2011 Predictions & Game Story
Week 1 - East. Kentucky at Kansas St
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Sept. 3 at Kansas State 10 ... Eastern Kentucky 7
CFN Analysis: Yeeeeeesh. Kansas State is supposed to be able to pound away with the running game on anyone, but instead it was held to a pedestrian 175 yards with QB Collin Klein running for 78 of them. Bryce Brown didn't even get the start, running just three times for 16 yards, while John Hubert was the main man with 91 yards on 17 carries. Fortunately, the defense was terrific allowing just ten rushing yards and camping out in the backfield. Five turnovers meant the Wildcats needed a last minute score to put away the layup game, and now they get two weeks off to let this close call sink in before going against Kent State's nasty defense.
(AP) MANHATTAN, Kan. -- Collin Klein connected with Chris Harper on a 37-yard touchdown pass with 1:39 left, and Kansas State escaped with a sloppy 10-7 victory over Eastern Kentucky on Saturday night to give longtime coach Bill Snyder his 150th win.
Kansas State fumbled five times -- losing four of them -- and struggled to get anything going against its opponent from the Football Championship Subdivision.
The plucky Colonels, picked to finish third in the Ohio Valley Conference, took a 7-0 lead with 4:26 remaining in the third quarter when freshman quarterback Jared McClain plunged in from a yard out. The TD was set up when Kansas State running back Bryce Brown fumbled the ball away.
Anthony Cantele, who earlier missed a 37-yard field goal try, drew Kansas State within 7-3 when he hit from 36 yards out with 11:36 left in the game.
The Kansas State defense managed to stop Eastern Kentucky on its ensuing possession, giving Klein and the offense the ball at its 14. The junior quarterback hit Harper for 10 yards, mixed in a couple of runs, connected with Harper again on an 8-yard completion, and converted a third-and-3 situation when he scrambled for four yards in front of the Wildcats' bench.
Two plays later, Klein saw Harper coming open on a skinny post route and hit him in stride as the crowd of 50,292 erupted for the first time all night. The touchdown gave the Wildcats their first lead of the game, and allowed them to win their 22nd consecutive home opener.
Things started out poorly for Kansas State and didn't get a whole lot better.
Klein was forced to call timeout on third-and-9 on the Wildcats' opening possession, and then proceeded to fumble the snap and give the Colonels the ball. The defense stiffened, though, and Eastern Kentucky's Luke Pray eventually missed a 42-yard field goal attempt.
The Wildcats went three-and-out on their next possession, a promising seven-play drive stalled at the Colonels 22, Ty Zimmerman fumbled a punt a few moments later, and the defense allowed Eastern Kentucky to march inside the Kansas State 10 before Nigel Malone intercepted McClain's pass late in the first quarter to preserve the scoreless game.
The comedy of errors continued once the teams switched directions.
Klein was picked off by Brooklyn Fox on a jump ball to end one drive, and another drive halted after Klein failed to notice the blitz and was sacked for a 13-yard loss.
The two teams went into the locker room with zeros on the scoreboard.
It remained that way most of the second half and at one point the Wildcats appeared like they might not score in a game for the first time since 1996. But the Wildcats managed to find just enough offense to hand Eastern Kentucky its 19th consecutive non-conference road loss.
The Colonels haven't beaten an FBS school since knocking off Louisville in 1985.
Eastern Kentucky (0-0) at Kansas State (0-0) Sept. 3, 7:00
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Here's The Deal … It's Kansas State, so it's cream-puff time, right?
The program has earned a reputation for taking it light in non-conference play over the years, even missing out on a bowl bid in 2009 because it went 6-6 with two wins coming against FCS teams, but that's not necessarily fair. The Wildcats have been scheduling at least one good non-conference game each year, and it's not their fault that a date at Miami might not be quite what it's supposed to be. Even so, considering how nasty the Big 12 schedule should be this season, opening up with a preseason tune-up isn't more than just good for the record. While they're not quite good enough to be a factor in the Big 12 title chase this season, they should be a dangerous out and they should be stronger once the right offensive pieces are put in place.
And Eastern Kentucky isn't a layup.
The Colonels gave Louisville all it could handle last season in a 23-13 Cardinal win, and they closed out strong with four straight wins helped by an offense that got hot at the right time. This is an aggressive team that likes to attack the quarterback and get into the backfield, and considering Kansas State has to face Kent State next – and a defense that was among the best in America last year in sacks and tackles for loss – the game should be useful.
Why Eastern Kentucky Might Win: Pass rush. The Colonels like to bring the heat from all different angles and they have the ability to get into the backfield to stuff plays before they get started. Last year, EKU was seventh in the FCS in tackles for loss and tenth in sacks, and the defensive front should be able to do big things at times against a Kansas State offensive line that should be good with a little bit of time, but isn't going to be great in pass protection. In a game like this against a team that's going to want to run the ball like the Wildcats will field position should be a really big deal. EKU finished fifth in the FCS in net punting thanks to a huge year from now-sophomore Jordan Berry, while the return game should be special again with Jeremy Caldwell back after finishing second in the nation in kickoff returns averaging 33.71 yards per try.
Why Kansas State Might Win: Pass rush. Kansas State didn't have much of one last year, and it was awful when it came to get into the backfield on a regular basis, but the EKU offensive line is porous and should have major problems. The Wildcat line relied on JUCO transfers to step in and make all the difference last season, and it didn't happen. Now, the experience is there to turn things around, and there are too many good athletes to be that bad again. Offensively, as long as the Wildcats can avoid the impressive Colonel pass rush, it should be smooth sledding against a run defense that might have led the Ohio Valley Conference, but struggled against the stronger ground games on the slate. KSU will hit the ground running because of …
What To Watch Out For: … Bryce Brown should be special right away. Arguably the nation's top recruit in 2009, he went through a big dog-and-pony show – talking about turning pro or going to the CFL – before signing with Lane Kiffin and Tennessee. When his brother, linebacker Arthur Brown, transferred from Miami to KSU, he made the switch, too. While both were named in the Nevin Shapiro scandal in Miami, Kansas State has come out and said that they have no issues and should be able to stay eligible. As long as the Brown brothers are on the field, they should be two of the Big 12's most talented players. If they have huge games against EKU, the hype machine will kick in.
What Will Happen: EKU's pass rush and aggressiveness will stuff the Kansas State running game from time to time, and there won't be much from the Wildcat passing game, but there shouldn't be too much drama.
The Colonels don't have the offense to keep up if
KSU gets up early, and even though the EKU defensive
front will win its share of battles, Brown and the
ground game will end up rolling for well over 200
yards while staying in control the whole way. Expect
to see at least two KSU quarterbacks get some work,
and expect them both to produce.
CFN Prediction: Kansas State 41 ... Eastern Kentucky 10
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