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K-State Hosts Houston on Homecoming

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Game 8
Houston at rv/rv K-State

Date: Saturday, October 28, 2023

Kickoff: 11 a.m.
Location: Manhattan, Kan.
Stadium: Bill Snyder Family Stadium (50,000)
Series: First Meeting
TV: ESPN2 (watch)
Lowell Galindo (Play-by-Play)
Kirk Morrison (Analyst)
Stormy Buonantony (Sidelines)
Radio: K-State Sports Network; k-statesports.com (Listen)
Wyatt Thompson (Play-by-Play)
Stan Weber (Analyst)
Matt Walters (Sidelines)
SiriusXM Satellite Radio Ch. 135 or 199; SXM App 953
X Updates: @KStateFB

THE TOP 5
1)
 Following a big 41-3 win over TCU last week, K-State will play its second home game in as many weeks when the Houston Cougars visit Manhattan for Homecoming. The game will kick at 11 a.m. from inside a sold-out Bill Snyder Family Stadium and be televised nationally on ESPN2 with Lowell Galindo (play-by-play), Kirk Morrison (analyst) and Stormy Buonantony (sidelines) calling the action.

2) The Cats currently rank 13th nationally and second in the Big 12 by scoring 36.9 points per game while also checking in at No. 3 in rushing at 232.7 yards per game – which also ranks tops among Power 5 programs. Since Collin Klein took over as offensive coordinator for the 2021 Texas Bowl, K-State is averaging 34.2 points per game on offense, which includes five games this season of 38 or more points.

3) Senior Will Howard and freshman Avery Johnson both directed a K-State offense last week that produced 41 points and 587 total yards, including 406 yards in the first half. Howard threw for three touchdowns for the third time this season, while, the week prior at Texas Tech, Johnson tied a school record with five rushing touchdowns en route to Big 12 Newcomer of the Week honors.

4) Last week against TCU, the K-State defense limited a potent Horned Frog offense to just three points and 300 yards, with 68 of those yards coming on the last drive of the game. Coming into the contest, TCU was averaging 33.1 points per game and 488.4 yards of offense. Over the last two seasons, K-State has held 13 of its 14 Big 12 opponents under its season scoring averaging entering the game.

5) The K-State defense enters the week ranked in the top 25 nationally in third down defense (15th – 30.0%), scoring defense (19th – 18.1 ppg), rushing defense (23rd – 108.9 yds/gm) and tackles for loss (24th – 6.9 TFLs per game). Since the Cats switched to a 3-3-5 alignment to start the 2021 season, K-State has allowed just 20.8 points per game to rank 20th in the nation and second in the Big 12.

STATISTICAL SPOTLIGHTS
232.7
 – Average rushing yards this season by K-State, which ranks third nationally and tops among Power 5 programs.
75.4 – Career winning % by Chris Klieman, which ranks fourth nationally among FBS coaches with at least 10 years experience.
43.7 – Percentage of offensive drives this season that have ended in touchdowns, a figure that leads the Big 12.
30.0 – Percentage of red zone touchdowns allowed by K-State, the second lowest in the nation.
0 – Number of fumbles lost this season as the Wildcats are one of only four remaining FBS teams to not yet lose a fumble.

TEAM NOTES
RECENT RECAP
• K-State dominated in all three phases in a 41-3 win over TCU last week. Quarterbacks Will Howard and Avery Johnson both engineered a Wildcat offense that generated 406 total yards in the first half and 587 for the game. The Cats ran for a season-high 343 yards on the ground as nine different Wildcats carried the ball, the most ball carries since nine players also logged a rush at Kansas in 2021.
• Defensively, the Cats kept the Horned Frogs out of the endzone for the first time this season and held them to three total points. TCU averaged more than 33 points per game entering the contest.
• The week prior, K-State picked up a road win in Lubbock, a 38-21 victory for its eighth-straight win in the series as they rushed for 272 yards and forced three Red Raider turnovers.
• Johnson ran for five scores, while running back Treshaun Ward had a big night with 118 yards on 15 carries.
• Defensively, Kobe Savage picked off two Tech passes en route to Big 12 Defensive Player of the Week honors, and the defense held Red Raider running back Tahj Brooks under 100 yards for the first time in a month.

