Wildcats take aim at 8th ranked Sooners

Oct 21, 2017; Manhattan, Kansas, USA; Kansas State Wildcats tight end Dayton Valentine (88) runs on the field with the American Flag prior to the game against OU at Bill Snyder Family Stadium ©Kelly Ross KWCH12

MANHATTAN, Kan. (K-State Athletics) K-STATE TRAVELS TO FACE EIGHTH-RANKED OKLAHOMA
Coming off a dominating second-half effort in a 31-12 victory over Oklahoma State and a bye week, Kansas State travels to face eighth-ranked Oklahoma on Saturday inside Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium. The game will kick off at 2:30 p.m., and be shown nationally on FOX with Gus Johnson (play-by-play) and Joel Klatt (analyst) and Jenny Taft (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, in addition to SiriusXM Channel 83 and the TuneIn app.

A LOOK AT K-STATE

• K-State comes off a bye on a high note following a 31-12 win over Oklahoma State, a game the Wildcats trailed, 6-3, at halftime before outscoring OSU, 28-6, in the second half.

• The Wildcats have leaned heavily on their running game over the last two contests, averaging 305 yards and totaling eight touchdowns on the ground.

• The running game is solidified by Alex Barnes, who ranks first in the Big 12 at 112.6 yards per game with a league-high nine rushing scores. He ran for a career-best 250 yards at Baylor, the fifth-most in a game in school history, while recording three touchdowns on the day.

• Against Oklahoma State, Barnes had 181 rushing yards and four scores, and he was also the team’s leading receiver with 51 yards on three catches.

• The Wildcats’ rushing attack is anchored by five offensive linemen who were all returning starters from a year ago. The group is led by Midseason All-American Dalton Risner at right tackle.

• Quarterback Skylar Thompson has started six games, throwing for 880 yards and five scores, while he has added 305 rushing yards and three touchdowns.

• Isaiah Zuber leads the Wildcats with 39 catches on the year, totaling 478 receiving yards and three scores.

• Defensively, K-State has averaged 3.0 sacks, 6.5 tackles for loss and two interceptions over the last two games after putting together averages of 1.0 sacks, 3.0 TFLs and 0.8 interceptions in the first five contests.

• The Wildcats are coming off an impressive performance against an Oklahoma State team that was averaging 523.3 yards and 44.0 points per game. K-State held OSU to 311 yards and just 12 points.

• Senior safety Eli Walker (48) and junior linebacker Da’Quan Patton (41) lead the team in tackles, while Reggie Walker has a team-best 5.5 sacks and 7.5 TFLs.

• Senior defensive back Duke Shelley has three interceptions this season – all coming within the last two games – to rank third in the Big 12 and 13th in the country.

• Shelley has 12 total passes defended this year to rank second in the Big 12 and eighth in the nation.

A LOOK AT OKLAHOMA

• Eighth-ranked Oklahoma came off a bye week to earn a 52-27 victory at TCU last week.

• OU enters the week ranked seventh nationally by averaging 526.3 yards of offense, while they are third in scoring offense at 48.6 points per game.

• Much of the offense runs through quarterback Kyler Murray, who is averaging 282.4 yards through the air with 25 TDs, while he ranks second on the team with 428 yards and five scores.

• Trey Sermon leads the team on the ground with 458 yards and five touchdowns.

A LOOK AT THE SERIES

• Oklahoma leads the all-time series, 75-15-4. However, Kansas State has found success when playing in Norman as the Wildcats have won twice in their last three trips to Memorial Stadium.

• In 2012, K-State earned a 24-19 victory over the sixth-ranked Sooners to propel the Wildcats onto the national scene and to a Big 12 Championship that year.

• In 2014, the Cats picked up a 31-30 win in Norman.

BYE WEEK NOTES

• The Cats have had 30 previous midseason bye weeks under Bill Snyder and have turned the extra week of preparation into a 21-9 record the next week.

• Since Snyder’s return in 2009, K-State is 10-5 when coming off a bye week during the season.

• K-State has won each of its last four games when coming off a bye.

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 194 victories, which ranks 19th in the nation.

• The only current Big 12 teams to rank higher are Oklahoma (3rd; 225), Texas (12th; 209) and TCU (t15th; 199).

