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Kansas State looks to clinch share of Big 12 North title at Nebraska


GO WILDCATS
GO WILDCATS

GO WILDCATS

2003 Kansas State Football

 

Game No. 12

 

No. 25 Kansas State (8-3/4-2) at No. 15 Nebraska (8-2/4-2)

Saturday, Nov. 15, 2003

2:30 p.m. (Central)

Memorial Stadium (73,918 FieldTurf)

Lincoln, Neb.

 

Kickoff: 2:36 p.m. (Central)

 

Television: Live regionally on ABC Sports. Brent Musberger will call the play-by-play with Gary Danielson serving as the color analyst. Jack Arute will be the broadcast's sideline reporter. The game’s producer will be Bob Goodrich.

 

Radio: Live across the 28-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.

 

Records: Kansas State won for the fourth straight week and improved to 7-3 (4-2 Big 12) with its 45-0 shutout at Iowa State. Nebraska’s 24-3 win at Kansas lifted the Cornhusker to 8-2 (4-2 Big 12). The two teams are tied for first place in the Big 12 North.

 

Rankings: After a four-week absence absence in both rankings, Kansas State moved back into the ESPN/USA Today Coaches’ Poll at No. 25. The Wildcats sit just outside the AP Top 25 in the No. 26 spot. Nebraska is No. 15 in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches’ Poll  and No. 18 in the AP Top 25.

 

Series: Nebraska leads, 72-13-2, but K-State has won three of the last five meetings. The Wildcats are looking for their first win in Lincoln since 1968.

 

Coaches: Kansas State’s Bill Snyder is 124-54-1 (.696) in 15 seasons as head coach of the Wildcats. Nebraska’s Frank Solich is in his six year at the helm of his alma mater and has compiled a 57-18 (.760) record.

 

Kansas State looks to clinch share of Big 12 North title at Nebraska

Kansas State returns to network television for the first time in over a month Saturday, when the 25th-ranked Wildcats travel to Lincoln  to face 15th-ranked Nebraska at 2:30 p.m. on ABC.

 

Riding a four-game winning streak that has seen a rejuvenated Wildcat team outscore its opponents by a hefty 174-36 margin, Kansas State (8-3/4-2 Big 12) will be out to take sole possession of first place in the Big 12 North with a victory. The Wildcats can clinch at least a share of the North Division title with a win and a berth in their third Big 12 Championship game with a victory and a Missouri loss (Mizzou hosts Texas A&M).

 

Kansas State became eligible to receive its 11th straight bowl bid with last week’s 45-0 shutout at Iowa State -- its 10th straight win over the Cyclones. The victory was also the Wildcats’ first on the road this season after suffering back-to-back, four-point heart-breakers at Texas and Oklahoma State.

 

The setbacks vs. the Longhorns and Cowboys, coupled with a seven-point loss to Marshall, all but wiped Kansas State off of college football’s radar screen. But its been over a month since K-State last tasted defeat. And it appears the Wildcats are beginning to oh so slowly creep back into the national consciousness.

 

Kansas State moved back into the ESPN/USA Today Coaches’ Poll for the first time since the Oct. 5 rankings this week at No. 25. However, in order to make any serious noise the Wildcats need a convincing victory. And a win on the road at Nebraska would be just what the doctor ordered.

 

Still, the task will not be an easy one. In addition to K-State’s rough sledding in Lincoln, the Huskers have been difficult to bring down in Memorial Stadium. Nebraska (8-2/4-2 Big 12), which bounce back from a tough 31-7 loss at Texas with a 24-3 win at Kansas last week, has won six straight at home and is 101-5 over the last 16 years in Lincoln. The Huskers have also sold out 261 straight games in Lincoln. No 262 will come this Saturday vs. K-State.

 

Cats and Huskers

          Saturday’s game between K-State and Nebraska will be the 88th in a series that dates to 1911.

          Nebraska holds a 72-13-2 edge in the all-time series, but is just 4-3 vs. K-State since the two schools joined the Big 12.

          The Wildcats have won three of the last five encounters, including last year’s 49-13 victory, but have lost 17 straight in Lincoln  and have not won at Memorial Stadium since 1968.

          Kansas State has won back-to-back games vs. Nebraska just three times with the last time occurring during the 1958 and 1959 campaigns.

          Just two of the last 12 meetings have been decided by fewer than 10 points -- NU’s 38-31 win in 1991 and K-State’s 29-28 victory in 2000.

          Last seasons’ 49-13 Wildcat victory was K-State’s largest in the series (36 points) and the fewest points scored by the Huskers since a 12-0 Nebraska win in 1975.

          Both head coaches have losing records in the rivalry. Kansas State head coach Bill Snyder is 3-11 all-time vs. Nebraska. Husker head coach Frank Solich is 2-3 vs. the Wildcats.

