MANHATTAN — Chris Klieman showed that time and place don't really matter. He still owns the FCS.

Kansas State was ruthlessly efficient in Klieman's FBS coaching debut Saturday night, quickly squelching any hopes of a Nicholls upset with a 49-14 victory at sold-out Bill Snyder Family Stadium.

Klieman couldn't have happier with the performance, or more relieved for it to be behind him.

"I'm excited for our guys, excited for our staff to get this first one started," he said. "It was a lot of nervous energy and nobody knows where they're supposed to be on pregame and stuff.

"This first week was kind of a circus and I'm glad it's over."

It was effectively over at halftime, after the Wildcats scored on their first four possessions to lead 28-0 at intermission. Even when Nicholls — ranked No. 12 in the preseason FCS poll — put together a scoring drive to start the second half, the Wildcats quickly slammed the door.

They made up for a scoreless third quarter by finding the end zone twice in the first 24 seconds of the fourth.

"I'm really proud of the guys. I thought we played really well," Klieman said. "It was really important that we had a fast start, and I challenged the guys this afternoon to have a fast start and to be on point.

"We were going to try to run the football — we had to be able to run the ball to set up the other stuff — and I was so pleased with our offensive line. Our offensive line really dominated the football game."

The Wildcats certainly were efficient, amassing 573 yards total offense — 361 rushing and 212 through the air — while holding Nicholls to 276 yards. They converted 10 of 12 third downs, allowing them to put together five scoring drives of 10 plays or more.

Quarterback Skylar Thompson was on target the whole way until exiting early in the fourth quarter, completing 16 of 22 passes for 212 yards and a touchdown, plus rushing for another.

"It was a lot of fun. It was so much fun," Thompson said. "I really, I can't … I'm speechless.

"We were running the ball well, we were clicking in the passing game, we were efficient, and a lot of offense. I had a lot of fun today."

It also was fun for Klieman to watch Thompson, a quarterback he tried to recruit to North Dakota State, play as well as he did in a new offense.

"A great performance. He's a stud, he's a winner," Klieman said. "I was so pleased with how he commanded the offense, how poised he was."

There were a lot of winners for the Wildcats on both sides of the ball.

The running back by committee approach worked to perfection in the running game with five different players recording rushing touchdowns. Graduate transfer James Gilbert led the way with 115 yards on 18 carries and one score, but Tyler Burns (64 yards), Harry Trotter (52) and Jordon Brown (49) combined for 31 attempts with a touchdown each.

"It's huge. All of us getting touches and getting different looks at different plays, I think we all did a pretty good job but we can always improve," said Trotter, who scored the season's first points on a 9-yard run to cap the opening drive. "But it was just good to get everyone involved and get everybody some touches."

In addition to putting up big offensive numbers in the first half — 318 yards total and 210 rushing — K-State set the tone early on defense as well. On Nicholls' second play, cornerback AJ Parker stepped in front of the receiver on a Chase Fourcade offering for an interception, returning it 20 yards to the Colonel 28-yard line.

That set up the Wildcats' shortest drive of the night, which was capped by a slick run by Thompson, who left a receiver grasping at air before stepping into the end zone from 17 yards.

"That's something you dream of, second play, doing your job and being assignment sound and catching the ball," Parker said. "I should have scored, but that's something you always dream of."

K-State did find the end zone on defense on Nicholls' second play of the fourth quarter when Jonathan Alexander stripped the ball from Julien Gums, scooped it and ran 25 yards for the touchdown to make it 42-7.

The Wildcats would have put together the perfect first half of offense had Dalton Schoen's touchdown catch with 1:08 left not been overturned on review. Schoen did come back later on a double move to break wide open on the first play of the fourth quarter for a 38-yard touchdown.

Nicholls finally made some noise in the third quarter, taking the second-half kickoff and covering 75 yards in five plays with Kendall Bussey scoring on a 26-yard run. The Colonels added a meaningless late touchdown against K-State's reserves.

The Wildcats play at home again next Saturday with an 11 a.m. game against Bowling Green.