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K-State heads to Mizzou with no margin for error


GO WILDCATS
GO WILDCATS

GO WILDCATS

2004 Kansas State Football

 

Game No. 9

 

Kansas State (3-5/1-4)

at Missouri (4-4/2-3)

Saturday, Nov. 6, 2004

11:40 a.m. (CT)/Fox Sports Net

Faurot Field (68,349)

Columbia, Mo.

 

Kickoff: 11:40 a.m.

 

Television: Live nationally on Fox Sports Net. Drew Goodman will call the action with Dave Lapham providing the color analysis. Jim Knox will serve as the broadcast's sideline reporter.

 

Radio: Live across the 29-station Mid America Sports Network. Wyatt Thompson (play-by-play), Stan Weber (color) and Chris Allison (sideline) serve as the on-air talent.

 

On the Web: A live audio stream of all Kansas State football games is available via the Internet at K-State's official site, www.k-statesports.com. Click the “Live Audio” link on the left side of the home page.

 

Records: Kansas State suffered its third Big 12 setback by 10 points or less and slipped to 3-5 (1-4 Big 12) with their 35-25 loss to Texas Tech. Missouri fell for the third straight week and dropped to 4-4 (2-3 Big 12) on the season with its 24-3 loss at Nebraska.

 

Rankings: Neither team is ranked in this week’s polls.

 

Series: Missouri leads the all-time series 55-29-5, however K-State has taken each of the last 11 meetings. Mizzou also leads the series in Columbia, 28-16-2.

 

Coaches: Kansas State's Bill Snyder is 130-60-1 (.683) in 16 seasons with the Wildcats. Missouri’s Gary Pinkel is in his fourth year with the Tigers and has compiled a 21-23 (.477) record.

 

K-State heads to Mizzou with no margin for error

Kansas State hits the road for just the third time this season as the Wildcats head to Missouri on Saturday to take on the Tigers in a critical Big 12 North Division matchup at Faurot Field in Columbia. The game will kick off at 11:40 a.m.  (CST) and will be telecast nationally by Fox Sports Net with Drew Goodman (play-by-play) and Dave Lapham (analyst) calling the action.

 

Saturday's game is the first of back-to-back road contests for Kansas State (3-5, 1-4 Big 12) and also begins a three-game stretch run to the end of the regular season. Coming off a disappointing 35-25 setback against Big 12 South foe Texas Tech that saw K-State roll up an impressive 415 yards of total offense, the Wildcats have left themselves zero margin for error the rest of the way and must win out if they are to become eligible for a 12th consecutive bowl berth.

 

On the heels of a 24-3 loss at Nebraska, Missouri (4-4, 2-3 Big 12) will be out to break into the win column for the first time in nearly a month. The Tigers opened the season with wins in four of their first five games but have since dropped three straight.

 

Cats back on the tube

Kansas State will be making its fifth television appearance of the season Saturday and third on Fox Sports Net at Missouri. Combined with its Fox appearance last week against Texas Tech, it is the first time K-State will be televised in consecutive weeks this season. Overall, the Wildcats will be looking for their first televised win of the season. Kansas State, 0-4 on the tube this year, will be out to snap a five game slide in TV games as the Cats have not won in front of the cameras since defeating Oklahoma in the 2003 Big 12 Championship game. Dating to the start of the 2003 season, Kansas State is just 4-8 in its last 12 televised games.

 

Wildcats, Tigers renew rivalry with 90th meeting

Kansas State and Missouri will be meeting for the 90th time when the Wildcats and Tigers square off Saturday... Prior to this year's game, K-State and Mizzou had met in the regular-season finale for six straight seasons... Missouri leads the all-time series 55-29 with five ties, however K-State has dominated in recent years, winning 11 in a row and 12 of the last 13 meetings... The Wildcats have also won five in a row in Columbia and have not lost on Faurot Field since suffering a 27-14 setback on Nov. 14, 1992... Overall, Mizzou holds a 28-16 edge in games played in Columbia, with two ties... The Wildcats have notched three shutouts during their 11-game winning streak, including a 38-0 victory the last time the two teams played at Missouri in 2002... Kansas State has outscored Missouri 369-126 during its 11-game winning streak and 180-41 in the last five meetings... In fact, six of the last 11 games have been decided by three touchdowns or more... K-State head coach Bill Snyder is 12-3 vs. Missouri, while Tigers' head coach Gary Pinkel is 0-3 against the Cats.

