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September 23, 2012

K-State gets it done at Oklahoma

NORMAN, Okla. -- When Kansas State head coach Bill Snyder is excited, he is a man of few words.

So when he entered the visitor's locker room at Memorial Stadium after his 13th-ranked Wildcats knocked off No. 5 Oklahoma 24-19 Saturday night, the 72-year-old coach was relatively speechless.

No one can fault the brilliant Snyder for his quiet demeanor. He had just capped off the biggest true road win in school history as the Wildcats (4-0 overall, 1-0 Big 12) became the first ranked opponent and fourth team ever to defeat Sooners head coach Bob Stoops at home in his illustrious career.

And as expected under the 21st-year head coach, K-State won with its brand of football by running the football controlling the clock and forcing turnovers on defense.

"We were really good against a very quality football team," Snyder said.

Behind the legs of junior running back John Hubert, who had 23 carries for 130 yards and a touchdown, and the poise of senior quarterback Collin Klein, the Wildcats controlled the game on the ground and possessed the ball for 34 minutes, 47 seconds.

"We knew it would be a battle and it was exactly that," Klein said. "We credit everyone for hanging together."

Klein showed maturity and balance in the Wildcats' compelling victory by completing 13 of 21 passes for 149 yards and adding 79 yards on 17 carries and a touchdown on the ground.

"Collin played well across the board, whether it was throwing it or running it or managing the offense," Snyder said. "I think he did everything pretty well."

Defensively, the Wildcats forced the Sooners (2-1, 0-1) into three costly mistakes, all in the hands of their quarterbacks.

With a 3-0 lead in the second quarter and stuck deep in their own territory, Oklahoma quarterback Landry Jones was flushed out of the pocket and hit from behind by strongside linebacker, who was lined up as a defensive end on the play, Justin Tuggle, forcing the ball loose. Fellow linebacker Jarell Childs fell on ball in the endzone giving the Wildcats an early 7-3 advantage.

On the next possession, Oklahoma marched down the field and threatened to regain the lead, but the Sooners' backup quarterback and running specialist, Blake Bell, fumbled the snap inside the Wildcats' five-yard line and helped K-State take a 10-6 lead at the half.

With a 13-10 lead and the momentum favoring the Sooners in the third quarter, Jones, who finished the game 23 of 41 and 298 yards passing, made his second mistake of the night by throwing an errant pass that was picked off by strong safety Ty Zimmerman. On the ensuing drive, K-State was able to capitalize on a five-yard touchdown run by Klein. Minutes later, Hubert scored on a nine-yard run to seal the victory.

The victory not only defied the odds of winning in Norman, it provided a statement that the Wildcats are the front-runners in the Big 12 and team not to be taken lightly.

"We are definitely a national contender and we deserve a lot of respect," senior middle linebacker Arthur Brown said.

K-State hadn't won a game at Norman since 1997 and hadn't defeated the Sooners since the 2003 Big 12 Championship.

"I think they were excited about it," Snyder said of his players. "All wins are important. Every coach will tell you and every player will probably tell you the same thing.

"When you play the somebody good as an Oklahoma team, it really does mean something special to them and I think they feel good about it."

The moment was bittersweet.

And when Klein kneeled down in "Victory" formation for the final time in the closing minute, the years of anguish and frustration against the Sooners had suddenly vanished.

Snyder didn't have to say anything.







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