BACK AT HOME IN THE BIG 12
• Following a four-week hiatus from home games, K-State is hosting its second-straight game at Bill Snyder Family Stadium when Houston comes to town Saturday.
• The Wildcats are 37-19 in home Big 12 contests since 2011 and have recorded three or more Big 12 homes wins eight times over that 12-plus year stretch.

NEW BIG 12 MATCHUPS
• Kansas State defeated UCF earlier this season in Manhattan and will now host its second new Big 12 member of the season when the Houston Cougars visit Manhattan.
• K-State and Houston have never met on the football field, but the Wildcats are familiar with head coach Dana Holgerson from his days leading the West Virginia program.

AMONG THE NATION’S BEST
• K-State has a total of 218 victories since 1996, which ranks 23rd nationally.
• Among current Big 12 teams, the Wildcats rank fifth behind Oklahoma (269), Texas (235), BYU (228) and TCU (228).
• Over the last 13 seasons, the Wildcats have won at least seven games 11 times.

POSTSEASON PROMINENCE
• Kansas State has a strong history of being in the postseason, having advanced to a bowl game 23 times since 1993, including 11 times in the last 13 years.
• K-State’s 23 bowl trips since 1993 are tied for fourth among current Big 12 teams.
• In an era when over 80 teams play in a bowl game each year, the Cats are one of just 19 Power 5 teams to play in a bowl game 11 times in the last 13 years.

LOOKING FOR WIN #6
• A win on Saturday against Houston will give K-State bowl eligibility for the fourth time in Chris Klieman‘s five years at the helm. The only time the Wildcats did not go to a bowl game was during the COVID-ravaged 2020 season.

A WINNING TRADITION
• Kansas State has been one of the best Big 12 teams since the inception of the conference in 1996. The Wildcats are third with 136 conference victories, trailing only Oklahoma and Texas.
• The Wildcats are also third in the conference in winning percentage since non-divisional play began in 2011. They sit at 59.8% (67-45), trailing only Oklahoma (78.4%; 87-24) and Oklahoma State (65.2%; 73-39).
• During that stretch, the Wildcats are 37-19 (66.1%) at home in Big 12 play and 30-26 (53.6%) on the road.

A WINNING HISTORY
• A proven winner with a championship history, Chris Klieman holds a 107-35 career record, as his 75.4% career winning percentage ranks fourth among current FBS coaches that have led programs for at least 10 seasons.
• Klieman, who is 35-22 since arriving at K-State prior to the 2019 season, is also one of just 14 current Power 5 head coaches with at least 100 wins.

CATS TOPS IN NON-OFFENSIVE TDs
• K-State is the nation’s best in non-offensive touchdowns over the last 24 seasons as it has 129 since 1999, five more than the next closest team (Alabama – 124).
• Of the 129 non-offensive scores since 1999, 44 have been punt returns, 40 interception returns, 33 kickoff returns, 10 fumble returns and 2 missed/blocked field goal returns.

OFFENSIVE NOTES
SCORING SURGE
• Kansas State has scored at least 38 points in seven of its last nine regular-season contests dating back to last season, its most in a nine-game stretch since doing so seven times in 2003.
• Included in that stretch was a three-game streak of Big 12 regular-season games with at least 40 points, the longest by the Wildcats since 2012 when they had 55 points against both West Virginia and Texas Tech, and 44 points against Oklahoma State.
• Since Collin Klein started calling plays during the 2021 Texas Bowl, K-State’s offense has averaged 34.2 points per game.
• The Cats currently rank 13th nationally and second in the Big 12 with 36.9 points per game this season, a figure that ranks sixth in school history.
• K-State is averaging 3.31 points per drive this season, a figure that also ranks first in the Big 12.

TOTAL OFFENSE
• K-State has totaled at least 375 yards in 12 of 13 games against Big 12 foes dating back to last season, including the Big 12 Championship. During that stretch, the Wildcats held a 10-game conference game streak, the longest in school history.
• The 2023 opener against SEMO saw the Cats total 588 yards, the fifth-most in school history, most ever in a season opener.
• The Cats enter this week’s game ranked 13th nationally by averaging 474.7 yards per game, a mark that currently ranks second in school history.
• The Wildcats are averaging 6.49 yards per play, currently the highest figure in school history.