 

Cat Connections

      Kansas State assistant coach Mo Latimore was the defensive line coach at Missouri from 1989-93.

      Mizzou’s associate athletic director for academic services Bryan Maggard received his bachelor's degree in journalism and his master's in health and physical education from Kansas State. He also spent four years at K-State overseeing academic support services for the Wildcat football program.

      K-State freshman offensive lineman Caleb Handy and Missouri redshirt freshman tight end Josh Barbo won two Kansas 3A state titles together at Conway Springs High School.

      Several graduates of Kansas City’s Rockhurst High school dot both rosters, include Kansas State's Scott Edmonds (junior DE), Marcus Perry (freshman DB), Jeff Snodgrass (sophomore PK) and Noah Strozier (sophomore DB) and Missouri's Steve Redmond (freshman WR/DB) and Tony Temple (freshman TB).

 

K-State, Mizzou offenses putting up statistically similar numbers

Kansas State and Missouri have put up similar number this season on offense. Kansas State is averaging 367.6 yards per game of total offense behind 175.2 yards on the ground and 192.4 through the air. Missouri is slightly ahead, averaging 375.9 total yards, including 171.8 on the ground and 204.1 via the pass. The Wildcats, though, hold the edge in both points per game (29.6 to 25.1) and in first downs (172 to 166) and lead the Big 12 in time of possession (34:29).

 

Since start of Big 12 play, Cats and Tigers among league’s top defenses

Saturday’s game between Kansas State and Missouri will feature two of the Big 12’s top-rated defensive units since the start of conference play. In five games, the Tigers are yielding an average of just 269.2 yards per game to rank as the league’s stingiest unit. However, the Wildcats are not far behind. K-State, which has given up an average of 318.2 yards in Big 12 games, ranks No. 3.

 

Wildcat road show

Kansas State, which plays just its third of four road games this season Saturday at Missouri, is still searching for its first win away from home this year. However, since the inception of the Big 12, no team has won more conference road games than Kansas State. The Wildcats, who have won just under 65 percent of their Big 12 away contests, are 22-12 when playing on the Big 12 road over the past eight season. During that span, Kansas State has failed to win at least two Big 12 road games only during the 2001 campaign, when the Wildcats went 1-3. From 1996 through 2000, K-State won no fewer than three Big 12 road games in each season. The Cats also won three games in 2002 before going 2-2 last year.

 

League ledger

Though Kansas State’s 1-4 conference ledger this season is nothing to crow about, the Wildcats still own one of the best records in league play since the inception of the Big 12 Conference. K-State notched its 50th Big 12 Conference victory against Nebraska and now stands at 50-19 all time in Big 12 league games. Only Nebraska (52) and Texas (51) have won more Big 12 tilts than the Wildcats.

 

Cats’ nine lives down to one

They say that cats have nine lives. However, in an 11-game college football season its more like five. And with five losses already in 2004, Kansas State is on its last one if it wants to extend its string of 11 consecutive bowl berths. With three games to play, the Wildcats must win out to hit the magic six-win mark and go bowling for the 12th straight season.

 

Combinations and permutations on the road to Kansas City

Though things certainly look bleak for Kansas State in its quest to play for a second straight Big 12 Championship, as crazy as it sounds the Wildcats have not yet been mathematically eliminated in the North. However, K-State surely needs plenty of help and a generous dose of good luck to get back to Kansas City. In order for K-State to win the North, the Wildcats would first have to win their final three games. The Cats would then need Nebraska to drop two of its final three games at Iowa State and Oklahoma or vs. Colorado in Lincoln. K-State would also need Kansas to lose one of its final three games against either Colorado or Texas at home or at Missouri.

