MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — Will Howard was 15-of-17 passing for 164 yards with two touchdowns as Kansas State defeated Houston 41-0 Saturday.
It was the K-State defense, which has gone nine quarters without allowing a touchdown, that shined the brightest. K-State has outscored its opponents 103-3 since falling behind Texas Tech 21-17 on Oct. 14 before winning 38-21.
“I feel like our confidence level is really high right now and it's coming at a good time,” Howard said. “The defense makes my job really easy. Those are two really good offenses (TCU and Houston) they just held to three points combined. When you have your defense playing like that, it's hard not to win games.”
The Wildcats (6-2, 4-1 Big 12) held the Cougars (3-5, 1-4 Big 12) to just 208 yards. The Cougars came into the game second in the Big 12 with 291 passing yards per game but managed just 95 against K-State.
Houston's Donovan Smith had trouble finding open receivers. He finished the day 13 of 28 for 88 yards.
“We're playing at an elite level,” defensive end Nate Matlack said. “That's what we've been trying to replicate the whole season. It feels really good to be playing at this level, shutting guys out or holding them to one score. That's our goal for the rest of the season.”
K-State head coach Chris Klieman had trouble finding a unit to single out in his postgame praise.
“It was a dominant performance,” Klieman said. "We didn't want to be a roller-coaster team. We want to get better every week. Houston is a good team. Our guys really played focused, physical football.
"I can't say enough about our defense. We're playing really well at all three levels of defense, which I'm excited about.
“Will Howard has played a lot of really good football here, but I told him I thought he played his best game today.”
The Wildcats rushed for 174 yards, led by DJ Giddens, who had 96 yards and two of the three rushing touchdowns. His 13-yard run late in the third quarter extended the lead to 35-0.
Avery Johnson threw a 7-yard touchdown pass to Seth Porter in the fourth quarter.
It was total domination by the Wildcats.
“We knew it would be challenging. It’s Big 12 football,” Houston coach Dana Holgorsen said. “I don’t think that’s who we are as a football team. Our opponent had a lot to do with that.
“That’s what Big 12 championship football looks like.”
K-State continued an impressive streak with a 12-play, 75-yard touchdown drive on its opening possession. Through eight games, the Wildcats have scored six touchdowns and had one field goal the first time it touched the ball. Howard passed to Garrett Oakley for a 12-yard score.
Howard then found Phillip Brooks on a 21-yard touchdown to put the Wildcats up 14-0 early in the second quarter, capping a 15-play, 89-yard drive.
Treshaun Ward punched it in from the 1-yard line to give K-State a 21-0 lead. After another three-and-out, Giddens scored on a 9-yard run to put the Wildcats up 28-0 late in the half.
In the first half, the Wildcats held a 277-83 advantage in total yards. Howard was 13 of 14 for 155 yards and two scores.
Houston: The Cougars need to stop spotting their opponents a big lead. For the second straight week, they fell behind by at least 21 points in the first half.
Kansas State: There is no quarterback controversy in Manhattan, and not because Johnson isn't capable. Howard has firm control of the offense, and he can run and pass with efficiency.
Houston: The Cougars travel to take on in-state rival Baylor next Saturday.
Kansas State: The Wildcats play at No. 7 Texas next Saturday.
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