MANHATTAN — So much for a letdown. If anything, Kansas State was even better the second time around.
The Wildcats went deep on offense — two long touchdown passes — and even deeper into their bench in the encore to their impressive performance in last week's season opener.
They also turned in a stellar defensive performance on the way to a 52-0 blowout victory over Bowling Green on Saturday at Bill Snyder Family Stadium.
"I challenged the guys this week to improve upon what we did in week one and then in particular this morning to get the fight started quickly and jump on them from the start," said K-State coach Chris Klieman, whose Wildcats did just that, following a field goal on the game's opening drive with five straight touchdowns on the way to a commanding 38-0 halftime advantage.
The Wildcats amassed 521 yards total offense and held Bowling Green to just 140, a week after the Falcons had racked up 620 and allowed only 70 defensively in a 46-3 rout of Morgan State.
The offensive output gave K-State 500-plus yards in its first two games for the first time in program history. The Wildcats also controlled the ball for nearly 43 minutes, the second straight time they eclipsed 40 minutes of possession time.
"Coach Haze (defensive coordinator Scottie Hazelton) always says it's a good thing when the defense is sitting down (and) drinking Gatorade," senior defensive end Reggie Walker said with a smile.
As was the case in last week's 49-14 rout of Nicholls, running backs James Gilbert, Jordon Brown and Harry Trotter all scored for the Wildcats in the first half. Joe Ervin, one of two true freshman backs to see action, added a 6-yard score in the fourth quarter while Jacardia Wright had 59 yards on 14 carries.
"That was a fun environment out there for the guys," Klieman said. "It was great to see an awful lot of guys play.
"Our plan all along was to play a bunch of freshmen today — it didn't matter what the score was — just to see how they would react under live fire, and we'll look at the film but I was glad to see some guys play. We'll see how much they'll play moving forward, but I was just glad to get them out there."
In all, 88 different players saw the field for the Wildcats, including 11 true freshmen. Ervin carried eight times for 28 yards and receiver Joshua Youngblood had his first career catch for 12 yards.
But it wasn't all about the rookies. Quarterback Skylar Thompson, who hit Malik Knowles with touchdown passes for 34 yards on a fourth-down play in the second quarter and 20 yards early in the third, again was a study in efficiency.
Thompson completed 10 of 13 passes for 151 yards before turning things over to backups John Holcombe and Nick Ast.
Knowles, who had a pair of drops last week, finished with five catches for 99 yards and the two touchdowns, plus a diving catch where he picked a low offering from Thompson off the turf.
"That was (a relief)," Knowles said of avoiding any drops. "That was my focus throughout the week to make sure that wouldn't happen again."
Chabastin Taylor added four receptions for 21 yards.
Everybody answered the call again for the Wildcats' running back by committee. Gilbert broke the 100-yard mark for the second straight time with 103 on eight carries with two touchdowns, followed by Brown with 64 yards on four carries and Wright and Trotter (9 for 24).
The defense was more aggressive than in last week's victory over Nicholls, recording six tackles for loss and its first sack of the year by reserve linebacker Daniel Green, who stripped the ball from quarterback Darius Wade. Khalid Duke fell on the ball for the Wildcats.
"A goose egg is always big," senior defensive tackle Trey Dishon said. "I don't know how many goose eggs, maybe three, since I've been playing here — three or four.
"That's huge, because our defense as a whole, not only the ones but the twos came out there and they're getting turnovers and celebrating. I think that's what reflects a goose egg."
K-State faces a stiffer test next Saturday with an 11 a.m. game against Mississippi State in Starkville, Miss.