Here is everything you need to know about the Kansas State Wildcats and the Texas Tech Red Raiders in our Kansas State vs. Texas Tech preview.
11 a.m. Central Time, Saturday, Oct. 23, 2021, Jones AT&T Stadium, Lubbock, Texas
Radio: Kansas State: K-State Sports Network; Texas Tech: Texas Tech Sports Network.
Records: Kansas State: 3-3 (0-3 in Big 12); Texas Tech: 5-2 (2-2 in Big 12).
Ranking: Kansas State: None. Texas Tech: None.
Last week: Kansas State: Lost to Iowa State, 33-20; Texas Tech: def. Kansas, 41-14.
Fun fact: Kansas State is 9-1 in the last 10 games of this series and carries a five-game winning streak over Texas Tech into Saturday’s game. Kansas State has a 12-9 all-time edge in the series. A win on Saturday by Texas Tech would mark the first time the program is bowl-eligible by October since 2013, when Tech started 7-0.
RB Deuce Vaughn: You can’t stop Vaughn. You just have to do your best to slow him down, and because he can beat you a number of ways, he’s a focus of the defensive game plan every week. Already this season Vaughn has 777 scrimmage yards — 543 on the ground and 234 through the air — along with seven touchdowns. He’s hit 100 yards from scrimmage in every game for Kansas State, and he’s fourth nationally in that category.
KR Malik Knowles: He’s a receiver by trade, but his return game has been spot-on for the Wildcats lately. Knowles is second in the nation in kickoff return yardage with 36 yards per return. And, he’s returned a kickoff for a touchdown in two of the last three games. As a receiver this season, Knowles has 17 catches for 217 yards and a touchdown. Opponents would be better off letting him catch passes than letting him return kicks.
DE Felix Anudike-Uzomah: Anudike-Uzomah is having an All-Big 12-type of season. At the midway point, he has five sacks and 5 1/2 tackles for loss and that’s put him among the best pass rushers in the Big 12. Entering Saturday’s game, the sophomore is 18th in the nation in sacks and forced fumbles (he has two), and he ranks second in the Big 12 in both of those categories. Iowa State did better than most in slowing him down last week, as he only had a half-tackle for loss, to go along with his five tackles.
QB Henry Columbi: In an odd bit of synergy, Colombi made his Texas Tech debut last year against Kansas State. He came off the bench to throw for 244 yards and two touchdown passes, while rushing for 40 yards. He set career highs for completions (30) and attempts (42) in that game. He even led the Red Raiders back from 14 points down in the second half before K-State went on to win. Colombi has done solid work in place of the injured Tyler Shough. Colombi is coming off a win over Kansas in which he threw for 124 yards and a touchdown in a game where the Red Raiders trusted the run game to lead the way.
DB Dadrion Taylor-Demerson: The Red Raiders rank second in the Big 12 and are tied for 31st nationally in interceptions with seven. But Taylor-Demerson is the only Red Raider with two interceptions this season, as he picked off his second pass of the campaign against Kansas last week. The junior out of Oklahoma City has started just seven games in his Texas Tech career, but he’s making an impact. Along with the interceptions, he has 24 tackles and four pass breakups.
WR Erik Ezukanma: Much has been written about his receiving prowess, and last year’s All-Big 12 pick is having another fine season despite the quarterback change — a team-leading 31 receptions with 505 yards and a touchdown. But did you know he also leads the Red Raiders in all-purpose yards? With his 29 rushing yards, he is now averaging 89 all-purpose yards per game.
How close are the Wildcats to winning a Big 12 game? Based on their results, pretty close. The Wildcats have lost their three Big 12 games by a combined 30 points (or just 10 points per game). That doesn’t sound great until you realize those losses came to Oklahoma State, Oklahoma and Iowa State. The Cowboys and Sooners are Top 8 ranked. The Cyclones are still receiving votes in the Top 25. So the Wildcats are probably better than their record indicates. But, now that the most difficult part of their schedule is over, the Wildcats have to start piling up some wins to get back to a bowl game and to bolster the idea that K-State is still making progress under third-year head coach Chris Klieman. The 3-3-5 install on defense is showing promise, especially against the run (giving up 107 yards per game, which is No. 23 in FBS). That comes in handy against Texas Tech and their top back, SaRodorick Thompson.
Texas Tech now has its first opportunity to clinch a sixth victory and make the program bowl-eligible for the first time under third-year head coach Matt Wells. Doing so, however, would mean the Red Raiders doing something for the first time since 2018 — win two straight Big 12 games. That’s how inconsistent the Red Raiders have been the past few seasons. Texas Tech seemed to solve its run defense woes against Kansas, but the Red Raiders seemed to solve just about everything that ailed them against the Jayhawks (that seems to happen when Big 12 teams play Kansas). Entering Saturday’s game with Kansas State, it will be a whole different game, as the Wildcats sport a better run game and a defense that does a good job of limiting the run, something the Red Raiders have really bought into offensively this season.
Prediction: Kansas State 31, Texas Tech 28
I just think it’s time for Kansas State to win a conference game. I see quality play there despite the losses. I’m not sure you can draw much from Texas Tech beating up on Kansas a week after they were beat up on by TCU’s run offense. Deuce Vaughn may be too much for the Red Raiders to handle.
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