 

Back on the tube

Kansas State will make just its fifth television appearance of the season Saturday, when the Wildcats battle Nebraska on ABC.

 

K-State made three straight appearances (two on Fox Sports Net, one on ABC) before taking four-game and five-week hiatus from the airwaves. The  stretch was the Wildcats’ longest off the tube since opening the 1995 season with six straight non-tv games. But maybe is was a good thing. K-State was on television for all three of its losses this seasons, while just one of its eight wins -- California in the season opener on ESPN -- was televised.

 

Saturday marks the 10th straight year the K-State vs. Nebraska game has been tapped for television as each game since the 1994 season has been selected by broadcast. Six times ABC has drawn the honor, with Nebraska winning five of those games.

 

The Cats, who are appearing on ABC for the second time this year, are 10-17 all-time when playing on the network, but 10-10 since joining the Big 12. Including 2003, K-State been televised by ABC no less that twice in each the last seven seasons.

 

Clash of the titans

Saturday’s game between North Division leading Kansas State and Nebraska  will feature the two most dominant teams in the Big 12 since the league’s founding in 1996 as no one has won more conference games than the Cornhuskers and Wildcats. Both teams have won over 75 percent of their respective league games. Nebraska owns the Big 12’s best conference record at 48-14 (.774). K-State just one game back at 47-15 (.758) and can tie the Huskers for the conference’s best all-time record with a victory in Lincoln.

 

Cats top dogs on the road

Since the inception of the Big 12, no team has won more when playing on the Big 12 road than Kansas State. The Wildcats have  won nearly 68 percent of their games in enemy stadiums, including last week’s 45-0 white-wash of Iowa State. In eight seasons of Big 12 play, K-State is 21-10 (.677) when playing on the Big 12 road. K-State had a three-game Big 12 road winning streak snapped earlier this season at Texas as the Cats suffered their first league road loss since Oct. 5, 2002 at Colorado. Still, K-State is 4-2 in their last six Big 12 road games.

 

K-State, NU lead North

Thanks to its four-game winning streak, Nebraska’s loss at Texas and Missouri’s loss at Colorado, Kansas State has pulled itself into a tie atop the Big 12 North Division with the Cornhuskers. Kansas State’s win over Baylor  two weeks ago moved the Cats into a three-way tie with Nebraska and Missouri and marked the first time since finishing as co-champions of the division that K-State had held a piece of the Big 12 North lead.

 

We’ve got this in common

Kansas State and Nebraska have face five common opponents thus far in 2003 -- Troy State, Oklahoma State, Texas, Kansas and Iowa State. The Cornhuskers posted a 4-1 mark vs. the common foes, with the Wildcats going 3-2. But despite NU’s superior record in the five games, K-State holds the edge in scoring margin, thanks to a trio of blowout wins and a pair of close losses. Kansas State’s scoring margin in the five games was +21.8, compared to Nebraska’s +13.0.

 

Magic number 1, again

After becoming bowl eligible with its win over Iowa State, Kansas State now sets its sights on earning its fourth share of the Big 12 North title. The Wildcats can clinch no worse than a share of the division crown with a win over Nebraska. Any combination of two Kansas State victories or a K-State win and a Missouri loss over the final two weeks of the season would give K-State its second outright Big 12 North title and place the Cats in the league’s championship game for the third time -- 1998 and 2000 were the others.

 

Eleven and counting

Kansas State’s win at Iowa State made the Wildcats bowl eligible for the 11th straight season. K-State has not missed the postseason since going 5-6 in 1992. The string of consecutive bowl appearances places Kansas State in elite company as only six other programs in the nation -- Nebraska, Michigan, Florida State, Tennessee, Florida and Virginia Tech -- have appeared in at least 10 straight bowl games.

 

Milestone hunting

With just two games to go in the regular season, Kansas State still possesses a good shot at hitting a number of milestones for the program. Still within reach of the 2003 Wildcats:

          A nine-win season for the 10th time in the last 11 years and just the 11th time in school history.

          A 10-win season for the eighth time in K-State history and the seventh time under Bill Snyder.

          11 wins for the sixth time in the last seven years.

          A K-State record-tying seven home wins.

 

Resilient as ever

For the third straight season, Kansas State found itself with two losses early in league play. But just like the early-conference setbacks of 2001 and 2002, its was not enough to keep the Wildcats out of the postseason as K-State once again displayed enough fortitude to bounce back and attain bowl eligibility. K-State is in the midst of trying to match its magical bounce-back performance of 2002, when the Wildcats, who opened league play at 1-2, ran the table with six straight wins to close out the season. In 2001, the K-State regrouped from a four-game losing streak to win four of five down in the regular season and reach the Insight.com Bowl.

