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Sunday, October 24, 2021

Wildcats Return Home to Host No. 4 Sooners

Courtesy of K-State Athletics

MANHATTAN, Kan. – Looking to bounce back from a disappointing 31-20 loss at Oklahoma State, K-State returns to Bill Snyder Family Stadium for two-straight games, beginning with a contest against fourth-ranked Oklahoma on Saturday. The game kicks off at 2:30 p.m. and will be televised by FOX with Aaron Goldsmith (play-by-play) and Brock Huard (analyst) on the call. The game can be heard across the 39-station K-State Sports Network with Wyatt Thompson (play-by-play), former K-State quarterback Stan Weber (analyst) and Matt Walters (sidelines) calling the action. Fans can also catch the game on SiriusXM (S: 83; XM: 83, App: 83) in addition to The Varsity Network app.

K-State Football can be heard on Classic Hits 1530 AM, 102.5 FM & 106.7 FM in Northwest Kansas & Southwest Nebraska as well as Classic Country 1570 AM, 94.1 FM KNDY in Northeast Kansas & Southeast Nebraska.

A LOOK AT K-STATE
• K-State is looking for its third-straight victory over the Sooners after marquee wins in 2019 and 2020, the latter being a 21-point comeback in Norman.
• The Wildcats have rushed for 739 yards through four games – led by Deuce Vaughn’s 393 yards – while surrendering just 75.2 yards per game on the ground to rank 11th in the nation.
• Vaughn saw a five-game streak of 100-yard games come to an end last week, which were the most by a Wildcat since Darren Sproles had five in 2003.
• Quarterback Skylar Thompson, who is back for his “Super Senior” season, ranks in the top 10 in school history in 15 career categories, but he missed the last two games due to injury.
• In his absence, Will Howard (starter) and Jaren Lewis were efficient in the win against Nevada as they combined to go 9-for-13 for 129 yards and a touchdown with no turnovers, while Howard added 56 rushing yards with two scores.
• K-State quarterbacks have the luxury of playing behind an experienced offensive line that brought back 100% of its starts from a year ago in addition to playmakers at every skill position.
• Vaughn headlines the skill group after he was named the True Freshman of the Year by 247Sports in 2020, as well as an All-American and Freshman All-American by multiple outlets.
• In Vaughn’s 14 career games played he has at least 100 scrimmage yards nine times – including all four games this year – as he ranks second nationally among active players in career all-purpose yards per game (122.57).
• Wide receivers Malik Knowles and Phillip Brooks, the latter a 2020 All-American as a punt returner, are back, while the Wildcats welcomed tight end transfer Daniel Imatorbhebhe, who has spent time at both USC and Illinois. The trio have combined for 23 catches for 427 yards, which includes a 68-yard catch-and-run touchdown by Imatorbhebhe against Nevada.
• K-State has rotated nearly 10 players along the defensive front, while its linebacker corps are led by Cody Fletcher with 26 stops along with Daniel Green and his 25 tackles.
• The Wildcats have four interceptions on the year as safeties Russ Yeast and TJ Smith each recorded a pick against Stanford, defensive tackles Jaylen Pickle had one against Southern Illinois, and cornerback Tee Denson picked off Nevada.
• The Cats have 14 sacks this year to rank 14th nationally.
• New kicker Taiten Winkel has made 5-of-6 field goals and all 14 extra points.

A LOOK AT OKLAHOMA
• Oklahoma heads into the contest with a 4-0 record on the season following wins over Tulane, Western Carolina, Nebraska and West Virginia.
• Currently the highest ranked Big 12 team, OU is sixth in this week’s Associated Press Top 25 and fourth in the USA TODAY Sports AFCA Coaches’ Poll.
• The Sooners are 20th nationally in scoring offense, 21st nationally in scoring defense and is 11th nationally in rushing defense.
• Quarterback Spencer Rattler has completed 100 of his 135 pass attempts on the year for 1,017 yards and eight touchdowns.
• Rattler has spread the ball out as three different receivers – Mike Woods, Jadon Haselwood and Mario Williams – each have 17 catches, while the latter two have a pair of touchdowns.
• On the ground, Kennedy Brooks and Eric Gray have combined for 450 yards on 84 carries (5.36 yds/rush) and three scores.
• Defensively, Delarrin Turner-Yell leads the team with 25 tackles, while the rush defense has been one of the better units in the Big 12.

A LOOK AT THE SERIES
• Oklahoma leads the all-time series, 76-21-4, including a 37-9-3 mark in Manhattan.
• The Wildcats have won each of the last two meetings, their first time winning consecutive games in the series since a five-game streak from 1993 to 1995.
• K-State used its largest comeback in school history in last year’s affair as Oklahoma held a 35-14 advantage with two minutes left in the fourth quarter but scored the game’s final 24 points en route to a 38-35 victory over the third-ranked Sooners.
• It was the first time in school history that K-State won a road game over a team ranked in the top five of the Associated Press Top 25.
• The year prior in Manhattan, the Wildcats topped the fifth-ranked Sooners, 48-41. In that game, K-State held a 48-23 lead in the fourth quarter and was able to hold on down the stretch to secure their first victory over a top-five team in 13 years.
• The Wildcats were the first Big 12 team to defeat Oklahoma in consecutive years since 2013-14 (Baylor), while they are the first to do so against top-five Sooner teams since 2001-02 (Oklahoma State).
• K-State will look to be the third team with wins over the Sooners in three-straight years in the Big 12 era (Texas A&M, 1996-98; Texas, 1997-99).

