interception for a score at Texas Tech.

• The first non-offensive touchdown for the Wildcats this year was an 85-yard punt return score by Isaiah Zuber in the season opener against South Dakota.

• Since 1990, the Wildcats are 62-17 when scoring on special teams and 20-1 when scoring on special teams and defense, including an 18-0 mark under Bill Snyder.

NON-OFFENSIVE TD RECORDS

• Under head coach Bill Snyder, K-State is 76-21 (.784) when scoring a non-offensive touchdown, while the Cats are 57-14 (.803) since 1999 in that department.

• Since Snyder returned to the sideline in 2009, K-State is 32-7 (.821) in this same category.

FLAGGED

• Despite rallying for a 27-24 win against South Dakota, the Wildcats were flagged 13 times for 129 yards, most of which came on key plays.

• The 13 penalties were the most for a Bill Snyder team since the 2005 Nebraska game (14) and the 129 yards were the most since having 136 vs. Kent State in 2011.

• The Cats rebounded with just six total penalties in games against Mississippi State (2) and UTSA (4) before committing eight at West Virginia.

OFFENSIVE NOTES

GROUND ATTACK

• K-State has leaned on its rushing game the past two years, including the 2017 season when the Wildcats tied for third in school history in rushing yards per carry (4.98) and finished seventh with 2,584 total rushing yards.

• The Wildcats were especially tough to stop the final three games of the year – all wins – as K-State averaged 223.3 rushing yards per game.

• The stretch was capped by a 344-yard rushing output in the Cactus Bowl victory over UCLA, the most rushing yards ever by K-State in a bowl game.

• Dating back to the 2016, K-State has hit the 200-yard mark on the ground in 16 of its last 26 games, including running for 256 against South Dakota.

PROTECTING THE FOOTBALL

• K-State has been one of the nation’s best in limiting turnovers the last two years as the Wildcats are the only team to rank in the top 10 nationally in fewest turnovers lost in both 2016 and 2017.

• The Wildcats tied for fifth in 2016 with 12 turnovers lost, while they tied for eighth a year ago with 13.

• K-State’s 25 total turnovers in 2016 and 2017 is its fewest in a two-year stretch since at least 1955-56.

• Ironically, the Cats were minus-4 in the turnover battle in the opener but still won, marking the first time since 2011 to win a game with four-plus more turnovers than its opponent (10-7 win over Eastern Kentucky).

• K-State is minus-2 on the year through four games.

LONG DRIVES
• In the era of quick-strike offenses in college football, K-State was a team that liked to possess the ball as 39 of the Wildcats’ 64 scoring drives in 2016 were seven plays or longer.

• That figure included 19 scoring drives of 10 or more plays, and 19 scoring drives that lasted at least five minutes.

• The Wildcats became more of a quick-strike offense in 2017 as 21 of their 45 touchdown drives were four plays or less (46.7-percent), while 36 drives (80.0-percent) were four minutes or shorter.

• So far this season, K-State has 11 scoring drives that were seven or more plays – six of which were 10-plus.

SKYLAR UNDER CENTER

• Sophomore Skylar Thompson has started each of the first four games this year after battling Alex Delton for starting duties throughout fall camp.

• With Thompson taking the first snap of 2018, it marked the fifth time under Bill Snyder a sophomore started the season opener (Jesse Ertz in 2015; Dylan Meier in 2004; Ell Roberson in 2001; Paul Watson in 1989).

• The Independence, Missouri, native seemed to find his stride in the week-three win over UTSA when he threw for a career-high 213 passing yards with two touchdowns on 13-of-18 passing.

• His passer rating of 208.3 against the Roadrunners was the second highest of his career (minimum 13 attempts). His career high was 284.55 last year at Oklahoma State, when he had a previous career high of 204 yards.

MOVIN’ ON UP
• Alex Barnes has moved into the top 20 in school history in career rushing yards with his 277 rushing yards in 2018, a mark that ranks fourth in the Big 12.

• Barnes now has 1,538 career rushing yards to rank 16th in school history.

• A product of Pittsburg, Kansas, who carded the sixth 100-yard rushing game of his career against South Dakota, Barnes is 42 yards away from 15th and 55 yards away from 14th.

SCHOEN A DEEP THREAT
• Junior wide receiver Dalton Schoen has become a deep threat for the Wildcats over the last two years.

• Schoen is averaging 20.8 yards on his 32 career receptions, including a 21.6-yard mark this season.

• A product of Overland Park, Kansas, Schoen ranks third nationally among active players in receiving average since 2017 (minimum 30 receptions), while he is first in school history among players with at least 30 receptions.

• Schoen’s five career touchdown receptions are just as impressive as they span an average of 45.8 yards.