 

Hot in the home stretch

The 2003 Wildcats have continued a Kansas State trend of being one of the hottest teams in the nation down the home stretch. Winners of four straight by an average of 34.5 points, K-State improved its record in the final six games of the regular season to a combined 13-3 over the last three years, including a 4-2 mark in 2001, a 5-1 record in 2002 and a 4-0 mark thus far in 2003. During those 16 games, K-State has outscored the opposition 632-163.

 

Running it up

Kansas State’s average margin of victory in its last 19 wins has been by an eye-popping margin of 36.6 points. Since the start of the 2002 season, K-State is 17-0 when scoring at least 35 points and has topped 40 points 14 times. The Wildcats have surpassed the 35-point mark in all eight wins this season and have been held below 35 in all three losses.

 

Cats’ margin of victory among nation’s best

Kansas State is one of just five teams in the nation to rank in the top 15 in both scoring offense (8th/38.6 ppg) and scoring defense (14th/16.3 ppg). The result is one of the nation’s largest margins of victory as K-State ranks fifth in scoring margin at 22.3 points per game. The top five include two other Big 12 teams. Oklahoma (surprise, surprise) leads the nation at 35.3 points per game, while Texas is fourth at 22.7 points per game. Last year, the Wildcats led the nation in average margin of victory at 33.0.

 

Win big, lose small

Kansas State has been dominant in its eight victories so far this season, winning by an average of 32.6 points. On the flip side, the Wildcats’ losses have been nip and tuck affairs that have gone down to the final gun. K-State’s average margin of loss in 2003 has been been just five points. In fact, dating to the start of the 2002 season, all five of K-State’s losses over the last 23 games have been by a touchdown or less, leaving the Cats with an average margin of loss of just 4.4 points in its last five defeats. The Wildcats have not suffered a double-digit loss since falling at Nebraska, 31-21, during 2001.

 

Winning the stat war

Kansas State has outgained 10-of-11 opponents in total offense so far this seasons, including all three losses, with Colorado being the only opponent to outpace the Wildcats (422 to 384). Last Saturday’s 363-yard (503-140) edge in total offense vs. Iowa State was K-State’s largest of the season, eclipsing the 299-yard advantage the Wildcats produced vs. UMass. Kansas State also recorded a 263-yard edge in total offense against Baylor (476-213) and has outgained its last two opponents by a combined 626 yards (979-353).

 

In fact, over the past 27 games, Kansas State has outgained its opponent in 26 times. Before the 2003 Colorado game, you have to go back to a 31-21 loss at Nebraska on Nov. 10, 2001 that saw the Huskers outpace the Wildcats, 374-226 to find an opponent that outgained the Wildcats in total offense.

 

Elite Company

Thanks to its 504 yards of total offense at Iowa State, Kansas State moved from No. 33 to No. 24 (429.1 ypg) nationally in total offense this week. The Wildcats also checked in at No. 6 (268.6) in the nation in total defense this week, making K-State one of just seven teams in the country to be ranked in the NCAA’s top 25 in both categories.

 

Red zone, fun zone

After struggling in the red zone during the first six games of the season, Kansas State has been nearly letter perfect inside the opponent’s 20-yard-line since. The Wildcats converted 24 of 34 (.706) attempts in games 1-6. Over that last five games, however, K-State has been good on 19 of 20 (.950) trips, with all 18 conversions coming via touchdowns. The only miss during the last four games came vs. Baylor on a fumble during the 4th quarter.

 

Poll watching

Kansas State gained ground in both rankings this week, moving back into the top 25 of the  ESPN/USA Today Coaches’ Poll at No. 25 and moved up four spots to 26 in this week’s AP Top-25.

 

K-State’s back-to-back four-point losses at Texas and Oklahoma State dropped the Wildcats from both polls for the first time in 23 ranking periods. The last time the Cats did not appear in either poll, prior to Oct. 12, 2003, occurred on Sept. 8, 2002, when Kansas State sat just outside both rankings.

 

K-State's No. 5 preseason ranking in the Coaches' Poll was the highest ever for the Wildcats, who have appeared in the top 25 of seven preseason AP and ESPN/USA Today Coaches' Polls since joining the Big 12 in 1996.

 

More poll talk

          Kansas State opened the 2003 season ranked No. 7 in the preseason Associated Press top 25 and No. 5 in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches' Poll.

          K-State's preseason ranking marked the seventh time in the last eight years that the Wildcats have debuted in the top 25 of both polls. It was also the third time in the last six years that the Cats have been ranked in the top 10 of each poll, as Kansas State was ranked in the preseason top 10 in 1998 and 2000.

          The Wildcats' 2003 preseason rankings were among the highest in school history. K-State's initial ranking of No. 5 was its highest debut ever in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches' Poll. Prior to 2003, K-State's highest preseason ranking by the coaches was No. 6 in 1998. In the AP Top 25, K-State’s highest debut was No. 6 in 1998.

