The Kansas State Wildcats logged one of the most shocking wins of the young 2020 college football season last weekend, taking down the Oklahoma Sooners 38-35 after trailing by 21 points twice in the contest. It was a true display of Kansas State's resiliency as a team, not only overcoming the in-game deficit, but also to be able to recover from an upset loss on opening weekend. The Wildcats also have had to manage a fluid situation involving their depth chart as several players have not been available for one or both games due to COVID-19 protocols.
Now, the Wildcats will look to avoid a letdown, as they welcome the Texas Tech Red Raiders to town.
Texas Tech had the Texas Longhorns looking for the exits last weekend, but couldn't seal the deal. They fell short of pulling off their own upset, losing 63-56 in overtime.
The two teams will meet Saturday in Manhattan, Kansas in a game that could very well set the tone for their seasons.
Texas Tech at Kansas State
Kickoff: Saturday, Oct. 3 at 3:30 p.m. ET
Spread: Kansas State -2.5
When Texas Tech Has the Ball
If you've paid any attention to college football over the last decade, you know the drill. The Red Raiders are going to look to toss the ball all over the yard before they resort to anything else. Leading that prolific passing attack this season is sophomore quarterback Alan Bowman. He has put up 761 yards and seven scores through two games this season. That said, he has had difficulty taking care of the football, throwing four interceptions. Look for Texas Tech head coach Matt Wells to test Kansas State's secondary early on by attempting to force the ball downfield through the air to his top pass catchers, wide receivers KeSean Carter. T.J. Vasher, and Erik Ezukanma. If the Red Raiders are unable to do so, they can always fall back on a capable rushing attack, something the program hasn't been known for in recent years. SaRodorick Thompson has gained 222 yards and four touchdowns on the ground in the first two games. His effectiveness will force teams to respect the run, arguably making the Texas Tech offense more difficult to defend than in recent years.
When Kansas State Has the Ball
The Wildcats are led by senior quarterback Skylar Thompson. He's typically a dual-threat signal-caller, however, he has been an efficient and effective passer through two games this season. Thompson has completed nearly 65 percent of his passes for 593 yards and three touchdowns. He's one of the great leaders at the position in the Big 12, and head coach Chris Klieman can trust his triggerman in the toughest of scenarios. This weekend's game plan, however, will likely be centered around the run. Texas Tech gave up more than 200 rushing yards to Texas last Saturday. Klieman has to feel confident that his offensive line can dominate the Red Raiders in the trenches, and you'll see a heavy dose of runs between the tackles early on to test that theory. That's going to eventually open things up for Thompson, both in the passing attack and on designed runs.
This game could go either way, but I'm leaning toward the team that is better at controlling tempo and taking care of the football — Kansas State. I believe you'll see Wildcats running back Harry Trotter and diminutive (5-5) dynamo Deuce Vaughn get more carries in this game compared to the first two. That will draw the Texas Tech defense closer to the line to try and stop the run. When that happens, Wildcats quarterback Skylar Thompson can then take advantage of play fakes and do damage through the air. The Kansas State defense will be playing with a lot of confidence after shutting out the Oklahoma offense in the fourth quarter last weekend. Look for that momentum to carry over into this matchup.
Prediction: Kansas State 33, Texas Tech 24
Podcast: CFB Week 5 Preview + Predictions
— Written by J.P. Scott, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. His work has appeared on SI.com, FoxSports.com, Yahoo!, SBNation, USA Today and Bleacher Report. He is a three-time FWAA writing contest award winner. Follow him on Twitter @TheJPScott.
(Skylar Thompson photo courtesy of K-State Athletics)