Kansas State will go for its third straight win when it plays Big 12 newcomer Houston for the first time on Saturday.
The Wildcats are trying to set up a big showdown with seventh-ranked Texas the following week.
They have adopted a two-QB system with veteran Will Howard and freshman Avery Johnson, and both of them had big games last week in a 41-3 rout of TCU in a rematch of last year's conference title game won by the Wildcats.
Houston is coming off a loss to the Longhorns.
Houston (3-4, 1-3 Big 12) at Kansas State (5-2, 3-1), Saturday, noon ET (ESPN2).
Line: Kansas State by 17 1/2, according to FanDuel Sportsbook.
Series record: First meeting.
WHAT’S AT STAKE?
Kansas State is coming off its best performance of the season, a comprehensive 41-3 thrashing of TCU in a rematch of last year's Big 12 title game. And after a tough loss to Oklahoma State a few weeks ago, the Wildcats have won back-to-back games to stay in the picture for a return to the championship game. Houston stands in the way of a big showdown next week with No. 7 Texas. The Cougars lost 31-24 to the Longhorns last week.
Whomever plays QB for Kansas State against the Houston defense, which held the Longhorns in check most of last Saturday. The Wildcats intend to play veteran Will Howard and freshman sensation Avery Johnson in tandem going forward, and each played well last week. Howard threw for 154 yards and three touchdowns while running for 62 yards, and Johnson threw for 90 yards and a score while running for 73 yards.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Houston: WRs Matthew Golden and Joseph Manjack IV each had 88 yards receiving against Texas, and Golden had two touchdowns among his seven catches while Manjack also scored. The two of them tend to be the first look downfield for QB Donovan Smith, who had 378 yards passing and three TDs against the Longhorns.
Kansas State: RBs Treshaun Ward and DJ Giddens have been the beneficiary of defenses having to key on Howard or Johnson given the ability of both quarterbacks to run. Ward ran for 89 yards and Giddens had 85 yards rushing and a touchdown last week against the Horned Frogs.
FACTS & FIGURE
Houston lost to the Longhorns last week despite more first downs, yards passing, total offense and third-down conversions. ... The Cougars only committed one penalty. ... Smith has thrown for 1,260 yards with 12 TD passes and one interception over the past four games. ... Golden has seven touchdowns this season, five on receptions and two on kickoff returns. ... Kansas State is 13th nationally and second in the Big 12 in scoring at 36.9 points per game. The Wildcats also top Power Five programs with 232.7 yards rushing per game. ... Kansas State had 406 yards in the first half against TCU and finished with 587 for the game. It was the sixth-most yards in a game in school history but the most ever against a conference opponent. ... Kansas State is third nationally in third-down defense and in the top 25 in scoring defense, rushing defense and tackles for loss. ... Kansas State leads the Big 12 and is tied for fifth nationally in red-zone TD rate (80%). The Wildcats' defense has only allowed six TDs on 20 trips into the red zone, the second best rate nationally.