Jake Waters completed 21 of 27 passes for 271 yards and three touchdowns — all to Tyler Lockett — as Kansas State (8-5) won its first bowl game since 2002 by whipping Michigan (7-6), 31-14, in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl on Saturday night.
Waters threw all his touchdown passes in the first half as K-State jumped out to a 21-6 lead. That turned out to be all it needed. Ian Patterson’s 22-yard field goal and a short TD plunge by John Hubert in the fourth quarter closed out the scoring for the Wildcats.
Michigan struggled on offense without quarterback Devin Gardner, who sat out the game with a turf toe injury. True freshman Shane Morris got his first start, but outside of two early field goal drives and a late touchdown, he failed to get the Wolverine offense going. Morris went 24 of 38 for 196 yards and one interception, but Michigan’s ground game (65 net yards) gave him no help.
It was Michigan’s fifth loss in the last six games and Kansas State’s sixth win in its last seven. Still the Wolverines should be better in 2014 as Brady Hoke’s recruiting classes continue to accumulate. Improving the defense and the running game will be the first priorities.
As for Kansas State, it returns Waters, who could be among the Big 12’s best quarterbacks in 2014. Add in the seemingly endless array of talented junior college transfers and don’t be surprised if Bill Snyder has the Wildcats in a much better bowl this time next year.