7:00 PM ET, October 20, 2012
Milan Puskar Stadium, Morgantown, WV
Collin Klein trumpets Heisman credentials as K-State routs West Virginia
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- The final touchdown pass drew only a slight fist pump from Collin Klein. It was still the third quarter, but Milan-Puskar Stadium was half-empty. Most of the West Virginia fans had seen enough of a game that had turned into a Heisman campaign ad for the Kansas State quarterback.
Klein threw for a career-high 323 yards and three touchdowns and ran for four scores as No. 4 Kansas State got little resistance from No. 17 West Virginia in a 55-14 victory Saturday night.
The Wildcats (7-0, 4-0 Big 12) made it look easy. Klein completed 19-of-21 passes and added 41 yards rushing.
"I think we all felt comfortable tonight," he said. "The coaches did a great job of building a game plan and putting us in positions to succeed."
No doubt. The Wildcats scored on their first eight possessions, including seven straight touchdowns.
"He doesn't do anything wrong," West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen said of Klein. "He's hard to tackle. He gets them in good plays. He doesn't turn the ball over. You can say what you want to about the throwing motion, but it goes exactly where he wants it go. He's a good football player."
Way too good for West Virginia to stop.
It was no surprise the Mountaineers (5-2, 2-2) were awful on defense; it's been that way all season. For the second straight game, though, Geno Smith and the offense did nothing to keep it close.
Smith followed up a clunker at Texas Tech last week with an even worse game, throwing his first two interceptions of the season and finishing 21 for 32 for 143 yards. The senior has gone from Heisman Trophy front-runner to long shot in two weeks.
"We talked about it all week. Don't get impatient. Don't get impatient," Holgorsen said. "You have the ball a couple of times and you look up there and you're down 17 points and you start pressing. It's inevitable.
"We're trying to score 14 points in one play."
Kansas State made it 52-7 with 2:25 left in the third quarter when Klein hit Tyler Lockett over the middle for a 20-yard score. Klein turned toward his sideline and gave a modest shake of his fist before joining his teammates to celebrate.
By that point a long line cars was creeping out of the parking lot. The only section of the stadium that was still filled, was covered in KSU purple.
The optimism and excitement that was pumping through Morgantown a couple of weeks ago is gone.
In Manhattan, Kan., it's all good, and everything is on the table for coach Bill Snyder's team. The Wildcats are the only unbeaten team in the Big 12. Their quarterback is the Heisman front-runner. And with five games left on the schedule, the Wildcats are serious national title contenders.
The first meeting since 1931 of the new Big 12 rivals was so lopsided that by the time it was over it was hard to even remember that it started as a battle for first in the conference.
Klein Gets Best of Geno
In a matchup of Heisman Trophy hopefuls, Kansas State's Collin Klein got the best of West Virginia counterpart Geno Smith on Saturday. Here's a look at the two QBs' best games this season and how they compare:
|Yds per comp||14.6||17.0|
|TD resp for||8||7|
|-- ESPN Stats & Information|
On one side was Klein, aka Optimus Klein, the Wildcats' methodical battering ram, whose passes don't look like much, but usually find their target.
On the other side was Smith, the future NFL first-round draft pick with the video game passing statistics.
But Klein got to face West Virginia's beleaguered defense, which ranks near the bottom of the Big 12 and the country in just about everything.
With the Mountaineers seemingly determined to at least stop the run early, Klein completed his first seven passes, including a 10-yard touchdown that Lockett made a stretching, toe-dragging catch on in the back corner of the end zone. That made it 10-0 in the first.
The K-State running game went to work on the third drive, and Klein finished it off with a 1-yard plunge.
Klein made it 24-0 on the next Kansas State drive, taking an option keeper 8 yards. That gave him 39 rushing touchdowns over the last two seasons to break an FBS record held by Eric Crouch of Nebraska and Stacey Robinson of Northern Illinois.
Tavon Austin finally put a little life back into the sellout crowd when he took the ensuing kickoff back 100 yards for a score with 4:12 left in the first half.
The bad news for West Virginia was that it gave the Wildcats more than enough time to get the ball back in the end zone -- which they did.
Klein hit Lockett deep for 44 yards, and a few plays later he finished off the drive with another 1-yard dive.