 

Wildcats hoping for another November to remember

The sun my not shine a whole lot in Kansas during the month of November, but for Kansas State its been a time to make hay. With its 2004 bowl hopes dwindling and the Wildcats needing to win out in order to extend one of the nation’s longest bowl streaks, the Wildcats need only to look to recent history for inspiration. We pointed out last week Kansas State's dominance over the last five games of the season in recent years. A big part of that has been the Wildcats' scintillating record in November games. Since the start of the 1991 season, K-State is has won nearly 85 percent of its November contests, going 39-7 during the last 14 seasons. Since the inception of the Big 12, the Cats have been even better, winning 90 percent of their November tilts and posting a 26-3 record during the eight years of the league, including unblemished marks in 1997, 1998, 2000, 2002 and 2003.

 

Been there, done that

Though the Wildcats have all but disappeared from the national scene, recent history has shown that Kansas State is one of the most resilient programs in all of college football as three-game losing streaks and slow starts in conference play have not been able to derail the Wildcats. During the 2001 campaign, K-State opened with four losses in its first six games, before Head Coach Bill Snyder guided the Wildcats to perhaps the most impressive mid-season turnaround in school history. That year, the Wildcats reeled off victories in four of their final five games to finish the regular season with a 6-5 record and earn a bid to play in the Insight.com Bowl. Last season’s resurrection job by Snyder was even more impressive as K-State rebounded from three-straight mid-season setbacks with six consecutive Big 12 wins before knocking off Oklahoma in the Big 12 Championship game and earning its first league title since 1934.

 

Whatever it takes

If one views the 2004 season as a whole, Kansas State’s offense has hardly been one-dimensional. Rather, Kansas State has shown an ability to adapt on the fly and take advantage of whatever the opposing defense has presented. During non-conference play, K-State came out of the gates as one of the nation’s top rushing teams, twice going over the 300-yard mark on the ground and averaging over 250 yards per game. But once Big 12 play started and defenses began stacking against the run, the Wildcats successfully went to the air in their first three games and averaged 266 yards per game passing. Against Nebraska, it was back to the ground as K-State ran wild with 294 yards rushing. Last week vs. Texas Tech, the Wildcats mustered one of their most balanced efforts of the season totaling 415 yards with 167 on the ground and 248 through the air. As a result, Kansas State owns one of the most balanced stat sheets in the Big 12. With 175.2 yards per game rushing and 192.4 yards per game passing, the Wildcats are one of just four teams in the league currently topping over 175 yards in both categories on average.

 

Wildcat offense beginning to hit on all cylinders

Kansas State’s offense may have been directed by different quarterbacks in each of the last two games, but one would hardly know it from looking at the stat sheet as the Wildcats rolled up over 400 yards of total offense against both Nebraska (418) and Texas Tech (415) for their most impressive back-to-back yardage totals of the season. Against Nebraska, Allen Webb was under center and gouged the Huskers for 271 yards of total offense. Last week against Tech it was Dylan Meier’s turn at the controls. He responded with a career best 332 yards of total offense - the most by a K-State quarterback since Ell Roberson totaled 403 yards at Nebraska last season.

 

Churn and burn

After not being able to top 150 yards on the ground in three straight games to open Big 12 play, the Wildcats have topped the figure twice in the last two games and appear to have gotten their running game untracked big time. Against Nebraska, two Wildcats topped the century mark and K-State came within six yards of hitting the 300-yard plateau on the ground for the third time this season, ripping a Blackshirt defense that previously ranked No. 2 nationally against the run for 294 yards. Quarterback Allen Webb led the way with a career-best 147 yards on a K-State quarterback record 34 carries, while Darren Sproles added 135 yards on 22 attempts. Last week against Texas Tech it was Dylan Meier and Sproles who teamed up, combining for 167 yards on 34 carries.

 

Rushing to victory

Outgaining an opponent on the ground has been crucial to the Wildcats’ fortunes in 2004. Kansas State outrushed Western Kentucky, Louisiana-Lafayette, Nebraska and Texas Tech en route to victories in three of the four games. However, in all four K-State losses this season the Cats have been outdistanced on the ground.

 

That trend carries back even further if you delve into Kansas State’s recent history. Over the last 35 games, the Wildcats have outgained their opponents on the ground in 29 contests. In those 29 games, K-State is a sparkling 25-4. But in the seven games the Cats were outrushed, K-State is a combined 0-7.

