Kansas State has been here before.
The No. 4 Wildcats are 6-0 and on top of the Big 12 standings. They are about to play one of their most important games in front of a national television audience, and the opponent is coming off a shocking loss to Texas Tech.
Last year, that opponent was Oklahoma, and K-State was unable to match the Sooners’ passion in a 58-17 loss. OU came out angry, built an early lead and surged ahead in the second half. K-State’s first loss hurt its conference title chances.
“If you go back to that ballgame, what we were unable to do was start and finish,” K-State coach Bill Snyder said. “When you don’t have those things going for you, you’ve got some issues.”
Snyder later said his players got caught up in the hype of the game, and thought too much of their 7-0 start. Bottom line: They weren’t as mentally prepared to play as Oklahoma.
The Wildcats now face the challenge of trying to avoid that fate against No. 17 West Virginia, which suffered its first loss Saturday at Texas Tech 49-14.
But don’t expect Snyder to address last year’s loss to Oklahoma with his players this week. He thinks they already learned their lesson.
“Maybe some of the circumstances are similar, but I’m not a strong believer in that anything impacts the upcoming ballgame other than your preparation,” Snyder said. “So that’s what we are focused on, not anything that has happened in the previous five or six games we have played or last year.”
Perhaps the more important question is how the Mountaineers respond. Before falling to Texas Tech, the Mountaineers’ offense looked unstoppable behind Heisman Trophy contender Geno Smith. But now that a defense has shut them down, do they have what it takes to put up big numbers this week? Or is their confidence shaken?
“I was really disappointed that we weren’t able to huddle up when we faced some adversity,” West Virginia coach Dana Holgerson said. “We were getting down. Bottom line was we were getting our butt kicked and we didn’t have anyone to huddle up. This group, yesterday, their sense of urgency was a lot better than during the game.”
West Virginia had won nine straight games before last weekend, and it responded from its three losses last year with victories. Holgorsen is confident that can happen again.
They will need to play as well as they did during wins over Baylor and Texas, though. Holgorsen described K-State as “our biggest challenge of the year, without question.”
“We will play a lot harder and play a lot better this week,” Holgorsen said. “It doesn’t mean we are going to win. We’ve got a really good team coming in here. We’ve got to play well.”
Most of the Big 12 will be rooting for West Virginia to defeat K-State on Saturday. If K-State wins, it will take a commanding lead in the hunt for a league championship. It already beat fellow contender Oklahoma, and the Mountaineers already have a loss. The winner of Saturday’s game between Texas Tech and TCU would be the only remaining team with one loss that hasn’t lost to the Wildcats. But if West Virginia beats K-State, several teams will be in the mix.
Red River beatdown
If you counted Oklahoma out after its home loss to K-State a few weeks ago, shame on you. The Sooners have responded from that loss by pummeling both Texas Tech and Texas.
“It was our third game,” OU coach Bob Stoops said of the K-State loss. “We had only played three games. This (Texas) was only our fifth game. Everybody wants to summarize after two games. That doesn’t make any sense to me.”
Texas Tech is following in Iowa State’s footsteps. For the second straight year under Tommy Tuberville, the Red Raiders knocked off a top-10 team. Last year, they beat Oklahoma on the road. On Saturday, they stomped West Virginia at home.
Quarterback Seth Doege was phenomenal, and the defense looked strong throughout. Question is, can Texas Tech build on the victory? It couldn’t last year, and missed out on a bowl game. Fans stormed the field in Lubbock on Saturday, which was fun, but it will be more fun to go to the postseason.
Collin Klein: Did everything right against Iowa State.
Damien Williams: OU running back rushed for 167 yards against Texas.
Trevone Boykin: Just when it looked like TCU was missing its normal starting quarterback, Boykin threw for four touchdowns in rout of Baylor.
Seth Doege: Texas Tech QB was better than Geno Smith while throwing for 499 yards and six touchdowns.
Geno Smith: Heisman trophy is up for grabs after poor showing at Texas Tech.
Mack Brown: With all of its resources, Texas shouldn’t lose 63-21 to anyone.
Baylor defense: The Bears can’t stop anyone.
David Ash: Anyone who considered the UT quarterback a Heisman candidate regrets doing so now that the Longhorns have two losses.
What to watch
Must-see games: Kansas State at West Virginia.
Worth watching: Baylor at Texas, Iowa State at Oklahoma State, Texas Tech at TCU.
If there’s nothing better to do: Kansas at Oklahoma.
1. Kansas State (6-0, 3-0): League’s only undefeated team is a national title contender.
2. Oklahoma (4-1, 2-1): Sooners have looked dominant since K-State loss.
3. Texas Tech (5-1, 2-1): Can Red Raiders build off upset of West Virginia?
4. West Virginia (5-1, 2-1): Can Mountaineers rebound from their first loss?
5. TCU (5-1, 2-1): Horned Frogs needed a game to adjust to new quarterback.
6. Iowa State (4-2, 1-2): Defense gave Cyclones a chance against K-State.
7. Texas (4-2, 1-2): The Longhorns are nowhere near back.
8. Oklahoma State (3-2, 1-1): Ugly win at Kansas.
9. Baylor (3-2, 0-2): Losing 70-63 at West Virginia is its finest accomplishment.
10. Kansas (1-5, 0-3): It might be time for a quarterback change.