          K-State was ranked in a school-record 107 straight Associated Press polls from Sept. 25, 1994 to Oct. 7, 2001.

 

Rushing to victory

Over its last 24 games Kansas State has outrushed its opponent 22 times, rolling to a 19-3 record in those 22 games. K-State has outrushed nine of its 11 opponents this season, and is averaging 221.6 yards per game on the ground  to rank 10th nationally while allowing just 99.3.

 

For the season, the Wildcats have rolled up an impressive 2,438 yards rushing compared to only 1,092 by their opponents. K-State was outrushed for the first time in 18 games when Marshall ground out 241 yards to the Wildcats’ 106. Oklahoma State also outgained the Cats on the ground, 187 to 146.

 

At its current pace, Kansas State would end the regular season with nearly 2,900 yards rushing, marking the seventh straight season that the Cats will have rushed for more than 2,000 yards in a season.

 

Piling up the yards

Kansas State enters Saturday’s game at Nebraska averaging 429.1 yards per contest and continues to be one of the nation's most potent offensive attacks in terms of total offense. The Wildcats rank 10th in the nation and third in the Big 12 in rushing offense at 221.6 yards per game while checking in at No. 24 nationally and fourth in the Big 12 total offense.

 

Kansas State has hit the 350-yard mark in total offense in 10-of-11 games this season, including 500-plus yard performances vs. Iowa State and California and 400-plus yard outings vs. McNeese State, UMass, Oklahoma State and Baylor. The Cats also just missed the 400-yard plateau vs. Troy State (392), Marshall (369), Colorado (384) and Kansas (395).

 

Dating to last season, K-State has reached 350 yards in total offense in 21 of 24 games with 14 400-plus yard outings. The only games the Cats failed to at least hit the 350-yard total offense mark came vs. USC (347, 9/21/02), vs. Texas (261, 10/19/02) and at Texas (298, 10/4/03). Since 1990, the Wildcats are 92-11 when gaining at least 350 yards of total offense.

 

Symmetry is sublime

Bliss through balance. It’s been one of K-State’s mantras all season. The Wildcats, who are averaging 429.1 yards per game, have achieved nearly a perfect balance between rushing yardage (221.64 ypg) and passing yardage (207.5 ypg) through 11 games this season and are one of just five teams in the nation averaging over 200 yards per game in both rushing and passing offense.

 

Topping 200

Over the last three week Kansas State has rushed for a combined 847 yards (282.3 ypg) as the Wildcats ground out 257 yards vs. Kansas and 234 yards against Baylor and a season-high 356 at Iowa State.

 

K-State’s performance at ISU was the seventh time in 10 games this season that the Wildcats have topped 200 yards rushing. K-State has now eclipsed the 200-yard mark in 12 of its last 17 games, dating to last season.

 

Since 1990, Kansas State is 66-4 when rushing for at least 200 yards and 68-10 with a 100-yard rusher. As a team, K-State is averaging at least 200 yards on the ground for the fifth time in the last seven seasons and once again ranks among the nation's top-25 programs in the nation in terms of rushing offense.

 

Send in the ground troops

Kansas State added four rushing touchdowns to its season totals last week at Iowa State, giving the Wildcats 32 on the year. Only Minnesota with 36 and Texas with 33 have scored more rushing touchdowns this year in Division I-A than K-State. The Cats have now scored a rushing touchdown in each of their last 38 non-bowl games. Last year, Kansas State led the NCAA in rushing TDs with a school-record 53.

 

By land and air

In addition to a strong ground game, Kansas State has recently unveiled an efficient aerial attack. Over the last five games, K-State has completed 78 of 123 passes (63.4 percent) for 1,101 yards, 13 touchdowns and just three interceptions. The Wildcats got things going against Oklahoma State, passing for 332 yards and four touchdowns. It was the first time K-State has eclipsed 300 yards through the air since passing for 311 yards at Oklahoma State in 1999. It was also the most passing yards by the Cats since throwing for 341 vs. Texas A&M in the 1998 Big 12 Championship game. Kansas State’s four touchdown passes also tied a school single-game record. Against Colorado, K-State hit the Buffs for three TDs and finished the game with 242 yards for its third best passing day of the season. Versus Kansas, the Cats were a combined 10 of 20 for 138 yards and a touchdown, before once again hitting the 242-yard mark vs. Baylor and again hitting paydirt three times through the air. Two scores and 147 yards on 14-for-17 passing at Iowa State rounded out the stretch.

 

Points aplenty

Kansas State enters Saturday's game vs. Nebraska averaging 38.6 points per game to rank 8th nationally in scoring offense. And over the last four weeks, the Wildcat offense has been even more potent, lighting up the scoreboard at a 43.5 ppg clip. With six 40-plus point outings already this season, K-State has topped the 40-point mark in 10 of its last 17 games. Dating back to the start of the 2002 season, the Wildcats have eclipsed the 40-point mark in 14 of 24 games and have been held below 30 points in just four times. Putting points on the board has been a staple in recent years for K-State, which has finished in the NCAA’s top 15 in scoring offense in five of the last six seasons.