 

Thus far in 2004, K-State, which ranks No. 37 nationally in rushing on this week’s NCAA chart at 175.2 yards per game, has outgained the opposition 1,402 to 1074 on the ground for an average of 41.0 yards per game.

 

Everywhere but the scoreboard

Kansas State Head Coach Bill Snyder said after the Wildcats’ loss to Texas Tech that the team was better than its 3-5 record indicated. And K-State’s 2004 statistics certainly bear that fact out. Through eight games, Kansas State has been outscored 238 to 237. However, the Wildcats have been statistically much more impressive than the opposition, outdistancing their foes in first downs, rushing yards, passing yards and total offense. K-State has also been the superior place-kicking team and even has 30 percent fewer penalties than their opponents this season.

 

Scoring first is good, but a halftime edge is key

Kansas State has had little problem getting ready to play so far this season and has gotten off to a hot start in just about every game. In fact, the Wildcats have scored first in 6-of-8 games this season and, including a Bret Jones interception for a touchdown against Fresno State, have put points on the board the first time they have touched the ball in all but two games (Kansas and Texas Tech). However, the key to victory this season for Kansas State has been having a halftime edge. In the three games the Wildcats have led at intermission (Western Kentucky, Louisiana-Lafayette and Nebraska), K-State has gone on to win all three. But in the five games the Cats have trailed at the break, Kansas State has dropped all five.

 

Drive engineering

Kansas State has shown a keen ability to string together long drives this season. Through eight games, the Wildcats have engineered 12 scoring drives of 75 or more yards this season, including seven in the last four weeks. K-State has also chewed up five minutes or more on the clock on 10 separate scoring drives, while taking double-digit snaps on 16 others.

               

Ball hogs

Kansas State, which leads the Big 12 in time of possession, has held the possession edge in five of its last six games and 6-of-8 this season. In fact, K-State has held the ball over 35 minutes in 4-of-8 games this year and is averaging a TOP of just under that figure for the season (34:29). K-State held the ball for over 33 minutes and ran 66 plays at Kansas on the heels of posting a TOP of 40:28 on 90 plays at Texas A&M. Against Nebraska, the Wildcats amassed a time of possession of 37:53 minutes on 84 plays. And talk about keeping your defense off the field, Kansas State has run over 75 plays in five separate games this season, with three plus 80-play outings.

 

In the zone

Kansas State continues to be one of the Big 12’s best red zone teams, especially since the start of conference play. Through eight games, K-State has converted 29-of-35 (.829) red-zone opportunities into points. However, the Wildcats have been even better in Big 12 games, scoring on 18-of-21 (.857) chances.

 

Cat QBs taking care of the ball

Despite throwing a crucial interception in the fourth quarter against Texas Tech, Kansas State’s quarterback duo of Dylan Meier and Allen Webb have done a solid job of taking care of the ball. In fact, the Wildcats’ interception totals in 2004 are one of the most improved areas on the team over last season. Through eight games, K-State’s QBs have tossed just six interceptions on 238 attempts. Through eight games last year, Kansas State’s signal-callers had double that figure on fewer passes, throwing 12 picks on just 197 attempts. Prior to Meier’s fourth quarter interceptions against the Red Raiders, K-State’s quarterback had gone 13 straight quarters and 112 consecutive attempts without a pick.

 

Wildcat defense on the prowl

Kansas State’s defense, much maligned for a good part of the 2004 season, appears to be rounding into shape and could be set for a strong close to the 2004 season. The only unit to rank in the top six nationally in total defense in each of the last seven seasons, K-State’s defense looks to be headed back that direction. The Wildcats, who rank No. 3 in Big 12 games in total defense, have held two of their last four opponents below 250 yards and have been steadily climbing the NCAA chart in recent weeks to their current position at No. 33.

 

Defense holding opposing offenses below season averages

Since the start of Big 12 play, Kansas State's defense has held each of their five opponents below its season average for total offense entering the game against the Wildcats. In fact, K-State’s five Big 12 opponents have been held to an average of 116.3 yards under what they had previously produced. Only Oklahoma (-51.4 yards) and Texas Tech (-79.4 yards) were able to get within 100 yards of their season averages as K-State held Texas A&M (-164.3 yards), Kansas (-100.6 yards) and Nebraska (-185.8 yards) significantly below what they had previously totaled.

