On Tuesday, I wrote about 10 of the most gut-wrenching, depressing, horrible losses in Kansas State football history during the Bill Snyder era. Those emotions are right up my alley.
In an effort to be fair and balanced, today I’m going to write about the 10 best wins – as determined by a panel of experts (not really) – Snyder and the Wildcats have had. There were a lot of victories to pick from, but here are the 10 – from last to first – that stick out most.
Again, thanks to my pal, Scott Paske, for being a sounding board. Scott loves his Cats and provided great insight.
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10. Kansas State 16, Colorado 16 (Oct. 23, 1993) – OK, this technically isn’t a win. But it felt like one, considering the Buffs were ranked No. 16. The tie, which came about on Tate Wright’s 35-yard field goal for K-State with 21 seconds left, signified that the Wildcats were a major player in the Big 8. They preceded to beat No. 13 Oklahoma the following week in Manhattan and went on to beat Wyoming, 52-17, in the Copper Bowl, the Wildcats’ first bowl win in program history.
9. Kansas State 36, Baylor 35 (Oct. 1, 2011) – Everyone in Manhattan was excited to see Robert Griffin III come to town, and he didn’t disappoint, completing 23 of 31 pass attempts for 346 yards. But it was an interception, Griffin’s first of the year, that set up a game-winning field goal by Anthony Cantele with 3:10 left. Grifin was picked off by K-State linebacker Arthur Brown, bobbled at least twice, turned what looked like a certainly Baylor win into an upset over the 15th-ranked Bears.
8. Kansas State 29, Nebraska 28 (Nov. 11, 2000) – Quincy Morgan caught seven passes for 199 yards and two touchdowns and No. 11 K-State held on to beat the fifth-ranked Huskers. It was only Snyder’s second win against a Top 10 team in 20 tries. Morgan caught a 12-yard TD pass from quarterback Jonathan Beasley with 2:52 remaining to give K-State a one-point lead. The Cats’ defense held up, forcing an Eric Crouch incomplete pass on fourth-and-5 with 50 seconds remaining.
7. Kansas State 41, Kansas 7 (Oct. 21, 1995) – Kansas was feeling really good about itself and no wonder. The Jayhawks were ranked No. 6 in the country, which made this a win at the time against the highest-ranked opponent in K-State history. It was obvious that day, though, that KU was vastly over-ranked as K-State’s defense held the Jayhawks’ offense to 155 yards.
6. Kansas State 20, North Texas State 17 (Sept. 30, 1989) – What’s a win over North Texas doing on this list? Well, it was Snyder’s first win and his only win of the 1989 season. But it broke a 30-game winless streak and resulted in “The Drive,” led by quarterback Carl Straw. K-State trailed, 17-14, with 1:35 remaining before Straw led the Wildcats on a nine-play, 85-yard drive that culminated with a 12-yard touchdown pass to Frank Hernandez on the final play of the game.
5. Kansas State 24, Oklahoma 19 (Sept. 29, 2012) – One season after losing to the Sooners, 58-17 in Manhattan (No. 7 on Tuesday’s list of toughest losses), the Wildcats got their revenge in Norman. John Hubert ran for 130 yards and Jarrell Childs returned a fumble for a score against the sixth-ranked Sooners, whose quarterback, Landry Jones, also threw a key interception.
4. Kansas State 35, Syracuse 18 (Fiesta Bowl, Dec. 31, 1997) – I refer to this as the Michael Bishop game because the K-State junior quarterback was phenomenal, outplaying his Orange counterpart, Donovan McNabb, in a big way at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, Ariz. Bishop completed only 14 passes, but four were for touchdowns and those 14 completions amassed 317 yards. Darnell McDonald caught seven passes for 206 yards and three TDs. Bishop also had 73 yards rushing in one of the greatest individual performances in K-State history.
3. Kansas State 27, USC 20 (Sept. 21, 2002) – The No. 11 Trojans, making a return trip to Manhattan after K-State had played in the LA Coliseum the previous season, were directed by quarterback Carson Palmer, who would win the Heisman Trophy in 2002. But he found the going difficult against a tough K-State defense, completing only 18 of 47 pass attempts for 186 yards. Meanwhile, K-State quarterback Ell Roberson came off the bench in place of Marc Dunn to throw one touchdown pass and run for another, overcoming his two fumbles.
2. Kansas State 40, Nebraska 30 (Nov. 14, 1998) – ESPN’s College GameDay showed up in Manhattan for this one and legendary broadcaster Keith Jackson called the game, pitting the second-ranked Wildcats against No. 11 Nebraska. Rankings didn’t much matter, though. K-State hadn’t beaten the Huskers in 29 years and hadn’t beaten them in Manhattan in 39, since the Eisenhower administration. Again, it was Bishop who stole the show. His scrambling 11-yard touchdown pass to Darnell McDonald with 5:25 left gave Kansas State a 34-30 lead. Bishop ran for 140 yards and two touchdowns and passed for 306 yards and two more scores. Yes, he fumbled three times and two of those led to Nebraska scores. Bishop did everything in this game and far more good than bad.
1. Kansas State 35, Oklahoma 7 (Dec. 6, 2003) – I remember the OU band incessantly playing Boomer Sooner before the game, like it always does. And I also remember the band playing it with much less enthusiasm as this game went on. The No. 1-ranked Sooners were steamrolled by a K-State offense led by Roberson (four touchdown passes) and tailback Darren Sproles (235 yards rushing). Oh, and here’s the really big deal about this game . . . it was for the Big 12 championship. Kansas State won its first conference title since taking the Big Six in 1934. Even with the loss, OU played in the national championship game in the Sugar Bowl, losing to LSU, 21-14.