MANHATTAN — The first-half struggle was no laughing matter for Kansas State.
Even though they clung to a 21-14 halftime lead, the No. 7-ranked Wildcats had a stinker of an opening half against the Kansas Jayhawks during the 110th renewal of the Sunflower Showdown on Saturday afternoon.
“We did a miserable job to start the ballgame,” Kansas State head coach Bill Snyder deadpanned. “We had a three-and-out right off the bat, but then (KU) walked it down the field (for a 7-0 lead) and kept us off the field.
“I was not too excited about our first-half performance.”
Kansas State made up for its early miscues — and then some — scoring 28 third-quarter points to break the game open in blitzing the Jayhawks, 56-16, at Bill Snyder Family Stadium. The Wildcats (5-0, 2-0) outscored KU 35-2 after the break.
“There were a number of things, I guess,” said Snyder, who is celebrating his 73rd birthday today. “No. 1, I think we played a little better, we reacted a little faster. We had more pressure in the second half that created a little quicker-than-they-wanted throws.”
It also helps when you neutralize your intrastate rival with four sacks and 10 tackles for loss, as the Wildcats did after intermission.
“We forced some errant throws and obviously, that indicates that we did a little bit better with our pass rush. We brought some five-man pressures that created some problems for them,” Snyder said.
Long before this Big 12 game materialized into a blowout, Kansas State experienced frustration that turned downright maddening. A microcosm of Kansas State’s opening-half misfortunes came on the final play of the second quarter, occurring after cornerback Nigel Malone’s 55-yard interception return had KSU knocking at the door at the 5-yard line with only 16 seconds remaining before halftime.
The play-clock was dissolving when quarterback Collin Klein called a timeout, and the Wildcats sprinted back to the line of scrimmage after Klein’s 4-yard gain to the KU 1. Klein, though, reacted in frustration as the half ended before they could get off another snap.
“That’s a coaching error, my error,” Snyder said. “We should have taught Collin, which I haven’t … the play that he ran and the clock running down, that wasn’t the issue. When he gets the ball close to the sidelines, he needs to get the ball out of bounds, and he can fumble the ball out of bounds.
“It’s not his fault. It’s something we haven’t taught him, so consequently, we would have lined up and gone for the field goal, so in a sense, we gave up three points that we should have had. It was a bad start, and a bad ending in the first half.”
To be certain, KU head coach Charlie Weis and his Jayhawks (1-4, 0-2) had something to do with it, pulling off a pair of successful special-teams stunts in mounting an early lead. On a fake punt, Ron Doherty gained a first down. Later in the drive, after it stalled at the Kansas State 23, KU ran a fake field goal, with holder Blake Jablonski throwing a pass to Toben Opurum, setting up James Sims’ 1-yard TD plunge for a 14-7 lead early in the second quarter.
“The momentum was crazy, especially Kansas doing two fakes on the same drive,” Kansas State wide receiver Tyler Lockett said. “Coach Snyder always talks about how to respond to adversity and we were able to do that, even though things did not go the way we planned for them to go.”
At least for one half, anyway.
“It was about accepting the responsibility for understanding how to play the game intelligently, which is not what we did … play and coach the game intelligently,” Snyder said of his team’s first-half struggles. “We made some mistakes in the ballgame, come to find out, where there was a great deal of uncertainty on our part and that created some things that shouldn’t have happened.”
But the dam broke in the second half, with running back John Hubert running for three of his four touchdowns and finishing with 103 yards in 10 carries. Those came after Hubert was dropped in the end zone for a KU safety in the third quarter, it’s only points of the second half.
Klein finished with 116 yards in 10 carries.
Sims finished 115 yards in 28 carries.
KU quarterback Dayne Crist was 16-for-27 passing with three interceptions. He had 189 yards.
Kale Pick, a Dodge City product, lined up as the Wildcat on some plays for the Jayhawks, marking the first time he has taken a snap from center since the 2010 season when he was a quarterback. KU used four QBs in the game, the most since the 2006 season, as Christian Matthews and Michael Cummings joined Crist and Pick in making appearances.
Big 12 Conference
Bill Snyder Family Stadium
No. 7 Kansas State 56, Kansas 16
1 2 3 4 F
Kansas 7 7 2 0 — 16
K-State 7 14 28 7 — 56
KU — Pierson 19 pass from Crist (Doherty kick), 7:24.
KSU — Hubert 20 run (A.Cantele kick), 4:37.
KU — Sims 1 run (Doherty kick), 13:23.
KSU — Lockett 34 pass from C.Klein (A.Cantele kick), 11:54.
KSU — C.Klein 1 run (A.Cantele kick), 9:35.
KSU — Tannahill 2 pass from C.Klein (A.Cantele kick), 10:56.
KU — Bakare Safety, 7:59.
KSU — Hubert 32 run (A.Cantele kick), 7:43.
KSU — Hubert 1 run (A.Cantele kick), 5:07.
KSU — C.Klein 28 run (A.Cantele kick), 2:21.
KSU — Hubert 10 run (A.Cantele kick), 12:30.
A — 50,344.
First downs 24 22
Rushes-yards 49-175 37-346
Passing 213 129
Comp-Att-Int 19-32-3 7-14-0
Return Yards 0 96
Punts-Avg. 3-31.0 2-45.0
Fumbles-Lost 2-2 1-0
Penalties-Yards 2-10 1-5
Time of Possession 36:56 23:04
RUSHING — Kansas, Sims 28-115, Cox 10-43, Doherty 1-13, Pierson 1-10, Beshears 2-8, Pick 2-5, Crist 5-(minus 19). Kansas St., C.Klein 10-116, Hubert 10-101, Sams 10-67, Pease 7-62.
PASSING — Kansas, Crist 16-27-3-189, Cummings 2-4-0-12, Jablonski 1-1-0-12. Kansas St., C.Klein 7-14-0-129.
RECEIVING — Kansas, Pierson 6-63, Turzilli 5-67, Pick 2-26, Parmalee 1-19, Opurum 1-12, Patterson 1-8, Sizemore 1-8, Beshears 1-6, Cox 1-4. Kansas St., Harper 4-69, Tannahill 2-26, Lockett 1-34.