No. 19 Kansas State keeps high hopes in clash vs. Iowa State

Field Level Media

November 22, 2023 at 7:21 pm.

No. 19 Kansas State enters the final week of the regular season with a chance to defend its Big 12 championship.

If certain results pan out in other games, the Wildcats just need to defeat visiting Iowa State on Saturday night in Manhattan to qualify for the conference championship game Dec. 2 in Arlington, Texas.

Kansas State (8-3, 6-2) is looking for a perfect 7-0 home record this season. The Wildcats are riding high after overcoming an 11-point deficit in the second half to post a 31-27 victory over Kansas last Saturday.

“There is no better feeling than beating little brother,” Kansas State quarterback Will Howard said after the game.

But now it’s on to the next game. How will the outside noise of postseason possibilities affect the Wildcats?

“We don’t pay any attention to it,” coach Chris Klieman said at his media gathering Tuesday. “We’ve navigated it really well the last two weeks when everybody was trying to stuff it down our throats. And all our kids did was go out and play and win games.

“I know the way Matt (Campbell) coaches. I know the way Matt develops guys. They never beat themselves. They’re sound in what they do. They’re really good on special teams. They don’t give the ball away (but) they take it away. They make you earn everything.

“This is gonna be a physical game. These two teams are two of the more physical teams in the league.”

The Cyclones have won three of the past five games against the Wildcats, including 33-20 the last time the game was played in Manhattan.

Howard is playing well in recent games. He threw for two touchdowns and rushed for another in the fourth quarter that put his team in the lead for good. Howard sprinted 15 yards to his left for the go-ahead touchdown with 10:22 remaining.

Iowa State (6-5, 5-3) likely lost its chance to play in the title game with a 26-16 defeat to Texas on Saturday.

The good news for the Cyclones was that Rocco Becht passed for 323 yards and two touchdowns to break two of Brock Purdy’s freshman school records. Becht raised his season totals to 2,444 yards, surpassing the 2,250 yards by Purdy, now the starter for the San Francisco 49ers. Becht also now has 17 touchdowns, one more than Purdy in 2018. Becht was 24-of-32 with one interception against the Longhorns.

“For the first 3 1/2 quarters, I thought Rocco played a really good football game,” Campbell said after the game. “At the end of the game we got ourselves in some two-minute situations and (Texas) could kind of tee off on us, and they did. They’ve got some elite players who got some good pressure.”

The Cyclones are in a three-way tie for fifth place. They are among eight conference teams already qualified for the postseason. Three other teams are one win away from qualifying.

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