 

Dominating on defense

Not to be outdone by the offense, the defensive performance turned by Kansas State in the last three weeks (171.0 ypg) has thrust the Wildcats back into the top 10 nationally in total defense. K-State, which is holding opponents to 268.6 yards per game on average, ranks sixth in the nation and second in the Big 12 in total defense. On the scoring front, K-State ranks 14th, allowing an average of just 16.3 ppg. Including 2003, Kansas State has ranked in the top 15 in total defense in eight of the last nine years.

 

Powercat defense

Over the last three games, the Kansas State defense has been on a serious tear. Not only have the Wildcats yielded just 171.0 ypg (111.0 passing/60 rushing), K-State held each of its last three foes under 200 yards of total offense, including less than 100 yards on the ground.

 

The crew has also been stingy with scores. The Cats have not given up a defensive touchdown in 12 quarters  entering the Nebraska game. Colorado was the last team to find the end zone vs. Kansas State as the Buffs punched one in on their final drive of the game against K-State’s reserve unit.

It all starts up front for D

 

Much of the credit for Kansas State’s recent success should go to the Wildcats front four. K-State’s front four has recorded 15 sacks in the last three games alone, lifting its season total to 41 (3.72 per game) and placing the Wildcats among fourth nationally in that category.

 

K-State’s total through 11 games is  4.5 more than the 36.5 K-State totaled in its first 11 games last season.  Andrew Shull, Kevin Huntley and Jermaine Berry are tied for the team lead with six each. In all, 16 different players have registered at least one sack for K-State this season. Since the start of the 2000 season, the Wildcats rank ninth nationally with 138 sacks.

 

Tough on third down

Kansas State’s defense continues to be one of the stiffest in the nation on third down. Last week, Iowa State converted just 3 of 16 attempts. On the season, K-State opponents are converting 25.7 percent (43-167) of third downs, which trails only Oklahoma (24.7 percent) in the Big 12. And the Wildcats have been even tougher during theirs four-game winning streak as foes have converted only 14 of 59 attempts (24 percent). By comparison, K-State has converted 54 percent (28-52) of its opportunities over the same four-game span.

 

No red-zone rushing

Kansas State, which has not allowed an offensive touchdown in 12 straight quarters entering the Nebraska game, has been especially stingy on the ground inside the red zone. It took 24 quarters this season before the Wildcats finally yielded their first rushing touchdown at Texas as Vince Young scored on a quarterback sneak on 4th-and-1 with 5:19 to play in the fourth quarter. And though K-State gave up two more rushing scores vs. Oklahoma State and one vs. Colorado, the Wildcats are one of just x teams to allow four or fewer rushing touchdown thus far in 2003. Dating to last season, K-State has only given up seven rushing scores in its last 19 games and just seven rushing TDs in its last 24 outings. Kansas State also leads the Big 12 in total red zone defense, as opponents have converted just 65.2 percent of red zone opportunities into touchdowns.

 

Tough vs. the Run

Kansas State’s rushing defense, which ranks 15th nationally and has held three straight opponents below 100 yards on the ground, will face a stiff test in Nebraska’s No. 5 rated rushing offense.

 

For the season, Kansas State's defensive unit has been solid vs. the run. Dating to last year, K-State has held 14 of its last 19 opponents under 100 yards rushing, including 10 in a row a one point. Kansas became the fourth opponent of the year held under 100 yards, gaining 89 on 30 attempts, while Baylor became the Cats’ fifth victim, rushing for just 52 yards on 43 attempts, and Iowa State the sixth (28 for 39). Overall, opponents are averaging just 99.3 yards per game, second in the Big 12 behind Oklahoma.

 

Point-less

Kansas State has held 13 of its last 24 opponents to 10 points or less, including Troy State, UMass, Kansas, Baylor and Iowa State this season. Over that stretch, the Wildcats have given up more than 20 points just six times. K-State, which leads the Big 12 in shutouts with 12 since the formation of the league, ranks 14th in the nation and third in the Big 12 in scoring defense, allowing 16.3 points per game. Since 1990, the Cats are 62-0 when holding foes to 10 or fewer points.

 

K-State among nation's elite in TDs allowed

In addition to being the only school in the nation to rank in the top five in total defense in each of the last six seasons, the Wildcats have been one of the country’s stingiest squads when it comes to yielding defensive touchdowns. Since the start of the 1999 season, Kansas State ranks fourth in defensive allowed with 105.