ONE OF THE BIG 12’S BEST

• Saturday’s game matches up two of the best programs not only in the history of the Big 12, but also recently as K-State and Oklahoma are two of only four 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 .627 (42-25), trailing only Oklahoma (.806; 54-13) and Oklahoma State (.672; 45-22).

• During that stretch, the Wildcats are 23-11 (.676) at home in Big 12 play and 19-14 (.576) on the road.

THE HALL OF FAMER

• The architect of the “greatest turnaround in college football history,” 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 213 wins, is one of just six coaches to reach the 200-win mark and coach at only one school.

• Holding 174 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 124 conference wins to stand as one of four coaches with 100 Big 8/12 victories (Tom Osborne [153], Bob Stoops [121], Barry Switzer [100]).

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 180-12 (.938) when leading at halftime, including a 61-5 (.924) 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.

COMEBACK KIDS

• Kansas State recorded three wins in 2017 in which they trailed by double digit points. That comeback mentality has continued in 2018 as the Wildcats have a pair of wins when trailing at halftime.

• This year, K-State trailed South Dakota, 24-12, before earning a 27-24 victory. Then, against Oklahoma State, the Wildcats trailed, 6-3, at half and outscored the Cowboys, 28-6 in the second half for a 31-12 victory.

• Last year, the Wildcats trailed by 11 points at Texas Tech but won, 42-35, in overtime. Against Iowa State, K-State was down by 12 points before earning a 20-19 win. In the Cactus Bowl against UCLA, K-State was down, 17-7, at halftime but outscored the Bruins, 28-0, to win 35-17.

TURNOVER TURNAROUND

• After starting the year minus-5 in the turnover department, K-State has turned the tide over the last four games, going plus-4 in that stretch.

• The recent stretch started with a plus-3 mark against West Virginia when K-State picked off three passes and recovered a fumble while fumbling one time itself.

• Following a game with no turnovers against Texas and a minus-1 mark at Baylor, K-State was plus-2 against Oklahoma State when Duke Shelley picked off a pair of passes.

• The Wildcats began the year with a minus-4 mark against South Dakota but still won, marking the first time since 2011 they won a game with four-plus more turnovers than their opponent (10-7 win over Eastern Kentucky).

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 three 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.

• The Wildcats’ only non-offensive score 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 EARLY, NOT OFTEN

• Kansas State was flagged 13 times for 129 yards in the season opener against South Dakota, the most penalties by a Bill Snyder team since the 2005 Nebraska game (14) and the most yards since 2011 against Kent State (136).

• Since then, K-State has committed five or fewer penalties for 50 or fewer yards in four of six games.

• One of those games away a zero-penalty effort against Texas, the first by a Wildcat team since the 2014 Auburn contest. Ironically, K-State lost both of those games.

• The Wildcats ranked 119th nationally and last in the Big 12 in penalties, but they have worked their way to 29th in the country and third in the Big 12.

OFFENSIVE NOTES

GROUND ATTACK

• K-State has leaned heavily on its rushing game the last two weeks as it has averaged 305 yards and four touchdowns on the ground against Baylor and Oklahoma State.

• The recent numbers are a big up-tick from the first five games of the year as the Cats were averaging 146.2 yards per game and only 0.8 rushing scores during that stretch.

• K-State’s rushing prowess is nothing new as, dating back to 2016, the Cats have hit the 200-yard mark on the ground in 19 of its last 33 games.

• Kansas State enters this week’s game ranked third in the Big 12 in rushing, which includes 202.0 yards per game in conference-only games to rank second.

GOING FOR 275+ AGAIN

• The Wildcats, who had 319 yards against the Bears and 291 yards against the Cowboys, put together consecutive 275-yard rushing outputs for the first time since doing so against Kansas (342) and TCU (336) in 2016.

• K-State’s total against Oklahoma State came against a team that was ranked No. 1 in the Big 12 and 23rd nationally in rushing defense.

• If the Wildcats reach 275 rushing yards against Oklahoma, it would be the first time since at least 1988 they hit the mark in three-straight games.

SKYLAR UNDER CENTER

• Sophomore Skylar Thompson has started six of the seven games this year and 10 of the last 11 overall.

• Thompson threw for a career-high 213 passing yards with two scores in a week-three win over UTSA.

• 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.

