MANHATTAN, Kan. — The Wildcats didn’t let mother nature or a surging rival stand in the way of punching their ticket to the Big 12 Championship Game Saturday night.
Kansas State defeated Kansas 47-27 in the rain, and spoiled Texas’ hopes of going to Jerry’s World. No doubt it was an epic Senior Day for the team. However, the icing on the cake for players like star running back Deuce Vaughn is getting a shot at revenge against TCU.
The Horned defeated the Wildcats in Fort Worth a month ago. Kansas State led TCU by 11 points at the halftime, but was held scoreless for the last two quarters. Vaughn believes the Wildcats are now a stronger and more mentally tough team. So he knows his teammates are capable of finishing the job this time around.
“The implications of us thrusting ourselves into the Big 12 championship, this is what we’ve been working for for the last 11 months,” Vaughn said. “For it to come to fruition, it’s just another stepping stone because we have a lot of work to do in the upcoming week because we’ve got a good TCU team to play in Arlington.”
After all, the Horned Frogs are the No. 3 team in the country, undefeated at 12-0 and one victory away from clinching their first-ever berth in the College Football Playoffs. Kansas State is in the perfect position to kill two birds with one stone, which is spoiling TCU’s post season glory and winning the Big 12 Title during the process.
Vaughn captured his seventh 100-yard rushing game of the season against the Jayhawks, and has a ton of confidence in the Wildcats’ ground attack. And rightfully so, considering Kansas State has the Big 12’s best rushing attack. Vaughn hasn’t been surprised by the success of the ground game. In fact he feels the Wildcats are playing their best football at this point.
“It was big time just for the confidence of our O-line, the confidence of our running backs and everybody on that football field,” he said. “We feel like we have a pretty good team that can run some power stuff when it comes down to it.”
TCU held Kansas State to 158 yards on the ground and kept Vaughn under the century mark in rushing in the first contest. That’s why Vaughn is anticipating an intense week of practice, with a few wrinkles added to give him more opportunities out in space. That worked when Vaughn caught an 80-yard screen pass against Kansas, and he can’t wait to make a play like that again.
“A big time credit to our O-line that got out and got bodies on bodies, and then after that it’s kind of feeling where all the pressure from the defense is and making a move, then you’re out in the open field,” the 21-year old said.
There’s no denying Coach Chris Klieman been utilizing Vaughn’s talents, and he has the program trending up. The Wildcats are the No. 2 team in the Big 12, ranked 13th in this week’s AP Poll and they have a chance to win an outright conference championship for the first time since 2003.
Klieman understands the magnitude of the matchup against the Horned Frogs. It’s going to be the biggest game of his tenure, so he’ll need to have his players and staff ready.
“Extremely blessed in our fourth season to get the opportunity to build AT&T Stadium and represent this great school and university and football program,” Klieman said. “And our kids are so excited.”
Kansas State(9-3) has won four of its’ past five games overall, including three-straight. If the Wildcats have any hopes of trying to make it four in a row, they’ll have to slow down a team that leads the Big 12 in scoring and total offense. Regardless, the Wildcats have won three of their last four games against TCU, and are riding a big wave of momentum, so anything is possible.