Season wrap: Kansas State

Kansas State entered the season with the goal of defending its Big 12 championship. That goal went out the window rather quickly, as the Wildcats started a disappointing 2-4. But a sign of well-coached teams is how much they improve, and Bill Snyder’s bunch got better over the course of the season. The Wildcats won six of their final seven games and thumped Michigan 31-14 in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl.

Below is a review of Kansas State’s 2013 season, which started in catastrophe and ended in triumph:

Offensive MVP: Where do the Wildcats keep getting Locketts? This latest one might be their best yet. Receiver Tyler Lockett, via the same family as former K-State greats Kevin and Aaron Lockett, was uncoverable this season. He hauled in 81 passes for 1,262 yards and 11 touchdowns. Lockett was at his best against the blue bloods, combining for 35 catches, 631 yards and 6 touchdowns against Texas, Oklahoma and Michigan. He’ll be back for another season, too, which is bad news for the Big 12’s cornerbacks.

Defensive MVP: Defensive end Ryan Mueller finished second in the league with 11.5 sacks and was in the conversation for Big 12 defensive player of the year honors. He was phenomenal in K-State’s near upset of Baylor. He finished with two sacks and forced and recovered a fumble in one of the plays of the year in the Big 12 to fuel K-State’s second-half comeback.

Best moment: After the slow start, the Wildcats clawed their way to a 4-4 record. But K-State didn’t truly validate itself until it went to Lubbock, Texas, on Nov. 9. The Red Raiders were still ranked No. 25 in the country despite losing to the Oklahoma schools. But Tech was no match for the Wildcats, who jumped to a 35-10 second-quarter lead before coasting for an easy win. The performance was one of the most impressive of any team in the Big 12 and showed that K-State’s poor start was only an aberration.

Worst moment: The season got off to a disastrous start for K-State. Trailing 21-17 in the fourth quarter, FCS power North Dakota State went on an 18-play, 80-yard drive covering eight and a half minutes. The drive ended with Brock Jensen's go-ahead, 1-yard touchdown plunge with just 28 seconds remaining. K-State paid North Dakota State $350,000 to play the game, which turned out to be an expensive, embarrassing defeat.