Tuesday, September 18, 2012
Chance for more respect awaits K-State
By David Ubben
The purple people in Manhattan, Kan., let out one collective, offended sigh a few weeks before the season began.
Bill Snyder's 10-win team brought back its core, but the college football pundits weren't buying it. Kansas State started the season outside the top 20, and the Big 12 media didn't believe it was among the league's top half.
Bill Snyder and K-State can show that they are Big 12 contenders with a win at Oklahoma on Saturday.
That's not to say that the exasperated sigh wasn't justified. Three weeks into the season, though, Kansas State has proven itself in a league full of unknowns.
No game illustrated that more than the 52-13 embarrassment of Miami on Sept. 8, but the Wildcats will have another shot Saturday night when they travel to Norman, Okla., to face the Big 12 favorite Sooners, currently the nation's No. 6 team.
Oklahoma knows what's coming, too.
"They're an excellent team. Preparation for them is always complicated. Coach [Snyder] has got a big playbook," Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops said. "The way they use the quarterback and all the different ways they run and play action, there’s a lot to work on. It's always a tough preparation and they always play well and play hard."
For Kansas State, there literally could not be a better stage in the Big 12 on which to prove tself.
Stoops has never lost to a ranked team at home as coach of the Sooners, going 14-0 in 13 seasons.
Kansas State is 3-0, but it has not been a cruise to its No. 15 ranking. FCS member Missouri State hung with the Wildcats for nearly three quarters in the season opener, keeping the game tied at 9-all until midway through the third. A 35-point fourth quarter provided a 51-9 final score that didn't raise eyebrows only on those who didn't see the sloppy first three quarters.
The Wildcats thoroughly dominated Miami in a game that did turn heads, but just a week later, the Wildcats let North Texas make them sweat through nearly three quarters. The Mean Green's botched extra point was the only reason Snyder's team led in the third quarter.
All of those struggles will be quickly forgotten if the Wildcats come away with a win Saturday night in Norman. They'd join an elite club of just three teams overall that have beaten Stoops' teams in Norman. Stoops disposed of the 77 other teams that visited his home stadium.
Those three losses, though? It's safe to say the Sooners were far from inspired in those performances, all losses to unranked teams. When a challenger goes to Norman, Oklahoma answers. A year ago, Oklahoma was the only team to convincingly beat the Wildcats in the regular season, trouncing them 58-17. That was in Manhattan. It's time for a return visit.
Will there be another Sooners beatdown Saturday night? Or will the Wildcats escape with a win and loads of respect that last year's team didn't get to keep as the calendar turned to 2012?