MANHATTAN — There was no hiding the pain after this one.
Instead of proving to the country it was worthy of a national ranking Thursday night, the Kansas State football team got exposed by a superior opponent.
The No. 7 Nebraska Cornhuskers outplayed the Wildcats in every phase, and did almost anything they wanted on their way to a 48-13 blowout victory.
Shortly after the slaughter ended, Bill Snyder said he wanted his players to hurt and take some time to reflect on this loss. No problem there.
"We were taking this game as an opportunity for us to show the world how good we were," wide receiver Chris Harper said, "and we came in and fell flat on our faces."
Added senior offensive lineman Zach Kendall: "This one sucks. This loss sucks. We have got to come back from this."
Doing so will require an overhaul in several areas. Nebraska was so dominant in front of the ESPN cameras that fans who spent their morning camping out for seats were heading to the exits midway through the fourth quarter, leaving the strong contingent of Nebraska fans on hand to loudly chant "Go Big Red!" in the game's final moments.
It was Nebraska's final conference game in Manhattan after the Huskers decided to move to the Big Ten starting in 2011.
It was a tough scene to swallow. The loss proved K-State (4-1, 1-1 Big 12 North) isn’t yet good enough to challenge for a Big 12 North championship. Nebraska (5-0) is in the driver's seat for the division crown.
With a quarterback like freshman Taylor Martinez, it's easy to see why.
He was the main reason for the lopsided evening. Despite more than a week to prepare, the Wildcats couldn’t handle his speed. Martinez scampered all across the field for a Nebraska quarterback-rushing record of 241 yards and four touchdowns on 15 carries. He also threw for 128 yards and a touchdown.
Whether on designed runs or broken plays, he hurt the Wildcats. In the first quarter he rumbled 14 yards into the end zone after mishandling the snap. In the second quarter he broke off a 54-yard run. Later, he outran everyone for an 80-yard score.
"When I looked up he was already 50 yards down the field," said cornerback David Garrett. "I went to the sideline and tried to figure out what was going on and what they were doing so we could do something to stop it. It just happened so fast."
It was an amazing performance that will likely earn Martinez more national recognition.
"He made it look awful easy," Snyder said. "He's a tremendous athlete and obviously has excellent speed. He's faster than we are."
Running back Roy Helu Jr. added 110 yards on the ground, and several big plays broke open a game that Nebraska led 17-3 at halftime.
And while Nebraska's star player was impressing the 51,015 in attendance and a national TV audience, K-State’s star player couldn't get anything going as senior running back Daniel Thomas was held to 63 yards on 22 carries.
Fort Scott Community College transfer Lavonte David led the Nebraska defense with 16 tackles and a sack.
Senior quarterback Carson Coffman couldn't get anything going to help ease the defensive pressure against Thomas, and threw for 91 yards. Snyder called for backups Collin Klein and Sammuel Lamur to enter the game, and said the competition for K-State's starting quarterback spot will be reopened in practice this week.
"Two weeks in a row we've struggled," Snyder said. "Maybe we're not as good an offensive football team as somebody wanted to project in some point in time. We have a lot of work ahead of us."
Two long Josh Cherry field goals were K-State's only points through three quarters, but the Wildcats did finally manage to score a touchdown when Coffman hit Harper for a two-yard score.