MANHATTAN — As much as they tried, the Kansas State Wildcats simply weren't ready for prime time.
No. 18-ranked Mississippi State (2-0) marched into Bill Snyder Family Stadium, methodically dismantled the Wildcats (1-1) and marched out Saturday with a 31-10 victory.
Mississippi State amassed 538 yards of total offense and limited K-State to 213 in handing the Wildcats their 11th straight home loss against ranked opponents.
"It's disappointing because we know we're better than what we're putting on the field right now," K-State quarterback Skylar Thompson said about an offense that has produced just two touchdowns in two games. "That's a frustrating feeling."
K-State coach Bill Snyder acknowledged Mississippi State's dominance, but suggested that much of the Wildcats' difficulty was self-inflicted.
"I wouldn't take anything away from Mississippi State, because they're a very fine football team, but as I've said so many times, it's not about who we line up and play," he said. "It's about us.
"We just haven’t played as well as we're capable of."
The Wildcats hung tough early, but a pair of second-quarter touchdowns gave Mississippi State a 17-3 halftime advantage and K-State got no closer than 14 points the rest of the way.
The Bulldogs gashed the K-State defense with its two-headed rushing combination of running back Kylin Hill and quarterback Nick Fitzgerald, averaging 9.8 yards per carry for a 384-yard total. Hill, a sophomore, ran for 211 yards and two touchdowns on 17 attempts, while Fitzgerald carried 19 times for 159 yards and completed 11 of 27 passes for 154 yards and two touchdowns.
"We've got to fix some stuff on our defense — fit better, tackle better, stuff like that," said K-State defensive end Reggie Walker.
Defensive end Wyatt Hubert, whose third-quarter interception set up the Wildcats' only touchdown, took it a step further.
"We lost the game, not because they were better, but because we were just really undisciplined," he said. "The four up front and the linebackers were having trouble and we couldn't all get on the same page.
"That hurt the secondary and that hurt the defense as a whole."
Snyder was a little more charitable.
"From a defensive standpoint, we gave up a batch of yards, but the offense contributed to that a great deal," he said. "But I thought up until very late, they really had done a nice job."
The Wildcat offense was another matter.
"We just weren't executing," said running back Alex Barnes, who had 75 of K-State's 113 rushing yards. "They did what we thought they would do, they just came out and beat us to the punch. (Mississippi's defensive line) played a big role today. They were disruptive, getting to the quarterback with four-man pressure and stuff like that, and that's unacceptable.
"We've got to do a better job."
Nobody felt it more than than Thompson, who was under constant pressure from the Bulldog line. He was sacked just once in three-plus quarters — Alex Delton played two series in the second period — but forced into a 7-for-17 passing performance, totaling 86 yards.
Delton, who split time evenly with Thompson in the season opener, came in for the last two possessions of the first half and completed 2 of 4 passes for 14 yards. His interception ended one drive and he was sacked three times.
Still, Snyder gave both quarterbacks a bit of a pass on the passing percentage, given Mississippi State's dominance up front.
"A lot of the problems that we had throwing the football was just the fact that we did have pressure on him and the quarterback really couldn't see out," he said. "You've got big guys in front of you and (defensive end Montez) Sweat looks like he's seven-foot tall."
Mississippi State had four sacks and eight tackles for loss.
K-State's only touchdown came after Hubert's interception, when blitzing linebackers Da'Quan Patton and Elijah Sullivan forced Fitzgerald to unload the ball in a hurry.
With the ball on the Mississippi State 23-yard line, Thompson immediately lofted a pass down the left sideline to Dalton Schoen, who ran under it in the end zone.
"We saw the man coverage," Schoen said. "They were down pretty tight, so Skylar made a great check at the line and I was so proud of him for that.
"Then the throw he made, he was getting pressured so he let it go super early and just put the ball up there and gave me a chance to run under it and make the play."
The Wildcats have one more nonconference game next Saturday, a 3 p.m. kickoff against Texas-San Antonio, before opening Big 12 play on the road at West Virginia.
#18 MISSISSIPPI ST. 31, KANSAS ST. 10
MSST — FG Christmann 30, 9:07
KST — FG Lynch 26, 3:53
MSST — Hill 16 pass from Fitzgerald (Christmann kick), 14:20
MSST — Hill 28 run (Christmann kick), 3:33
MSST — Au.Williams 13 pass from Fitzgerald (Christmann kick), 10:18
KST — Schoen 23 pass from S.Thompson (Lynch kick), 2:20
MSST — Hill 16 run (Christmann kick), 13:16
A — 49,784.
RUSHING — Mississippi St., Hill 17-211, Fitzgerald 19-159, Gibson 3-14. Kansas St., Barnes 17-75, S.Thompson 12-34, Delton 6-4.
PASSING — Mississippi St., Fitzgerald 11-27-1-154. Kansas St., Delton 2-4-1-14, S.Thompson 7-17-0-86.
RECEIVING — Mississippi St., S.Guidry 2-42, Ju.Johnson 2-37, D.Jones 1-21, Hill 1-16, Au.Williams 1-13, Gibson 1-9, Je.Jackson 1-6, F.Green 1-5, O.Mitchell 1-5. Kansas St., Schoen 2-34, D.Warmack 2-21, Barnes 2-19, Zuber 2-11, Reuter 1-15.
MISSED FIELD GOALS — Mississippi St., Christmann 44. Kansas St., Lynch 52.