The Kansas State Wildcats were solidly the third-best team in the Big 12, better than Texas and Oklahoma but worse than TCU and Baylor. They beat the teams they were supposed to beat (everybody below them, with highlights being a one point escape in Norman, six point win in Morgantown, and shutout of Texas), and lost to the teams they were supposed to lose to (a six point home loss to Auburn that the Wildcats would have won if they hadn’t melted down with 2 Points Per Trip Inside the 40 against the Tigers’ 5 PPTI40, a 21 point detonation by TCU, and an 11 point loss at Baylor).
Unlike the occasionally schizophrenic Bruins, the Wildcats were consistent in blowing out poor opponents (with the exception of a close shave against Iowa State), beating Stephen F. Austin by 39, UTEP by 30, Texas Tech by 32, Oklahoma State by 34, and Kansas by 38. This is all leading up to a sentence that may not have been written in the English language before: Kansas State kind of reminds us of Southern Cal. Beyond just the straightforward W-L record, the Wildcats have some statistical similarities to the Trojans as well, with a high-ranking offense and mediocre ranking defense.
As always, we use:
- Yards Per Stop to measure efficiency
- Yards Per Play to measure explosiveness
- Points Per Drive to measure scoring
- Points Per Trip Inside the 40 to measure drive finishing
- Field Position Margin to measure field position
- Turnover Margin to measure turnovers
The Purple Wizard cooked up a pretty good offense on the back of fantastic receiver Tyler Lockett, with good explosiveness and scoring numbers and solid efficiency and taking advantage of scoring opportunities numbers. If the Wildcats had been in the Pac-12, their Yards Per Stop would have ranked fourth (just ahead of UCLA), Yards Per Play would have ranked second, Points Per Drive would have ranked second, and Points Per Trip Inside the 40 would have ranked sixth. It does seem that the Big 12 was slightly more offense-oriented than the Pac-12, but it is pretty safe to say that the Wildcats have an offense that can make big plays and put points on the board.
Season Trends: YPS and YPP
Poor Kansas, at least Charlie Weis is gone. Hilarious outlier aside, the Wildcats were relatively consistently efficient on offense, with low-efficiency games in the Auburn and TCU losses and the close win against West Virginia that included a non-offensive touchdown.
The good-not-great Auburn defense shut down the Wildcats’ normally explosive offense, but Kansas State was only held below 6 yards per play two other times on the year; the shutout of Texas and blowout by TCU. It does seem that that is a good number for the Bruin defense to shoot for; if UCLA holds Kansas State below 6 YPP (something UCLA has done to every opponent but Oregon and Stanford), the Bruins will probably be in good shape.
The K State defense didn’t have nearly as good of a year as the offense did, though it had some very good games in holding down the solid Auburn, Texas Tech, and West Virginia offenses and completely shutting down the bad UTEP (normally we wouldn’t talk about UTEP, but 5 total yards allowed before garbage time is pretty impressive), Texas, Oklahoma State, and Kansas offenses. They weren’t nearly as successful in shutting down the TCU and Baylor offenses, though few teams were.
Kansas State was mediocre at preventing efficiency and explosiveness, but it was solid at preventing scoring and preventing opponents from taking advantage of scoring opportunities. The Wildcats would have been ninth in the Pac-12 (just behind UCLA) at Yards Allowed Per Stop, eighth in Yards Allowed Per Play, seventh in Points Allowed Per Drive, and fifth in Points Allowed Per Trip Inside the 40.
Season Trends: YAPS and YAPP
Kansas State kept nine of their twelve opponents below 50 Yards Per Stop. They were able to deal with giving up 76 YPS to the Oklahoma Land Thieves, but the 89 YPS they gave up to TCU and 146 YPS they gave up to Baylor (nearly as bad as the 147 UCLA gave up to Oregon) were too much for the Wildcats to overcome. The best game probably came against Auburn, with just under 45 YAPS.
Once again, Kansas State kept nine of their twelve opponents beneath 6 Yards Per Play (by comparison, UCLA kept all but Oregon and Stanford beneath 6 YPP), but gave up near or above 7 YPP to the most talented offenses on the schedule. The best defensive effort came against Auburn, keeping the powerful Malzahnfense under five YPP.
Kansas State was very good both in average starting field position differential and turnover margin. The Wildcats were 20th in college football with a +4.0 average starting field position, putting their high-powered offense in good scoring position and helping their mediocre defense. Snyder’s forces rode the second-lowest turnovers lost number in the country to their +9 turnover margin, and had a very healthy fifteen interceptions on the year.
The Massey College Football Ranking Composite, taking 124 different rating systems into account, has UCLA as the #14 team in college football, while Kansas State is #12. The Bruins’ rankings range from #4 to #33 with a standard deviation of 65.97. The Wildcats’ rankings range from #8 to #27, with a standard deviation of 3.80.
Using a Simple Ratings System (solid descriptive article here), we see the following: Using Footballperspective.com’s numbers, UCLA has a SRS of 50.3 while Kansas State has an SRS of 53.7, meaning that, Football Perspective predicts a 3 point Wildcat win. Using Sports-Reference.com’s numbers, UCLA has an SRS of 14.37 while Kansas State has an SRS of 13.00, meaning that Sports Reference predicts a 1 point UCLA win.
One final game for Brett Hundley, Eric Kendricks, and Owamagbe Odighizuwa. It’s not the big game in Texas they may have hoped to end their careers, but it’s the biggest UCLA bowl game since the 1999 Rose Bowl, and an opportunity to put a smile on UCLA fans’ faces for the first time since the Southern Cal blowout.
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