ZUBER WITH A MILESTONE
• Thanks to consecutive 100-yard receiving games, junior wide receiver Isaiah Zuber became the 31st player in school history with 1,000 career yards, a mark that now stands at 1,058.

• Zuber began his two-game streak with a 144-yard effort against UTSA, which was featured by a career-high two touchdown receptions – including a career-long 72-yarder.

• Against West Virginia, Zuber set a career high with 10 catches that went for 133 yards. His 10 catches were the most by a Wildcat since Tyler Lockett (13) and Curry Sexton (10) in the 2015 Alamo Bowl following the 2014 season.

• Zuber’s two-game streak with at least 125 receiving yards is the first by a Wildcat since Lockett against Baylor (158) and UCLA (164) to close out his career in 2014.

• Sitting at 99 career receptions, Zuber’s next one will make him the 16th player in school history with 100 catches in a career.

RETURN OF THE O-LINE
• K-State returned all 65 total starts along the offensive line from 2017 to 2018, the first time under Bill Snyder all available starts from the previous year return for the next.

• The Wildcats were one of just five FBS teams – joining Northern Illinois, Utah State, Wake Forest and Wisconsin – to return 65-of-65 starts along the offensive line from 2017.

LEADER ON THE FIELD, IN THE COMMUNITY
• Dalton Risner has been a leader on the field for the Wildcats, being named a captain each of the last three years.

• Risner is just the fifth player in program history to be named a captain three times, joined by Brooks Barta (1990-92), Mark Simoneau (1997-99), Collin Klein (2010-12) and B.J. Finney (2012-14).

• A Preseason All-American by multiple outlets entering the season, Risner has started 42 career games, tied for the fourth most by a Wildcat since 1989.

• The leadership by Risner does end on the field as he was named to the AFCA Good Works Team and is also a candidate for the Wuerffel Trophy.

DEFENSIVE NOTES

TOUGH AGAINST THE RUN
• The Wildcats, who ranked 13th nationally in 2017 by allowing only 117.7 yards per game on the ground, are one of only four teams to rank in the top 15 nationally in run defense each of the last two years, joining Alabama, Wisconsin and Ohio.

• K-State surrendered less than 100 rushing yards six times last year, including two against ranked foes (No. 6 TCU – 98 yards; No. 10 Oklahoma State – 85 yards).

• The Wildcats topped the season by surrendering only 69 yards on 25 carries (2.8 yds/rush) in the Cactus Bowl win over UCLA.

• K-State allowed only 77 yards in the opener against South Dakota, but Mississippi State rushed for 384 – the most surrendered by the Wildcats since 2010 – followed by 143 yards by UTSA and 108 by West Virginia.

PICKING THEM APART
• The Wildcats have notched at least one interception in 39 of the last 54 games, and K-State has averaged just under one interception per game dating back to the beginning of last season.

• All four interceptions this season have been career firsts and were all against ranked opponents. Defensive end Wyatt Hubert tallied one against No. 18 Mississippi State, while defensive backs AJ Parker, Johnathan Durham and Jahron McPherson each had one last week at No. 12 West Virginia.

• The Wildcats three interceptions against the Mountaineers were the most in a game since picking off three at Baylor in 2016.

• Defensive backs with multiple career interceptions – Duke Shelley (5), Kendall Adams (5) and Denzel Goolsby (2) – are still in search of their first picks of the year.

• Adams (Charlotte) and Shelley (Texas Tech) had both of K-State’s interception-return touchdowns a year ago.

SHELLEY LEADS THE BACKFIELD
• Senior Duke Shelley is back for his final campaign as he leads an experienced defensive backfield.

• Shelley, who burned his redshirt five games into his true freshman season of 2015, has 35 career passes defended, which includes five interceptions.

• His 35 passes defended are the sixth most among active players and tied for eighth in school history with Randall Evans (2011-14).

• Of Shelley’s five career picks, two have been returned for touchdowns to tie for fourth in K-State history and first among active Big 12 players.

WALK THIS WAY
• Junior Reggie Walker already has multiple accolades through the first part of his career, but he is looking to take his game to another level.

• A 2017 Honorable Mention All-Big 12 pick, Walker recorded 6.0 tackles for loss and 2.0 sacks last year, which was a dip in production from his freshman season.

• As a freshman in 2016, Walker was named the Big 12 Defensive Freshman of the Year after totaling 11.5 tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks.

• Walker has started his junior campaign on a high note with nine tackles and 2.0 tackles for loss, including a 10-yard sack in the season opener against South Dakota.

DISHON DIGS IN
• Junior defensive tackle Trey Dishon is taking on a bigger role this year with the loss of fellow interior lineman and three-time First Team All-Big 12 performer Will Geary.

• Dishon does have the benefit of experience, however, starting all 29 of his career games played, including all 13 a year ago en route to Honorable Mention All-Big 12 accolades.