The first half onslaught went like this for Kansas State: five possessions, 346 yards, four touchdowns and a field goal. The offense was unstoppable and the defense was just as good, holding Smith to 62 yards by flooding the secondary with defenders and taking away the down field throws.
Maybe the pressure of having to score every time he touches the ball has gotten to Smith, but that trip to New York for the Heisman Trophy presentation, which seemed like a lock after the Mountaineers won at Texas, is now in serious doubt.
As for Klein and the Wildcats, they will face tougher tests. The gap between the top and the bottom of the Big 12 doesn't seem all that wide. But they have now won three conference road games, including at Oklahoma. They came into the weekend fourth in BCS standings, behind Alabama, Florida and Oregon.
With their 73-year-old coach pushing all the right buttons and their happily married quarterback making all the right plays, the Wildcats might be due for a promotion.
Top 25 Overview
It was over when... KSU's Collin Klein scored three second quarter touchdowns to go up 31-7 at the half.
Gameball goes to... Klein. The senior QB accounted for seven touchdowns, four rushing and three passing.
Stat of the game... 1 and 2. West Virginia QB Geno Smith threw his first two interceptions of the season.
Team Stat Comparison
|3rd Down Conversions||6-9||7-14|
|4th Down Conversions||0-0||1-2|
|FG||11:25||Anthony Cantele 33 Yd||3||0|
|TD||03:33||Tyler Lockett 10 Yd Pass From Collin Klein (Anthony Cantele Kick)||10||0|
|TD||11:23||Collin Klein 1 Yd Run (Anthony Cantele Kick)||17||0|
|TD||04:27||Collin Klein 8 Yd Run (Anthony Cantele Kick)||24||0|
|TD||04:13||Tavon Austin 100 Yd Kickoff Return (Tyler Bitancurt Kick)||24||7|
|TD||00:17||Collin Klein 1 Yd Run (Anthony Cantele Kick)||31||7|
|TD||13:55||Chris Harper 21 Yd Pass From Collin Klein (Anthony Cantele Kick)||38||7|
|TD||09:00||Collin Klein 1 Yd Run (Anthony Cantele Kick)||45||7|
|TD||02:25||Tyler Lockett 20 Yd Pass From Collin Klein (Anthony Cantele Kick)||52||7|
|TD||07:31||Tavon Austin 5 Yd Pass From Geno Smith (Tyler Bitancurt Kick)||52||14|
|FG||03:48||Anthony Cantele 42 Yd||55||14|
Geno Smith was 0-of-5 on passes thrown 15 yards or longer downfield against Kansas State, including his first two interceptions of the season. In the last two games, both losses, Smith is completing 8.7 percent of these downfield passes and has been off-target (overthrown, underthrown or wide) on 12 of 23 attempts. In his first five games of the season, Smith had eight off-target 15-yard throws.[+]
Geno Smith Throws of 15+ Yards
Collin Klein set career highs in passing yards (323) and passing touchdowns (3) on Saturday, with more than half of his completions coming on passes thrown at least 10 yards downfield. Geno Smith struggled downfield, throwing his first two interceptions of the season and passing for his fewest yards 10 yards and completions on throws of this distance since Week 4 of 2010 against LSU.[+]
Throws of 10+ Yards
Dana Holgorson has been listed as a team's co-offensive coordinator, offensive coordinator or head coach for either Texas Tech, Houston, Oklahoma State and West Virginia since 2005... and NONE of those teams had fewer pass yards in a game than his Mountaineers had vs Kansas State on Saturday (155).[+]
Fewest Pass Yards in a Game - By a Dana Holgorson Offense
Geno Smith threw 13 passes in the first half against Kansas State without an interception. He has no interceptions in his first 272 passes this season. That surpasses Trent Dilfer for most consecutive passes without an interception in a single season. Dilfer threw 271 straight passes without an interception in 1993.
Collin Klein had 3 Rush TD in the 1st half. It's the 8th time in his career that he has run for at least 3 TD in a game. That's the most among FBS quarterbacks since 2000 (Brad Smith and Ricky Dobbs each had 7 games with 3+ Rush TD).
Collin Klein has two rushing touchdowns and a passing touchdown in the first half. It's his 14th career game with at least one of each touchdown type, third-most among active FBS players.[+]
ESPN Stats & Information