The Sunflower Showdown was anything but a showdown as the Kansas State Wildcats continue to surprise many in the Big 12 and across college football with a dominant 55-14 win over the Jayhawks.
It wasn’t a surprise that Kansas State won the game, but the fact that they won the game running away, when they were “only” 20-point favorites, tells you that too many folks still aren’t giving Chris Klieman’s team the credit it deserves.
Kansas State was excellent in all three facets of the game. The special teams was expected to take a step back after Joshua Youngblood entered the NCAA transfer portal in recent weeks. But Phillip Brooks said, “not so fast!”
Brooks got K-State on the board with less than five minutes got by in the first quarter with a 55-yard punt return for a touchdown to put Kansas State on top in a lead it would never relinquish. He finished with four returns for 189 yards and two touchdowns on the afternoon. In the kicking game, Blake Lynch finished with 13 points, including two field goals, while the punting unit put three punts inside the 20-yard line.
On offense, quarterback Will Howard was making his second start as a true freshman, following the injury to Skylar Thompson, two weeks removed from his first one when he led K-State to a 21-14 win over TCU in Fort Worth. But Howard looked even more comfortable on Saturday, finishing 17/24 for 243 yards and two touchdown passes, while also using his legs when needed for 23 yards on six carries. Howard’s confidence continues to grow and you’ve seen that in just two short games for Kansas State.
Meanwhile, Deuce Vaughn continues to give Kansas State fans a ton to be excited by and he had 11 carries for 71 yards and a score, with 4 catches for 81 yards. The do-it-all freshman makes plays every week that is turning heads across the Big 12. The Howard-Vaughn duo is arguably the best 1-2 freshman punch in the conference.
Then, the defense continues to hold its own, keeping Kansas under 325 yards for the game, while only giving up two touchdowns, but the latter coming in major garbage time. K-State held KU to 4-18 on third downs and won the turnover battle 2-1.
The Wildcats are now off to a 4-0 start in Big 12 play for the first time since 2014. Yes, this win was against Kansas, who is, by far, the worst team in the conference. But the Wildcats are the real deal this year with wins over Oklahoma, Texas Tech, TCU and now Kansas.
K-State is expected to keep its Top 20 ranking in the polls this week and any Big 12 team that thinks the K-State game is a “W” on the schedule is going to be sorely mistaken.
This is the most balanced team in the Big 12 in all three phases of the game and it showed again on Saturday afternoon. Chris Klieman continues to get his team to play with a chip on its shoulder and can absolutely be the party crasher at AT&T Stadium later this year.
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