BIG 12 HOME OPENERS
• K-State holds a 15-10 all-time record in Big 12 home openers, which includes a win last year against Texas Tech.
• The only other meeting between the two schools in Big 12 play in K-State’s Big 12 home opener was a 31-21 Sooner win in 2004.

TWO OF THE BIG 12’S BEST
• Two of the top teams in the Big 12 both overall and as of late will square off this Saturday as K-State ranks third in Big 12 wins since the league’s inception in 1996, while OU is first.
• The Wildcats also rank third in the conference in winning percentage since round-robin play began in 2011. They sit at 58.3% (53-38), trailing only Oklahoma (82.2%; 74-16) and Oklahoma State (64.8%; 59-32).

PERFECT NON-CON SLATE
• Kansas State put the finishing touches on a perfect non-conference schedule with an impressive 38-17 victory over Nevada. It was the Wildcats’ 17th unblemished non-conference record since 1993, and the second in Chris Klieman’s two full non-conference schedules since arriving in Manhattan.

IMPRESSIVE RESUME
• The three opponents that the Wildcats defeated in non-conference play have found success when not playing K-State as Stanford, Southern Illinois and Nevada have combined for a 7-1 record – including a 3-1 mark against Power 5 teams – in their other games.
• The average score for those three teams in their games not against K-State is 39.4-19.3.

MARQUEE WINS
• K-State has knocked off top-five teams in consecutive seasons under Chris Klieman, and the win last year at No. 3 Oklahoma carried some extreme significance. Down 21 points in the third quarter, K-State became just the second team in 547 tries since 2004 to rally for a win over a top-five team when trailing in the game by 21 points.
• The win was the 10th all-time in K-State history over an AP top-10 team, and the No. 3 Sooners were the highest ranked team the Wildcats had ever defeated in a true road game.

A WINNING HISTORY
• A proven winner with a championship history, Chris Klieman holds an 87-25 career record as his 77.7% career winning percentage ranks fourth among current FBS coaches that have led programs for at least eight years.
• Klieman came to Manhattan after capping his five-year stint as head coach at North Dakota State by winning his fourth national championship in 2018. Klieman guided the 2018 Bison to a perfect 15-0 record.

WINNING THE FINAL FRAME
• Kansas State is off to a 3-1 start thanks in part to its play in the fourth quarter, as the Wildcats are outscoring their opponents, 38-7, in the final frame.
• The Wildcat offensive line and defense have been catalysts in the fourth quarter as K-State is averaging 44.0 rushing yards in the final 15 minutes as opposed to 6.0 yards per game by its opponents, which includes negative rushing totals by Southern Illinois and Nevada.

CATS TOPS IN NON-OFFENSIVE TDs
• K-State is the nation’s best in non-offensive touchdowns over the last 23 seasons as it has 123 since 1999, eight more than the next closest team.
• Kansas State had three non-offensive touchdowns in last year’s win over Kansas as Phillip Brooks returned two punts for scores, and Justin Gardner had a pick-six.
• It was the first time the Cats had three non-offensive scores in one game since doing so against Montana State in 2008, while it was the first time K-State had a punt return score and a pick-six in the same game since the 2007 Texas contest.
• K-State has had at least five non-offensive scores in seven of the last 10 years. Last year, the Cats missed that mark by just one during their shortened 10-game schedule.
• A 99-yard kickoff return score by Malik Knowles at Oklahoma State was the first non-offensive score of the 2021 season.

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Derek Nesterhttps://sunflowerstateradio.com
Derek Nester was born and raised in Blue Rapids and graduated from Valley Heights High School in 2000. He attended Cowley College in Arkansas City and Johnson County Community College in Overland Park studying Journalism & Media Communications. In 2002 Derek joined Taylor Communications, Inc. in Salina, Kansas working in digital media for 550 AM KFRM and 100.9 FM KCLY. Following that stop, he joined Dierking Communications, Inc. stations KNDY AM & FM as a board operator and fill-in sports play-by-play announcer. Starting in 2005 Derek joined the Kansas City Chiefs Radio Network as a Studio Coordinator at 101 The Fox in Kansas City, a role he would serve for 15 years culminating in the Super Bowl LIV Championship game broadcast. In 2021 he moved to Audacy, formerly known as Entercom Communications, Inc. and 106.5 The Wolf and 610 Sports Radio, the new flagship stations of the Kansas City Chiefs Radio Network, the largest radio network in the NFL. Through all of this, Derek continues to serve as the Digital Media Director for Sunflower State Radio, the digital and social media operations of Dierking Communications, Inc. and the 6 radio stations it owns and operates across Kansas.

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