 

Add shutouts

Kansas State notched its first shutout of the 2003 season last week at Iowa State, blanking the Cyclones 45-0. Since Bill Snyder's arrival in the Little Apple, K-State has posted 19 shutouts, including at least one in each of the last 10 seasons. On the yardage front, Snyder-coached K-State teams have held opponents to less than 200 total yards 35 times, including five in 2002 and four in 2003.

 

Stop, Thief

Kansas State continues to be tough on opposing offenses when it comes to forcing turnovers.

          Since the start of the 1999 season, K-State is second in the nation in interceptions with 92.

          With 13 picks this season, K-State has now had at least one interception in 60 of the last 69 games and in 70 of the last 78 outings, counting bowl games and including 9 of 11 games so far in 2003.

          The Wildcats have snared 41 interceptions in their last 30 games, a string dating back to 2001 that includes the Insight.com Bowl.

          K-State has grabbed 28 picks in its last 18 games.

          Overall, the Cats have had 92 takeaways in the last 41 games, including 24 in the last eight games of 2002 (14 interceptions/10 fumbles) and 20 (10 interceptions/7 fumbles) so far this season.

 

Scoring streak a record

Kansas State extended its consecutive games scoring streak to 87 last week at Iowa State. The 87-game stretch is a school record as the Wildcats have not been kept off the scoreboard since Colorado blanked K-State, 12-0, in 1996. The previous longest streak was 60 games and occurred between 1991 and 1996.

 

Vs. the higher ranked

          Kansas State is playing its second higher-ranked opponent on the road this week and will be out to snap a number of mighty big streaks. Here is a quick look at the Cats’ performance vs. higher ranked opponents when playing on the road...

          With its loss at Texas, Kansas State is 0-14 on the road vs. higher ranked opponents under Bill Snyder (Since start of 1989 season).

          If you include all non-home games (i.e. neutral site and bowl games, which are not traditionally deemed road games), the Wildcats are 0-18 since 1989.

          Of the Wildcats 14 true road losses to higher ranked teams, just two came vs. teams ranked outside the top 10.

          Eight of the losses occurred against teams ranked in the top 5.

 

Quarterback Keeper

Kansas State quarterback Ell Roberson continues to be one of the nation’s top all-around signal callers. In seven games since returning to the Wildcat lineup, Roberson has amassed 1,583 yards of total offense, including 393 vs. Oklahoma State that ranks as the seventh most in school history. Since getting back on the field, Roberson has set three career records, including total touchdowns (36), rushing touchdowns (36) touchdowns responsible for (67) and total offense (6,734).

 

The senior also moved past Eric Hickson into second place on K-State’s career rushing chart with 2,539 yards.

 

Combined with his 4,195 yards passing (sixth most at Kansas State) Roberson is the only player in K-State history to rush for over 2,000 yards and pass for over 3,000 yards as a Wildcat. He is also the only player to rank in K-State’s top five in both rushing (1st) and passing (4th) touchdowns

 

On the Big 12 charts, Roberson ranks fourth all-time in rushing touchdowns and sixth in total offense.

 

Charting Ell-NCAA style

Kansas State quarterback Ell Roberson can be found in six different places on this week’s NCAA statistical charts, including second in points responsible for (19.78 per game), 13th in passing efficiency (155.6 rating) and tied for 25th in total offense (259.7 yards per game). He also ranks as the country’s No. 5 rushing quarterback, placing 62nd overall with 77.33 yards per game, and is tied for 41st in scoring with 7.78 points per game.

 

Roberson is the only quarterback in the nation ranked in the top 15 in passing efficiency and the top 65 in rushing.

 

 

Ell in the K-State books

Ell Roberson is closing in on several K-State records and is ranked among the top 10 all-time in the following categories:

          Second in career rushing: 2,539 yards.

          Third in total points with 224 (he is the first none kicker to top 200 points in a career at Kansas State).

          Fourth in career touchdown passes: 31

          Sixth in career passing yardage: 4,195.

          Eighth in career completions: 255.

 

Throwing with purpose

Ell Roberson entered the 2003 season with just 13 career touchdown passes in his previous three seasons as a Wildcat. Through nine games in 2003, the senior already surpassed that number, throwing for a single-season career-best 18 scores. That figure ranks tied for fourth on K-State’s single season chart.

 

Heating Up

In addition to having an outstanding season, Roberson has been at his best in the last four games. During K-State’s four-game winning streak Roberson has passed for 718 yards with a 65.1 percent completion percentage with no interceptions, while rushing for 297 yards. He has also accounted for 14 touchdowns (5 rush/9 pass). Overall, Roberson has accounted for nearly 60 percent of the team’s total offense (1,015/1,758 yards) during the four-game span.

 

Right on target

How does one of the best get even better? Since tossing an interception on his final pass of the third quarter at Oklahoma State, Ell Roberson has gone 17 consecutive quarters and 99 pass attempts without an interception. By comparison, Roberson threw all seven of his interceptions on the year in the his first 83 passing attempts of the season.

