Key Play: Jake Waters found Tyler Lockett in the corner of the end zone for a 29-yard touchdown pass to put K-State ahead 14-3.
Key Stat: For the first time, the Wildcats scored more than nine points in the first quarter of a bowl game.
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Key Play: Jake Waters threw a 46-yard pass to Glenn Gronkowski to set up a touchdown that put K-State ahead 21-6.
Key Stat: Michigan had 10 rushing yards at halftime.
Key Play: Lockett dropped a pass in the end zone from Daniel Sams that could have put K-State on top 28-6. The Wildcats didn’t get any points on the drive.
Key Stat: Neither team scored.
Key Play: Ian Patterson kicked a 22-yard field goal, giving K-State its first three-score lead of the game.
Key Stat: John Hubert finished with 80 rushing yards and a touchdown.
Offense: B+. Jake Waters and Tyler Lockett once again proved to be a dangerous combination, hooking up for three touchdown passes. Waters also showed skills with his legs, scrambling for important yards in the first half. John Hubert also had a fine day. The second half could have been better, but K-State scored enough in the first half to win.
Defense: A+. What more could you ask from this unit? When Michigan moved the ball well on its first two drives, K-State forced it to kick field goals. After that, the Wolverines couldn’t do much of anything. K-State’s front seven dominated this game.
Special teams: B. Lockett had several nice returns, but a missed field goal always hurts.
Coaching: A. K-State and Michigan entered the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl with the same record, but the Wildcats dominated the game. Bill Snyder and his coaching staff had K-State ready to win.
Player of the game: Tyler Lockett. His memorable season got even better on Saturday. The junior receiver torched Michigan’s secondary for 116 receiving yards and three touchdown catches. He also did damage on kick returns.
Reason to hope: K-State’s bowl losing streak is over. That makes this season a success after a slow start.
Where’d they go?
Large chunks of empty seats were noticeable on Saturday.
That was due, at least in part, to Kansas State and Michigan failing to sell their ticket allotments. Both schools were required to purchase 11,000 tickets from the bowl, but both only sold about half. K-State sold roughly 6,000 tickets, while Michigan sold closer to 5,000.
Both schools returned their unsold tickets to the bowl game, which donated them to schools and military throughout the Phoenix area.
Some football programs lose money — occassionally millions — on bowl games when they are unable to sell their full ticket allotments, but that is not the case for K-State. The Big 12 absorbs all ticket losses before distributing bowl revenue evenly to its 10 members.
The Wildcats weren’t as well represented as they have been at recent bowls, when they requested extra tickets for the Cotton Bowl and Fiesta Bowl, but there was plenty of purple in the stadium. Approximately 5,000 fans attended K-State’s pep rally on Friday, and closer to 10,000 K-State fans attended the game.
As Kansas State football players took the field, they were greeted by a life-size image of Pat Tillman, a former Arizona State and NFL player who famously left football to join the United States Army following the September 11 attacks in 2001 and died while in service.
The Sun Devils like to say Tillman leads them onto the field before every game. As the home team in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl, he did the same for the Wildcats on Saturday.
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K-State is the only team that has played in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl in all three of its locations. The bowl originated in Tucson as the Copper Bowl, moved to Chase Field in downtown Phoenix when it was called the Insight Bowl and then shifted to Sun Devil Stadium.
Twenty K-State seniors played their final game on Saturday. Among them were standout safety Ty Zimmerman, linebacker Blake Slaughter, receiver Tramaine Thompson, running back John Hubert and left tackle Cornelius Lucas.
Though they will be difficult to replace, the Wildcats return the bulk of their roster.