MITTIE MAKES AN IMPACT
• Starting the last three games next to Dishon has been junior graduate transfer Jordan Mittie, who had a season-best four tackles, his first sack as a Wildcat and a fumble recovery last week at West Virginia.

• An All-Sun Belt player last year at Texas State, Mittie tallied the fifth sack of his career and his first full sack since last October against Louisiana.

• Mittie’s transfer to K-State shouldn’t have come as a surprise as his father, Jeff, is entering his fifth season as the K-State women’s basketball head coach in 2018-19.

SPECIAL TEAMS NOTES

SOLID SPECIAL TEAMS
• Kansas State has annually had one of the best special teams units in the nation, and 2017 was no different.
• K-State ranked in the top 25 nationally in kickoff-return defense (2nd), punt returns (10th) and kickoff returns (14th).
• For the collective special teams efforts, coordinator Sean Snyder was named the 2017 Special Teams Coach of the Year by Phil Steele.
• The Cats boasted four All-Big 12 players on special teams in place kicker Matthew McCrane (first team), returner D.J. Reed (first team), punter Nick Walsh (second team) and Byron Pringle (honorable mention) picking up honors.
• Additionally, Reed was a Second Team All-American as he became Snyder’s fifth All-American in just seven years coordinating the special teams.

ANNUALLY ONE OF THE BEST
• The Wildcats’ recent special teams success isn’t a flash in the pan as they have been one of the best collective units over the last two decades.
• Since 1996, K-State ranks first in the nation in kickoff-return touchdowns (28), first in punt-return average (13.2 [min. 100 attempts]), first in kickoff-return average (23.7), tied for first in punt-return touchdowns (28 tied with Miami), and fourth in field goal percentage (76.6 [min. 400 att]).

SCORING IN THE THIRD PHASE
• Kansas State has been far and away the best team among FBS programs over the last decade when it comes to scoring via a kickoff or punt return.
• The Wildcats have a combined 48 kickoff- and punt-return touchdowns since 2005, 19 more than any other FBS school over the last 13 seasons.
• K-State averaged 3.6 return touchdowns per year over the last 13 seasons entering 2018. The yearly average for the other 116 teams to play FBS football since 2005 is 1.1.

DEFENSE IN THE THIRD PHASE
• On the flip side, K-State has been just as consistent in terms of kickoff and punt coverage.
• The Cats have not allowed a kickoff-return touchdown in the last 67 games as the last was against Louisiana on Sept. 7, 2013. During that stretch, K-State has defended against 261 kickoff returns.
• K-State surrendered only 16.6 yards on kickoff returns in 2017, its best mark since 2000.
• The Wildcats have also not allowed a punt-return score in the last 54 games, the last being at Iowa State on Sept. 6, 2014. The Wildcats have successfully defended against 70 punt returns during that stretch.

KICKOFF-RETURN STREAKS
• Kansas State is currently riding a pair of streaks in terms of kickoff returns as the Wildcats have returned a kick for a touchdown in each of the last 13 seasons – the longest streak in the nation by five years.
• Since head coach Bill Snyder’s return in 2009, K-State has returned 19 kickoffs for touchdowns as opposed to only four in his first tenure, which lasted 17 years.
• Kansas State also is the only Power 5 team in the country to finish in the top 15 in kickoff-return average each of the last three seasons.
• Additionally, D.J. Reed earned First Team All-Big 12 honors, marking the 12th-straight year a Wildcat received all-conference honors for the discipline.
• Of the 29 First Team All-Big 12 returners in conference history, 12 (41.3-percent) have come from K-State to lead the league. The next closest team is Colorado, which had four.

LYNCH WITH A LEG
• Sophomore Blake Lynch has been true on nine of his 11 field-goal attempts this year, as the Goddard, Kansas, product ranks fifth nationally and second in the Big 12 in field goals per game.
• His nine field goals through the first four games are the most by a Wildcat under head coach Bill Snyder.
• In his first-career game against South Dakota, Lynch was true on all four of his field-goal attempts, the most ever by a Wildcat in their debut.
• Lynch, who connected on distances of 24, 22 38 and 44 yards against the Coyotes – all in the first half – was the first Wildcat kicker with four field goals in a single half since Jamie Rheem also made four in the first half against Utah State on October 16, 1999.

ZUBER TO THE HOUSE
• Junior Isaiah Zuber took the first punt-return attempt of his career 85-yards for a touchdown against South Dakota.
• It was the 10th-longest punt return in school history and tied for the fourth-longest in the nation this season.
• By going to the house on his first-career attempt, it marked the second time in as many season openers a Wildcat took their first-career punt return the distance as D.J. Reed went 62 yards on his first-career attempt against Central Arkansas in 2017.
• Thanks to his work as both a receiver and returner, Zuber is 15th nationally in all-purpose yards per game (141.25).