Coming into Saturday’s game against Iowa State, the Kansas State football team wanted to win the final game of the regular season for several reasons. Players viewed a 10-win season as a great accomplishment, and wanted to put themselves within reach of a BCS bowl.
But they also wanted to send the seniors out on top. After beating the Cyclones 30-23, it sounded like players were motivated by that more than anything else.
“We just wanted to win the game for them,” sophomore linebacker Tre Walker said. “It wasn’t about Iowa State. It wasn’t about getting a three-way tie for the Big 12 championship. We just wanted to win it for them because we love them so much.”
Throughout the week, seniors and upperclassmen were allowed to give speeches to the rest of the team. Some of the most emotional came on Friday night at the team hotel.
Senior cornerback David Garrett said he was the first to speak to the whole team on Wednesday, and that after hearing everyone’s take on the season he thought the team was fired up to play.
“Our team, we care a about each other a lot,” Garrett said. “We are always together. Everything we do, even if it has nothing to do with football we do it together. Us stepping up like that and showing that we care and expressing ourselves, it gets to people and makes us go hard.”
Well, K-State’s seniors went out in style. They finished the season 10-2 and finished second to only Oklahoma State in the final Big 12 standings. Now it will wait to find out if it makes a BCS bowl.
If the Cowboys play in the BCS title game, the Wildcats could head to the Fiesta Bowl. If Alabama heads to the BCS title game, K-State may go to the Sugar Bowl. Or maybe K-State will end up in the Cotton Bowl. It will definitely be one of those three. We’ll know for sure in a few hours.
Here’s a look at all that and more in this week’s Sunday Rewind:
Five that were good:
1. John Hubert
The running back had his best game in weeks by rushing for 120 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries. He also grabbed two passes for 28 yards. Both aspects gave the Wildcats a big boost on offense. He took much-needed pressure off of Collin Klein and picked up important yards when he had to.
He wanted the ball on every play, and continually used his hands to motion to the sideline and let his teammates know he was hungry for more. If he can continue to play with that attitude, K-State will be well off in its bowl game.
Many of his yards came after first contact, and his 26-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter was the highlight of the game.
“I knew I was close to the sideline and close to scoring a touchdown,” Hubert said. “I knew we needed to score to win. I thought about it and got in the end zone.”
2. Arthur Brown
K-State’s top linebacker had a big day and made 12 tackles. Two of them came in the backfield but many others came up field at the end of plays. In some ways, those tackles were more impressive considering the ground he had to cover to make them. The Miami transfer ended his first active season in Manhattan in strong fashion.
3. Emmanuel Lamur
Another linebacker who made a team-high 12 tackles. Lamur had a big day on senior day. He swarmed to the ball, made a tackle for loss and forced a fumble on Iowa State’s final play from scrimmage. Lamur and Brown make a great team in the middle.
“They are outstanding football players,” linebacker Tre Walker said. “If you get outside of one of them, the other one is coming to get you. That is so important, because sometimes you need someone to have your back. You are not always going to be 100 percent on every play, so it is nice to have someone have your back just in case you mess up. That is very important and that is what we do well.”
4. Tramaine Thompson
Thompson could be the most improved player K-State has on offense. He started the season near the bottom of the team’s receiver rotation and ended up on top with Chris Harper. Thompson caught two passes for 87 yards and a touchdown. The biggest came on a 68-yard bomb across the middle, where he beat his defender across the middle and Klein floated a well-thrown pass to him.
5. Raphael Guidry.
What a senior day for Guidry. The defensive tackle started on the defensive line, blocked an extra point and made an interception on a tipped pass near the line of scrimmage. He has been good for a big play per game lately.
“He’s got a knack for some of the things that he does,” Snyder said.
Five that were bad:
1. Clyde Aufner
The Wildcats’ right tackle had a rough day. When Iowa State broke into the backfield, it was often on the right side. And his inability to keep defensive ends away from Klein affected his scrambling ability. Aufner has been one of K-State’s best offensive linemen all season. But he didn’t have the best of days Saturday.
2. Vai Lutui
Lutui has dropped off a bit since his early season successes. Some of that has to do with the rise of Guidry, but he split time on Saturday and made two tackles.
3. Chris Harper
The junior wide receiver didn’t catch a pass for the first time this season and was unable to shake Iowa State cornerback Jeremy Reeves when he was targeted. A rare down day for the Wildcats’ top receiver.
4. David Garrett
Garrett had two hands on Iowa State’s punter on a fake run, and was unable to tackle him. Kirby Van Der Kamp broke loose and jogged past the first down marker to keep a drive alive in the fourth quarter. Despite making eight tackles and breaking up a pass, he will regret that play for a while.
5. Tysyn Hartman
Made five tackles, but often allowed linebackers to make tackles up field he was in better shape to make. He also committed a pretty bad pass interference penalty on Iowa State’s first drive. He did well defending the deep ball, though.
As soon as Saturday’s game was over, K-State athletic director John Currie began telling the media that Bill Snyder deserves to be the national coach of the year. No arguments here. Snyder took a team that many figured would struggle to make a bowl game to 10 wins.
A decent crowd turned out at Snyder Family Stadium after bad weather delayed the game for 90 minutes. The stands were maybe ¾ full, and K-State had a nice home-field advantage.
Key play you may have overlooked
Iowa State’s first touchdown of the game, on a flea-flicker, was a successful 30-yard pass from Jared Barnett to Darius Darks. But Barnett will be scolded for the pass during film study this week. Darks made the catch while being covered by Nigel Malone, but another receiver was WIDE open on the other side of the end zone. So much so that Snyder said he could have sat on the ground and caught any pass thrown his way.
K-State finished the season 10-2 and won eight games decided by a touchdown or less. The Wildcats were fantastic in close games all year and once again were on Saturday.
Quote to note
“This has been a long ride, a great rollercoaster, and today we ended out on top.” – Tre Walker