Kansas State, Southern Illinois look to build on strong debuts

NCAA Football

Kansas State will kick off the home portion of its schedule Saturday night against FCS opponent Southern Illinois in Manhattan, Kan.

Both teams are coming off impressive victories. Kansas State (1-0) shut down Stanford’s offense in a 24-7 win last Saturday in Arlington, Texas. While the Cardinal were breaking in two new quarterbacks after Davis Webb was drafted by the Houston Texans, the Wildcats left both Stanford QBs wondering what hit them.

Southern Illinois (1-0), ranked No. 8 in this week’s FCS Top 25, is coming off a 47-21 victory at Southeast Missouri State last Thursday night. The Salukis had 553 yards of total offense, including a school-record 460 passing yards from Nic Baker. Baker earned Missouri Valley Conference Offensive Player of the Week honors.

Baker hit wide receiver Avante Cox with a 99-yard touchdown pass for the first TD of the season.

“I think (Baker) proved to everybody why he can be an elite player in this league, this country,” SIU head coach Nick Hill said. “Each week will create different challenges and obviously the next game is a huge challenge for us going to a Power Five opponent (Kansas State), so we just have to keep growing as a team.”

Kansas State coach Chris Klieman has plenty of experience in beating FCS opponents. He was the head coach at North Dakota State, where he went 69-6 and won four national championships in his five years at the helm. He will have his team prepared.

Kansas State’s defense was spectacular against Stanford, holding the Cardinal to 233 yards of total offense (39 rushing). A late drive gave the Cardinal their only points. Linebackers Daniel Green and Cody Fletcher combined for 17 tackles and a sack, while defensive backs Russ Yeast and TJ Smith each recorded an interception.

The Wildcats’ offense was solid on the ground, though quarterback Skylar Thompson was not as crisp as he had hoped he’d be in his first game since October 2020 when he was lost for the season with a shoulder injury.

“I thought it was a good win,” Thompson said after the game. “I feel like there’s more in the tank, though. I feel like I did some good things, but I felt like as an offense as a whole, we left a lot out there today, and that’s very encouraging moving forward.”

–Field Level Media

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