• Thompson has become a more efficient runner in his second year on the field, averaging 43.6 yards per game (33.4 yds/gm in 2017) with three touchdowns, the latter mark equaling his total from last year.

• His total includes a career-long touchdown run of 52 yards at Baylor.

CAREER DAY
• Junior running back Alex Barnes had one of the best rushing games in school history when he went for 250 yards and three touchdowns at Baylor.

• His 250 yards were the fifth most in school history and the most by a Wildcat since Daniel Thomas went for 269 yards at North Texas in 2010.

• Even more impressive, the total was the most by a Wildcat in a Big 12 game since Darren Sproles put together a 273-yard rushing effort against Missouri in 2003.

BACK TO BACK… TO BACK?
• Alex Barnes backed up his performance at Baylor with 181 yards and four scores vs. Oklahoma State, an effort that gave him Big 12 Offensive Player of the Week honors.

• He became the first Wildcat with consecutive 175-yard rushing games since Darren Sproles did so against Missouri (273) and Oklahoma (235) in 2003.

• A native of Pittsburg, Kansas, Barnes is looking to become the first player in program history with three-straight games of at least 150 yards rushing.

• With 100 yards against the Sooners, he would be the first Wildcat with three-straight games of 100 yards rushing since Daniel Thomas in 2010.

FINDING PAYDIRT
• Totaling seven rushing touchdowns over the last two games, Alex Barnes became the first Wildcat to tally consecutive games of at least three rushing touchdowns since then-quarterback and now Co-Offensive Coordinator Collin Klein against Iowa State (3) and West Virginia (4) in 2012.

• However, Barnes was the first K-State running back to accomplish the feat since Mack Herron did so in four-straight games in 1969 against Kansas, Iowa State, Oklahoma and Missouri.

• Barnes enters this week ranked first in the Big 12 and eighth nationally with nine rushing touchdowns.

OUT OF THE BACKFIELD
• The performance by Alex Barnes against the Cowboys was even more impressive considering he was also K-State’s leading receiver with three catches for 51 yards.

• He became the third player in program history to have 175 rushing yards and 50 receiving yards in the same game, joining Darren Sproles (2003 vs. Oklahoma) and Tony Jordan (1986 vs. Iowa State).

• This season, Barnes has 12 receptions for 138 yards after totaling only five catches for 29 yards in his previous two seasons.

MOVIN’ ON UP
• Alex Barnes, who leads the Big 12 and ranks 11th nationally in rushing, continues to move up the K-State career rushing yardage list.

• He entered the school’s career top-10 list with his effort against Oklahoma State as his career mark of 2,049 ranks 10th in school history.

• Barnes, who is now 133 yards away from tying for ninth in K-State history for a career, has 788 yards this season to stand 212 yards away from becoming the 16th player in school history with a 1,000-yard season.

ZUBER WITH TWO MILESTONES
• Junior wide receiver Isaiah Zuber has reached a pair of career milestones this season.

• At West Virginia, Zuber became the 31st player in school history with 1,000 career yards, while he has also topped the 100-catch mark for a career, becoming the 16th player in school history to hit the mark.

• Zuber enters this week’s game with 114 career receptions, needing nine to reach the top 10.

• The Stone Mountain, Georgia, product has been a model of consistency throughout his career as he has recorded at least one catch in 28 of his 33 career contests, 27 of which have been multi-catch games.

SCHOEN A DEEP THREAT
• Wide receiver Dalton Schoen has become a deep threat for the Wildcats over the last two years, averaging 19.5 yards on his 39 career catches.

• The junior ranks sixth nationally among active players in average since 2017 (min. 35 catches), while he is third in school history among players with at least 35 catches.

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

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 45 career games, tied for the third most by a Wildcat offensive lineman since 1989.

• Last week, Risner was named to multiple Midseason All-America teams, earning the nod from Sporting News, Pro Football Focus and CBSSports.com.

• 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

UNDER AVERAGE
• Kansas State has generally held its Big 12 opponents under their season scoring averages over the past several years, and the 2018 season is no different.

• The Wildcats have held three of their four conference foes under their season scoring averages entering the game, highlighted by the Oklahoma State contest when they allowed only 12 points to a team that was averaging 44.0 points per game entering the contest.

• The 32.0 points that K-State held OSU under its season scoring average was the biggest difference against a Big 12 opponent since the Baylor game in 2013. That season, BU was averaging 70.5 points per game and scored 35.

