Texas Tech-Kansas St. Preview
With both quarterbacks looking to boost their Heisman Trophy resumes, the fourth-ranked Wildcats square off against the No. 15 Red Raiders in a Big 12 showdown Saturday in Manhattan.
Klein won his most recent QB duel easily. What was expected to be a highly competitive game instead turned into a one-sided affair last Saturday as Kansas State (7-0, 4-0) cruised to a 55-14 road win over then-No. 17 West Virginia.
Outplaying counterpart Geno Smith, Klein completed 19 of 21 passes for a career-high 323 yards and three touchdowns, adding 41 yards and four TDs on the ground.
"I'm very proud of our guys and how we've been able to hang together in adversity and prosperity," the senior said. "And we just have to keep moving forward."
Klein also put on a show at Texas Tech (6-1, 3-1) last season, as the Wildcats snapped a five-game losing streak in this series with a 41-34 victory. He compiled 146 yards and a touchdown through the air, rushing for 110 yards and three more scores.
"He's big, strong, physical... You can tell he's gotten much more comfortable throwing the ball," Red Raiders coach Tommy Tuberville said.
"He's probably the front-runner for the Heisman right now I would say. How he's played, he's been consistent. He's not going to be flashy just because of his size, but he runs the ball. ... It's just a totally different type of ballgame that you normally see."
Doege, meanwhile, garnered plenty of acclaim of his own last Saturday after throwing for 318 yards and a career-high seven TDs in a 56-53 triple-overtime win at TCU. The senior, who recorded a career-high 499 passing yards and six TDs the previous weekend in a 49-14 rout of then-No. 5 West Virginia, leads the FBS with 28 passing TDs - matching his total from last season.
"I think if you worry about stuff like (the Heisman Trophy) too much and start thinking about it, you kind of lose focus on what the big goal is, and the big goal is that crystal ball," said Doege, who threw for 461 yards against the Wildcats last year but was picked off three times.
"We're playing at a high level right now, and we have an opportunity to continue that and be very successful and kind of shock the world a little bit."
The Red Raiders, though, could be in for a tough test against a Kansas State team that's given up an average of 16.1 points to rank second in the conference. The Wildcats, who have allowed 21 points or fewer in all seven games, have given up seven passing TDs while recording eight interceptions.
Tuberville said Kansas State will be "the best team we've played."
"They're physical ... a defense that's given us problems," he said. "So a huge challenge for our entire team going on the road.
"We've got to play our game. We've got to get ready, play much better, prepare much better, focus, understand what we're getting ready to get into. It will be a big-time atmosphere, playing one of the top teams in the country."
The Wildcats could also be hard-pressed to move the ball. The Red Raiders rank first in the Big 12 and are tied for seventh in the country with 282.0 yards allowed per game.
"They play hard ... and they are awfully good about not giving up substantial plays," Kansas State coach Bill Snyder said. "I think they play an aggressive style of defense from their front to the back end.
"There are just all those things that are mingled that have made them a very successful defensive football team - right now, the No. 1 defensive unit in the conference."
The Wildcats were also 7-0 last year, but they haven't won their first eight games since opening 9-0 in 1999.
They've given up an average of 40.7 points while dropping nine of 11 to Top 25 opponents at home. The Red Raiders are trying to open 4-0 on the road for the second time in five seasons.