Kansas State University

Week ahead: K-State, Texas Tech both looking to make statement

When Texas Tech raced to a 7-0 start, many labeled the Red Raiders as overrated. Why? Well, for starters their four conference victories came against TCU, Kansas, West Virginia and Iowa State, the Big 12′s weakest teams.

They have since lost back-to-back games to Oklahoma and Oklahoma State. And they have since fallen from the top 10 down to No. 25. If they want to stay in the mix for a conference championship and keep their national ranking, they need to beat Kansas State on Saturday in Lubbock.

It appears Texas Tech chose a good week to unveil special uniforms with the words “Never Quit” on the back.

K-State at Texas Tech figures to be a highly competitive game. Much like the Red Raiders, the Wildcats’ only Big 12 wins have come against teams in the bottom four, West Virginia and Iowa State. They have won two in a row in blowout fashion, but they still have plenty to prove. A win would get them within one victory of bowl eligibility and give them legitimate hope of finishing in the top half of the conference standings after a 2-4 start.

Here is a look at that and everything else you need to know about the week ahead:

The Game

K-State and Texas Tech will get national TV coverage in the 11 a.m. time slot on ABC. I normally try not to make a big deal out of an early start vs. a late start, but Bill Snyder said today he is looking forward to the early kick. So maybe it is meaningful this time. The Red Raiders are favored by a field goal, and it’s easy to see this one being a toss-up. The Wildcats have momentum after two straight wins. The Red Raiders are low on confidence after two straight losses. K-State has won the last two in the series (convincingly at home last year and by a touchdown on the road two years ago) but have lost five of the last seven. Texas Tech is always tough at home and beat K-State badly in Lubbock in 2001 (38-19), 2005 (59-20) and 2009 (66-14).

The Opponent

Kliff Kingsbury is in his first year with Texas Tech, but the Red Raiders resemble the team they have been for years. That shouldn’t be surprising, of course, because Kingsbury used to play quarterback there. He is one of the game’s rising coaching stars, and he has fan support way up.

But Texas Tech hasn’t looked great in its past two games. Oklahoma and Oklahoma State marched up and down the field against it and quarterback Davis Webb has been turnover prone. That is good new for K-State. It has averaged 38 points in its past two games and it is starting to figure out how to create turnovers.

Question is: Can K-State duplicate those results on the road against an offensive machine? Texas Tech poses unique problems. Tight end Jace Amaro might be the best tight end in the country. He appeared NFL ready against Oklahoma State, hauling in 15 passes for 174 yards and a touchdown.

I’m not sure how K-State will try to defend him. It doesn’t have a linebacker capable of covering him, and zone defenses can leave holes in the middle. The Wildcats have been weak at times defending that part of the field, and are sometimes slow to defend draws. Amaro will only make things harder.

“I think he is pretty unique,” Sndyer said of Amaro. “He is an outstanding player. Everyone knows he is going to get the ball, but he still gets 15 catches. He is a tremendous competitor.”

Big 12 Player of the Week

Ryan Mueller continues to excel on Kansas State’s defensive line.

The former walk-on came into the season with an interesting back story and a decent shot at making an impact. Now he is arguably the team’s top defensive player. After making seven tackles and a sack against Iowa State he was named Big 12 Defensive Player of the Week.

Bowl Watch

With K-State two victories away from reaching bowl eligibility, let’s examine the bowl games it could potentially play in.

The list is short. The main three possibilities are the Holiday Bowl, Texas Bowl and Pinstripe Bowl. The Wildcats need to pass Texas Tech or Oklahoma to have any shot at the Holiday Bowl. If they stay sixth in the Big 12 standings, the Texas Bowl likely awaits. If they drop a spot to seventh, the Pinstripe Bowl is in play.


– Speaking of bowl predictions, Sports Illustrated projects the Wildcats to land in the Texas Bowl. And so does CBS Sports.

– Remember the crazy play that Daniel Sams and Tramaine Thompson pulled off against Iowa State? So do they. Here they are trying to relive the moment.

– Kingsbury took a pretty sweet photo with a child dressed as him for Halloween.

– Here is a good look into what Kingsbury has accomplished in his first season in Lubbock.

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E-mail: krobinett@wichitaeagle.com

Twitter: @KellisRobinett