 

Fate no friend of K-State’s scoring defense

The Kansas State defense may be yielding 29.8 points per game this season to rank 83rd nationally, but a quick look inside the numbers reveals that the unit has been put in a number of tough spots. Of the 36 scores the Wildcats have given up this season, 12 have opened inside K-State’s 45-yard line with five of those starting in the red zone and two -- Nebraska’s return of a botched punt snap and Texas Tech punt return -- requiring no drive at all. On the flip side, the K-State defense has been solid when it has had some room to work with. Of the 54 drives opponents have started inside their own 30, Kansas State has yielded points on just 15.

 

Kansas State’s defense has also been the victim of turnovers. Through eight games, K-State’s foes have scored 65 of their 238 points (27 percent) following Wildcat turnovers, meaning that each K-State miscue has cost the Cats nearly four points. On the flip side, K-State has tallied just 34 of its 237 points (14 percent) following turnovers.

 

Meier steps up in Big 12 play

Despite Kansas State’s slow start in conference play, sophomore Dylan Meier emerged as one of a number of bright spots for the Wildcats. Since the start of Big 12 action, Meier trails only national leader Sonny Cumbie of Texas Tech in passing yards per game, averaging 246.2 yards in league games. He also ranks fifth in the Big 12 in TD passes with six, despite playing in just 14 of 20 possible quarters. And Meier, who ranks fourth in the Big 12 on this week’s NCAA passing efficiency chart, has been using all his options. In his four Big 12 games, the sophomore has connected with nine different receivers, with five hauling in 10 or more passes. Meier opened Big 12 play with 246 yards passing and three touchdowns at Texas A&M before passing for a career-high 249 yards and two scores in just one half of action at Kansas. Against No. 2 Oklahoma, the Pittsburg, Kan., product was nearly as good, completing 20-of-38 attempts for 242 yards and a touchdown. Last week against Texas Tech, Meier hit a new career-high in total offense with 332 yards, including 248 yards on 26-of-41 passing.

 

Webb casts safety net at QB

After struggling in his first two starts as Kansas State’s starting quarterback, the third time was the charm for sophomore signal-caller Allen Webb. Starting in place of Dylan Meier against Nebraska, Webb led K-State to one of its best offensive performances of the year as the Wildcats rolled up 418 yards of total offense and broke into the win column in Big 12 play with a 45-21 win over the Cornhuskers. Facing a rushing defense that ranked No. 2 nationally and had allowed just 66.8 yards per game this season, Webb gashed the Huskers for a career-best 147 yards on a K-State quarterback record 34 carries. He also accounted for 24 of K-State's 45 points, scoring on touchdown runs of 13, 9, 8 and 1 yards. Through the air, Webb hit career highs across the board with 14 completions on 23 attempts with no interceptions for 124 yards. Webb's double 100-yard effort marked just the 10th time in K-State's 1,002-game history that a quarterback has both rushed and passed for over 100 yards in the same game and the first time a Wildcat has done so since Ell Roberson doubled up on Kansas on Oct. 25, 2003. His performance also marked the first time a K-State player has scored four touchdowns in a game since Josh Scobey hit paydirt four times against New Mexico State on Sept. 22, 2001 - a span of 45 games.

 

Pick your poison

Unlike last season, when Kansas State relied heavily on the talents of James Terry in the passing game, the Wildcats have employed a group effort in 2004. And with defenses stacked to stop K-State's high-powered running game, K-State's receiving corps is beginning to emerge as one of the Big 12’s best units. In eight games, no less than six Wildcats have already rung up double-figures in receptions for the year. Sophomore Jermaine Moreira is leading the way with 29 receptions and ranks fourth in the Big 12 in catches during conference games. Classmate Yamon Figurs, who has 25 receptions on the season, including 19 in the last five games, ranks fifth on this week’s Big 12 receiving yards chart for league games. Figurs also leads the Wildcats in yards per catch (18.0), which ranks third in the conference since the start of Big 12 action. Also in the mix have been running back Darren Sproles, who had a career-high 10 receptions out of the backfield against Texas Tech and ranks 10th in the league in Big 12 catches, along with senior tight end Brian Casey and senior receiver Davin Dennis, who are tied for fourth on the team in receptions for the season with 17, and senior receiver Tony Madison, who is averaging 16.5 yards on 11 catches.

