HOUSTON — The Texas Bowl marked the return of Kansas State’s senior quarterback, and he wowed the crowd at NRG Stadium.
Skylar Thompson showed no rust and looked extremely healthy in the 42-20 win over LSU Tuesday night. Although the veteran signal-caller hadn’t played since the loss to Baylor, he orchestrated the Wildcats’ offense to perfection. His Quarterbacks Coach Collin Klein took over play-calling duties for Kansas State’s bowl game and it paid dividends for Thompson.
The Wildcats used tempo and Thompson completed 21 of his 28 passes for 258 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. He had complete command of the huddle and made other offensive players around him better. Not to mention Thompson put together an 18-play, touchdown drive in the first half that lasted longer than nine minutes, which were both Texas Bowl records.
LSU’s defense couldn’t just key in on All-American rusher Deuce Vaughn in the backfield, and had to defend the pass. Still, Thompson picked apart the Tigers’ secondary and it allowed Vaughn to secure his ninth 100-yard game of the season. The Missouri native also connected with wide receiver Malik Knowles for two touchdowns.
It became clear to Thompson that the tempo had the Tigers waiving the white flag, considering they were down by four touchdowns entering the fourth quarter.
“I mean, we did a whole bunch of different things,” Thompson said. “It keeps the defense on their heels, allows them to not get set up in pressures, allows them to not realize what the down and distance is to where they can sit on the sticks.”
Kansas State’s offense ran 14 additional plays, converted seven more first downs and finished with 134 more yards than LSU’s. Coach Chris Klieman was astonished by Thompson’s pocket presence and poise. The 54-year old believes when the offense is executing at a high level like that, it’s tough to stop. After all, Thompson has been the face of the program for quite some time. Seeing Thompson go out on top, nearly bought Klieman to tears, because he understands his value to the team.
“To see what he (Thompson) went through this year getting nicked up early in the season, fighting his way back and playing well on one leg really and then getting banged up late in the season, the kid just means the world to me,” Klieman said. “I love him.”
The Wildcats basically killed three birds with one stone. Thompson got one last victory with his teammates in the purple and white, plus Klieman earned his first bowl win with the program, and the team snapped a three-game losing streak. For Thompson’s performance he was named the Texas Bowl MVP. It was a very sentimental curtain call for one of the most experienced players in the Power Five , and he’s forever grateful.
What stood out to the former four-star prospect is the Wildcat fans that came to support the team, including Thompson’s father. Thompson was glad to see his old man in the crowd. It reminded Thompson of all the times he had him in various football camps as a youth. So he hopes he made his father proud.
Most importantly, Thompson is satisfied with the legacy he left at Kansas State (8-5) and will forever be a Wildcat.
“It was just so much fun, it flew by, but it was a special way to end it for sure.”