 

Over 1,000 once more

Quarterback Ell Roberson topped the 1,000-yard passing mark for the second straight season with his 242-yard effort vs. Colorado. For 2003, Roberson has completed 100 of 182 attempts (54.9 percent) for 1,641 yards and 18 touchdowns in just 8.5 games. As a junior, Roberson passed for 1,580 yards in 12 appearances. He is the 24th Kansas State quarterback to pass for 1,000 yards in a season but just the seventh to do it in back to back years.

 

Roberson responsible

Despite missing 2.5 games, Ell Roberson has been responsible for over half of Kansas State’s 2003 touchdowns. Roberson, who ranks second in the nation in points responsible for (19.78) has had a hand in 29 of the Wildcats 55 touchdowns.

 

Sproles continues to roll

Junior running back Darren Sproles had a career rushing day at Iowa State, gaining 201 yards on 19 attempts (10.6 ypc) in just under three quarters of work. Included in Sproles’ effort were touchdown runs of 70, 32 and 23 yards as the junior became just the the seventh Wildcat in school history to rush for 200 yards in a game. K-State’s career rushing leader, Sproles now has 2,975 rushing yards on 468 carries, including 1,300 yards on 203 attempts this season.

 

Heading into the Nebraska game, Sproles is a mere 25 yards from becoming just the seventh player in Big 12 history to accumulate 3,000 yards rushing and the first Wildcat to do so. He is also just 166 yards from re-setting Kansas State’s single-season rushing record. Sproles gained 1,465 yards on 237 carries as a sophomore in 2002.

 

Sproles’ performance at Iowa State also marked the 16th time (continuing his school record) in the last 24 games that he has rushed for at least 100 yards in a game, including six times this season. Combined with last week's 155-yard effort vs. Baylor, Sproles has now gained 356 yards on 38 carries (178 ypg/9.4 ypg) in the last two games alone.

 

On the scoring front, Sproles' three-touchdown game was the fourth of his career and moved the junior into second place on K-State's career TD list with 31 (29 rush/1 rec./1 pr).

 

Breaking out

If the last two weeks have proven anything its that you can’t bottle up Darren Sproles forever. And while most backs are happy with 100 yards rushing in a game, Sproles has hit the mark twice in a quarter in each of the last two games. Held to just 34 yards through three quarters by Baylor, Sproles ripped off runs of 73 and 54 yards early in the fourth against the Bears, finishing the period with a career-high 121 yards on just four carries. At Iowa State, Sproles gained 117 yards on four attempts in the third quarter after totaling 84 yards in the first half.

 

Over 100, again

Junior running back Darren Sproles’ 201-yard rushing performance at Iowa State marked the sixth time this season and the 15th time in his career he has achieved the feat -- a K-State record. Sproles other 100-yard rushing performances this season include 175 yards vs. California, 152 yards vs. UMass, 128 yards vs. Texas and 101 yards in just two quarters vs. McNeese State. Sproles has also had two near misses on the season with 98 yards vs. Kansas and 90 yards vs. Colorado.

 

Sproles new rushing king

Darren Sproles etched his name into the Kansas State record book vs. Kansas, taking over as the Wildcats' all-time leader in career rushing. Sproles, who finished the game with 2,619 yards on 430 carries, surpassed previous record-holder Eric Hickson, who gained 2,537 yards on 507 attempts during his K-State career from 1994-1998. Sproles overtook Hickson on his eighth carry of the game, needing just 419 attempts to earn the record - 88 fewer than Hickson.

 

The new millennium

Junior running back Darren Sproles became the first Wildcat to rush for 1,000 yards in consecutive seasons vs. Baylor, finishing the game with 1,099 through 10 games in 2003. During 2002, Sproles became the fastest Wildcat ever to reach 1,000 yards in a season, hitting the number on his 159th carry of the season. He went on to finish the year with a school-record 1,465 yards on 237 carries. K-State has had just eight 1,000-yard rushers in its history, including Sproles’ 2002 and 2003 seasons.

 

All-Purpose Guy

Darren Sproles has gone over 100 yards of all-purpose yardage in 22 of the last 24 games, including a 308-yard performance vs. Baylor that stands behind only Mack Herron’s 321-yard performance vs. Colorado in 1969 on K-State’s single game chart. Sproles is now just 148 yards shy of passing Aaron Lockett (4,023) as the Wildcats’ all-time leader in all-purpose yardage. With 1,866 all-purpose yards so far this seasons, Sproles has already surpassed the school record of 1,800 yard he set during 2002. Nationally, Sproles ranks No. 2 in all-purpose rushing average and No. 1 in total all-purpose yards. He is one of just seven players in the country to top 1,500 all-purpose yards this season.

