Vegas has apparently not seen a Kansas State versus Oklahoma State game before. The Wildcats came into Stillwater nearly as three touchdown underdogs, but did anybody really expect this game to be a blowout? The recent history between these two programs suggested this would be a hard-fought contest, and the game definitely lived up to those expectations.
It was the second start of the season for Kansas State third string quarterback Skylar Thompson; however, he opened the game running the ball down the Cowboys’ throats to give the Wildcats the early 7-0 lead. The ease with which Thompson was able to run early on the OSU defense was pretty startling given Kansas State’s struggles throwing the ball throughout the season.
Despite the quick start for Kansas State, it appeared the game was turning in favor of the Cowboys by the end of the first quarter. Oklahoma State committed more defenders to stuff the run forcing the Wildcats into three straight three-and-outs. Meanwhile, the Cowboys had taken the lead 10-7 after a two-play touchdown drive and field goal.
However, Kansas State dominated the second quarter with special teams, defense and surprising big plays in the passing game. Byron Pringle had a career day, and it began as he burned the Oklahoma State secondary deep with a 47-yard touchdown catch for his first score of the game. The Wildcat red zone defense held the Cowboys to a field goal on the following possession, then Pringle returned the ensuing kickoff 89 yards for a touchdown to take a 21-13 lead. The Cowboys tried to attack the Wildcat secondary, who was missing D.J. Reed and ranked towards the bottom of FBS in passing defense. The secondary came up big though as they intercepted Mason Rudolph twice due to overthrown passes. The Wildcats took the air out of the stadium just before the half when running back Alex Barnes went 39 yards nearly untouched for the Wildcats’ third touchdown of the quarter to extend their lead to 28-13.
The Byron Pringle show continued in the second half as he burned the secondary two more times for touchdown catches of 46 and 60 yards to open a commanding lead of 42-13 late in the third quarter. At this point, it appeared OSU was a team that knew they would not be playing for a Big 12 championship and was folding it in. However, to their credit, the Cowboys fought back to make this another classic game in this series. The Cowboys responded on the next possession as Rudolph connected with James Washington on a 52-yard strike to set up just their second touchdown of the game. Then, in typical Kansas State fashion, they held on to the football for six minutes and added what ended up being a very important field goal to take a 45-20 lead early in the fourth quarter.
The Cowboys took advantage of the Wildcats’ prevent defense as they marched down the field for touchdown drives of 75 and 86 yards. The Wildcats went conservative on offense as well as they simply tried to run out the clock, but the Cowboys did not allow anything on the ground. When Kansas State decided to take a risk by throwing the ball, Skylar Thompson was sacked and fumbled the ball to Oklahoma State. Thompson was also injured on the play to add insult to injury. The Cowboys scored again 40 seconds later but failed the two-point conversion to bring the score to 45-40.
Thompson did not re-enter the game so Kansas State turned to fourth string quarterback Hunter Hall; however, he split out wide to allow Alex Barnes to take the snap in the Wildcat formation. The Cowboys stuffed Barnes on three straight plays, and the offense took the field with just over two minutes left with a chance to complete the largest comeback in program history. With the game on the line though, the OSU offense wilted under the pressure. James Washington dropped what would have been a first down catch on the first play, and Rudolph followed that up with three straight overthrows to turn the ball over on downs. Kansas State was able to run out the clock with three plays, and they secured their eighth straight bowl appearance in one of the most entertaining finishes of the Big 12 season. Final score 45-40.
|3rd Down Eff||3-12||3-13|
|4th Down Eff||0-0||1-2|
|Yards Per Pass||15.7||8.0|
|Yards Per Rush||4.4||2.7|
|KSU – S. Thompson||10/13||204||15.7||3||0||86.3|
|OSU – M. Rudolph||32/53||425||8.0||3||2||48.1|
|KSU – S. Thompson||17||93||5.5||1||26|
|OSU – J. Hill||23||91||4.0||1||32|
|KSU – B. Pringle||4||166||41.5||3||60|
|OSU – J. Washington||8||159||19.9||2||52|
EMPTYING THE NOTEBOOK
JUCO transfer Byron Pringle had his best game as a Wildcat as he racked up 166 receiving yards and 3 touchdowns to go along with his 89-yard kickoff return for touchdown.
Pringle had his way with the young OSU corners. He burned A.J. Green twice in man coverage for two of his touchdowns. OSU was determined to stop the run, so give credit to Pringle for taking advantage of the man coverage and to Thompson for throwing some nice deep balls on target.
Many OSU fans are speculating that the team was flat this game because they knew TCU had won, and their chance of playing for a Big 12 title were essentially over. I’m not sure I’m buying that. This simply looked like the team we’ve seen most of the year. Almost every game in conference play has been a struggle. They were fortunate to beat Tech, Texas and Iowa State. Even in their best game against West Virginia, they nearly gave away a big lead. The Cowboys managed to make huge plays in all those close games to pull out the win, but they ran out of magic this time around. Kansas State deserved to win this game.
It was surprising that K-State opened the game in man coverage given the depth of wide receivers for OSU and the fact that they were breaking in a backup corner in place of D.J. Reed. James Washington beat Duke Shelley in man on the first OSU touchdown. It looked like K-State adjusted to play more people deep similar to the schemes used by other Big 12 defenses to limit the OSU offense. Rudolph struggled throwing into tight windows as K-State dropped more people back in coverage.
This was a good win for Bill Snyder and the Wildcats as they secured bowl eligibility with a third string quarterback and amid a week of distractions due to reports surfacing regarding the contentious succession plan surrounding the program.
The win for K-State means the Big 12 will have at least seven bowl eligible teams with a possibility for eight if Texas Tech beats Texas next weekend.
On the other hand, this will go down as a disappointing season overall for OSU. They can still get to 10 wins with a win at a good bowl game, but guys like Rudolph and Washington came back to school to make a run at a Big 12 title and more. A young secondary, undisciplined play, injuries to the O-line, and poor special teams kept this team from being great.