Grades from Kansas State’s loss at Missouri and a look ahead to Big 12 opener vs. UCF

The Kansas State football team suffered its first loss of the season 30-27 against Missouri on Saturday at Faurot Field.

It was a disappointing result for the Wildcats, who have once again failed to post a perfect record during the non-conference portion of their schedule.

Under head coach Chris Klieman, K-State has now suffered early losses to Missouri, Tulane and Arkansas State. It has only started 3-0 twice over the past five seasons.

The Wildcats will try to bounce back in their Big 12 opener next week against UCF at Bill Snyder Family Stadium.

Right now, though, it is time to analyze the Missouri loss.

Play of the game

There’s no debate on this.

Missouri kicker Harrison Mevis drilled a 61-yard field goal as time expired to lift Missouri to victory. That might go down as the best game-winning field goal we see in college football all season.

Player of the game

Luther Burden looked like a former five-star recruit Saturday.

K-State football players spent the past week talking about how much attention they planned to show the Missouri receiver on defense. It didn’t matter. He still caught seven passes for 114 yards and two touchdowns.

Stat of the game

K-State averaged 3.9 yards per run.

It was another rough day for the offensive line. The Wildcats have missed right tackle Christian Duffie and former star running back Deuce Vaughn early on this season.

Quote to note

“It was a really good football game. I knew it was going to be a good game. I think this is one of their better teams that they’ve had. We have got to learn from it, because these are what Big 12 games are going to be about beginning next week. We’re going to be in a lot of one score games, and we have got to find ways to win down the stretch.” — Klieman

Grades

Offense: B. The Wildcats averaged 5.5 yards per play and matched the Tigers punch for punch for most of the afternoon. But most of their production (408 total yards) came via 270 passing yards from Will Howard. The running game was disappointing. Treshaun Ward (54) and DJ Giddens (36) failed to combine for 100 yards on the ground.

Defense: C. K-State did an excellent job defending the run and limited Missouri to just 74 rushing yards, but that didn’t mean much in the grand scheme of things because the Tigers threw for 356 yards and two touchdowns. The Wildcats didn’t seem prepared to defend the deep ball.

Special Teams: B. Chris Tennant connected on important field goals of 26 yards and 46 yards, but he missed one from 55 yards in the second quarter. It’s hard to fault him for that, but Missouri made more plays in this area.

Coaching: C. It was surprising to see K-State commit so many penalties and mismanage the clock on Saturday. You don’t normally see those mistakes from the Wildcats. Klieman also admitted that the Tigers surprised him with some of their passing plays. Eli Drinkwitz was the better coach Saturday.

Next up: UCF

There are a few things you should know about the next opponent on K-State’s football schedule.

New Big 12 member UCF doesn’t like to be called Central Florida. So stick with those three initials. The Knights also don’t like it when other fan bases refer to them as the Golden Knights. Forget their school colors. Less is more.

Now that we have got that out of the way, let’s break down what UCF has done this season.

The Knights are off to a 3-0 start with wins over Kent State, Boise State and Villanova. They won both of their home games with high-flying offense but also went on the road and beat the Broncos in a defensive battle. Gus Malzahn’s team is versatile enough to win in different ways.

UCF appears to be the most Big 12 ready of any of the four new schools in the conference. But it will be interesting to see how it handles its first game in the league.

Quarterback John Rhys Plumlee is not expected to play as he recovers from an injury. That means K-State will have to prepare for Timmy McClain, who has completed 23 of 33 passes for 374 yards and two touchdowns this season.

K-State might also have some questions of its own at quarterback, as Will Howard played with a noticeable limp against Missouri. Even if he is able to start, he may not be at full strength. There’s a chance we will see more of Avery Johnson next week.

Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. on Fox Sports 1. The Wildcats are favored by 6.5 points.