Manhattan Kansas State was the ranked team, the unbeaten team, the team coming off a confidence-building victory over then-No. 15 Baylor. The Wildcats were playing host to an unranked opponent in Missouri that had lost two of its last three games.
Tre Walker couldn’t understand why people were picking No. 20 Kansas State to lose.
“We want respect,” the sophomore linebacker said. “Anytime someone doesn’t give you respect, that makes you want it even more, and you keep fighting for it until you get it.”
That might start happening soon.
Collin Klein had three touchdowns rushing Saturday, John Hubert added 126 yards on the ground and the Wildcats’ defense made enough plays to prevent a late comeback by the Tigers. The result was a 24-17 victory and K-State’s first 5-0 start since 2000.
“That means an awful lot,” said coach Bill Snyder, who’s in his third year of rebuilding the program after a brief retirement. Snyder said the Wildcats were proud of their start, but he added that he was more proud of the way they took the victory in stride.
“What I’m proud of is it’s a day in the life,” Snyder said. “Tomorrow is a new day.”
James Franklin had 214 yards passing to lead the Tigers (2-3), who came into the game averaging more than 500 yards of total offense. They only managed 326 against the Wildcats, most of that coming on a pair of long touchdown drives in the fourth quarter.
The first was a 79-yard drive that Henry Josey finished with a 2-yard run to get the Tigers within 24-10. The Wildcats promptly went three-and-out, and Franklin led Missouri on a 74-yard drive that he finished off with a plunge from a yard out with 5:02 left in the game.
Missouri never got another chance with the ball.
“We’re just not playing very good football right now,” coach Gary Pinkel said. “It starts with me, so I’m not doing a good enough job coaching these guys.”
Kansas State’s defense set the tone on the first offensive play.
Franklin dropped back to pass, looked over the middle and threw right to Wildcat defensive back Ty Zimmerman, who had deftly stepped in front of the intended receiver. The interception ended a stretch of 108 consecutive passes without throwing a pick for the sophomore quarterback.
It took Kansas State six plays to punch it into the end zone.
“The interception was big, but the most significant thing about that interception was whether we were going to get seven or three out of it,” Snyder said. “Getting seven was substantial.”
Franklin was sacked for a 13-yard loss on Missouri’s ensuing possession, and the Wildcats went 51 yards in 12 plays before Anthony Cantele’s field goal made it 10-0.
By the time the first quarter drew to a close, the Tigers had exactly zero yards of total offense — 20 yards through the air and minus-20 on the ground.
“They just dropped back and they told us, ‘Hey, we’re going to make you guys have to make plays,’” Franklin said, “and we just made a bunch of mistakes and they capitalized on that.”
Josey finally got things rolling for Missouri in the second quarter, using his quick feet to spring for a couple of long runs. But a false start inside the 10-yard line on second down pushed the Tigers back and they had to settle for Grant Ressel’s 32-yard field goal.
Ressel had a chance to get Missouri within 10-6 at the break, but he pushed a 43-yard attempt wide right on the final play of the half as rain started to fall.
The Wildcats’ only big mistake all game happened early in the third quarter, when Klein was picked off by Kip Edwards. But their defense held and Ressel’s 36-yard field goal attempt was wide left.
Missouri cost itself later in the quarter when Darvin Ruise was called for roughing the punter, giving Kansas State the ball back. Hubert went to work, doing his best Darren Sproles imitation after taking a handoff, spinning away from a defender and going all the way down to the 3.
Klein scored seconds later for a 17-3 lead.
He added a short scoring plunge on the Wildcats’ next possession.