The end of the gauntlet

Junior quarterback Joe Hubener pushes Baylor defender Travon Blanchard aside as he rushes for a considerable gain in the first half of the Wildcats' 24-31 loss to the #2 Bears on Nov. 5, 2015 in Bill Snyder Family Stadium. (Parker Robb | The Collegian)

Having gone through the gauntlet of four ranked teams and a trip to Austin, Texas, K-State hits the road for the final time this season as the Wildcats take on Texas Tech in Lubbock on Saturday.

The game presents an opportunity for the K-State running game to get going as they face one of the worst rushing defenses in the country. The Red Raiders sit at 126th in rushing defense. This may be what the Wildcats need as their rushing game, led by junior running back Charles Jones and junior quarterback Joe Hubener, looks to break the Wildcats’ lengthy losing streak.

“I do not want to treat this week any different than any other week,” freshman center Dalton Risner said. “Every other week we have prepared hard for good defensive lines. We definitely have had our struggles, but we have run the ball pretty well this year. I want to try to treat it the same this week and make sure we do not treat them lightly. We have to go out there and be prepared, and I think we will get the job done.”

The Wildcats put together a solid 24-point effort in their last game against a solid defense in the Baylor Bears. Quarterback Joe Hubener compiled over 300 total yards versus the Bears, and that same effort will be needed once again on Saturday if this team is thinking about reaching a bowl game. The Red Raiders are well-versed in the quarterback run play by the Wildcats and already expect a heavy dose this Saturday.

“They’ve mastered it,” Tech defensive coordinator David Gibbs said to media of K-State’s quarterback run game. “I mean, they’ve got an extra hat every snap, which it’s option football is what it is. Instead of options outside, they’re running options inside. Their offensive line is well coached. Their running backs, tight ends block, I mean, they are a true definition of a sound football team who is really good, and they utilize their personnel to the maximum.”

On the defensive side of the ball, the Wildcats come off of what could be called a stellar effort against a Baylor team that had been averaging over 60 points a game. The Bears only scored 31 points against the Wildcats on Nov. 5.

The Tech offense, one of the most high-powered offenses in the country, gives the K-State defense another test as they look to stop Tech quarterback Pat Mahomes, who ranks in the top five of the FBS with 3,527 passing yards. Having seen what the Red Raiders can do on offense, coach Bill Snyder said he finds no true differences between Tech and other teams in the conference who run the same offense.

“Nothing that comes to mind as you look at all the teams that you are talking about that spread it out the way that they do,” Snyder said to K-State Sports. “For the most part, they are very similar type of offenses. Some of them more major in the run game than the pass game and vice versa. They pretty much run the same offense. It is more the matter of emphasis that creates the biggest differences more than anything else.”

With the Red Raiders and Wildcats both hungry for a bowl, Saturday’s game will carry a lot more importance than most may realize.

“These guys are fighting for their season, and they only have two games left in the last four weeks; they have to beat us or Texas,” Risner said to K-State Sports. “They are giving it their all at practice this week. It is not going to be one of those things that we show up on Saturday and have to be ready to go.”