Lockett’s big night leads Kansas State to big bowl win

Tyler Lockett goes into the end zone for one of his three touchdowns in Kansas State's 31-14 win over Michigan in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl on Saturday.

TEMPE, Ariz. — John Lockett may need to find a little more space on the wall of fame in his northwest Tulsa home. Grandson Tyler was at it again Saturday.

Tyler Lockett set one Kansas State bowl record and tied another when the Wildcats’ ended their five-game bowl drought with a dominating 31-14 victory over Michigan in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl at Sun Devil Stadium. In the process, Tyler moved ahead of both his father and his uncle in the school record book.

It is not enough to say many of the Kansas State receiving records are owned by a Lockett. The follow-up question: Which one?

With 10 catches for 116 yards and three touchdowns, the whippet-like Tyler — he is 5-foot-11 and 175 pounds — set a school record for receptions in a bowl game and tied a school touchdown record for any position while finishing the season with 81 receptions for 1,262 yards and 11 touchdowns.

He passed his father, Kevin, to move into second place in season receptions (Kevin had 72 in 1996) and passed his uncle Aaron, Kevin’s brother, into third place in career receptions with 143. Kevin still holds the school career record with 217 catches, giving Tyler another goal for his senior year in 2014. Kevin held most of the Wildcats’ receiving records when he left school, and both elder Locketts went on to the NFL.

"I just have great family bloodlines," Lockett said.

Kansas State coach Bill Snyder, who celebrated the Wildcats’ first bowl victory since a 2002 Holiday Bowl triumph over Arizona State with a water cooler drenching, sees a lot more. Snyder’s office overlooks the Kansas State practice facility in Manhattan, Kan., and more often than not he could spot Lockett doing extra work 30 minutes after practice ended, sometimes 45 minutes, sometimes more. It happened here, too.

"The time schedule is mind-boggling because you are going from one thing to the next. It’s practice, shower, get on the bus, whatever," Snyder said of bowl-week routine, something that has become commonplace in his 22 seasons spent raising the Wildcats to national prominence.

After the first day, Tyler came up to me and said, ‘Coach, I want to stay after practice. How can we work this out?’ So we worked it out. That’s the nature of Tyler Lockett.

Kansas State coach Bill Synder

"After the first day, Tyler came up to me and said, ‘Coach, I want to stay after practice. How can we work this out?’ So we worked it out. That’s the nature of Tyler Lockett."

Lockett scored on 6-, 29- and 8-yard touchdown passes from quarterback Jake Waters for a 21-6 lead in the first half, and the Wildcats (8-5) held Michigan without a touchdown until the final 75 seconds.

"I’m just excited that we finally won a bowl game," Lockett said.

The count, he said, had reached 4,018 days since that Holiday Bowl victory, which came about three months after he turned 10.

"One of the things that motivates me: I don’t want to be that person that loses the game, because then you have an icky feeling for seven months, a week, two weeks, whatever it may be," Lockett said. "Trying to do everything in your power to make sure you don’t mess up."

Lockett did not come close Saturday, although he was hardly Kansas State’s only standout.

Waters completed 21 of 27 passes for 271 yards and those three touchdowns while setting a school record for completion percentage in a bowl game at 77.8 percent. A junior college transfer who took over for All-American and Heisman Trophy candidate Collin Klein this season, Waters picked apart the Wolverines defense.

Meanwhile, the Kansas State defense held Michigan to two field goals until a touchdown with 1:15 remaining, making two stands inside its 10-yard line to set the tone early. Michigan got to the 5-yard line on its first possession and the 8-yard line on its second but had to settle for field goals both times, and the Wolverines never made much of a dent after that.

Michigan had 261 yards, 82 on its final possession, and clearly was affected by the loss of starting quarterback Devin Gardner, who suffered a foot injury in the second half of a 42-41 loss to Ohio State in the final game of the regular season Nov. 30 and was unavailable for the bowl game. True freshman Shane Morris showed a strong arm and completed 24 of 38 passes for 196 yards and an interception, but he was forced to throw more than desired after Kansas State scored on its first three possessions on 75-, 60- and 59-yard drives.

Kansas State ended the season on a high note after a 2-4 start, winning six of its final seven games. The bowl victory capped a season-long quest. At a preseason meeting, one player said: "Stand up if you have won a bowl game." No one could.

"I think that’s the thing that drove everybody," Lockett said.

Lockett’s play did not hurt, either.