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2016 Texas Bowl final score: Kansas State beats Texas A&M in game named for the Aggies’ home state

Bill Snyder’s Wildcats rode a first-half offensive surge to victory at NRG Stadium.

NCAA Football: Texas Bowl-Kansas State vs Texas A&M Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Kansas State beat Texas A&M in the Texas Bowl on Wednesday night in Houston, building a first-half lead and holding on down the stretch to win. The final score was 33-28, and it moved the Wildcats to 9-4, the Aggies to 8-5.

There was suspense. After Kansas State had kept the Aggies at arm’s length for most of the night, A&M cut the lead to five in the fourth quarter and got to work on completing a comeback. But on a fourth-and-8 from the Kansas State 23-yard line, A&M quarterback Trevor Knight threw incomplete, and the Wildcats took the ball back. Jesse Ertz ran for a formally game-sealing first down a few plays later.

By the advanced stat IsoPPP, Kansas State’s offense is the 127th most explosive in the country, out of 128 FBS teams. But that didn’t stop the Wildcats from ripping off touchdown plays of 79 and 52 yards in the first half. One came on a deep shot from Jesse Ertz to Byron Pringle, as an A&M cornerback and safety got beaten cleanly ...

... and the other was on a beautifully executed (option?) sweep from Ertz to receiver Dominique Heath, which A&M couldn’t do anything to stop.

Football’s a funny game sometimes. The Wildcats don’t get a lot of plays like these, but these are what breathed life into KSU on Wednesday.

At the end of the second quarter, Kansas State defensive back Donnie Starks got into a brief altercation with A&M receiver Josh Reynolds. It included Starks taunting Reynolds and Reynolds punching Starks in the groin.

Here’s how Reynolds responded the next quarter:

Lesson: Don’t try to sit on Reynolds’ chest. He added another touchdown against a different defensive back later, just for good measure.

Texas A&M had an odd year. The Aggies started 6-0, and that was great. Then they lost at Alabama, which was understandable. But then they lost three more times at the end of the regular season, and that was not great. They missed out not just on a Playoff bid that had one point looked possible but on the New Year’s Six altogether. They were fortunate, at least, to get to play a de-facto home bowl game in Houston. At least one grandmother hopefully had an amazing time.

Kansas State didn’t make many headlines, as Kansas State usually doesn’t. But Bill Snyder’s Wildcats were strong again, winning eight games and doing it in a way that felt like less of a disappointment than A&M posting the identical record. The Wildcats have lost most of these, but they were playing a bowl game for the seventh season in a row. That’s remarkable consistency for a non-blue-blood program.

Snyder’s 77 now. We never really know if he’ll be back for another year. But it sure is fun to watch him quietly go about beating more talented teams.