500 CLUB
• The latest 500-yard output for the Wildcats came against TCU, a 587-yard effort that included 406 yards in the first half, which was the most by K-State in a half since at least 1999.
• It was the sixth-most yards in a game in school history but the most ever against a conference opponent.
• This is the first year K-State has at least three 500-yard games since 2003 (535 vs. California; 503 at Iowa State; 561 at Nebraska; 519 vs. Oklahoma) and the first time with at least two in Big 12 play since 2014 (505 vs. Kansas and 535 vs. Texas Tech).

TAKING CARE OF THE BALL
• A staple of K-State football over the past decade has been committing very few turnovers, as the Wildcats rank second in the nation among Power 5 teams in fewest turnovers since 2012 with 173.
• That figure leads returning Big 12 teams, as the Wildcats are 13 better than the next closest program (Oklahoma, 187).
• The Wildcats finished the 2022 season tied for eighth nationally and tops in the Big 12 in turnover margin (+0.86 / game) and head into this week’s game ranked 53rd (+0.14 / game).
• K-State is also one of four FBS offenses to not yet lose a fumble through the first eight weeks of the season.

RUSHING TO VICTORY
• K-State has steadily been one of the top rushing attacks in the country this season as it ranks third nationally and tops among Power 5 programs with 232.7 rushing yards per game.
• The Wildcats are also tied for seventh nationally and rank first in the Big 12 with 20 rushing touchdowns.
• As of late, the Wildcats have rushed for 200 or more yards in four-straight games. The stretch is the longest in Big 12 play since doing so the final six Big 12 games of the 2016 season.
• The Cats have had 59 rushes this season that have gone for 10 or more yards, including a season-high 16 against TCU and 13 the previous week at Texas Tech.

PUTTING IT WHERE ONLY OUR GUY CAN GET IT
• Since Collin Klein took over coaching the quarterbacks in 2017, K-State has only thrown 50 interceptions, equating to 0.61 per game.
• K-State’s 50 total interceptions thrown the last six-plus seasons are tied for the fewest in the Big 12 (Oklahoma) and 15th in the nation.

PRODUCING A CLEAN POCKET
• K-State has excelled in pass blocking since offensive line coach Conor Riley arrived in 2019, as the Cats have allowed fewer than 2.0 sacks per game each of the last four seasons. It is the Wildcats’ first four-year stretch under 2.0 sacks allowed per game since 1997 to 2000.
• K-State is the only Big 12 program – including the four new programs in 2023 – to currently hold a streak of at least four years allowing less than 2.0 sacks per game each season, and the Wildcats are only one of 10 FBS programs to lay that claim.
• Midway through the 2023 season, K-State ranks 24th nationally and fourth in the Big 12 by allowing just 1.29 sacks per game.

KEEPING IT 100
• Those that produced the clean pocket for the Wildcats last year all return as K-State brought back 100% of its 70 starts along the offensive line from a year ago.
• To open the 2023 campaign, the Wildcats brought back a nation-leading 116 starts from their starting unit from last season. K-State also ranked 12th nationally in total returning games played among all offensive linemen with 204.

RED ZONE SUCCESS
• Kansas State has been one of the best teams in the nation in turning red-zone trips into touchdowns, as the Wildcats lead the Big 12 and are tied for fifth nationally by finding paydirt on 80.0% percent of their red-zone possessions (28-of-35).
• This year is a continuation of red-zone success under head coach Chris Klieman, as the Wildcats rank first in the Big 12 by scoring on 91.0% of its overall red-zone trips since 2019. The only other team to go over 90.0% is Oklahoma at 90.7%.

THIRD DOWNS, TOO
• Kansas State has also been one of the best teams in the Big 12 in terms of converting on third down, as the Wildcats rank second in the league and seventh nationally with a 52.6% success rate.
• Through seven games, K-State has converted on 51-of-97 third downs, which included 10-of-13 conversions last week against TCU. It was the second time this season the Wildcats converted 10 third-down attempts (Troy).
• The Wildcats have not finished over 50% on third downs in a season since 1998 (50.6% – 84-of-166).

