It was only 10 weeks ago that the Big 12 media poll came out with Kansas State picked sixth and Texas Tech ninth.
At the time, most not located in Manhattan or Lubbock didn’t fuss that much about how the Wildcats and Red Raiders were viewed. To the neutral fan, it seemed about right.
But it’s now 10 weeks later and Kansas State leads the Big 12 with a 4-0 league mark and 7-0 overall record that has the Wildcats ranked No. 4/3 in the nation. And, Texas Tech is 3-1 and 6-1 and carries a national ranking of 15/17 into this afternoon’s 2:30 p.m. start at Bill Snyder Family Stadium.
The record leaves coach Bill Snyder to say about Texas Tech, “Texas Tech is good. Got it? Texas Tech is good.”
“K-State’s the best team we will face,” said Tech coach Tubby Tubberville, whose team has wins over Northwestern State, Texas State, New Mexico, Iowa State (24-13), West Virginia (49-14) and TCU (56-53 3OT), plus a loss to Oklahoma (41-20)
.The story of Tech’s season has been the improvement on defense. Compared to 2011, the 2012 defense has improved from 96th in the nation to 7th in the nation in total defense, 105h to 20th in rush defense and 91st to 34th in scoring defense.
On that improvement, Snyder said, “They play hard, which is a great asset, and they are awfully good about not giving up substantial plays. They play an aggressive style of defense and are a faster football team across the board than before.”
The same can be head for Kansas State’s defense, which has yet to allow more than 21 points in a game this year.
“I think we have gradually gotten better and a little better,” said Snyder. “That’s due to newer guys fitting in with the older guys and becoming a little more acclimated to what we are doing.
“We’re becoming more disciplined, but we are not where we need to be by any stretch,” said the Wildcat coach. “The important thing is to teach well enough that young people can respond on what their responsibilities are, and the fundamentals of the game. We are getting better and better at that.”
Texas Tech quarterback Seth Doege summarized of K-State’s defense, “They kind of try to manipulate you into doing something you don’t want to do. They force you to make a mistake or turnover the ball. That’s what they thrive on doing.”
In Doege, K-State will be facing a quarterback who is completing 71 percent of his passes with 28 touchdowns and 315 yards per game. Fifteen different Red Raiders have caught at least five passes this season.
On Kansas State’s overall play, Tubberville simply said, “They don’t do a whole lot, but what they do, they do well.”
• Kansas State has not allowed a play of more than 31 yards since the start of Big 12 play.
• For the total year, the Wildcats have allowed just 13 plays of 20 yards or more.
• K-State’s rush defense of 99 yards per game ranks 11th in the nation.
K-State’s scoring defense of 16.1 points ranks 14th in the country.
IN THE TOP 10:
Kansas State ranks first in the nation in punt returns (26.2 yards), kickoff returns (27.4 yards) and turnover margin (plus-12).
WHAT’S SO TOUGH IN STOPPING KLEIN:
Here was the answer from Tech coach
Tubberville: “Just tackling the guy. He’s big, strong, and physical. They said he couldn’t pass last year, but he was a good passer last year, and he’s much better this year. He can put it on the money He’s not flashy and you can think you made a good play against him, but you look up and he’s gained six yards.”
FOR THE RECORD:
Klein’s record as a starting quarterback is 18-4. Ranking ahead of him in KSU history are Michael Bishop (22-3), Ell Roberson (22-9) and Jonathan Beasley (21-4).
In career passing, Klein’s completion percentage of .617 ranks first in KSU history ahead of Josh Freeman (.594), Chad May (.560) and Carl Straw (.538).