The Kansas State Wildcats won their third straight game and claimed the Governor’s Cup by defeating the KU Jayhawks 38-10 on Saturday.
It was a dominant victory for No. 22 K-State (6-2, 3-2 Big 12), which is now bowl eligible just eight games into Chris Klieman’s first season as coach. The Wildcats have now beaten KU (3-6, 1-5) 11 straight times.
Here are grades from the game and a look at next week’s contest at Texas.
Player of the game
Five Wildcats get to share the honor this week. K-State’s entire offensive line — consisting of Scott Frantz, Tyler Mitchell, Adam Holtorf, Evan Curl and Nick Kaltmayer — deserves praise for the way the Wildcats rushed the ball in this game.
K-State was without its top two running backs on Saturday, as starter James Gilbert was a game-time scratch and backup Jordon Brown only saw action on a handful of plays. Former walk-on Harry Trotter led the way in the backfield and rushed for 92 yards and a touchdown. Quarterback Skylar Thompson scrambled out of trouble and ran point on option plays for 127 yards and three touchdowns.
Even seldom-used players like Joe Ervin and Tyler Burns had some nice runs.
The Wildcats rushed for 342 yards without their two best runners. That’s how good they were up front against the Jayhawks.
Play of the game
It certainly looked like K-State was going to have to punt late in the first quarter when a KU defender wrapped his arms around Thompson in the backfield as he looked for an open receiver on third-and-six near midfield.
Instead, he spun out of the tackle, scrambled to his right and found Dalton Schoen for a first down near the right sideline. After Schoen caught the pass, he eluded a pair of tackles with spin moves of his own and turned the play into a 21-yard gain.
The Wildcats only led 7-3 at the time, so giving the ball back to the Jayhawks could have changed early momentum. But K-State went on to score a touchdown on that drive and pull ahead 14-3. The team never looked back.
Stat of the game
The Wildcats rushed for five touchdowns one week after rushing for six scores against Oklahoma. K-State has found all kinds of success on the ground in the red zone lately, particularly with Thompson. He has crossed the goal line seven times over the past two weeks.
Quote to note
“It’s definitely nice to win like that, but it honestly didn’t always feel great during the game. We didn’t feel like we played a great or consistent game. We hurt ourselves with a lot of penalties, so I would have liked to see better execution. But to go out there and win and not play your best feels good.” — Dalton Schoen.
Offense: A+. The Wildcats ran circles around the Jayhawks for 342 yards on the ground, even without their top two running backs. K-State’s offensive line dominated this game, making things easy for Thompson, Trotter, Ervin and Burns every time they carried the ball. Schoen also had some impressive catches. Courtney Messingham called a beautiful game.
Defense: A+. K-State athletic director Gene Taylor found Scottie Hazelton as he was walking off the field Saturday and shook his hand. He was right to single out the Wildcats’ defensive coordinator, because Hazelton’s unit shut down the Jayhawks at every turn. KU averaged more than 42 points against Texas and Texas Tech but only managed a field goal against K-State before garbage time arrived. Carter Stanley looked overmatched, throwing a pair of interceptions. The Jayhawks gained just 241 yards.
Special Teams: B. Senior punter Devin Anctil was off his game a bit in this one, and the Wildcats didn’t dominate on special teams the way some thought they would. Still, there were no major mistakes in this area.
Coaching: A+. Head coach Chris Klieman didn’t allow the Wildcats to let down after their big win over Oklahoma last week and throttled Kansas in his first Sunflower Showdown game. K-State is going bowling in his first season and could become a factor in the Big 12 championship race with another victory next week.
K-State will be back in action next week with a road game against Texas at 2:30 p.m. on ESPN on Saturday in Austin.
The Longhorns are coming off a road loss to TCU but didn’t play this weekend. Tom Herman’s team is off to a 5-3 start with a 3-2 record in Big 12 games. The time off could be valuable for the Longhorns, who have been playing without several defensive starters.
This game could have Big 12 championship implications. The winner will stay in the race along with Baylor and Oklahoma. The loser will probably be out of the mix.