 

Sproles gets back on a roll

After facing a bevy of stacked defensive fronts that held him below 100 yards rushing three times since the start of Big 12 play, running back Darren Sproles has returned to form in the last two games, averaging 109.0 yards per game against Nebraska and Texas Tech in the last two weeks.

 

The senior, who rushed for 155 yards in 2002 and 140 in 2003 against the Huskers, lit up the Blackshirts for the third straight year with 135 yards on 22 carries and a pair of touchdowns for his 22nd career 100-yard rushing performance. Sproles added 83 yards on the ground and two rushing scores against Texas Tech to take over as K-State’s all-time career rushing touchdown scorer with 41.

 

Sproles, who ranks 12th on this week’s NCAA rushing chart with a 117.0 rushing average, has twice topped 200 yards on the ground in a game this season, including a staggering 292-yard performance vs. Louisiana-Lafayette that re-set Kansas State’s single-game rushing record.

 

The 292 yards, which topped the previous school mark of 273 yards set by Sproles vs. Missouri on Nov. 22, 2003, are the seventh-most in Big 12 history and the most by a Big 12 player since Colorado's Chris Brown rushed for 309 yards against Kansas on Oct. 12, 2002. It also marked the fifth time in an eight-game stretch that the senior rushed for more than 200 yards, including a 221-yard performance in the season opener vs. Western Kentucky.

 

Sproles zeroing in century mark again

Senior Darren Sproles will be out to become the first Kansas State player ever to hit the century mark in rushing yards in three straight seasons when the Wildcats face the Tigers. Sproles, who rushed for 1,465 yards as a sophomore in 2002 and a nation-leading 1,986 yards as a junior in 2003, enters the Missouri game with 936 yards on the year and needs just 64 more to reach the plateau.

 

Little Tank eyeing NCAA Top 10

For his career, which includes just two-plus seasons as K-State’s feature back, Darren Sproles has totaled an impressive 4,597 yards on the ground to rank third all-time on the Big 12’s career rushing list. On the NCAA’s career chart, Sproles ranks 24th all-time and is just 369 yards away from vaulting into the top 10.

 

Big 12 All-Purpose record belongs to Sproles

Kansas State’s Darren Sproles, who ranks No. 1 in the country in all-purpose yardage (191.1 per game), became the Big 12’s career all-purpose yardage leader against Nebraska with 193 yards and added to his record with 249 more against Texas Tech. He enters the Missouri game with a staggering 6,274 career all-purpose yards to rank 12th in NCAA history. He needs just 428 more yards in the next three weeks to vault into the NCAA’s top 5.

 

Sproles pockets third 1,500-yard season

Darren Sproles became the first player in Kansas State history to top 1,500 all-purpose yards in three consecutive seasons last week with 249 yards against Texas Tech. Through eight games, the senior has amassed 1,529 yards and needs just 120 more to own the top three single-season all-purpose marks in school history. Sproles set the current school record with a nation-best 2,735 yards during 2003. He also owns K-State’s No. 2 mark after gaining 1,800 yards during the 2002 campaign.

 

All-purpose, all the time

Darren Sproles, the nation’s all-purpose yardage leader, not only set the Big 12 Conference record for all-purpose yardage this season, he also re-set the Kansas single-game all-purpose record vs. Louisiana-Lafayette with 351 yards. In addition to his 292 rushing yards, he had a 25-yard punt return, a 35-yard kickoff return and six receiving yards, topping his previous best of 345 yards vs. Oklahoma in the 2003 Big 12 Championship game on Dec. 6, 2003. Including his 249-yard outing against Texas Tech, the senior has now produced over 100 all-purpose yards in 32 of the last 36 games with three plus 300-yard performances.

