No. 15 Kansas State and Missouri used to be each other’s second fiercest rival — they both hate Kansas — but now they’re non-conference foes.
They’ll have a rematch of last year’s 40-12 shellacking by the Wildcats on Saturday afternoon in Columbia, Mo.
Both schools are off to 2-0 starts in 2023, although Kansas State’s two victories were more decisive. They both shut out good FCS teams in their openers, but the Wildcats’ 42-13 win over Troy was more impressive than Missouri’s 23-19 victory over Middle Tennessee.
The Blue Raiders trimmed the deficit to 23-19 after sacking quarterback Brady Cook, knocking the ball out of bounds in the end zone for a safety. The Tigers, however, were able to run out the clock to preserve the victory.
“Well, it was a lot tougher than we wanted it to be,” Missouri coach Eli Drinkwitz said after the game. “(We) just didn’t take advantage of the first-half opportunities with three points in the first quarter. Obviously, it was really good at the end of the game to find a way to put it away. The defense got a stop and the offense ended the game with the ball in their hands. I thought that was positive.”
But Drinkwitz knows that the Tigers will need a better effort against Kansas State.
“I think we have all been kind of looking towards it,” he said. “It’s a big game. We have a lot to improve a lot from today in order to be competitive.”
The Tigers are balanced on offense, averaging 161.5 yards per game on the ground and 215 through the air. They rely heavily on Cody Schrader, who is averaging 111 rushing yards per game. Cook has been efficient, throwing three touchdowns and no picks in the first two games. He’s averaged 188 passing yards per game.
Kansas State, meanwhile, is rolling. The Wildcats have scored at least 40 points in four straight regular-season games, including both games this season. After whitewashing Southeast Missouri State in the opener, they faced very little drama in the second half against Troy.
The Cats jumped out to a 14-0 lead, but Troy cut it to 14-10 with less than a minute remaining in the first half. The Trojans were scheduled to get the second-half kickoff with a chance to seize control of the game.
But Will Howard engineered a five-play, 66-yard drive, capped by a 39-yard touchdown pass to Phillip Brooks with 10 seconds left to give the Wildcats a cushion. The defense then stepped up, holding Troy to minus-1 yards of total offense on the Trojans’ first three drives of the second half.
“A great win for our guys, over a really good team,” Kansas State coach Chris Klieman said after the game. “I told the guys in the locker room two things; in our first two games we are 2-0 against teams that I really believe are going (to win) eight, nine, 10 games. I think we really did a nice job against two quality opponents.”
Now the Wildcats will take to the road to try to prove it one more time.
–Field Level Media