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Howard, Giddens Account for 4 TDs as Wildcats Blank Houston, 41-0


MANHATTAN, Kan. ( – Kansas State knew it needed to stay focused coming off an emotional win against TCU and with a date at No. 7 Texas looming in a week.

The Wildcats stayed on their game and beat Houston in dominant fashion.


Will Howard threw for 164 yards and two touchdowns, DJ Giddens rushed for two scores, and the Wildcats stomped Houston with their most dominant performance of the season in a 41-0 victory on Homecoming at Bill Snyder Family Stadium. The Wildcats have started a season with five-straight home wins for the first time since 2012.

“We challenged our guys early in the week of having that chip on our shoulder and having that edge and having that mentality every week,” K-State head coach Chris Klieman said. “We didn’t want to be a rollercoaster team. We wanted to improve and continue to get better.”

Houston’s first trip outside the state of Texas this season brought the Cougars to the Manhattan, which featured 36-degree temperatures and a chance of shutouts. Houston, 3-5 overall and 1-4 in the Big 12 Conference, went cold against a tenacious K-State bunch that was on fire for four quarters.

The Cougars failed to score any points in a game for the first time since 2000.

K-State outgained Houston, 394-208, and went 10-of-14 on third downs while the Cougars went just 3-for-14.

K-State, 6-2 and 4-1, couldn’t have been much sharper in its first-ever meeting against the Cougars, who struggled mightily across the board. Quarterback Donovan Smith completed 13-of-28 passes for 88 yards and one interception. The Cougars defense couldn’t stop Howard and the Wildcats, who began the game with touchdown drives of 12, 15 and nine plays.

“Our confidence level is really high right now, and it’s coming at a good time,” Howard said. “We talked about being super emotionally and mentally strong. At this point in the season when you’re in the grind of it, the teams that win are the ones who are most emotionally and mentally tough.

“The last two weeks we’ve proven to be very, very tough mentally, emotionally and physically. We took it to those guys today. It was huge. It was a big win.”

As for gaining bowl eligibility with the win?

“We don’t focus on bowl games,” safety Marques Sigle said. “We’re focused on winning the Big 12. That’s our plan and our only plan until we get to the bowl game.”

Howard completed 15-of-17 passes, and his completion rate of 88.2% marked third highest in a game in K-State history. Giddens had 13 carries for 96 yards and two scores.

Just when it appeared the Cougars could do something with the ball late in the third quarter, K-State’s defensive line forced Smith to scramble and improvise, and Will Lee III stepped in front of a pass for his second career interception.

From there, Giddens rushed 11 yards before he broke three tackles while angling to the right pylon for a 13-yard touchdown and a 35-0 lead.

Avery Johnson took over as Howard went to the sideline for good and led an 8-play, 42-yard drive capped by a seven-yard touchdown pass to Seth Porter, his first-career touchdown. That made it 41-0 as the Wildcats pitched their first shutout against a Big 12 foe since against a 48-0 win over Oklahoma State last season.

“It just shows how dominant we were and how fast we were and how prepared we were throughout the week,” Sigle said. “The game doesn’t happen on Saturday, it happens throughout the week. We showed that. It feels good to show how good our defense is.”

K-State methodically took apart Houston in grinding to a 28-0 halftime lead while outgaining the Cougars 277-83. The Wildcats ran 43 plays and the Cougars ran 23. K-State averaged 6.4 yards per play; Houston3.3.

Howard was brilliant from the start in completing his first 12 passing attempts. He finished the first half 13-of-14 for 155 yards and two touchdowns while throwing scoring strikes to Brooks and Garrett Oakley.

“I thought Will Howard, he’s played a lot of really good football here, and he may have played his best game,” Klieman said. “He was really good.”

For as dominant as K-State was offensively in the first half, the defense was stellar as well. Smith went 6-for-17 for 32 yards for a Houston offense that managed just four first downs.

Howard started strong in guiding a 12-play, 75-yard drive, including hitting Giddens with a screen pass that he turned into a 23-yard gain on third-and-15. Giddens bulldozed his way down the field before Howard found Oakley inside the red zone for a 12-yard touchdown pass and a 7-0 lead. It was Oakley’s first career touchdown.

K-State’s second drive was equally as fruitful — a 15-play, 89-yard jaunt that ended when Howard hit Brooks with a 21-yard dart as the wide receiver split two defenders while sailing into the end zone.

“It was a little walk-in touchdown,” said Brooks, who had five catches for 83 yards and one touchdown. “Busted coverage left me loose and able to connect with Will.”

Howard’s third drive featured a 40-yard pass to Brooks, who got in front of nickelback Malik Fleming. Treshaun Ward rushed for eight yards and then bullied his way into the end zone from one yard out to make it 21-0.

By then, K-State had outgained Houston, 233-38. The yards and touchdowns continued to pile up. Giddens rushed three times and Brooks caught a 15-yard pass before Giddens smashed his way nine yards for a score.

Houston, which missed a 45-yard field goal earlier in the contest, made its best push of the first half on its final possession. The Cougars went 31 yards on nine plays until Smith’s fourth-down pass fell incomplete as time expired for halftime.

The rout was on for the Wildcats, who now can focus on their showdown at Texas in Austin.

“It’s going to be a fun one,” Howard said. “Obviously, we say every week that week is the most important. This one is definitely — we all know it’s a big game.”