 

Hot in the home stretch

Since becoming Kansas State’s starting running back, Darren Sproles has been nearly unstoppable over the final five games of the season. During 2002, Sproles topped 100 yards in all five games, averaging 121.6 yards per game on 104 carries with nine touchdowns. He was even better during 2004, going over 200 yards twice and totaling 867 yards on the ground on 125 attempts for an average of 173.4 yards per game with seven TDs. Sproles has kept that streak of averaging over 100 yards per game alive this season, opening K-State’s five-game stretch run by averaging 109.0 yards against Nebraska and Texas Tech.

 

Sproles nabs K-State touchdown and rushing touchdown records

With his two touchdowns against Nebraska, Darren Sproles added yet another Kansas State record to his resume. Sproles notched his 41st and 42nd career touchdowns vs. the Huskers to surpass Ell Roberson atop K-State’s career touchdown chart. He added his 40th and 41st career rushing TDs against Texas Tech and now holds K-State records for both total touchdowns (44) and rushing touchdowns (41). He has also catapulted into K-State’s career top three in scoring with 268 career points to trail only Martin Gramatica (349 points) and current teammate Joe Rheem (274).

 

Little man, big impact

Darren Sproles may stand only 5-foot-7, but his impact on Kansas State’s fortunes on the field are difficult to overstate. In his 22 100-yard rushing games, the Wildcats have posted a stunning overall record of 19-3. However, in the 13 games he has started but failed to hit the 100-yard rushing mark the Wildcats are just 6-8.

 

On the straight and narrow

Though many programs have struggled in the kicking game in 2004, Kansas State has not been one of them thanks to the steady performance of senior place-kicker Joe Rheem. Rheem, a Lou Groza Award candidate, has connected on 11-of-12 field goal attempts, including a career-long 49-yarder at Kansas, and each of his 26 PATs. As a result, Rheem has jumped in to Kansas State’s top five in both career scoring and field goals made. With eight points at KU, the senior moved passed his brother, Jamie, and into second place on K-State’s total points chart. He added five points last week vs. Texas Tech and now has 274 for his career. He also ranks fifth all-time at Kansas State in field goals made with 36 and can move into the No. 2 spot with four more makes. On this week’s NCAA field goal chart, Rheem ranks 21st in field goals per game (1.38) and is one of only four kickers in the country with at least 10 attempts to have one or fewer misses on the season. He also owns one of the longest consecutive PAT strings in the nation with 63 in a row and has gone over a year since his last missed PAT (10/18/03 vs. CU).

 

Archer on target

Sophomore linebacker Brandon Archer is yet another Wildcat who has emerged into a starter in 2004. The strong-side linebacker leads the Wildcats with 42 tackles this season and has hit double figures in stops three times on the year, including a game-high 11 tackles against Texas Tech last week. Archer, who also had 11 tackles in his first start against Fresno State, was credited with 10 against Oklahoma and also snared his first career interception against the Sooners, returning it 27 yards for a touchdown. In conference games, Archer has been credited with 37 tackles and ranks ninth in the Big 12 in total stops during league action. It is quite a step up in play for the sophomore, who saw action in all 15 games last season after redshirting in 2002, but posted just 15 tackles on the year, including nine solo stops, with one tackle for loss and a forced fumble.

 

By George

Transfer Tearrius George made the most of his first career start in the Nebraska game. Filling in for Scott Edmonds, George was tallied with six tackles, including a 16-yard sack, a forced fumble and a pass break-up. In six games this season the junior has only received credit for 12 tackles. However, five have been behind the line of scrimmage, accounting for 24 yards in losses.

 

Simmons stepping forward

Junior linebacker Marvin Simmons has emerged as a force in the K-State defense since the start of conference play. In the last five games, Simmons has been credited with 32 total tackles and ranks among the Big 12 leaders during league games. That figure includes a game-high and career-best 13-tackle performance against Oklahoma in his first ever start at middle linebacker. Simmons also collected eight stops at Kansas, a co-team-high six vs. Nebraska and two against Texas Tech before heading to the sidelines in the second quarter for a total of 30 in the last three and a half games he has played. Simmons ranks second on the team with 45 total tackles despite playing in just 7-of-8 games.