As Kansas State fans stare down the last month of the college football regular season, they ponder whether or not this will be a season of “what ifs” for their Wildcats.
The Wildcats currently sit at 3-5, winless in conference play, with their four most winnable conference games still to come. So the question is: will they be able to pull it together and win three of those games to become bowl eligible? Or will they continue to struggle with their team identity? The Kansas State team that played the Baylor Bears, the Oklahoma State Cowboys and the TCU Horned Frogs to within a touchdown can win all four of those games. But the team that laid an egg against the Oklahoma Sooners will not win again.
Watching this team it’s hard to figure out exactly what they are. Are they a running team without a true quarterback? Are they a team that just really is not that good or athletic, so they run out of necessity? We all know what the national perception of the Big 12 is. They are a high scoring, offensive league that plays no defense. So how can Kansas State buck that perception and win at least three more games? Run the ball and control the clock so the other team doesn’t have the opportunity to score. After the Wildcats 17 play, 88 yard drive that lasted 9 minutes and 21 seconds on Thursday night against Baylor, my first thought was, ‘that’s our best defense right there’.
With three of the Wildcats final four opponents rank in the bottom four of the conference in run defense, if the Wildcats can continue to play like they did against Baylor, while eliminating the mistakes, there is no reason the Wildcats can’t still become bowl eligible. If they do though, it will be done running the ball and controlling the clock. Kansas State ranks eighth in the Big 12 in pass defense so the more the offense can keep them on the sideline the better off this team will be.
The stats back up those numbers for K-State. Look at their best performances in the past month: TCU and Baylor. Against TCU, the Wildcats ran the ball 48 times compared to throwing 33 passes. Then, again Baylor, the ‘Cats ran 48 times to 23 passes. The problem for the Wildcats is that they do not have the threat of Jake Waters and Tyler Lockett to keep defenses honest. If I’m facing Kansas State, I’m loaded the box with 7-8 and making Joe Hubener beat me downfield. If that happens, so be it. But, I would refuse to let Snyder beat me with the old “3 yards and a cloud of dust” method.
The last time Bill Snyder finished the year with a losing record was 2005 when the Wildcats finished with a 5-6 record and Snyder stepped away from the game. While Snyder will never be forced out of Kansas State, everyone knows that the day is coming that the Wildcat family has to move on without Bill Snyder at the helm. Let’s just hope that this team can put together a nice run to end this season and make a bowl game just in case this may be his final curtain call.
Which team the ‘Cats turn out and decide to be over the next month will go a long way in not only determining whether this will be a season of what ifs … it will help determine if this will be season where the Wildcats overcame the onslaught of injuries and close heartbreaking losses to become bowl eligible and give Snyder his 17th bowl appearance. 2-2 is likely, 3-1 is needed. Snyder deserves it and he’ll pull it off.
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