The 25th-ranked Kansas State Wildcats clashed with the Texas Tech Red Raiders on Saturday in Manhattan in a highly-anticipated Big 12 matchup. Both teams are coming off major upsets last week against Texas and Oklahoma and found themselves in a position to take the lead in the Big 12 standings. While this game was a grind for four quarters for both teams, the Wildcats outlasted the Red Raiders 37-28.
K-State started off hot in the first quarter, faded off in the second quarter, and then rallied to a massive second-half effort to win the game. Texas Tech continued to challenge the Wildcats, but ultimately K-State was the better team and found a way to take a major step forward in conference play.
Here are three thoughts on the game.
1. SECOND QUARTER WOES
K-State started the game by scoring on three consecutive drives to give the Wildcats an early 13-0 lead in Manhattan. The Wildcats performed like a Top 25 team should until the second quarter hit, and things drastically changed. K-State’s offense went from explosive to lackluster in an instant and suddenly couldn’t move the football on the Red Raiders defense. After a first quarter that featured a two-play 75-yard drive in which Adrian Martinez rushed for all 75 of those yards and multiple big plays from the usual suspects Deuce Vaughn, Phillip Brooks, and Kade Warner, the Cats hit a massive switch and didn’t convert one first down in the second quarter.
Credit to where credit is due, the Red Raiders defense added pressure with key stops on third and goal from the Texas Tech 12-yard line and found a way to get Deuce Vaughn to fumble the football early in the second quarter. The offensive struggles weren’t enough to stop the Wildcats from pulling off this win, but with a 13-10 lead headed into halftime, it was definitely grounds for concern.
2. BIG PLAYS SAVE THE DAY
In recent years, Wildcat fans haven’t usually been spoiled with a dynamic, big play type of offense but that is exactly what they got in today’s matchup. Adrian Martinez started the game with a 57-yard run on the first play of regulation to set the tone for K-State and the splash plays continued for the duration of the game. With the addition of a 69-yard rush by Deuce Vaughn in the third quarter, the Wildcats found a way to shift the tone of the game from a blown lead, to a big win.
While K-State’s offense wasn’t a consistent threat on the day, the big plays came exactly when things looked bad in Manhattan. Vaughn’s rush came at a 13-13 tie mid-third quarter that helped cap off a day in which both he, and Adrian Martinez surpassed 170 yards rushing. The defense also showed up big by forcing four total turnovers and keeping the Red Raiders offense at bay. The defensive unit snagged two interceptions, one by Linebacker Austin Moore, and the other by Defensive Back Julius Brents while also adding two forced fumbles that heavily impacted the outcome of the game. The defense continues to provide a spark for the Wildcats this season and paired with K-State’s explosive rushing attack, this team proves to be one to watch in Big 12 play.
3. Texas Tech’s Run Defense Gashed
Adrian Martinez continued to impress the nation with another stellar rushing performance against Texas Tech rushing 12 times for 171 yards and three scores. Martinez averaged 14.2 YPC and put on full display how spectacular the K-State backfield can be in the 2022 season. With the added impact of superstar running back Deuce Vaughn rushing for 170 yards, the pair totaled 341 rushing yards on 35 carries. If K-State aims to make a push for the top spot in the Big 12 it starts with the athletic two-headed monster of Martinez and Vaughn.
Speaking of Martinez, he put on a show rushing, and his passing effort was reminiscent of previous games this season (with the exception of the OU game) going 12/19 for 116 yards and one touchdown pass to Phillip Brooks. The Wildcats showed that for them to be successful the passing attack doesn’t have to be perfect. Trying to keep Adrian Martinez in the pocket alone in this game proved to be a struggle for the Red Raiders defense and I believe we’re going to see a lot more of that in the future. K-State pulls off a big win in the conference play to cement the Wildcats as a certified threat.