Kansas State Football: Chris Klieman looks to build for future in Liberty Bowl

Kansas State football coach Chris Klieman is looking to end his first season on a high note with a win over a 10-win Navy squad in the Liberty Bowl.

In this year’s edition of the Liberty Bowl, there will be a lot of running the football. Navy runs on 87 percent of offensive snaps, per teamrankings.com, which is not surprising for veteran coach Ken Niumatalolo and his flexbone triple-option attack. This is good for highest in the country.

Their opponent, the Kansas State Wildcats, passes a bit more at 61 percent run plays, but this is still good for the 18th highest running percentage. The result could be a fast, low-scoring affair.

Kansas State coach Chris Kleiman has overseen a successful 8-4 season following his move to the FBS from FCS power North Dakota State last season. He replaced legendary Wildcat coach Bill Snyder, who struggled to a 5-7 record in 2018, his final season. The 2019 season was highlighted by an October 26th victory over then-No. 5 Oklahoma – the Sooners’ only regular season defeat.

Navy also had a disappointing 2018 season, posting a very uncharacteristic 3-10 record. But this year Navy has the opportunity to win 11 games for just the second time in school history. The Midshipmen have an explosive rushing attack as per usual, averaging over 360 rushing yards per game – nearly 70 yards more than the second-highest rushing team.

Both quarterbacks will run the ball often. Navy’s Malcolm Perry is fourth in the nation with 1,804 rushing yards.  Kansas State’s Skylar Thompson is second on the Wildcats in carries and yards, and leads the team with 10 rushing touchdowns.

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Kansas State gave 373 yards on the ground in a 26-13 loss to Oklahoma State and the nation’s leading rusher, Chuba Hubbard. This doesn’t bode well for the Wildcats’ chances to stop Malcolm Perry and the Navy rushing attack.

Prediction: Navy wins 31-21