A lot of things have factored into Kansas State’s turnaround this season. A lost cause at 2-4, the Wildcats have won four consecutive games to make themselves bowl eligible.
Potential win No. 5 in a row could come Saturday against Oklahoma as the Sooners make their way to Manhattan.
Improved quarterback play from Jake Waters and Daniel Sams have put the Wildcats back to where they want to be. But it was never about improving for wide receivers Tyler Lockett and Tramaine Thompson.
The Oklahoma natives have been stellar throughout the season and would love to add to their numbers this week against the Sooners.
Lockett has a substantial team lead with 56 catches for 825 yards and both Lockett and Thompson have five touchdowns. Thompson has 22 grabs for 414 yards.
When KSU needs a big play in the passing game, no doubt Lockett or Thompson will be asked to deliver. OU safety Gabe Lynn knows all about it, having played with Thompson at Jenks High.
“It’s going to be fun,” Lynn said. “They got that win here last year so he has kind of been able to hold it over my head, but hopefully we can change that this year. It’s going to be fun going up against him one more time.”
Thompson didn’t have a lot of yards in last year’s 24-19 win for the Wildcats in Norman. But he might have had the biggest catch of the game.
Facing a third-and-six at the KSU 24, Thompson caught a 12-yard reception that essentially iced the game.
You can try to stop Lockett and Thompson in the passing game, but they’ve been just as lethal on special teams, something OU special teams coach Jay Boulware knows full well.
“They are real sound in all their units,” Boulware said. “They’re number one in the country in punt return, I think they’re averaging some astronomical number. They’re a phenomenal team in all aspects. They’re a tremendous challenge for this football team, and we’re looking forward to it.”
Lockett has been the most consistent returner, averaging more than 23 yards per kickoff return, but it has been Thompson who has made the bigger splash.
He has a 94-yard kickoff return for a touchdown and is also averaging 25.7 yards per punt return. KSU is averaging nearly 18 yards per punt return this season.
The ties run deep. Not only were Lynn and Thompson teammates at Jenks, Lockett and OU freshman linebacker Dominique Alexander were teammates at Tulsa (Okla.) Booker T. Washington.
Alexander never got the chance to touch Lockett during practice. He’s looking to change that Saturday.
“I’m really excited about it,” Alexander said. “Tyler has been one of my best friends for a long time. We’re real close. I’ve never played against him so I’m looking forward to it.”