MANHATTAN — There are only four games remaining on the regular season schedule for K-State (4-4, 2-3 Big 12). The Wildcats will need to win half of those to qualify for a postseason bowl game. K-State’s final push towards postseason play comes Saturday against Texas Tech (4-4, 1-4 Big 12) in Lubbock, Texas.
“I’ve mentioned (possible bowl eligibility) to (the team). I know what’s on their minds and I know their aspirations to do some of the things they were excited about earlier in the season do exist now. A bowl game is certainly a reward for young people and a program. They understand that. They want to go to a bowl game. They understand what they have to do in order to make that happen,” K-State head coach Bill Snyder said Tuesday afternoon during his weekly press conference at the Vanier Family Football Complex in Manhattan.
The Wildcats have a tough road to making that happen. Following Saturday’s matchup against Texas Tech, K-State will host West Virginia (5-3, 3-2 Big 12), will travel to Stillwater, Oklahoma, to face off against Oklahoma State (7-1, 4-1 Big 12), and will end its regular season with a home game against No. 14 Iowa State (6-2, 4-1 Big 12). K-State senior kicker Matthew McCrane talked about the remainder of K-State’s tough final stretch.
“I think that shows how tough the Big 12 is. We have a lot of top teams (in the Big 12). I think that makes every game important for us, this weekend especially. I think it’s a must-win for us if we want to become bowl eligible. We’re a top program. If we don’t make a bowl, we don’t deserve to be in the Big 12,” McCrane said.
Sophomore wide receiver Dalton Schoen talked about the possibility of becoming eligible for a postseason game.
“We know every game left on our schedule is a winnable game. We’ve been in very close games with good teams so far. We’ve lost three games by seven points. At the end of the day, we know that if we go out there and we execute and we finish games, we know we can win every game left on our schedule,” Schoen said.
K-State will first have to contend against a strong Texas Tech offensive attack. The Red Raiders average nearly 39 points per game on 504.4 total yards per game. That offense is led by senior quarterback Nic Shimonek, who has thrown for 2,663 yards, 22 touchdowns, and six interceptions on a 69.8 completion percentage. Snyder gave some of his impressions of Shimonek.
“For a young quarterback, he has a good deal of poise about him and seems to have a very good understanding about what they do at Texas Tech. He throws the ball well and he can run it if he has to. He is not the fastest youngster in the world, but he can currently run the ball and bring it down and scramble. They throw the ball around an awful lot. He throws it enough in practice and in games. He has an exceptional amount of experience as it relates to quarterbacks in the nationwide scope regards to how much they throw the football,” Snyder said.
Senior linebacker Jayd Kirby gave his assessment of Texas Tech’s offense.
“(Shimonek) is good. He knows where to go with the ball. He’s got a big arm and he’s a smart quarterback. They established the run game this year, so they’re a little more balanced. It’s going to keep us playing them honest. You have to get your reads and you just can’t guess,” Kirby said.
On the other side of the ball, Texas Tech is fielding an improved defense from last season. Last year, Texas Tech allowed an average of 554.3 total yards per game. This season, the Red Raiders are allowing an average of 450 yards per game, while allowing 33 points per game. Shoen gave his evaluation of Texas Tech’s defense.
“Like a lot of teams in the Big 12, they try to switch things up. They try to play physical and hands on. It is just doing that right stuff and executing. We have to know what we are going against because we cannot call the plays in the wrong coverages,” Schoen said.
Snyder gave his impressions of Texas Tech’s defense.
“I think they’re playing better defensively. They still have troubles, but who doesn’t in this conference? A couple of their special teams units are playing very well,” Snyder said.
K-State will kick off against Texas Tech at 11 a.m. Saturday.