Sunday, November 20, 2011

Ugliest Win Yet

Keep Klein passing to keep him running: Well we certainly passed the ball a lot, just not enough/not effectively enough to open up any kind of room for Klein, save his one touchdown run.
Get pressure on the Texas QB: Yes. This was a great improvement, the greatest of the game actually. Ash was pressured into 2 int's and McCoy couldn't handle the pressure on the last two drives when he was trying to bring Texas back.
Keep the crowd out of it: Not so much. 100,000 fans were on attendance, the most to ever see a K-State football game, and they were into it from the beginning, mostly thanks to their defense.

So that's one check out of my 3, but really there was probably only two things K-State did consistently well the entire night: get pressure on the quarterback, and stop the run. Those are both on defense. The offense did virtually nothing to gain praise, but once again it did just enough, mostly thanks to good field position from a couple of Texas turnovers, to win another squeaker 17-13 over the Texas Longhorns.

The offense was just bad. 121 yards over the entire game is just awful. 8 first downs? Yuck. 38 rushing yards on 39 carries. Yikes. Klein came in averaging 100 yards per game - he finished with 4. He still needs 25 to break the K-State quarterback record for rushing yards held by Ell Roberson. He did still get his one touchdown rushing, getting him closer to the all-time NCAA record for rushing TDs by a QB as well as Ricky Williams' Big XII rushing touchdown record, but K-State will need to play a lot better than that if they want to help him break those records in a couple of weeks. On to this week's game though.

From the very beginning, we could tell what kind of game this was going to be. K-State stops Texas. K-State goes 3-and-out. K-State is once again sparked by a turnover, this time provided by an interception by Emmanuel Lamur. I'm not sure I quite agree with the playcalling here, with two handoffs to Hubert and an option play, eventually settling for a field goal. We have the greatest runner from inside the 5 in college football - JUST SNEAK HIM UP THE MIDDLE. And maybe he was too hurt or the Texas defensive line was too good - but at least try. Once. The defense again did a nice job bending but not breaking, getting K-State the ball back where they immediately went three-and-out. The slugfest continued after that, with Texas gaining a few first downs but held to a field goal and it looking to be a 3-3 game at halftime until K-State got another favorable call as they seem to be getting so much this season. Tremaine Thompson muffed a punt without being touched by a Texas player and they called Kick Catch Interference. Several people have pointed out that it did indeed look that way, with Tremaine sort of contorting his body and never really getting hold of the football, but nevertheless it was still a fortunate call. Not only because Texas would have had the ball deep in K-State territory, but also because it gave K-State the ball at the 50 - yet another great starting position. And as K-State has been so prone to do all season, they took advantage, but of course in the most heart-racing way possible. Facing 3rd and 14, Klein made a perfect pass to Sheldon Smith for 24 yards and a first down. A few plays later, there were only 13 seconds left and it was 3rd down, but threw another perfect pass, this one a back-shoulder to Harper for a touchdown. Seriously, if this kid could do these things on a regular basis and combine it with his ability to run, he could be one of the greatest quarterbacks in the country, and definitely one of the best K-State has ever had. Not that he isn't already ;)

The second half was more of the same, with K-State going three-and-out on their first possession and intercepting Ash on Texas' next drive, this time courtesy of Ty Zimmerman, who seems to love doing this to Texas (he had two in the game last year). K-State once again took advantage, starting at the Texas 37. Hubert had his best two runs of the day, picking up 6 and 12, until a pass interference penalty put K-State at the 2. Honey Badger finally took care of business just like we all knew he could do and klein'd it up the middle on a zone read for a touchdown. It looked like maybe they were finally finding some rhythm, up 17-3, and might run some clock the next time they had the ball, preserving another crazy win. But then in came the younger McCoy, as Mack Brown finally sat David Ash after 6 quarters of touchdown-less play. McCoy of course put us all on the edge of our seats as he brilliantly led Texas down the field for a touchdown and I thought we were doomed, especially after we went three-and-out AGAIN. The defense stepped up, though, and forced Texas into their own three-and-out. After showing some more life on offense but unable to keep it going, K-State punted again, and Texas drove again, saved by another late tackle by Nigel Malone (remember last week when Pearson saved the game by tackling the A&M player and A&M only got a field goal instead of a touchdown? Same thing here). They were all the way down to the 8 and I of course thought: "overtime again?" But alas, K-State only plays overtime against Texas A&M. Texas kicked the field goal after yet another brilliant red-zone stop by this K-State defense. That of course didn't stop everyone from worrying for the rest of the game, as K-State went three-and-out and allowed Texas to get to the 50. One of the plays of the game happened on fourth down, however, when Adam Davis sacked Case McCoy. It was HUGE. K-State gave the ball back of course, and the defense came through once again, essentially doing everything they could to win the game and K-State escaped 17-13.