 

Rushing with the best

Darren Sproles finished 2002 ranked 19th in rushing with 1,465 yards. Currently, the junior ranks ninth in rushing average (118.2 ypg) and third in total yards (1,300 on 203 carries). However, the two players ranked ahead of Sproles in total rushing yards -- Chris Perry (1,313 yards on 259 carries) of Michigan and Michael Turner of Northern Illinois (1,305 yards on 253 carries) -- have done so with at least 50 more attempts than the K-State junior.

 

Frequent visitor

          Darren Sproles ranks third at Kansas State in career rushing touchdowns (30) and second in career total touchdowns (32).

          With his 14 touchdowns so far this season, Sproles has now found the end zone at least once in 14 of K-State last 16 games.

          Thirteen of Sproles’ TDs have come on runs over 20 yards, including four over 50. All totaled, the junior is averaging a whopping 20.6 yards per rushing touchdown.

          Sproles is K-State’s leader in touchdowns scored with 14.

          Sproles scored his first receiving (OSU) and first special teams (Kansas) TDs of his career this season.

 

Iron Man

Center Nick Leckey has been a stalwart on the offensive line for Kansas State. The senior, who enters the Iowa State game with 36 straight starts (37career) dating back to the 2001 season opener, has been tapped as a preseason All-American by Sports Illustrated, The Sporting News and Playboy and is on watch lists for the Rimington, Outland Trophy and Lombardi awards.

 

Big Play James

James Terry may not be on the Biletnikoff Award watch list, but perhaps he should be.

          Through 11 games, Terry has hauled in 50 receptions for 909 yards (82.6 ypg) and 10 touchdowns and is averaging 18.2 yards every time he touches the ball.

          The senior ranks 15th in the NCAA and fourth in the Big 12 in total receiving yards and is one of just four receivers with over 900 yards receiving.

          Terry is one of just seven receivers in the country with 10 or more touchdowns.

          Terry has posted five 100-plus yard receiving games on the season, including an career-best 138-yard, three-touchdown effort vs. Baylor.

          Terry’s 18.2 yards per catch average ranks 17th nationally, but fourth among players with at least 50 receptions.

          The senior also ranks third on K-State’s single-season chart with 10 touchdown catches.

          Terry’s yardage totals through 11 games rate as the fourth best of the Bill Snyder era (see chart above).

          Terry’s production for 2003 represent 40 percent of K-State’s reception yardage and 36 percent of the Wildcats’ total number of catches.

          Terry extended his games with a catch streak to 17 at Iowa State.

 

 

Buhl having big season

Kansas State linebacker Josh Buhl, the Big 12’s defensive player of the week for games of Sept. 13 and the league’s leading tackler with 13.5 per game, has consistently ranked among the top two in the NCAA in total tackles all season.After receiving credit for nine stops at Iowa State -- his first single-digit effort of the season -- he now has 148 on the year, which ranks eighth on K-State’s single-season chart. On pace to threaten K-State’s single-season tackle record currently held by Gary Spani (1977) and Danny Lankas (1967) with 178, Buhl has recorded double-figure stops in 10 of 11 games this season, including 18-tackle performances three times, a 15-tackle outing vs. Baylor, a 12-tackle performance vs. Colorado and an 11-tackle game at Texas. At his current pace, Buhl would end the regular season in the top three on K-State's single-season tackle chart with 176.

 

Buhl’s 148 total tackles includes 86 solo stops and are 68 more than Kansas State’s No. 2 tackler, Bryan Hickman, who has received credit for 80 total tackles. He enters the Nebraska game ranked sixth on the Wildcats’ career tackles chart with 362.

 

Rheem adding up

Junior place-kicker Joe Rheem has shrugged off a shaky 2002 campaign and has proved to be a reliable weapon thus far in 2003.

 

Through 11 games, Rheem is second on the team in scoring with 80 points (50 extra points and 10 field goals). He also ranks nationally in two categories, including 54th in scoring (7.27 points per game) and 64th in field goals (0.91 per game).

 

For his career, Rheem has scored 192 total points and ranks sixth all-time in scoring at K-State.

 

He entered the Colorado game having made 46 consecutive PAT attempts dating back to the second quarter of the Iowa State game on Nov. 9, 2002, including all 25 tries this year, before having his second attempt of the game blocked.

 

Overall, Rheem has made 123-of-132 extra-point attempts in his career, which ranks third on K-State's career list for both PATs and PAT attempts. His PATs this season (50) rank third on K-State’s single-season chart.

 

Rheem has also been much more consistent on field goal attempts in 2003, connecting on 10-of-13, including career-long 44-yarders against McNeese State and Baylor, two 40-plus yard boots vs. Marshall and a 41-yard field goal vs. Texas.  Overall, he is 6-for-8 on attempts of 40 yards or longer on the year.