73F Jones AT&T Stadium, Lubbock, TX
Kansas St.-Texas Tech Preview
Kansas State has shown plenty of resilience during its best start in 11 years. It might have to rely on that fortitude again when it visits a team it's often had trouble stopping.
The unbeaten and 17th-ranked Wildcats will try to withstand Texas Tech's high-powered offense and snap a five-game losing streak to the Red Raiders in Saturday night's Big 12 matchup in Lubbock.
Kansas State's 24-17 victory over Missouri was its fourth this season by seven points or fewer. After coming from behind in the fourth quarter in its previous two games, the Wildcats (5-0, 2-0) had to fend off a late rally by the Tigers last Saturday after going up 24-3.
The win kept them tied atop the conference with No. 3 Oklahoma and No. 6 Oklahoma State. Another would help them match their 6-0 start from 2000.
"I think we have something special. We just cannot get complacent," wide receiver Chris Harper said. "We are getting more and more attention with each win, but we cannot just start settling and become happy where we are at."
A matchup with the Red Raiders (4-1, 1-1) might keep the Wildcats from getting too comfortable.
Texas Tech is in the top 10 nationally in points per game (45.8), passing yards (354.6) and overall yards per game (524.6). Quarterback Seth Doege is tied for second in FBS with 17 touchdowns, throwing at least three in each game, and is sixth with 341.2 yards per game.
"Every week is a challenge, and this is certainly one," Wildcats coach Bill Snyder said. "He is a very talented quarterback."
Snyder's teams know what it's like to have trouble defending Texas Tech's pass-heavy offense. Doege threw a late touchdown pass - the Red Raiders' eighth of the day - during the previous matchup with Kansas State, a 66-14 rout in Lubbock on Oct. 10, 2009.
The Wildcats have dropped five in a row in the series and have been outscored 183-62 in the last three games.
However, they enter this matchup after holding Missouri to 326 yards - nearly 200 below its average. After finishing 106th in total defense last season by allowing 445.7 yards per game, Kansas State is 17th in 2011 (298.8 ypg).
"We have a lot of work to do and a lot of coverages to fix, but the key thing is to stay focused. Texas Tech is a great team. They have a great offense, and we will just have to stop them," linebacker Tre Walker said.
The Red Raiders, though, will have to replace leading rusher Eric Stephens, who is out for the season after dislocating his left knee in the third quarter of last week's 45-40 loss to Texas A&M. The senior had 102 yards on 22 carries before exiting, and was 15th in FBS with 114.0 per game.
That should give Kansas State a vast edge on the ground as it tries to win in Lubbock for the first time since 1997. The Wildcats are 26th nationally with 208.6 rushing yards per game, while the Red Raiders are 115th out of 120 FBS teams in rushing defense (224.2 ypg).
They gave up 205 yards on the ground during last week's loss, which was the third straight game they've allowed at least 34 points.
"We ain't stopped (the run) all year," coach Tommy Tuberville said. "We've got to play better on defense. This will be a game where we've got to get our offense back on the field."
Leading Kansas State rusher John Hubert has 349 of his 469 yards over the past three games. The Texas native had a career-best 166 yards and scored the go-ahead touchdown during the Wildcats' only other road game, a 28-24 victory at Miami on Sept. 24.
Quarterback Collin Klein, who has one yard fewer than Hubert, ran for a career-high three touchdowns in the win over Missouri and has seven rushing scores this season.
Texas Tech has won eight of the 11 all-time matchups between the schools.