RANKING HIGH ON THE CHARTS
• Playing in 29 career games with 21 starts, Will Howard has started to enter career top-10 lists in K-State history.
• The Downingtown, Pennsylvania, native is tied for fifth in school history in career passing touchdowns (36), while he ranks seventh in passing yards per game (158.9), eighth in completions (361), passing efficiency (132.7) and TDs responsible for (52), ninth in total offense (5,466) and 10th in passing yards (4,607) and attempts (620).

THEY COME IN THREES
• Will Howard produced his third game this year with three passing touchdowns when he hit the mark against TCU en route to being named the Senior Bowl Offensive Player of the Week.
• Howard, who also had three passing touchdowns against Troy and Missouri, is the first K-State signal caller with at least three games throwing three or more passing touchdowns since Jake Waters against West Virginia, Oklahoma and Michigan in 2013.

FIVE FOR THE FRESHMAN
• True freshman quarterback Avery Johnson rushed for five touchdowns at Texas Tech to tie the school record with current K-State offensive coordinator Collin Klein (2011 vs. Texas A&M) and Jonathan Beasley (2000 vs. North Texas).
• It is the most rushing touchdowns nationally in a game this year, while it is the most by any true freshman since Oklahoma’s Samaje Perine had five against Kansas in 2014.
• Johnson’s five rushing scores are also the most by any true freshman quarterback in the nation since at least 1995, which makes it the most by a true freshman quarterback in Big 12 history. It was also the first time any Big 12 player had at least five rushing touchdowns since 2016.
• For his effort at Texas Tech, Johnson was named the National True Freshman of the Week by 247Sports and On3 in addition to being named the Big 12 Newcomer of the Week.

RUNNING TO PAYDIRT
• Avery Johnson has six rushing touchdowns this season, which is tied for third in school history among true freshman. He is two shy of the record held by then-redshirt freshman fullback Ayo Saba in 2002 and one shy of tying the school’s true freshman record held by running back Deuce Vaughn in 2020.
• Johnson’s six rushing touchdowns this year are the second most nationally among true freshmen, just one behind UNLV running back Jai’Den Thomas.

HAVE A GAME, DJ
• Sophomore running back DJ Giddens had a historic performance against UCF, as he produced the first 200-yard, four-touchdown rushing performance in school history en route to Doak Walker National Running Back of the Week and Big 12 Offensive Player of the Week honors.
• His four rushing scores tied for third in a game in school history and were the most since Alex Barnes had four against Oklahoma State in 2018. It was also the first 200-yard rushing game by a Wildcat since Barnes went for 250 yards at Baylor in 2018.

MULTI-FACETED BACK
• Not only did DJ Giddens rush for 207 yards against UCF, but he was also the team’s leading receiver with eight receptions for 86 yards.
• Giddens’ 293 yards from scrimmage were the third most in school history, while it was the most all-purpose yards by a Big 12 player this season and the third most yards from scrimmage nationally this year.

CONTINUED SUCCESS
• Ben Sinnott burst onto the scene last season, and that has continued in 2023 as he ranks fifth nationally among tight ends with 51.1 receiving yards per game.
• Included in that total is a career-high 100-yard effort against SEMO, the first K-State tight end with a 100-yard receiving game since Jeron Mastrud at Kansas in 2006 (103 yards).
• Sinnott enters this week’s game with seven career receiving touchdowns to rank second in school history by a tight end (Henry Childs, 10, 1971-73). He also has 59 career catches and 820 career receiving yards to rank fourth in both categories.

SWISS ARMY KNIFE
• Ben Sinnott’s skill set allows him to line up in many different spots. Thus far in 2023, the Waterloo, Iowa, product has lined up 280 times as an inline tight end, 84 times in the slot, 62 times in the backfield and 16 times as a true wide receiver.

DEFENSIVE NOTES
A BIG TURNAROUND
• The K-State defense switched from a four-man front to a 3-3-5 alignment in 2021, and the change has paid off.
• In the 34 games since the defensive switch, the Cats are allowing just 20.8 points per game, which ranks second in the Big 12 and 20th in the nation.
• The Wildcats surrendered just 21.0 points per game in 2021 and 21.9 points per game last year. It marked the first time K-State allowed less than 22.0 points per game in consecutive seasons since going 13-straight years from 1991 to 2003.
• K-State enters the week ranked 19th nationally and second in the Big 12 by allowing 18.1 points per game. The last time the Wildcats allowed under 20.0 points per game in a season was 2003 (16.3).

