MANHATTAN — There’s just something about Oklahoma State that brings out the best in Duke Shelley.
This time Kansas State’s entire defense was right there along with him.
Shelley’s end zone interception in the second quarter kept Oklahoma State from gaining traction, and his fourth-quarter pick added an exclamation point to a stellar defensive effort as the Wildcats rolled to a 31-12 victory Saturday at Snyder Family Stadium.
“It feels great,” Shelley, the Wildcats’ senior cornerback, said after recording interceptions in back-to-back games and running his season total to three. “Having two picks in one game, that’s the first time I’ve done that in college football so it’s definitely a great feeling.”
It also officially turned Shelley into a Cowboy killer. He now has interceptions in all three career games against Oklahoma State.
“It’s something my dad brought to my attention before the game,” Shelley said with a chuckle. “I never really paid attention to it until he said something, so I was definitely trying to make it happen today with another one.”
The first pick came after K-State had tied the game at 3-3 early in the second quarter and Oklahoma State drove to the Wildcats 33-yard line. On a second down and one, Taylor Cornelius launched the ball down to the end zone down the right sideline and Shelley snatched it from the hands of receiver Tylan Wallace.
“I knew the ball was in the air because I had a receiver that was reacting to it,” Shelley said. “I didn’t have time to get my head back around but I was just trying to play through the man as best I could.
“When I saw him go up for the ball I tried to punch the ball up. The ball ended up coming up and just rolled off my shoulders somehow and landed in my hands.”
Shelley has been a steadying influence all season in a secondary hit hard by injuries at both safety positions and the nickelback.
“Duke’s played well throughout the course of the season,” K-State coach Bill Snyder said of Shelley, who now has eight career interceptions. “I like the way he plays, I like his attitude, I like his approach to the game, I like his newly-found leadership skills.
“I’m very proud of Duke.”
Shelley also finished with six tackles and broke up a pass to help a defense that limited Oklahoma State’s high-powered attack to 311 total yards — 212 below its average. But he knows how he’ll be judged.
“I feel like at my position, turnovers is probably the biggest thing that people look at to determine if a guy is who he says he is,” he said. “Turnovers and plays like that, getting the offense back the ball, definitely is a boost for us and for me personally too.”
Barnes a bulldozer
K-State running back Alex Barnes has been on a tear of late, but he may have put together his most complete performance against Oklahoma State.
After rushing for 80 yards, 57 in the second half, in the Texas game Sept. 29, he had a career-high 250 with three touchdowns last week in a 37-34 loss at Baylor.
But he was a load in the Wildcats’ second-half domination of OSU and finished with 181 yards on 34 attempts while scoring on four straight drives after intermission. He also had three catches for 51 yards, including a one-handed grab down the right sideline.
“I’d say my confidence has been up a little more,” Barnes said of the recent surge, which pushed his season total to 782 yards.
Barnes was just one component in the running game, which totaled 291 yards against an Oklahoma State defense that was allowing just 117.8 per game on the ground.
“We’ve gotten better, gotten better, gotten better,” K-State coach Bill Snyder said of the running game. “Alex gets a lot of yards, but you get a lot of yards because somebody up front is knocking someone back, and our offensive line continues to get better and improve and they did a nice job today.
“Alex, of course, ran the ball well, but Dalvin (Warmack) ran the ball well, as did Skylar (Thompson). It’s a team-oriented deal.”
Kansas State had a chance to tie or take the lead at the end of the first half only to have the clock run out when Skylar Thompson was sacked at the Oklahoma State 30-yard line on third down.
The play started at the 19 with 14 seconds left, but the Wildcats had burned two timeouts in the first quarter and another on the final drive with 4:14 left, which did not leave time for the field goal unit to get on the field.
“I was frustrated with myself with that play because it wasn’t the fact that I was unaware of the situation, because I was,” said Thompson, who rallied in the second half to finish 11 of 22 passing for 130 yards plus 80 rushing yards. “It was a situation where I thought I was able to escape out of there and they got me pretty good.
“It’s a play I wish I could have back, but at the same time I can’t dwell on it and can’t let it distract (from) the rest of the game.”
K-State was without starting wide receiver Dalton Schoen, and quarterback Alex Delton did not suit up for the second straight week.
On defense, linebacker Elijah Sullivan remains sidelined and did not suit up. Senior safety Kendall Adams suited up but did not play, but with Denzel Goolsby back it allowed Eli Walker to slide over to Adams’ spot.
Walter Neil returned at nickelback after a two-game absence.
Kicker Blake Lynch continues to be sidelined with an undisclosed injury, but Andrew Hicks filled in with a field goal and four extra points.