There are several reasons why Kansas State is currently ranked No. 2 in the BCS standings.
Heisman frontrunner Collin Klein at quarterback. A defense that gives up just more than 17 points per game. A legendary coach in Bill Snyder.
But OSU coach Mike Gundy stressed the importance of special teams, especially the return game, when the Cowboys face the Wildcats in Manhattan Saturday night.
Tyler Lockett, a Tulsa Washington product, averages 29.7 yards per kick return, which ranks eighth nationally. And Tramaine Thompson, a Jenks product, averages 27.7 yards per punt return. Both players have scored a touchdown on a return.
Overall, K-State ranks second nationally in punt returns (26.25 yards per return) and is tied for 22nd nationally in kickoff returns (24.85 yards per return).
“Outsiders looking in don’t really notice return yards, and they sneak up on you,” Gundy said. “Over a period of time, they end up with three-quarters or the length of a football field in return yards, and you’ve only got five or six yards.”
OSU’s Quinn Sharp is tied for the national lead with 44 touchbacks, which doesn’t allow the opposition many chances to return kickoffs. But of the Cowboys gave up a 100-yard return for a touchdown to Texas’ D.J. Monroe earlier this season. And Lockett had a monster game against the Cowboys a season ago, racking up 193 yards on six kickoff returns, including an 80-yarder.