UNDER AVERAGE
• K-State held all of its Big 12 opponents last season – and three of the first four in 2023 – under its season averages. Oklahoma State went over its season scoring average, but did so with only one offensive touchdown, a pick-six and five field goals.
• The most dramatic difference this season came last week when K-State surrendered just three points to a TCU team that was averaging 33.1 points per game entering the contest.
• Since head coach Chris Klieman‘s first year of 2019, the Wildcats have held 33 of their 41 Big 12 opponents under their season average at the time it faces the Wildcats.

STOPPING THE RUN
• The Wildcats have been able to shut down opponents’ running game this season as they rank 23rd nationally and third in the Big 12 by allowing just 108.9 rushing yards per game.
• K-State has surrendered less than 125 yards on four occasions this season, including three times limiting its opponent to under 100 yards.
• Kansas State’s current average ranks seventh in school history and would be the best mark since allowing 105.4 rushing yards per game in 2009.

DEFENSIVE RED ZONE SUCCESS
• The Wildcats have been stingy when opponents enter the red zone as they are allowing touchdowns just 30% of the time (6-of-20), the second-best mark in the nation.
• It is a dramatic improvement from last season when K-State ranked 108th when 67.5% of opponents red-zone trips resulted in touchdowns.

LIVING IN THE BACKFIELD
• K-State has totaled 48 tackles for loss over the first seven games to rank 24th in the nation and third in the Big 12.
• The Wildcats began the year with five-straight games of at least seven tackles for loss, their longest streak since carding at least five in every game during the 1997 season.

LATE DOWN STOPS
• K-State has not allowed any of its seven opponents this year to convert on greater than 42% of its third-down attempts, while the Wildcats have held opponents under 50% in 17 of 20 games dating back to the beginning of last season.
• K-State enters this week ranked 15th nationally by allowing opponents to convert on just 30.0% of its third downs.

BACK FOR MOORE
• K-State’s leading tackler from a year ago is at is again as Austin Moore leads the team with 42 tackles.
• However, Moore has improved his production in tackles for loss with 8.0 on the year.
• A former walk-on turned team captain, Moore has at least a half tackle for loss in nine of his last 11 games dating back to last year, including a career-best 3.0 TFLs against SEMO.

SAVAGE SNAGS A PAIR
• Senior safety Kobe Savage hauled in two interceptions at Texas Tech. It was the first multi-interception game by a Wildcat since Kevion McGee had a pair in the 2018 finale at Iowa State.
• Savage became the first K-State safety with two picks in a game since Travis Green had two against Texas Tech in 2014.
• A product of Paris, Texas, Savage now has five career interceptions as he ranks fourth nationally among active players in career interceptions per game (0.29). Additionally, he ranks 15th nationally among active players with 4.12 solo tackles per game.

SPECIAL TEAMS NOTES
SCORING IN THE THIRD PHASE
• One of the main reasons the Wildcats have been a successful program the last three decades is a knack for momentum-swinging plays in the return game.
• Since 2005 (18-plus seasons), the Wildcats have a combined 60 kickoff- and punt-return touchdowns, 21 more than second-place Alabama (39) and 26 more than the next closest Big 12 team (Oklahoma State – 34).
• Of the 60 total returns, a nation-leading 31 are on kickoff returns. The next closest team is Houston with 21.
• With two punt-return touchdowns in 2022, K-State has now tallied a punt-return score in every season since 2014, as the nine-year stretch is the longest active streak in the nation.

MORE RECENTLY…
• Special teams have been an area of emphasis under head coach Chris Klieman, and the stats back it up.
• K-State is one of only two teams in the nation (Houston) with at least five kickoff-return touchdowns and five punt-return touchdowns since 2019.
• On the flipside, K-State is one of just 10 returning FBS teams to not allow a kickoff- or punt-return touchdown since 2019, while the Wildcats are the only Big 12 team to lay that claim.

DEFENSE ON KICK RETURNS
• K-State has not allowed a kickoff return for a touchdown since the 2013 season, going the last 121 games and 398 returns without allowing opponents to find paydirt on a kickoff return.
• The streak is the longest among the returning Big 12 teams.
• Since K-State allowed its last kickoff-return touchdown, the Wildcats have scored 14 of their own.

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