Cameron Artis-Payne (above) is Auburn's leading rusher.
Series Record: Auburn (3-0-0)
Last Meeting: (2007) Auburn 23, Kansas State 13
About the teams:
Bill Snyder enters his 23rd season as head coach of Kansas State, compiling a 180-90-1 record. Gus Malzahn is 23-5 all time as a head coach and 14-2 at Auburn.
Auburn has started the season with a 45-21 victory over Arkansas and a 59-13 thumping of San Jose State. Kansas State is also undefeated with victories over Stephen F. Austin, 55-16, and Iowa State, 32-28.
Both teams will have had 11 days off since their last game, allowing extra preparation time for this showdown.
The Wildcats return 12 starters from 2013 with six on offense, four on defense and two on special teams. The Tigers return 14 starters with eight on offense and six on defense.
The only time Auburn faced Kansas State at Manhattan, Kan., was in 1978 with the Tigers winning 45-32.
The Kansas State offense is led by senior quarterback Jake Waters, who comes into the game completing 61 percent of his passes for 462 yards. He is also his team’s leading rusher with 193 yards through two games.
Jake Waters is a second-year starter for Kansas State.
Tyler Lockett leads the Wildcats with seven receptions for 145 yards. He was their star receiver last season with 81 receptions for more 1,200 yards with 11 touchdowns. He is also a dangerous kick returner.
Linebacker Jonathan Truman currently leads K-State in tackles and was No. 2 on their roster with 89 stops last season.
Defensive end Ryan Mueller is Kansas State’s top performer on defense. He was All-Big 12 last season as well as a second-team All-American. He made 18 1/2 tackles for loss during 2013 and currently leads the team in tackles for loss this season.
The Auburn offense is ranked No. 18 in pass efficiency with D’haquille Williams leading the receivers with 13 receptions for 214 yards.
Sophomore defensive lineman Montravius Adams is a key player for the Auburn defense.
Auburn has two school team records currently active. The offense has rushed for at least 200 yards in 13 consecutive games and the Tigers have scored at least 30 points in 12 consecutive games.
Inside the Numbers...
*Since Snyder came out of retirement to resume his duties as head coach in 2009 the Wildcats are 2-11 vs. opponents that finished the season with a winning percentage of .700 or better.
*During the same time period Kansas State has surrendered 200 or more rushing yards in 16 games while winning just five of those contests.
*From 2009-2014 Auburn has totaled 44 games of 200 yards rushing or more, posting a 38-6 record.
*From 2009-2014 Kansas State has given up at least 400 yards on defense 27 times. The Wildcats are 12-15 in those games, allowing an average of 36.6 points per contest.
*From 2009-2014 Kansas State is 4-14 in games its defense allowed at least 30 points. During that same time period Auburn has scored at least 30 points 39 times, compiling a 38-1 record.
*Kansas State is 3-12 vs. Southeastern Conference teams. The Wildcats are 46-83-5 vs. teams currently in the Southeastern Conference.
*According to Scout.com, 94 percent of the recruits signed by Auburn from 2010-2013 were rated as three stars or better. Only 30.4 percent of Kansas State’s recruits were rated as high. Auburn signed 51 players rated four stars or better and Kansas State signed only one during that four-year period.
*Since 1992 Auburn is 43-0-1 when rushing for at least 250 yards and producing at least four impact pass-plays during the game.
*From 2009-2013 Kansas State is 5-5 vs. teams that averaged more than 200 yards rushing for the season and 1-3 vs. teams that averaged better than 240 yards rushing per game.
Keys to victory...
*This will be a very physical game and it will be important for Auburn to run the ball well, and do it consistently, to minimize the pressure on the quarterback. Malzahn coached offenses are 45-7 when his team has at least 45 rush attempts.
*Auburn needs to win the turnover battle. Since 1992 Auburn is 6-18-0 when the Tigers lose the turnover battle on the road against a ranked opponent.
*The Auburn offense needs to generate explosive plays. From 1992-2014 Auburn is 53-3-1 when making at least four impact plays in the running game and four impact plays in the passing game.
*The Auburn offense needs to be productive on first down. Under Malzahn the Tigers are 23-3 when averaging at least 6.0 yards on first down. Success on first down allows the coach to increase the tempo to switch into hurry-up mode.
*Controlling Waters will be the key for Auburn's defense. Two games into the season he has been directly involved in 62.2 percent of Kansas State’s offensive plays while accounting for 69.0 percent of his team’s total yardage. Waters has also been directly involved in 18 of K-State’s 22 impact plays on offense.
*Against San Jose State, Auburn allowed the Spartans to convert four third downs of five or more yards with quarterback runs. Auburn cannot afford to allow Waters to extend drives with his feet.
Snyder has a great history of obtaining the most of his personnel, but it doesn’t change the fact Auburn is a more talented team on paper. The coach has built his teams relying heavily on junior college transfers and redshirting young players.
From 2009-2013 Kansas State is 6-11 vs. ranked opponents, including a 6-7 mark over the past three seasons. His teams have been competitive, disciplined and well coached on the field. Over the past three seasons the Wildcats are 13-9 vs. teams from a major conference that finished the season with a winning record.
Though the Wildcats lost 12 starters from last season, they have 16 seniors in their two-deep depth chart. Three players on offense made the preseason All-Big 12 team and one appeared on defense. The concern for Kansas State is the loss of five of its top 10 tacklers from last season.
The Wildcat defense should be acclimated to Auburn’s up-tempo offense from recent games with Baylor, Oregon, Oklahoma State and Oklahoma. The key for Auburn will be the level of physicality associated with its offense. You can rest assure Kansas State will be motivated and excited with their opportunity to upset a top five opponent.
This will be Auburn's first statement game of the season, traveling on the road to take on a nationally ranked opponent. Because it is a Thursday night game college football fans across the country as well as the national media will be tuning in to watch the game. This is Auburn’s best non-conference opponent for the regular season and it will be important for the Tigers to play well to leave Manhattan with a victory. If the Tigers can avoid self-inflicted miscues of penalties, mistakes and turnovers, they should be triumphant in their quest to remain undefeated. Should Auburn continue its streak of 200-yard rushing games and 30-point games, look for the Tigers to be 3-0 late Thursday night. Auburn 37, Kansas State 20.
Around the Southeastern Conference:
Arkansas over Northern Illinois