All summer long we have been looking back at the Red Raiders' 2008 campaign game-by-game, and today we feature the initial Big 12 contest of the season. Graham Harrell, Lyle Leong and a surly Tech defense led the way as the Red Raiders blasted Kansas State on the road in this one.
RECAP: For slightly over a quarter this game looked like the high-scoring nail-biter most pundits thought it would be. The teams traded touchdowns early on, and when Kansas State quarterback Josh Freeman bulled into the endzone to make the score 14 apiece early in the second quarter, the game was following the script to a tee. But in the end, only the Red Raiders kept up their end of the high-scoring bargain, ringing up 58 points against KSU while the Wildcats managed only 28. It was a record-setting day for Tech's Graham Harrell, and a coming out party of sorts for then sophomore receiver Lyle Leong, who caught three touchdown passes. This victory was also the signal that this Tech team might be something a little bit special.
STAR OF THE SHOW: As noted above, this contest was a monster game for Graham Harrell. Not only did he pass for 454 yards and six touchdowns with no interceptions, he also eclipsed Kliff Kingsbury to become Tech's all time leading passer with 12,709 passing yards. It could be a very long time indeed before a future Red Raider passer overtakes Harrell's career passing mark.
KEY MOMENT: The final nail in Kansas State's coffin was probably Michael Crabtree's 29-yard touchdown reception with 0:44 remaining in the first half. This touchdown made the score 38-14 Tech, and with the Red Raider defense playing solid ball, the Wildcats had very little hope of coming back in this one.
BIGGEST PLAY: Kansas State did show feeble signs of life in the third quarter, however, when quarterback Freeman carried the ball three yards for a score with 8:45 remaining in that stanza. The score then stood at 38-21. Four minutes later, however, Leong hauled in his third touchdown of the afternoon to make it 45-21, and it was all over but the crying.
STAT OF THE GAME: The Wildcats were only two of 12 on third down conversions, a truly pathetic percentage. A key reason for this inefficiency was the 13 of 28 passing by future first round NFL draft pick Josh Freeman. Watching Freeman and Harrell on this afternoon, what sane person would have predicted that Freeman would go in the opening round of the draft while Harrell would not be selected at all?