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Massachusetts (0-2) at Kansas State (1-1)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, September 14, 7 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Bill Snyder Family Stadium (50,000) -- Manhattan, Kansas. Television: K-StateHD.tv. Home Record: UMass 0-1, K-State 1-1. Away Record: UMass 0-1, K-State 0-0. Neutral Record: UMass 0-0, K-State 0-0. Conference Record: UMass 0-0, K-State 0-0. Series Record: Kansas State leads, 2-0.
GAME NOTES: The Kansas State Wildcats will conclude their season-opening, three-game homestand on Saturday evening when they entertain the Massachusetts Minutemen.
UMass underwhelmed during its first FBS season in 2012 (1-11), and the losing trend has continued so far in 2013. After a shutout loss in their difficult opener at Wisconsin (45-0), the Minutemen put forth a disappointing showing in their home debut on Saturday by falling to FCS foe Maine, 24-14.
Like UMass, Kansas State has a loss to an FCS opponent on its record as well, dropping a 24-21 decision to North Dakota State in the season opener on Aug. 30. Luckily for the Wildcats, they were able to bounce back last week, showing the big-play ability that made them a national championship contender in 2012 in a 48-27 win over Louisiana.
Kansas State has defeated UMass in both previous meetings. In 2009, the Minutemen came to Manhattan as a heavy underdog, fighting hard for 60 minutes before losing 21-17.
UMass has undoubtedly been one of the worst offensive teams in the nation through the first two weeks of the season, averaging just 7.0 ppg on a meager 238.5 ypg. Putting forth a dud on the road against a ranked Wisconsin team is excusable, but the Minutemen could only manage 265 yards at home versus Maine last week.
Inefficient quarterback play is largely to blame for the team's woes, as Mike Wegzyn was just 13-of-25 for 139 yards last week with a touchdown and an interception, and he has completed less than 50 percent of his attempts this season (22-of-48). A.J. Doyle has also seen time under center, although he hasn't fared much better (12-of-24, 101 yards, TD).
Tajae Sharpe recorded 11 of his team-high 12 receptions on the season in the loss to Maine, tallying 85 yards and a touchdown. Bernard Davis (three receptions, 37 yards) has the team's only other touchdown catch this year.
Stacey Bedell has acted as the club's workhorse back, carrying the ball 35 times in two contests, although he has gained just 128 yards (3.7 ypc) and has yet to find the end zone.
While the defense has not performed as poorly as the offense, there isn't much to get excited about on that side of the ball either. The unit is allowing 34.5 ppg and 556 ypg.
Ed Saint-Vil recorded 14 tackles against Maine to bring his team-leading total to 20. Devin Brown (18 tackles, INT) is also off to a solid start.
Kansas State's offense came out firing in the win over Louisiana, posting 454 yards in the 21-point victory to raise its season average to 34.5 ppg.
The Wildcats used a two-quarterback system to solid effect in the triumph. Jake Waters was productive (22-of-31, 278 yards), but he also derailed a couple of drives with interceptions. Luckily, Daniel Sams picked up the slack, gaining 63 yards and a score on eight carries while also completing a 27-yard pass.
Waters' .717 completion percentage is impressive, but he'll need to cut back on his turnover rate (two TDs, four INTs) or he'll be losing even more snaps to Sams in the future.
Tyler Lockett has posted a pair of 100-yard receiving games to start the season and sits with 15 receptions for 224 yards and a touchdown. Tramaine Thompson has been a big-play threat with 154 yards on just eight catches (19.2 ypc), while also returning 94-yard kickoff return for a score.
John Hubert (79 yards) is averaging just 2.8 yards per carry this season, but he did to score a pair of touchdowns in the win over Louisiana.
The Wildcats defense, which allows 25.5 ppg and 375 ypg, stepped up with a couple of big plays in their latest win, including a 32-yard interception return for a touchdown by Ty Zimmerman.
Ryan Mueller has been a menace behind the line of scrimmage with four TFL and two sacks. Blake Slaughter also has a pair of sacks, and Jonathan Truman leads the unit with 18 tackles.
K-State may only be a shell of the team it was last season when it qualified for the Fiesta Bowl, but it showed last week that it still has plenty of offensive firepower, and against a hapless UMass squad, expect another impressive point total out of the Wildcats.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Kansas State 45, Massachusetts 13
09/11 10:38:47 ET
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