MANHATTAN, Kan. — The Longhorns continue to have the Wildcats’ number, and that didn’t change Saturday night.
Although Kansas State led in time of possession, and finished with more yards and first downs than Texas, it still lost 34-27. It was the Wildcats’ sixth-straight loss to the Longhorns, which was a head-scratcher to the 51,216 fans in attendance at Bill Snyder Family Stadium.
After all, Kansas State had the momentum and controlled its’ own destiny heading into the matchup. However, Texas was well prepared coming off a bye-week and took advantage. The No. 2 spot in the Big 12 standings was on the line and the Longhorns played like they wanted it more.
Texas (6-3) scored a touchdown on its’ first three drives of the game. Not to mention Steve Sarkisian’s team put up 31 points by halftime. Kansas State’s defense was clearly on its’ heels. And Coach Chris Klieman thought that took the Wildcats out of their initial game plan, which was to control the clock, and run the ball.
“We didn’t tackle very well, and they did some very nice things that you could tell they had prepped and planned for,
and did a good job,” Klieman said.
Texas running back Bijan Robinson steamrolled Kansas State’s defense. He carried the ball 30 times for 209 yards, which were both season-highs. The Longhorns finished with 269 yards on the ground, which was the most the Wildcats’ defense has allowed this fall.
Kansas State’s offense was able to answer the bell early on though. The Wildcats had a touchdown and a field goal on their first two drives. Regardless, the Longhorns started to separate themselves in the second quarter, with a 21-point cushion.
“Nobody wants to be down 31-10 at halftime, but our guys stayed in the fight and it showed me a lot of
character and resolve from those guys,” he said.
Klieman made adjustments and the Wildcats played inspired in the second half. Quarterback Adrian Martinez led the offense on three scoring drives on Kansas State’s first four possessions, including two touchdowns. He also rushed for a score and connected with wideout Kade Warner for a 25-yard touchdown.
The Wildcats rally was in full effect and they held the Longhorns scoreless in the third quarter. Kansas State even pulled within a touchdown in the fourth quarter. And Klieman was confident Martinez could carry the team to the finish again.
However, a second fumble by Martinez on the last drive of the game was too much to overcome. Klieman could do nothing but watch as Martinez got caught carrying the pigskin like an antique vase instead of securing it, and Texas’ defense took advantage.
“We were trying to get one more play off before we would get one because I didn’t want to be in the situation we
were in last week, where we ran out of time without any timeouts,” the 55-year old coach said. “We thought we could get one more play off before we’d use a timeout.”
Had Klieman been able to use that timeout, he could’ve told Martinez to protect the football in the pocket. Martinez finished with 329 passing yards, which was a season-high, but he also picked off. If the Wildcats didn’t have the two turnover, the game would’ve likely had a different outcome.
It was a very even game, considering Kansas State averaged the same amount of yards per play as Texas did. Klieman’s team also ran 71 plays like Sarkisian’s squad
Kansas State’s defense just couldn’t make the clutch stops when the team needed it the most. In return that put more pressure on Martinez. Kobe Savage and Eli Huggins each finished with eight tackles, including five solo stops. The biggest surprise was the fact that the Wildcats’ defense didn’t generate any sacks. And Kansas State has the best pass rush in the Big 12.
For now it’s back to the drawing board, for Klieman, his staff and players. They all need to pick up the pieces and rally behind each other, because the Wildcats can still clinch a spot in the Big 12 Championship game if they win out and the Longhorns drop one along the way.
Klieman is anxious to see how his players respond to adversity with light still at the end of the tunnel.
“We’ve got a lot of football in front of us, a lot of story to write with this team and we got to come back to work on Monday.”