IMPROVING RUN DEFENSE
• The Wildcats, who ranked 13th nationally in 2017 by allowing only 117.7 yards per game on the ground, are trying to climb out of an early hole in that department this year.

• After surrendering only 77 yards against South Dakota, Mississippi State totaled 384 yards on the ground, the most allowed by a Wildcat team since 2010.

• Following the game against the Bulldogs, K-State ranked 111th in the nation and last in the Big 12.

• Since that time, K-State has allowed only 150 rushing yards per game over the last five games, while the Wildcats rank sixth in conference-only games.

PICKING THEM APART
• Kansas State has been one of the best in the Big 12 in interceptions over the last eight seasons, carding 109 interceptions since 2011 to rank second in the Big 12.

• The Wildcats, who have notched at least one interception in 41 of the last 57 games, are tied for second in the Big 12 with eight interceptions, which includes a conference-best seven in league-only games.

• K-State has picked off at least two passes in three of its four Big 12 game this year, totaling three at West Virginia and two apiece against both Baylor and Oklahoma State.

• The Wildcats’ picks this year have been fairly spread out. Outside of Duke Shelley, who is ranked 13th nationally in total interceptions with three, the other five picks are by five different players, including four who made their first-career picks.

SHELLEY LEADS THE BACKFIELD
• Senior Duke Shelley is back for his final campaign after being a primary starter at cornerback the last three years.

• Shelley, who burned his redshirt five games into his true freshman season of 2015, has 39 career passes defended.

• His 39 passes defended are tied for the third most among active players and rank seventh in school history.

I’LL TAKE THAT
• Duke Shelley has been a ballhawk recently with three interceptions over the last two games.

• The Tucker, Georgia, product tallied a career-high two picks against Oklahoma State en route to Big 12 Defensive Player of the Week accolades.

• His two interceptions gave him eight for his career, a mark that is tied for 16th nationally among active players and two shy of entering the school’s top-10 list.

• Of Shelley’s six 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 has taken his game to another level over the last three games with 5.5 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks during that span.

• Walker enters the week ranked third in the league with 5.5 sacks, while he is tied for seventh in TFLs.

• His total this year has bumped his career mark to 14.0, standing four sacks away from entering the school’s career top-10 list.

• Walker has also forced a pair of fumbles this year to tie for second in the Big 12 and give him six for his career. His six career forced fumbles are tied for 13th nationally among active players.

MITTIE MAKES AN IMPACT
• Junior graduate transfer Jordan Mittie has started the last six games, providing the Wildcats a formidable run stopper in the middle of the defense.

• The Aledo, Texas, native tallied a season-best four tackles, his first sack as a Wildcat and a fumble recovery at West Virginia.

• An All-Sun Belt player last year at Texas State, Mittie had 8.0 tackles for loss and 4.0 sacks during his time with the Bobcats.

• 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.

HUGHES COMING UP HUGE
• Entering the Texas game with five career tackles in nine games, linebacker Justin Hughes has answered the bell the last three contests.

• Hughes recorded a then-career high six tackles and a tackle for loss against Texas. Then, in his first-career start at Baylor, the Tucker, Georgia, product tallied 11 tackles and forced a fumble before coming back with eight more stops against Oklahoma State.

• Hughes’ 25 tackles over the last three contests are second on the team to Eli Walker, who has 30 of his team-leading 48 stops during that span.

SPECIAL TEAMS NOTES

ANNUALLY ONE OF THE BEST
• Kansas State has been a model of success on special teams, being a key element of the Wildcats’ success over the last two decades.
• Since 1996, K-State ranks first in the nation in kickoff-return touchdowns (28), first in punt-return average (13.1 [min. 100 attempts]), first in kickoff-return average (23.6), tied for first in punt-return touchdowns (28 tied with Miami), and fourth in field goal percentage (75.8 [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 69 games as the last was against Louisiana on Sept. 7, 2013. During that stretch, K-State has defended against 270 kickoff returns.
• K-State surrendered only 16.6 yards on kickoff returns in 2017, its best mark since 2000.
• The Wildcats had a streak of 54 games and 70 attempts of not allowing a punt-return score snapped when Texas recorded a 90-yard return for a score.

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.