Posted December 29, 2013

Kansas State defense stuffs Michigan in Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl

Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl?, Kansas State Wildcats, Michigan Wolverines
Kansas State's Tyler Lockett was unstoppable on Saturday night, catching all three of Kansas State's TDs. (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Kansas State’s Tyler Lockett was top notch on Saturday, catching all three of Kansas State’s TDs. (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Perhaps Michigan hadn’t fully recovered from its heartbreaking loss to rival Ohio State in the regular-season finale. Maybe Kansas State head coach Bill Snyder’s all-encompassing wizardry took control. Or maybe the Wolverines’ simply started a true freshman quarterback in a bowl game against a quality Big 12 opponent. Whatever the reason, Kansas State’s defense dictated its 31-14 win over Michigan in Saturday’s Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl, where the Wolverines simply couldn’t find any groove on offense.

The Wildcats’ defense came in allowing a modest 367 yards per game (No. 33 nationally) and 23.7 points per game (No. 35), but Michigan had trouble all night moving the ball against Snyder’s crew, especially on the ground. The Wolverines managed only two field goals in the first half and headed into intermission down 21-6 thanks largely to a sorry rushing effort through two quarters. Somehow, tight end Devin Funchess was the team’s leading rusher at halftime with 14 yards on two rushes. The program limped to a final tally of 65 yards on the ground on 15 carries for 4.3 yards per carry.

Of course, it didn’t help that Michigan entered the game without its starting quarterback at its disposal. Devin Gardner missed the contest with turf toe, leaving true freshman Shane Morris to start in Gardner’s stead. Morris had attempted only nine career passes prior to Saturday, and the Wolverines’ passer was anything but spectacular (24-of-38 passing for 196 yards and one pick) while failing to lead Michigan on a touchdown drive until 1:15 left in the game.

While the Wolverines struggled on offense, Kansas State did just enough to keep things out of reach, especially through the air. Jake Waters was stellar for much of the night, completing 21-of-27 passes for 271 yards and three scores. His favorite target, wide receiver Tyler Lockett, caught 10 balls for 116 yards and three touchdowns — all three in the first half. Waters also rushed for five first downs. As a unit the Wildcats were efficient against the Wolverines’ own defense, averaging 6.56 yards per play and converting seven of their 11 third down.

This obviously wasn’t the way Michigan coach Brady Hoke wanted the season to end, especially after his team started the year 5-0. Questions have surrounded Hoke’s job security for much of the second half of this season, and those questions will grow louder now that the Wolverines capped the coach’s worst season, record-wise, in Ann Arbor (7-6). Michigan AD Dave Brandon issued a vote of confidence for Hoke last month, so it will be interesting to see what unfolds now that Hoke’s record in both of the last two seasons have been worse than the previous campaign.

The atmosphere surrounding Michigan might be bleak, but Kansas State can head into the offseason with momentum. It seems like so long ago that the Wildcats started the season 2-4. Now the program claimed its eighth victory of the year and its first bowl win since 2002, snapping a five-game bowl losing streak. The much-respected Bill Snyder can tip his hat to a successful season in which he had to replace a Heisman Trophy finalist, Collin Klein, at quarterback.

20 comments
HawaiianNeal
HawaiianNeal

" The atmosphere surrounding Michigan might be bleak..." No doubt. Until president Sue Coleman wakes the heck up and steps out of her ivory tower to look at the athletic program, his highness, little Napoleon Brandon will continue driving the program into the ground and putting his mark on the UM brand. "Leaders and best"? Not so much these days. Quick fix, hire Stanford's asst AD as the new AD (knows the proper mix of excellence in academics and athletics, find a coach that actually has an equivalent resume that you would hire for a CEO position, and move on.

Joel1
Joel1

Outside of Ohio State (who's legit) the rest of the Big 10 is average.


Rutgers and Maryland join in 2014. Yeah, adding more below average programs makes your conference stronger.   

Randy14009
Randy14009

Just another over rated Big 10 team loosing a bowl game.

dmorcats77
dmorcats77

Why was this story all about Michigan?  Why wasn't it about KSU's domination of the mighty Wolverines.  Pathetic but typical SI bias.

rkcla08
rkcla08

the game was so blah i did some channel surfing and landed on a johnny carson special.  and who was johnny talking to in an interview?  brady hoke...oh wait, it was buddy hackett.  nevermind.

MarcoZ
MarcoZ

Why are 7-5 teams even in bowl games?

Tennnnn
Tennnnn

Terrible slanted article taking about why BIG Blue lost instead of why the cats won...and Michigan will begin next year ranked higher than many other deserving teams. Why? Why they're MICHIGAN, of course! Better history, Michigan. Better team, better coach, and more fan support??? Color those purple.

SandHills
SandHills

At least Big Blue didn't suffer another embarrassing Clowney-like highlight - so there is hope that they can still start out the next season in the Top 25 - get a couple easy wins and they'll get into the top 10.  


Folks, the Big 10 has been living off HYPE for the last decade.  While I can't believe that a team that coined the phrase "Clemsoned" can beat the Buckeyes in the Orange Bowl, most can expect that Stanford will dominate the Spartans for the Roses....


And yet, it will not be unexpected to see a host of Big 10 teams populating the Top 25 at the beginning of next season...the hype continues....

ZacharyDean
ZacharyDean

@Randy14009 UM was overrated? How? They were a 7-5 team heading into a bowl game without their starting QB. I'm glad morons like you can only post in the comments and don't write the articles.

Tom75
Tom75

Next year everything changes and there wont be an official preseason ranking. I think the committee will put out their rankings every couple weeks. The B1Gs astonishingly pathetic OOC record and bowl performance should be taken into account when they rank teams, not totally as every year is a new year but some

DanMcDermott
DanMcDermott

@SandHills Couldn't agree more, it's the same old crap.  What's funny is the B10 fans are the ones calling the SEC and Pac10 overrated, but they're ALWAYS the largest hypocrites.  Enough already, it's not 1987.

stevegreen
stevegreen

@SandHills You are right Big 10 tea!s loo good when playing each other, but consistently lose bowl games. The proof is in the pudding.

ZacharyDean
ZacharyDean

@Tom75 Let's hope they take that into account for the bulk of the SEC's non-conference slate. Those mid season FCS games are a joke.

Tom75
Tom75

0-4 counting Maryland

StevePerry
StevePerry

@ZacharyDean @Tom75 Depends what you consider an "official" preseason ranking.  The BCS doesn't start their rankings until week 8 technically, so there isn't an "official" preseason ranking now.