So obviously the offense played poorly and the defense played great. But getting outgained 310-121 and still winning is still hard to do. So how did they do it? They didn't make mistakes. Texas turned the ball over twice - K-State never did. K-State was only flagged for 2 penalties for 10 yards. Despite the lack of skill and the poor scheming, K-State stayed disciplined, stuck to the game plan, and was rewarded for it. Snyder said after the game that perhaps we didn't deserve to win, but win we did, and it was because they stayed disciplined. And now a whole myriad of opportunities await these K-State Wildcats.

So who would have thought that after losing to Oklahoma State and Oklahoma in consecutive weeks that we would still be alive for a Big XII Championship? Certainly not me. But that's exactly the situation K-State is in. Thanks to Iowa State's upset of O-State and Baylor's upset of OU, K-State could win their second ever Big XII trophy. If K-State beats Iowa State on December 3rd and Oklahoma beats Oklahoma State, then we are technically Big XII Co-Champions, head-to-head record be damned. If we beat Iowa State, then we will have beaten one of the teams that beat O-State. And we have already beaten both teams that beat OU, so why not us too?

So what does that do for our bowl chances? Glad you asked. If this co-champions thing happens, there will obviously be no Big XII representative in the National Championship game. (If said game, by the way, is Alabama vs LSU, I refuse to watch. #BoycottBCS) So instead OU will go to the Fiesta Bowl, O-State probably the Cotton, and K-State the Alamo to face either Utah, UCLA, or Arizona State - whoever wins that division, since USC can't because of their suspension. I'm assuming that Oregon and Stanford will both be going to a BCS bowl, but I guess if they don't we may end up playing either one of those as well. Despite the fact that everyone would love a Big XII Championship trophy, our bowl destination would actually most likely be better if O-State wins to go 11-1 and make OU 9-3. This gives O-State the chance of still going to the National Championship, perhaps putting K-State in the Fiesta Bowl! There we would most likely play an at-large team, either Houston or Michigan depending on selection order/record. If O-State goes to the Fiesta Bowl and not the National Championship, I think K-State would still have a shot at a BCS at large bid, though not very likely. They would most likely go to the Cotton to play either Arkansas or Georgia, depending on what happens in that crazy conference. Regardless, bowl season is going to be fun. Also regardless, K-State must beat Iowa State in two weeks. So let's get to that.

I hope you all saw what Iowa State did to Oklahoma State because it's a very solid reminder that anyone can beat anyone else on any given Saturday... or Friday... Anyway, Iowa State is a solid team that has had great some great games. They hung with A&M for a while, beat a solid Iowa team in 3 overtimes, and drubbed Texas Tech in Lubbock. Their true freshman quarterback Jared Barnett is pretty amazing and does things dual-threat wise that scare a lot of teams. The defense must respect him as they did RG3. He's not quite that good, but allow him to run, let them open up the passing game, and he could put up similar numbers that RG3 put up. He's also young and a bit turnover prone himself- take advantage of that. Iowa State's defense is nothing to write home about, ranking in the 90s in rushing defense, passing defense, and total defense. They beat O-State by forcing 5 turnovers, one of which came in the second overtime and all but sealed the upset win. Hopefully Klein can get rested over these next two weeks (he apparently hasn't practiced in two weeks, making his performance against A&M the stuff of legend what he did against Texas no easy task either) and take advantage of maybe the worst defense since facing KU. We are going to need to put up more points than 17 in this one, and Klein has to be healthy to do that. Snyder also needs to take advantage of this extra week and maybe shake up the offense a bit. It was dangerously stagnant and predictable against Texas, something no team can afford to do, no matter who you're playing. So here we go: respect and defend Jared Barnett, forcing him into mistakes, use Klein to all of his potential, mixing up the playbook as much as possible, and finally- give the seniors a great sendoff (we will miss Ray Kibble, Emmanuel Lamur, David Garrett, Hanson, Aufner, Freeze, and yes even Tysyn Hartman). Oh and an extra one this week, just for me, who will be watching his last game at Bill Snyder Family Stadium as a student - could we please just win one game where my heart rate doesn't shoot through the roof in the fourth quarter/overtime? Thanks guys, appreciate it. EMAW

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