Bill Snyder is one of the greatest coaches in college football history. Let’s get that out of the way right here and now.
But today we’re not going to discuss all the great games Snyder has won at Kansas State in his 23 seasons. We’re going to discuss the tough, nauseating, hard-to-recover-from defeats that the Wildcats have endured under Snyder.
K-Staters, you don’t have to read this blog if you’d be better off not doing so. I’ll understand. But after the Wildcats’ 41-21 loss at TCU on Saturday night, I started thinking about the Kansas State disappointments over the years. Disappointments are a part of every successful team. If you’re consistently bad, you’re not disappointed. You’re disgusted.
So let’s count them down from 10 to 1. As always, feedback is appreciated. And let me give due credit to my friend, Scott Paske, who helped guide me through this process. Scott is a huge K-State fan and remembers many of these difficult losses as if they happened yesterday.
10. TCU 41, Kansas State 20 (Nov. 8, 2014) – Even with a tough remaining schedule, it was not crazy to think that the Cats were going to win on the road at TCU, West Virginia and Baylor and play themselves into the College Football Playoff. Kansas State had already knocked off Oklahoma, in Norman. That doesn’t seem quite as significant now, especially after TCU quarterback Trevone Boykin passed for 219 yards, rushed for 123 and accounted for four touchdowns. It was a letdown, a huge letdown.
9. Fresno State 45, Kansas State 21 (Sept. 11, 2004) – Remember, Kansas State was coming off a Big 12 championship season in 2003 and had opened the 2004 season with a two-touchdown win over Western Kentucky. The Wildcats were ranked 13th nationally going into the Fresno State game. And they were trounced. Fresno State, which was coming off a 35-16 win at Washington, was just as impressive in Manhattan. K-State would go on to finish 4-7 that season, including its first loss to Kansas in 12 years, and this loss marked the beginning of the end for Snyder’s first K-State tenure.
8. Marshall 27, Kansas State 20 (Sept. 20, 2003) – Kansas State started the day ranked No. 6 in the country. Marshall finished the day with its first-ever win over a ranked major-college opponent. In Manhattan, no less. The loss was the first of three consecutive defeats for K-State, who recovered to win the Big 12 championship with a monumental 37-7 win over Oklahoma at Arrowhead Stadium. Still, when this loss happened it stung very Kansas State fan.
7. Oklahoma 58, Kansas State 17 (Oct. 29, 2011) – Another crushing defeat witnessed by the home crowd at Bill Snyder Family Stadium. Kansas State was ranked No. 10 going in, one spot ahead of the Sooners. But OU quarterback Landry Jones had the best day of his career, passing for a school-record 505 yards and five touchdowns. It was the first loss of the season for K-State, which opened 7-0.
6. Nebraska 56, Kansas State 26 (Oct. 4, 1997) – It’s strange to think now how much hope K-Staters had on that brisk day in Lincoln more than 17 years ago. But there were more than a few who thought the Wildcats were primed to end the Huskers’ dominance over K-State, which had resulted in 28 straight games. Instead, K-State was never a factor, trailing by as many as 35 points in the second half. Tailback Ahman Green rushed for 193 yards and four touchdowns for Nebraska.
5. Oklahoma 41, Kansas State 31 (Oct. 14, 2000) – This was the first pupil vs. teacher meeting between Snyder and OU’s Bob Stoops, a former Snyder assistant at K-State who hired three assistants away from the Wildcats. There was tension, there was animosity, there was even a skirmish in the end zone before the game. And it was the pupil who came away with the win as OU quarterback Josh Heupel passed for 374 yards and two touchdowns as the No. 8 Sooners knocked off third-ranked K-State.
4. Ohio State 35, Kansas State 28 (Fiesta Bowl, Jan. 2, 2004) – Playing the first half without quarterback Ell Roberson, suspended after a sexual assault accusation just a day before the game, the Wildcats couldn’t overcome a slow start. And by the time Roberson got his legs under him in the fourth quarter, in which K-State outscored the Buckeyes, 14-0, it was too late. Ohio State quarterback Craig Krenzel was the Fiesta Bowl MVP after passing for four touchdowns.
3. Nebraska 41, Kansas State 15 (Nov. 13, 1999) – Kansas State was 9-0 and ranked fifth in the country. But the Wildcats just couldn’t figure out Lincoln and this game was no different. Nebraska jumped out to a 16-0 first-quarter lead and the game was never in doubt as the Huskers rushed for 309 yards and held Kansas State to 234 yards of offense. K-State quarterback Jonathan Beasley, not at full speed, completed only 3 of 19 pass attempts.
2. Baylor 52, Kansas State 23 (Nov. 17, 2012) – Yeah, this one was tough. Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein was perhaps the frontrunner to win the Heisman Trophy going in and had just been on the cover of Sports Illustrated. Kansas State was 10-0 and in the driver’s seat to reach the national championship game. And Baylor? Baylor was a buzz saw on this night in Waco, rushing for 342 yards and gaing 580 total yards in the rout. Klein, meanwhile, was intercepted three times.
1. Texas A&M 36, Kansas State 33, 2 OT (Dec. 5, 1998) – This will forever be the defining loss of the Snyder-era. Needing some help to potentially be in play for the national championship game, the Wildcats got some when Miami (Fla.) upset UCLA. With a win in the Big 12 championship game, K-State would now reserve a spot in the national championship game. And for the longest time, it looked like the Wildcats were on their way, leading A&M 27-12 after three quarters. Brilliant K-State quarterback Michael Bishop had a terrible second half, though. First, he was intercepted on the Cats’ first possession. Then, while protecting an eight-point lead with only four minutes remaining, Bishop fumbled at the K-State 35, where Texas A&M recovered. With 1:09 left, tailback Sirr Parker caught a nine-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Branndon Stewart. The two also hooked up for a two-point conversation, sending the game into overtime but not before a near miss for K-State, which used a Bishop-to-Everett Burnett desperation pass to come up two yards short of the game-winning touchdown. Both teams kicked field goals in the first overtime and K-State got another three points in the second OT before Parker took a short pass from Stewart and dragged a K-State defender into the end zone for the winning touchdown.