Kansas State football had no issues in its 41-0 victory over the Houston Cougars. A dominant all around team performance was centered around the play of quarterback Will Howard while the entire defense showed out.
“Our guys really played focused, physical football,” head coach Chris Klieman said. “You look at the statistics, and if we can keep the ball on third down like we’ve been doing … I can’t say enough about our defense.”
Howard opened the game at quarterback and kept the majority of the work. Outside of a two-play drive ending with a fumble from quarterback Avery Johnson, Howard played every snap in the four other drives in the first half. All of those drives ended in a Wildcat touchdown as Howard starred.
“I feel like our confidence level is really high right now, and it’s coming at a good time,” Howard said. “We talk about being super emotionally and mentally strong. At this point in the season, when you’re in the grind of it, the teams that’s gonna win are the teams that are the most emotionally and mentally tough.”
The senior completed 13-of-14 passes for 155 yards and two touchdowns to tight end Garrett Oakley, his first career touchdown, and wide receiver Phillip Brooks in the first half. Running backs Treshaun Ward and DJ Giddens each collected a rushing touchdown with Giddens’ score featuring a massive block from guard Cooper Beebe.
“I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, he freaking crushed that dude,” Howard said. “It was unbelievable. That dude was like parallel to the ground.”
Can’t tell if this is a highlight for DJ Giddens or @cooper_beebe 🤔
— K-State Football (@KStateFB) October 28, 2023
Meanwhile, K-State’s defense shut down the Cougar offense. Houston collected a total of just 83 first half yards with only four first downs compared to K-State’s 17.
The second half continued to highlight the Wildcat’s smothering defense. Defensive end Nate Matlack collected a second-half sack on Cougar quarterback Donovan Smith. Cornerback Will Lee III would later pick off Smith after scrambling away in the backfield from multiple K-State pass rushers.
“We’re playing at an elite level, which is what we’ve been trying to replicate the whole year,” Matlack said. “It feels really good to be playing at this level and shutting guys out.”
K-State added a Giddens touchdown alongside a touchdown from wide receiver Seth Porter, the first of his career, once Johnson came back in at quarterback. Howard finished the game with 164 passing yards while Giddens ended the day with 96 rushing yards and two touchdowns.
“Just to put back-to-back weeks like that, the dominant performance is very fulfilling,” Brooks said, who led the team with 83 receiving yards. “I got to see a couple guys get in there that have been working really hard, offensively, make some plays as well today.”
The Wildcats move to 6-2 with a 4-1 Big 12 record as the last third of the regular season begins. K-State will travel to Austin, Texas, next Saturday in a pivotal game against Texas who may be without starting quarterback Quinn Ewers.