Saturday night, for the third time in seven games, the then-No. 4 K-State Wildcats went on the road and beat a BCS top-25 team when they defeated the then-No. 13 West Virginia Mountaineers 55-14.
The Wildcats moved to 7-0 and 4-0 in Big 12 Conference play and are now sitting at the top of the conference as the only undefeated team.
The victory gave K-State slight edge over Oregon University in the BCS standings, as they moved up to No. 3 in the polls on Sunday night.
“I was certainly pleased with it,” said head coach Bill Snyder of the victory. “I was pleased with the way our youngsters approached the ballgame and how they traveled and kept their focus. We played well. We made mistakes and need to get better, but collectively, I think we did a nice job.”
From the opening kickoff, it was clear that it was going to be K-State’s day. The Wildcats were held to a field goal on their first possession, but found the end zone with 3:33 left in the first quarter when senior quarterback Collin Klein hit sophomore wide receiver Tyler Lockett for a 10-yard touchdown pass. Klein then scored rushing touchdowns on each of the Wildcats’ next two possessions.
It was not just the offense, however, that was sharp in Saturday’s game; K-State’s defense did not allow an offensive touchdown to West Virginia’s high-powered offense in the first three quarters of the game.
The Mountaineers did eventually find their way onto the scoreboard thanks to a 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown by senior wide receiver Tavon Austin. But after that high point for the Mountaineers, the Wildcats did not allow them to gain any momentum, capping off a 78-yard drive down the field with another Klein touchdown run. The Wildcats took a 31-7 lead into halftime.
On West Virginia’s first possession of the second half, senior quarterback Geno Smith did something that he had not done all season when he threw an interception to K-State senior linebacker Arthur Brown. Klein would find senior wide receiver Chris Harper two plays later for a 21-yard touchdown pass.
“It was a great team effort that didn’t just come by me,” Brown said of the interception. “We had great pressure applied by the D-line and great coverage in the back end that allowed that play to happen.”
After forcing West Virginia to punt out of their own end zone on their very next possession, the Wildcats added another Klein touchdown to give them a 45-7 lead.
On West Virginia’s next possession, junior safety Ty Zimmerman was the second player to intercept Smith both in the game and in the season.
“It’s a big win against a very, very talented team,” Zimmerman said. “We knew coming in that Geno and his weapons could score as quick as they could. Our offense did a great job of controlling the game.”
K-State added another touchdown in the third quarter on a 20-yard touchdown pass from Klein to Lockett. The Wildcats took a 52-7 lead into the fourth quarter.
The Mountaineers scored their only offensive touchdown of the night when Smith found Austin for a 5-yard touchdown pass with 7:31 left in the fourth quarter.
K-State would add a 42-yard field goal late in the fourth quarter to finalize the scoring.
There was a lot of pregame talk that this game could decide the new Heisman trophy leader between K-State’s Klein and West Virginia’s Smith; after the game, however, Klein came out on top.
Despite having a general reputation as a run-first quarterback, Klein showed he was quite capable of throwing as well, completing 19 of 21 passes for 323 yards and three touchdowns. Klein was also able to add 41 yards on the ground and four touchdowns. One important statistic that Heisman voters will notice is Klein’s zero turnovers on the day.
“He doesn’t do anything wrong. He doesn’t make mistakes,” said West Virginia head coach Dana Holgorsen. “He’s hard to tackle; he gets in good plays and doesn’t turn the ball over. You can say what you want about his throwing motion, but it goes exactly where he wants it to go. He is a good football player.”
For the second straight week, Smith looked disappointing after being considered the clear front-runner for the Heisman. Against the Wildcats, Smith completed 21 of 32 passes for 143 yards, and had one touchdown and two interceptions.
Next Saturday, K-State will return home to take on the now 14th ranked Texas Tech Red Raiders at Bill Snyder Family Stadium.