Who Are You Kansas State? A BW3 Bowl Primer

So I Googled "Kansas State Logo" and I got this...50 shades of purple. We complain about Michigan's Maize a lot...but man, get it together guys!

Kansas State Wildcats
7-5 Overall, 5-4 Big-12 (5th)

First Season: 1896
Athletic Director: John Currie
Location: Manhattan Kansas
Stadium: Bill Snyder Family Stadium
     Capacity: 50,000
Conference: Big 12
All-Time Record: 493-620-41
Bowl Record: 6-10
Conference Titles: 6 (1909, 1910, 1912, 1934, 2003, 2012)
All-Americans: 11

Fight Song: Wildcat Victory
Mascot: Willie the Wildcat
Marching Band: The Pride of Wildcat Land
Rival: Kansas Jayhawks
Website: K-State Sports

Head Coach: Bill Snyder
     at KSU: 177-90-1 (22nd year)
     Overall: 177-90-1 (22nd year)
Offense: Multiple: Spread/Option/Wildcat
     Co-coordinators: Dana Dimel & Del Miller
Defense: 4-3
     Coordinator: Tom Hayes

2013 Schedule/Results
North Dakota St. - L 21 - 24
La.-Lafayette - W 48 - 27
Massachusetts - W 37 - 7
@ Texas - L 21 - 31
@ Oklahoma St. - L 29 - 33
Baylor - L 25 - 35
West Virginia - W 35 - 12
Iowa St. - W 41 - 7
@ Texas Tech - W 49 - 26
TCU - W 33 - 31
Oklahoma - L 31 - 41
@ Kansas - W 31 - 10

Combined Opponents' Record: 81-61
Common Opponents w/ UM: None

K-State Offense
I watched the bulk of the Kansas State-Oklahoma from November 23rd in order to write this post. And basically, I'm just glad we're not playing Oklahoma. Also, Joey Harrington doing color on Fox Sports...I had no idea. I mean...wow. I take back all those things I said about Craig James.

Anyway, the Kansas State offense will run multiple looks...spread, option, wildcat...all with varying degrees success depending on what's clicking that day. They don't do anything particularly great, but they're no slouch either. But when push comes to shove and they need to score points, they go all Indiana and start throwing the ball everywhere. The beauty of running a flexible scheme, I suppose.

The Wildcats utilize a two-quarterback system since the departure of Collin Klien and his 3,380 yards of total offense last season. Daniel Sams and Jake Waters are the two guys splitting snaps. Waters is by far the bigger passing threat. He's 138 of 233 for 2,198 yards and 15 touchdowns with 9 INTs. His yards per completion is 15.9.

Sams is the running threat...he's pretty much just a running back who lines up at QB. He has a decent arm, but his 452 passing yards/4 TDs pale in comparison to his 784 yards and 11 TDs on the ground. Pretty much, whichever QB is in the game, you know what's coming. KSU won't even try to mask the different QB roles...as they will cycle Waters in on obvious passing downs.

Running the ball primarily is John Hubert. He has 182 carries for 968 yards and 9 touchdowns. Turns out, the Oklahoma game was his worst game of the year by far...9 carries for 17 yards. So I don't know how good he really is. His numbers suggest he's pretty decent, though.

Against Oklahoma, Kansas State did what most mediocre teams do when they're down by two scores and their "ideal" offense isn't getting it done...they start to air it out...a lot. And it worked. Waters was forced to be the hot hand as Oklahoma was having none of the KSU running game – allowing just 24 yards on the ground in that game.

Much of those struggles were due to KSU's offensive line. Oklahoma was able to neutralize the run pretty effectively, and also get good pressure while typically rushing 4 down linemen. Early on though, blitzes were very effective.

But the primary reason the Wildcats are able to air it out so well is they have some good receivers. Tyler Lockett is maybe the best receiver in the Big 12. His 71 receptions for 1,146 yards and 8 touchdowns are great numbers...good enough for 17th in the country in yards. To compare, Jeremy Gallon has 80 grabs for 1,284 yards and 9 TDs. Tramaine Thompson and Curry Sexton are also dangerous receiver options.

K-State Defense
Well, maybe the Oklahoma game wasn't the best game to watch to get a realistic gauge of K-State's defense. They're the 4th-ranked overall defense in the Big 12, but had a rough day against the Sooners. OU gouged the Wildcats for 301 yards and 3 touchdowns on the ground. On OU's third drive of the game, they drove 98 yards down the field on 14-straight runs to go up 14-0.

By halftime, OU's lead RB Brennan Clay already had 17 carries for over 150 yards. Michigan State's defense, they are not.

But, the Wildcats are a pretty decent overall. The linebacker play from guys like senior Blake Slaughter and junior Jonathan Truman has been good. Defensive end Ryan Mueller is truly exceptional, leading the conference in tackles for loss and second in sacks. The Wildcats give up an average of 367 yards per game, 36th overall nationally. The run defense ranks 38th. The pass eff. defense ranks 26th. And KSU gives up an average of 23.7 points per game, 36th nationally. Decent numbers, but not great when you consider their non-conference schedule.

Either way, Michigan should have a good game if they can continue what they did against Ohio State. It will all come down to how injured/immobile Devin Gardner is (sounds like he's not quite back from his "turf toe" injury just yet), and if the OL can open holes and keep the linebackers out of the backfield.

Overall Impressions
This is Michigan's first ever meeting against Kansas State, and their first ever trip to the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl. Kansas State has won 5 of their last 6 games after starting the season 2-4, while Michigan limps into Tempe with losses in 5 of their last 7.

Head coach Bill Snyder isn't quite at Bo or Woody levels of football royalty, frankly because K-State is K-State. But everything that Kansas State Football has become is thanks to Bill Snyder...one of the very few coaches to coach in a stadium named after them. His legacy will be as one of the best coaches in history who turned around a fledgling program and make a them a consistent contender.

Kansas State strikes me as a hybrid of the pieces and parts from Indiana, Northwestern, Minnesota and Penn State. They have definite homerun capabilities and good playmakers at the skill positions...but some holes on defense and the OL are very much an issue. Remember, this is a team that won the Big 12 a year ago. But close losses to teams like Texas, Oklahoma State, Baylor and Oklahoma tell me that consistency is a big issue...something Michigan fans know a lot about.

If Michigan can force Kansas State off their game early and capitalize on a slow start by the Wildcats, they could give themselves a nice early lead. I suspect K-State will want to establish the run using a lot of spread and option looks. But if that isn't working, expect an air show for the rest of the day. There could be some serious points scored in this game.

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