Pratt columnist predicts continued win record for K-State Wildcat football vs Nevada

Doug Will
Pratt Tribune
The K-State Wildcats faced a tough opponent in Southern Illinois State on Saturday, eeking out a 31-23 win that keeps them in the undefeated column going into next Saturday's game against Nevada.

The 2-0 Kansas State Wildcats, after beating Stanford 24-7 and Southern Illinois 31-23, will face its biggest test of the season so far as the will entertain the 2-0 Nevada Wolfpack from the Mountain West Conference. The game will kickoff at Bill Snyder Family Stadium at 1:05 p.m. and will be televised on ESPN+.

Last Saturday, in a game much closer than it should have been, the Wildcats started off with a bang. K-State went 75 yards in just six plays to score on the opening drive to make it 7-0. Two plays later an SIU pass was picked off but senior quarterback Skylar Thompson, on the next play gave it right back. The ‘Cat defense then held the Salukis to a three and out then the offense went 77 yards in eight plays to make it 14-0 and that is how the quarter would end. A Southern Illinois field goal early in the 2nd quarter would make it 14-3. KSU offense, again looking like a very well-oiled machine, drove the ball down the field and the one thing that could take the chances of the Wildcats competing for a Big 12 Championship happened. Thompson who was running to try and block on a sophomore running backs Duece Vaughn run suddenly pulled up lame and went to the turf, untouched. The initial reports Saturday night were not good but as of Monday morning there are reports that this will not be a season-ending injury and he should play again this season. Sophomore quarterback Will Howard came in and 3 plays later the score was 21-3, but something was missing at “The Bill” as the energy got zapped out of the stadium. Southern Illinois scored the next 20 points in the quarter and would lead 23-21 at halftime.

The second half wasn’t much better offensively than the second quarter, but the Wildcats were able to run the ball just enough and the defense pitched a shut out and Kansas State was able and survive.

K-State ran for 208 yards led by Vaughn’s 120 on 26 carries, and they only had 172 yards through the air as Howard was just eight of 17 with 1 interception and just 76 yards. Junior wide receiver Malik Knowles had six catches for 112 yards. The defense gave up just 276 yards on the day of which SIU had 176 passing. Junior cornerback Julius Brents led the defense with six tackles while senior linebacker Cody Fletcher, sophomore defensive end Felix Anudike-Uzomah, and senior strong safety Jahron McPherson all had 5. Anudike-Uzomah also had two forced fumbles.

The Nevada Wolf Pack are coming off a 49-10 drubbing of Idaho State and they opened the season with a 22-17 win at California. The Wolf Pack throw the ball all over the field and are currently averaging 480 total yards and 377 of those are through the air. Junior quarterback Carson Strong, who is a NFL talent, has thrown for 693 yards and is completing over 68% of his passes with 6 touchdowns and 1 interception. Sophomore wide receiver Tory Horton has 149 receiving yards while senior tight end Cole Turner has 12 catches and senior receiver Romeo Doubs has 10. The Nevada defense has giving up 299 yards a game. Senior linebacker Daiyan Henley has a team-high 17 tackles while fellow senior linebacker Lawson Hall has 13 and senior cornerback JoJuan Clayborne has 12.

This Saturday was going to be the toughest non-conference game but with out our senior quarterback it got exponentially tougher. For the Wildcats to move to 3-0 they will need run the ball behind Vaughn and also get sophomores Joe Ervin and Jacardia Wright more involved in the running game. Howard will also need to play much better than he did last week or there will be no chance of a win. Those are two keys to have a chance at the win and the third will be that the defense again needs to play well and get some turnovers. Currently Nevada is favored to win this game and it will be a hot afternoon in Manhattan. K-State will figure out a way to win this game and move to 3-0. Kansas State 27, Nevada 24. Go ‘Cats!!!