In an effort to maintain its No. 2 BCS ranking, K-State was able to force five Oklahoma State turnovers and solidify its placement in the national spotlight with a 44-30 victory on Saturday night at Bill Snyder Family Stadium.
Another Heisman-like performance from quarterback Collin Klein highlighted the evening with the senior completing 16 passes out of 22 attempts for 245 yards. The senior also added 72 yards on the ground on 17 carries with a touchdown, giving him his 50th rushing touchdown of his career.
After giving the Wildcats a 38-20 lead at the 9:47 mark of the third quarter, Klein saw his night come to an end after an injury required him to find his place on the sideline. Head coach Bill Snyder would not comment on the nature or severity of the injury, which remained undisclosed as of Saturday night after the game.
The situation forced quarterback Daniel Sams to step in and the freshman provided a little more of a glimpse as to what’s in store for the future.
Whether Klein’s departure is what allowed Oklahoma State to close the gap is debatable, but overall Snyder said he was pleased with what his freshman backup quarterback displayed in a time of need.
“I thought Daniel did reasonably well,” Snyder said. “He did not make any major mistakes, he ran out of bounds one time when we were trying to run the clock out. He does not have that figured out yet. Aside from that, he managed the game okay.”
The Wildcats were able to rattle Oklahoma State starting quarterback Wes Lunt for much of his performance, forcing the freshman to throw three interceptions in a little over two quarters of action.
With the Wildcats holding a slim 24-17 margin with under three minutes left in the first half, cornerback Allen Chapman picked off Lunt for his first of three interceptions, returning it for 29 yards and a score.
The defensive touchdown provided K-State with much needed cushion and gave the Wildcats the start of an easily decided turnover margin.
Chapman’s play has faced as much scrutiny as anyone’s this season and the senior delivered in a big way.
“He’s a great player,” senior linebacker Jarell Childs said of his teammate. “We all know that he’s a great player and for him to come out and have a great game like that, I’m proud of him. I knew that he could do it. I’m sure he would, I want to give thanks to our D-line for getting pressure which made him able to get those picks.”
The Wildcats have won the turnover battle in every game so far this season and stretched its season turnover margin to plus 20 after Saturday’s contest.
Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy said his team’s mistakes obviously were crucial and it was disappointing to see his team’s display.
“That is as poorly as we have played on special teams and obviously turned the ball over in a long time,” Gundy said. “I’m not saying they do not do a good job but a lot of them are self-inflicted.”
The Wildcats were able to continue its special teams dominance against the Cowboys, tallying 199 yards on four returns.
Wide receiver and return man Tyler Lockett added his second kickoff return for a touchdown this season after taking a second quarter kick 100 yards with 7:35 left in the second quarter.
The return gives the sophomore his fourth kickoff return for a touchdown in his career. The specialist is now tied for fourth in Big 12 history.
“It was pretty great,” Lockett said. “It was a big play in this game that got us going. Unfortunately, they answered back with one of their own, but we responded to adversity. Our kickoff returns were able to get us into good field position tonight.”
The Wildcats hit the road next week to take on TCU for the first time as a Big 12 Conference member. The Horned Frogs are coming off a double overtime win in Morgantown, W. Va. against the Mountaineers, giving the team a strong, season-defining win.
“TCU is a very good football team,” said sophomore center BJ Finney said. “They are a very tough defense. They have a young quarterback and he’s figuring things out; he’s doing things well. They are a great football team and it’s going to be a test on the road next week.”