Kansas State defeated Texas Tech 42-35 in overtime on Saturday at Jones AT&T Stadium.
Some lingering thoughts from the game:
1. Skylar Thompson should start at quarterback from now on.
The days of Skylar Thompson serving as Kansas State’s third-string quarterback should come to an end after everything he did to lead the Wildcats past the Red Raiders. Bill Snyder would be wise to start him against West Virginia this week.
Fourth-quarter comebacks are rare for K-State, but Thompson delivered a wild one Saturday, playing with calm and poise on the road as a redshirt freshman. It was a potential season-altering victory. Might as well ride that momentum and see what Thompson can do the rest of the way.
Jesse Ertz played well early this season before suffering a knee injury, and Alex Delton looked good in the first half against Texas Tech before leaving with concussion-like symptoms. But Thompson is more than just a hot hand. He should keep playing, even if Ertz or Delton are cleared to go against the Mountaineers. The only thing holding him back was a lack of experience, but he has that now.
Thompson has the most talent of any quarterback on the roster, and he flashed his skills by completing 5 of 8 passes for 96 yards and a touchdown while adding eight yards and a touchdown on the ground. He connected with Dalton Schoen for a 54-yard gain and then a two-point conversion on K-State’s final drive of regulation. Then he found Byron Pringle for the go-ahead touchdown in overtime.
K-State trailed by 11 in the fourth quarter, and a comeback seemed farfetched. Thompson wasn’t fazed. He also led the offense throughout the second half of a 30-20 victory at Kansas.
“Skylar plays unlike a freshman,” Snyder said. “I mean, he plays with poise and I appreciate that a great deal. Makes some good choices.”
“We always have confidence in Skylar,” receiver Byron Pringle said.
“That kid is just a natural,” running back Dalvin Warmack said. “Most kids in that situation mentally, 19 years old, would have a lot of pressure on his shoulders. But he just came in there so calm, and then he executed.”
Thompson has delivered back-to-back victories as a third-string quarterback. Time to see what he can do as the starter.
2. K-State will likely make a bowl, but it’s no lock.
At 5-4, K-State fans can feel cautiously optimistic about the team’s bowl hopes. The remaining schedule isn’t easy (No. 23 West Virginia, at No. 12 Oklahoma State, No. 24 Iowa State) but with two of the games at home, odds are good the Wildcats can post at least one more win and get to 6-6.
They are favored by 2.5 over West Virginia.
K-State’s bowl hopes appeared to hinge on how things went in Lubbock, and a victory puts the Wildcats in good shape.
But it’s far from a lock.
As exhilarating as this comeback was, K-State needed some good fortune in the form of egregious Texas Tech errors to pull it off.
Texas Tech receivers dropped passes, kicker Clayton Hatfield missed a game-clinching field goal from 31 yards, and Kliff Kingsbury went ultra conservative with the game on the line.
Home fans booed loudly as the Red Raiders sat on the ball with 42 seconds remaining in regulation, and they were right to be upset. Nic Shimonek carved up K-State’s secondary for 405 yards and four touchdowns, but Kingsbury didn’t think he could lead the team into field-goal range with the game on the line. He played not to lose ... And lost.
The consensus in Lubbock after the game was that Kingsbury is in big trouble and might not be back for another season. Failing to close out this game might end up haunting him.
K-State had good moments on defense Saturday, including a pick six from Duke Shelley and a fourth-and-goal stop in overtime, but it has allowed three straight teams to top 400 passing yards. West Virginia and Oklahoma State can sling it, too. And they are less likely to collapse with an 11-point lead than the fragile Red Raiders. K-State needs to keep improving to keep winning.
3. Maybe this will get Byron Pringle going.
It’s been a mostly disappointing season for Byron Pringle. Maybe his big game against Texas Tech (six catches for 95 yards and two touchdowns) will change that.
He has been trending in the right direction for several weeks, totaling at least 70 yards in four straight games, and drops are becoming less of an issue for him. His catch rate is finally above 50 percent after a dreadful start to the season.
Pringle didn’t have any major mistakes against Texas Tech, and he got open at important times, even catching what turned out to be a game-winning touchdown in overtime.
When asked directly if this performance will help him close out the season strong, Pringle said: “Only God knows. But I’m going to play my heart out, try on every snap. That’s my goal.”
Kellis Robinett: @kellisrobinett