If you’re a graduate of Kansas State within the past ten years, then you’re relatively familiar with the “Farmageddon,” series. It’s the yearly battle between two of the conferences land grant institutions: Kansas State and Iowa State. Fans of each school love it, as large portions of each alumni base come from agricultural or engineering backgrounds. I like to joke around that there’s a third leg of the competition for each school though, and that’s the annual contest versus the “Cowpokes” of Oklahoma State.
Joking aside, each visit to Stillwater in the past 15 years for the Wildcats has been tough. Each game has been high scoring. Each contest has been exciting, and each contest has greatly affected the respective seasons of those involved. The Cats haven’t won in Stillwater since 1999… 1999! The ‘99 squad was led by quarterback Jonathan Beasley, had a potent running game, and a defense that didn’t allow a point during the third quarter all season long. The Cats blasted the Cowboys that season to the tune of 44-21. For K-State it paved the way towards a Big 12 North title in 2000 and a Cotton Bowl victory over Tennessee. For OK State, it was the beginning of the end to the Bob Simmons Era, who would be fired the next season following a 1-7 record in the Big 12.
The old Big 12 divisional format saw a rotation of cross-division matchups every two years. So, the next visit to Stillwater for the purple faithful came in 2003. The Cats, favored to win the North and potentially challenge for a BCS National Championship, had already stubbed their toe against Marshall at home, fell late to a Vince Young/Chance Mock led Texas team in Austin, and appeared to be in a tailspin as they headed into Boone Pickens Stadium. Les Miles, working his magic for the Cowboys, had his 4-1 Pokes ready to pounce and reclaim a Top 25 ranking. The contest featured a ton of yards (by 2003 standards), a lot of points, and a furious fourth quarter comeback by the Cats. Oklahoma State, victorious 38-34, used the game a springboard to a 9-3 regular season and a trip to face Eli Manning’s Ole Miss Rebels in the Cotton Bowl. K-State, restoring some offensive identity, would go on to roll through the rest of the Big 12 North, then upset #1 Oklahoma in the Big 12 Championship game.
2007 yielded yet another shootout between the previously known Aggies of KSAC and Aggies of Oklahoma A&M. However, each team was either lacking talent at key positions or had inexperienced youth filling crucial spots. For the Ron Prince led Cats, it was the rush defense that had fans sitting uneasy. Josh Freeman tossed for 400 plus yards, and Jordy Nelson caught three touchdowns, but it wasn’t enough to overcome Zac Robinson and OSU’s 329 rushing yards. The Cowpokes kicked a late field goal to top the #25 ranked Cats 41-39. What a difference a month can make, as Mike Gundy was fresh off this tirade from earlier in the season. As for K-State, they never rebounded in 2007, falling badly in four of their final five games and missing bowl eligibility. But hey, at least they started some new traditions with Prince at the helm…
2011 was the first year of the “new,” Big 12 and it’s round robin format. Kansas State, led by Collin Klein and linebacker Arthur Brown, appeared to be hitting its stride as a program during Bill Snyder’s second tenure. However, they were venturing down to visit the best Oklahoma State team to play inside of Boone Pickens Stadium in a long, long time. After 1,082 combined yards, 502 of them via the air from Brandon Weeden, and an absolute dandy of a back-and-forth performance, K-State failed to tie the game on fourth and goal as time ran out. Many Poke fans would attest that it was their jubilant celebration that caused the Earth to shake in Stillwater that night, but geology tells us different. OK State would ascend to #2 in the BCS rankings, but lose a strange double overtime game on a Friday night in Ames to Iowa State. Kansas State would win it’s final three regular season games and earn a trip to the Cotton Bowl to face Bobby Petrino’s Arkansas Razorbacks.
2013 was a rebuilding year for Kansas State, and a season that saw the first legitimate attempt to operate a true two quarterback offensive system. Daniel Sams was the Wildcats signal caller of choice for most of the day, and he had himself a game! Sams, throwing for 181 yards and rushing for another 118, was the best player on the field that day in Stillwater for the purple. The bad thing was he was also OK State’s best player for most of the afternoon, too. What hurt Sams and the Cats were turnovers, as Oklahoma State forced a whopping five of them while only surrendering one. J.W. Walsh managed the game well enough for the Cowboys to escape late in the 4th quarter. K-State would drop to 2-3, but would eventually find solace in Jake Waters at the QB spot and finish the year 8-5 with a victory over Michigan during the bowl season. OSU would climbed all the way to #6 before falling in a heartbreaker to Oklahoma to end the regular season, and in turn miss out on a share of the Big 12 Championship.
So, what can we expect this Saturday? More of what the four previous meetings in Stillwater have given us! Each team comes into this contest feeling good about themselves. K-State had a successful bye week after a necessary 3-0 start. Oklahoma State, struggling a bit in the non-conference season like K-State, got a critical early season road victory over the Longhorns in Austin last week. Each team has a defense that appears to be strong in not giving up big plays and forcing turnovers at opportune times. Each squad also boasts special teams units that tend to make game changing plays throughout a contest. The big difference lies between each teams’ offense. K-State will look to pound you with a QB-centric run game, and then stretch the field vertically with the pass. Oklahoma State strives for balance, and hitting big plays off of play-action.
At the end of the day, we know we’re going to be treated to another great one between the Wildcats and the Cowboys. Like Iowa State and Kansas State, Oklahoma State has a rich agriculture background and isn’t afraid to wear it on their sleeves… or jeans… or boots… or cowboy hats. Maybe, with another great game between these two, we can look to introduce an official traveling trophy worthy of the land-grant rivalries between KSU, ISU, and OSU. Just a thought as these two “ag schools,” set to square off again this weekend.
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